The deleted opening scene from YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE…
“Stop! Right where you are! Don’t move, lady!”
Jolene Joyner froze and closed her eyes against the bright spotlight coming from the police car a few feet away. Don’t move? So not a problem since she’d been stuck under the chain link fence struggling to free herself for a good five minutes.
If she ever got a frantic call at two a.m. again…she would take an extra minute and put more consideration into her ensemble before racing out the door. This is what she got for trying to break and enter in the wrong outfit. Knowing how to dress properly was an important life skill not to be taken lightly.
“Now crawl out of there slow with your hands up!”
“That is not even physically possible. No one can crawl with their hands up.” Jo squinted but couldn’t see who the officer was. Heck, other than her years away for college, she’d lived her whole life in Climax, NC and knew everyone on the force but the voice wasn’t ringing any bells. It wasn’t Quinn, darn it. She could usually sweet talk Quinn Cates into anything, although flashing her cleavage did nothing for him, because they’d been best friends since kindergarten. And now that he was married he only responded to Delaney’s cleavage anyway.
“Do you want me to charge you with resisting arrest?” The voice was getting testy.
“I don’t want you to charge me with anything,” Jo grumbled while she made another attempt to free herself from the rusty wire without ripping her pajama bottoms. They were her favorite pair covered in fuzzy little penguins eating cheeseburgers with a strip of fake fur fringe along the butt and around the bottom hem of each pant leg. So cute! She wiggled her butt trying to free the fabric. “Besides, I’m not resisting arrest. My pants are.”
“You want me to charge you with aggravated harassment of a police officer too? Come on out of there now or I’ll pull you out myself.”
“Harassment of a police officer? There is no way that’s a real thing.” Jo snorted and pushed her butt up in the air and wiggled again but the darn wire stayed good and stuck.
“Well, I…I’m pretty sure it is.” His voice pitched high and then he coughed. “D…don’t think you can distract me by wiggling like that, ma’am.”
Speaking of wiggling, her over-sized gypsy satchel purse wiggled, and she casually reached out and pulled it closer to her side. Focus, dummy. She really did need to distract the man. “But you’re not sure, are you, Rookie?”
“How did you know?” The officer stepped closer, his hand hovering over the gun on his side and looking like maybe he needed to prove something now. “I mean, I’m a full-fledged officer of the law. Fully trained to use pepper spray if necessary.”
Pepper spray? She looked up from his boots, up his sharply creased uniform pants, past his highly-polished badge on his chest to his face. If some movie studio put out a casting call for a young Deputy Barney Fife look-alike, well, Jo was looking at the winner right now. “Whoa there, Barney. Instead of figuring out how to use the bullet Sheriff Taylor gave you, just give me a second here. I’m trying to cooperate, but I’m stuck.”
“I guess you’re not from around this borough.” He pushed the brim of his hat up and narrowed his gaze on her. “There’s no Sheriff Taylor; it’s Chief Mack.”
Borough? It was her turn to narrow her eyes on the new rookie cop with the Yankee accent. “Right. I’m an out-of-towner and I’m lost. So as soon as I get unstuck—I’ll be on my way.”
Her purse barked and rocked back and forth.
“Have you got a puppy in that purse?”
“What? That’s silly. Who carries puppies in their purses?” She squirmed her hips this time and pushed herself backward in the hopes she could unhook herself from the fencing. Then she tried army crawling forward again. Nope. The fabric was still caught up.
“People who break into the animal shelter at two a.m.?”
Oh, boy. It sounded all kinds of crazy and bad when a cop said it. Jo shut her eyes and counted to five, wishing she’d never answered her phone an hour ago. No. That wasn’t true. She’d needed to help Maggie. The last thing that poor girl needed was another black mark on her record. It was much better that Jo was the one in trouble. Besides, she couldn’t stand the thought of an innocent puppy being put down because it had tinkled on the floor. Who does that to their daughter’s puppy?
“That’s enough stalling.” The police officer crunched forward on the gravel with firm boot steps. He leaned down, grabbed her by the forearms and yanked her out at the same time as she pushed with her legs. Together, the pull and push combined to propel her forward with enough force that she smacked into the man. Well, his nose at least. And hers.
“Dammit. You just added assaulting a police officer to the list.”
