What it’s About:
Inspector Eli Miller’s unspoken feelings for his partner, Bex, color his whole life. When his past comes calling, will it be the push he needs to seek a future with her?
Inspector Rebecca ‘Bex’ Mulcahy has lived long enough to know that love is a street con at best, and a dangerous distraction at worst. Any feelings she has for her partner Eli definitely fall into the latter category. Will her dedication to her job keep her from finding a possible future with Eli?
Their latest case is protecting Violet Burrell, a young woman with scars on her soul stretching back to birth, who inadvertently witnesses a shockingly brutal murder at the hands of a sadist. Violet is determined to testify in court. Her strength and courage impress Eli and Bex, who will protect her at all costs.
But it is Violet’s beauty and spirit that entrances Junior Inspector Atticus Randall. Atticus is also assigned to protect Violet, and while he knows he should ignore his growing feelings for her, he just can’t stop himself from falling for the brave beauty.
Life in the Las Vegas branch of Witness Protection has never been more tangled. When the emotional landmines start a chain reaction, everyone in the blast radius is going to need a little shelter.
The knock at his front door effectively cut his ruminations short as it caught his attention. Leaving his glass on the table, he opened it only after checking the peep hole and seeing a familiar face. “Hey, you okay?”
Bex gave an exhausted nod, barely moving her head. “Yeah.” When she didn’t follow up with anything further, he took in the droop in her shoulders and the slightly sallow complexion that she got when she was well and truly tired, and stepped aside without comment. “Smells good in here.” She paused stepping over the threshold. “Am I interrupting?”
The fact that she even bothered to ask him told him exactly how tired she was. “Nah, just relaxing with some Thai take away. You are always welcome to join me.” Her smile in reply was all the thanks he needed as he led her to the couch and detoured to the kitchen to get her a beer and an additional fork.
She was already popping a chicken curry puff in her mouth as she opened the first box of pad seuw. “I love Siam Kitchen.”
He watched her as she ate, finding her infinitely more interesting than the movie as he snuck a fork in here and there. The silence between them was comfortable, though he found it curious that she still wore her gun as she snuggled into his comfy couch. “You just get done?”
Bex nodded and her red hair fell from her shoulder like a curtain between them. “Just endless paperwork and little things with this damn family, and then I took Vi home and helped her get a little more settled, a few more groceries, stuff like that.” She set the empty paper box on the coffee table in front of them and heaved a soul-deep sigh.
Getting a new witness, especially a new entrant to Witness Protection always had a special set of trials, at least at the beginning of the acquaintance. It took a bit to settle into a comfortable rhythm of regular contact, attorney meetings, and court dates. Once established, it was a lot smoother for all involved and less stressful, barring the unforeseen.
“Good for you.” He nodded while sipping his drink, eyes never leaving her. “She’s a tough kid. You’d think she’d be a hard case but . . .”
“She’s not.” It left her lips as a barely audible whisper accompanied by an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “You don’t start out a hard case.” She grabbed her beer from the table before shifting on the couch to face him. “Life wears on you, relentlessly. You can let it grind you all the way down, or you fight back. She fought back.” Her beer bottle was raised in silent toast with an ironic smile.
Feeling incredibly dense for not understanding sooner, the answer to his internal question from earlier today presented itself. “You see yourself in her, don’t you?” It wasn’t a question he asked lightly or without some knowledge of how difficult her own childhood had been with an unrepentantly alcoholic mother and a wide array of potential fathers.
Her shrug was one he recognized instantly as her dismissal of his question. She pulled it out whenever he got too close to an especially raw emotional spot. She didn’t have many, but he’d managed to find more than one on occasion. “She’ll be fine.”
Not sure to which ‘she’ Bex referred, he simply agreed. “I have no doubt.” He wanted to reach out, touch her, but he’d known her long enough to be able to sense when she was at her ragged edge, and the contact, as much as he may have wanted it, would not have been beneficial to her in that moment.
Tipping her bottle of beer up to drain it, she set it on the table next to the pad seuw carcass. “So what was with you today? You looked like you’d seen a ghost.”
Speaking of emotional sore spots, he shrugged and stood, taking their trash to the kitchen. “May I get you another one?” he called from behind the open stainless steel fridge door. She may have been his best friend, but this was not something he discussed with anyone, ever, and talking about it with Bex would make it especially poignant given that he desperately wanted what was not possible between them.
If he told her about his memories of Zoe, his wishes for something different than the loneliness he lived with, and most importantly his desire for her, and she wasn’t on board, it would be awkward and horrible. They were both established here and in the Marshal Service, and it would put an undue strain on both their jobs and their personal lives. He simply wasn’t willing to sacrifice his friendship on the altar of chance.