Authors: Jami Alden
Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Romance, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Adult
To Gajus, sexier, funnier, and smarter than any hero I could imagine, and thankfully minus the emotional baggage
As usual, I owe a huge thanks to my writing buddies who have helped me through every single book since I started this crazy writing adventure. First to Monica McCarty, for the daily sanity checks and accompanying ego boosts or ass kicks, depending on what I need that day. I love our shared brain. And to Bella Andre/Bella Riley/Lucy Kevin, without whom this book would not exist! If you enjoy
Hide from Evil
, thank Bella, because if I’d had my way Sean would have never had his own happily ever after. And most especially thank you to my readers, for reading my books, enjoying them, and letting me know it! Nothing gets me through the tough spots and plot snags like knowing you are out there eagerly awaiting my next offering.
ou ready to go?”
Krista Slater looked up and nodded at King County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Benson, who stood in the doorway of her office, briefcase in hand and an overstuffed accordion folder under his arm. She gathered the notes she’d made on the witness statements she’d taken in the past month, trying to summon up that hungry feeling that used to overtake her every time she prepared for court.
Come on, Slater, eye of the tiger
, she told herself as she shoved her files into her briefcase. She needed to be on her A-game today. No room for self-doubt or mistakes, not when they were facing off against a slick fish like Roman Karev and his team of five-hundred-dollar-an-hour attorneys. Karev, a restaurant owner with known ties to the Russian mob, was accused of murdering a local businessman and his wife.
Today was the pretrial hearing, and while she was damn sure their case was rock solid, she knew any mistake, any slipup could and would be used to get crucial pieces of evidence thrown out. She couldn’t afford to be distracted by anything, especially not—
The phone on Krista’s desk buzzed, and she pushed the button on the intercom. “What is it, Lisa?”
Her paralegal’s voice sounded on the speakerphone. “Ms. Slater, I have a phone call for you. He won’t say who he is, only that he was told to call you—”
As casually as she could, Krista punched Lisa off speakerphone and picked up the handset. She shot Mark an apologetic look, praying her elevated pulse rate and the twist of anticipation in her belly didn’t show on her face. “I have to take this.”
Benson looked pointedly at his watch. “We need to be there in ten minutes, and I need to go over some last-minute details.”
“Two minutes, I promise.” Krista ignored Benson’s impatient sigh. “Put him through.” She glanced up, stifling a grimace when it became clear Benson had no intention of leaving.
Krista swiveled her chair, turning her back to Benson, a thousand questions racing through her mind in the seconds it took for Lisa to put the call through.
“Is this Krista Slater?” asked a hoarse male voice.
“That’s me,” she said. “Who’s this?”
“This is Jimmy, Jimmy Caparulo.”
“I’m so glad to hear from you. I’ve been waiting for you to call.”
“Uh, yeah,” the man replied, his confusion at Krista’s borderline flirtatious tone evident.
Her heart thudded against her ribs. Jimmy Caparulo, the man Nate Brewster had tried to frame as the Slasher before Nate had been caught and killed. “I’m really glad you called,” Krista said. “My friend mentioned you might be in touch.”
The “friend” was private investigator Stew Kowalski, whom Krista knew through his work on several cases with the prosecuting attorney’s office. But this time Stew wasn’t working in any official capacity, so she was careful not to mention him by name in front of Benson.
Krista had hired Stew a couple of months ago to look deeper into the Nate Brewster case. Even though there was no doubt Brewster was guilty of killing seven women, including Evangeline Gordon, some things about him just weren’t adding up. Too many gaps of information, too many things screaming at her that what happened to those women didn’t begin and end with Nate Brewster.
But everyone from the FBI agent in charge of Brewster’s case to Krista’s own boss seemed content to let it go. The Slasher had been caught. They had incontrovertible proof in the form of video that he’d killed all seven victims—eight in total if you included Evangeline Gordon, the victim whose murder Sean Flynn had been sent to death row for. Flynn had been exonerated, freed, and generously compensated, and now everyone seemed content to put the entire embarrassing episode behind them.
Except for Krista, who couldn’t let it go. When it became clear there was no way to keep the investigation active, she hired Stew on her own dime to find out the real story behind Brewster and the prostitution ring he’d run out of one of Seattle’s most exclusive nightclubs. Up until now, he hadn’t been able to find anything. The trail was cold, and Krista realized she needed to resign herself to the fact that sometimes the bad guys got away.
Flynn was free. She should be happy about that.
Then, a few days ago, Stew had made contact with Jimmy Caparulo. Krista told herself not to get her hopes up. Even so, this call from Jimmy sent her back on high alert. “I told Stew I would only talk to you. I knew the way you helped Sean. You’re the only one I can trust with this,” Jimmy said, his words coming out in a rush.
“I wish you’d called sooner.” Krista injected a pouty note into her voice and snuck a glance at Benson. His expression was one of disbelief.
