Authors: Delores Fossen
“Oh yeah?” Katelyn caught his shoulder and turned him around. She positioned his hands, palms flat, against the wall and patted him down. “I doubt it, since it might just save a few people from dying.”
The man was certainly solid. And built. Her fingers skimmed over lots of hard, sinewy muscles. Odd. She'd never noticed anything like that before when frisking a subject. Maybe it had something to do with his memorable aftershave.
She located his wallet. Except she realized it wasn't a wallet. She flipped open the too-familiar case and read the name aloud. “Joseph Rico.”
“Sergeant Joe Rico,” he clarified, and turned back around to face her. “Homicide. SAPD.”
Katelyn's breath landed somewhere around that knot in her stomach.
Sergeant Rico moved her out of the doorway and turned to leave, delivering the rest of his news from over his shoulder. “Oh, and by the way, I'm your new boss.”
Dear Harlequin Intrigue Reader,
Temperatures are rising this month at Harlequin Intrigue! So whether our mesmerizing men of action are steaming up their love lives or packing heat in high-stakes situations, July's lineup is guaranteed to sizzle!
Back by popular demand is the newest branch of our Confidential series. Meet the heroes of NEW ORLEANS CONFIDENTIALâtough undercover operatives who will stop at nothing to rid the streets of a crime ring tied to the most dangerous movers and shakers in town.
bestselling author Rebecca York launches the series with
âa darkly sensual tale about a secret agent who uses every resource at his disposal to get his former flame out alive when she goes deep undercover in the sultry French Quarter.
The highly acclaimed Gayle Wilson returns to the lineup with
. In book three of PHOENIX BROTHERHOOD, it's a race against time to prevent a powerful terrorist organization from unleashing unspeakable harm. Prepare to become entangled in
by Patricia Rosemoorâbook three in CLUB UNDERCOVERâwhen a clandestine investigation plunges a couple into dangerâ¦.
Our sassy inline continuity SHOTGUN SALLYS ends with a bang! You won't want to miss
by Linda O. Johnston. In Cassie Miles's newest Harlequin Intrigue titleâ
Protecting the Innocent
âa widow trapped in a labyrinth of evil brings out the Achilles' heel in a duplicitous man of mystery.
Delores Fossen's newest thriller is not to be missed.
arouses searing desires when two bickering cops pose as doting fiancÃ©s in their pursuit of a deranged sniper!
Enjoy our explosive lineup this month!
Senior Editor, Harlequin Intrigue
Imagine a family tree that includes Texas cowboys, Choctaw and Cherokee Indians, a Louisiana pirate and a Scottish rebel who battled side by side with William Wallace. With ancestors like that, it's easy to understand why Texas author and former air force captain Delores Fossen feels as if she was genetically predisposed to writing romances. Along the way to fulfilling her DNA destiny, Delores married an air force top gun who just happens to be of Viking descent. With all those romantic bases covered, she doesn't have to look too far for inspiration.
679âA MAN WORTH REMEMBERING
Sergeant Joe Rico
âOne of San Antonio PD's finest, he's put in charge of collaring a high-profile sniper who goes after newlyweds. What Joe hadn't counted on was the intense attraction to his new partner and undercover fiancÃ©e, Katelyn.
Detective Katelyn O'Malley
âShe's trying to earn a name for herself in the department, so the last thing she's looking for is a personal involvement with Joe. But it's hard to push aside the hot Latino cop when their undercover assignment forces them together night and day.
âThe owner of the Perfect Match Agency. Is he murdering his own clients to lash out at his fiancÃ©e for ending their engagement?
âA frequent client at Perfect Match. She was rebuffed by the grooms who became the sniper's targets.
âPerfect Match employee with a history of violent behavior. He claims he's trying to help catch the sniper, but maybe he's just trying to cover his own tracks.
Dr. Allen Kent
âThe ex-husband of the first murdered bride. Is his connection to Perfect Match simply a coincidence, or is he really the sniper?
