All In Series Three Book Box Set (Gambling With Love)

By: Lane Hart

BOOK ONE





ALL IN


Double or Nothing






Chapter One




Lauren Jefferson



I’d never really been superstitious before today. It was Friday, June thirteenth, and I was starting to think that luck was definitely not on my side. The morning had started off great, with me oversleeping and running ten minutes late for my anatomy class. It only got better when Joe, my mom’s new Prince Charming, refused to let me leave the apartment until he got to grab my ass. And now here I was, sitting on the side of the road after some asshole t-boned me when he ran a red light. I was regretting even getting out of bed in the first place.

I heaved a sigh, wondering how much longer I was going to have to wait for the police officer to show up and do the freaking report. I knew the accident could've been a hell of a lot worse. Thankfully my car was the only thing damaged, and I hadn’t been hurt. Dancing with a cast on any of your limbs is not sexy.

“Ma’am, are you okay?”

Using my hand to shade the blinding morning sun, I turned and looked up at the lady that had appeared at my side.

“Oh I’m fine, thanks,” I told her.

“Well, I was behind you and saw that jackass run the light. Don’t worry, I’ll tell the police exactly what happened, so he can’t try and blame you,” she said, referring to the middle-aged man in the business suit stomping around a few feet away from us. His face was bright red and he was yelling at someone on his cell phone.

Relief pushed the air out of my lungs. The day was looking up, since I now had an unbiased witness on my side.

"Thank you, I'd really appreciate that. I’ve already heard him say I ran the light and his was green.”

“Oh heck no. Our light was green as grass. He probably wasn’t paying attention because he was on his damn phone,” she said. She sounded more upset about him hitting me than I was about being hit.

I smiled up at her, appreciating her support, while she continued to give him the evil eye. She was a nice lady, probably in her early fifties. With her short greying hair, she looked so sweet and motherly. I wished I could’ve had a mother like her growing up.

“Do you have any children?” I asked.

She looked down at me for a few seconds, momentarily surprised at my question, before she responded.

“Well yes, two actually. My son’s thirty-five, and just married. Brandon's a physical therapist here in town. And my daughter, Sara, is twenty-nine and just finished her graduate degree in English from Chapel Hill.”

Just as I expected. She’d probably always supported them, had food on the table or in the fridge, and given them everything they could ever need. Maybe even the occasional unnecessary things they had just wanted frivolously, while they were growing up. Both turning out to be successful, and likely happy with their own lives. I had to swallow back a stab of jealousy before I could respond.

“Wow, I bet you’re really proud of them.”

“Their father and I couldn’t be prouder. Now we just have to wait for them to give us a few grandkids, and we’ll be ecstatic!

Of course she had a good husband, and he was a great father. Not that I would know what that was like. My father was one of the great mysteries of the world. When I was little, my mom had accused three men of being the culprit, but the DNA tests said otherwise. She finally gave up, not having a freaking clue.

Over the years my mother has gone through more guys than the men's room at a football stadium. Each was usually worse than the one before, and just as much of a crack addict as she was. Her bad decisions were why I’ve flaunted my naked body in front of horny men since I was sixteen, just to keep a roof over our heads.

“Oh, finally!” the kind lady exclaimed, pulling me back to the present shitty situation.

I turned around and saw the police cruiser coming to a stop out of the way at the business center, directly behind the intersection. Our two wrecked cars still sat in the middle of the road with engines steaming, morning rush hour traffic having to brake and swerve to avoid them. I knew mine wouldn’t crank, so there it would sit until the tow truck arrived to haul it away.

I stood up from the concrete curb, wiped the dirt from the back of my dress, and started heading toward the officer's cruiser. The business man was at his window before the officer even had a chance to climb out. I could hear his bullshit commentary from where I was standing, which made me want to choke him with his own necktie. He’d hit me, made me miss my class, destroyed my car, and he was now trying to play the victim. Oh, hell no.

