Breaking the Rules
Faced with compliance of a ridiculous new Arizona law, by-the-book mental health care facility administrator Allyson Cunningham must find an interpreter who speaks a made-for-TV language. Prime candidate Donovan Marshall has the language skills she so desperately needs, but shows a disturbing disregard for all rules and restrictions. While Allyson struggles to secure another perfect rating for her facility, convince Donovan to conform and control her inappropriate attraction to an employee, Donovan makes it his prime directive to persuade starchy Ally it doesn’t hurt to break a few rules.
About Arlene: Arlene Hittle is a Midwestern transplant who now makes her home in northern Arizona. She has her father to thank for her love of all things sci-fi. He took her to see Star Wars when she was six. She immediately fell in love with R2-D2, C3PO and Luke Skywalker. (Only with the Star Wars re-release in the ’90s did she succumb to the bad-boy appeal of Han Solo.) Find her at arlenehittle.com, on Twitter or on Facebook.
When Allyson followed Donovan back into the crowd a few minutes later, her eyes locked onto his rear end. He really filled out the black pants of his so-called uniform.
Bad idea, Allyson. He clearly avoids anything within a thousand yards of responsibility. She didn’t have to know him for more than fifteen minutes to realize he was hell-bent on living free of any serious commitments.
Not that she should care. If he wasn’t going to work for her, what Donovan Marshall did with his life had no bearing on her.
So why couldn’t she stop ogling his rear end?
“Stop it,” she hissed under her breath.
He turned back to her, a teasing grin on his lips. “Ah-ah-ah. You agreed it was my turn to be in charge.”
Allyson bit down on a smart-aleck retort, nodding instead. She needed this man-child’s help more than she needed to salve her pride.
She hung back as Donovan approached the gaggle of Klingon Starfleet officers and said something to them in what had to be their “native tongue.” The five of them scowled at him for a moment—at least she thought they were scowling—before one replied.
Allyson watched them carry on a short, seemingly cordial conversation. Before she could make sense of what was going on, Donovan returned to her side. Five pairs of eyes watched them.
Their naked curiosity discomforted her. “What did you say?”
“I asked them what was happening and said you had a proposition for them. Get over there. They’re waiting for you.”
She glanced at the group and swallowed down an irrational frisson of fear. “I thought you said to let you do the talking.”
“I changed my mind. You know what you need a heck of a lot more than I do.” Challenge sparked in his blue eyes. “Unless, of course, you’re chicken.”
“I am not chicken!”
With that, Allyson straightened her spine and marched up to the men in Starfleet garb. She explained what she needed and why, and handed each of them one of her cards. After concluding with “Please give me a call to set up an interview,” she flashed them all a smile and stormed back to Donovan.
His amusement was plain. “Very nice.”
“That was part of your plan?”
His grin widened and he nodded. “Klingons are warriors, and they respond to a challenge. I knew if I got you riled up, you’d be a hit. All you needed was the proper motivation.”
After Donovan finished explaining, she followed his gaze back to the group members, whose eyes were still on her. He stepped between her and them, shielding her from the hunger now obvious in their collective stare.
“We need to move on.” All traces of laughter gone, he took her by the elbow and propelled her toward the exit. Once they were in the relatively quiet concourse, he said, “You might have sold yourself a little too well. Those guys were drooling for you.”
“They must really be hard up to find this”—she gestured at herself—“attractive.”
Something dark and dangerous flashed in Donovan’s eyes. “You sell yourself short, Ally.”
“Ally-son. My name is Allyson, not Ally.”
He chuckled. “Sorry. I forgot.”
She rewarded him with a scowl. “I wish you’d stop laughing at my expense.”
“Is that what I’m doing?”
“You know it is. You just sent me to talk to a group of sex-starved Star Trek geeks who now, apparently, believe I’m a goddess.”
“Not a goddess. A warrior-ess.”
“I’m not sure I understand the distinction.”
He chuckled again. “You wouldn’t. But that’s okay. You wouldn’t be you if you did.”