Brynette L. Turner
This is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s
imagination and are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or
dead, is entirely coincidental. All references to the functioning of law
enforcement agencies, while loosely based on research, are also fictitious.
Copyright © 2014 by
Brynette L. Turner
All Rights Reserved. No
part of this book or artwork may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever
without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in
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transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system,
without the written permission of the author or artist, except where permitted
With each book, I am
always amazed by the many people who encourage me and are patient while I use
them as sounding boards for ideas and details. Naturally, the love and support
of my family and friends keep me focused and encouraged. For this book, I would
also like to thank my beta readers. Carina Turner, Quinda Smith, Juliette
January, and Monique Williamson, your feedback helped me to clarify what I was
trying to say and resolve areas that needed more attention. Without each of
you, this book wouldn’t have developed into something I’m pleased to offer to
On a Monday morning, a very happy
Chaz was sitting at his desk going over reports from an FBI sting operation in
Cleveland. Only part of his mind was focused on the task. The other part of his
mind was smiling about the way his wife had kept him in bed most of the weekend.
If she wasn’t already pregnant, someone might have come to the conclusion that
they were trying to make a baby. He smiled brighter as he thought about how the
previous weekend had started.
When he’d arrived home from the
shooting range on Saturday morning, Stephanie had been standing in the upstairs
hallway, leaning against the door to the room that would be their baby’s
nursery. They’d moved into their new home a couple of months ago and she’d had
him paint the room a golden cream color that would look good whether they were
having a boy or girl.
“Are you trying to picture the room
filled with furniture?” Chaz had asked as he came down the hall and stopped
beside Stephanie. He pulled her against him and covered her mouth with a
passionate kiss. Mmm. Their kisses always left both of them breathless.
“Actually, I was trying to picture
you sitting in a rocking glider feeding our son or daughter a bottle in the
middle of the night.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, her golden-brown
eyes staring into his. Stephanie knew that her husband wanted a daughter, but
she honestly didn’t think the gender mattered. “I can’t begin to imagine how
spoiled our first child will be,” she’d laughed.
“First child?” A huge grin had spread
across his face and his deep brown eyes sparkled. “I like the sound of that. We
should plan for them to be close enough in age to be each other’s playmate.”
“We’ll see.” She sighed happily and
rested her head against his chest. The faint smell of gunpowder clung to his
clothes. “I missed you this morning.” Stephanie was usually awake long before
her husband went to the FBI headquarters for his weekend routine, but Chaz had
left earlier than usual. “You do know that pregnant women crave sex, right?”
“So I’ve been told. I guess I’ll
have to make it up to you.”
“Uhm hmm. Right now would be a good
time to start.” When he chuckled, she leaned away and gave him a stern look.
“I’m not playing with you, Mr. Big FBI Agent. You owe me and I intend to
“All right, baby; whatever you
say.” He walked backward to their bedroom, pulling his wife along with him.
Yeah, their sex life was amazing.
Chaz sighed. He dragged his
attention away from the memory and back to the mess on his desk. He was only
halfway concentrating on the paperwork in front of him when he saw a name that
caught him off guard and demanded his full attention.
This was a very dangerous man.
Watkins was connected to the gambling case Chaz had been undercover on while he
was loaned to a multi-regional task force and sent to Erie, PA. The prosecution
of the local criminals had been successful, but Watkins was the higher level
boss who the FBI was still collecting data on. His activities spread over at
least three states and was being watched by multiple FBI field offices. He was also
the man who’d ordered someone to shoot Chaz as a way of intimidating him into
selling the pool hall and, more importantly, the private gambling room beneath
it. Watkins didn’t know that the businesses were secretly being run by
undercover officers and agents. Chaz could still remember the evil vibes that
poured off that man and the way his presence had shaken Stephanie because she’d
dreamed of his encounter with Chaz shortly before it happened.
Stephanie’s gift of having dreams
that came true had pulled her right into the middle of Chaz’s case. She saw
things no one else could have and was a tremendous help in wrapping up that
investigation; only Watkins hadn’t been their target. It was decided—mainly at
Chaz’s request—to not extend the gambling case to include Watkins because it
would have meant extending the investigation indefinitely. He’d been ready to
walk away from being an undercover field agent so that he could pursue a
relationship with Stephanie.
