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One hot holiday, p.18

One Hot Holiday, page 18


One Hot Holiday

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  Spencer smiled back at him. “That’s assaulting an officer. You’re gonna be arrested for that shit.”

  Andrew’s eyes widened.

  “This’ll be fun,” Titus muttered.

  Andrew tried to swing again.

  Haley was safely out of range, so Spencer dodged the blow. Then he had his chance to attack. He drove his right hand into Andrew’s stomach. Heard the ooof as Andrew’s breath expelled. Spencer’s left hand slammed hard into the SOB’s jaw. A fast hit that had Andrew stumbling back.

  Andrew staggered as he bumped the table’s sharp edge. He blinked. Narrowed his eyes. Shot forward.

  Really, you’re coming again?

  And it was like the bastard ran straight into Spencer’s fist. So easy.

  This time, Spencer used his right hook on Andrew. His hit was one hell of a lot more powerful that Andrew’s. Andrew fell down, sagging like some deflated balloon. He shook his head, tried to shove back to his feet, but Spencer had his gun out and pointed at the fellow in an instant. “You’re going to stay down,” Spencer told him. “Game’s over.”

  Andrew’s breath heaved in and out. His gaze blazed with fury.

  “Congratulations, asshole.” Spencer gave him a cold grin. “You’re under arrest.”

  Chapter Sixteen

  “What in the fuck is going on?” Linc yelled as soon as Spencer entered the holding area. Linc stood at the bars, his face pale, and his eyes wild. “I heard gunshots.”

  “That’s because there was an attack on the street.” Spencer’s voice was still too rough. He was too rough. About to lose it. Breathe. Hold on. Adrenaline poured through him. He wanted to grab Andrew again and pound the ever-loving-hell out of the guy. He wanted to destroy.

  That BS about being undercover? Working for the Feds? He’d check out the story, but every instinct Spencer possessed said it was a con.

  Andrew Bradley was trouble, and he needed to be locked away. Put far away from Haley.

  Linc glanced over Spencer’s shoulder. “Where’s Blair?”

  Blair? Where was she? Spencer squinted as he thought. “Out in the ambulance.”

  Linc staggered back a step. “No.” He shook his head and paled. “Fuck, no, she’s not—”

  “She’s not hurt.” The dude needed to calm the hell down. “She wasn’t the target. Haley was.”

  Linc’s eyes widened.

  “But she was wearing a bulletproof vest you gave her, so she’s still alive right now.” He marched toward the cell. Shoved the key in the lock and opened it. “You and I are coming to an understanding.”

  Linc glanced down at the door. “Are you letting me go? Can you even do that shit? I mean, I heard stories about small towns being all crazy and stuff but—”

  “Close your damn mouth and listen.” He didn’t have time for this jackass.

  Linc snapped his mouth closed.

  “You’re getting a roomie for tonight. Consider it your Christmas present.”

  “What? What the hell are you—”

  The holding room door opened with a groaned.

  “You can’t do this shit to me!” Andrew yelled.

  Titus just pushed him forward, right toward the open cell.

  Linc smiled.

  “I want to talk to my lawyer! I want to talk to my FBI contacts! You can’t—”

  “I can do anything.” Spencer grabbed him and shoved him inside the cell. The clank of the cell door closing seemed wonderfully loud and satisfying. “I’m the hick sheriff of this town. My town, my rules.”

  Andrew spun toward him. “You’re doing this because you want her! You’re turning Haley against me! You’re—”

  “You didn’t ask what happened to the shooter.” Spencer crossed his arms and slanted a glance at Titus. “Did you notice that, too?”

  “I did. Wondered about that.”

  Spencer turned his attention back on Andrew. “I mean, I told you Francis shot Haley. But you never asked what happened to him after he fired those shots.”

  Andrew swiped his hand over his lip. Aw, poor baby. Was his lip bleeding from the punch? Or maybe from when he’d hit the floor?

  “I-I figured…he’s dead.” Andrew’s hand dropped. His head jerked toward Spencer. “You killed him. Told you, I did some digging on you after I got in town. My FBI buddies…”

  The guy sure did like to talk a lot about them. These wonderful FBI friends of his…

  “They told me what you did. How you left the bodies in your wake when you were a SEAL.”

