Read Rapid Fire Online

Authors: Jessica Andersen

Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Love Stories, #Colorado, #Police, #Romantic Suspense Fiction, #Suspense, #Policewomen

Rapid Fire (9 page)

BOOK: Rapid Fire
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He
expected her to snap back that he wasn’t her keeper. So he was surprised when
her eyes darkened and some of the fight drained out of her. Her voice sounded
small and scared when she said, “He called me again. He said he’d seen you walk
me to my door, and that I should look out my window. The way he said it, I knew
something was going to happen to you.”

 

“But I’m
not the target,” Thorne said automatically, “you are.” Inside him, the anger
fought to get free, fought to rise at the thought that the bastard had called
her again, had tried to touch her again, if only through his mechanically
altered voice.

 

But did
he? a voice whispered deep inside Thorne, the sly, suspicious voice he sometimes
ignored, sometimes heeded.

 

He had
seen the suspicion in some of the other officers’ faces when they spoke of
Maya. Or rather, when they didn’t speak of her. They thought she had snapped
and gone after Henkes. They wondered whether she’d faked the bomb threat that
afternoon.

 

What if
she had? What if she was fabricating this new call? His instincts stirred to
life as what he remembered of her from before clashed with what he’d been told
by the chief and others. He remembered her as a quiet, studious woman with
shadows in the backs of her eyes and a wicked grin that didn’t show nearly
often enough.

 

It had
been that grin that had pulled him in. It had been the tears that had kept him
a gentleman. He had been attracted to her back then, and part of him still
wanted her. That much hadn’t changed.

 

What had
changed?

 

“Maybe
we’ve both been targeted.” She crossed her arms and looked away. “You’re part
of the Forensics Department now, at least temporarily.”

 

He winced
internally at the catch in her voice, at the knowledge that she was banking on
getting her job back. But aloud, he said, “That’s true enough, but I wasn’t in
any danger until you jumped in front of my car and nearly got us both killed.”

 

Her eyes
flashed. “I know what I heard. He told me to look out my window. I thought—”
She faltered, then continued, “I thought he’d rigged your car to explode. That
I’d look down and watch you die.”

 

The word
you suddenly seemed too personal, as though she had worried for him as a man,
not just in the abstract. As though she’d run downstairs and out into the
street to save him, not just another cop.

 

Thorne
shifted uncomfortably and glanced at the Interceptor, still parked up against
the mailbox, diagonally across the right lane of traffic. “Get in. I’ll park
back in the garage and we can head upstairs. We’ll call it in from there. No
way I’m leaving you alone now.”

 

Whether
she’d received a call or not, something was going on here.

 

“I think
we should head back to the station,” she said quietly, then cut a glance at
him. “We need to run the delivery van that nearly hit you. Didn’t you think it
was odd to see a ski outfitter’s truck this time of year?”

 

“I was a
little busy at the time. I didn’t get the name on the van, or the plates.” But
Thorne thought back, picturing the driver’s face the moment before their
almost-impact.

 

Christ,
she was right. The driver hadn’t looked shocked or scared. He’d looked
determined.

 

And he’d
steered into Thorne’s skid.

 

A slick
chill worked its way into his gut. What if she was right? What if the driver
had been aiming for him?

 

That
would mean she’d been telling the truth.

 

And she’d
saved his life. Again.

 

 

 

MAYA HELD
IT TOGETHER UNTIL they got to the PD, but when the chief took one look at her
and immediately glanced at Thorne for an explanation, the emotions closed in on
her. She turned away from the men as panic slammed against frustration, then
took a backseat to anger.

 

She
hadn’t asked for any of this, damn it. All she’d ever wanted was to do her job
and do it well. She’d wanted a chance to atone for her past mistakes.

 

Instead,
it seemed like she was making more new ones each day.

 

Thorne’s
voice spoke suddenly from behind her. “If you want to wait downstairs, I’ll
call your desk when we’re ready for you.”

 

Surprised,
Maya turned to him. She saw sympathy in his mismatched eyes, rather than the
dark anger that had simmered between them during the brief ride to
headquarters.

 

She took
a step back, unsettled by his nearness, by the hum of her emotions too close to
the surface of her soul. Without another word, she strode to the stairs leading
down to the basement. The crime lab had been remodeled nine months earlier when
they’d first started work, and again during the Canyon Kidnapping case, when a
bomb had detonated in the lab space, nearly killing Alissa and Tucker. Now, the
three large rooms were divided into an expansive crime lab, plus two adjoining
offices the women had streamlined to their individual needs.

 

Cassie’s
microscopes, DNA amplification units and fluorescent analysis machines were
ranged alongside Alissa’s state-of-the-art reconstruction equipment. Maya
swallowed hard at the familiar hum of the equipment, at the sense of coming
home.

 

She tried
not to let her descent into familiar territory feel like a retreat.

 

The three
interconnected rooms were dark, lit only by the occasional beacons of emergency
lamps and equipment LED lights. The dimness reminded her that it was just past
quitting time, though regular business hours meant little to the Bear Claw
cops, especially those on the task force.