Now, here Watkins was, again. Although
Chaz now analyzed reports generated by investigations and occasionally
participated in the arrest of criminals his efforts helped bring to justice, he
didn’t like seeing this man’s name.
Watkins’ possible involvement in
this prostitution case made Chaz nervous. From what he knew, prostitution
wasn’t a venture that would normally interest Watkins. Was he involved in even
more types of crime than the FBI was previously aware? Nothing was clear from
the report other than the fact that the name had been mentioned to the State
Police officer’s informant and was passed along. Chaz made a notation in the
file for the task force’s team leader to cross-reference it with the Erie case
and entered notes into the computer that would flag both investigations. The Cleveland
FBI office needed to be aware of the depth of Watkins’ viciousness and to be
given as many avenues for building their case against him as possible.
Just as he was emailing his notes
to Steve McDaniels, the Team Leader on the gambling case, with copies to his
supervisor and the Special Agent in charge of the Cleveland case, Chaz’s boss
poked his head into the cubicle and requested Chaz come into his office.
“What I’m going to say does not
leave this room,” Roy insisted as soon as Chaz had closed the office door and
taken a seat. He waited for Chaz’s agreement before continuing. “I know you’ve
been getting pressure to return to undercover work and I also understand your
hesitation on the matter. However, an opportunity has come up for which you
would be more qualified than anyone else on my team. It would be a promotion.
“Over the past few months, you’ve
done an admirable job of making recommendations on ongoing cases, but I want
you in the field. That’s where you’re best. You wouldn’t be interacting
directly with the criminal elements; instead, you’d be supervising all of the
roles of the state and federal officials. You’d be able to stay in the
background, but taking the position would mean being away from Stephanie for
stretches of time—that’s something you need to seriously consider. I can
guarantee some cases that will come your way will require you to be temporarily
assigned to other cities—maybe even as far away as Minneapolis. Even though
that’s unlikely, it’s possible.” He shook his head when Chaz opened his mouth
“Steve McDaniels is transferring
here from the Erie office. He’s going to take lead on the Granger case that
you’ve been analyzing. As you know, our target is trying to set up a brothel
just south of the river between Newport and Covington. We’re jumping into the
undercover portion of an investigation the Kentucky State Police already have
going, so this operation shouldn’t take more than a couple of months and is
local. You could make periodic trips home so that your personal life won’t be
seriously impacted. Steve agrees with me that this would make a great first
assignment for you, and he wants to mentor you on it. In fact, he requested to
work with you. He’s not arriving for another couple of weeks; so, like I said
before, take a few days to think about taking the promotion.”
Chaz nodded his understanding
before asking, “What happens if I decide to stay where I am?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. Let me
turn that back on you—where do you see your career in five years and how do you
plan on getting there? I understand why you stopped working in the field, but
it’ll be different this time; you won’t have to worry about getting shot.” He
sighed and Chaz could hear the resignation in it. They both knew that bullet
wasn’t the only reason Chaz no longer wanted to work undercover. “Talk to
Stephanie about it. I’ll support whatever you decide.”
“Do you know why Steve is
transferring?” Chaz had worked with the man on a couple of cases and knew that
he’d been happy with his role in the Erie office.
“Yeah. There’s been some
restructuring in Pennsylvania, much like what we went through a while ago, and
he’s made it clear that there is a conflict of interest in working for his new
supervisor.” Roy gave an amused smirk. “From what I’ve heard, they used to be
good friends until the guy slept with Steve’s wife and spent three days in the
hospital recovering from Steve’s temper.”
Both men chuckled and shook their heads.
Chaz guessed that even analytical, even-tempered, insightful, and by-the-book
Steve McDaniels had a breaking point.
“If you take the position,” Roy
continued, “you and Steve will both report to me. It would make my life a whole
lot easier to have such a strong team. No pressure, though. Let me know what
you decide by the end of the week.”
With those words, Chaz was
The only thing he could think about
as he walked back to his cubicle was that his wife was pregnant, they were
happy, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to risk the calm life they were building.