“I knew they would hurt my aunt if I ever said anything,” Jimmy continued, unable to stop himself now that the words had started. “But now Nate’s dead and she’s gone too. I can’t keep it in anymore. I should have said something sooner. I should have helped Sean—”
Krista cut him off before he got rolling. She couldn’t completely focus with Benson tapping his foot and giving her the
wrap it up
sign, and she didn’t want to miss a word. “I really want to talk to you more, but this isn’t the best time. Can I call you later, or better yet, why don’t we go out?”
“Go out? Yeah, this will be better in person. Where do you live?”
“Wow, you don’t waste any time!” she said with a little laugh. “How about we at least meet for a drink before you invite yourself over?”
“What on earth are you doing?” Benson whispered incredulously. “We have to leave, now!”
Krista held up a finger and mouthed
, as she grabbed a pen to write down the name of a coffee place near Jimmy’s aunt’s house. “Tonight at eight. It’s a date,” she said before she hung up.
She gathered her things, avoiding Benson’s eyes as she braced herself for the scolding that would begin in five, four, three, two…
“What was that all about?” Benson said, exasperated, his footsteps echoing off the hard floors of the corridor that connected their office wing to the courthouse. “Ten minutes before we face off against Karev is not the time for a personal call.”
Krista bit back a smart-ass response. Relieved as she was that Benson had bought her performance, it galled her that he really thought, after working with her for over seven years, she would be that frivolous. Still, he’d be furious if he knew she was investigating Brewster after he’d told her to drop it. “I know, and I’m sorry. But I made a commitment to myself to give a little more balance to my personal life, and my friend has been trying to connect me with this guy for months now, and I’ve been really excited to meet with him.”
At least that part was true. Ever since the truth about Sean’s innocence had come out, Krista had wondered if Jimmy had known all along that Nate was guilty. When Jimmy had testified against his friend Sean, had he known he was covering for Nate Brewster?
To date, Jimmy hadn’t given any indication that he knew more about Brewster and his activities than he’d let on. Even when Brewster had tried to set Jimmy up as the Slasher, Jimmy wouldn’t say a word other than that they’d become close friends in the army but had lost touch over the years. Nothing new, nothing Jimmy’s aunt, who Jimmy had cared for during the last years of her life, couldn’t tell them.
I knew they would kill my aunt if I ever said anything.
Her heart skipped a beat.
So she was right. Nate Brewster hadn’t been working alone.
It looked like Jimmy had something to say after all. It took all of her restraint not to share the news with Benson, but she needed to play her cards close to the vest until she had something concrete to go on.
Then all bets were off.
Benson paused and stayed Krista with a hand on her arm. “You know Rae and I would love nothing more than to see you settled down and happy. But really, Krista, couldn’t you have had Lisa take a message and called him back?”
Krista forced a smile. “Aren’t you the one who always told me to seize an opportunity as soon as it presented itself? I’m not getting any younger, and Lord knows I’ve given enough of my life to the job these past few years. I need to find some kind of a balance, especially after…” She let her voice trail off.
Mark frowned down at her, his face creased with paternal concern. “I know the last few months have been hard on you, and I know it’s hard to drive forward after a mistake like that.”
She couldn’t suppress her indignant squawk. “A mistake? Mark, what happened to Sean Flynn was a catastrophe. And we were the engineers.”
Mark gave her arm a gentle squeeze. “We did the best we could with the evidence we were given. No prosecutor would have acted any differently.”
Nothing but cold comfort, Krista thought. She couldn’t just shrug off her guilt.
Mark rubbed his thumb over the crease between his brows. “Mistakes were made. It happens in this job. But you learn from those mistakes, move on, and do a better job the next time.”
Krista swallowed hard. She knew he was right, that the cases they prosecuted were rarely black and white, cut and dried. She did the best she could with every case, but she couldn’t afford to agonize over every case that didn’t go exactly the way she wanted it to.
Even though months had passed since Flynn’s release, she still couldn’t put it behind her. It was starting to take its toll, and it showed.
As though reading her thoughts, Benson said, “You’ve lost that fire, that passion that got you to where you are, and where I know you want to go.”
Oh, Jimmy’s call had lit a fire all right, but it had nothing to do with advancing her career with the prosecuting attorney’s office.
“This is a big deal,” Benson continued, “being part of the Karev case, and I put you on it because I know you’re the best. This is your chance—our chance, to put the whole Sean Flynn disaster behind us.”
“And I appreciate that,” Krista said. She truly did. She knew Mark, her mentor who had hired her straight out of law school, was handing her a great opportunity to get her career back on track. But she wished he wasn’t quite so eager to nail the lid shut on the Brewster/Flynn case. Was he becoming so embroiled in the politics that surrounded his position that he no longer cared about seeing justice done?
No, she knew Mark better than that, Krista thought as she shook off her cynicism. Mark was a good man, and he had also been shaken to the core after the events of the past few months. He had every reason to be cautious when it came to dealing with such a high-profile case.
Exactly why she needed to keep her little side investigation to herself until she came up with something concrete.
And just because they’d messed up royally with Sean Flynn, that didn’t mean the whole system was broken. There was still good to be done, criminals to get off the street. Especially those who might have been working with Nate Brewster behind the scenes.