  Spencer didn’t let his expression alter.

  “Someone shoots at Haley, with you right there, I figure you only had one response.” His breath sighed out. “And I’m glad. I fucking hate you, but I’m glad you killed Francis. He deserved to die. Now Haley can be safe.”

  “Oh, Haley will definitely be safe.” Spencer rolled back his shoulders. “But Francis isn’t dead.”

  Andrew stiffened.

  “Nope,” Titus said quietly. “Not dead. Was still breathing when that ambulance rolled away. Bloody, but breathing.”

  Linc was in the cell, just a few steps away from Andrew. Linc’s hands were fisted at his sides. His angry stare was locked and loaded on Andrew.

  “Still breathing?” Andrew blinked. “But…he was shot. I-I heard multiple shots.”

  “Four shots were fired,” Linc said flatly.

  “Two were at Haley.” Titus locked his eyes on Andrew. “Two were at Francis. He’s still alive, and maybe—just maybe—he’ll even be able to pull through. If he does, I’m betting he will have a very interesting story to tell us.”

  “I like stories.” Spencer let his stare drift from Andrew and to a furious Linc. “Like I’m pretty interested in this guy’s story. Linc swears you killed his sister.”

  Andrew seemed to just notice who his new roommate was. “Get me out of this freaking cage!”

  “Can’t do that. We’re a small facility. And our other cell…well, someone broke out of it the other night. It’s closed off for now while we finish investigation procedures. So you two—you two will be roomies for the night.”

  “No.” Andrew’s face reddened. “No! I want my lawyer! I want my—”

  “FBI buddies?” Spencer inserted. “I would like to talk with them. I want to ask them about another story I know. You see, before Francis was taken away, he was telling Titus over there about his ex-wife.”

  “He was gasping out her name,” Titus offered helpfully. “Saying that he’d saved her.”

  If possible, Andrew’s cheeks flushed even more.

  “Do you know her?” Titus asked. “I believe her name is Marsha.”

  “No, I don’t know her. Why would I?”

  “Just did a little checking while you and the sheriff were having your…talk in interrogation. Seems she’s gone missing back in New York. Very suspicious timing if you ask me.”

  “I don’t know a thing about her!” Spittle flew from Andrew’s mouth. “Get me out of this cage!”

  Spencer smiled at him and leaned closer to the bars. “If you didn’t want to be in a cage, you shouldn’t have taken a swing at the sheriff.”

  Andrew’s nostrils flared. “You did that. You pushed me and pushed me until I attacked.”

  He shrugged. “Not my fault you’ve got a short fuse.”

  “You wanted me locked up. You wanted me away from Haley!”

  Spencer nodded. “If I have my way, you’ll never be around her again.” And he’d just been given the time he needed. Andrew would stay locked up at least until dawn. Possibly longer. By then, maybe Francis would be able to tell them more about his missing ex-wife. Or about the mystery guy who’d helped to break him out of his cell.

  It’s no mystery. I’m staring at the asshole who helped him.

  Wilde agents were already hunting for Francis’s ex in New York. Titus had talked to Eric and gotten his team involved. And the DNA that Linc had acquired from Andrew was being tested. Money could get things moving so fast. Money and th
e right connections. Wilde had both.

  And, lucky for Spencer, Wilde was on his side.

  “You want her for yourself,” Andrew accused. It sounded like the guy might be choking on fury. “You saw her, you wanted her, and you’re trying to take her from me.”

  “You’re such a prick.” Spencer turned away from him. “She doesn’t want you. She left your ass.” He stilled. Glanced back. “And that’s why you’re here, isn’t it? Because she’s the first person you couldn’t control. You couldn’t keep her. She left you. She turned on you, and you hunted her down.”

  “I’m here to protect her!”

  “You just tried to get your PI to kill her. You think if she won’t be with you, then you’ll see her dead?” He stepped back to the bars. Glared at Andrew. “Let’s be very clear here. You will not kill her. You will not hurt her. You will not get within fifty feet of Haley again.”