But, Roy had a point—where did he see his career going? Even Stephanie had said
she’d understand if he went back undercover. Would she really?
Chaz decided to take a couple of
days to figure out how much he was willing to sacrifice before telling her
about this conversation with Roy.
~ ~ ~ ~
Stephanie woke up and stared at her
husband. His face was inches from hers, his warm breath slid across her cheek,
and his arm rested protectively around her waist. But her heart was pounding,
thanks to the images that had floated through her mind while she slept.
The strangest thing about her dream
was that it was clear, even though this was the first time she’d had it.
Usually, the dreams were vague and she would have them more than once before
all of the details were decipherable.
There was no ambiguity this time.
History taught her that either the event had happened at the same time that she
was dreaming it, or it was going to happen within the next day or two. Instinct
told her that it would happen that day. She choked back a whisper of panic.
Hadn’t she promised to be tough? Hadn’t she made a conscious decision that she
would support Chaz in whatever he wanted to do with his career? Everyone
thought he was happier as an undercover agent, and now the day had come when
she would have to prove her fortitude.
She glanced at the bedside clock. The
alarm would ring in half an hour. Carefully removing Chaz’s arm, she slipped
from beneath the covers and quietly made her way to the walk-in closet. She
closed the door behind her before turning on the light. It only took a few
minutes to decide what she would wear to work and set the outfit aside. During
that time, she decided that she’d tell her husband about the dream over
breakfast. They had agreed to handle her dreams that way—no delaying anything
that involved him or his job. She nodded as if agreeing with herself, took a
deep breath, forced down her anxiety, and went downstairs.
Cooking would relax her. They’d
have a big breakfast today.
Chaz wanted to laugh when he walked
into the kitchen an hour later and took a look at the counter. Bacon, sausage
patties, potato pancakes, biscuits, fruit salad, and juice. The scent of coffee
mingled with everything else and made his mouth water. Stephanie, who was
standing in front of the stove with her back to him, was vigorously whisking
“Good morning, honey,” she said a
little too brightly. “How did you sleep?”
Chaz didn’t answer right away.
Instead, he poured himself a cup of coffee, leaned against the counter while he
sipped it, and studied his wife until she turned to him with a puzzled
expression on her face.
“You always cook when you’re
upset,” he explained after kissing her forehead. “Do you want to tell me now or
after we eat?”
“Eggs will be ready in a couple of
minutes.” She gave him a weak smile before turning her attention back to the
stove. “I forgot to buy jelly, so there’s only honey for the biscuits.”
A few minutes later, she dumped
half of the eggs onto each plate and joined Chaz at the table where he was
already munching on a slice of bacon. She could feel him staring at her as he
chewed and she took her time spreading butter on the fluffy bread. How she
phrased her next words would be very important.
“I dreamed about your job. Steve is
in town, even though you didn’t expect to see him yet. He’s a great guy, Chaz.
I’m glad he’ll be the person helping with your transition. You’ll make a
wonderful team leader.” She looked directly into his eyes now and was very
sincere. “I don’t know how your going undercover again will affect our
marriage, so I’m a little concerned. But, it’s our destiny to be together,
Chaz, so we’ll be all right.” She paused briefly and let out a sigh. “You
should take the job.”
He nodded and took a sip of juice.
His eyes never left hers.
“What if I don’t want the job? Your
dream told you what’s going to be discussed, but did it tell you how I feel?”
“Conflicted,” she answered.
“That’s right. This might be a good
decision for my career, but honestly, I don’t want to be away from you,” he admitted.
“I also don’t want to miss celebrating one single special moment with our
child. I want to be on the floor teaching her to roll a ball and holding her
hands while she’s learning to balance and taking her first steps. She’ll need
to hear my voice reading goodnight stories from the moment she comes home from
the hospital and feel my hands cuddling her when she’s grouchy from teething.
She needs to know how much love is in my heart just for her. She deserves that;
I deserve it.” He reached across the table and linked his fingers with his
wife’s. “Besides, I don’t want you being a single parent for months at a
time—and that’s what it might be. We’re building this life together, Stephanie.
Together.” He stood and pulled her into his arms.