Apologies for the lateness of the post. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t figure out what to write about today. I started and deleted three different times. The problem is I’m in the final stages of preparing a book for release and that has taken over my brain. So, instead of trying a fourth time to write something coherent, here’s a snippet from Nocturnal Revelations, the next installment in the Nocturnal Lives series. The release date is set for March 5th.
(Not the final version)
“What’s your day look like?”
Mackenzie Santos Caine turned and smiled at her husband. After a little more than a year of marriage, she still found it hard to believe. But then, anyone with a modicum of sanity would have a hard time believing all she’d been through the last couple of years and that was saying a lot for a cop. She believed it only because she’d live through it, even if a couple of times it had been by the skin of her teeth.
Literally and figuratively.
All of which paled at the sight of Jackson standing the doorway, a towel slung low across his hips. Skin still damp from his shower, he smiled and stepped inside the bedroom. For a moment, Mac considered locking the bedroom door, with their phones on the other side of the door and taking him back to bed. She’d much prefer that to what the day held.
Before the idea could take hold, she shook her head and sobered. The day was going to be hard enough to get through without thinking about could haves and should haves.
“I’ve got court this morning.” She turned back to her closet and reached inside, her right hand closing over the uniform carefully tucked away in a garment bag. “Not exactly the way I wanted to start the day.”
And wouldn’t that be fun? Even though she hadn’t personally worked the case, the Assistant DA insisted she testify. When she reminded him how tenuous her connection to the investigation was, he said he needed her to take the stand. The defense attorney had a reputation for successfully calling into question how the police conducted the investigation She supervised the detectives in charge of the case. She signed off on all their reports and could vouch for their expertise and reliability. More than that, he planned on using her reputation as an honest and well-respected cop to bolster the testimony of the detectives. Then he reminded her she’d dealt with the defendant before. So she knew how important it was to finally make sure he spent time behind bars, hopefully a very long time.
That, more than anything, convinced her not to fight the subpoena. If the system had done its job the first four times Ray Pence appeared before a judge, he’d be sitting in prison right now. Instead, despite strong cases against him, he’d been let off with little more than slaps on the wrist. The judges he’d appeared before believed the baby-faced young man when he promised to follow the rules, swearing he’d been rehabilitated since his last court appearance.
Because the judges hadn’t followed recommendations from the DA’s Office and hadn’t listened to cops like her, Pence continued to use the streets of Dallas as his personal hunting ground. Over the course of the last year, he raped and killed three women, perhaps more. They left behind friends and families that would never fully recover from the loss. And why? Because the judges hadn’t had the balls to do their jobs.
Fighting down her anger, Mac unzipped the garment bag and withdrew her dress uniform. For a moment, as she laid it out on the bed, her eyes lingered on her captain’s bars. A pang of loss tightened her throat. She’d worn those bars for a year now and this was the first time she’d had to wear them at a fellow officer’s funeral. She should count herself lucky, but she couldn’t. Not when they reminded her how she’d gotten them.
Fourteen months ago, she lost her own captain. But then Michael King had been more than just her captain. He’d been her mentor and her friend. He had been the one to recognize the changes coming over her after she’d been attacked and left for dead one night. He helped keep her sane when she realized monsters really did walk the streets—and she was now one of them. Not long after that, she joined the pride, and swore allegiance to him as her alpha, trusting him to help her accept and adjust to her new life.
Then, suddenly, he was gone, killed in an ambush along with two other members of DPD. Now she sat in King’s chair as captain of the revamped Crimes against Persons Division and every day she swore to honor him and all he taught her.
“Then I have Frank Malone’s funeral this afternoon,” she continued.
Jackson nodded, his expression serious. “Do you want me to go with you?”
Mac started to shake her head and then stopped. Jackson understood the demands of command, sometimes better than she did. More than that, he understood when she needed him and today was most definitely one of those times.
“Thanks. I’d appreciate it.”
She’d been fortunate since pinning on her captain’s bars. Not one of her officers had fallen in the line of duty. In fact, none had been seriously injured. She said a prayer of thanks for that every day. But that didn’t make Malone’s death any easier to accept. He died after a drunk driver hit his motorcycle on Malone’s day off. She was relieved she didn’t have to live with the knowledge he’d lost his life carrying out orders she gave or was ultimately responsible for. But that didn’t take away the pain of knowing he left behind a wife and three young children.
She cleared her throat and tried to clear her mind. The image of Missy Malone’s stricken expression when she opened the front door to the small house they’d moved into less than two years earlier said it all. She knew, as any cop’s spouse would, that the sight of his CO, his partner and the department chaplain meant bad news. When Mac told her what happened, the tears came. Never would Mac forget the pain and anguish in the young woman’s face. All she could do was make sure the man responsible served every day of his sentence. If that meant attending every parole hearing, Mac would be there. She owed it to Malone and to his family.
DPD looked after its own.