  “Oh, really?” Andrew smirked at him. “What you gonna do? Not much, because you got that badge on. So you can talk a big game, but we both know you can’t cross—”

  Spencer took off the badge. “You think I won’t end you?” His fingers closed around the badge. The edges of the star pressed into his palm. “The badge is off, bastard. You’re the one bragging about digging into my past. About knowing who I really am.” He held the other man’s gaze. “You think for a second that I won’t kill you if you come after Haley again?”

  Andrew backed up a step. “You’re threatening me.” He motioned toward Titus. “You heard him.” He looked over at Linc. Blanched. “You did, too.”

  “I didn’t hear jackshit,” Linc snapped.

  “I don’t care who hears me.” And he didn’t. “I wasn’t threatening. I was promising. You’ve been warned.” His control was splintering with every moment. He needed to get out of there. Needed to get back to Haley. She was the one person who could calm him down.

  She was the person he wanted most.

  He turned and headed for the door.

  Titus immediately fell into step with him.

  “Don’t leave me with him!” Andrew yelled. “This guy is a freaking psycho! Don’t leave me here!”

  Spencer glanced at Titus. “You hear something?”

  “I didn’t hear jackshit,” Titus replied, using Linc’s response.

  With a grunt, Spencer yanked open the door. Spencer waited until he and Titus were clear of the holding area before he turned toward his friend.

  Titus held up one hand. “You don’t have to say anything, man. We’ve been friends for a long time. I know you.”

  Spencer’s brows pulled together.

  “You were trying to rattle him. The badge matters to you. You won’t cross the line.”

  Spencer glanced down. He opened his palm. Stared at the star. At the marks that had been left on his hand when he’d gripped it too tightly. “If he hurts her, there is no line. Not for me.”

  A low whistle escaped Titus. “You’re that far gone?”

  That far? “Hell, I’ve been gone since the first moment I met her.” He pushed the star against Titus’s shirtfront. “Take this. I’m not the sheriff tonight.”

  “That’s some bullshit. I’m not taking the damn star. It’s yours.”

  Haley was his. No, he wanted her to be. And he would do anything to keep her safe. Crossing lines? He’d do it over and over again. “I lost a piece of myself when we were fighting in the desert.” His voice was low, carrying only to Titus. “I came back here, and I was empty inside.”

  Titus watched him with a steady, unblinking gaze. If anyone would understand, it would be him.

  “For the first time…the first time, I could feel again…I could feel when I pulled her into my arms.” She’d been right in the middle of the street. Surrounded by lights. Soft music playing in the air. He’d looked up, seen her, and seen everything that he’d ever wanted. “I can’t lose her.”

  “You won’t.”

  He stepped back. Titus didn’t take the star. It fell to the floor. Spencer raked a hand through his hair. “She was shot in front of me.” His hand was shaking. The adrenaline was crashing through him. He was barely holding his shit together. “Shot. I didn’t know she had on a vest. I thought those bullets tore into her. I saw her fall, and my world ended. I was afraid she was dead. I fired back at Francis, and the only reason that bastard is alive right now—hell, barely alive—is because he lurched to the side right before my first bullet hit him. He lurched, because otherwise, that bullet would have been in his heart.”

  “Spence, we got this. I have your back. You got your lady. It’s going to be okay.”

  The door to Spencer’s office opened. Haley stood there. Looking pale and fragile. Beautiful and heart-breaking. Looking like every dream he’d ever had. The dreams that he’d almost given up when he’d seen blood and death all around him.

  “I can’t lose her,” he rasped. “I won’t.” He walked away from Titus and left the star on the floor.

  Haley’s lips lifted in a faint and so very tentative smile as he approached her. “Everything…okay?”

  No. No, things were not okay. But they would be. He bent and brushed his lips over hers. “Baby, let’s go home.”

  He thought he saw tears in her eyes, but she blinked them away.

  He kissed her again. Softly. Tenderly. His fingers laced with hers.

  As they passed by Titus, he gave his friend a slow nod.

  But Titus stepped into his path. “What’s the plan for the two prisoners? You really gonna leave them in there all night?”

