Chapter 1

I, Sophie Johnson, need a "Wow" factor. I am successful, I own a clothing store in the right part of town. At twenty-eight, I am considered by some to be an inspiration to women. However to be such an inspiration, goals and desires in other areas of life have paid a price. See, I don't get out much. My best friend is my cat Linus. I am thankful for all that I have. I am just ready for more. Someone exciting to shake things up, make me wonder, if I go for it, where will it lead? I need to stop asking is this real it?

My life has a routine to it, I will give it that. Up at 8:00 am. I pop in the exercise DVD for forty-five minutes of hell at the hands of a bubbly blonde. I want to crawl into the TV and throttle her most days. Got to keep fit I tell myself, I know I will thank me later in life. As I listen to myself I know this all sounds like a real pity party right? I mean I have it all, having it all, and actually having a life, do not necessarily go hand and hand. Let me just say, perfect is not so perfect when your best friend prefers Meow Mix. Now on to breakfast!

Usually I have cereal with the good for you label on it and coffee while checking my Facebook. Got to keep up with all the people out there that actually have something to brag about. Or at least an imagination good enough to come up with something to brag about. I rarely post anything. Not much going on here.

After the gossip fix its shower time. I apply the required make-up, dob on the needed hair product, dress for the day to impress. At this point, I am as ready as I possibly can be, and of course running late.

I run out to my car. A 2013 custom Shelby Mustang, screaming red, my one real extravagance. She is a gorgeous car, I call her Flicka. You would think a chick with a fast ass car would find some form of trouble to get into, but nope not me. I pull out of the garage feeling the rumble of the powerful V8, and head for work.

I am moving right along as I hit the freeway for the short drive to my shop. I have my Katy Perry mix on my Mp3 player up real loud when something penetrates the fog of music, the sounds of sirens. I move to the right to let the police, ambulance, whatever pass like a responsible citizen, I glance in my rearview mirror and realize, the police cruiser seems to be pulling over with me. Well, this is something different, when I asked for a change, a ticket was not really what I had in mind!

I am watching in my mirror as the officer climbs out of the car, that is when I see him. The most perfect specimen of human male ever to grace this earth. He is tall, with shoulders meant to snuggle in bed on. His hair is chestnut, cut medium, curling out from under his police issue baseball cap, and of course cool shades covering his eyes. Unfortunately he is dressed as a police officer and walking to my car. I put my window down as the officer approaches.

I give him the benefit of my best 'who me' smile as I ask, "Is there a problem sir?"

The non-smiling, perfectly chiseled face of the man who could be considered for a cover of GQ simply replies, "Yes miss. My radar just clocked you at 75 mph. in a posted 60 mph zone that is a 15mph speeding infraction. License and registration please." He removes his sun glasses and I am looking into the most amazing green eyes, they are captivating. I feel my jaw drop as I continue well past appropriate to stare into his eyes. He raises one perfect eye brow, waiting for the requested items, no response to my pathetic drooling, at least something goes right.

I feel myself blushing as I dig in my purse for the required license and registration. I do not catch the slight smile that slides across his face which he quickly hides when I hand him my credentials. He slides the shades back on and turns to walk back to his vehicle. I thought he was fine walking towards the car. It is very obvious from the rear this man is in very good shape. With an ass like that he is definitely not a stereotypical donut eating traffic cop.

He runs my information and heads back to my car. As he returns to my window, unfortunately with ticket book in hand, I realize I am truly pathetic. I am fantazing about a man about to make my insurance rates go up and cost me god only knows how much in a speeding fine. What is wrong with me? I should be mad right now. I am late for the shop, even more so then I was when I left the house, not to mention the inconvenience of the whole mess.

I look up and see his name plate on his starched, well fitted shirt, stretched tight over his clevlar vest and I see the flexing of his biceps in the short sleeves. The muscle rippling as he removes my ticket from his book. Stop it Sophie, remember, he is ruining your day, ah his name plate, it says Officer Pete Shaw nice name Pete dependable, manly...