“Are you sure it won’t screw up your day?”
Jackson shook his head. “All I’ve got are some meetings. Nothing important.”
His shrug told her different, but she knew better than to argue. Instead, she turned her attention to dressing. As she did, she smiled slightly. Wearing her dress uniform to court would earn her more than a few digs from the defense attorney. Was she trying to sway the jury? What was she trying to prove? Didn’t she normally wear civilian clothes to work? It would be interesting to see how the jury reacted when she explained she wore the uniform because she would be leaving the courthouse to go directly to Officer Malone’s funeral. Even now, she could hear Laird Naylor objecting and asking for a mistrial. Not that the judge would grant it. After all, if Naylor ran true to form, he’d open the door to her response and that was on him.
It might even be worth the aggravation of dealing with the man to see the judge finally slap him down. Naylor had been a pain in Mac’s ass since the first time she testified against one of his clients. This time would be no different.
“Don’t forget your vest.”
With her back to her husband, Mac rolled her eyes. She wasn’t going to be in the field that day. In fact, she hadn’t been in the field in almost to two weeks. That was the major downside to her promotion. She was a cop, damn it, not an administrator. At least that’s what she kept telling herself. Besides, court might be frustrating but it wasn’t dangerous. She didn’t need the Kevlar vest.
She turned and forgot her objection as he dropped his towel and stepped into a pair of boxer briefs. One of the best days of her life had been the day they met. Of course, she hadn’t realized it at the time. All she’d known then was he—or rather his jaguar-self—encroached on her territory. That night her jaguar let him know exactly what she thought about it, taking the fight to him. Later, fully human, she’d been drawn to him. Now they were married, and she still couldn’t believe her luck.
Even if he did tend to be more than a little overprotective at times.
“I’m not going to need it today.” She reached for her shirt and started to pull it on, stopping only when he shook his head, his expression determined.
“Mac, I’ll remind you not only is it DPD policy for all uniformed officers to wear their vests but that you made it official when you took over CaP. I believe your exact words were no exceptions.”
She ground her teeth and then nodded. He was right, damn it. Her first official day as captain of CaP, she reinforced the rule about vests. Now she was caught. Grumbling under her breath, she grabbed her Kevlar vest from where it rested on the top shelf of the closet and pulled it on over the thin tank she wore. Then she smiled as Jackson helped her settle in it place.
“Thank you.” He lightly pressed his lips to the curve of her neck.
She smiled and finished dressing. Then, she slid her service weapon into a pancake holster at the small of her back. Her back-up slid into an ankle holster. Hopefully, she wouldn’t need either of them in a hurry.
“Do you want me to meet you at the church or at the office?” he asked as she reached for her cellphone and slid it into her inside jacket pocket.
“Better plan on the church. I have a feeling I’ll be going there straight from the courthouse.”
“Let me know if you change your mind.”
“I will.” She glanced at her watch. Six forty-five. “I’d better head down. Jael will be here any time.”
“Take care that nothing happens to my cop today.”
“Do the same where my financial advisor’s concerned.” She lifted her face to his kiss. “Let’s take time tonight to plan a long weekend away.”
“Sounds good.” He brushed his lips against hers once again and then sighed as the doorbell rang. “Jael’s here.”
“Talk to you later, love.”
Mac grabbed her briefcase off the chair near the bedroom door and hurried downstairs. As she did, she checked her watch once again. Unless traffic was worse than usual, they had time to stop for coffee on the way to the office for the morning briefing before court. Even if traffic was bad, they’d take the time. Something told her she was going to need all the help she could get to make it through her testimony that morning. Past experience with Naylor taught her he had little, if any, respect for cops. He would do everything he could to discredit her and her testimony. Somehow, she needed to keep her temper in check while making sure the jury knew everything they needed to not only convict Naylor’s client but put him away for the rest of his miserable life.
“You’re early,” Mac said as she opened the door.
Instead of seeing her former training officer, Sergeant Jael Lindsay, on the doorstep, she found herself fact-to-face with a man about her height. He wore a non-descript uniform that might belong to any one of a dozen or more delivery services. He smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes. In fact, she could barely see his eyes for the visored cap he wore.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” he said softly. “I don’t have a choice.”
Mac’s brow furrowed. Sorry for what?
Run! her jaguar ordered, sensing danger a split-second before Mac did.
Mac’s purse and briefcase hit the floor with a thud. Her right hand moved toward her gun, pushing aside her jacket. As her fingers closed around the Glock 19, she stepped back and to the side, pulling her gun as she did.
Her focus narrowed to the gun in the man’s hand. It tracked her movement, never wavering. The hammer pulled back. Time slowed. Death waited. She had known it could happen one day, but she never thought it would be in her own home.
No, not like this!
Here is the preliminary cover (and before anyone starts nit-picking, it is preliminary and there are changes being made).
Featured image via Pixabay.