Friday: February 8, 2008
Freshly promoted from the LAPD’s Central Bureau’s Narcotics Unit, Dallas Silver found himself more than ready to join the homicide department. After spending the last week on leave to nurse an injured shoulder, he wanted to get back to the job. He needed to get back to the job.
A bit ironic, isn’t it? A bit… on the nose? First you became a cop, did the whole vice and narcotics thing, and that was fun. But now you’re going to willingly choose your stupidity and move to homicide the first chance you’re given? I ask again, Tex: isn’t it a bit on the nose?
Dallas, not for the first time, chose to ignore the voice in his head. Ed–though Dallas tried his best not to call it that to its face, er… voice–fed on attention. The less he responded to Ed’s nagging, the longer he could live his peaceful, well-constructed web of lies.
Clearing his throat, Dallas walked into the station. Smoothing a hand over the buttons of his shirt, he drew in a calming breath. He held it for a moment, let it out, and made his way to the lieutenant’s office. He felt confident in his ability to win over the lieutenant with the same ease he had for winning over most people.
Dallas was a well-practiced charmer, what with his half-smiles and slight Texan drawl. With the lieutenant, he even had an extra benefit built right into his biology. Much like himself, Lieutenant Alec Fox was a black man.
He stopped at the open door to the office and gave a little knock. Alec lifted his head, a smile coming to his face as soon as his eyes landed on Dallas. Just like that, Dallas thought.
“Officer Silver. Hope you made the drive okay?”
“Oh, it wasn’t too bad. You get used to driving with this damn sling on eventually.”
Alec chuckled. “Suppose I’ll just have to take your word for it.” He pushed himself to his feet and rounded the desk. With Dallas’s right arm held to his chest by the sling, Alec didn’t even bother with an awkward attempt to shake his hand. Even Dallas could appreciate that. Instead, Alec laid a hand on his shoulder, just long enough to let it serve as a greeting.
Imagine how easy it would be for us to kill him here, Dallas. Take that knife off your tactical belt, flip it open, and ram it straight into his neck. He wouldn’t even see it coming.
“You wanna see your desk first, or your partner?” Alec asked, entirely unaware of Ed’s threat on his life.
Dallas’s heart clenched. “Partner?”
“Well… not exactly. He’s a forensic tech, a lab geek. The chief and I agreed that you can work without another officer for now, but we’d still like someone else there to keep an eye on you.” Alec gestured to the door. “Walk with me?”
Or we could kill him, Ed reminded.
Dallas cleared his throat. “Of course, sir. Lead the way.”
“Thank you. The forensic tech in question, he’s a bit of a rule breaker, but he’s… let’s say, mellowed out in the last few years. When it comes right down to it, he’s one of our best employees, enough so that Jamal keeps trying to snipe him for the West Bureau instead. We normally have him partnered up with another forensic tech, but he’s unfortunately out of state for a little while. It’ll be the perfect time to transition you in as his partner. Shift buddy. Workplace friend. You can call it whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.”
Dallas nodded. Thank you for not partnering me with another officer, sir. It’s deeply appreciated.”
“You’re welcome. Like I said, we made a collective decision to wait until you felt ready for one.” Alec stopped just short of the lab and turned to face Dallas. “Losing a partner is far from easy, Dallas. You’ve passed your mental evaluation, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need any help. It doesn’t mean you’re from seeking help. Okay?”
One corner of Dallas’s mouth lifted. “Of course, sir. If I need help… processing, I won’t hesitate to find that help.”
“Good.” Alec walked into the lab, and a moment later, Dallas followed. “Bo? I’d like you to meet that officer we talked about.”
A short blonde white man lifted his head. His blue eyes settled on Alec’s face first, scanned over Dallas second. After closing the book before him on the table, he rose to his feet. “I see your right hand’s unavailable, so I’ll skip the handshake. I’m Bo Austen, forensics. As I’ve been told, you’re stuck with me for the next week or two.”
“Well, I didn’t use the word ‘stuck’,” Alec said. “You’ll be partnered for the next week or so.”
Dallas smiled his signature half-smile. The blonde’s expression didn’t change. “I’m Dallas Silver, rookie homicide officer.”
Dallas couldn’t believe it. His charm had met its match with a short, beanpole-framed lab geek?
Alec cleared his throat. “Bo? How about you go on up and show Dallas his desk, huh? Then you can both go get coffee at that diner you like. Sound good?”
“Okay.” Bo finally rounded the table, hands tucked behind his back. Dallas figured the purple flannel and dark jeans were supposed to soften his monotone answers and his general lack of expression, but they didn’t seem to be working well that morning. “I’ll wait at the top of the stairs for you,” he said quietly. Bowing his head, he walked past Dallas and out of the room.
Dallas turned toward Alec. “Was it an accident that I was ‘partnered’ with someone who seems to be a bit… distasteful of me?”
“Oh, no, he has no problem with you. I should’ve, umm, warned you better.” Alec shoved his hands into his pockets. “Bo’s not great with change. Both of the analysts he works with are temporarily on vacation, and the only cop he likes recently transferred to West.”
“Should I be worried that he only likes one cop?”
“No. Correction, the only cop that’s always been kind to him. Bo’s a good kid, but he’s got too much brain in that head of his for most people to like him.”
“They hate him because he’s smart?”
“Adulthood hasn’t changed the bullies from school. It only changed the building the bullying takes place in.”
“But he looks like he’s just a damn kid.”
“He is. Doesn’t make him off limits to any of their dickish behaviors.”
Dallas let out a breath. “All right. Thanks for the heads-up. I’m… going to see if I can help out a pattern-driven lab geek.”
“Thank you. Let me know if there are any issues. Otherwise, welcome to homicide, and good luck.”
Dallas offered a two-finger salute and walked out of the lab. As promised, the lab geek stood at the top of the stairs, waiting.
We could push him down the stairs. How could anyone blame that on us, Tex? Especially when everyone else in the station already wants to do it? Ed asked.
“Thanks for waiting for me.”
“You’re welcome.” Bo took a step away from the wall and led Dallas to the officer desks. “This is your desk, Officer Silver.”
“Dallas is fine.”
Bo kept his gaze on the desk. “I struggle with addressing new people by their first name.”
“That’s fine. You okay with just calling me Silver?”
After a moment, Bo nodded. “Yes, I believe I can manage that. Thank you.”
“No problem, man. You have a preference for what I call you?” Dallas asked.
“No. Austen, Bo, lab geek… You can take your pick.”
“All right, Austen.” Dallas cleared his throat. “Should we go to that diner you like? Get some coffee?”
“If you’d like to.”
“Do you normally go in the morning?”
“Most of the time.”
Dallas watched him for a moment. “Not by yourself, though, huh?”
“No, I generally ride in with another analyst.” Bo glanced up at him. “Would you like to lead the way through the station?”
“Nah, go for it. I don’t know my way around yet.”
Bo nodded once, turned around, and headed toward the lobby doors. Dallas followed without complaint.
A/N: I hope you guys are as excited for this book as I am!! If you’d like to see the cover, click on the book details link below 🙂
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