Truth Or Lies. Kylie Brant
“We’re not so different. We both try to keep people alive.”
Professionally, at least, she knew his words were true. But personally…Cade Tremaine would be shocked to discover just how far apart they were.
Cade moved closer to Shae, his head tilted intimately toward hers, and his voice went low and persuasive. “C’mon, Doc. What’s the harm?”
With new eyes she reassessed him, not as a doctor but as a female. He had a smoker’s voice, slightly raspy, with more than a hint of the South in it. Coupled with those penetrating jade eyes and rangy build, she didn’t doubt that he found it far too easy to persuade women to do just about anything he asked.
He reached for one of her hands, held it in his as his thumb skated over her knuckles. At the touch, she let her eyelids lower, her lips part.
“Tell me something,” Shae murmured throatily.
Although he hadn’t moved, somehow he seemed closer. “Hmm?”
“Does this little act of yours usually work?”
Truth or Lies
lives in Iowa with her husband and children. Besides being a writer, this mother of five works full-time teaching learning-disabled students. Much of her free time is spent in her role as professional spectator at her kids’ sporting events.
An avid reader, Kylie enjoys stories of love, mystery and suspense—and she insists on happy endings! She claims she was inspired to write by all the wonderful authors she’s read over the years. Now most weekends and all summer she can be found at the computer, spinning her own tales of romance and happily-ever-afters.
She invites readers to check out her online read in the reading room at eHarlequin.com. Readers can write to Kylie at P.O. Box 231, Charles City, IA 50616, or e-mail her at [email protected] Her Web site address is www.kyliebrant.com.
The dim spill of light from the nearby street lamp barely disturbed the oppressive shadows deep in New Orleans’s City Park. Even the glow of the night’s half moon couldn’t penetrate the thick canopy of trees. Darkness held untold fears for some, but for others it provided a much-needed cover. Some business was best conducted far from the light of day.
“He’s late.” Detective Cade Tremaine checked his watch. “I thought you said he was dependable.”
“Freddie’s reliable as long as he hasn’t been shooting up or snorting.” Brian Hollister, Cade’s partner, shrugged. “If he’s using again, I can’t vouch for him.”
Scanning the area, Cade said, “We’ll give him a couple minutes.” He wasn’t thrilled with the idea of losing any more sleep. But the snitch represented a chance for a lead in a case that had been damn short of clues lately. And catching the dealer responsible for at least three deaths from overdoses was well worth the inconvenience.
He heard footsteps moments before a figure stepped out of the shadows. “Is that him?”
“Yeah.” Hollister straightened, waited for the man to get closer. “You must have us confused with one of your junkie bitches, Freddie. We don’t much like being kept waiting.” The words were accompanied by a slap alongside the man’s head.
Freddie flinched away. “Stuff came up, Hollister. You know how it goes.”
Cade shoved the snitch under the street lamp, noted the pinpoint pupils, the glassy stare. “He’s high,” he said with disgust. Releasing the man’s filthy shirt, he turned to his partner. “Let’s go. We’re wasting our time.”
“No, hold on,” the snitch said hastily. “You wanted information and I have some for ya.” He gave a look around as if they were in danger of being overheard and lowered his voice. “That guy you’re investigating? The one who’s putting pure stuff on the streets? I can get you in contact with someone who knows him.”
“Then start talking, Freddie, ’cause we’re ready to walk,” Hollister said impatiently.
“Okay, okay.” The man turned to the side, dug in his pocket. “I got his name written right here on this napkin. Not the dealer, but the guy I told ya about. I can tell ya where he hangs out, too.”
He’d finally managed to get Cade’s attention. Not that he was ready to believe a hopped-up junkie, but a name would give them a contact they didn’t have right now. Hollister stepped forward to snatch the creased napkin from Freddie, and while he unfolded it, Cade moved closer.
In the next moment, however, Freddie was backpedaling furiously, the words tumbling from his mouth. “Got you what you wanted, didn’t I? So pay up, guys, pay up.”
At first Cade thought the words were directed at them. Then he saw the glint of metal. “Gun!” Reacting instinctively, he reached for his own weapon. He’d barely cleared it from his holster when the first bullet hit him in the chest, the impact sending him stumbling backward. He squeezed off a couple of shots before the next two slugs hit him, knocked him to the ground.
After the first searing jolt there was no pain, only a cold numbness that seemed to spread from one internal organ to the next, shutting down physical functions. Distantly Cade was aware of more shots being fired, shouting, but he couldn’t move. Couldn’t feel. He could only lie on the sidewalk, cheek pressed to its gritty surface. It took every ounce of his rapidly draining energy to drag his eyes open. He saw the stream of blood eddying out from him to join an ever-widening pool. Saw his partner’s body crumpled in a heap next to his.
Cade didn’t see his life flash before his eyes. Didn’t see a powerful white light that drew him deeper into its center. Death was a yawning black hole that sucked the life from his body bit by bit until there was finally only darkness.
Then there was nothing at all.
Two months later
“Gunshot wound to the abdomen. Blood pressure is one-ten and dropping. His name is Jon LeFrenz.” The paramedics helped transfer the moaning patient from the ambulance cot to an emergency-room cart. They ran alongside as the Charity Hospital E.R. employees rolled it through East Hall to triage.
“Room four is open,” Dr. Shae O’Riley said to her colleagues. Then she addressed the closest paramedic. “How’re his sounds?”
“Lungs are clear. But we had trouble stopping the bleeding. That’s the third pressure dressing. We already gave him a unit of O negative. He’s lucid and responsive.”
Nodding, she said, “Okay, thanks.” She left the ambulance crew behind as the cart was rolled into the tiny trauma cubicle. The area was jammed with people and equipment. Drawing the curtain to separate the area into two separate compartments left barely enough room to move. “Okay, Jenna, type him and get a couple of units