“No,” she said, shaking her head. “This is my grandma’s car and she put the tag on a few weeks ago.”
“It’s there,” she insisted. “She got it in the mail.”
“It’s not there.”
She stared up into his handsome but hard face. “Look,” she said, “it’s pretty cloudy. Maybe if you took off the dark glasses you’d be able to see the sticker.”
His expression didn’t change. It was still dialed to Badass Cop. “License and registration,” he said.
Gritting her teeth, she gave up the search for her wallet. She knew exactly where it was.
On her kitchen countertop where she’d accidentally left it.
But the registration, that she could provide. She leaned over, opened the glove box, and pulled out the envelope from the DMV that her grandma had stuffed in there. When she opened it, the registration tag fell out and into her lap.
She stared down at it. Blew out a sigh. And then held it up for the police officer. “Funny story,” she said.
He didn’t look amused.
“I found the tag.” She waved it at him.
He took it. “Driver’s license?” he asked, face deadpan.
Shit. “Yeah, about that. It’s another funny story—”
She broke off at a knock on the passenger window. She craned her neck the other way and felt relief roll over her.
She powered that window down as well. “What are you—”
“Officer,” he said, looking past her to the cop. “Is this woman giving you any trouble?”
The officer didn’t even blink. “She’s about to be taken in for questioning.”
What? She gaped at the police officer. “Okay, listen, I’m sorry if I insinuated you couldn’t see past the Dirty Harry glasses, but—”
The guy flashed a smile and she stared at him. Then she whipped around and looked at Tanner.
“You do sort of look like Dirty Harry,” Tanner said to the cop. “Hand me the registration sticker. I’ll put it on for her.”
The officer handed Tanner the sticker, and the two of them went to the rear of her car like she didn’t even exist. They were talking and laughing, and she sat there grinding her teeth for a beat before she exited the car. “Excuse me.”
They were still yucking it up.
“I said excuse me!” She crossed her arms and tapped a foot. “I’d like to know what exactly is so funny here. I get pulled over, nearly have a heart attack over Dirty Harry here, and then I find the two of you cackling like a pair of hens.”
They looked at each other and were set off again. Finally Tanner got himself together and straightened, still smiling. “I got the sticker on for you.”
“Thank you.” She snatched the envelope from him. “I’m going to kill my grandma.”
“I’d appreciate it if you refrained,” the officer said. “Murder involves a hell of a lot of paperwork for me. Plus I’m not sure black stripes are your color.”
“Callie, you probably never met Sheriff Sawyer Thompson,” Tanner said. “In the old days he was on the other side of the law.”
The sheriff grinned. “Long time ago.”
She was not in the mood for this. “Are you giving me a ticket or not?” she asked.
“Not,” he said. “But thanks for the entertainment of the day.” He nodded to Tanner and was gone.
Tanner ran a finger over her shoulder. “Pretty,” he said of her cashmere cardigan sweater. “Love the look.”
Callie went still and then glanced down at herself.
She’d forgotten to change out of her ratty sweats and fake Uggs again.
“It’s the new style,” she said, nose in the air, ignoring his smile and the way it affected her. “Now if you’ll excuse me—I’m late to pick up your son.”
“I’ll get him.”
“Then I’m late for a meeting.”
“You’ve got a meeting,” he said, heavy on the liar, liar.
“Yep,” she said. He didn’t have to know that it was an emergency meeting with the bakery because she needed a doughnut.
“Well,” he said. “Hope it’s a good one.”
“It will be.”
And then, with as much dignity as she could find—which wasn’t much—she got into her car and drove off.
Tanner would have liked to follow after Callie. He’d kiss that annoyance right off her mouth, buy her dinner, and then take any and all crumbs of affection she was willing to throw his way.
But he couldn’t. He needed to pick Troy up and grill him. The day before he’d come home with the obvious markings from a fight, and no amount of badgering had gotten him to spill his guts.
Today Tanner was trying a different tactic. He had an afternoon free from work and planned to take Troy out on the boat.
And yes, he was reduced to flat-out bribing the kid.
He pulled up to Lucille’s, and Troy slunk out, walking toward the truck like he was heading toward his own execution. He shut the door, seat-belted up, and then slouched, staring straight ahead.
“Hey,” Tanner said.
“You have an okay day?” Tanner asked. Jesus. Listen to him. Ward Cleaver. Not that it mattered, all he got was another grunt. “Troy, look at me.”