Shattered Vows. Maggie Price
Badge No. 0407—Bran McCall
Skill/Expertise: Adept decision maker, able to quickly assess a situation and act on it. Well respected and cool under fire.
Reason Chosen for Assignment: As the arresting officer of the escapee, McCall has rank in the case, and intimate knowledge of the suspect’s prime target—his estranged wife. Protecting her will be easy; ignoring the temptation to kiss her senseless may be harder.
Subject: Victoria Dewitt McCall
Profession: Private Investigator
Skill/Expertise: Tough, stubbornly independent, able to bluff her way out of risky situations.
Reason Chosen for Assignment: Her talent for undercover work makes her the perfect partner for her husband on this case. But can she resist the heat that flares between them in close quarters?
is no stranger to law enforcement. While on the job as a civilian crime analyst for the Oklahoma City Police Department, she analyzed robberies and sex crimes, and snagged numerous special assignments to homicide task-forces.
While at OCPD, Maggie stored up enough tales of intrigue, murder and mayhem to keep her at the keyboard for years. The first of those tales won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award for Romantic Suspense. Maggie is also the recipient of Romantic Times magazine’s Career Achievement Award in series romantic suspense.
Maggie invites her readers to contact her at 416 N.W. 8th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73102-2604, or on the Web at www.maggieprice.net.
For my editor, Susan Litman, who knows what a good story is all about.
Coming up empty-handed after spending hours searching for her brother who’d commandeered her car didn’t make Victoria Dewitt McCall feel like an ace private investigator.
Instead, she felt like a volcano waiting to blow.
Now, minutes after a fellow P.I. had dropped her off, Tory stalked upstairs to her bedroom. She tossed her purse on the upholstered chair near the floor-to-ceiling window, stripped off her black leather jacket, then shoved back one side of the heavy drapes. Mouth set, she stared out the frosted pane, her thoughts as dark as the January night.
The eighteen-year-old brother she’d raised had clearly been in the popcorn line when common sense got handed out. Danny was out on bail, his license suspended over unpaid parking tickets. If he got stopped by a cop while driving, he’d be back in a cell for failure to pay those tickets.
And her car would wind up in the police impound lot—a complication she didn’t need.
Tory huffed out a breath, leaving a small foggy circle against the window. In truth, it wasn’t just Danny’s latest stunt that had her grinding her teeth.
Life sucked. Her life, specifically.
She hadn’t turned on the bedroom light, so when she glanced across her shoulder, the bed, bureau and chest of drawers crouched like shadowy forms in the weak light spilling from the hallway. The heavy, dark wood furniture wasn’t to her liking, but then, little in the house was. It wasn’t her house, after all.
It belonged to her husband.
Estranged husband, Tory corrected. Her own common sense had taken leave one evening nearly a year ago. That’s when Lieutenant Bran McCall gave Danny a break and hauled him to her doorstep instead of booking him into juvie hall for illegal gambling. With a hand clenched on Danny’s upper arm, Bran had sent her a slow, reckless grin which she’d instantly decided was the sexiest thing she’d ever seen. Two nights later she and the cop were in bed.
Even now, those first heady weeks she’d spent with the rugged widower were a blur of searing lust and hot sex. As was the weekend she and Bran both lost their minds and eloped.
Huge mistake. Huge. No way could a union based primarily on physical attraction and set-your-hair-on-fire sex survive long. Not when the parties involved were both independent, take-charge and used to running the show. Bran’s walking out three months ago proved that he, too, believed they’d made one hell of a mistake.
A sudden shift in the shadows at the far side of the front lawn snapped Tory’s senses to alert mode. Narrowing her eyes, she leaned closer to the window. With the quarter moon ghosting through fat gray clouds, it was possible the movement had been nothing more than wind rustling the thick copse of evergreens.
Seconds later the shadow oozed fully out of the trees. An alarm shrilled in her head.
In full P.I. mode now, she assessed the figure clad entirely in black, including a baseball cap pulled down low. A man, she determined, watching him move. Tall, judging by the way he dwarfed the spiky hydrangea bush he crept past.
Adrenaline jolting her system, Tory jerked on her leather jacket while watching the man skulk toward the east side of the house. Her pride might have taken a hit with Danny eluding her, but she could still deliver any number of well-placed kicks that would take down some sneaky prowler.
And if her varied self-defense skills didn’t do the trick, she had backup. She stabbed a hand in her purse, pulled out her trusty Sig-Sauer P226.
Leaving the lights off, she pounded downstairs. It took only seconds to cut through the dark living room and cross the expansive kitchen. At the back door her finger flipped off the Sig’s safety, then floated to the trigger. Twisting open the deadbolt, she eased outside. A slap of freezing air hit her face.
Her mind had already settled on a plan. She wanted the advantage of surprise, so she would approach the man from behind.
The Sig hidden against her thigh, she veered west, moving soundlessly in the dark across the winter-dry grass.
Bolting around the house into the backyard, Bran McCall had no presentiment, no intuition, no flash of cop instinct warning him of another presence. He never even sensed the black-clad figure until he plowed over it, toppling it backward as he lost his footing and stumbled forward.
Bran landed with a jarring smack on top of the figure. In the glow of a neighbor’s backyard light he caught a glint as something metallic flew through the air. Gun.
There was no way he could draw his own weapon, not with whoever was beneath him flailing and twisting violently while trying to knee him in the groin. Fists punched the sides of his head; the curses spewing against his parka were so muffled he wasn’t sure if they came from a male, a female or a plague of angry wasps.
Even as he clamped a hand around one thrashing wrist, then another, a scent as subtle and alluring as moonlight hit him—Tory’s scent—and he knew his