Oman faced off with the captain.
“I’m just trying to figure out why the BOLO was called off Deverall and this chick he’s been spotted with,” he said, spreading his hands out wide. “None of us think he’s dirty, but he’s running and that doesn’t look good. Plus, somebody set his house to blow, Captain! He’s in trouble!”
He thought he’d put the right amount of frustration and worry into his voice. He hoped.
He’d asked around, subtly, hoping to get answers as to why the BOLO had abruptly been canceled, but nobody he’d talked to knew anything.
The captain was the next person on the ladder and if she didn’t have answers, he was going to have to talk to his boss. He was a little leery of doing that, because so far, he hadn’t heard from the boss, which meant he hadn’t had to give an update.
That did not mean the boss didn’t know about the lack of progress.
Sadly, the boss seemed to know everything before it even happened, although how that was possible, Oman didn’t know.
“I can’t help you out here, Oman. I know you want to solve this case, but word came down from on high and that’s all I can say,” Captain Clair Amana said, not even looking up at him from the reports she was reading.
It seemed as if the mountain of them had grown in the few days since he’d been in her office and he imagined her tripping, falling, being buried under an avalanche of paper, suffocating under them.
If he didn’t have to deal with her straight-laced, stick-up-the-ass ways, his life would be a little easier. Maybe he never would have even had to have gone down the route he went down.
A few too many excessive-force claims and he’d been looking at another unpleasant meeting with his superiors, maybe even a demotion or being removed from the force.
But one meeting had changed everything, and overnight the latest claim of excessive force had disappeared.
Maybe he should have just quit a few years back, gotten out while the getting was good.
“And you’re okay with this? A BOLO we called for suddenly just getting brushed aside?” he demanded.
The captain lifted her head. She was a few years younger than he was, although he looked as if he had her by a decade, easily. Yet, there was steel in her spine and in her eyes as she met his gaze. “I don’t think I’m okay with your tone, Lieutenant.”
“I apologize,” he bit off. One of these days, he would be the one standing behind that fucking desk.
Of course, by then, she’d get another promotion and he’d still have to kiss her fucking ass.
Her phone rang and he lapsed into silence as she took the call, taking a few minutes to clear texts and emails from his phone while she made vague comments to whatever asshole cop she talking to, and there was no doubt she was talking to one of his fellow boys in blue. Why she was trying to be so discreet about it, he had no idea. She should have just told him to step outside. It would have been less obvious.
Finally, she ended the call and he slid his phone back onto the clip at his belt.
She held up a hand. “If this has to do with the BOLO or Deverall, unless it’s something new, you might as well save it, Oman. There’s nothing I can tell you.”
He snapped his mouth shut so hard, his teeth clicked together audibly.
“Is there anything else, Lieutenant?” she asked softly.
He gave a quick shake of his head, although he had easily another fifty questions he could have fired at her. The reason he didn’t? He knew he wouldn’t get anywhere with her.
He’d do anything to get her out of the way, but while he had some powerful friends, she was the fucking captain and more—she had connections to people that went straight to the capitol.
That made her pretty much off limits.
He’d just have a word with his boss.
What that man didn’t already know, he could find out.
It must be good to be the deputy fucking mayor.
* * * * *
“I don’t like this idea,” Dev said. The small town of Clary spread out in front of them in a sleepy sprawl. He shot Joss a look before turning his eyes to Nyrene. “It’s dangerous. It’s stupid.”
It didn’t make him feel any better to see her smooth, golden skin go a little pale at his words.
Joss scowled at him. “Way to breathe a lot of confidence into her, pal.” He turned to her, rubbing her shoulder. “It’s going to be okay, sweetheart. I wouldn’t let you do this and neither would Taige if either of us had doubts that we could take care of you.”
Dev wanted to knock the other man’s hand away from her. It didn’t matter that the guy was just being friendly and trying to make her feel better. It didn’t matter that the guy had a wedding ring on.
Normally he wasn’t the type to be possessive. But he seemed to have lost his mind a little bit when it came to Nyrene.
