Hungry Like the Wolf(6)

By: Paige Tyler

Officer Hale Delaney, eight years on the force, the last three with SWAT. Taught martial arts to underprivileged children in his free time.

Senior Corporal Michael Lavare Taylor, eleven years on the force, the last five with SWAT. His records had a big gap missing, indicating he’d probably been an undercover officer before he joined SWAT.

Mac studied the three men as they stood talking. No doubt going over last-minute details before entering the building. They didn’t look like they were on drugs. They were too relaxed and sure of themselves. If they were juicing, their hands would be shaking or something, wouldn’t they? For the first time since talking to Marvin, she began to think he’d been full of crap.

“If these guys are up to no good, they’re the hunkiest dirty cops I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Zak shrugged. “I guess some women might consider them attractive.”

She raised a brow. “Some?”

He went back to snapping pictures, this time getting close-ups of each SWAT member. “The ones who’re only interested in muscular men who kick in doors and shoot things.”

Her lips twitched. “Versus men who do what? Take pictures and eavesdrop on police scanners?”

“And program their own phone apps,” he told her. “Trust me. That skill is in high demand these days.”

Mac shook her head. Zak had nothing to feel inferior about, but they’d been ragging on each other since college, so she couldn’t resist teasing him.

She was about to remind him he’d been talking about hitting the gym more often when the door on the operations vehicle opened again and an even bigger man stepped out. She pointed at him. “I want pictures of him. Lots of pictures.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Zak groused, thumbing a button on his camera and taking rapid-fire shots of the primary focus of her investigation.

It was possible the SWAT commander wasn’t even aware someone on the team was using drugs to improve his performance, but instinct told her if there was something going on, Sergeant Gage Dixon knew about it. Which was why Mac had put his name at the top of her list.

Three other men followed the SWAT commander out of the vehicle, but it was almost impossible to do anything but ignore them—Dixon was that mesmerizing.

Dixon was the type of man who made it hard to notice anyone around him, even the other members of the SWAT team, who looked as if they should each have their own month in the Hot Cops of the Dallas Police Department calendar right along with him. It wasn’t simply that Dixon was tall, muscular, and sinfully gorgeous. It wasn’t even that he was a charismatic leader. It was that he had a presence, which made every head turn his way—male and female.

Sergeant Gage Dixon, fifteen years on the force, the last ten with SWAT. Previous military experience as a U.S. Army Ranger, two years in the narcotics division, and commendations out the wazoo. She didn’t have to refer to her personnel record to remember those facts. She’d learned everything about him she could, including the fact that he’d replaced every single member on the tactical team with his own handpicked people after taking charge when he was promoted to sergeant eight years ago.

That by itself gave her reason to think something was fishy. Organizational trends being what they were, it was highly unusual there’d be a one-hundred-percent turnover in such a peach assignment in such a short period of time—unless someone pushed to make that happen. And that someone was Gage Dixon.

She finally forced her attention to the other men who’d come out of the operations vehicle behind Dixon, trying to figure out who they were. The one wearing a uniform was obviously a cop—a lieutenant she guessed—probably the on-scene commander who’d called in the SWAT team. The shorter guy next to him was also easy to ID. The white shirt, hard hat, big radio on his belt, and a familiar logo above the pocket on his shirt indicated he worked for the local power company. The last guy had her stumped, though. He had unkempt hair and wore a cheap herringbone sports coat, but he didn’t have a sidearm or radio that she could see. Whoever he was, he got along well with Dixon. They shook hands, then did one of those weird shoulder-squeeze things men did when they were giving an enthusiastic hug.