Justice in the Shadows
In a shadow world of secrets, lies, and hidden agendas, Detective Sergeant Rebecca Frye and her lover, Dr. Catherine Rawlings, join forces once again in the elusive search for justice.
Rebecca is aided in her struggle to uncover a pornography ring and expose its connections to a traitor within the police department by a rag-tag team of dedicated cops and civilians: JT Sloan, a cybersleuth who is committed to avenging her lover’s devastating injury and walks the fine line between justice and revenge; Dellon Mitchell, a young police officer who discovers an unforeseen talent for undercover work; and Sandy, a prostitute who develops an unexpected passion for cops. Ultimately, this secret investigation may risk not just their careers, but may cost one of them their life.
Dr. Catherine Rawlings awoke, naked, her cheek against her lover’s shoulder. They’d slept with the window open in the bedroom of her first floor apartment, and a faint breeze ruffled the curtains at the window. It was dark. Five am?
Soon the alarm would go off and another day would begin, but it was all that remained unfinished that haunted her. Her last conversation with her police detective lover just before they’d fallen into bed, physically exhausted and emotionally numb, came back to her.
“What’s going to happen now?”
“I’ll be back on regular duty in a day or so, and I’ll have new cases to worry about.” Rebecca rested her cheek against Catherine’s hair and closed her eyes. “It happens like this in police work. You work your ass off and then you can’t make the case because of a technicality, or you do make the case, but the perp plea-bargains it down to nothing.”
“So you’re letting this go?” Catherine asked, surprised.
Faintly, Rebecca shook her head. “Clark will pull the plug on this task force—he’s probably already made the call. But I’ll keep doing what I’m trained to do until we make this right—for Jeff, for Michael, for those young kids.”
Jeff Cruz had been Rebecca’s partner in the Special Crimes Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department until he and another cop had been murdered three months ago. Their killer was still at large, their murders unsolved. Michael Lassiter had been struck down only hours before by a hit and run driver in a thwarted attempt to kill J.T. Sloan, her lover and the civilian computer consultant on the task force. She lay in the intensive care unit at University Hospital in critical condition. Jeff, Michael, those nameless teenagers—victims all.
“I’ll keep doing what I’m trained to do until we make this right…”
Make it right. That’s what her lover did. Catherine shivered and pressed closer.
“Catherine?” Detective Sergeant Rebecca Frye kissed the top of Catherine’s head, one hand drifting up and down her arm in a slow caress. “What’s bothering you?”
“I am so angry about Michael being hurt, and Sloan suffering, and Jason putting his life on the line. And you—working around the clock when you’re barely out of the hospital. It’s just so…unjust.”
Encircling Catherine with an arm, Rebecca rested her chin atop Catherine’s head and mused out loud. “I know Avery Clark and his whole Justice task force ties in somehow with Jeff Cruz and Jimmy Hogan being assassinated. That can’t be a coincidence. Clark might think he can just pull the plug on this operation and we’ll take it lying down, but he’s wrong.”
Catherine’s heart thudded painfully. “What are you going to do?”
“Just dig around a bit.” Rebecca was evasive, both out of habit and out of a desire not to alarm Catherine. “I know Sloan won’t walk away from what happened to Michael, and I’d rather keep her busy doing computer checks for me than worry that she’s running around grabbing people by the throat.”
“She’s in agony, Rebecca. She feels guilty for what happened and she’s terrified of losing her lover. Until Michael recovers, she’s going to be very volatile.”
“I’ll keep an eye on her,” Rebecca promised.
Catherine merely smiled. As if anyone could control Sloan.
“What are you doing today?” Rebecca asked lazily, turning to stretch against Catherine’s body, running both hands up and down her lover’s back. “Hmm?”
“Back to routine.” Catherine’s voice was husky and slow. She rested a hand against Rebecca’s chest, rubbed her thumb across a nipple. She smiled when Rebecca gasped. “Rounds in the morning, clinic…ahh…in the afternoon. I thought…that’s nice…I’d stop to see…” Catherine tilted her head back, her eyes hazy. “Unless you intend to make good on what you’ve started, Detective—”
Rebecca grinned and slid one hand between them, cradling Catherine’s breast as she rocked her leg a little higher. “I do.”
“Oh, thank god.” Catherine felt Rebecca’s mouth on her neck, felt teeth against her skin, and felt herself grow heavy and wet. “When you touch me…” She lost her thought as fingers closed around her nipple, sending streams of pleasure streaking along her nerve fibers. Her stomach clenched with excitement.
