Maryland PD forensic scientist Emersyn D’Azzo has an explosive past with her father’s younger, sexy partner, Detective Alec Pearce. Then an ill-timed kiss destroys the thin line of trust between her and her dad, just before tragedy strikes and someone guns down her father.
The fatal bullet turns out to be tied to the ongoing spree of random sniper kills across the state, but Emersyn knows this wasn’t a random act of violence and is determined to find the killer.
To do so, she’ll need to rely on help from Alec, whom she doesn’t quite trust but just can’t resist. When they discover a connection to a decades-old disappearance of a college student, their investigation takes a deadly twist. Can they learn to trust each other with their hearts to save their lives?
EXCERPT: Ted edged in closer. “You can take a few moments for one dance.” He eyed Tessa. “You don’t mind if I borrow your sister, do you?”
“But I do.”
The deep, masculine voice sent an arousing jolt right into Emersyn’s core. And damn it to hell, her mouth went dry, making it impossible to swallow. She fingered her straw then took a deep drink. This time she welcomed the burning chill against her lungs. Detective Alec Pearce had a knack for showing up at her worst moments. Why the hell was he here?
Ted moved away from her as if he’d been burned. “Alec, good to see you.”
“You do know you’re hitting on my partner’s daughter, right, Ted?”
“Just asking her for a dance.”
Emersyn glanced between the two; she actually preferred Ted’s company to the man who seemed to go out of his way to make her crazy.
Alec reached for her hand and set it in his palm. “Actually, she promised this dance to me. They’re playing our song.”
The muscles in her body tensed as her fingernails dug into his skin. “I don’t—”
“Music is on, Em. Shall we?” His other hand went around her waist, and he gave her a swift yank.
“Jerkball, let go,” she hissed in his ear.
His grip tightened. “It’s just one dance. Play nice.”
Alec escorted Emersyn to the small dance floor near the bandstand. Every instinct in her wanted to slap his arrogant expression right into next week, but that would make a scene. It was what half the bar expected the instant he got within striking distance. They were all waiting for her to let loose. But this was a new day, a new diploma, new job, new Emersyn. Emotions in check.
“My name is Emersyn. I would think you would remember something so simple.”
Alec’s face lit with a grin as his arms brought her close and their bodies began to move to the music. She shot a glare at Tessa, pleading for her to do something. Instead, her sister, the traitor, took another sip of Emersyn’s drink, lifted it in a toast, and rotated in her seat.
A chuckle came from deep in Alec’s throat. “Tessa likes me. You can thank me now.”
“I can also knee you where the sun doesn’t shine.”
He lifted her chin with his thumb. “Now that wasn’t nice. I sacrificed a night with that blonde”—he nodded to a beautiful woman sitting at the end of the bar—“just to keep Lecher Ted from hitting on you … again.”
“What makes you think I needed rescuing?”
“Oh please, Tessa, make the creep go away. I’m ever so sweet and don’t want to hurt the poor jerk’s feelings.”
She yanked out of Alec’s hold, but he was ready and moved her back into his arms without missing a beat.
“Relax. I’m teasing.”
“You are such an ass.”
His lips brushed over her ear. “Enjoy our moment, Em.”
Impossible. They had more layers of misunderstanding between them than her mother’s chocolate cake, heated words that couldn’t be unheard and arguments with no closure.
After her father had mentioned at dinner that Alec was joining them for dessert, she’d jumped at Tessa’s offer to buy her a drink at the tavern. It was the perfect place to hide out. A lone wolf like Alec wouldn’t be caught dead in the crowded, noisy bar. But here he was. She’d run but not far enough.
“I’m sorry I missed your graduation ceremony, but I have a little something for you,” he whispered.
“You didn’t need to do that.”
“I’m proud of you.”
The words sounded so genuine. “Dad seems resigned to the idea of me at least working alongside cops, if not as a cop.”
“Joe doesn’t want you anywhere near the job. But you found a way around that. Instead of crawling in the gutter looking for the worst mankind has to offer, you’re picking through what they left behind.”
She halted in the middle of the dance floor. “You think that’s why I became a forensic scientist?”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Then what did you mean?”
The music stopped, and they stood still, glaring at each other. Our thing. “I can’t do this tonight,” she said, dropping her hand to her sides. “Thanks.”
“Saving me from another go-around with Ted.”
“Do you want me to talk to him?”
“I can take care of myself.”
For once, there was no comeback. Instead, he eased her against him and tucked her hand over his heart. “Dance with me, Emersyn.”
That sexy, got-to-have-you-now voice was back, and her other four senses came out to play. Being close to Alec Pearce, taking in his spicy, clean soap scent, feeling the strength of his arms around her wasn’t an awful feeling. Confusing? Hell yes, but her body sure enjoyed it. It’s just a dance, right?
She lowered one hand to his hip and brought the other around his neck, her cheek resting against his. Alec tightened his grip around her waist as he spun them around the dance floor. The move put their bodies in sync, and there was no mistaking the effect she had on him. Her lips brushed against his skin, sending shock waves through her.
He sucked in a breath and tilted his head. Their gazes held for what seemed like an eternity. He was so damn gorgeous, his deep brown eyes with a hint of gold, lush lashes, and a dusting of five-o’clock shadow on his square jaw that she ached to feel rubbed against all her soft places. As if he read her mind, his mouth caressed her bottom lip. He waited, expecting her to pull back. Need took over, and she lost her mind.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. ~Thomas Edison~