“Ouch.” Oh, that was painful. And it wasn’t only the sheer pain of being dragged three feet over dirt and gravel until she accidentally head-butted the now very pissed cop. No. It was also the loud rip of fabric and rush of cool air on her backside that made her want to cry. Goodbye favorite penguins scarfing down cheeseburger pajamas. She didn’t even have time for the appropriate moment of silence to mark the sad occasion because Barney Fife spun her around and was this very minute slapping cuffs on her. “That was not assault. That was Newton’s 1st law of motion. You pulled me too hard.”
“You have the right to remain silent.”
“This is all a simple misunderstanding. Seriously, um, Officer…” If she didn’t figure out how to talk her way out of this, it was going to be goodbye penguin pajamas, hello prison stripes. And stripes didn’t do her hips any favors. Jo twisted her head around in attempt to read the police officer’s nametag. But it was too dark, which was a darn shame because it meant it would be hard to use tears to get out of this situation. Hey, if men fell for it, she was going to use it. Tears had gotten her out of many a speeding ticket. Low-cut tops worked well too.
“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
The cold steel of the cuffs rubbed her wrists like bracelets of ice as the officer clicked them on before spinning her back around to face him. She glanced up at the officer. It wasn’t very far as he was only an inch or two taller than her own five-foot-seven. He looked young. So young. Like a baby-cop. An over-zealous baby-cop excited to make his first arrest.
“You have the right to an attorney.”
Well, crap. She knew only one lawyer and he’d be the last person she’d call. No thank you. She could already picture his sanctimonious, scrunched-up glowering face. Already hear another of his condescending lectures. She really, really wanted to avoid that experience. Time to turn on the charm, and if that didn’t work…cue the tears. The moon broke out from behind a cloud and like a message from above a beam of moonlight lit up Barney’s name tag.
“Like I said, Officer Davis, this is a simple misunderstanding.” She blinked up at him once. Twice. Huh. No reaction. He wasn’t reacting to her chest either, but then her old Hello Kitty T-shirt, now smeared with dirt and a large tear where her bow used to sit, wasn’t much help.
“If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
Provided for her? Sadly, probably the one she wanted to avoid calling. Okay, things weren’t looking too good here. It suddenly felt harder to breathe with her hands confined behind her. She held on to the fact that she was the one in trouble and not Maggie. Which was the whole point of her doing this, right? Right. Mental pep-talk over, she sucked in a calming breath and refocused on Officer Davis.
“Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?”
“What? No! I’m sorry, I tuned out there for a minute. Can you repeat them?”
“Just keep on pushing my buttons, ma’am. So far I’ve got you for breaking and entering, possible theft if that wiggling purse contains what I think it does, resisting arrest, aggravating a police officer, trespassing, and parking in a tow-away zone.”
Jo sucked in air and tried not to faint at the laundry list of charges, although she was pretty sure he was making some of them up just to scare her. Job accomplished, rookie cop. Her knees were shaking so badly she might just topple over.
Officer Davis hustled her over and shoved her into the back of his cruiser before retrieving her purse, which growled at him. He moved his hand to the zipper and although Jo was tempted to stay quiet, she couldn’t.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she warned. Maggie had said the dog really, really didn’t like men.
He raised an eyebrow in her direction, snorted and began unzipping the purse anyway. It was the bloodthirsty growl that changed his mind and he shot the zipper closed. “Right. Wouldn’t want to get accused of tampering with the evidence.”
Officer Davis placed the growling purse at her feet and lifted a finger to the brim of his hat in a salute. A slightly sarcastic salute to Jo’s mind, which was just impolite in her opinion.
But of course being a Yankee, he probably didn’t know that arresting someone didn’t excuse you from being polite about it. She snorted and decided to show him how they did it in the South. “Officer Davis, I think we’ve started off on the wrong foot. So, first off, um, welcome to Climax. I feel like if we sat down over a cup of coffee and a Krispy Kreme doughnut we could straighten this out in two seconds.”
He paused with his hand on the door and Jo sighed. See? Southern friendliness and manners ruled the day. She smiled up at him.
“Are you offering me a bribe, ma’am?”
“What?” She took her smile back. “No. If I were offering you a bribe I’d be offering cash or some sexual favor. Or a spot for your daughter on the varsity cheerleading squad.”
“You want to repeat that?” He had the nerve to grin down at her.
“You’re recording this conversation? Um, that’s not how we do it in Climax.” At least she didn’t think so, but she’d never been arrested before so…
“Following procedure. Just so you know, bribing a police officer is a felony.” And then he slammed the door in her face.