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Authors: Elizabeth Finn

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BOOK: Conflicting Interests
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His heart raced for a moment as she studied his eyes. He was
too worried about her and he cared entirely too much about what happened to
her. It wasn’t a good combination for a cop and it was exactly why he wasn’t
allowed to like her, want her, think about her, fantasize about her, imagine
what it would be like to have her, own her, fuck her. She was off limits for a
reason. But even as he reaffirmed that in his mind, he imagined what she would
look like stretched out on the desktop in front of him—arched back with her
legs parted on either side of his body, exposing every last inch of her pussy.

She finally got tired of waiting for him to respond as he
got lost simply watching her, fantasizing about her, hell worrying about her.
“Are you okay?” Her voice was suddenly small and her eyes were suddenly
regarding him far too intimately.

He nodded for a moment but he stopped. “Actually no. I don’t
like how that man was looking at you. And I don’t like that you so easily
dismissed my questioning about him.”

He pulled his legs out from under the desk she was sitting
on and he leaned toward her. “I’m here to do a job, Katrina, and that’s to
figure out who attacked you and by extension of that keep you safe.” He was
speaking rather harshly and he could see the shock on her face but she needed
to understand. “I need your cooperation, I need you to stow your nerves and
embarrassment around me and I don’t need you making comments about my being
attracted to you because none of that really matters, does it?”

She shook her head subtly as her eyes shifted away from him.
“Sorry.” She started gnawing on her lower lip and guilt swiftly punched him in
the gut but she just had to understand.

“There is no doubt in my mind that your safety is in
jeopardy and I need to know you get that—
get that.” She nodded.
“What’s the student’s name?”

Her eyes finally found his again but she looked stunned and
hurt—and he was dying just a bit inside to see it.

“Josh Grant. I’ll find an address for you.” It was his turn
to shut up and nod and he did, holding his gaze on hers.

“We should go. Stephens is roaming the hallways checking out
the building’s security.”

“I’m sorry.” Her voice was a bit stronger when she said it
this time and he softened.

“Don’t be. I’m not upset with you. I just want you to take
this seriously and things are…complicated with…”
The word was
but he wasn’t willing to say that word. “This case and the fact you teach at my
son’s school and are part of his life. It grays some areas of this
investigation for me and I need things to be very black and white.”

She stood with all her insecurity written on her face, but
the moment she turned from him she stopped and looked back down to him. “Don’t
you think I’m taking this seriously? I live and breathe fear right now. I
promise it doesn’t take much for me to imagine just what this creep wants to do
to me and I don’t appreciate you suggesting that I don’t get it. I’m not
naturally paranoid and no, it’s not my first inclination to fear a student whom
I’ve been teaching for a while now, but I get it.”

Her lips pursed for a second before she turned from him

She walked from the room with his eyes trailing after her.
He stood a moment later and followed, finding her already talking to Stephens
in the corridor. He stood stupidly by as Stephens complained about the lack of
security in the building.

“They have a security desk downstairs and yet it’s empty
after six o’clock. They have security cameras around the building but there are
far too few and with no one monitoring the security desk in the evening it’s
all pointless until after the fact.” Stephens sounded personally offended by
the building and she just stood by watching him, nodding her head and trying to
disguise her eyes, which kept shifting to Dillon’s nervously.

“The parking garage is another issue.” Dillon chimed in.
Katrina’s focus switched entirely to him but her expression was guarded. “There
are no cameras in the garage, which is ridiculous. They don’t monitor the gate
at night because it’s permit parking after five o’clock. There is nothing
stopping someone from walking right into the garage and there are more dark,
deserted corners in there than there are in even this building. I don’t want
you parking in there anymore.”

She looked shocked for a moment. “What? Street parking is
pointless downtown and the garage is free for faculty!”

“I don’t care if they pay you to park in that damn garage. It’s
unsafe. Take public transportation.” He was holding her gaze harshly while
Stephens looked between them.

“Because that’s safer?” She looked incredulous.

“Under the circumstances, yes! A crowded bus is far safer
for you right now than a deserted, unguarded parking garage. Though I don’t
like the idea of you walking from a bus stop to your home either. But we can
have the patrol officer meet you there.”

