Authors: Jennifer Morey
The Cold Case Detectives series continues as love and danger light up the Alaskan sky…
Eager to make a fresh start in life, former homicide detective Brycen Cage had thought he’d left Alaska behind for good, hosting a TV crime show. But when he’s recruited back home to investigate a state trooper’s long-unsolved murder, Brycen never expects to be so drawn to the victim’s beautiful widow. An adventurous bush pilot raising her young son alone, Drury Decoteau manages to get past Brycen’s defenses—a no-go for the lone wolf. Yet as he works closely with Drury and falls even harder for her, Brycen must also avoid a killer—who will do anything to keep dirty secrets hidden—and protect the love he’s come to cherish.
“Why did you agree to come here and help me?” Drury asked.
She propped her chin on her hand, elbow on the table. “Was it a sense of duty? You’re from Alaska, but I still don’t understand why you took this case.”
Why did his reason matter? “Duty. Anger. If I could stop all cop killers, I would. But I have to settle for one case at a time.”
What had led him into show business differed from what had driven him from Alaska. That old, haunting darkness threatened to surface. Brycen wouldn’t let it. He’d put that part of his life behind him long ago.
“I don’t want my story told on your show,” she said. “Period. It’s too real and it’s a private matter.”
As her beautiful, striking blue eyes shifted to him in fiery disagreement, shattering glass interrupted.
Brycen stood in an instant and drew his gun from its holster at his hip, hidden by his jacket. Drury sprang off the chair and rushed to her son.
A rock with a piece of paper fastened to it with a rubber band rolled to a stop against the refrigerator.
Be sure to check out the next books in this miniseries. Cold Case Detectives: Powerful investigations, unexpected passion…
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My Cold Case Detectives series is in full swing. Dark Alley Investigations is growing. For the first time, Kadin Tandy has to recruit detectives. One of those recruits is Brycen Cage, a sexy, hard-core homicide cop and television celebrity who never fails a case, no matter how cold.
Cold Case Recruit
is an Alaskan adventure. I find the remote islands and villages romantic and wild, and love writing about places not often traveled. The setting complements my secretive hero and native heroine.
Drury Decoteau isn’t afraid of much. She comes from a line of doers and has what it takes to break through Brycen’s boundaries. These two take DAI to the next level.
Look for the next book in the series—you’re in for a surprise! Kadin’s team of detectives is getting really interesting…
Cold Case Recruit
Two-time RITA® Award nominee and Golden Quill Award winner
writes single-title contemporary romance and page-turning romantic suspense. She has a geology degree and has managed export programs in compliance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) for the aerospace industry. She lives at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Denver, Colorado, and loves to hear from readers through her website,
, or Facebook.
Front Page Affair
Armed and Famous
One Secret Night
The Eligible Suspect All McQueen’s Men
The Secret Soldier
Heiress Under Fire
Unmasking the Mercenary
Special Ops Affair
Seducing the Accomplice
Seducing the Colonel’s Daughter
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For all those who made it possible for me
to work from home. I am grateful.
ith another episode of Chicago crime recorded for the archives, Brycen Cage walked off the set of
Speak of the Dead
and headed backstage. Fans loved the chilling, grisly, terrible stories. He’d discovered a talent for reproducing them in a much lighter tone than their reality, the darkest side of humanity twisted into entertainment. Ten years ago, if anyone had told him he’d end up somewhat of a celebrity showcasing murder, he’d have laughed.
He greeted a stagehand on his way down a dimly lit hallway toward his dressing room. Outside the double doors, two security guards waited. A few other crew members busied themselves closing out the program and prepping the stage for tomorrow’s schedule. Brycen liked the social aspect of the show. It beat interacting with the dead.
His agent let five or six people into his dressing room after every live taping. Good PR, he’d said. Entering the clean, white-walled, well-lit room, he saw the fans waiting for him just inside, five women and one man. The man seemed out of place in a casual business jacket with a cowboy hat shading his gray eyes and black hair sticking out from the rim. Men rarely came here for an autograph.
He focused on the women, one tall and slender, one short and chesty, one average but great-looking blonde, another taller blonde and a fifty-something librarian stereotype.
“Hello, ladies.” He inserted himself in the middle of the women and took the first pen offered him. His agent made sure they all brought their own pens. The women giggled breathlessly—all but the fifty-something. She watched with an entertained smile, or maybe a fond smile best described that look. The man stepped back and waited. He didn’t have a pen and paper ready. If he wasn’t here for an autograph, what did he want?
your shows,” the great-looking blonde said.
murder stories about real people? A living, breathing human being had suffered horrifically at the hands of a perverted monster and people
hearing about it?
“Thanks.” He gave her his standard charmer of a grin. Had she demonstrated more intelligence, he would not be opposed to spending some personal time with her.
“Are you still a detective?” the chesty woman asked, waiting to hand him her paper and pen.
She came off as shy and a little innocent. Sweet. With a nonstandard, genuine smile for her, he signed the blonde’s autograph. “I don’t work for the Chicago police anymore, no.” He came to this studio and recorded shows on cases he’d solved over the years. Talking about them was much easier than having them front and center in his face.
