Authors: Karin Harlow
“Come at me again, I’m going to hurt you,” he growled low.
Collecting herself and her thoughts, Jax considered her current tactics. They weren’t working. She was strong. He was stronger. She eyed him covertly from beneath her long, dark lashes. Power radiated off him in waves. He reminded her of a big, sleek, predatory panther. From his stylishly cut jet-black hair, his arresting face and full, mocking lips to his impeccable black suit and the way it hung effortlessly from his big, muscular body down to his custom black-leather Italian shoes, she didn’t miss a thing. Most especially the harsh glint of his unusual blue eyes.
She nodded, mentally shifting gears, then pushed off the wall.
In total op mode, Jax slowly stalked her nemesis. She smiled slightly. His eyes burned with anger, but he couldn’t hide the heat flickering behind them. She shook her head and was rewarded with his gaze raking her from her naturally thick mahogany-colored hair to her fitted black turtleneck to her short black-leather skirt down to the tips of her black, thigh-high stiletto jackboots that clicked on the hardwood floor.
She stopped two steps from him, planted her feet wide, and set her hands on her hips. “What if I like it to hurt?”
The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as “unsold and destroyed.” Neither the author nor the publisher has received payment for the sale of this “stripped book.”
Pocket Star Books
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 by Karin Tabke
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First Pocket Star Books paperback edition June 2010
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Manufactured in the United States of America
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ISBN 978-1-4391-7796-9 (ebook)
Thank you for all of your help with this story. Your willingness to drop everything to read and critique for me at all hours of the day and night was invaluable. I could not have done it without you.
Once again, my thanks to Kimberly Whalen for her expertise, guidance, and also for being there when I need her most. To my editor Lauren McKenna: I aspire to become your dream writer and therefore save your editorial hand from permanent disfigurement. In the meantime, thank you for being the best and hardest working editor in New York.
To Captain Barry Barber of the Baltimore County Police Department, and godfather to my youngest son, thank you for dealing with those you-know-who’s down at Central-you-know-where.
To my home girls! Jos, Tawny, Syl, and Sharon. Ladies, you keep me real. Thank you for that. To the real Jax Cassidy, for such a cool name!
And last but not least, to my husband, Gary, for his never faltering patience and willingness to help me with everything from the little questions to the big scenes and for fixing all those last-minute dinners when the muse was so damn hot my keyboard was smokin’! Thank you for all the pots of your special coffee and calmly dealing with me when I morphed into the writer from hell. And for allowing me to wake you in the middle of the night after you were asleep for hours because I was just coming to bed and had to tell you how many words I wrote. And finally, thank you for all the errand runs, grocery runs and for getting me dark chocolate when I needed it most.
I love you.
Baltimore City Courthouse
Sally port prisoner transfer section
Irony was one fickle, messed-up bitch, Angela thought. A year and a half ago she was the fair-haired darling of Charm City. Baltimore’s hottest get-the-hell-out-of-my-way-I’m-going-to-the-top cop. Today, in the icy rain that bit at her skin like shotgun spray, two female deputies escorted her, hobbled and cuffed, clad in prison orange, from her courthouse holding cell into the sally port.
The anger she’d kept tamped down since her assault, subsequent arrest, and trial—even when that asshole prosecutor had twisted the facts and her sergeant had trashed her on the witness stand—finally erupted. Yeah, she’d made it too damn easy for them. It was a given there was no honor among the criminals she’d spent most of her adult life putting behind bars. You never trusted them. Never turned your back and never gave them an opportunity to do you. Never had she thought her squad would betray her in such a vicious, public way as they had. If you couldn’t trust your partner, who the hell could you trust?
How the hell had she let this happen? She
hadn’t let this happen. Her squad had sold her out. And what had
happened afterward? She clenched her jaw, grinding her teeth. She was only human, and, in the end, justice had been served. The price? Her freedom.
Involuntarily, she jerked against the hands grasping her biceps and shivered as a harsh jag of frigid air slapped her in the face. She was going away for life with no chance of parole for at least two decades. Mild hysteria began to seep into her pores. Soon, it would sink deeper into her muscles, then her bones and her organs, before it ate her up. Her chest rose and fell in quick, harsh puffs. She felt like she was walking a gangplank, the shark-infested waters below swirling, churning—waiting.
Angela expelled a long breath into the cold air and watched it curl, then disappear when another harsh blast of air caught it, immediately turning it into nothingness. She refused to become nothing. She was tough. She could handle prison, even though she wasn’t going to get the preferential treatment she had received in the Women’s Detention Center here in the city. She was a trained professional. It was the damn cell, that eight-by-eight space that caused her more concern than a shank-carrying inmate who wanted some fresh meat for the night. Ange hated small spaces. As a little girl, her cousin had locked her in an old refrigerator in the abandoned field behind her house. She’d panicked, her screams for help unheard. She’d woken up in the arms of a policeman. He’d smiled and told her she was going to be OK. She’d known then what she wanted to be when she grew up.
Now she was going to prison and probably never coming out. She was glad her mother had died before Angela had been sentenced. Her dad? Long gone. He
didn’t matter. How could he, when she and her mom had never mattered to him?
Angela balked, the muscles in her arms and neck tightening. The guards yanked her along, and this time she offered no resistance, not even when she heard a bus engine roar to life. Inhaling the cold air deeply into the warmth of her lungs, she exhaled it slowly, refusing to watch it disappear without a trace.
She blinked against the shards of rain, wanting, despite the foul weather, to stand in it rather then step on that bus. The bus to Jessup. The bus to the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. The bus to hell.
Angela shook her head, forcing herself not to focus on what was ahead of her. But as one thought hijacked another, she came full circle, thinking what a cluster fuck her life had become. And there wasn’t a damn thing she could do to change it. Not now. Not ever.
“Giacomelli, I hope you have some friends over at Jessup. If you don’t, make some fast,” Deputy Alvarez said as she steered Angela toward the bus. “Those girls in Jessup are gonna want a piece of you the minute they find out you’re in the house.”
Angela’s head snapped back and she looked Alvarez straight in the eye, nearly tripping in the short shackles. Alvarez tightened her grip, as did the other guard. “They’ll have to get to me first,” Angela said. And she knew they would. Eventually.
“I can’t believe I’m hauling you off for murder one, Giacomelli,” Alvarez rambled. “I thought you were a lot smarter than that.”
“Yeah, well, walk a mile in my shoes.”
Alvarez shook her head and
ed like Angela
was some kid who’d gotten caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
“Fuck you, Alvarez.”
Smyth, the other guard, grunted and tightened her grip on Angela’s arm. “You think that mouth of yours is going to keep the boogeyman away?” Smyth shook her head. Pity radiated from her deep hazel eyes. “I’m scared for you, Giacomelli.”