"I am terribly sorry Officer, what is your name? Oh yes I see Shaw, you see I am in a hurry to open my shop. I own The Hideaway, it's in the Pearl District. Perhaps you have heard of it?" He continues to stare at me. What does he care about your shop, dork. He just wants you to take your ticket so he can leave, he probably thinks you have a mental condition at this point. "I did not even realize how fast I was going. It won't happen again sir I promise." I say in an attempt to sound suitably humbled by the sight of the ticket book.

" The posted speed is for the safety of all citizens, and there can be no exceptions to that rule. If you will just sign here." He says as he hands me the form to sign. I sign it with a huff. "Now slow down and have a nice day."

"Yes, you have a nice day too." I respond as he gives me my license, registration, and a hefty speeding ticket. He turns and walks back to his car. I change my mind, he doesn't look that good walking away. Humph guess that shows him.

I start my car Katy starts to sing as I pull out into traffic, I have learned my lesson, I slow down, maintaining the speed limit the rest of the way to the shop. I park in my spot out back. I run to the door, unlock, and hurry inside. I disarm the alarm and get to work opening the store, nearly an hour late. I know I should not have been speeding but now I am stewing about the ticket as I get the shop open for business.

A few hours later I am at the counter going over some paperwork, paying bills, the usual when my door buzzer goes off, announcing the entrance of a customer. I look up expecting to see the usual, a middle aged lady looking for just the right item to help her recapture her youth, when he walks in. Officer Pete Shaw is standing in my shop.

My jaw hits the floor. What the hell is the cop who wrote me a ticket a few hours ago doing standing in my dress shop? What is he interested in a new skirt?

He is standing on the other side of the store by the door, he notices me and starts in my direction, his gun handle gets caught on a lingerie display. I smile at his discomfort, as he attempts to get himself out of the grasps of a black sequined silk nightie.

"Did you want to try that one on?" I ask as I approach the now beautifully bright red man. I glance down at his other hand and see his problem, He has a beautiful bouquet of flowers in his other hand making it near impossible for him to free himself from the display.

"Miss. Johnson I just stopped by to give you these." He says as he hands me the bouquet. Once his hand is free of the flowers he quickly free's himself from the nighties grasp.

"Well, thank you. Officer Shaw, but why?"

"I just could tell I ruined your day today and wanted to give you something that might put a real smile on your beautiful face. Please have a great afternoon." He smiled at me. He closes the distance between us pulls me close and kisses me lightly. Then he turns and leaves.

I stand there for a few moments the shock of the whole situation, leaves me speechless, rare I know, and he escapes before I can even react. I look down at the bouquet and I cannot help but smile it is a real sweet gesture, and a real nice kiss. A real nice kiss? The man kissed me and I just stand their. Some sort of reaction, a kiss like that garners something,. At that point what can I do run from the store in a rediculous attempt to chase him? The man is gone. Dumb me did not think to trip him, wrap myself around his leg, or jump in front of him as he retreated for the door I just stand there, no wonder I have no life.

I walk back to the counter and lay the flowers down. A card falls free of the bouquet wrappings, the envelope simply says Sophie. I open the card. Inside is a note.

Wish we had met under different circumstances.

But I find myself lucky to have met you just the same.

Have dinner with me?

Pete

His phone number is written across the back.

I flopped to my chair behind the counter. This kind of thing does not happen to me. I have no idea what to do. What am I saying? I know exactly what to do, call the man, just as soon as I figure out what to say.

Not a bad day after all. I think I better post this one on Facebook. I do believe I have a status update. I reach for my purse and take out my iPhone. I type into my Facebook status update: Got a speeding ticket and a date all in the same day. I smile to myself, that ought to start some social media tongues to wagging.

The door buzzer sounds announcing someone is at the door. My head snaps up so fast I nearly give myself whiplash, a goofy smile on my face.

"My guess is you were expecting someone else?" Lindsey, my assistant says as she makes her way to the counter. She is the only human I consider a friend, and still she does not know all the secrets Linus does.

