Live July 5 – book 3 in the Unknown Tasks series… Pre-order available now!
Brandy and Jason have a new task together, smaller in scope but just as vital – this one involves a dirty cop and for a change, Jason will take the leading role. Can the two of them halt the corruption before it grows and bring the people who should be with one another back together? Krystal and Mike went in different directions but now… Brandy’s trainers are making changes that affect the dynamic in a lot of positive ways.
Krystal Beck tensed as she heard the door from the garage open. That was a constant in her life. Her husband, Roger, was home and she had to be on her guard. What kind of mood would he be in this evening? Her day at work had been good. As supervisor of the nineteen women in the Accounting Department for Carson Properties that wasn’t always true. It would be so nice for that to continue. She pasted a smile onto her face and turned toward the door.
“Hi,” she said, and he smiled. Thank goodness. A tiny part of her remembered how she’d been drawn to that smile a long time ago. Slightly crooked, he’d used the grin to good advantage. Roger had been attractive then. He might still be considered so by some, those that didn’t live under his thumb. She struggled to see that now. He’d gained some beer weight and didn’t exercise any longer, wearing the same size pants, but they rode a little lower now. He left chasing down perps to the younger officers. His hair had thinned a little on top, but nothing that needed a comb over yet. He kept it regulation short, nothing she could grab in an attempt to protect herself.
“Something smells good.”
She relaxed a little. He seemed okay. “You mentioned you were thinking about that corned beef and cabbage casserole your mother makes, so I made one. I hope it turned out okay.”
“I’m sure if you followed Ma’s recipe it will be good.”
“I did.” She came around the island and saw his eyes go to her skirt and harden.
There shouldn’t be a problem with her attire. It wasn’t a pencil skirt, it was a-lined and fell to just at her knees in a demur navy. The blouse she wore was white, with long sleeves of course, to hide the bruises. It wasn’t low cut and she’d worn a navy and white scarf with a gold edge. Just a few days ago he’d been upset that she had worn slacks. She was always on edge, never knowing what would set him off. It never took much.
“That’s what you wore today?”
“Yes.” She smoothed the fabric at her hips.
“They don’t like us wearing slacks all the time at the office. We can wear them, but not every day.”
“Did that decree come from that letch, Meyers?”
“No. Mrs. Mitchum from Human Resources mentioned it. Not just to me, to all of the assistants.”
“Yes, you’ve met her.”
“One of his whores?”
“No, not at all.” Damn, she needed to defuse this before he got any angrier.
“How old is she?”
“I’m not sure, but she has two grandchildren. From their pictures on her desk they’re—” She shrugged. “Six and ten? You met her at the company picnic.”
“Gray hair, about five foot two?”
“Yes, that’s her.”
He nodded, grudgingly then angered again. “And Meyers ogled your legs all day.”
“Actually, he wasn’t in the office today. He had to go out of town for a meeting.” She didn’t bother to say he wouldn’t have eyed her in any case. Roger wouldn’t believe her. He never believed her, and she didn’t want anything to set him off again.
Before he could comment, the timer on the oven dinged. Hopefully that would distract him.
It did, and he looked in that direction.
“I hope the casserole turned out okay. What would you like to drink? I have tea and beer.”
“Tea. I might be called back in.”
“Go wash up and I’ll get the food on the table.”
He hesitated for a moment, then nodded and left the room. She had to put her hand on the island for a moment to support herself, her knees had gone weak with relief, but it looked like he was calm again. She’d be sure to wear slacks tomorrow.
She’d cleaned up the kitchen as she cooked, as per his long-standing instructions, but he still looked everything over as he took his seat, looking for a reason. Any reason would do.
His food was arranged carefully on his plate, no food touching any other food, a cloth napkin at the side of his plate. His favorite glass held his iced tea to the top right of his plate, above the knife.
He took a bite of the casserole and nodded. The tightness in her chest loosened a little more and she took a bite herself. Maybe tonight would be pleasant after all.
Mike Sidney looked around his hotel room. It was adequate for now, but he needed to find a permanent place of his own if he was going to stay in town. He wanted to stay, right? In any case he needed more room than this place offered. Columbus was a good center for his operations, and he was very familiar with the city, having grown up here. His parents’ home had been sold years ago. He’d driven by the place last time he was here and noted that the neighborhood had changed significantly. Older homes had been torn down and new McMansions inhabited the area. His old house was still there and a few more—one in particular, but he didn’t know if anyone he knew still lived there. He wasn’t going to ask.
He’d find something when he got the time. No, he’d need to make the time to find a place to settle.
There was no need to worry about running into someone he didn’t want to see. Columbus was a city, and he ran in different circles than the people he’d grown up with. At least from one of the people he’d grown up with. He shut down that train of thought immediately. He couldn’t change the past. Life had moved on. That was the way of the world. Regret didn’t have to be part of his everyday life.
He could find a woman to spend time with. It wasn’t that hard in his position. The problem was finding one he cared about or could stand for more than a few weeks. Were his standards really that high?
Hell, if he was going to get maudlin about it, he needed to decide on another city for his base. He’d screwed up and Krystal had moved on. Deal with it.