“License and registration, please.”
Before Ellie could respond with her usual grunt and eye roll, her friend Jayne leaned way over from the passenger seat, straining against her seat belt until she was lying straight across Ellie’s lap and peering out the driver’s side window.
“Hey, Brett—how’s it going?”
“Hey, Jayne.” Dudley Do-Right lifted his chin at Jayne in one of those man-type greetings, then turned his attention back to Ellie as he tucked one arm of his sunglasses inside the pocket of his vest. “License and registration, please.”
“Seriously? What for?”
Standing on the side of the road in his perfectly starched uniform, his hand extended, palm up, Constable Brett Hale exhaled a long, slow sigh and repeated the same sentence he’d said to her so many times since she’d moved to this small B.C. town over four years ago.
“You were observed operating a motor vehicle at a rate of speed higher than the posted limit.”
Why couldn’t he ever just say she was speeding?
“Gimme a break.” Ellie barked out a short, harsh laugh. “I couldn’t have been doing more than eighty-five kilometers an—”
“Oh, pardon me,” she scoffed. “Eighty-seven. And you’re going to write me up for going seven clicks over the limit?”
“Normally, the answer to that would be no.” Hand still out, Brett’s jaw tightened ever so slightly, but other than that, his expression remained stony as ever. “But this here’s a seventy zone.”
“It’s what? No, it’s not!” Ellie craned her neck around, seeking out the nearest speed limit sign, which was a good couple hundred meters back, and, of course, all she could see was the back of it. Not helpful. “It’s eighty. I’m sure it’s—”
Of course now she wasn’t sure at all.
“I can walk you back to look for yourself if you’d like.”
“Told you,” Jayne muttered, making a point of digging her elbow into Ellie’s thigh as she pushed forward again to look up at Brett’s face. “Are you going to make it to ball practice tonight?”
“What?” Ellie gaped at Jayne, who didn’t so much as blink back at her. No one had said anything to Ellie about the cop playing on the team. Not that she could have done anything about it, but a heads-up would have been nice.
“I’ll be there. Which field did you book?”
“The fastball diamond at six.” Her elbow jabbed deeper as she shifted a little to the right. “It’s all we could get tonight, but we’re on the slo-pitch field next week.”
“Ow!” Ellie tried to shove Jayne off her lap, but Jayne was a hell of a lot stronger than she looked, and the harder Ellie shoved, the deeper Jayne dug in.
“I’ll be there.”
Ellie glared at Jayne, who shot her a quick wink, then shuffled her body back to her own seat. Cocking her jaw to the side, Ellie shook her head slowly and waved her hand between Jayne and Brett.
“Do you two need help with the batting order, or can I get on with my day now?”
Brett blinked down at her, clearly unamused. “License. And. Registration. Please.”
The last time he’d spoken to her in that tone, she’d wound up in the back of his police cruiser for almost half an hour while he took his sweet time running her license through the system. While she’d steamed back there on the molded plastic seat, Dudley Do-Right sat in the front seat plunking away on his computer and completely ignoring her. For all she knew, he could have been leveling up on Candy Crush or updating his Facebook status. The only time he acknowledged her was when she told him she could tap out Morse code faster than he could type.
And even then, his only response was a slow turn of his head and his usual flat stare.
Not wanting to end up in that backseat again, where God only knew what kind of bodily fluids had been overlooked at the last cleaning, Ellie hesitated for a second before huffing out a breath.
“Relax, Poncherello, don’t get your Kevlar all in a bunch.” Lifting her wallet from between the front seats, she waved a finger toward the glove box for Jayne to dig out the registration.
“Surprised he doesn’t have all your info memorized,” Jayne muttered as she rummaged under and around the owner’s manual, tire pressure gauge, various maps, and Ellie’s stash of red Swedish Berries.
“Thank you.” Brett took the papers Ellie handed him, then bobbed his head toward the back of her old Beetle. “Turn your engine off, please. I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Take your time.” She let the sarcasm drip slowly as he ambled back to his cruiser, then she turned and called out her window: “Just remember we have ball practice in a couple hours!”
“Stop it,” Jayne warned. “You were the one speeding, Ellie; he’s just doing his job.”
“Give me a break—it’s not like I was all over the road or anything. They should spend less time worrying about stuff like this and more time tracking down murderers and drug dealers.”
“Murderers?” Jayne snorted. “There hasn’t been a murder here since . . . I don’t even know. Before I was born.”
“What about drug dealers? You can’t tell me we don’t have any of those kickin’ around this town.” Ellie shut the car off and turned the subject back to the ball team. “And what’s the deal with him joining the team? I thought we had a full roster, so what do we need him for?”
“Because he’s Nick’s best friend, he’s a hell of a ballplayer, and it’s a beer league, Ellie, which means not everyone’s going to make every game, so why not bring him in? Besides, next to you, he’s the most competitive person I know, so maybe he can help us win a game or two.”
“I’m not that competitive.”
“Oh, really?” Jayne snorted. “So it wasn’t you who tried to rip the handle off the foosball table last week?”
“Wha—?” Her sputter stopped in mid-denial, giving way to a guilty smile. “Regan cheated—she spun her player, and you’re not allowed to do that!”
“Uh-huh. Okay.” Rolling her eyes, Jayne twisted in her seat and stared straight at Ellie. “I wish you’d give Brett a break.”