He handed the great-looking but not-so-bright blonde his autograph, and one of the security guards ushered her out the door.
“I love your shows on Alaska,” the chesty woman said, handing him her pen and paper.
She ruined his opinion of her by bringing up Alaska. “Thanks.”
“Do a lot of criminals go to Alaska to hide?” she asked.
“Some.” He handed her the autographed plain piece of paper. “Thanks for coming to my show.”
She looked disappointed at the brevity of their chat. This wasn’t supposed to take long. The other security guard ushered her out the door as the first one returned.
“I’m Carol,” the tall and slender woman said, thrusting a pen and pad of flowery stationery paper toward him. People handed him all sorts of media to sign. The oddest one so far was a giant wall clock. The visual still made him want to chuckle. What made that woman decide on the clock, and why have his name so prominently displayed? Did time have some meaning? The short time humans had to live? Or had she been fascinated by murder and got a thrill every time she saw his name? Maybe both. Who knew?
“Will you write
great to meet you, let’s get together sometime
?” Carol flashed her pretty brown eyes with a big smile, all in fun.
He admired her courage. “I’d be glad to.” He began to write.
“Do you mean it?” she asked excitedly.
Finished writing, he handed her the pen and stationery back. “Of course. Now you can show all your friends.” He always got uncomfortable when the groupies came to see him. He wasn’t a rock star, after all.
Her smile deflated a bit when she noticed his neutrality, or lack of interest, as she might interpret.
“Right this way,” the security guard said, guiding her away.
She looked back over her shoulder as though lamenting the failure of this one attempt to hook up with someone famous. Well, not
His show was popular, that was all. And he did like his privacy.
“Is it true that you don’t believe in marriage?” the tall blonde asked, handing him her piece of paper.
A magazine had done an interview with him once, a few months ago. Promotion, his agent had said. He hadn’t enjoyed it at all. Talking about his personal life always set him on edge. “I’m a skeptic.”
“Haven’t you ever been in love?” She smiled flirtatiously.
“Once, but it wouldn’t have worked out anyway.” He handed her the pen and paper and nodded to the other security guard.
Her flirty smile vanished at his easy dismissal. She didn’t look back as she was taken through the door.
The fifty-something handed him a photograph of himself. She’d patiently waited, like the man hanging back in the shadows. Brycen glanced over at him watching the exchange as he likely had done with all the others, nothing revealing on his face or in his eyes. Who the hell was this guy?
“It’s so refreshing to know there are people like you left in this world,” the fifty-something said.
Her sincerity brought his attention right back to her.
“My daughter was murdered eleven years ago and her case was just solved a few months ago, thanks to one of your shows,” she said. “She was murdered by that serial rapist you put away in Chicago a few years ago. The detectives didn’t put it together until your show aired. A DNA test linked the killer to my daughter’s rape and murder. I flew down here to meet you and to thank you in person.”
He had not expected gratitude from a woman whose daughter had been murdered. Touched, he took the pen she offered and the photograph. “I’m very sorry for your loss, Ms....”
“Lynden. Molly Lynden.”
For Molly Lynden and her daughter. I wish I would have caught him sooner.
Handing her the photograph and pen, he asked, “How long are you in town?”
His question seemed to startle her, but she said, “I’m staying with a friend until the end of the week.”
Turning to the waiting security guard, “Tell my agent to arrange a dinner for me and Ms. Lynden.” And then to her, he said, “I’d like to know more about your daughter. That is...if you don’t mind.” Some people didn’t want to—or couldn’t—talk about the ones they’d lost.
“Oh, why, that isn’t necessary, but such a nice gesture, Mr. Cage.” She took the business card he handed her. “I’d love to have dinner with you. And get to know you. You can’t know what solving my daughter’s case has done for me and my family.”
“It’s not a gesture, and I do know, Ms. Lynden. Many times over, I’ve seen what losing loved ones to heartless killers does to people. You have my highest respect and regard. It will be my pleasure to have dinner with you.”
“Thank you. I... I don’t know what to say.”
“Say goodbye for now.” He leaned in. “Security won’t let you stay long.”
He gave her a casual hug.
When she moved away, she said, “Thank you so much.”
“We’ll be in touch.”
“Okay.” Her eyes glistened with emotion as she looked back with a wave.
Watching her leave the room, he could put himself in her shoes. He could experience what she experienced. Feel what she felt. The anxiety. The despair. Several years of solving homicides had given him that dark insight, his experience in Alaska especially. A man could stand up to that only for so long before he began to break. He’d reached that point. He could no longer endure the gore, the brutality and, most of all, the senseless injustice. Call him a bleeding heart, but meeting people like Molly always brought him to his knees.
Several seconds passed before he realized the man was still waiting for his turn.
“I never got used to it, either,” the man said.
Brycen had forgotten he was there, so caught up in Molly and her murdered daughter.
The man moved to stand beside him as Molly left the dressing room.
