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Authors: Mary Calmes

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BOOK: Tied Up in Knots
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“Session?”

“Recording.”

“Oh, he’s a what—a musician?”

Morgan nodded.

“Is he famous around here?”

“And other places as well.”

“Oh yeah? Think I’ve heard of him?”

“Maybe.” Morgan’s grin was sly. “Miki St. John.”

I knew that name. “He fronts a rock band, yeah?”

Morgan gave me the full wattage of his smile, clearly pleased.

I winced. “I’m more a blues guy, Ian’s the rocker.”

“Ian?”

We hadn’t discussed much beyond the case during our short time together, which was why I was just learning about his rock star and he was only now hearing Ian’s name. “My”—the label was still a weird thing—“partner,” I went with. It wasn’t completely correct, but it wasn’t wrong, either. “You’d like him; he’s a lot like you. I’m sure you guys’d get into all kinds of trouble together.”

“What you call trouble I call good police work.”

“I have no doubt,” I patronized.

I heard a commotion in the hall then, and I saw Connor coming in, several of his men in tow. He sauntered over to us—I would move like that, too, if I were him—and explained that all the DEA agents were downstairs, waiting to be processed.

“They’re all gonna walk,” I told them.

Connor nodded. “But
when
is the question.”

“I see the evil runs fast in this family.”

Morgan grinned widely. “If you were staying, I’d take you to see my mum so you could see the truth of that.”

“You made the news,” Connor informed Morgan with a twinkle in his eye.

“Fuck,” Morgan whined before turning to me. “I think you better put me in protective custody.”

“Why? Your guy’s a rock star. How scary could he be?”

Connor’s cackle was a little bit unnerving.

 

 

IT TOOK
hours to sort everything out, collect all the evidence, book Sandell, get Hein from his office where we’d left him and then book him as well. It was going to take time to figure out who was dirty and who was clean among the DEA agents, so everyone got processed before they were put on administrative leave. I was pretty sure Brandt was going to get a promotion when he got out of the hospital, as he would be one of the only good guys left standing.

Since Morgan had been running the undercover op with Casey’s full backing, in the end, all that was left for the SFPD to do was have the marshals’ office take Sandell and Hein into federal custody. They also told the DEA to kiss their ass and basically stomped all over Koegle. I was worried Morgan had made an enemy of him, but he’d also made a friend in Vance, so I figured it would balance out. He didn’t seem worried.

That night he drove me to the airport where we parted ways, and I got a hug as I tried to extract a promise for him to visit Chicago.

He winced. “It’s cold there, yeah? I mean, we get cold here, but you guys, that’s glacial.”

I shook my head and he chuckled, and I was inside before he pulled away.

On the way to the terminal, I stopped at one of the last open stores to grab water for the plane and spotted the cover of
Rolling Stone
.

“No shit,” I said, staring at Miki St. John with the rest of the band before grabbing it off the rack. Kane Morgan was a lucky man, as were whomever, men or women, the rest of the boys belonged to. They were almost blindingly gorgeous all clustered together.

“Is this it?” the clerk asked.

“I know this guy’s boyfriend,” I told her.

She gave me a patronizing nod before ringing me up.

I was surprised when my phone rang while I sat in the boarding area, even more so when I read the caller ID.

“Hey,” I said hoarsely.

“You had to be rescued by SWAT?” he growled.

His voice sounded really good. Tense, but good. “It wasn’t as bad as it looked on TV,” I assured Ian, wondering if Morgan’s balls were in a vise at this exact moment. The news crew—all of them—made the entire situation, even without benefit of our names, sound a lot more dire than it was.

“You better be on your way home.”

“I am.” I swallowed hard. “Are you?”

“Yep.”

A two-week Special Forces op had turned into a just-over-four-months marathon, so him telling me he was coming home to our overpriced Greystone sent a shiver of anticipation through me. I’d missed him bad. “I’m just waiting to board, so I’ll be home in the morning. You?”

“Saturday night.”

My stomach, which had not reacted to imminent death earlier today, flipped over in response to those words. I sighed deeply. “I can’t wait to see you.”

“Me too,” he croaked.

“Ian?”

“Goddammit, Miro, you’re supposed to stay home when I’m not with you!”

“It wasn’t my fault,” I said with a smile he couldn’t see. “It was Phil.”

