Authors: K. Victoria Chase
Tags: #fiction, #romance, #romantic suspense, #mystery, #interracial romance, #contemporary romance, #inspirational romance, #multicultural romance, #suspese
Published by K. Victoria Chase
This is a work of fiction. Names, places,
characters, and events are fictitious. Any similarities to actual
events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental.
Trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are
assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used
only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these
terms are used. The reproduction of this book in whole or part,
electronically or mechanically, without the express written consent
of the author constitutes a copyright violation.
Copyright © 2013 K. VICTORIA CHASE
Cover Art Designed by For the Muse
Edited by Faith Williams
the aspiring authors who’ve been rejected. You can be published. To
my critique group, The Northern Virginia Christian Writer’s
Fellowship, for providing fresh ideas — I used them!
And to my family, who keep encouraging me to
continue with my passion.
In this second edition, I would like to thank
the readers who read the first release.
I appreciate your support.
The Santiago Brothers
Ricardo (Coming Soon!)
From Across the Divide (Coming July 2013)
Rafael Santiago frowned at the impassioned
plea from his cousin, a man he’d barely had contact with over the
years. How did Enrique know of his plans to return to Virginia?
“Enrique, what do you know?”
“You know I can’t say, bro. Just… just take
my advice. Stay in California.”
The line went dead.
No use trying to dial the number. His cousin
was too careful; he'd have ditched the burner phone by now. To
return the call would place his cousin in mortal danger.
Rafa’s chest constricted. Enrique wouldn’t
call unless someone was about to die. Problem was, someone had
already died. Three had suffered a brutal death. Stopping whoever
was committing these murders was Rafa's top priority. No, he had to
leave. This was his responsibility. It was time to return to
At the sound of his boarding call, Rafa
stood, slung his duffel bag over his shoulder, and waited in line
behind other passengers boarding the plane to Virginia. He glanced
out the airport windows at the plane, his mood souring. Someone
else awaited him in Virginia. How would she react to his
“Four in two weeks.”
Detective Eugenia Green stooped beside the
body of a young female who lay sprawled on the cold concrete steps
of a dated apartment building. Genie squinted as a flash from a
camera momentarily blinded her.
“Sorry, Green.” The crime-scene photographer
shrugged his apology and repositioned his camera for another
Genie stood to full height, her eyes taking
in the contorted face of a woman who died in pain, the crimson
stain of blood against the bleach-white fabric of a once stylish
couture blouse. “Make sure you get a close shot of the chest,” she
directed the photographer. “I can make out a couple of puncture
wounds.” Genie stepped back so her orders could be followed.
She walked down a short flight of steps to
the ground level and waved two unoccupied uniforms over. “I want
this whole building canvassed. Someone heard something.” They
acknowledged her with a nod and fanned out.
Genie surveyed the growing crowd of
onlookers, who stood obediently behind the crime-scene tape. No one
struck her as suspicious. Their faces crinkled with concern over
the news of a fatal stabbing in a relatively quiet community. A
couple of local news crews had gathered in time to shoot live for
the eleven o’clock news.
One more victim and Springfield, VA would be
looking at a serial killer.
Genie swallowed thickly. Turning on her
heels, the muscles in her back tensed as she watched Lieutenant
Larry Winters march toward her followed by none other than that
idiot Franco. She read determination — no , anger — in her boss'
tight face and slit eyes and she steeled herself for any
accusations. She hadn’t done anything wrong. In fact, if Winters
wanted someone to yell at, Franco was the obvious choice. Her gaze
followed Franco and he veered off course to the steps and the body.
Someone else shadowed him. The man kept pace with Franco. Genie’s
eyes narrowed on the stranger’s back, but she could only make out a
strong build and dark, wavy locks. A detective from another unit,
Winters halted a few feet in front of her,
hands on wide hips. “I need you to get back to the station,
Her lieutenant’s gruff command confused her.
She was the on-call detective for the week. She needed to be at the
crime scene. “Sir, I’m working a murder investigation here. Looks
like the same MO as before.”
“Yeah, Franco’s here to cover you.”
Not a chance.
Being one of only a handful of female detectives in the
county, and African-American, meant she had to work twice as hard
as her male colleagues to earn their respect. Whatever she was
assigned, no matter how trivial, she’d see it through… to the end.
Her career hung on every case, every interrogation, and every piece
of evidence. This was her investigation.
“No offense, boss, but Franco will mess this
up. I have to—”
“You’ll do what I say or I’ll hand this
investigation off to someone more qualified.”