Lieutenant Brayden O'Malley
âHead of Homicide and Katelyn's brother. He wants his sister to succeed but fears she's in over her head with both the sniper case and Joe.
For Don and Orloene
San Antonio, Texas
Detective Katelyn O'Malley stood in the entrance hall and studied each of the wedding guests as they trickled into Sacred Heart church.
If she got lucky, very lucky, maybe no one would be murdered today.
Too bad there was the little annoying buzz in the back of her head that said all hell might break loose before the bride and groom managed to say I do.
While she directed the guests to sign the registryâa duty she'd created for her coverâKatelyn continued her surveillance. She mentally dismissed two giggling teenage girls whose dresses were so skintight that they couldn't have been carrying concealed weapons, or much of anything else for that matter. Besides, if her profile of the killer was right, she wasn't looking for a female but a male in his late twenties or early thirties.
A male who'd already killed two people.
“See anything?” she heard her brother, Garrett, ask through her earpiece. He was posted outside the church. Watching their backs. And sides. It'd taken some effort, but she'd managed to get photos of thirty-nine of the forty-one guests. Not bad odds. If someone uninvited showed up, Garrett would know and could relay it to her.
Katelyn kept her voice at a whisper and spoke into the tiny communicator tucked in the neckline of her dress. “So far, so good. How about you?”
“Nothing. Well, nothing other than being hit on by one of the bridesmaids.”
That wasn't anything new. Lots of women hit on her brother. “Was she armed?” Katelyn was only partly sarcastic.
“No. Unfortunately, I have firsthand knowledge that she wasn't, since she tripped over her lavender taffeta gown and fell right in my arms.” He paused. “I guess this is a good time to remind you that your lieutenant will have our butts if he finds out about this little unauthorized stakeout you arranged?”
“He won't find out,” Katelyn said with certainty she didn't feel. The lieutenant in question was her oldest brother and head of Homicide. And he would find out. No doubt about it. Still, if she could stop someone from being killed today, she'd gladly take the flak over her yet-to-be-an-official-part of this investigation.
“Okay, can I add then that this is probably a waste of a really great Saturday afternoon?” Garrett
continued. “You're assuming the other two murders weren't just random acts of violenceâ”
He grumbled something that Katelyn didn't want to distinguish. “All right, but even if last week's shooting was the start of some grand serial career, it's the first frickin' weekend in June. There are dozens of weddings going on in San Antonio today. Hear that, sis?
If our gunman's really a wacko targeting brides and grooms, he could be at any one of them.”
It was true, and they'd already rehashed this subject too many times. Yes, this was a long shot. Yes, this wasn't exactly standard operating procedure. And yes, they could get reprimanded for this. But after studying all the angles, Katelyn knew in her gut that this particular ceremony was their best bet for saving lives. In her mind, this was one of those times where the means would justify the ends.
An odd sound caught her attention. A scrape of metal. Katelyn whipped her gaze to the other side of the narthex where the lanky, twenty-something photographer was adjusting his equipment. He was definitely on her list of people to be concerned about, and she made a mental note to get a look in his bag. Perhaps she'd try the bridesmaid's flirting/falling in his arms approach. She was certainly dressed for the part in the short, snug emerald silk outfit that she'd dragged from the back of her closet.
The way back.
Katelyn had added some too-high heels, heavy con
cealing makeup and a blond wig to go along with it. All in all, it was a very uncomfortable but hopefully convincing disguise that could work for her if needed.
“Hold on. We might have something,” Garrett informed her. “
there's something to have in all this. A male. Brown hair, part Latino or maybe Italian. He doesn't match any of the photos. You'll have visual in under a minute because he's headed right for the church.”
“Okay. I'll handle it. You stay put in case this one's a decoy.”
“Be careful,” he warned.
Oh, she definitely would.
More guests strolled in, bringing with them the June heat and humidity from the nearby San Antonio River. A pregnant woman with a toddler. A middle-aged couple holding hands. All innocent, she was sure of that.
