He was close enough to lean into.
Near enough to touch.
She should back away. She should stop staring at the inviting vee of skin where the base of his throat met the sturdy ridge of his collarbone. She should stop wishing she could bury her nose there and have his strong arms wrap her up and keep the terrors of the world at bay.
Maddie lifted her gaze to his. “Why are you here? You said you wanted nothing to do with me or my family.”
Edged with shadows she didn’t understand, those gray-green eyes looked deep into hers. “Some fights a man can’t walk away from. No matter how much he wants to.”
Search and Seizure
Thanks to Kimberly McKane and Scott E. Miller for answering all my DFS questions.
For two bright, talented young people who are near and dear to my heart—Emily and Darin Binger. Thanks for being a part of puzzles and poker, Easter egg hunts and dinosaurs, family reunions and cool movies. The bond you share as brother and sister is an amazing thing to see, and reminds me of the bond I share with my brothers. Work hard, use your brains, listen to your heart and make a difference. The world is waiting for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Miller attributes her passion for writing romance to all those fairy tales she read growing up, and shyness. Encouragement from her family to write down all those feelings she couldn’t express became a love for the written word. She gets continued support from her fellow members of the Prairieland Romance Writers, where she serves as the resident “grammar goddess.” This award-winning author believes the only thing better than a good mystery is a good romance.
Born and raised in Missouri, she now lives in Nebraska with her husband, son and smiling guard dog, Maxie. Write to Julie at P.O. Box 5162, Grand Island, NE 68802-5162.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Dwight Powers—Justice’s staunchest ally. This tough-as-nails prosecutor has a reputation for winning inside the courtroom. The last thing he wants is a woman and child around to remind him of everything he’s lost outside of court.
Maddie McCallister—A child’s truest friend. This full-figured teacher will risk her life to protect the niece and grandnephew placed in her care. But does she dare risk her heart on a man with nothing but law and order flowing through his veins?
Katie Rinaldi—She made a deal with the devil to help a friend. Reneging on the bargain could get her killed.
Joe Rinaldi—Katie’s father. Dwight put him away in prison.
Roberta Hays—The family services case worker only wanted to help.
The Hulkster and Stinky Pete—Who are they working for?
Cooper Bellamy—The Fourth Precinct cop assigned to the case. Not your typical babysitter.
Roddy—Talent scout from New York City.
Tyler—Only a few weeks old, he can bring down an entire criminal network.
Alicia and Braden Powers—Will the memories of one lost family haunt Dwight forever?
“Excuse me, have you seen this girl?”
Madeline McCallister swallowed her fear and approached the tall, dark-skinned woman standing beneath the street lamp. She averted her eyes from the amount of skin revealed by the woman’s tight shorts and sequined halter top and concentrated on the dark eyes framed by sparkly lashes.
The black woman looked right past her, straight through to the cars that were cruising by on Tenth. The slow parade of headlights briefly illuminated the shadowed alleyways and door stoops, exposing the dangerous, sick, sad and soulless creatures of the urban night before driving past and giving them back to the darkness.
No-Man’s-Land was a foreign world to Maddie. But she had no intention of leaving until she had answers to her questions.
Holding up the worn photograph she carried like a shield, Maddie took a deep breath and made herself taller. “Excuse me, could you take a look? Her name is Katie.”
The black woman, who wore a rhinestone pendant in her cleavage that said Cleopatra, blinked once, sparing a glance at the photo. “Move along, sugar. You’re bad for business.”
No doubt. Of all the women Maddie had seen thus far, walking the streets of the neighborhood that the KCPD had dubbed No-Man’s-Land, none of them had been of the plain and sturdy variety. Certainly none of them was wearing anything resembling the loose denim jumper and tailored blouse she had on. And not one of them seemed to be affected by the August heat and humidity the way she was.
Cleopatra turned her back on Maddie and struck a pose with one hand on a very round, very revealing hip. “Sugar, go away. You’re not a cop, you’re not the competition, but you don’t belong here.”
“Neither does my niece.” Maddie darted around the other woman to stop her from walking away. “She ran away from home a couple of weeks ago. She’s pregnant. I need to find her.”
Cleopatra twirled around on her white patent leather boots with an annoyed huff. “Your girl’s pregnant? Find her boyfriend.”
Maddie fell into step beside her. “He hasn’t seen her. He’s already signed away his parental rights. They haven’t been together for months.”
Maddie wouldn’t know. Her experiences with men ran from the extreme nightmare to nonexistent. “I’m sorry to bother you while you’re…working, but I’m asking everyone.”
Cleopatra finally stopped. She glanced at Maddie, glanced at the photo. “I ain’t seen her.”
“Look harder. Please.”
The taller woman waved and winked at a car that slowed down as it passed by. “I’m trying to work here.”
“Sugar, do you know how many kids come walkin’ down this street? Runnin’ away from a beating or trying to find their next fix?”
“Katie’s not like that.”
“Sure. They’re all good kids. They’re just lost in a world that doesn’t want them.” Maybe Cleopatra was speaking from experience.
But that wasn’t Katie’s story. “Please, ma’am—”
“Now, sugar, don’t you go ma’amin’ me—”
“I’m looking for one girl. One child. I have to find her.”
“Ain’t the cops lookin’ for her?”
“Yes. But they’re not having any success. She’s due to give birth this month. I can’t let her go through that