“Who?”

I explained about the nozzle who was in charge while our boss took a much-deserved vacation with his family.

“Yeah, well, I bet Kage had him killed already.”

“I seriously would not put it past him. Kage left orders and Tull disregarded them. We both know how well that goes over.”

He grunted.

“So you’re all in one piece?” I asked, trying to keep the worry out of my voice.

“I am.”

“Any new scars you want to tell me about?”

“No,” he said hesitantly, and I finally heard it, the pain in his voice. “But Sunday… I need you to go to a funeral with me.”

“Of course,” I breathed, waiting to hear who’d died.

“Buddy of mine.”

I’d been worried that maybe it was his father. Ian and his dad weren’t close, and the last time they saw each other had been a disaster, but…. “So your friend—”

“Laird. Eddie Laird.”

That was really fast. “He wasn’t there with you on the op?”

“No.”

It wasn’t the time to ask for specifics, but I was curious, I couldn’t help it. “Okay, so I’ll see you at home on Saturday. Call me from the—”

He coughed. “No, uhm, why don’t you pick me up.”

I was ridiculously touched. Never had I been allowed. Most of the time he didn’t know exactly when he’d show up, but also, Ian liked our homecoming scenes private. He was not a PDA kind of guy at all, and the reception of men returning home from deployment was loud. Artillery barrage, explosions, boots on the ground, all that big-ticket noise, Ian could do. Squealing high-pitched joy was beyond him.

“Miro?”

“Sorry. You just never want me at the airport.”

“Yeah, well, now I do.”

I was excited and nervous at the same time because if I went, it was possible I might meet other men from his unit. I had only ever met one in the past, and he transferred out not long after that, so this would be a first time for me with the group. But maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe it would just be Ian, and that was the reason for the invite. “Will it be just you or—”

“No, we’re all on the same flight.”

Interesting. “What’s the flight number?”

He gave it to me, and I heard his sharply indrawn breath, which told me it hurt for him to move. “Are you sure you’re all in one piece?”

“Yeah.”

A short answer was not good.

“So, M,” he began softly. “You been sleeping okay?”

Ian was a Green Beret who’d seen and done things that would have given me night terrors for years. I knew he’d been on secret missions to countries the US wasn’t supposed to be in, that there was blood on his hands and his horrors were legion, while mine amounted to one man, one time that showed me how futile struggle could be and how truly powerless I was. It made me feel ridiculously whiny and weak to ever complain to Ian about the PTSD I experienced after being kidnapped by Dr. Craig Hartley. Our department shrink diagnosed me while Ian was gone. Ian was actually the one who made me see the doctor, but really, confessing to the man I loved—who had real ghosts that haunted him—would not be something I ever did.

“Miro?”

“I sleep better when you’re here.” And that was not a lie. Between sex or cuddling, I slept like a rock when I had him plastered to my back.

“Same,” he sighed.

My voice was going to go if we kept talking. I missed him too much to keep the emotion out of it. “All right, well, I’ll see you soon.”

“Yes, you will,” he murmured.

There was a silence.

“Ian?”

He coughed softly. “I really… missed you.”

There were no better words.

Chapter 2

 

 

I WALKED
through O’Hare at seven Friday morning, and I was surprised when I came through the security area and had Kohn and Kowalski there to meet me.

“The fuck?” I said by way of greeting.

“Nice work in San Francisco,” Kohn said, smiling wide. “My city is the shit, huh?”

“It’s hilly” was all I gave him. “I didn’t get to appreciate much of it running through alleys and chasing down dirty DEA agents.”

He shrugged.

“So what’s with the reception?” I asked him and his partner.

“Well,” Kowalski began, smiling smugly. “We’re here to take you to breakfast and then officially give you back custody of your children.”

I was confused, and it must have shown on my face.

“Those fuckheads, Cabot and Drake,” Kohn snarled. “Jesus Christ, Miro, that shit is a full-time job!”

I chuckled, even though I knew he was right. Drake Ford, now Drake Palmer, and Cabot Kincaid, who used to be Cabot Jenner, were two witnesses Ian and I not only took custody of, but took under our wing. A lot of it had to do with the fact that they were young, both eighteen when they entered WITSEC, and we were the ones they bonded with.

