Unauthorized Return (Unauthorized Series Book 4), page 1
by Lisa Ladew
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons or organizations, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Copyright © 2015 Lisa Ladew All Rights Reserved
Book cover by: http://www.stunningbookcovers.com/
From Unauthorized Obsession: Sgt. Aria Gale sat in Assistant Chief Foley’s office, waiting for him to return. She’d had a busy weekend, just the way she liked them. The more she uncovered about Seth Howell, the more she couldn’t believe he had managed to make it into the police department, and the gladder she was that Kara had been able to get the better of him. He had been a real nut case, that one, and she knew he would have just graduated to worse and worse crimes if he had had the chance. She still had weeks of work to do in order to close the investigation and tie everything together. But she’d done the most important thing a few hours ago; finished up her report on the justified nature of the shooting. Kara would be cleared to come back to work as soon as she wanted to.
Assistant Chief Foley strolled back into the room and gave her a distracted smile. “Aria, I’m going to need you to hand off your caseload to Gagne. I have an important assignment for you and it may take a few weeks.”
Aria goggled at him. Hand off her caseload? There was no way! Gagne was good, but he couldn’t take what she'd been working on for months and make any appreciable progress on it.
Chief Foley held up his hands. “Calm down, I wouldn't ask you to do this if it wasn't incredibly important. You've heard of Fiore Savoy, I assume?”
Aria nodded mutely. Of course she had. Everyone had heard of him. She even had four or five open cases that probably were his handiwork. He was the worst criminal in the history of Westwood Harbor.
“And his son? Coleton? Have you heard of him?”
“I thought his son wasn't a criminal.”
“He’s not. He’s turning state's evidence on his father, but there have been multiple attempts on his life over the past month. He has to come back into Westwood Harbor in order to testify and we need someone to shadow him. Someone to protect him."
“And you want me to do it? What about Gagne? If he can take over my caseload then he can do this.”
Chief Foley shook his head. "Coleton isn’t too happy about this. And he's had run-ins with Gagne before. I've handpicked you as our best possible chance to get him to comply with round-the-clock protection. We'll put you two in a safe house until he can testify. He has to testify, or Fiore walks free."
Aria shook her head, irritation filling her. She had to give up her cases and babysit a criminal's son? In a safe house.
A knock sounded on the door and Chief Foley said, "It's open." A man walked in, a sour look on his face. He was tall, with dark hair and brooding eyes, and a slight cleft to his chin. He looked at Chief Foley with as much frustration as Aria felt. Was this Coleton Savoy?
Before he could speak, his eyes fell on Aria and she saw several emotions sprint across his face. The first was recognition, then confusion, then anger, and then finally, something that looked very much like desire.
His mouth worked. "Ava?" he finally said, his face a mess of contradictions.
Aria pulled back, horrified as the name of her betraying twin sister spilled out of the man's mouth.
Aria’s mouth dropped open when the mysterious man in front of her called her by her twin sister’s name. Her twin sister who had disappeared two years ago with Aria’s then-husband, Jason.
Thoughts sprinted through her mind, each more confused than the last. He knew Ava? When was the last time he had seen her? Before she left? After? What if it had been recently? Aria had to speak to him alone - had to ask him these questions.
It had been two years since she had last seen her sister, and in that time there had only been one phone call from Ava. She grimaced as she remembered the call. Ava had admitted that she and Jason were lovers and were to be married, just as soon as Aria signed the paperwork to allow Jason’s divorce from Aria to go through.
Assistant Chief Foley spoke, his grating voice cutting through Aria’s swirling thoughts like a knife. She realized she was staring at Coleton Savoy with her mouth open. She closed it with a pop and tried to tear her eyes away from him, but she couldn’t. His dark gaze held her eyes in place like a magnet.
“No,” Foley said. “This is Sgt. Aria Gale. She’s the detective in charge of you … uh, your case.”
Coleton Savoy did not react to those words. He merely stood, his brow furrowed, his gaze burning through Aria.
Aria finally tore her eyes from Savoy and glanced at the assistant chief. She thought furiously, trying to remember if Foley knew she had a twin sister named Ava. She didn’t think so. They had never worked closely together. She wondered if he found out, would he take her off of this assignment? Should she tell him? Did she want to get out of this? No, because then she might never have a chance to talk to Savoy alone. She dug deep into her pocket and found a stray paper clip. She held the clip between her fingers and began to bend it back and forth. She had smoked, at least a thousand years ago, and she still needed something to do with her hands during times of stress. The paper clips soothed her, helped her to think before she talked.
Foley looked at her curiously, then turned back to Coleton Savoy. “I urge you to take the protection now. Sergeant Gale will ensure you are well taken care of but not imposed upon.”
Aria’s gaze swung back to Coleton. He gave her one last curious and confused glance, then looked at the assistant chief, shaking his head, his voice firm. “The trial is not for a week. I’ll be fine. Once it starts, then I’ll enter into your protection.”