“He’s right, Ms. Page,” Stephens chimed in. “You’re better
off on a city bus right now where there will always be plenty of people. Better
yet, take a cab if you can afford it. Just don’t put yourself in a place like a
nearly vacant parking garage with no security.” She nodded but she was staring
at the floor. “Now what the hell were you two doing in that classroom alone for
so long, making out? Kept me waiting long enough,” Stephens muttered as an

Dillon could strangle the man. Instead he turned with his
lips pursed, shaking his head and stalked off down the corridor. He pointed
back at Stephens when he was about fifteen feet away, pinning the man with one
final comment. “See that she gets to her car and out of the parking garage
safely.” And then he kept walking.
Fucking hell.
He just couldn’t win
for trying!

Chapter Eight


“So how is Detective Sweet Cheeks?” Imogen drawled as she
sat beside Katrina at the baseball game ticket table on Friday night.
gate duty

“By cheeks I assume you’re referring to his handsome ass

“Of course. Duh. I assumed that went without saying.” She chided
Katrina and elbowed her in the arm but Katrina was having a hard time
appreciating the humor. She was a bit too irritated with Detective Sweet
Cheeks. She was also exhausted thanks to two more nights of next to no sleep.
But it was Friday. TGI-Ready-for-an-Adult-Drink-F. “So, are we getting a drink
after this shindig?” She must have read Katrina’s mind.

“Yes please.”

“How long do we have to sit here? The game’s already

“Until the third inning. Then it’s a free-for-all.”

“It’s junior-high football for God’s sake. Are people really
expected to pay for this? I mean, how are we even going to know when it’s a
third in?”

“First of all, this is baseball, not football. Second of
all, yes, they’re expected to pay. That’s why they keep handing us money. And
third, it’s not an ‘in’ it’s an inning and just look up at the scoreboard.” She
smirked. Couldn’t help it, not when Imogen was being ridiculous.

“Well, it’s not my fault you Americans have the stupidest
sports known to man-kind.”

“Really? At least we didn’t name a sport after a bug.” And
then as Katrina looked up her face fell.

“Well, speak of the devil.” Imogen muttered as Katrina
elbowed her in the rib cage. She hadn’t told Imogen about Wednesday night’s
lecture she’d received from the man and here he was walking toward them now,
along with Seth, Jake and Molly.

“Hi, Seth, Jake. How are you guys?” They gave her as much of
a greeting as she guessed anyone ever got out of them before taking off,
leaving Dillon and Molly standing at the table.

“Free tickets yet?” It was Molly and she was as bubbly and
friendly as Katrina remembered her from Jake’s year in her class.

“Sorry, not yet. After the third inning.”

“Well we’d have been here sooner if Dillon hadn’t made us
late. Bad habit of his, don’t ya know?” And Molly’s eyes found Katrina’s with a
subtle knowing smile while Imogen practically choked on her laughter. Detective
Adler looked less than amused as he forked over the cash and Katrina could
barely make eye contact with the man as she reached to his outstretched hand to
take the money.

It wasn’t long until the end of the third inning and she
opted for concessions before she and Imogen escaped for drinks. She was ready,
than ready, for a good strong margarita with an extra shot of tequila but she
was guessing having at least some food in her stomach would be a good idea,
lest she end up knee-walking drunk. Drunk, fine. Falling-down-stupid drunk, not

“Buy you a walking taco to make up for my rudeness the other

“Are you supposed to be talking to me or are you going to
get in trouble with the
police?” He studied her with a perplexed
look on his face for a moment as her cheeks started burning. “Well I’m glad
that joke fell flat.”

“No I get it. Well done.” He pursed his lips. He wanted to
smirk. She could see it in his eyes but alas he’d made it clear just how
professional their relationship needed to be. Didn’t seem to stop her heart
from fluttering in her chest or her fingers from trembling as he handed her the
Doritos bag with a fork sticking out of it.

They started walking slowly from the concession stand,
stopping to stand along the fence that ran parallel to the third-base line. It
should mean nothing, the two of them standing together and given the few pairs
of eyes that regarded them and the brows that then shot up in interest it
intrigued a few people if nothing else. But it sure as hell shouldn’t be so
damn strained, awkward and just plain wrong.