I tried counting to ten before I rushed over and stooped to his level. That would only make me sound like an equally looney asshole. Before I got to three the air was knocked out of my lungs. My anger and frustration vanished, quickly replaced with greedy lust.

Damn if the police officer wasn’t fine. He was straight out of every woman’s naughtiest frisk-me-officer-then-cuff-me-and-show-me-how-you-use-your-baton fantasy. Or maybe that was just my own personal one. The man was massive, his biceps bulging from underneath the bottom of his blue uniform sleeves. He stood with his arms crossed, and a pair of aviator glasses hid his eyes. Between the sheer size of the man and his tight lipped expression as he listened to the ranting business man, he looked pissed off and cocky as all get out. In other words, he was seriously sexy, and smoking hot.

My sweet and defensive witness had also approached the officer, trying to interrupt the annoying business man. When she gestured over to me, the officer turned in my direction, then reached up to lower his sunglasses and look at me over the top of them. Before I could close my gaping mouth he walked away from the two people trying to talk to him and headed towards me.

Thanks to my mother's criminal history, I’d always had a fear of men in blue uniforms. Even as a child, I saw her arrested more than once, and always wondered when they'd put her away for good. Somehow she always lucked up and one of her boyfriends would bail her out, and pay for a lawyer. But this man striding toward me with his don’t-fuck-with-me attitude was intimidating for a completely different reason. My body, well, my lady parts, went on high alert as I looked him over from the top of his short blonde hair, down the uniform covering his hard body, all the way to his shiny black shoes.

“Ma’am are you injured? Do you need an ambulance?” he asked, his voice deep and authoritative.

The only thing I needed was some mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, performed by him of course.

“Ma’am?” he inquired again, when he came to stop a few inches from me. His strong hands reached for the sides of my face to gently raise my eyes to his. Eyes that I couldn't see because they were still shielded by his reflective lenses.

“I’m fine. I-I don’t need an ambulance,” I stuttered.

He exhaled, and his shoulders relaxed like he’d been genuinely concerned for me. Standing here all open-mouthed, silently gawking at him, he'd probably thought I had some sort of traumatic brain injury.

“So can you tell me what happened?” he asked, removing his hands from me to pull out his tiny spiral notepad and pen from his front shirt pocket.

“Uh, sure. My light turned green, and I was in the middle of the intersection when he ran his light," I said nodding to the business man. "I didn’t even see him until after he hit me.”

“That’s what the witness said as well, although he swears you ran the light.”

“I did not! He’s a lying son of a bitch!” So much for staying calm.

The officer peered up at me from his note taking and smirked, showing his dimples and catapulting him from hot-as-hell to hot-as-fuck.

“I believe you. But I need your license, registration and insurance information to get started on the accident report.”

“Oh, okay. Sure. I've just got to grab it from my car,” I told him, then turned towards my silver Honda that looked more like a recycled aluminum can.

Before I could take two steps a big warm hand grasped me around my bicep, bringing me to a sudden halt. “What the-” I started.

“Oh no you don’t. I’m not going to let you walk out into the road and get run over. Tell me where everything is, and I’ll go get it.”

The officer was worried about me, and it was really freaking sweet. I smiled, then shivered when his hand caressed down my bare arm, causing cold chills in the sweltering heat. Was he flirting with me?

“Um, thanks. My purse is in the front passenger seat, and my registration and insurance papers are in the glove box.”

“Okay, stay put and I’ll be right back,” he ordered before striding off into the road, his presence alone stopping traffic. Women would brake to take in every inch of him, and men would stop for fear that he'd whoop their asses if they didn't. His confidence was an impressive thing to witness.

A minute later he was back, handing me my things. He had even retrieved my bookbag, which I would have been seriously screwed without.

“Is that everything you need from your car? Sorry, but since it won't crank we’re going to have to have it towed.”

“Y-yes. Thank you Officer,” I murmured. With shaking hands I removed my license from the wallet in my purse and handed it to him to go with the documents he was still holding.

“It’s Officer Evans, or just Tyler," he replied with another small smile. "Sit tight while I get this report finished up.”

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