“First you ask us to watch them last year when you and Doyle were in Phoenix, and then after when you were gettin’ better from the whole kidnapping, and—”

I called him on his bullshit. “That’s crap, man. Ian and I took them back from you as soon as I was off desk duty.”

“Yeah, but then you left the boys with us when Doyle was deployed and you were sent to San Fran, and we’re here to officially give them back.”

“What’d they do?”

Kohn threw up his hands. “Drake saved a little girl who fell in the water at Navy Pier.”

I scowled. “Why is that a bad thing?”

Kowalski shook his head. “The saving was good, the forgetting to call us before he talked to a reporter… was not.”

“Oh shit,” I groaned.

“Yeah, so we’re all set to ship him and his boyfriend off to New Mexico or wherever, but they’re crying about school and jobs and mostly—I shit you not—you and Doyle.”

“Fuck.”

“I told you before, those guys are way too attached, and Kage says you have to ship them out or they’re out of the program.”

“Out of WITSEC?”

“Apparently the shit they were in for is over. They’re not considered targets at this stage.”

“You checked with the Feds?”

“Yep.”

“And the investigation is closed?”

“He and the boyfriend are cleared, but because of the threat from Cabot’s father to both he and Drake that you noted in his file, the call can be made to keep them in the program, but just not in Chicago.”

I understood. “So they can be out of WITSEC altogether and stay in Chicago, or remain in WITSEC and move.”

“You got it,” Kohn told me.

“Fuck.”

“Kage is giving you today and the weekend to get it all sorted out. Come Monday morning he wants a status report.”

“And why’s he sending that message with you guys and not telling me himself?”

“He sent you a memo,” Kohn clarified. “And us. Do you need him to yell at you too?”

I did not, no.

“I mean, he can. We both know he’ll be fuckin’ happy to do it. I think he was just cutting you some slack until Doyle got back.”

“Which’ll be tomorrow,” I informed them.

“Good,” Kohn said, grinning at me. “So what, you ready to eat?”

Kohn wanted to take us to Jam over on Logan, but Kowalski wanted mounds of food and something closer, so we hit a diner on our way from the airport, some greasy spoon where a short stack of pancakes was six high. Just watching Kowalski eat was terrifying.

I cleared my throat. “That doesn’t frighten you?” I asked Kohn, tipping my head at Kowalski’s shovel of a fork.

“I make sure to keep my hands away from his mouth and we’re good.”

It was fun to watch sleek, metrosexual, model-handsome and manscaped Eli Kohn partnered with the belching mountain of muscle that was Jer—short for God knew what because he’d never tell me—Kowalski. Their banter was always fun to listen to, especially about fashion, but heaven help you if you threw out a dig about the other in his presence. I’d seen Kowalski put an FBI agent on the wall—like, several feet off the ground up
on
the wall—for quietly insinuating Kohn was more interested in his hair than in taking down a fugitive. The guy was lucky to keep his lungs.

“Hey.”

I looked back at Kohn from my plate.

“You sleeping okay?”

I was really sick of people asking me if I was or wasn’t. I could see the dark circles under my eyes as well as anyone else—I just didn’t want to talk about it. There was nothing to say. The dreams would stop when they stopped. “Why, don’t I look all right?” I teased.

“You look like shit,” Kowalski apprised me, his raised eyebrow daring me to contradict him.

“I’m fine,” I muttered, going back to eating even though I wasn’t that hungry.

“Oh fuck,” Kowalski groaned after the bell on the door jingled, bumping Kohn with his elbow. “It’s this shit again.”

Turning in my seat, I was surprised to see Norris Cochran, along with another guy I’d never met, walking toward me.

“He can’t eat in peace?” Kohn barked at Cochran as he closed in on us.

Cochran gave him his arrogant cop grimace that didn’t hit his hazel eyes, and when he reached us, grabbed the chair beside me, turned it around, and flopped down. The man I assumed was his new partner took the seat on the other side of me so I had to lean back to keep an eye on both of them.

“The fuck do you want?” I asked my ex-partner.

“Nice,” Cochran said, forcing a chuckle. “Didn’t I tell you he loved me, Dor?”

The guy to my right nodded.

“Miro, this is Dorran Barreto. Barreto, my first love, Miro Jones.”

BOOK: Tied Up in Knots
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