Collision Force by C.A. Szarek
by C.A. Szarek
The last thing Andi needs is a cocky FBI agent…
Badboy FBI agent Cole Lucas always gets his man. So when the unthinkable happens and one gets away, Cole grits his teeth and hunts the human trafficker all the way to Antioch, Texas, where he collides with Detective Andi MacLaren.
Cole doesn’t do small towns and he doesn’t get involved with women he works with, but Andi tempts him in ways he doesn’t want to acknowledge.
Two murders, her partner shot and leading the investigation on her own, the last thing Andi needs is a cocky FBI agent that sees her as no more than a tagalong.
As a widow and single mother, she’s used to being on her own. When Cole gets stuck without a place to stay, crashing on her couch puts them in dangerous territory.
Attraction and passion bring Andi to a place she left behind when her husband died.
Her three-year-old son quickly wiggles his way into Cole’s heart, and he starts contemplating things—family, love—that he’d never planned for himself.
Can being forced to work together make them stronger or will their differences jeopardize their case and their hearts?
Cole cursed. He stared in the rear-view mirror at the busy parking lot, but saw nothing. He’d been so close this time. The damn local police were breathing down his neck, and that was the last thing he wanted…or needed.
Cooperation, my ass.
They needed to get the hell out of his case. He’d been too involved for too long, and he wasn’t about to let some podunk police chief tell him what to do.
Not to mention that dumbass detective who’d gotten himself shot. Cole didn’t need the locals piecing it all together. He had to wrap up a few things before letting them in on his case.
Full disclosure wasn’t on his list at all.
That bastard Maldonado had slipped away. Even two months later, that still chapped. He’d tracked him here and been in town a few weeks with no clues.
Until the shooting.
Two goons dead and a police detective shot twice. Maldonado had shrunk back into the shadows. Cole’s gut told him the coward was still in town. He hadn’t—or couldn’t—move on. But where the hell was he?
His cellphone rang, yanking him from his thoughts. “Lucas.”
“Where the hell are you?” Olivia Barnes, his supervisor, barked. “Chief Martin called screaming at me. He said you told him to kiss your ass? What the hell, Lucas? I told you to cooperate with them.”
Cole snorted. Chief Martin had misquoted him, but not by much. “I don’t need them, Olivia.”
“Oh, don’t Olivia me. This was an order from higher up. Get that through your thick skull, dammit. Get to that station and make nice. Now.”
His boss didn’t respond. Although her tone had brooked no argument, he’d been tempted to tell her to kiss his ass, too. Cole’s record was already tainted, and it wouldn’t have been the first time he’d told her off. He held his tongue.
He was damn good at his job, and Olivia knew it. Cole would play along, for now.
Guess…discretion and valor and all that shit…
“All right,” he answered.
Olivia was silent on the other end of the phone.
“You’ve ordered me, correct?” He was as dry as he could manage. Cole could almost hear her eyes narrow.
“Just like that?”
“Just like that. C’mon, Liv, I can be a good boy.”
She harrumphed. “Okay. Go kiss Chief Martin’s ass.”
“Can’t promise that, but I will go to the station.”
“Good. I can’t afford any more damage control, Agent Lucas.”
Uh oh, Agent Lucas?
“Sounds like a warning.”
“It is.” Olivia lowered her voice. “I don’t want to have to yank you off the case, Cole.”
Like that would happen.
“I’ll call you later.”
She started to say something, but he ended the call, imagining her outraged expression—one he was quite familiar with.
He smirked. Yes, he would play along…for now.
The drive to the station was short, but didn’t alleviate his irritation with the whole damn situation. He slammed the car door and winced, berating himself. He loved this car.
Cole patted the hood in apology, admiring the brand new, deep metallic blue Dodge Challenger. It looked mean as hell. Like it was made for him. He’d even contemplated keeping it when this was all over.
He groaned when he took in the smallish Antioch, Texas police station, but headed inside. The asshole desk sergeant practically growled when he introduced himself, as did Chief Martin over the intercom.
Cole ran into the female—literally—right after Sergeant Asshole-of-the-year had finally acknowledged his existence and buzzed him into the back. And although his head smarted, seeing a beautiful woman was the highlight of his morning.
“Whoa, sorry,” she said, smiling. Her chestnut hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she had eyes so blue they might as well be sapphires.
She was tall and slender, and he liked what he saw. She was wearing a white button-down dress shirt and snug khaki pants, and the outfit was somehow incredibly sexy.
He almost missed the paddle holster at her waist, but when he saw it, he couldn’t help but admire her subtly rounded hips.
Her badge was on a chain around her neck, swaying gently with her movements.
“No, I’m sorry. You all right?” he answered, trying to tear his eyes away.
He nodded. Cole bent and helped her retrieve the scattered case file contents. He latched onto a crime scene photo.
Not only was she a detective, she was working his case—the pictures were all-too-familiar evidence. No doubt the local case was tied to his.
He bit back a cringe and forced himself to speak. “Ah, don’t think we’ve met.”
They both straightened and she thanked him for his help.
He tried not to stare at the items in her arms.
“Oh, guess not. Detective Andi MacLaren. Nice to meet you.” She held out her right hand, but he couldn’t help but glance at her left before accepting her shake.
No wedding ring.
“Andi, huh?” He met her eyes.
“Well, it’s Andrea, but not even my mother calls me that.” She smiled again, a small thing with a shy edge.
Instinct told him she was a no muss, no fuss, hard-working kind of girl. Not overly feminine, but extremely appealing. A smattering of freckles spread across her high cheekbones and trailed over her nose. She wore little or no makeup—that drew him as well. Not his normal type at all, but gorgeous.
“And you are?” she prompted.
Cole jolted to attention. He’d been staring.
She looked as if she was oblivious.
Should that bother him?
Yes. Women always noticed him.
“Special Agent Cole Lucas, FBI.”
Her pretty eyes widened, then she flashed a grin that could’ve only been called impish. It rivaled one he was known to give from time to time. “You’re Agent Lucas? You’ve had Chief in a tizzy all morning.”
Was that admiration in her tone?
He smiled back. “Guilty.” Cole winked.
“Agent Lucas,” Chief Martin shouted from the doorway to his office.
Cole caught Detective MacLaren’s eye and shrugged. “Guess I’m being summoned.”
“Hope to catch you later…Andi.” He flashed a grin, then trotted towards the angry police chief before she could answer.
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