What could possibly be wrong with them talking? He’d made it
clear just how hands-off he was to her but all she felt was rejection. Of
course that wasn’t true. He was standing awkwardly by her side, eating in
silence and trying to behave like any other adults milling around the baseball

“Seth did great on his history test yesterday with Mrs.
Martins. Her tests can be complicated because they rely heavily on reading
retention and he aced it. Not sure if he told you but he should be proud.”

He looked to her with a small smile that showed nothing more
than pride for his son. “Well thank you for including him in your reading
group. That’s great to hear.” She nodded and they went back to silence.

He was taking her empty Doritos bag from her hands a few
minutes later before he spoke again. “I’m sorry if I sounded rude downtown the
other night. It was very unprofessional of me.”

“Unprofessional…” She let the word trail off her tongue as
she repeated him. He was right about that. It was completely unprofessional and
entirely personal. Personal, that thing he seemed so intent on avoiding with
her. But Katrina was guessing it would be…unprofessional to remind him of that

He ignored the challenge in her voice for a moment as he
studied her. “I better go find Molly. You have a good night.” He walked away
and she watched. Naturally her eyes were drawn to his exceptional physical
strength and beauty. His gait was purposeful but not stalking. He was just the
perfect height to be commanding but not overbearing. And that ass. The shape
through the casual jeans he wore was sinful. It showed the extended strength of
his legs. He had quite a powerful build and she forced herself to look away
quickly as a flush ran through her body. But she didn’t look away quickly

“Close your mouth and stop staring.” Imogen had just snuck
up behind her, following the trail of her overeager eyes. “Let’s hit the road,
Jack.” She nodded as Imogen linked their elbows and hauled her off toward the
parking lot. Drinks. Drinks would do her good. She was only twenty-eight for
crap’s sake and she deserved a little twenty-something fun.

* * * * *

Two-thirty in the morning was never a fun time to be woken

“Adler.” He croaked out the word as he struggled to sit

All he could hear was sniffling and he looked at caller ID
on his cell phone quickly. He shouldn’t know her cell phone number by memory
but pathetically he did.

“Katrina? What’s wrong?” More sniffling. “Katrina, you have
to talk to me. Are you okay? If you’re not okay, you need to hang up and call

“I’m fine.” She was choking on the words and he was struggling
to control the panic. “I just thought I heard something. But the patrol
officer’s out front and I called him. He checked and it’s nothing but—I …just…I
just panicked. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called. I just don’t want to sleep
on my bathroom floor again.” She laughed nervously for a second.

“Hang tight. I’m on my way. I’ll be there soon.” He text-messaged
Molly that Seth was alone and he left Seth a note. It was their routine. Seth
would see the note and head down to Molly’s when he woke if Dillon wasn’t back
and Molly would know to make sure he showed up at a decent time in the morning.

When Dillon pulled up in her driveway, the patrol officer
sitting outside met him. “I checked around all the windows and I’m not seeing
any sign that someone’s been snooping around. The floodlights never came on.
It’s windy though so I’m not surprised she’s hearing things with all the bushes
that grow right up around her house.” He thanked the uniformed officer before
walking up to her side door, being flooded with the obnoxious rays of the
motion-sensor floodlight. She answered moments later. Her eyes were puffy and
her face was splotchy. She was wearing a pair of flannel pajama pants and a
sweatshirt. She held the door for him and he entered.

“I’m sorry.” She just looked so damn exhausted. Her light-brown
hair was up in a ponytail and her face was without makeup, leaving her looking
younger than she actually was. She looked quite stunning in that frightened-young-woman-who-needed-rescuing
sort of way. God, he wanted to rescue her.

He shook his head slightly, dismissing her apology. “Tell me
what happened.”

“I got home about an hour ago and…”

“What were you doing out until one-thirty in the morning?”
He sounded more like a jealous boyfriend than a cop.

“I was having drinks with Imogen.”

“You’re drunk?” She didn’t act it but he couldn’t seem to
stifle the frustration in his voice.

“No!” She hung her head on a deep sigh as she walked to her
sofa and sat down. “I wanted to be. I thought if I could just get a few drinks
in me maybe I could sleep without thinking I was going to wake up to some man
raping me.” She spit the words out in her disgust. “I couldn’t relax though. I
had two drinks and then drank water for the rest of the evening.”

