The Great Pick Up Line
Welcome Cindy Procter-King as they share their Great Pick Up Line from Picture Imperfect.
Take it away Cindy!
Gabe McKenzie clenched his jaw against the dull, bullet-torn ache gripping his ass. After seven years with the LAPD, rowdy crowds shouldn’t rile him, but the scene in his low-life uncle’s photography studio rivaled Venice Beach at Carnevale. And if one more of these cover-boy wannabes touched his butt—accidentally or otherwise—they’d better be prepared to lose an arm. Because he’d had it.
“Do you mind?” Elbowing aside a guy in frayed jean shorts, Gabe signaled the girl at the reception desk. He’d returned to Seattle three days ago and had a physical therapy appointment this afternoon he couldn’t miss. If his mother hadn’t begged him to check out vandalism and threats at her brother-in-law’s studio, Gabe wouldn’t have ventured near Victor McKenzie Photography.
He signaled again. The receptionist’s attention remained riveted to the men clustered around her desk.
Enough. Forget a polite request. Gabe would follow the raven-haired photographer who’d shouted his uncle’s name as she charged down the main corridor moments ago, clenching the straps of her big camera over the white blouse covering small, but no less curvy, breasts.
Moving slowly so he wouldn’t strain his stiff right glute, Gabe slipped around the corner and into a hall decorated with framed portraits. The photographer strode toward him now, black eyebrows furrowed. Behind her, an office door rattled on squeaking hinges.
Spotting him, she stopped dead in her tracks. “You shouldn’t be back here.”
“I need to see Vic.”
Her face paled. “He’s with someone.”
“Then I’ll wait. Here. But I won’t return to that zoo.” Gabe jabbed a thumb toward the waiting room.
“You don’t have a choice, Mr.—”
Her frown eased. In fact, for an instant, her full mouth tipped into an expression someone desperate for affection might mistake for a smile. “I’m sorry, Gabe. Seeing Mr. McKenzie won’t bump you to the head of the line. I’m in charge of the Real Men shoot, not him.”
“I’m not here to have my picture taken.” With a practiced eye honed by years on the job, Gabe catalogued her age and appearance in three heartbeats: about twenty-five, straight dark hair hanging past her shoulders, jeans, chunky belt. Thick lashes framed dark blue eyes he wouldn’t mind waking up to. Her left thumb sported a thick ring of hammered silver, the right pinky a slim gold band. What his female desk sergeant in Los Angeles had called a French manicure highlighted long fingernails that could easily emasculate a guy were he dumb enough to land on her bad side.
And this brunette no doubt had a bad side.
Man, even ticked off, she was stunning.
“Vic McKenzie is my uncle.”
Her gaze zipped over him. “You’re kidding.”
Gabe didn’t require psychic abilities to read her mind—no family resemblance whatsoever. Vic stood maybe five-six, with a belly as round as a giant panda’s. His hook nose, brown eyes, and swarthy skin bore traces of his Sicilian heritage.
“My dad was his brother,” Gabe explained. “My grandparents adopted Vic.”
“You’re sure the biological ones were human?”
Gabe laughed. “Vic isn’t so bad…in small doses.” Personally, once a decade would suit. “I can’t imagine it’s a thrill working for him though.”
“Now you understand my problem.” She lifted a hand. “I don’t want to insult your uncle, but I’m having a horrible day. Someone screwed up the model ad for my magazine shoot, and I’m pretty sure it was Mackie. We wanted everyday Joes, so the state of their bodies isn’t the issue.” She cringed. “It’s the state of their undress.”
“The shorts. The tightie-whities. The thongs. The ad was supposed to read ‘shirts off,’ not ‘leave your inhibitions at home.’ Mackie’s lucky I’m not quitting here and now.” She twirled her gold pinky ring. “But I can’t, which he well knows.”
“I can understand your frustration with my uncle, Miss—”
“Scott. Ursula Scott.”
“I really do need to see him. I promised my mom.”
Her gaze lingered on the old T-shirt he wore beneath a battered leather jacket. She rested a hand on the large lens of her camera. “If you’re Mackie’s nephew, why haven’t we met before?” She looked him in the eyes. “I’ve worked here since May.”
That deep, mesmerizing blue reached inside him. “Just moved back to town. Vic and I aren’t close, but he’s tight with my mom.” Who turned a deaf ear to the seedy aspects of Vic’s life. The strip joints and countless women. Vic had placed Gabe’s mom on a pedestal for as long as Gabe remembered and, therefore, the guy remained on his best behavior around her. Meanwhile, she treated Vic like a four-years-younger brother, her last link to Gabe’s dad.
“Can you help a guy out?” he asked the photographer.
Picture Imperfect by Cindy Procter-King
Just when she thought she had her life on autofocus…
Photographer Ursula Scott is six short months from buying her boss’s studio and helping her family knock down a massive debt. She can put up with his hairball antics for that long, right?
But, oh, he makes life difficult. She can barely restrain herself when he hogs credit for her assignments, and now half-naked weirdos are responding to his ad for her first magazine photo spread. On top of that, someone is sabotaging the studio. Worse, she discovers her sexy apprentice is a former cop practicing his newbie PI skills on the case—and she’s a suspect!
Suddenly, Ursula’s dreams and hard work seem about to go up in smoke. In more ways than one.
Well, not on her watch.
When Gabe McKenzie moves home following the shooting that kyboshed his career, he doesn’t expect to get sucked into finding the culprit wreaking havoc at his uncle’s photography studio. He certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Ursula Scott, a long-legged brunette with a definite motive and a desire to play Nancy Drew. Even as he clears her, the sabotage escalates into a bizarre stalking, placing Ursula…and Gabe’s hopes for their future…in danger.
If only he can convince her to stop snooping around and let him do his job as a PI, before an unknown menace threatens not only her dreams—but her life.
About Cindy Procter-King
Cindy Procter-King writes sassy suspense, rollicking romantic comedy, and heart-tugging small-town romance. To sum it up, feel-good fiction! A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart finalist, Cindy’s mission in life is to see her surname spelled properly—with an E. That’s P-r-o-c-t-E-r. Never, under any circumstances, should you spell it with two O’s (shudder).
Cindy’s novels and short fiction are available as eBooks from retailers all over the world, as well as in trade paperback, library hardcover and large print, some foreign editions, and audiobooks.
Cindy lives in beautiful British Columbia with her family, a cat obsessed with dripping tap water, and Allie McBeagle.