“What?” Rebecca squeezed the hard nub, twisting very gently, her head suddenly light at the sound of a quiet whimper. “When I touch you…what?”
Catherine found Rebecca’s eyes, tried to focus on them through the haze of desire, needing something to keep her from surrendering to passion too soon. “You make me…forget…everything. Oh God…stop for a…second.”
“Too much?” Rebecca murmured, easing her grip on the tense nipple.
“Too good. You’ll make me come.”
“Didn’t you just say…” Rebecca’s eyes widened as fingers stole between her thighs, sliding unerringly around the hard ache of her own desire. She felt a tug along her length and her whole body twitched. “Ohh…Jesus, don’t do that unless you want me to go off right away.”
“Not right away.” Catherine stroked her lightly. “But soon.”
Rebecca’s brain was already swimming. She drew her fingers down Catherine’s abdomen, laced them through the silken hair between her legs, glanced gently over her clitoris. “You’re so beautiful.”
“Kiss me while you make me come,” Catherine breathed against Rebecca’s mouth.
Only blocks away, a dark-haired woman with violet eyes sat beside a still figure in a room illuminated by the otherworldly glow of machines that monitored the fragile essence of her lover’s life in impersonal readouts and muted sounds. Hunched forward, elbows on her knees, unaware of the cramps in her shoulders and thighs, Sloan held Michael Lassiter’s hand tenderly in both of hers. Slowly, carefully, she turned the heavy platinum wedding band on Michael’s finger, the mate to her own, and watched with desperate intensity the pale eyelids below delicate brows for signs of awakening. The nurses had washed the blood from her rich blond hair, but Sloan could see it still. See it on her face, in her hair, pooling in the street below her head as she lay so still in the road.
There’s some swelling in the brain. She could wake up in an hour, or a day, or a week. They didn’t say, she may never wake up at all, but that was all that Sloan could hear.
“Michael,” Sloan whispered, tears streaking her cheeks. “I’m so sorry, baby. So sorry.”
Six am. Quitting time.
Sandy leaned back in a booth in an all-night diner on the corner of Twelfth and Locust and sighed. All the other girls had gone home, but she’d stayed just a little longer.
Stupid. She’s not coming.
It had been a long night and not a particularly profitable one. If she wanted to make the rent, she’d need to do more than the hand action and the occasional blow jobs in dark alleys. She’d have to fuck for it. And she hadn’t been.
Not since the night she saw Anna Marie lying naked on a dirty mattress in a filthy hotel, looking so frail and helpless. Looking so pathetic, and so very dead. She had looked at Anna Marie, and she’d seen herself. She wasn’t particularly afraid of dying. There were worse things than that. But she hadn’t run away from one kind of hell just to end up another kind of victim.
Sandy looked up into Dell’s blue eyes, remembering the night the young cop had put her life on the line for her. “Hi, rookie. You look like shit.”
Dellon Mitchell managed a smile, but her eyes were dull with fatigue. “You eat already?”
“Just about to,” Sandy lied, because she wanted an excuse to stay. “You buying?”
“Sure.” Mitchell grinned for real this time. “You order for us, okay?”
Reassured, Sandy cocked an eyebrow. “What’s with you, anyhow? Something happen?”
“Just a bad night.”
“Did you guys go after those Internet pervs?”
“You get ‘em?”
“We got the guy we wanted.” Mitchell’s voice was harsh with anger. “But the fucking Feds took him right out from under us. We came away empty.”
“That sucks,” Sandy said vehemently. “So you still don’t know where they’re filming the skin flicks or where they’re getting those kids?”
“Nope.” Mitchell tapped her fork on the tabletop despondently. “And now I’m probably gonna get pulled back to a desk somewhere.”
“So what now?” Sandy searched Dell’s blue eyes, looking for truth and afraid she’d find what she was hoping for. More afraid that she wouldn’t.
Mitchell’s gaze softened, and she almost reached out to touch her. “We have breakfast, then I walk you home. Sound okay?”
Sandy’s throat felt oddly tight. “Sure, why not.”
Forty-five minutes later they stood in front of a row house south of Bainbridge where Sandy had a small studio apartment.
“So I’ll see you later,” Mitchell said, making no move to leave. She leaned against the rickety wood railing on the small stoop while Sandy pulled a key from the impossibly tiny purse that hung on a long chain around her neck. Her scooped-neck cotton top was too thin and too tight, designed to show off her breasts, and Mitchell noticed.