And then Katelyn saw him.
That buzz in her head turned to a full roar.
He stepped into the entry. Well, he didn't step, exactly. He stalked in, smooth and slow, like a jungle cat sizing up his hunting area.
Now here was the male who fit her profile to a proverbial tee. Mahogany brown hair, not too long, not too short. Olive skin. Six-one. About a hundred and seventy-five pounds. No distinguishing marks and definitely no pretty boy. He had badass written all over him.
He wore a midnight-blue suit. Nondescript. Ditto for the crisp white dress shirt and his precisely knot
ted silver-gray tie. But that's where the nondescript and ditto parts ended. Katelyn had been a cop for nearly eight years and had learned to recognize something lethal when she saw it.
This guy was lethal.
His gaze swept around the room, and like his entrance, it was smooth. He made eye contact with her. Just a split second. Then, he looked away to continue his surveillance. And there was no doubt in her mind that this was surveillance for him. He dismissed the teenagers as quickly as Katelyn had, but his attention lingered a bit on the photographer, before it came back to her.
Was he suspicious?
You bet he was.
His instincts weren't lacking in any area. That meant she had to strike first.
Pulling in a hard breath to steady herself, she eased from behind the narrow table when he walked closer. She wanted a better look, among other things, and she got a dose of those
right away. She caught the scent of his aftershave. Something manly and musky. It was better suited for a long night of sex than a wedding.
Or maybe that was just her imagination working overtime.
An imagination with seriously bad timing.
She brushed her arm against his, purposely, and the soft contact garnered her another glance. Not a dismissive one either. There was interest in the depths
of those icy blue eyes. Too bad she couldn't quite make out exactly what kind of interest it was, but it was obviously time for that flirting ruse to see if she had to reel in a killer.
Katelyn smiled, making sure she let her nerves show a little. She didn't have to fake that part. She was well past being nervous. But then, this was a situation where lack of nerves would mean she was a complete idiot. Someone, maybe this man, had already killed two people. Nerves were part of the job description.
“I'm Kate.” She offered her hand in greeting, and he shook it. Eventually. “Would you like to sign the guest registry?”
“Oh, okay.” A roadblock. Not too surprising. Katelyn tried a different angle. “It's a keepsake for the bride and groom so they'll know who attended. Maybe I could sign it for you if you'll give me your name?”
He looked at the book, then her again. “Joe.”
She almost pushed for a last name but decided it could wait. “This'll sound like a really bad line, but don't I know you from somewhere?” Katelyn asked, letting her voice purr. “You look familiar.”
He spared her another glance. “No. I think I'd remember you.”
There was a touch of Texas in his voice. An effortless, sliding drawl that matched his attitude.
And his aftershave.
Maybe the accent meant he was local. If so, it fit another piece of her unofficial profile.
Katelyn looked around to make sure they hadn't garnered anyone's attention. They hadn't. The guests were still ambling into the sanctuary, which was exactly where she needed them to amble. She didn't want an audience, or any bystanders, when she confronted him.
“Say, I'm a little light-headed,” she lied. “I have this blood sugar thing. Nothing serious. Just makes me a little woozy. I wondered if I could just catch on to your arm before I fall flat on my face?”
He studied her. A long, snail-crawling moment. And then, as if preparing for a root canal, he offered her his arm. She took hold of it before he changed his mind, and she got a peek inside his jacket.
He was packing a .357 Magnum in a shoulder holster.
Katelyn had anticipated a weapon, of course. However, reality caused her heart to slam against her chest. She pushed that slamming aside and got to work. It was time to move on to the next step of her plan. She needed to get him away from the guests so she could rid him of that weapon and ask a few questions.
She stumbled, just enough to make him grip her arm. That stumble was a real leap of faith on her part, since she wasn't overly confident that he would even catch her. Thankfully, there was at least one gentlemanly bone in his body, because he cooperated. After
he had a good hold on her, she led him a few steps away into the narrow hallway just off the narthex.
