A chance encounter on a rural road changes a young cop's life.
It had not been a good day. The West Texas sun beat down on me through my windshield as I drove along the rural highway. This remote area of the county was rumored to be a haven for drug runners, but I suppose that was true of any rural area along the border. Normally, that thought filled me with anticipation, but not today.
My train of thought was interrupted by a red object that appeared over a slight rise in the road. I sat up straighter in my seat as the red object rapidly resolved itself into a Volkswagen Beetle. I reached up to the radar unit on the dash and punched the activate button. The numbers on the display flickered for a moment, and then froze. Eighty-seven in a sixty-five.
The vehicle was only fifty feet away when I snapped the cruiser's lights on and braked heavily. I caught a glimpse of the driver: female, red hair, apparently alone. I twisted the wheel as my Crown Vic slowed to forty miles per hour. Tires squealing, the heavy car obeyed my inputs and went first onto the right shoulder, then left across both lanes, and finally ended up facing the other direction. I floored the accelerator, and the cruiser's powerful engine set me firmly back in my seat.
I had barely reentered the traffic lane when I saw the Beetle's brake lights flare. The car slowed and moved onto the shoulder, and I drove up behind it and parked in the proper traffic stop position. Picking up the radio microphone, I transmitted the car's license plate number and informed the dispatcher that I was making a traffic stop. He answered my call – no backup was available. No kidding. I thanked him and opened the door.
Stepping around my door, I closed it and began the walk toward the car. A hundred things went through my head, and I dropped into the mental state I'd cultivated in my three short years on the force. The uppermost fact in my mind was that I did not have my ballistic vest. I'd had to take a unplanned swim in a muddy irrigation canal the night before, and I'd left it at the station to be cleaned. The spare vest at our tiny barracks was too large for me, so I'd elected to go without it.
The little car was indeed empty except for the driver. I stepped up to her open window, my eyes tracing over her and her immediate area. She was young and petite. Her clothing covered little more than a swimsuit, and it appeared that she wasn't wearing a bra under the loose shirt she'd tied under her breasts. I'd seen enough on the road to not be distracted, so I kept my eyes moving. She was also not wearing her seatbelt. "Step out of the car, please," I said without preamble. She'd been driving fast enough to earn a trip to jail, she was possibly involved in something, and I wanted her out where I could better observe her.
"What?" Her face turned an alarming shade of red, and her face twisted in pure rage. "I – can't! Why do I have to?" Her hands dropped to her lap.
Dammit, that was stupid, I thought viciously. My reaction was swift. I jerked the car door open and grabbed her left wrist. Setting my feet, I hauled her out and up, leading with her wrist.
"Owwww!!" she howled. "Let go of me!"
"You resist, and you go to jail for sure. Come with me." My voice was flat as I tried to keep her under control. I outweighed her by forty pounds, and stood a good six inches taller. However, I'd seen a report about a sweet little thing who'd gunned down an officer, and I was in no mood to take chances.
"Let! GO!" she yowled and turned on me, her face a mask of fury. She was stronger than she looked, and I was suddenly on the defensive.
The next ten seconds were a blur of screaming, enraged female, the road, and our cars. She knocked my sunglasses off my face, and I finally gave up all notions of being gentle, and slapped her chest first onto the hood of my cruiser. "You're under arrest," I grated as I finally snapped handcuffs onto her slim wrists. "Stop fighting with me," I barked.
She screeched once more, took a huge breath, and went limp on the cruiser's hood. I held her wrists high behind her back, pinning her to the car. Taking a breath, I looked down and noticed that she'd pulled my uniform shirt open, and I mentally cursed myself for not having my vest. I also noticed her. She was wearing faded and ripped cutoff jeans, and cross trainers. The shorts were especially worn in the crotch, and red pubic hairs peeked out everywhere around the frayed strip of denim.
I shook my head and got back to business. "Do you have your driver's license?" I tried to modulate my voice to help calm us both down a little.
"In my right back pocket." Her voice was calm now, with a tone that somehow resonated in me.
I shook off the feeling and stuck two fingers in her jeans pocket. The license was there, and I straightened up with it in my right hand. "Get up and turn around," I ordered. Not waiting for her compliance, I turned her around and placed my left hand on her chest, pressing her against the cruiser's front fender and leaning her backwards to keep her off balance. In the meantime, I examined her license.
The next few moments will remain with me as long as I live. I took in the information on that little rectangle of plastic like I'd done a hundred times before: picture, name, date of birth. The photo showed a pixie faced young woman with freckles across her nose and huge green eyes under a short mop of auburn red hair. The design of the license told me she was under twenty-one but at least eighteen, and my eyes settled on her name. Charissa.
