Officer Luc Moretti had no idea that his dive into the East River would have him drowning in a media frenzy. No matter how many times he tells reporters he was just doing his job, they're determined to make him into NYC's newest hero. Coming from a long line of NYPD's finest, Luc knows that being a cop has nothing to do with headlines and viral videos, and he's more than ready to get back to life away from the cameras—until he meets the gorgeous but jaded journalist assigned to film a TV special on him.
Ava Sims may be the only woman in NYC who isn't in love with Officer Moretti. That's why she's going after the real story—to find out about the man behind the badge. Ava's determined to keep things strictly professional, but the more time she spends around Luc, even she has to admit there's something about a man in uniform . . . and she can't wait to get him out of his.
Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren's gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you'll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.
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She grinned as she caught the full impact of Luc Moretti in uniform. "It is you. Oh my gosh, can I get a picture with you? My uncle's a cop, and he says you've done wonders to restore the department's prestige."
"Um," Luc looked pained, and Ava was surprised to feel a surge of sympathy. She still had her suspicions that he secretly relished the attention, but it was clear he embarrassed at the moment.
It was exactly the moment she needed to shake off the sexual tension.
Ava reached forward and plucked the cute brunette's phone out of her hand. "Here, I'll take it."
"Thanks," the girl said, her eyes never leaving Luc's profile as he turned with a grimace towards the camera.
"Okay, I'll count to three," Ava said pointedly to the girl whose hand rested on Luc's abs as she moved in close, apparently oblivious to the camera and Ava.
But the girl knew what she was doing. As Ava got to three, the girl turned her head towards the camera with a well-timed hair flip, and the result was a picture-perfect moment between a stoic cop and adorable groupie.
Ava handed the phone back to the girl, who took it back reluctantly, likely because the motion meant letting go of Luc.
"So, Officer ..." The girl's eyelashes fluttered. As in actually fluttered.
Ava stuck her tongue in her cheek to hide her smirk. This should be good.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
"I'm on duty," he says, gesturing down at his gun.
The girl all but salivated and pressed on. "Oh I know. I was thinking whenever you got off. Or another day, if that would be better."
Luc's smile never wavered, but Ava was surprised to see that the polite grin seemed almost pasted on his face, as though he'd rather be anywhere else. Which didn't make sense. The guy was gorgeous,
"Actually, I'm sort of seeing someone."
Luc's announcement caused more of a tug than it should, but when she looked at him more closely, she noticed the way he wouldn't meet the girl's eye.
Officer Moretti was lying. And from the guilty look on his face, he didn't lie easily.
Ava all but shook her head. As far as excuses went, it was merely okay. Not a good enough explanation for a girl who looked like a lingerie model and had confidence radiating off her in waves. Girls like this one would I'm seeing someone as more as a challenge than a rejection.
"Lucky lady," the brunette said, wiggling closer to Luc. "But look, it doesn't work out between you two, I can give you my--"
"Hear that sweetie? At least someone thinks you're a lucky lady."
It took Ava several seconds to realize that Luc was talking to her.
Oh no. No freaking way ...
But he merely grinned, reaching out a hand and pulled her closer. She opened her mouth to tell him off, but there was something in his gaze -- desperation, maybe?--that had her hesitating. Ava let herself be pulled to his side, even sliding her arm around his waist, but the pinch she delivered to his side said he'd pay for the lie later. At least she tried to pinch. The man had like zero body fat.
The way their bodies pressed together caused a shiver of awareness over Ava. A shiver she ignored.
At least until he slid his hand over the small of her back, down over her waist until his fingers splayed over her hip as though they belonged there. And damn it, it felt like they did belong there.
Like she belonged here. With him
Oh, this was so not good.
"Oh my god," the girl said, her hand flattening against her chest. To her credit, she looked genuinely dismayed. "I'm so sorry. When I saw you guys standing here I thought you arguing--"
"We were," Ava said.
"Foreplay," Luc interrupted huskily, as his gaze raked down Ava's body. "It really revs her motors."
"Revs my motors?" Ava asked, pushing against him in annoyance. Because annoyance was safer than arousal. "Are you kidding me right now with the woman-as-car metaphors."
"You like it," he said, looping his arm casually around her neck while giving the girl a boyish grin.
"You know what else I'd like?" Ava hissed. "If you took your police baton, or whatever it's called, and shoved it up you--"
His mouth was on her before she could finish the sentence.
It was a quick kiss.
Just a hard stamp of shut-the-hell-up. There was no tongue, just the press of his mouth against hers, lingering only slight, but the kiss rocked Ava all the same.
Luc, on the other hand, seemed completely unaffected, and as soon as his mouth left hers, his eyes sought his admirer who was already walking away.
With a look of relief, he released Ava, who was still feeling a little unready from the feel of his lips on hers, however meaningless and quick it had been.
"What the hell was that?" she asked to his retreating back since he was already walking away.
He stopped and turned back. "What was that."
He turned around, but didn't stop moving as he walked backwards. "That, Sims, was a test."
She started after him. "Yeah? What did it prove?"
"That I like your mouth a hell of a lot better when it's not yapping. Now you coming, or what?"
Ava glared at his retreating back.
Yup, it was official. America's Hero was a total ass.
But the man could kiss.
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