Saved by a Dangerous Man

By: Cleo Peitsche

It seemed to me that nothing in the history of the universe was ever so bright as driving into the morning sun. Especially with a reflective blanket of snow stretched in every direction.

I eased my car into a parking space and stepped out, squinting against the glare. The one-story brick building that housed Stroop Finders was dark, quiet. I carefully picked my way over the packed snow and ice, then waited in the entryway a moment while my stinging eyes adjusted.

My fingers danced over the security keypad. I could have done it blind, but my father had the system set so that one mistake would trigger a phone call to him, and two mistakes would unleash the combined might of three counties of law enforcement. Dad didn’t take chances; Stroop Finders had pissed off too many criminals and would-be fugitives.

Once inside, I headed to my desk—and a fresh stack of waiting folders. Dad had uncharacteristically given everyone a few days off, but apparently he was still assigning cases. And as usual, the bulk landed in my lap.

Just one look at the pile, and the enthusiasm that had propelled me into the office vanished.

My chair whined as I slumped into the seat and struggled out of my coat. I hadn’t slept well the night before, and today was going to be a slog. In a few hours, I would be heading to Florida for an unromantic getaway with the man who wanted to arrest my boyfriend.

I draped my coat on the back of the chair and rooted around in my desk drawers, looking for something to eat. All the way at the back of the bottom drawer, I unearthed a stale chocolate bar that I vaguely remembered buying. I also discovered a rubber band ball that I thought my twin brother had swiped a year earlier.

The chocolate ended up in the wastebasket after two bites. I wiped my fingers clean, rinsed my mouth with rusty-tasting water from the bathroom sink, then wrangled my dark curls into a quick ponytail.

I turned to the folders.

All new cases, but nothing particularly juicy. When I returned from Florida, I would have a week of freezing my buns off, waiting for low-level criminals to venture out of their mamas’ houses.

Now I was even more dispirited. Shouldn’t have come to the office… but I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go. I’d tried sweating out my frustrations at the gym. When that failed, the alternatives were alcohol or work, and 11 a.m. was too early to drink, even on a day off.

In the twenty-four hours since Corbin had discovered that an FBI leak threatened everything he’d worked for, my life had flipped upside down. Again.

Corbin Lagos. The source of all my woes. He was smart and kind and funny—I would have thought so even if he weren’t 6’3” of gorgeous male. His scent wasn’t just alluring; it was intoxicating. The stroke of his hands along my body inflamed the sparks between us into an inferno. His kisses left more than my mouth wet and begging for more. He was sexy as sin, twice as wicked, and inexplicably, he wanted me.

Some might count that as frightening. Because speaking bluntly, Corbin was also a murderer. It was a fact. To whatever extent I glossed over that point, I couldn’t ignore it completely.

Especially after the chilling story he’d told me the morning before.

But I didn’t want to think about that. And I didn’t want to continue my fruitless internet searches on his dead wife, also named Audrey. A coincidence that made me uneasy. Every detail I learned about Corbin only raised a dozen more questions, and it was slowly driving me insane. I needed to be distracted, which was why I was at the office instead of packing.

I shoved aside the new cases… didn’t have the concentration to focus on them.

Hoboken Syre. I could close out his file. Rob hated paperwork, and I needed something to keep me busy. Easy decision.

Syre’s folder sat on a corner of Rob’s desk. I retrieved it and began filling in the information, making sure to write neatly so that Dad wouldn’t toss the file back on my desk, the first page garnished with a yellow sticky and the word SLOPPY.

When I reached the box where I needed to describe the capture, I paused and tapped the pen on my lips. Hoboken Syre had been a special case. Rob tracked down the tip that led us to Syre, but the credit for actually capturing the scumbag went to Corbin.

I couldn’t include that detail in the notes.