Aria watched him closely, really seeing him for the first time. His brooding face showed that he had not even considered the offer. He had come in here with his mind made up already. He stood tall, expensively-dressed, and handsome in a classical way, with a generous mouth and dark flashing eyes. Aria wondered if he smiled easily, then she shook her head slightly, trying to dislodge the inappropriate thought. Her paper clip snapped in half and she put one half in her pocket, then began to work on the other half.
She continued to study him. He looked upset, and chronically bitter about something. But he still looked like exactly the type of man that Ava would go for. Her too, if she cared to admit it to herself. He was tall and dark, with a put-together attitude like her ex-husband, but the resemblance ended there. Thank goodness, or she would probably hate him on sight.
Chief Foley stood up and approached Coleton. “Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider, Coleton? I think it's important. We’ve already discussed the reasons.”
Coleton stood his ground. “We have, and so you know why I am refusing.”
Aria watched the exchange with interest. He was refusing immediate protection, so she wouldn’t have to turn over her cases and leave with him immediately. But could she get Coleton Savoy alone and ask him about her sister? Would he even answer her?
“I don’t know, Coleton. I just don’t know if it’s good enough. I think you are in danger.”
“I survived the last ten months on my own, haven’t I?” Coleton replied with some bitterness in his voice.
Foley nodded reluctantly. “Okay. Would you mind waiting for me outside? I need to
Coleton nodded and stepped out of the room with one last haunting look into Aria’s soul.
Foley returned to his chair and looked at Aria, his eyes serious. “I think you should follow him. He doesn’t understand what kind of danger he is in, or he’s denying it. And if he sees you, fine. Convince him however you have to.” He put his hands together in a steeple, then sighed. “If you have to take him into protective custody, I will back you up all the way.”
Aria shook her head, this was all moving too quickly for her. But she wasn’t upset. It would definitely give her time to ask the man about her sister. And it wasn’t like she didn’t know what she was doing. She had performed this kind of witness protection twice before for the department.
Foley went on. “He’s only been in town for a few hours. No one should know he is here yet, but I’m worried. I think we still have someone in the police department who is on Fiore Savoy's payroll but no one knows who it is. I don’t want you to tell anyone where you end up. Not even me.”
Aria tried to think of something intelligent to say. She tried to pull her thoughts away from her sister and her personal life and onto the issue at hand. “Right now?” she finally asked, the half of the paper clip in her fingers giving way.
Assistant Chief Foley nodded. “I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important, Aria, you know that. I get that this kind of assignment is a pain in the ass, but I want to ensure Fiore Savoy stays in prison for life. I would protect Coleton myself, if the Chief would allow it, but my schedule is already packed this week. I have to oversee the prisoner transport to Los Angeles and the extradition to Mexico. Those things are just as important.”
Aria whistled. “The bomber?”
Aria understood. The guy who blew a hole in the state building was just as high-profile as Fiore Savoy.
“Does Gagne know he’s taking over my cases?” she asked.
“He does. I’ve got Assistant Chief Harrison talking to him right now.”
Foley opened a drawer on his desk. “Leave me your cell. The detective’s office has tracking on all the assigned cell phones and I don’t want anyone to be able to track you.” He pushed a phone across his desk at her. “Here’s one that has no tracking on it.”
Aria took her phone out of her pocket and tossed it to the chief. She picked up the new phone and pressed the button to make sure it was on. She wasn’t even going to be able to go home and pack a bag, was she? Good thing she spent most nights here anyway. She had a bag in her car.
Foley stood up. “Excuse me for a moment, I’m going to talk to Coleton one more time.”
Aria nodded distractedly, her thoughts already returning to her sister. Foley turned back and interrupted her one more time. “How long do you need to be ready?”
Aria shook her head and waved a hand. She was ready. As Foley walked out the door, she allowed her thoughts to fully settle on Ava. Two years it had been! She hated her sister for what she had done, but she still loved her too. And missed her. Jason, she only hated. Aria’s mind raced and covered the same ground it had already covered a dozen times regarding her sister. Why had she done it? What was she doing right now? Had her sister and her ex-husband had children? Where were they living? Aria had never tried find Ava, knowing her sister didn’t want that, and knowing it could only end badly if she had found them.
Finally, her thoughts turned to Officer Kara Price. Would Kara be okay? She was still on administrative leave and Aria had not had a chance to check on her since the shooting. Aria had been too busy pushing through the investigation to ensure that Kara would be cleared of all charges. She looked at her phone on the Chief’s desk and grabbed it up quickly, sending a text to Kara, who she had begun to think of as a little sister, but one who would not betray her.
I hope you’re okay. I had planned on visiting you today, but undercover work has come up. Please stay strong and put a call in to dispatch if you need anything. I won’t have my phone but will check with them if I can.
It had to be good enough. This work was unforgiving of personal issues, and Kara knew that.