Lindsey is pretty. She is about my age I guess, but shorter then I am, probably about 5'5. She is married to a "great guy" Harrison, a stock broker, and she has a little girl. She is a what you might say a free spirit. What enters her mind flows strait out of her mouth, no filter. If you want honesty, she is your girl, she would not know what sugar coating was if it bit her in her perfectly proportioned ass. Lindsey pulls off the flower child left over from the 60's look perfectly. flip flops of the stylish variety with a tie dye Maxi Dress, auburn and purple highlighted hair flowing free to the middle of her back. Very light make-up and a perpetual cup of Starbucks in her hand complete todays ensemble. She is mid swig of the Starbucks when she notices the flowers. "Ah, you were expecting someone else." She leans in and takes a whiff of my bouquets fragrance. "Who is he? Leave nothing out. I need details. Remember old married woman here, I must live vicariously through the romantic attachments of my single friends." Lindsey sighs. "I just never expected you to have one. An attachment, that is, for me to live through." Lindsey says awkwardly tucking a purple strand of hair behind her ear and trying to smile.

I laugh out loud at her feeble attempt to remove her foot from her mouth.

"I got a speeding ticket on the way in this morning. The officer who pulled me over brought by the flowers. And this card." I hand her the card. Lindsey smiles as she quickly reads the brief card.

"What did you say when you called him?" She asks as she puts her things away and hands me back the card.

"I haven't called yet. He just left like half an hour ago. I have to plan what to say, blind calling of a gorgeous man is never smart. Even I know that!"

"Gorgeous man. You did not say gorgeous man, and a cop? Ohhh that opens a whole nother can of worms. One must think before speaking, hot cop's meet women everyday. You do not want to sound like every other desperate dateless chick he runs across."

I look at Lindsey and shake my head. Filter Lindsey you really need to install a filter on that mouth.

"I am not desperate. Dateless yes, desperate, never. Besides he came to me remember, he is already interested. I just have to figure out what to do next. What my approach should be." I begin to organize my papers, with Lindsey here for the remainder of the day, I can work from my office not at the front counter. I start to walk to the back.

"Sophie, my advice, not that you asked for it, is the strait forward approach. Just call him and be yourself." Lindsey smiles with the whole go get um confidence of a happily married woman.

"Thanks. I will keep that in mind." I walk back to the store room and the little cubical I call my office. It does not have walls actually just dress racks on two sides and the building wall on one. The back is wide open access, it affords some allusion of privacy but leaves me definitely in the thick of things, nothing happens that I do not know about. On the flip side nothing happens in my "office" that Lindsey doesn't know about either. I sit at my desk chair and ponder my pending phone call actions.

Progress. Thats what I need. I have now sat at my desk for two hours, doodled, scripted possibilities, but not been able to place the call. Really how hard can it be right? It is not like I have never called a guy before. Just not in the recent past and not a man like Pete. I know, I don't know him, really, but I know he is someone I want to know. I know he could be the one if I can manage not to screw this whole thing up.

"Sophie, you still back here?" Lindsey is calling me as she walks into the store room.

"Yeah still here." I quickly hide my doodle page and pretend to be working on something, anything at this point.

"Well what happened? What did he say? When are you going out?" Lindsey walks into my makeshift cubical.

"I haven't called yet. I been busy." Lindsey can move fast and she shoves my fake work aside to reveal my doodle pad.

"Busy huh? Girl, call the man. Just suck it up punch the numbers into the phone and take the plunge. You got nothing to loose and everything to gain. Fish like him don't dangle on the hook for long, he ain't no guppy, he is a full on goldfish now reel him in while you can." She begins to walk away. "Jeez you went and made me forget what I came back here for. Wanted to let you know I was running to the deli for a sandwich, you want anything?"

"Yes please. I am actually starving. I worked through lunch. How about my cucumber sprout pocket bread sandwich I always get?" I reach for my purse and hand her some money. "Thanks Lindsey, I will listen for the door while you are gone."

She takes the money. "You better do more then that, call the man. Now." She calls back over her shoulder as she heads out the swinging doors to the main store and the front door. The familiar buzzer sounds as she exits the store. I stare down at my phone where it lays on my desk. Now is my chance. I reach for it and punch the number into the face of my phone. I am about to loose my nerve when I realize too late it is ringing. Now I have done it, I made the call.

"Detective Shaw"

"Ah hello, um, this is Sophie Johnson, I am trying to reach officer Pete Shaw, from this morning, he pulled me over."

"Sophie? This is officer Shaw, call me Pete please."

