Authors: Mary Calmes
Tags: #Gay Romance
By Mary Calmes
Marshals: Book Three
Miro Jones is living the life: he’s got his exciting, fulfilling job as a US deputy marshal, his gorgeous Greystone in suburban Chicago, his beloved adopted family, and most importantly, the man who captured his heart, Ian Doyle. Problem is, Ian isn’t just his partner at work—Ian’s a soldier through and through. That commitment takes him away from Miro, unexpectedly and often, and it’s casting a shadow over what could be everything Miro could ever dream of.
Work isn’t the same without Ian. Home isn’t the same, either, and Miro’s having to face his fears alone… how to keep it together at the office, how to survive looming threats from the past, and worst of all, how to keep living without Ian’s rock-solid presence at his side. His life is tied up in knots, but what if unknotting them requires something more permanent? What would that mean for him and Ian? Miro’s stuck between two bad choices, and sometimes the only way to get out of the knot is to hold tight to your lifeline and pull.
Table of Contents
My sincerest thanks to: Lynn West, who makes everything I do so much better. Rhys Ford, I always know you’re on my side. Lisa Horan, without the safety net you keep ready, I’d be in real trouble. And Captain West, without your expertise, I’d be a lost ball in the tall grass.
lived, I was going to make sure by whatever means necessary that I’d never be loaned out to the DEA again.
If this were a normal assignment, I’d have been following my partner, Ian Doyle, as he ran like a madman after our suspect. But this time, I was hotly pursuing a police officer I met a week ago who was a few feet in front of me, careening around corners after a fleeing DEA agent. If we didn’t catch him before he locked himself into a bolt-hole, the cop and I were probably dead men. We didn’t know how far his dirty fingers reached or which member of his team he’d gotten to smear their badge.
I hated those prima donna DEA assholes to begin with, and normally it wouldn’t even be an issue, but my boss, Chief Deputy US Marshal Sam Kage, was on vacation, and the nozzle covering for him disregarded Kage’s golden rule on interdepartmental sharing. Basically, unless we, the marshals, were running the op, his team didn’t come out to play. It first went into effect when I was almost killed on a bust run by the bureau. I had no idea how he got away with it, but his word was law, and he didn’t want any of us put into danger by members of a team we were working with. The “no sharing clause” was ironclad.
The problem was that Phillip “Call me Phil, there, buddy” Tull was all about grandstanding and kudos from the mayor and public relations wet dreams. Since the highest-profile cases involved drugs… he loaned us out almost immediately. I was the only one who ended up having to fly to the West Coast; everyone else got assigned much closer to home.
“I fuckin’ hate Wisconsin,” Becker had griped as he grabbed PowerBars out of his desk before he left with Ching to drive to Green Bay.
“At least you’re not going to Maine!” Ryan yelled, and Dorsey gave me a grimace of agreement as they left together.
I was the only one going alone because Ian, my partner slash lover slash best friend and maybe fiancé—hard to say how he felt about that word—was deployed, along with the rest of his Special Forces team, and not running for his life with me. If I died on this job, Phillip “Call me Phil, there, buddy” Tull, who also made finger guns whenever he said that, would be fed to our dog, balls first. Nobody wanted to mess with Ian Doyle, especially not where I was concerned. He was slightly possessive.
funny, really. I’d been loaned out to the DEA to dig up their dirt, but the op had changed when a guy with hard blue eyes and an even harder handsome face walked into Broken Record on Geneva as I was having an after-hours snack of lobster mac ’n’ cheese at the bar. I had a lot of late nights when Ian wasn’t around because when he wasn’t, I didn’t sleep. I could have taken something, but that was a slippery slope I never wanted to start down. So I was there, and the cop came close—he was obviously on the job, no mistaking the strut—and took a seat beside me. I was all set to make some small talk in greeting to a fellow badge when he picked up a fork from the place setting in front of him on the counter and helped himself to a mouthful of my food.
I turned my chin and looked at him, and he said the magic words through a mouthful of cheesy goodness. “Eli Kohn says I can trust you.”
Since the guy he just mentioned was a fellow marshal in Chicago who transferred from the San Francisco office, and since I trusted said man with my life, I waited to see what else the stranger had to say. Using Kohn’s name to parley with was smart. It held a lot of weight with me. I needed to hear him out.
“Senior Inspector Kane Morgan, SFPD.” He showed me a gold badge that’d taken a few hits in its lifetime, but he looked like the kind of guy who’d wear those dings and scratches proudly.
I didn’t have to flash my badge. He’d come looking for me, and oddly enough, in a city of millions, found me easily, but I did him the courtesy of introducing myself. “Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones.”
“Oh, I know. See, I have a problem, boyo, and you’re right in the middle of it.” There was Irish in his words, a roiling reminder of dark beer and black-hearted men.
It was never good to hear you were at the center of someone else’s shitstorm, and what the hell was it with me and Irishmen, anyway? Couldn’t get away from them.
“And what’s your problem?” I asked, because there was no way I couldn’t after we bonded over Kohn and mac ’n’ cheese.
“A DEA agent you’re working with is moving more drugs than a Colombian cartel.”
It was an overstatement, of course, but it made his intention clear. “No,” I groaned.
“Yes,” Morgan said almost cheerfully. “Goes by the name Sandell.”
“No, no.” It was getting worse, not better.