“You’re a detective?” Brycen asked.
“Kadin Tandy.” The tall, piercing-eyed man handed him a business card. “I’m not here for an autograph.”
“I didn’t think so.” Brycen took the card and read.
Dark Alley Investigations.
He grunted. “Are you my competition?” As Kadin’s hand moved back to his side, Brycen caught sight of a double holster and two pistols. “Or not...”
Something about the name and the man was familiar. What was he doing here and how had he gotten by the network’s security?
“Not everyone knows who I am,” Kadin said, not at all put out that Brycen didn’t recognize him. “I run a private detective agency out of Rock Springs, Wyoming. I’ve got five good detectives working for me and all of them are on assignment except one, but he’s expecting a baby with his new wife, so I’m scouting for more.”
And he’d traveled all the way to Chicago to talk to...
? He must have researched many detectives. To single him out struck Brycen as both odd and a compliment. The sense of familiarity grew. He’d heard of this man before.
“DAI’s workload has more than doubled since word got out about us,” Kadin said.
Still stunned that the man had found him, Brycen didn’t respond.
“We solve cold cases,” Kadin said. “Sometimes families of the victims come to us. Sometimes we go to them.”
Brycen began to recall a story about a New York detective who’d gone private. “Wait a minute...you’re not...”
“Several years ago, my daughter was kidnapped and murdered in New York. There was a lot of publicity on it. I moved back to Wyoming and opened DAI to fight back against criminals who’ve gotten away with murder.”
the man who’d opened a private investigations agency in Wyoming. Brycen couldn’t believe it. “Yes. I remember you now. You don’t stop until you catch them.”
“No. Never. And neither do you.”
Now Brycen understood why he’d come here, and he didn’t like it. “Did.” He started for the door.
Kadin followed, catching up to walk beside him.
Brycen waved off the security guard when he stepped forward to intercept Kadin.
“At least listen to my offer.”
“I got out of that line of work.”
“I’m aware of that. I know all about you.”
That stopped Brycen. He let go of the door handle and faced him. How much did he know? “You researched me? Why?”
Kadin extended his hand toward the doors. “Let’s go somewhere we can talk.”
Why did he want to talk alone?
“Here’s fine.” If this went the way he suspected, he’d tell the guard to escort Kadin out of here. But what if he knew about Alaska...?
Well, he couldn’t possibly know all of it. Brycen hadn’t told a soul about the worst of it.
Kadin glanced back at the guard. “We need some privacy.”
Brycen debated whether to ask the guard to escort Kadin out or not. Not facing this would be like running, avoiding whatever Kadin would bring to light. And he’d rather not have the guard—or anyone—hear this conversation.
“You can go now,” Brycen said to the guard, who promptly obeyed.
Kadin closed the dressing room door after the guard left. Putting his hands on his hips, exposing the guns and appearing to choose his words carefully. “I need you to join my team.”
choose them carefully. He’d come right out and said what he’d come to say. Brycen wasn’t sure if he should be relieved or not. Why did this man want him to join his team of detectives?
“I told you. I got out of that line of work,” he finally said.
“No, you haven’t.” Kadin made a show of glancing around the spacious dressing room, over the desk and lit mirror, the tall chair for the makeup and hair prep, and racks of clothes lining one wall. The polished concrete floor gleamed and pictures of cities had been handpicked for a specific reason. The single window, tinted with one-way transparency, offered a sparkling view of downtown Chicago. He loved the city. It didn’t remind him of mountains. Looking at mountains depressed him.
“I’m here to recruit you,” Kadin said.
“Why me?” The man might be confident, but this took it to the extreme.
Kadin wandered back into the dressing room, going to bookshelf filled with binders. “I believe you’d make a valuable addition to my team. I need you.”
What he offered did seem exciting, and for the good. What better way to utilize his talent?
But to go back to that...
“Well, I don’t need you, Mr. Tandy. As you can see, I have a job. A
job. I make lots of money, I drive a nice car and I live in a nice house. Why would I leave all that and go back to dealing with crime scenes and victims’ families?”
Kadin twisted to look at him. “You just made dinner plans with one of those family members.”
He did, and that would always be his weakness.
When Brycen had no comeback, a half smile curved up on Kadin’s calculating face, more of a cat-got-the-mouse grin. He’d just confirmed whatever had made him come here with this insane offer.
Facing the binders again, he said, “Nothing satisfies you more than catching sadistic killers who hurt the innocent without remorse and ruin the lives of those who loved them.”
Nothing like driving his point home.
Brycen shook his head. “You don’t understand. I—”
Kadin cut him off. “The ugliness wore you down. I get that. But the detective in you will never die. You wouldn’t have started this show otherwise. Detectives—good detectives—don’t give up. Some may have a breakdown and need to step away for a while, but they always come back to what they were born to do.”
Every word rang true in Brycen’s heart. Sometimes he did miss the chase, the puzzle-solving and the satisfaction of sending violent criminals to prison. But he did not miss the horror...or the darkness that had begun to swallow him.