"You just said detective, I thought I had the wrong number." Oh crap my hand is sweating and I am starting to shake I need to maintain control. Calm down Sophie.

"I can see where you would be confused. One of the officer's in my precinct wife has cancer, he needs extra time off to spend with her. He is out of vacation time, so we are all pitching in working a shift for him when we can. It helps to cover for him so he has an income and a job when he is able to come back to work. I am actually a robbery homicide detective."

"Oh wow. A homicide detective? Is that dangerous?" I ask not sure what to say, I so needed a few more hours of practice before placing this call.

"No. The detectives are mostly behind the scenes lots of paperwork. The beat cops see more danger then us. So Sophie have you had dinner yet? I would love to take you somewhere we could talk, have some dinner, perhaps discuss your driving habits?"

I laughed. "I am not normally a speeder. I was running late." I caught my breath and then answered his question. "I would love to go to dinner with you. I am still at the shop let me run home and change, I can meet you somewhere if you would like? Or if you want to pick me up at my place? Whatever is easiest for you." I was so excited, I tried to keep the glee out of my voice, cannot let him know how very much I want to see him again.

"Well it is 5:30pm now. I can be at your place say 8:00pm?" He asks. Silence is his answer as my ability to form words temporary alludes me. "Sophie? Does that work for you?"

I find my voice and reply. "Yes thats fine. I guess I will see you then." My nerves are gone and I hit end on my phone, without saying goodbye. I am sitting there hitting myself in the head with my phone when my text message alert sounds. I look down at my phone

Must have a bad connection got disconnected before you gave me your address

I quickly respond with my address and punch send before I can make any more a fool of myself. Least he gave me the out of a bad connection. Hopefully he really believes that and does not realize what a complete idiot I am.

I am still contemplating my stupidity when the buzzer sounds over the front door. I get up and make my way into the main store. Lindsey is crossing the store with deli bags in hand. She smiles at me.

"Judging from the look of terrorized thrilled on your face you called the cop."

"I did. I have to save my sandwich. I am going to dinner with Pete! I got to go I have to get home and find something to wear. Oh god what do I wear!?" I take my bag from Lindsey and head for the store room. I am grabbing my things in a semi panic. I have to go home and pick out something.

"You want to look hot, but not so hot he thinks your easy, unless you want him to think your easy, if ya know what I mean?" Lindsey says with a smile. "It has been a while I am guessing, so maybe the sleazy look would help you get your first date freak on."

I look at Lindsey. Yet again amazed how this woman managed to marry a stockbroker, live in the suburbs a virtual soccer mom in the making and yet the things that come out of her mouth. "I am not trying for first date freak. It has not been THAT long. You make me sound like Ugly Betty for gods sake. I am going to go out with a man on a date." The words 'going out with a man' sinking in to my brain. I suddenly wish I could sit down a minute as my knees felt weak. "Lindsey what am I thinking I cannot do this. I am not a dating kind of woman. I am the stay at home alone with a cat kind of woman." I look at her with panic in my eyes. What had I gotten myself into?

"Boss, you are going to be fine." Lindsey takes me by the shoulders and steers me through the store room to the back door. She opens the door for me, gives me a little shove towards my car. "Go home take a shower, if push comes to shove the little black dress is always a safe bet for the first date. Doesn't say slut but doesn't say no way either, go with that." I hear the door buzzer sound announcing customers in the store. "Got to go. Have fun, don't do anything I wouldn't do." With a sly smile Lindsey is gone into the store, back door slamming shut behind her. I am left alone by my car.

I turn to my car, push the button to unlock it and dump my sandwich bag, flowers, and purse in the passenger seat next to me. I fasten my seat belt and start the engine. Flicka roars to life, the purr of the engine soothing to my frazzled nerves. God I love my car, ranks right up there with the cop, I mean cat, really I do. I smile to myself as I pull out of the lot for short drive home, I change my music to a little Billy Squire, classic rock is what I need right about now as the lyrics to Stroke reverberate through my car. I don't even see the strange man watching from the shadows of the building down the block as I pull on to 23rd. The man sticks to the buildings as he walks along, if I had seen him, I would of been shaken by the way he watches me as I drive out of sight, a creepy smile spreading across his dirty face.