I looked up, and Charissa was looking back at me with those huge green eyes. Her pale skin was covered in golden freckles, and my breath caught in my throat. Her shirt had come open during our scuffle, and her ratty cutoffs had both come open and had fallen partway down her slim thighs. She had absolutely nothing on underneath, and I took in that first sight of her nude body like a castaway drinking rainwater.
Her breasts stood proudly on her chest; softball sized globes capped with pinkish brown nipples tightly bordered by like colored areolas. My hand covered her sternum and half of her left breast, with my thumb a half inch from her left nipple. Her belly was flat with an adorable navel, and my eyes traced down to her dense but neatly trimmed nest of fine red hair covering her pubis.
Looking up, I locked eyes with her. She was blushing furiously, but she still met my gaze with wide eyes. The moment seemed to drag on forever, and then a flashbulb went off behind my eyes as recognition struck. "Cherry?"
"Matthew?" Her eyes went even wider, and her flush raced down to her breasts.
I gaped at her, my mind racing to catch up. Charissa Robbins, the license said. My mother's maiden name was Robbins, and Charissa was my mother's brother's daughter. She and I had spent many summers together as children, but when my mother died, my father had moved my siblings and I to Houston. I had not seen her in six years, and now this. I was five years older than her, so she had always been my off-limits cousin to me.
"What, what are you doing here, Matthew?" Cherry's voice was soft and sweet, just as I had remembered. I focused on her face, and she licked her lips.
My heart thudded in my ears, and heat suffused my body as I looked deep into her eyes. I'd always had a thing for her, and she'd been a prominent feature in some of my early fantasies. "I was assigned to patrol out here last month," I managed through dust dry lips. I mimicked her and licked my lips to moisten them.
Her eyes fell, and her shoulders sagged. "I was embarrassed to get out, and now I'm out here like this."
Her plaintive tone jerked me back to reality. "Oh, let me get the cuffs off, so you can, uh," I fumbled with the keychain on my gun belt and produced one of my handcuff keys. She leaned forward when I removed my hand from her chest, and brought her right wrist around to her side. I leaned down and freed her from the cuff, and she brought her hands around in front of her, the handcuff still dangling from her left wrist.
"I'm sorry, Cherry, but you freaked me out when you put your hands in your lap," I started. "I didn't know, um, do you always dress like this?"
She shook her head and looked down. "I went to stay at a friend's house last night. My boyfriend came over to see me this morning, and we all went swimming in my friend's pool. He," she sniffed and a tear trickled down her cheek. "I caught him – with, uh, with my friend. My suit was wet, so I just took it off, put this on by itself, and drove off. My house is about ten miles that way." She licked her lips again and looked up at me. "I didn't want to get out and let you see me like this." More tears joined the first. "Am I going to jail?"
I shook my head. "No, of course not. I understand, and you didn't hurt me." My heart was still pounding, and I smiled at her. "It's good to see you again." My smile faded. "Uh, well, I mean..."
Cherry smiled back, and she giggled softly and looked down at herself. "I, um, I've never been arrested before. She took the tails of her shirt in her hands and tugged at them. "My shirt came loose. I ... uh, should put it back on." She looked up at me, her face inscrutable. Her eyes locked with mine again. "Your shirt is loose, too."
I never remembered making a conscious decision, but in the next moment, I was kissing her. It started softly, and a jolt of pure joy shot through me as our lips met. I'd heard once that kissing cousins had an extra channel, a connection that other lovers did not have. I didn't believe a word of it until that hot summer afternoon along a lonely Texas road. I'd never felt anything so right, and something clicked inside of me as we pressed our lips together.
Cherry broke the kiss and leaned away from me. Smiling up into my face, she snapped the right cuff in place over her slim wrist and lifted both hands high over her head. "Did you know I've been in love with you since I was eight?"
I cupped her cheek with my right hand, and grasped her right wrist with my left hand, and leaned in to kiss her once again. "I've always loved you, Cherry."
"Show me," she said firmly. "Right here, right now. I'm your prisoner. Show me."
Her words spurred me into action. The entire population of the county could have driven by, and neither of us would have cared. I held her in place, her butt planted against the cruiser's fender, feet spread, and manacled hands stretched full length over her head. I nipped at her lips and neck while I explored her breasts and nipples with my free hand. I leaned down to take each nipple in my mouth, and she sighed and panted as I discovered that she liked gentle squeezes and bites on her nipples. I caressed her taut belly and soon slid my hand into her tattered cutoffs. The crotch was so badly frayed that I simply moved it aside and cupped her sex.