He gave me a quick nod with an accompanying grin.
No one wanted to hear a DEA guy was dirty—even though in my experience most of them were—but I especially didn’t want to hear that it was the one guy I was in town to work with. When Sandell had met me at the airport with a couple of his men, I’d thought he was okay, ordinary, not a thing remotely interesting about the man. Nothing he’d done or said had tripped any alarms in me or put me on edge. But apparently my instincts were for shit if Morgan was to be believed, and really, it was obvious I should.
“And the worst part is,” he continued, still eating my food. Clearly the man had skipped dinner. “I have a string of dead girls his men used as mules, but I just need a bit more evidence to connect the dots so we can take him down.”
He was already saying “we.”
I turned my head to appraise the man sitting beside me. With the glossy jet-black hair and blue eyes, I bet he had lots of men and women doing whatever he needed or wanted. But I was both very taken and very much by the book.
“Sounds like you need my help.”
“What do you think I’m doing here? I mean, the mac ’n’ cheese is good and your company is charming, but come on.”
I ignored the last bit. “Is there someone local here you can tag? In the DEA? Do you know anyone besides him?”
No response, but it was hard to tell if he was hungry or thinking.
“I’m just in for a quick op,” I explained. “So unfortunately I don’t know all the players. I mean, his whole team could be dirty, and I couldn’t tell you a damned thing unless they were holding a kilo of coke in their hands.”
He cleared his throat. “Let me tell you about my local DEA contact, Alex, and the shit he’s been handed.”
Clearly he’d been thinking about a response and was hungry to boot.
I listened as he told me about a buddy of his, Alex Brandt, laid up in a nearby hospital and fighting for his life because he’d been hit enough times to actually be classified as a piñata.
Brandt had been tracking product while Morgan was looking into a string of drug mule murders when their investigations crossed paths. Already friends, they shared information instead of doing the usual posturing and figured out someone in Brandt’s office was ten kinds of dirty.
Once Brandt turned up tenderized nearly to death, Morgan was pretty sure he knew who it was. At that point he didn’t have jurisdiction or clout, and once his unofficial partner went to the hospital, he was left swinging in the wind, not knowing who he could trust. So Morgan reached out to Kohn, whom he knew from before he transferred, who in turn handed him my name.
That was seven days ago.
After lots of skulking around the office, some easy hacking, and help from Brandt’s best friend, Cord Nolan—a private investigator—to break into Sandell’s house, Morgan and I found the go-to guy. So we started Thursday there, traipsing up six flights of stairs to an office where we hoped we could convince Tommy Hein, money launderer, that turning on Sandell was in his best interests. Halfway up Morgan passed me an earpiece.
“What is this for?”
“What do you think?”
He was a smartass just like Ian—that’s what I thought.
“Stop for a second and I’ll pair it to your phone. We’ll keep a line open between us for in case we get separated, I can guide you back in. Especially since you’ve no idea where you’re going and this part of town is like a damned maze.”
He was right; I knew nothing about San Francisco. I took it and hooked it over my ear. “I feel like a real douche with this on.” I hated being in line for coffee somewhere and thinking people were talking to me, only to turn around and get a look like I was a leper—that sneer of contempt—because they were talking to the person in their ear.
His inelegant snort made me smile. “Yeah, well, you’ll be thanking me if you end up standing in a back alley smelling of piss and cabbage and can’t find your way out.”
There was that.
He got us connected as we closed on the office. Once at the door, I went to knock, but Morgan raised a hand to stop me.
“Better way of doing this, Jones.” And he kicked it down.
“Really?” I said drolly. Why? When had subtlety become
a thing in police work?
“It’s called element of surprise,” he assured me.
Jesus, could he be any more like Ian?
Morgan flashed his badge and had his hand on his gun. “SFPD, Hein. Put your hands where we can see them.”
“You can’t come in here!” Hein bellowed from behind his desk. He was shoving papers into drawers. “You can’t—”
“He can, he’s with me. Federal marshal,” I announced, following Morgan’s badge with my star and watching as Morgan’s grin in all its wicked glory spread across his chiseled features. That was what shit-eating looked like.
“Fuck,” Hein groaned.
“Hands away from the computer,” Morgan ordered.
According to what Hein was trying to hide, Sandell had offshore accounts, some in the Caymans and even some Swiss. Everything about Sandell and his operations, including a conversation about taking out Brandt and Morgan, was right there in front of us on files small enough to fit on my phone.
Just as the final file hit my memory card, Sandell came through the doorway of the office with a duffel bag. “I’ve got some cash you need to drop, Hein,” he said, stepping through the broken door, apparently just noticing its appearance. “What the hell hap—”
He stopped short, his eyes frozen on Hein sitting on the floor with PlastiCuffs on his ankles and his hands zipped behind his back. One blink and Sandell bolted back out into the hallway, lugging the duffel with him.
I got that he didn’t want to ditch whatever was in there, and when I reached the sidewalk, I understood why.
Money was flying everywhere, drawing a small crowd of people between us and a fleeing Sandell. He had cash in the bag—quite a bit, by the look of it—and now he was letting the bills loose on the breeze, and having them flutter all over the street was a great diversionary tactic that would slow us down considerably.
“Jones, I’m going to switch over to dispatch,” Morgan said, breaking past the crowd. “Try to keep up. Dispatch, do you read me?”
And we started to run.