Closer This Time (Southerland Security Book 3)

By: Evelyn Adams

LIAM ROGERS SHIFTED IN THE worn office chair, ignoring the way his leg protested the cramped quarters. He’d been sitting in the conference room for hours, popping ibuprofen like M&M’s to keep the muscles in his back from seizing. The old injuries didn’t bother him as much if he kept moving, but he’d never survive spending his days behind a desk. It was one more thing that made his job at Southerland Security a perfect fit—that and he got to use the skill set he’d developed in the Marines to protect people in his country this time.

He spent his days doing everything from playing temporary roadie and bodyguard to walking up to the mostly legal side of law enforcement. Either way, it was never boring and the occasional influx of adrenaline made him feel alive and made the transition to civilian life a little easier. He’d seen things he wished he hadn’t, but at least when it happened now, it didn’t come with the same soul-crushing hopelessness he’d felt serving in countries with no functioning government, let alone a police department that actually worked to protect the people.

That’s what he was doing today—helping law enforcement protect people, women and children mostly. He just hoped they’d get to the end of his part before the painkillers quit. He was one small part of the DA’s case. They’d been grilling him all morning; they had to run out of questions soon.

“One more time for the record,” said the assistant DA assigned to take his deposition. “What led you to the shipyard in Norfolk?”

They weren’t going to run out if they started repeating questions. Liam bit back his groan and did what he always did—concentrated on the job in front of him.

“Emerson Southerland traced the money through a handful of shell companies. He suspected the man who’d cheated our client was funneling the money into illegal arms, but at that point we had nothing concrete to take to law enforcement.”

He’d been careful to add the last bit. The Southerlands respected the police. Their cousin was a cop, but by its nature, security work skirted legal channels and the relationship between the two was notoriously suspect. No reason to add to the distrust, especially in situations like this where they needed each other. There wasn’t a thing Southerland Security could legally do to prosecute the bastards he’d caught, but the police wouldn’t have gotten a warrant to catch them without Emerson and Liam’s work. It was a symbiotic relationship no one was completely comfortable with.

“And what did you find when you reached the dock?”

Liam sucked in a breath, making his nostrils flare as the memory of that night rolled over him. He could almost smell the stink of seaweed mixed with diesel. They’d gone to the shipyard expecting to find a container with crates of AKs. What they’d found instead was a nightmare.

“Andrews and I searched the shipyard until we found the container with the numbers matching Henderson’s manifest.” Not wanting to call attention to themselves until they knew for sure what they were dealing with, they’d snuck past the guard house and avoided the single patrol—not exactly difficult, considering the big metal shipping containers were stacked four high in some places. But even in the dark, he didn’t have trouble picking out the country of origin label. “We intended to confirm the container’s location for our client and then leave.” He paused, pushing back against the memory.

“Why didn’t you?” prodded the attorney.

“I heard a noise.” It was a lie. Under oath. And he was just fine with that.

There was no way in hell he’d do or say anything to complicate the DA’s case. There had been no noise. That far back in the shipyard, it had been almost unnaturally quiet. He’d opened the container to see if it held the guns they expected. Without the arms, they didn’t have anything to take to the police and at best their client would be out close to a quarter of a million dollars. At worst, the man would be implicated in the fraud and end up on the hook with people a lot more ruthless than the cops. Liam opened the container because it was part of his job, but he couldn’t see a good reason to cop to the B&E and five to ten years’ worth of reasons not to.