“I want to talk to the officer who found his body.” Another note she’d made. “The report I got said Kyle was killed in a wreck just outside of Mobile, Alabama.”

“And what, you’re thinking maybe our boy Kyle wasn’t the one who died in that crash?”

Monica gave a small shrug. As elaborate as he liked to make his crimes, the way he liked to set the stage, faking a death would be nothing to him. “Anything’s possible.”

Luke stared at her, green eyes glittering. “That’s for sure.”

I won’t lose him.

“So if Kyle is still alive, then where’s Lee Pope?” He asked the question of the hour.

“That’s what we’ve got to find out.” And time was ticking away far too quickly.

His lips parted. “Wait a minute—hold up—you’re not looking at him for the kills, are you?”

No, not at Lee. “There’s no way Lee Pope is Kyle West.” If West was the killer. And it was sure looking like he was. The SSD had tracked Martin’s cell phone and, sure enough, it had placed him in a New Orleans hospital. Not in Gatlin. “Lee Pope grew up here, people know him. They can verify his identity.”

“Sonofabitch.” Understanding dawned in that deep voice. The voice that could make her want. Make her yearn. “You think he’s a victim?”

“Anything’s possible,” she told him again, because she couldn’t be one hundred percent certain. Lee wasn’t Kyle West, and if they could find out for certain who’d died in that accident near Mobile… maybe Kyle was still in the game.

And maybe Lee was a killer. After all, he’d been in Gatlin. He could have known Saundra. And he’d been the one at that airport when Sam’s plane arrived. Lee was also the deputy who sure liked his cigars.

They were running out of time. “I need to—Luke, I really need you to trust me on this case, okay?”

“I do,” he said instantly.

But it wouldn’t be that easy. “I haven’t always been honest with you… I haven’t—I know being with me isn’t easy.”

He smiled then, a slow curve of his lips that made her heart race and her ni**les tighten.

Not now. No time.

“Baby, I never said I wanted easy.”

But she had. Pity she’d never gotten that. “I-I want to give us a chance, okay?” She was fumbling this, but she had to get the words out. There wouldn’t be any more regrets for her. Not this time.

She’d be damned if she regretted anything else she did. Like she’d told Davis, there was no point looking to the past. Just don’t make the same mistakes in the future. She wouldn’t make any more mistakes with Luke.

Time to start saying just what she felt. Time to take risks and live. “I’m going to catch this killer, and then you and me… I want a real chance.” It would be hard because she was hard. She wasn’t used to trusting on a personal level.

Sure, she trusted the gang at SSD. She trusted them to keep her safe, to watch her back, but she’d never trusted them with her secrets.

Only Hyde. And now Luke.

“I wish I’d told you the truth years ago,” she whispered. If she couldn’t make it with Luke, she wouldn’t make it with anyone.

His fingers brushed down her cheek and curved under her jaw. The touch heated her flesh. Just his touch, and she wanted him in the midst of hell. “The first time I saw you, I thought you were the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.”

And she’d thought he hadn’t even noticed her. But then he’d crossed that room, smiled at her, and started smooth talking with that soft drawl of his.

Tempted from the first.

She rose onto her toes and kissed him. Her fingers dug into his hair, and she tasted him.

Wrong place, wrong time. Didn’t matter.

Fear rode her. The case was going to explode soon, and she didn’t want to lose him.

His tongue thrust into her mouth, and she gasped against him. That first thrust of his tongue always made her gasp as pleasure slipped through her.

Her ni**les brushed his chest. Her thighs rubbed against him.

The sex during the night had been unlike anything she’d ever had before.

And she wanted more.

She’d have more.

Luke slowly lifted his lips away from hers. “Something you should know,” he managed, voice rough.

She shook her head. No, now wasn’t the time for more secrets. If he had dark deeds from his past, she wanted to hear them when they were fully alone, not there, with the chime of phones piercing the walls and the muffle of voices coming—

“For the record, hell, yeah, I’ll give us a chance when this case is over, because there’s no way I’m letting you get away again.”

Her heart stopped.

“You’re the strongest woman I’ve ever met,” he told her. His lips were close. Full and sexy and she wanted them back on her mouth.

But she wanted him to keep talking. Because he was giving her hope. Finally, hope.

“I’d walk through hell for you, but I won’t walk away from you, not again.” Another kiss. Hard and fierce, and she parted her lips and took his tongue and sucked and tasted.




Hers. Finally, hers. A man who could handle her past and make her fight for a future. Her hands curled over his shoulders. Broad, strong shoulders.

The thud of approaching footsteps reached her ears. Coming closer, closer.

Right on time.

She held the kiss a moment longer. She’d savor this. Savor him, before the world tried to take him away.

When the knock came at the door, she didn’t move. Not yet.

But Luke did. “Can I tell ’em to f**k off?”

If only.

“You have your backup gun with you, right?” She’d seen him take it out this morning. He hadn’t worn it until Sam’s disappearance, but all the agents were taking extra precautions now.

They needed to.

His brow furrowed. “Yeah, but—”

“We’re going to need it.” Because she knew a lie when she saw one. “Stay on guard,” she whispered. “Always.”

Then she left him and opened the door.

Deputy Vance Monroe stood in the doorway. He glanced over his shoulder, then back at her. “A-Agent Davenport, we need to talk.”

Because he’d been lying to her.

“Come inside.”

His stare darted to Luke. “Can we—can we talk alone?”

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