“Not just about Burrows.” Jude had come to Jason right away, because he wanted the backup of the agency. “It’s about Erin.”
“Our ADA is much more than she seems.” Pak eased back in his chair, steepling his fingers beneath his chin. “Isn’t she, Jude?”
No shifter senses, but Pak always seemed to know everything about the Other.
“Gus is sure she’s not demon, and I don’t take her for a witch.” Pak’s black stare didn’t leave Jude’s face. “You stayed with her in a hotel last night. Does that mean she’s one of yours?”
Mine. If only. “It means she’s my client.”
Pak didn’t blink.
“She’s got an asshole stalking her. He’s Other. Last night, he left a bloody message on her wall.”
Of course he did. “She needs protection, the kind of protection the cops can’t give her.”
A slow nod. “But we can.”
Damn straight. “I want this guy.” Well, mostly he just wanted to kill him. “Give me Daniels and Wynter.” They were the best, well, after him.
As far as Jude knew, Pak was Night Watch. The agency was his baby. If there were superiors to him, Jude had never seen them or caught even a whisper of their names. So if he was going to pull in the other two agents, he’d need Pak’s go-ahead.
And if he didn’t get permission—screw it. He’d find another way to protect Erin and to nab the bastard.
“All right.” Pak’s long, bony fingers reached for the phone. The speaker clicked on and he ordered, “Send in Dee and Zane.”
Normally, Jude hunted alone. He liked it that way. But this time, he wanted extra eyes. Not eyes for his own back, but for Erin. The better to keep her safe.
Pak rose from the chair. Straightened his jacket. “Careful, shifter. If you let the case get personal, you could find yourself in dangerous waters.”
Too late. He watched silently as Pak left the room. When the door shut, he muttered, “It’s already personal.”
One beat of time. Two, then…
The door shoved open. Dee came in first, her small body moving fast. “Hey, Jude! What’s up?”
Zane strolled in after her. The guy always seemed to take things at a stroll. When the door shut behind him, he lifted a brow and just…waited.
Jude’s gaze drifted between them, the two agents he trusted the most at Night Watch.
Dee. Ms. Sandra Dee Daniels. But if any fool made the mistake of calling her Sandra Dee, she kicked his ass.
Dee was small but deadly. She could track a man across three states and barely break a sweat.
And Zane Wynter. Tall and lean, the guy knew how to hunt and how to catch prey. Dark hair, green eyes—a lie that, because Jude knew the cagey bastard really had demon black eyes—and a knack for tagging supernatural killers. The guy loved playing on the dark side and playing with his prey.
Dee stared, one golden brow arched. “This got anything to do with all the action that went down at the ADA’s place last night?”
Now, with Pak, Jude never knew where the guy got his info. But with Dee, he knew the source. Tony told that woman too much. Jude was about twenty percent sure the two of them had been lovers at one time.
“The ADA?” Zane stretched slowly, the floor creaking beneath him. “What’s Prichard doing now?”
“Not him.” Dee sighed. “The new woman—Jude’s lady.”
“She’s not mine.” Yet.
“Huh.” Zane’s lips curved down. “She human?”
Generally Zane’s first question on every case. The guy preferred to hunt Other, and he had a real deadly hunger for the demons who’d crossed the line.
The guy liked to kill his own. Whatever. Not Jude’s issue.
Erin was his issue. “The fuckup who is after her isn’t.” Missed you.
Zane’s gaze snapped to him. Now he’d gotten the demon’s attention.
“Just what went down there last night?” Dee asked, rubbing a hand over the back of her neck.
“Erin’s got a stalker. Some asshole who has been trailing her for months.”
“The guy tracked her to a new town?” Zane whistled. “Persistent, I’ll give him that.”
“Psychotic,” Jude fired back. “I’ll give him that. ” He tossed the file he’d been compiling onto the conference table. “Crime scene photos from last night. The guy broke in, wrote a message on her wall—in blood.”
Dee rifled through the folder and picked out the image of the words MISSED YOU. “Animal blood?”
Her fingers tightened around the photo. “This asshole a vampire?”
Dee’s one weakness—she let the vamp cases get to her, every time. One day, that could come back to bite her in the ass.
“No, a shifter.” He rubbed his thumb across the scar on his lip. After a moment, he dropped his hand and said, “Least that’s what Erin thinks.”
“She’s seen him?” Zane jumped on that.
Now Jude hesitated. “The lady says no, but…” But he didn’t believe her.
And he didn’t trust her, either.
You don’t know me.
Could be there was a lot more to this game than he realized. “Let’s go carefully on this one, okay?” These two knew the score, and they understood what he was saying and what he wasn’t.
“Where do you want to start?” Dee asked.
“With Erin.” Because everything was about her. “We need to dig into her past—”
“And tear her life apart.” From Zane. Never one for tact.
But he was right. “Yeah. Yeah, we do, but only her past life.” The lady had worked hard for a new start, and he didn’t want her secrets spread. “Don’t talk with anyone she works with yet. Let’s just find out everything we can about Erin before she came to Baton Rouge.”
He’d find out exactly what she’d meant by that.
And he’d stop the asshole on her trail, too.
“Bail is set for the defendant at two hundred thousand dollars.”
“Your Honor!” Erin jumped to her feet. Two hundred grand? That was spare change to Lorenzo Coleman. Why not just give the guy a ticket out of town? “The defendant is a flight risk!”
“He’s a pillar of the community,” Lee Givens, the snake of a defense attorney fired, on his feet now, too. “Despite the ADA’s attempt to slander my client, there is barely any evidence—”
“Enough for an indictment, ” she snapped. When it came to drugs in Baton Rouge, good old Lorenzo was a definite leader. The guy had been running his operation for years, but the vice cops had finally gotten lucky and busted his ass when there had been a shit load of cocaine stocked in the back of his office.