That stunned her into silence. Someone more
qualified? Her record spoke for itself: fastest promotion to
detective in her district’s history, zero unsolved cases, and top
three percent conviction rate among her competition. No one had
more time on this case than her, and no one could manage it as
well. She ran down every dead-end lead herself. Her palms sweated,
comprehending the threat.
“May I ask what this is all about,” she asked
through thick teeth.
“A break in the case.” Her boss grinned like
he had a secret.
Genie blinked. What had she overlooked? She
had double-checked all evidence, confirmed statements from
witnesses, and the forensic lab regularly updated her on the status
of her requests. She had a hand in every element of the case.
Perhaps her source had new information. Then why hadn’t he
Genie’s gaze shifted to Franco and the
mystery man who was pointing at the wall adjacent to the staircase.
Genie’s anxiety morphed into annoyance at the sight of her
colleague. Franco was a decent detective, but he tended to skirt
corners to close cases. He had past reprimands in his personnel
file, spanning from unsigned evidence logs all the way to
intimidating suspects. If he missed identifying even one piece of
evidence tonight, it could sink her case.
“Lieutenant Winters… Lieutenant Winters. Can
we get a statement?” Her boss moved to address a local news
Franco casually strolled to where Genie
stood. He smiled broadly. “I hear you’ve been summoned.” Genie
bristled at his smug look of satisfaction. “You really work too
hard, Genie. You’ll most likely miss something key. I suggest
“When I want your suggestion, I’ll ask for
it,” she gritted. She bumped him with a shoulder and stomped toward
her vehicle. Then she heard laughter. She stopped before whirling
to face a snickering Franco. She marched back to him, coming within
inches of his face, her eyes narrowing on him. The air between them
chilled. The surrounding sounds faded as she focused all her energy
on intimidating Franco.
The laughter died.
“And I didn’t miss anything.” He didn’t
challenge her, the lump in his throat bobbing, beads of
perspiration gleaming on his forehead in the night light. Satisfied
he feared, if not respected her, she turned on a heel.
Wait a minute
She spun back toward the direction of the staircase and the
unidentified man who had accompanied Franco to the scene. She
sucked in a breath, her heart pounding in her ears.
The man with the wavy, dark hair approached,
a grin on his handsome face. Genie licked her dry lips. He looked
even better than he did in—
“Genie, this is Rafael Santiago,” she heard
her boss say. “He’s here to consult on the case.”
Where had he heard her name before? School? No one in California
for sure. Rafa Santiago ran a hand through his hair, racking his
brain as the name gnawed at him. Whoever she was, she was supposed
to have followed him and Winters back to the station, and he’d been
sitting here in Winters’ office for a good ten minutes. Where was
Rafa blew out a breath and concentrated on
Lieutenant Larry Winters, the man responsible for dragging him back
into a world he fought every day to forget. When Rafa’s boss called
him in to the office and told him Winters had phoned from Virginia,
in less than two hours he was on a flight back to the East Coast.
He landed at Reagan Washington National and within the hour he was
in Springfield. His body ached to rest, and he was glad his
deodorant was extra strength. But the trouble of coming all this
way would be worth it… hopefully. His boss had given him the option
of allowing someone else to help consult on Springfield’s case, but
Rafa knew no one had his connections or experience.
Plus, this case was personal.
Winters pointed the remote at the television
in one corner of his office. The screen went dark. The man grunted
and tossed the remote onto his desk. He gave Rafa a hard stare,
determination set in his jaw. “Genie’s my best detective. I want
the two of you together on this.”
. Now the
name rang a bell. Long plaid skirts, high-buttoned blouses, and a
single cornrow down the middle of her head. Rafa’s lips twitched as
he fought a grin. The picture forming in his mind threatened to
derail his resolution.
He hardly recognized her at the scene. Sure,
it was dark, but the woman in form-fitting jeans and a snug blazer
didn’t remind him at all of the innocent girl he knew in high
school. No, this woman was different. Hardened.
Rafa crossed his arms over his chest, his
eyes meeting Winters’ gaze. “Not a chance.”
Winters’ brows rose in surprise, but Rafa’s
gaze didn’t relent. This was one condition he would not yield. He’d
spent too much time already, too many years wasting his life on the
other side of the fence. As a detective, he had an opportunity to
set it all right. He wasn’t going to allow anyone else to get hurt.
His mind drifted back to the girl he remembered from high school.
He didn’t know who she was now but he needed to persuade her to
drop the case — or at least try to get her to convince Winters to
let him work it alone.
“Now, I appreciate you flying all the way out
here from California and all but this is Virginia.”
He knew. He’d grown up not far from this
“Our jurisdiction, our rules.”