Aria stood up and turned towards the door, her hand absently shoving the tiny pieces of metal she had left deep into her pocket, her mind once again twisting back to the subject of her sister and wondering how best to ask Coleton Savoy to spill everything he knew.
Coleton stood at the window and gazed out over the Police Department parking lot. It was not a pretty sight. Rows upon rows of various-colored cars, plus dozens of police vehicles, sat there. In the back was a scrappy meadow with a few wildflowers managing to peek up through the weeds. Behind that, a large highway, where cars and trucks and RVs sped past at equal speeds.
His thoughts matched the speed of the vehicles on the highway. Aria Gale? But she looked exactly like Ava Smith. Ava, who he had spent the last month alternately trying to forget and trying to find in equal measure. He wondered for a moment if Aria was really Ava, here masquerading as a police officer. But that was impossible wasn’t it?
On the other hand, the resemblance was too incredible to be coincidence. Could two unrelated people possibly look that much alike? He realized he hadn’t heard Aria speak so he couldn’t compare their voices. He half-turned, wanting to rush back in the office and ask her to say something, anything. But then he remembered where he was, and why. That wouldn’t do. But if he accepted this protection he would get to speak with her at length, wouldn’t he? He stepped back to the window and looked out again, his desire to be left alone warring with his desire to speak with the pretty police sergeant.
Coleton pressed his face up against the cool window and wondered when this would all be over. When he was done running, probably. He just wanted to face his father already, even if that meant he ended up dead, which he knew it probably would. He’d never asked to be the only son to a mob boss. All he had ever wanted was to be normal, to be left alone, to live his own life in peace. But that had never been his destiny. Was it his destiny to be gunned down by one of his father’s hired guns? Maybe.
He’d spent most of the last ten months in New York, hiding out as the state of California built a case against his father. But his father’s private detectives had finally found him, and flushed him out, and now he knew why. The prosecuting attorney had briefed him thirty minutes ago, telling him that his testimony against his father would mean the difference between life in prison for his father, or ten to twenty years and then parole. Coleton had never seen much criminal activity, or even had much interaction with his father as he grew up, but as an adult, his father had approached him and laid out certain details about the family business and appealed to him to join forces, saying they would rule the entire northern part of the state. This was the testimony that the prosecuting attorney wanted from him.
His father’s lawyer would try to say that Fiore Savoy was as much a victim of circumstance as anybody and the few crimes they could prove he had performed were all crimes of opportunity, none of them premeditated or part of something greater. Coleton’s testimony would say the opposite.
And so, he knew he was in incredible danger. He knew his own father had already ordered his murder. He knew his own father would probably not hesitate to pull the trigger himself. His own father didn’t know anything about sacrificing for his children. All he sacrificed for was his own skin. He would do anything to save himself and keep himself out of prison, including kill his only son.
Coleton let his thoughts slip to his sisters and his mother. He hadn’t seen or talked to any of them since he had decided to leave town ten months ago. He worried about them, and missed them, but he hadn’t wanted to put them in any danger. Maybe he would get to see them in the courtroom.
Coleton heard Assistant Chief Foley behind him, speaking to the secretary at the desk across the large room. Coleton looked around, wondering if he slipped out now, would they let him go? Or was somebody go
A deep rumble caught his attention and he turned back to the window, watching in horror as a double trailer semi-truck on the highway hit its jake brakes in an attempt to slow down quickly. Black rubber from a blown tire flew in the air as a car in front of the semi careened across both lanes of traffic. Coleton’s body tensed as the truck driver tried valiantly to avoid a collision. The floor under Coleton’s feet bumped and rolled slightly with the sound waves of the compression brakes.
His gaze was pulled off of the gripping scene on the highway as fire ripped through the air in front of him, sending his pulse rate sky high as he jumped back away from the window. A car in the parking lot had exploded, sending its hood thirty feet in the air, almost eye level with Coleton, who was on the third floor of the police department. He took another step back in fear as the hood clattered to the ground outside, his heart pumping madly in his chest and adrenaline surging into his bloodstream. He heard the assistant chief swear behind him and other people yell in surprise in the adjoining offices. People streamed out into the open lobby to see what happened.
“What was that?” Foley shouted, skidding to a stop at the window and peering out.
“My car,” Coleton answered dully.
It looked like he would be getting immediate police protection after all. But would it make him any safer?
Aria rushed out of the office at the sound of the explosion, her right hand grabbing automatically for her gun. She saw the assistant chief at the window and rushed over to him just in time to hear Coleton Savoy say, “My car.” Her mind convulsed at the admission. The threat against him had been underestimated. Drastically.
Other author's books:
- Hide My Soul: A Romantic Suspense Thriller Novel (Hide Me Series Book 4)Hide My Thoughts: A Romantic Suspense Thriller Book (Hide Me Series 2)Unauthorized Obsession (Unauthorized Series Book 3)One True Mate 2: Dragon's HeatEdge of the Heat (Westwood Harbor Corruption)Hide My Light: A Romantic Suspense Thriller Novel (Hide Me Series Book 3)
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