And the judge wanted to let him out with a two hundred grand bail?
First Burrows, now this guy. Were the judges insane? She’d had one judge almost this bad back in Lillian. Judge Lance Harper. The guy had been a nightmare for her in the courtroom. Every time she’d been forced to appear before him, her stomach had knotted with dread because she knew the guy would do something crazy.
“An indictment, yeah, but not enough for a conviction!” Lee’s face flushed. “My client will walk on this, he will—”
The gavel slammed down. “Enough!” Judge Julia Went pointed the gavel at the defendant. “Surrender your passport, Mr.
Better than nothing, but…“Your Honor—”
“Bail is set at two hundred thousand.” Another hit of that gavel. “We’re done here, Ms. Jerome.”
Erin gave a hard nod and tried to ignore the throbbing in her temples. She’d been in court for most of the morning, and with all the hell that had happened last night, she hadn’t gotten much sleep.
Dead on her feet—yeah, that old term fit right then.
She grabbed her briefcase and shoved her files and notes inside. She’d snag lunch from one of the vendors outside, then call Jude and see what he’d found out about the blood at her house.
With one hand, she pushed open the courtroom doors. A quick nod to the guard outside and then—
“Why are you chewing my ass, Jerome?”
She looked heavenward, but didn’t find inspiration. Just a cracked ceiling.
“You don’t need to push this case so hard. Lorenzo is a good man, established in the community, with a family, a wife, two sons—”
Erin marched past him.
She stabbed the elevator button and spared him a glance. “He’s a drug dealer.”
Givens smiled. An oily, used car salesman kind of smile. “Just because drugs were found on the premises doesn’t mean he’s a dealer…or that those drugs were even his.” His southern drawl was smooth as honey. He swept back his light brown hair and gazed at her with his falsely sincere blue eyes. “He’s a victim, he’s—”
She snorted. “I don’t have time to listen to this bull right now.” Another case waited, and she still had to check in for a report on the Burrows killing.
The elevator doors slid open. A rush of people pushed by her, then Erin hurried inside.
The doors began to close. Bye, Givens.
He flung out his hand and had the doors easing back. “You’re new in town, Erin. Don’t go making too many enemies, too quickly.”
Her brows lifted. “That a threat?” Her voice dripped ice. Lee Givens was an attractive guy, with one of those clean-cut faces that juries loved.
She had the feeling that inside, he could be a real snake.
She’d always hated snakes. Back home in Lillian, she’d cut the head off more than her fair share with a handy shovel.
“No.” His hand didn’t move. “Just some friendly advice.” He smiled at her.
Used car salesman.
No, she’d met some really nice used car salesmen in her time.
Another woman stepped into the elevator. She glanced at Givens. “Going down?”
He shook his head and finally removed his hand. “See you soon, ADA.”
Unfortunately, he would.
Rage filled him as he watched the men and women in suits drift by.
He’d seen the way the lawyer looked at Erin. Greedy eyes. Knowing smile.
Defending that piece of crap drug dealer. Standing all high and mighty in the courtroom like he was doing something special by being in front of the judge.
Like he was something special.
Then the guy had followed Erin. Whispered to her.
He’d caught a glimpse of Erin’s face. Seen the barely restrained anger. He knew his Erin well. She’d wanted to go after the dumb dick, claws out and teeth snapping, but she’d held back.
Because she knows I’m here and I’ll take care of things for her.
He loved to make his Erin happy.
Loved to see her smile…and the hint of her deceptively delicate fangs.
A yellow line of police tape barred her door, but Antonio had called Erin right before she left the office and said the place had the all clear.
Erin stared at the tape. She wanted nothing more than to go inside, kick off her shoes and fall into bed.
Little problem, though. Going inside meant she’d have to see the blood.
Cleanup was not really part of the cops’ usual routine.
So she’d be the scrubber who got to remove the dry blood from her wall.
And she’d have to stay in the house, knowing he’d been there. Maybe another night in the hotel wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
“Gonna stand out here all night, sweetheart?”
Jude’s voice. That deep voice packed a powerful sensual punch, one that had her yearning for things best forgotten right then.
“I was strongly considering it,” she murmured, not glancing back at him. Her track record with the opposite sex wasn’t so great.
Gravel crunched beneath his shoes. She’d known he was there, of course. She’d caught his scent on the wind.
He brushed by her and vaulted to her porch. His fingers curled around the tape and ripped it down with one tug. “No sense staying out here in the dark.”
She’d always rather liked the dark. “Where’s your truck?” She hadn’t seen it on the street.
His lips hitched into a half-smile, stretching that scar. Shouldn’t have been sexy. Really shouldn’t. “Somewhere it can’t be seen.”
Her brows rose at that.
“You and I are gonna be roomies until this situation is resolved.”
Erin could only stare at him while crickets chirped around her and lightning bugs flashed in the distance.
A muscle flexed along his jaw. “I’ll keep my hands to myself, okay? But I’m not leaving you alone, not at night. You’re safe enough during the day. You usually have cops around you then, but at night—no, not ’til this freak is caught.”
Hmm. She walked forward, taking the steps much slower than he had. The yellow tape dangled from his fingertips.
“Nighttime protection. Is this part of the package I get for that big-ass fee I paid Night Watch?” Drained her savings, but she couldn’t think of a better way to spend the last of her blood money. She’d sent the check to the agency this morning. Right to the big boss, Pak.
A shrug. “We aim to please.”
She stopped before him. The guy was big. Since she was tall and loved to wear her high heels, she didn’t have to look up at many men.