Book 2: In the Arms of the Law
(also includes bonus short story, WILD THUNDER)
Genres: Contemporary, Suspense, Paranormal (Seer), Erotic, Romance
Word Count: 58,000
Release Date: February 24th, 2016
Author’s Note: Awakenings was previously released with another publisher. It has received minor revisions for reissue.
Protection. Adventure. Love.
It’s all found within The Arms of the Law…
Detective Alicia Knowles once believed good existed in everyone. But a traumatic experience changed her entire world. Now dangerous and cynical, she moves through the darkness of her once sunny world, unsure how to handle her pent up feelings of fear and anger.
Even her new boss, Cole Douglass, spins her out of control. One night, years ago, he made her feel things she’d never felt with any other man. Business comes first, however, a child is missing and a murderer is on the run.
But old flames never die out as Alicia quickly discovers when temperatures and passion flare. On the trail of a killer, she is forced to deal with her past as she tries to make decisions about her future.
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Excerpt, Kacey Hammell, © 2016
“Detective James, what can I do for you?” Captain Coleman Douglass leaned back in his chair and looked the detective in the eye. Deep down, Cole suspected what Ethan James was about to tell him. He didn’t relish the fact his suspicions would be confirmed, but he’d known for weeks that this night was inevitable.
He only thanked God there were no fatalities.
“Sir, I need to talk to you about Detective Knowles. It’s urgent.” “Sit down, Detective. Let me get you a cup of coffee and—”
“Thank you sir, but no,” Ethan interrupted. “I didn’t come for coffee.”
Okay, obviously this isn’t a social call. He watched Ethan draw in a deep breath, and scan the room, as if unable to meet Cole’s eyes.
“Well, all right then. Say what you have to say. What about Detective Knowles?”
Just saying her name was like pouring syrup over flapjacks. Alicia Knowles was the sugar in his coffee, the up to his down, the left to his right.
They’d first met two years ago. Both had been on vacation in Miami. Sun, sand, and surf—it had all changed his life forever. Cole had never thought his first vacation in three years would lead to love.
On his last night in Miami, he’d sat by the sand at midnight, the light from his beach house behind him reflecting over the water. On one of the benches along the boardwalk, unwilling to believe he needed to return to work, he’d listened to the breeze, the sounds and movements of the waves crashing against one another.
He wasn’t sure how long he’d sat there, lost in his own thoughts, when he felt the bench beside him shift. He’d looked over to his left and had never glanced away again.
Not the time, Cole. Not the time. Think about her later.
“I think she came back too soon.” Ethan cleared his throat. “To the job, I mean.”
To suspect it and then hear the words spoken aloud didn’t settle within Cole. He’d seen it for weeks, in the shadows beneath her eyes, watched the far-off look that settled over her face more times than he liked. He thought she might be reliving the past and the ordeal she’d gone through. Dammit, he wanted to take Parker Feeney apart with his bare hands. Too bad the bastard was already dead.
Cole’s heart had ached at the pain, sadness, and even fear on Alicia’s face too many times to count. What he wouldn’t give to be able to erase the memories from her mind.
“Christ, Ethan, sit the fuck down. I’m getting a crick in my neck.” He got up from behind his desk, and moved to the small table in the corner where the coffeemaker sat.
He filled two mugs with steaming brew, added two sugars and milk to his, then turned to Ethan. Thankful the guy had taken a seat, Cole felt sorry for him. He waited with elbows parked on his knees, head between his hands, and forlorn, as if he’d lost his best friend. “You take your coffee straight or…?”
“Straight,” Ethan mumbled.
Cole carried both mugs back to his desk, placing one in front of Ethan. He sat with mug in hand and took a satisfying drink. Time to get things out in the open. “Why do you feel Detective Knowles returned to duty too soon? What happened tonight?”
Ethan sat up, dragged both hands through his hair, and leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling. “Sir, have you ever done something that would change your life forever? Even though it would be for someone’s own good and well-being, you still hesitated because in mere hours, they could end up despising you?”
Ethan lowered his chin and stared at Cole through confused and worried eyes.
Cole’s heart went out to the guy, but he suspected Alicia had to be taken off the street. He just needed confirmation of the fact.
“Yeah, I have, but I got over it. You have to do what is best for yourself and your partner, not to mention your fellow officers who could be called out to a scene with you two. And let’s not forget the citizens on the street. There is more than just one person’s life on the line if your partner can’t handle the job and something goes awry. You can’t let it get personal. Sounds cold, but it’s a harsh world in which we live. I don’t have to tell you that.” Cole set his mug on his desk, sat back in the chair, and crossed both arms over his chest. “Tell me what happened, Ethan.”
“Sir—” Ethan began.
“Call me Cole. You should know by now I don’t stand on ceremony.” Even though he had only been with Precinct Fifteen for about sixteen weeks, he had been welcomed well by all but one detective in the division. The only one who hadn’t been as welcoming was the woman Ethan obviously needed to discuss.
After he’d replaced her father when he’d retired, Alicia’s glares and icy façade whenever he was present let Cole know she disapproved of his status. He was sure she hated him for taking her dad’s place.
Of all the critics he’d been forced to deal with since he took the new job, her opinion of him was the only one that cut him to the quick. Alicia used their work relationship as a wall between them. He couldn’t really blame her. It was one of the reasons he didn’t act upon his feelings for her, or try to rekindle the spark.
Not yet anyway.
Ethan must not know about Alicia’s discomfort with me. If he did, he might not be so quick to speak up.
She would no doubt be livid about Ethan’s recommendation to take her off the street. She’d be even more irate that Cole would sign the order.