  The plan… “No. I suspect that in about five minutes, Andrew will remember that the only reason Linc is in there…it’s because Andrew said he was pressing charges against the guy. Andrew will drop those charges in order to get away from Linc.”

  A half smile flashed from Titus. “Clever. Trying to free the Wilde agent, huh?”

  All part of the plan he was crafting. “We might need him later. And I’m not letting him get sent to jail by a guy like Andrew Bradley.” If Bradley had killed Linc’s sister, the fellow deserved justice. Not a jail cell. “Give them five minutes. But I’m betting it won’t even take that long.”

  Andrew was the kind of jerk who liked to dish out pain. The man couldn’t take it, though. He’d be screaming for a deputy soon enough.


  “This is freaking bullshit!” Andrew pressed his back to the cell bars as his wide eyes swept over Linc. “I’m not staying in here with you.”

  Linc shrugged. Every muscle in his body was tight with fury. “Then I’m guessing maybe you shouldn’t have insisted the sheriff lock me up. I’m only in here because of you.”

  Andrew blinked.

  “Let’s call that shit…a happy coincidence.” Linc’s hands were tight fists at his sides. “Do you even remember her?”

  “Who?” A bead of sweat trickled down Andrew’s temple.

  “My sister.”

  “Look, buddy, I meet a lot of women. Women like me because I’m rich and handsome, and they are always throwing themselves at me and I—Why the hell are you laughing?”

  “Because you’re a freaking dipshit. You’re rich because you have dirty money. You stole and you lied your way to the top, and I’m betting you buried a ton of bodies in your time, too, didn’t you? Bodies like Shanna’s. Shanna Sinclair. She was my step-sister. She went to New York to be a dancer. She was young and beautiful and she had dreams, and then she wound up in your club, and you fucking got obsessed with her. The same way you’re obsessed with Haley. If you can’t have a woman, you don’t let her go. You play that old school stalker bullshit. You take and take until nothing is left.” One menacing step forward. “You destroy and you leave death.” Another step. “But there’s no running for you right now. There’s no way out. You’re done. Because it’s me and it’s you, and there is no one here to save your sorry ass.” Linc smiled. “I’m going to tear you apart.”

  “Cops don’t—”

  “I’m not a cop, dumba
ss. I’m a prisoner, thanks to you.” Another step. “And I’m going to enjoy this.”

  “No, no! Deputy! Deputy! I want him out of here! I want him out! Deputy!”


  Blair rubbed bleary eyes as she walked back into the station. Francis Callaway was in surgery. It was going to take one hell of a while, if he made it out okay. She’d come back to the station to check in on Linc, then she was going back to the hospital. Spencer had made sure one of his deputies stayed there, but she wanted to be present, too. Just in case.

  The station was eerily silent. Titus was sitting on the edge of a desk and staring down at his hand.

  “Uh, Titus?” She cleared her throat. “May I see Linc for a moment? He tends to be a worrier.” Understatement of the century. She’d noticed that tendency with him on their first case. If he thought she was hurt, the guy flipped out. “After the gunshots, I think he’d probably rest better if he saw for himself that I was okay.”

  Titus shook his head. “Can’t let you go in there right now.” His hand fisted. “Been five minutes. Spencer was wrong. Let’s give them a little longer.”

  “What?” She was running on fumes and would very much appreciate a nice collapse somewhere.

  He looked up at her. “What’s the story with you and your partner?”


  “Um…Is it one of those business-only deals? Or more like partners-with-benefits?”

  She stopped. “You’re trying to distract me.”

  He gave her a charming grin. One that made the faint lines near his eyes crinkle. “Am I?”

  Her stare darted toward the holding area. “You’re distracting me to keep me away from Linc.”

  “Visiting hours are over. You should come back to see him in the morning.”

  Her gut clenched. “What’s wrong? Is he hurt?”

  “See…that’s why I asked what the story was between you two. I’ve noticed that tendency you both have to get a little antsy when you think something might have happened to your partner.”

  Okay, forget this. She marched for holding.

  He blocked her path. The man could move fast. “I think we should give them longer.”

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