I won the last Writer’s Challenge over at the Writer’s Circle on the eHarlequin board. I fell in love with my characters and so did the judges so I’m developing them and the story into a complete manuscript, now entitled The Sheriff’s Little Matchmaker.
Thanks to Laurie Schnebly Campbell and her Plot To Finish Master Class on Writer Univ, I have the story all plotted out.
Here’s the winning entry:
Cajun Two Step
Sasha Honeycutt had prepared herself for Remy Fontenot—the sheriff. But nothing in her twenty-eight years could have prepared her for Remy Fontenot—the man.
At six foot four, his broad shoulders and muscular frame lent authority to his uniform, not vice versa. His holstered weapon drew attention to his slim hips. He wore his black hair short, his face clean shaven.
Why hadn’t she taken off her frumpy ‘teacher cardigan’ emblazoned with red apples and yellow pencils? And what about that last blistering message she’d left on his cell phone? Too late. His loose, confident stride ate up the distance separating them.
For the past hour, Sasha and Evie Fontenot had sat, side-by-side, on the bench outside Bayou Fortier Primary School. While Sasha seethed over a father’s neglect, an unconcerned Evie munched on cookies, swung her legs and chattered about how much she was enjoying second grade.
When Evie spotted her father, she squealed, scrambled off the bench and launched herself at him. “Papa!”
He scooped her up, swung her around, settled her against his hip and kissed her cheek. “Have you gotten into trouble, ’tit ange?”
“Mais non, Papa. I never get in trouble.” Evie patted his tie and pointed to Sasha. “Miz Honeycutt sat with me. Don’t you think she’s pretty?”
Sasha rose, brushing off chalk dust and cookie crumbs. Up close, she saw he had the same deep-set, amber-flecked green eyes as Evie, except his glowed with mischief.
“I believe I’m the one in trouble with your new teacher.”
“Mais non, Papa, she can’t be mad at you. You’re the sheriff.”
“Let’s hope you’re right, ma bon pichouette.” He reached out to shake hands. “Remy Fontenot. You must be the fabled Miss Honeycutt.”
His large tanned hand engulfed Sasha’s paler one and currents of awareness sparked along her nerve endings. His palm was wide, his fingers callused. She pulled back but he tightened his grip.
Startled, Sasha raised her head. His eyes, glittering like morning dew on grass, challenged her. She inhaled, drawing in scents of soap, leather and patchouli. A sexy smile curved his mouth and his potent gaze held hers. With an almost imperceptible nod, he released her hand.
Sasha licked her lips. “I’m not sure if you realize it or not, Sheriff Fontenot but—”
“Call me Remy, please.” His smile revealed perfect white teeth.
Evie snuggled against his shoulder, her foot jangling the keys hooked to his belt.
“Yes…well, I’m not sure if you’re aware of it, but the school day ended several hours ago.”
“How could I not be aware of it after those messages you so kindly left for me, Miss Honeycutt?”
Heat flamed in Sasha’s cheeks. She imagined the pink clashing with her red hair. “Yes, a-about those—”
“I appreciate your ardent concern over my daughter’s welfare.” He shifted Evie’s weight. “But I think my daughter is the one who needs to explain. She was supposed to go home with her friend Samantha today.”
Evie lifted her head. “Oops, I must’a forgot.”
“You forgot, mon chou? After talking non-stop about it for two days?”
Evie ducked her head and nuzzled his neck.
“I tried for several hours to reach you, Sheriff.” Sasha drew her tongue across her bottom lip but regretted it when his sharp gaze was drawn to her mouth.
“Yes…well….” Good grief, could she get any less coherent? She’d found plenty to say to his cell phone.
“It’s not that hard, chér, two syllables. Rem-ee.” His tone was deep, silky, seductive.
Sasha’s stomach plummeted and swooped like the time she rode the Cyclone at Coney Island. Like the time she got sick.
“Remy,” she pushed his name out through her teeth, took a calming breath. “I appreciate the difficulties facing single parents, but that makes it all the more important to be able to reach you in an emergency.”
“Thank you for pointing out the obvious.” His smile belied the chiding tone. “As for being out of touch, I responded to the train derailment outside Vacherie. Cell reception was spotty. Had it been an actualemergency, you could have called the Sheriff’s department. My secretary would have come to collect Evie.”
Sasha bristled at his reprimand, but Remy Fontenot, so rugged, so masculine, tenderly cradling his daughter melted her anger faster than shave ice in August. She sighed in defeat. “I’m sorry about those messages. I…she’s so precious I hated to think she was being neglected.”
“I assure you, Miss Honeycutt, Evie has never once been neglected. No, I suspect something else was in play here from the beginning.” He glanced at his daughter’s averted head. “Evangeline Fontenot, what do you have to say about this?”
Evie raised her head, squirmed, then looked from Sasha to her father, her eyes wide. “I guess when you’re eight you sometimes forget things?”
Remy clicked his tongue. “I think there was more to it than that.”
Evie shrugged, kissed his cheek then whispered something in his ear.
A sexy smile tipped the corner of his mouth and he kissed Evie’s forehead. “Why don’t we ask her and see.”
“Please say yes, Miss Honeycutt. Please.”
“You haven’t asked her yet, ’tit ange.”
Remy’s deep throated chuckle made Sasha’s knees go weak.
“Oh, yeah.” Evie stuck a finger in the corner of her mouth. “Will you come with us to Breaux Bridge tonight for crawfish and a fais do do? Please.”
Crawfish with Cajun music and dancing? Sasha’s heart hammered, adrenaline coursed through her body. What would it be like to have Remy’s strong arms around her, holding her as they danced? Hadn’t she taken a new job, moved to Bayou Fortier for a fresh start? Two pairs of green eyes studied her. “Well—”
“Papa, can you arrest her? Make her come with us?” Evie asked in a stage whisper.
Sasha laughed. “That won’t be necessary. I-I accept.”
Remy grinned wickedly. “Good. I wanted to get better acquainted with you, Miss Honeycutt, before I broke out the handcuffs.”