The heat between them burns red hot…until danger turns it white.
Welcome back to Saddle Wells, that little Texas town that seems to be a hotbed of hot sex. Where else can you find so many Naked Cowboys and the women who love them. This time it’s a Dallas cop who is burned out on the job and hiding from a drug cartel leader and the weary vet from Afghanistan who takes her to bed and vows to protect her.
Charity Vance dropped into the chair at her desk, leaned back and ran her hands through her short cap of dark curls. The day had been especially grueling. Testifying in court always made her edgy, but today was especially more so. The takedown of the drug dealer, the gunfight that had erupted that night and the constant tension in the courtroom had all combined to give her the mother of all headaches. Not that every trial didn’t have its own strain, but Paco Morales was truly a power-hungry psycho who didn’t take kindly to having that power disrupted. While she answered the questions from both the district attorney and the defense attorney, she’d called on every bit of self-discipline to be able to look directly at him.
The threats shouted at her as she stepped down from the witness stand still echoed in her ears as she’d left the building and driven back to the police department offices. Hard as she tried, she couldn’t erase Paco Morales’s shouts from her brain.
“I’ll get you, bitch. Prison won’t stop me. My crew will find you wherever you go.”
She hadn’t felt the tension ease up until she’d reached the comfort of the bullpen at the Dallas Police Department. In ten years with the police department, she’d faced a lot of down and dirty, hostile criminals, but none had actually frightened her the way Morales did. Maybe part of it was just exhaustion with the job. The Morales task-force project had been long, intensive and draining. She felt as if every bit of energy had seeped from her body and left her limp and exhausted.
She needed to make some decisions about her future life before the events in this one killed her altogether.
“Still thinking about Morales?”
A gravelly voice interrupted her thoughts. Charity opened her eyes to see Milo Stanton, her lieutenant, standing beside her desk. Tall and heavy set, he looked like the former boxer she’d discovered he’d once been. His jacket was off as usual, his shirtsleeves rolled up and his tie askew. He looked the way he always did, as if he’d pulled an all-nighter and carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. But he also projected a stability that had kept her grounded since she’d joined his squad. The enormous, solid presence had settled her and given her comfort more than once.
Her gaze dropped to the large Starbucks coffee he had the fingers of one large hand wrapped around.
“Oh, bless you, bless you.” She took the cup, lifted the lid and inhaled. Her favorite. Mocha latte topped with whipped cream. She licked the frothy topping before taking a slow sip. “Heaven. Sheer heaven.”
“Better than the mud we serve here,” Stanton agreed. “I figured you’d need it by now. Helen called to tell me she was on her way back from her interview, so I asked her to stop and get it.”
“Blessings to her too.” Charity took another sip, the delicious mocha latte warming her system and easing her frayed nerves.
“Rumor has it the trial was a real pisser.” Stanton hiked a hip onto the corner of her desk. “I heard Paco was pretty vocal with his threats after your testimony.”
“You could definitely say that.” She shrugged. “Nothing I haven’t heard before though.”
“Listen to me.” Stanton locked his gaze with hers. “He’s no one to ignore. His crew is the most vicious of any drug gang in Dallas County, and they have strong ties to a cartel in Mexico.”
“I know, I know. That’s why the task force worked so hard to tie him up tight.”
“And you did good work on that task force too. I got great feedback on your efforts.”
Charity had been one of two detectives from the Dallas PD assigned to work with the Drug Enforcement Agency to take down the Morales crew and follow the links to Mexico.
“Thanks, LT. It was an excellent group to work with.”
“I thought about assigning some protection to you until the trial is over and Morales is out of the area. He’s got the word out on the street that you’re a top target.”
Charity glared at him. “No. And, no. I mean, no.”
“I’m a police officer. You’re going to assign another officer to protect me? We have too many crimes that need solving.”
“And I don’t want your murder to be one of them.” Stanton studied her for a long moment. “There’s another option. You might consider taking some time off until that scum is safely locked away for good. Fully paid, of course. But I do believe you’d be better off out of town for a while.”