“I can't believe this is happening,” she mumbled, leaning against him so he wouldn't easily be able to reach for his gun. “Not the best time to get one of my dizzy spells. The ceremony's about to start, and I doubt you want to miss that.”
She shoved him into the small vacant room that she'd already checked out. Katelyn didn't waste any time, figuring she would rather be embarrassed from a case of mistaken identity than to have a dead bride and groom.
Blocking the doorway so he couldn't leave, she drew her weapon from her holster, hidden beneath her silky jacket. “Here's how we're going to do this,” she instructed. “Keep your hands where I can see them and explain to me why you brought a .357 Magnum to a wedding.”
He lifted his shoulder in a casual shrug. “I carry my gun everywhere. I guess you do the same?”
If he was scared, or even remotely concerned, he certainly wasn't showing it. Too bad Katelyn couldn't say the same. Her throat was suddenly dry as dust, and she kept a firm grip on her gun to keep her hand from shaking.
“Yes, but for me, it's part of the job. I'm Detective Katelyn O'Malley, S.A.P.D., and this is what we call a stop and frisk.”
He paused. Said one word of profanity under his breath. One rather crude four-letter word. He tipped
his eyes to the ceiling as if seeking divine intervention.
“Know what I think?” he asked.
“Not particularly. But I want you to remove your weapon slowly and carefully from its holster and place it on the floor. Notice those operative words.
Slowly. Carefully. Floor.
Those are major conditions here, and you're going to do that while using only two fingers. Make any sudden moves, and I'll take you down the hard way.”
He looked her straight in the eye. “That wasn't what I was thinking.” He disarmed himself, just as she'd instructed. Slowly, carefully, and he placed his gun on the floor directly between them.
“Oh, yeah?” Katelyn caught his shoulder and turned him around. She positioned his hands, palms flat, against the wall, and kneed his legs apart. “What exactly were you thinking?” she asked, patting him down.
The man was certainly solid. And built. Her fingers skimmed over lots of hard, sinewy muscles. Odd. She'd never noticed anything like that before when frisking a suspect. Maybe it had something to do with his memorable aftershave.
“I'm thinking you'll regret doing this,” he let her know.
“I doubt it, especially since it might just save a few people from dying.”
She located his wallet in his jacket pocket. Except when she got a good look at it, she realized it wasn't
a wallet. And that caused her stomach to tighten into a hard knot. It also caused Katelyn to use a little profanity of her own. She flipped open the too-familiar leather case and read the name aloud.
“Sergeant Joe Rico,” he clarified. And with that announcement, he turned back around to face her. “Homicide. S.A.P.D.”
Her breath landed somewhere around that knot in her stomach.
Katelyn shook her head. The badge had to be a fake. Except it wasn't. She scratched it with her thumbnail, or rather tried to. It was as real as the one in her purse. Still, there was something off here. “Impossible. I work Homicide, and I've never seen you before in my life.”
“Because I was just assigned there.” He enunciated each word as if she were mentally deficient. “By the chief of police.”
Judas Priest. That bit of information cleared the buzz in her head. Katelyn wasn't sure exactly where this was leading, but she knew for a fact that she wouldn't like its final destination.
Joe Rico calmly picked up his gun from the floor and reholstered it. Somehow, he managed to look cocky even while doing that little chore. No hurried moves. No overt display of emotion.
“Well, Detective Katelyn O'Malley, I'd say we have a problem. A problem with you being here because this isn't your case. Why am I so certain of
that?” He aimed his thumb at his chest. “Because it's mine.”
Katelyn hadn't thought this moment could possibly get more frustratingâor embarrassingâbut she was obviously wrong.
“Yours?” she demanded.
“Mine.” Sergeant Rico muscled her out of the doorway and turned to leave, delivering the rest of his news from over his shoulder. “Oh, and by the way, I'm your new boss.”