 

Cassie
and Alissa must be out on the case. Maya felt a slice of disappointment that
she’d missed her friends. But alongside that was a strong sense of relief that
she had the place to herself. There was nobody around to see her shoulders
slump as she walked into the smaller shared office, nobody to see her drop into
the chair behind what had once been her desk.

 

Nobody to
see her fold her arms atop a scattering of papers and drop her cheek onto them.
Tears pressed, but she held them back and touched a fingertip to the charms she
wore around her neck.

 

Five
charms. Five years of successfully resisting temptation.

 

Now she
was back to square one.

 

Or was
she? What had really happened that night at Weston Henkes’s mansion? Had she truly—

 

“You
okay?”

 

Maya
jolted upright at a touch on her shoulder, but bit back the squeak of alarm
when she recognized the voice and the honey-blond hair pulled up under a BCCPD
ball cap. “Alissa! What are you doing here?”

 

Her
friend quirked a half smile. “I work here, remember?” Then she winced. “Sorry.
That was mean.”

 

“No,”
Maya countered, burying the unintended sting, “It’s the truth. The real
question is what am I doing here?”

 

Alissa
hit the lights before she moved around the desk and sat in a visitor’s chair,
which hadn’t been there when Maya had last used the office. That detail brought
a pang, as did the subtle differences she noticed now that the room was fully
illuminated. Her piles remained on the desk, but her computer had been shifted
slightly, and the mouse was positioned on the left of the keyboard, not the
right. Thorne had just arrived, which meant that someone else had used her
space, touched her things.

 

She tried
not to let it bother her.

 

“I heard
he called you again,” Alissa said without preamble, her eyes reflecting her
worry. “I don’t like that.”

 

“I’m not
exactly turning handsprings, either,” Maya said. She’d aimed her tone for dry,
but it came out sounding more plaintive than she’d intended.

 

“What
happened?”

 

Knowing
she would have to go over it again in a few minutes with Thorne and the chief,
she quickly sketched out the phone call for her friend. She left out the
physical sparks she’d sensed—or imagined—between her and Thorne in the elevator
and in her apartment, but couldn’t quite mask the fear she’d felt when she’d
thought he was in danger.

 

It was
concern for a fellow cop, she told herself, but heard her voice hitch on the
details and cursed herself for the weakness, for falling back toward the same
pattern of mistakes when she damn well knew better.

 

Thorne
was as much a temptation for her as the rum. She’d learned that once before,
and didn’t need to repeat the lesson.

 

When she
got to the part about the delivery van, Alissa’s eyes sharpened. “Did you get a
look at the van and the driver?”

 

“Yes, but
Thorne traced the license plate back to a stolen vehicle. I—” Maya broke off as
she realized she was talking to a woman whose first and best love was
sketching, though her talents had been underutilized within the Bear Claw PD.
“Hell yes, I saw the driver!”

 

Alissa
leaned over to her desk—which wasn’t much of a stretch in the small office—and
snagged a spiral-bound sketchpad and a cup full of pencils, some plain lead,
some colored. “Was his face round or oval?”

 

Though
the forensics department had sophisticated software packages capable of
generating uncanny likenesses from witness descriptions, the programs worked on
human averages rather than feel, and were limited by their templates. Alissa
preferred sketching the old-fashioned way when possible, and had a damn good
record doing it her way.

 

Maya
closed her eyes and tried to picture the scene out in front of her building.
She edited out the emotions and focused on the van.

 

“He had
an oval face,” she said, trying to put the image into words, “but his jaw was
square. More like a bottom-heavy oval.” She described the driver as best she
could—short dark hair, lined brow, jowly cheeks—and a good likeness emerged on
Alissa’s pad.

 

Trouble
was, another suspect fit all too well in Maya’s brain. Henkes was powerful.
Arrogant. Needed to be the center of attention, whether in politics or his own
home. And though profiling was designed to identify the type of person who’d
done the crimes—not the specific person who’d done them—she couldn’t ignore the
fact that her profile matched the personality of a man she already knew to be
capable of violence against his own son. More importantly, he was tied to at
least two of the crime scenes. How could she not consider him a stronger
suspect than the man in the picture?

 

Because
coincidence isn’t evidence, her conscience warned, and because you have another
reason for wanting it to be Henkes.

 

Though
she tried like hell to ignore it, the logic spooled through her mind. If Henkes
proved to be the Mastermind, she’d eventually be considered a hero for shooting
him. At the very least, she’d be back on the force. But the flip side was also
true.

 

If Henkes
wasn’t the Mastermind, she was finished as a cop.

 

 

 

AFTER SHE
REPORTED HER STRANGE phone call to the chief and gave him permission to tap her
phone lines, Maya yielded to pressure and spent the night in the guest room of
the house Tucker and Alissa had bought together just after their engagement.

 

She would
rather have slept at home, but the Mastermind had shown himself too capable of
breaching even the most airtight security.

 

She woke
after dawn, sat up in bed and groaned at the pull of sore muscles and bruised
spots. Once she was dressed and more or less ready to face the day, she
stumbled downstairs only to find that the house was empty. Warm coffee awaited
her, along with a note in Alissa’s flowing script. We’ve gone to the station.
Stay here. I’ll be in touch when I can.

BOOK: Rapid Fire
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ads

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