Undercover Engagement (Private Pleasures #5) - Samanthe Beck Page 0,1

The sound of the classroom door opening to admit Chief Buchanan and another uniformed member of the Bluelick Police Department only emphasized the importance, for her, of coming out on top in this particular encounter. “I’m going to release your arm, sir. Put your palms to the wall, head level so I can see them, and step out of your shoes.”

“This what you had in mind, ma chouchoute?” he drawled as he assumed the position and toed his cross-trainers off.

A little over a week ago, she’d finally broken down and googled the meaning of the word he insisted on referring to her by. Little cabbage. Supposedly an endearment, but she had a sneaking suspicion it was also Swain’s version of clever commentary on her ass. Now it took a deep breath and a purposeful swallow to keep from snapping, “I am not your fucking cabbage, you swamp-running redneck,” but she held her tongue. Following procedure, she used her boot to sweep his shoes aside and then position his feet shoulder-width apart. And if she kicked his foot a little harder than necessary to get him to widen his stance, nobody detected it except him. She knew he felt it, because she saw the corner of his mouth twitch into the tiniest of smiles. Lucky her. A masochist as well as a smart-ass.

“I’m going to pat you down now, sir. Remain as you are unless I instruct you to move. Understand?”

“It’s like my dreams comin’ true, choux.”

A muted but collective laugh rose from the observers behind them. She ignored both the innuendo and the classmate reaction and instead got started on the frisk. Per the textbook, she approached the pat down methodically, starting at the head, running fingers through Swain’s short-cropped, dark-blond hair. And although the sensation of sifting soft, thick strands through her fingers tempted some renegade part of her to take a longer, more leisurely sweep, she kept her inner renegade in check and advanced to open-palmed pats along his shoulders. When she curved her hands around his biceps her fingers brushed bare flesh just below the sleeves of his T-shirt. Muscles low in her stomach weakened as she took in the contrast of her warm brown skin against the lighter tone of Swain’s. Pushing past that detail, and her completely irrelevant reaction to it, she moved on to pat down his back, chest and torso. Swain’s jaw tightened as she progressed down his abs. Getting close, was she? God, why were some men so predictable? He made a warning noise—part growl, part groan—when she patted the front of his hips. Something long and hard prodded the heel of her hand. She honed in on the area.

Her fingers outlined the rodlike shape. “Weapon of some type hidden in his right pocket,” she announced, feeling the dimensions. He inhaled sharply, but she blocked out the distraction. “Blackjack, or”—she traced the length of the object—“possibly a gun, or…” She followed the diagonal slant of the weapon, eliciting another low sound from his throat.

Oh, fuck. She yanked her hand back. Seriously?

Swain let out a choked laugh. “I hate to break it to you, choux, but that weapon you’re handling is one I’ve been packing since birth.”

Over classmate laughter and the instructor’s call for quiet, she muttered, “You’re disgusting.”

“Hey, I’m just a red-blooded boy doing my best to submit to your search. It’s not my fault you found more than you bargained for.”

The comment provoked another round of laughter from their classmates. Humiliation doubled her heartbeat. Her palms started to sweat. She let none of it show. “More than I bargained for? Please.” She shoved him face front again and scrambled for the right retort to turn the power dynamic back to her. “Don’t flatter yourself, Swain. I figured it for a small-caliber weapon, and I stand by the ‘small’ part of that assessment.”

The volume of laughter rose several notches at her comeback. Instantly, equilibrium restored. But now wasn’t the time to bask in triumph. She continued the search, crouching to feel around his ankles. And there it was, pushed deep into his sock. She traced the outline until she was certain, then announced, “Knife concealed in the left sock.” Withdrawing the switchblade as she stood, she held it aloft for the class and her instructor to view.

McMasters took the weapon and ran through the finer points of the procedure. She backed away and faced their instructor. Swain turned around, lowered his head, and murmured directly into her ear, “Learn anything new, choux?”