Okay. He had lost his mind a lot when it came to Nyrene. Vaguely, he was aware of Joss speaking to her and he tried to make himself concentrate on what was being said, but he couldn’t. He was too busy thinking about everything that could go wrong once they let Nyrene climb into the car that Joss had provided for her.
It was a rental and she had gotten it under her name. Joss had provided nothing, not even the funds for her to get the car, although he had said he would reimburse her when she had mentioned that she was tight on money, thanks to losing her job.
Dev didn’t know if he’d known that. Had he known she had lost her job? He didn’t think she had mentioned it, although it wasn’t like they’d had a lot of time for small talk. “I don’t like leaving her unprotected,” he said, turning back to face Joss.
The big guy returned his gaze levelly. “She’s not going to be unprotected. I’m going to be right outside.”
“Right. And exactly how are you going to get right outside and how are you going to keep anybody who might be watching the house from seeing you? These are cops we’re talking about. We might not be FBI,” Dev added, his voice sardonic “but we are cops. Small town hicks maybe, but cops nonetheless.”
“Trust me, I’m well aware.” Joss’s smile was hard-edged. “That fact has not escaped me for even a minute. And for the record, if I didn’t think you were a good cop, and a capable one, this wouldn’t be happening.”
That didn’t make him feel any better. Joss knew they were dealing with dirty cops.
“Don’t worry about me being noticed.” Joss shook his head. “It’s not going to happen. My…abilities come in handy in a lot of ways. If anybody is watching that house, I’m going to know it.”
“Almost seems like cheating,” Dev muttered. He looked at Nyrene and found a resolute expression on her face. Still, he had to try. “You don’t have to do this. We can figure out something else.”
“Will they come after me?” she asked, a stubborn set to her chin.
He didn’t even have to say anything. His expression said at all. He could tell by the way she closed her eyes that she was even now more determined than she had been. “I got pulled into this for a reason,” she said. “I’m going to see it through.”
Dev wanted to rip out his hair. He wanted to ring Taige’s neck, Joss’s neck. The echo of her words seemed to coincide with things he’d heard those two say.
I’m in trouble because of him, she had said. And those words had been nothing but the stone-cold truth. She was in trouble because of him. That’s all there was to it. But standing here and arguing wasn’t going to help anything, either. She had made up her mind.
She felt as though she had a part to play and the longer he drew this out, the longer she would be out here exposed to whomever it was who was hunting her. The longer they were both exposed.
The longer it would be before he could protect her.
“Fine,” he bit off. “But I want it on record that I think this is a bad idea.”
“I know.” To his surprise, Nyrene closed the distance between them and rose to her toes. She kissed him on the corner of his mouth. He was hard-pressed not to deepen the kiss but if he put his hands on her, he just might throw her over his shoulder and take her some place where he could keep her safe. But how long could he do that? How long could he keep her safe? He didn’t know. And that was the problem. He didn’t know.
“Okay.” He pulled out his phone and checked the time. “Let’s go over this again.”
As Nyrene turned away, Joss met his gaze. Something unspoken passed between the two men and Dev didn’t have to be psychic to pick up on the message.
I’ll take care of her, the man’s eyes seem to say.
Dev tightened his hand around his phone.
You sure as hell better.
* * * * *
The captain’s brisk voice came over the phone and Dev didn’t have to be there to know the woman would be holding a cup of coffee in one hand and shuffling through reports with the other.
“It’s Deverall,” he said coolly.
He had to give her credit. He had worried that the second he gave his name she would explode. She was pretty unflappable, but she didn’t often have to deal with one of her cops disappearing right after his house blew up. Sure, she’d had an unusual number of cops die on her watch, but she didn’t often have them disappear on her.
“Well, the prodigal son,” she said.
“Can you talk?”
* * * * *
Once he was done with the captain, he opened his messages and sent a text.
Made contact. Will text back soon. Everything good on your end?
His reply came almost immediately.
Smooth sailing. Our girl is in place. She’s got one pair of eyes on her place. And let me tell you, guy is lazy AF.
Another message popped up a few seconds later.
Dev sent back a quick response.
You do the same. Take care of her.
That done, he shoved his phone into his pocket and twisted the key in the ignition. Now all he had to do was get his ass to Nyrene’s and hope like hell Joss knew what he was doing.