He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he walked to
the couch and sat. She pulled her legs up and sat cross-legged, grabbing a
throw pillow next to her and hugging it to her body. He watched her fingers
trembling and he scowled at the sight.

“Maybe you should stay with your friend for a few days.” He
didn’t expect her to scowl back at him.

“No. This is my home. I can’t…” He understood well enough
how she felt. This was her world that he was sitting in with her at the moment
and it meant something to her.

“I’ll take a look around.” He stood and walked down the
hallway to the spare room. He peered in the closet, finding off-season clothes
hung up. The entire home smelled like her and he loved it entirely too much. He
peered under the bed, finding her strange-looking old cat curled up snoring.
knew cats could snore?
He peeked into the bathroom, opening the linen
closet and pulling back the shower curtain. When he entered her bedroom, he
checked that closet as well and peeked under the bed.

He wanted to delve further. He wanted to dig into everything
she owned and study it, smell it, touch it. But instead he pulled her blinds up
and checked out the back of her house. She did have overgrown bushes that were
brushing against the side of the house in the strong wind and there was little
doubt the sound might be alarming in her vigilant state.

He lowered the blinds and when he turned she was standing in
the doorway. She was leaning against the frame, watching him. Her face was
ghostly white and there were tears on the lower rims of her eyes. She was
torturing herself being here alone and he wanted to shake some damn sense into
her. Instead he walked to her and he overstepped the boundaries once more.

He wrapped his arms around her body, feeling the small
fragile weight of her against his strength. She collapsed against his chest and
snuggled into him. He was far too aroused to be so close to her but he was
running on erotic autopilot. He’d given over to it for a moment and he was
fighting to maintain what little space there was between them. Her face was
nuzzled up under his chin and his fingers were stroking slowly over her back.

When her lips touched his neck, he choked on his breath but
he didn’t pull back. He let her lips caress along the stubbly hair along his
jaw. His brain was screaming and his heart was pounding but his body was
soaking in the feel of her like it was a drug he was starved for—so starved, in
fact, that his cock was twitching. She was only just far enough away from his
groin for him to hide it from her.

Her breath was ragged and desperate against his skin and he
was curling his fingers against her back to keep from grabbing her and mauling
her on the bed. But when her lips parted and the warm breath turned to an
incredibly super-heated kiss just below his ear, he groaned and he closed the
last remaining space between their bodies. She whimpered when his erection
pushed up against her stomach and she sank her nails into his back through his t-shirt.

He started panting, begging his body to stop, but she wasn’t
done letting her lips set the pace and the moment they brushed back down along
his jawline and up to his mouth, he fell apart. She parted her lips, taking his
bottom lip between hers and he let her.
Why the fuck did he let her?
sank into it, letting his mouth fall lower to hers. He quite intentionally
ignored the part of his brain that was screaming when he grabbed her cheeks and
thrust his tongue into her mouth. She groaned loudly and whimpered as though
she couldn’t quite figure out if she needed to cry or come to an orgasm.

He was losing his mind, but for all the warning bells going
off in his head, his mouth wasn’t getting the message. He was ravenous as he
backed her body up against the opposite doorjamb behind her and he pushed his
body to smother hers, pinning her to the doorframe and continuing his assault
on her lips. Her hands were everywhere and couldn’t seem to figure out what to
touch first. They were on his back, on his chest, clutching his face to hers,
down along his neck but it wasn’t until she hit the waist of his jeans and slid
her hand swiftly and tightly down under the waistband of his underwear and
farther down along the rigid length of his cock that his brain finally caught
up to him.

She was grasping the base of his erection, squeezing with
the most perfect pressure as his cock pulsed and begged for more. But the gears
were turning again and he pulled from her mouth, grabbed her hand, yanked it
painfully away from him and pinned it above her head. She was panting and her
eyes were wide and shocked. She lunged for his mouth, capturing his lips again
and he gave in for a split second.

“I can’t I can’t I can’t
I can’t
. Fuck. Oh fuck.” He
was speed-talking against her mouth and she was whimpering into his. He held
his forehead to hers, pushing forward and tensing every muscle in his body to
keep himself from attacking her lips again. Her free hand was gripping his biceps
harshly and she looked as if she were ready to break apart into a hundred

BOOK: Conflicting Interests
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