Published by Harlequin on 2015-03-01
Genres: Christian, Fiction, Romance, Suspense
LAWMAN ON A MISSION After a prominent senator's son is murdered, Capitol K-9 Unit captain Gavin McCord wants answers. The senator was a mentor to Gavin, and he'll stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice. With his team of elite K-9 cops and his loyal dog, Glory, at his side, Gavin discovers that a child at Cassie Danvers's nearby foster home may have witnessed the murder. He's drawn to the determined and beautiful woman, but she doesn't want him interviewing her traumatized charges. Yet trusting Gavin is the only way to stay one step ahead of the deadly gunman when Cassie becomes a target. Capitol K-9 Unit: These lawmen solve the toughest cases with the help of their brave canine partners
Something pulled Cassie Danvers from the half sleep she’d fallen into and yanked her back into the world of foster children and fevers, of long nights with sick kids. She eased away from little David’s bed, standing on legs that ached from too many hours sitting in one position. Five days and six nights of dealing with the eight-year-old’s illness had taken its toll. She was exhausted.A soft thump sounded from somewhere below, and she cocked her head to the side, listening for whatever would come next. Something would. She was sure of that. She’d been house mom at All Our Kids foster home for enough years to know that kids didn’t always stay in bed. When it came to the kind of kids she dealt with, they often didn’t.
Someone was up. Probably Destiny. The thirteen-year-old had been neglected for ten years before she’d arrived at the home. As a result, she had food issues. As in, she liked to take food, hide it, hoard it. If she was up raiding the kitchen, she’d have to be dealt with. Too bad, because Cassie was just tired enough to want to ignore the issue.
She touched David’s forehead. Cool as a cucumber. Finally.
That was good news and might mean they both got a good night’s sleep. After Cassie got Destiny back into bed.
She hurried into the hall, tiptoeing past the boys’ room. The stairs creaked as she crept to the lower level of the house. A large foyer opened out into a living room area on one side and a formal dining room on the other. Unless they had special guests, the eat-in kitchen was always a better choice for meals. More relaxed and comfortable, it offered Cassie’s charges a chance to sit down and get a feel for what it meant to be part of a family. Or, in some cases, to remember what it felt like.
A wide hall stretched from the foyer to the back of the house. The family room and kitchen were there. The two most tempting areas for Cassie’s foster kids. TV and video games in the family room. Food in the kitchen. Not to mention the back door. That had tempted a few too many kids to wander outside unattended. She’d put a bolt at the top, but that couldn’t keep the more clever and persistent kids from escaping.
Fortunately, Destiny wasn’t one to wander. She’d been through way too much in her thirteen years, and she preferred to stay as close to All Our Kids as possible. Food, though, that was her weakness.
Cassie made her way down the hall, passing photos of dozens of children who’d spent time in the home. Some were kids who’d come and gone before she’d become housemother. Most were her kids. Hers for a while, anyway. She tried not to get melancholy about loving and saying goodbye to so many. Sometimes, though, she wanted to be more than someone’s foster mom. Sometimes, she wanted to be Mommy, Mom, Mother.
The hallway emptied out into the family room and kitchen area. The rooms were dark, and she didn’t turn on the light. If Destiny was hanging around somewhere, it was best to catch her in the act. Otherwise, Cassie would have to spend the rest of the night trying to get the kid to own up to her mistakes.
She glanced around the kitchen. No sign of Destiny. No telltale candy wrappers on the counter. She looked in the trash can. No chip bags. That didn’t mean much. Destiny had been known to take her contraband food out onto the back porch, sit in the hanging swing and munch to her heart’s content. Cassie might have been tempted to allow her to do it, but Destiny was a kid who needed clear rules and firm boundaries. Snacks were fine if the kids were hungry. They weren’t fine in the middle of the night and in massive quantities.
Cassie crept to the door. The bolt wasn’t locked, and she really hoped Destiny had been the one to slide it open. Some of the other kids weren’t as likely to stay close to the house. She grabbed the doorknob, careful to make as little noise as possible. She’d learned the hard way that Destiny was great at hiding evidence, making up stories and pretending that she was as innocent as a newborn baby. Right at that moment, Cassie wasn’t in the mood for it.
The doorknob barely turned. Locked. Had Destiny locked herself outside?
Cassie turned the lock and swung the door open, expecting to see Destiny sitting on the swing, a bag of chips in her hands and a guilty look on her face. Instead, she looked into a stranger’s cold blue eyes, his hard face.
She screamed, the sound bursting out of her as she jumped backward and tried to slam the door shut. He grabbed it, grabbed her, yanking her out onto the porch.
She pulled against his hold, and screamed again, the acrid scent of gasoline filling her nose.
She fought, because it was what she’d grown up doing, scraping an existence in the meanest neighborhood DC had to offer. She punched the stranger in the stomach, swung again. He backhanded her so hard she fell onto the swing, that horrible gasoline scent making her dizzy.
“Cool it!” the guy growled as he hefted an oversize duffle with one hand and reached under his jacket with the other.
She didn’t know what he was reaching for, didn’t care.
All she cared about was warning the kids, warning her assistant, Virginia Johnson. She screamed again, loudly enough to wake the dead.
The guy yanked a knife out from under his jacket, the long blade making Cassie’s blood run cold.
“Scream again,” he said emotionlessly, his eyes cold. “I dare you.”
She didn’t, because she knew the look in his eyes. She’d seen it in the eyes of more people than she’d wanted to admit. It was the look of apathy, the gaze of someone who didn’t care. Dead. That’s how she’d describe it, and that scared her more than the knife.
A light went on inside the house, capturing the guy’s attention for the split second Cassie had been waiting for. She scrambled off the swing, sprinting off the porch, nothing else in her mind except leading the guy away from the house and the kids.
Michael Jeffries was dead, and there wasn’t one thing Capitol K-9 Unit Captain Gavin McCord could do about it. It seemed inconceivable, impossible, but it was true. Michael had been a good guy, a great attorney. Fairminded, reasonable and determined to always see justice done. Now he was gone, shot down in the prime of his life.
That hurt. A lot.
Gavin snapped a picture of the bloodstain on the pavement at the rear of Congressman Harland Jeffries’s mansion. He’d already had the evidence team collect samples for DNA. He knew they’d find DNA matching Michael Jeffries and his father. Like Michael, Harland had been shot by a small caliber handgun.
Unlike his father, the young lawyer hadn’t survived.
Sad. All the way around.
About the Author
SHIRLEE McCOYbegan writing her first novel when she was a teenager. A busy mother of five, Shirlee is a homeschooling mom by day and an inspirational author by night. She and her husband and children live in the Pacific Northwest and share their house with a dog, two cats and a bird. You can visit her website, www.shirleemccoy.com, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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