Like he gave a damn about any scar she carried. He sure carried enough of his own. The life they’d chosen wasn’t an easy one. Often, it was a deadly one.

But he’d made a point never to touch that scar again because he didn’t want her going cold on him.

He wanted her hot, wild, needing him. Just as she’d been before.

Telling her about his mother… had that been a mistake? Probably. But the fear had been too thick in his throat, the fury bubbling and the truth was—

I’ll be damned if I lose her, too.

He stared into the darkness, and he kept holding her. Luke knew that sleep wouldn’t come any time soon for him.

She jerked against him. A fast, hard jerk.

He froze. What the—

Another jerk. Another. Like she was having spasms or seizing or—

“No!” A whisper, desperate and weak. “Let me go, let me—”

He dropped his hold. “Monica? Monica, baby—”

“I’ll kill you…” A shudder. No, she was—

Her hand dove under the pillow. His pillow.

Looking for the gun?

“Monica!” Loud. Probably too loud. He grabbed her shoulders. Tried to keep her from jerking so hard.

But then she stilled, and her breath slipped out again. Nice and easy. Easy breaths. Deep.

Just sleeping. Now.

He stared down at her, confused, worried and—

“I’ll kill you….” The words had been so clear. So fierce.

So different from that first fearful whisper. The threat of death—it had been very, very certain.

He’d shared a secret from his past with her tonight. And now, in the darkness, he began to wonder about the secrets Monica kept.

Secrets that he’d long suspected were deadly.

The call came in just after 2 a.m. Keith Hyde woke instantly, his hand flying for the phone he always kept close by his bed. “Hyde.”

A crackle of static, then, “It’s Hank. They did it, man, they did it.” The excitement carried over the line.

Hyde sat up slowly, rubbing his fingers over his eyes. These days, there just didn’t seem to be much point in sleeping. “Just what is it that my agents have done?”

“They bagged the killer. He’s dead, Keith. My town’s clear.”

His fingers tightened around the phone. Monica hadn’t called him. If the case were over, she would have called. “You sure about that?”

“I’m in his apartment, bagging and tagging computer equipment. His body’s on the way to the morgue. So, yeah, I’m sure.”

But Monica wasn’t. Or she would have called. He knew how she operated. She always called him when she closed the case, to let him know that the killer had been apprehended and to tell him she was safe. All these years… she knows I still worry.

Hyde sucked in a slow breath. If she hadn’t called to give the all-clear, then she wasn’t convinced they had taken the killer down. “You said you have some computer equipment there?”

“We’re takin’ it down to the station—”

“I’ve got an agent who specializes in electronic information retrieval.” Samantha Kennedy had a handful of degrees from MIT, and a knowledge of computer technology that amazed him. “If you’ve really got the killer…”

“We do.” Such confidence there.

“Then let her take a run at that equipment. She’s the best, Hank.” Hank knew he wouldn’t steer him wrong. They’d survived ’Nam together because of trust. He’d trusted Hank to watch his ass in that godforsaken bush, just as Hank had trusted him. They’d made it out, when so many hadn’t. “I can have her down there tomorrow. She’ll tie up any loose ends for you.” And for me.

“All right, man.” His drawl deepened. “I just… thank you, okay? I knew you’d come through for me. You always do.”

Hank cared about his town, about the people. And Hyde knew that when the guy had first called, he’d been desperate. No mistaking that tone in a man’s voice. “I owed you.” For the two bullets that should have gone into Keith’s chest. Instead, they’d ripped into Hank’s shoulder.

“Consider that debt paid.”

A few moments later, Hyde ended the call. He stared into the darkness for a moment.

They had to be sure of their killer.

He punched in Sam’s number. Four rings, and then she answered, her voice groggy. “S-Sam…”

“You’re flying out at dawn, Sam.”

Silence. Then, “Hyde?”

He almost smiled. Almost. His name had come out fast and high. “Set your alarm, Sam. I need you to go down to Mississippi and hack into some computers for me.”

“Sir! Yes, sir, I will, I—”

“Word is that Monica and Dante might have brought down the killer in Jasper.” He rubbed still grainy eyes. “Go and find me some proof.”

If they were marking this case closed, they damn well needed to be certain they had their killer in his grave.


The sound of the shower woke him. The groaning of the pipes broke through the layers of sleep.

Luke opened his eyes, squinting a bit at the sunlight creeping through the blinds

An image came to him. Monica. Wet and naked. Just a few feet away.

How was a guy supposed to resist?

Especially since he’d woken, c**k up and ready for her. Because he’d been dreaming. Her mouth. On him.

Some dreams were good. Some… weren’t.

But this time, his dreams had been fantastic.

He rose slowly, stretched, then headed for the only woman he wanted.

Luke opened the bathroom door and the heat hit him. Steam drifted in the air, light and lazy. He could see Monica through the shower’s glass door. He had one fine view of the shapely outline of her body as she stood beneath the spray.

Luke cleared his throat. Then did it again, louder.

Soft laughter floated to him with the steam. “Perv, I was wondering if you were just gonna stand there all day.” She shoved open the glass door. Smiled at him. Actually smiled.

A real smile. Not that brittle little grin she liked to toss off. A free smile. Happy and sexy.

“Are you coming?”

Almost. A few more seconds of staring at her naked flesh and watching the way the water trickled down her br**sts and slid over her stomach, then, down, down to the dark hair that shielded her sex and—

Now she cleared her throat.

Luke managed to snap out of his trance. He walked forward and climbed into the shower with her. It took two seconds for him to realize that the space wasn’t meant to accommodate two. Not that he really cared.