“Yeah.” Ethan cleared his throat. “It’s been nearly six months since the night Detective Knowles was kidnapped. The first thing we saw when we got to the scene tonight was Monica Fuller gagged, her body on the ground. It was like seeing Ali, uh, Detective Knowles, as she was that night when we found her in a similar condition. Tonight, she went pale, seemed to stagger, almost as if she was confused and off balance. It shook her up so bad, she never once asked about the suspect. It was very much unlike her. Usually in a case like this, if she sees the suspect, she’s the first on foot after him.”
Ethan stared Cole in the eye. His expression was pained and a little bit sad. “She even tried to lift the body from the cement where Fuller had dragged the victim. That it was against procedure didn’t bother her.”
“If you were aware it was against protocol, why did you allow her to get that close to the victim, Detective James?” Cole had a pretty good idea why, but he needed the full version of Ethan’s story before he could make the decision that was already ninety-nine percent final in his mind.
“I did it because Ali seemed so agitated. I know she was reliving what happened to her, and part of me remembered, too. What if the night we found Ali had gone differently? What if we were too late?”
A shiver ran through Cole at Ethan’s words. Just the thought of things playing out any differently chilled him to the bone.
A second chance. It’s what you have here. Remember that, Douglass.
Ethan took a deep breath and reached forward to retrieve his coffee. He took a swig of the warm liquid then continued. “I know I may have been a bit biased and in the wrong myself, Captain, to be that close, contaminating the scene. I’ll take the reprimand for it. But as soon as I got her in the car, Ali calmed down considerably. I’d hoped it would get her head back into the game, but it didn’t.”
Cole leaned back in his chair, hesitant to ask, but he had to. “What happened after you got her away from the victim?”
Ethan looked toward the window to Cole’s left, seeing what, he didn’t know. But the sorrow on his face told the whole story. Cole knew he wouldn’t like the next words.
“After the M.E. got to the scene, he was surprised to find the body had been moved slightly. He was really lit up about it and….” Ethan took a gulp of his coffee and set it back on the desk, almost sloshing the dark liquid over the rim. “I tried to explain it all to him, but he wouldn’t listen. He got loud. Before I could stop her, Detective Knowles was out of the car, angry at him for what she called callousness. Then Alicia just decked him. I have never seen her lose it like this while on the job.”
It was worse than he’d thought. Sighing, Cole picked up the yellow memo pad to his left and held it out toward Ethan. “Write it down. All of it. I’m sure the M.E. will bring this to my attention before the day is out. I’m surprised I haven’t heard about it already.”
Ethan quickly averted his eyes, without taking the pad.
Cole suspected there was more to come. He dropped the pad back on his desk. “What else happened out there, Detective? I can’t have omissions on this. I need to handle it,” Cole said, putting the weight of authority in his voice. “I need to know all of it.”
“Detective Isabella Knowles arrived on the scene. She took it over and settled the M.E. down. It was over and done with. I doubt he’ll make a complaint. Hell, he was probably just pissed off at being dragged out of bed. Or maybe being decked by a woman. I don’t know. I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”
Cole threw his pen on the desk. “Don’t make excuses, James. You know damn well these incidents have to be reported. You and Detective Knowles should not have moved the victim at all, and Knowles shouldn’t be on the job if she can’t handle it.”
“No, I’ve heard enough.” Cole tossed the memo pad toward him. Ethan caught it, but just barely. “All of it. You came to me and you can be certain I’ll take care of this matter. A citation will also be put in your folder about disturbing the victim. The only reason you aren’t suspended right now is because your record is squeaky clean. Don’t make me change my mind.”
Cole reached for the phone on his right. He’d order Alicia to his office within the next thirty minutes or he’d go get her. Rage boiled within him. It was as if a beast wanted to claw its way through him, manic to be released. He’d known she shouldn’t be back on the job. To risk her pensions, suspension, everything important to her because of her anger…. He was furious she couldn’t manage it.
It just showed how out of control she was. She couldn’t keep herself in check. But his feelings for her had shaded the truth. He was as much at fault as she was.
“Cole… damn it. I know you have to talk to her about all of this, but what consequences will she face?”
Cole’s fingers tightened on the telephone receiver. His jaw clenched. He understood Ethan’s loyalty to Alicia. Dammit, he’d walk to hell and back for her, too. She’d touched him in more ways than one the night they’d first met. He wanted more of the pleasure and the swell of emotions that consumed him when he was with her. She had made him feel ten feet tall, strong, and powerful. She’d made him feel like a man—her man.
“You know exactly what consequences your partner will face. You realized it before you came in here. While I should suspend your ass, too, I need one of you on this case that has insight into Fuller. It might take anyone new too much time to catch up. But you’re on desk duty only. Stay put in your office unless I direct you otherwise. Now, take the pad, head somewhere private, and write down everything that happened this morning. Have it on my desk in an hour.” Cole punched the numbers on the phone, angrier than he had ever been in his life. “You’re dismissed, Detective James. I’ll handle things from here.”
As the phone rang at the other end of the line, Cole watched Ethan leave his office and prayed he could keep himself from killing Alicia Knowles with his bare hands. He was in a tough spot as her boss and as someone who cared about her. But he had to stop the downhill slide her life was on before she got herself killed.
He’d see to it that she was protected.
Even from herself.
And for a limited time, ILLUSIONS (Book 1) is on sale for $0.99!!
Avid Reader. Romance Author. Redhead…
Canadian-born author Kacey Hammell is definitely a book-a-holic. A romance reader from a young age, she fell in love with happily ever afters. These days, as a multi- published erotic romance author, she enjoys adding a lot of heat, sass, and emotion to the many genres she writes.
Mom of three, Kacey lives her own happily ever after with her perfect hero in Ontario, Canada.
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