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TANGLED UP IN BLUE
A New Series from the Award Winning Author of One Night with a Stranger.
It’s a Dunn deal.
Private investigator Selena Dunn always gets her man. Deadbeat dads, that is. Until she’s arrested by a handsome police detective who refuses to listen to reason. But when she discovers a dead body while working a case, she needs Detective Tall, Dark and Handsome’s help.
Protect and serve.
When Dallas P.D. detective Trey Donovan arrests a feisty, gun-toting woman with a stack of bills stashed in her camisole, he senses this is no ordinary drug bust. He manages to maintain his professional composure but he can’t get her out of his mind. On his next case, when he finds Selena standing over a dead body, they agree to work together to catch a killer.
Trey is by the book; Selena prefers to color outside the lines. But the chemistry between them sparks creative detective work. And ignites simmering passions. Despite their intentions to keep the relationship professional, a rainy night stakeout leaves them ‘tangled up in blue.’ And when Selena’s out-of-the-box ideas put her in danger, Trey realizes this is a woman he will never put out of his mind. And that’s a ‘Dunn deal.’
Tangled up in Blue is the first book in the Rainy Day Women series, featuring women empowering women--and the men who love them. In a converted warehouse near downtown Dallas a group of strong, professional women come together to volunteer their services to the women of an under-served community. They name their facility the Rainy Day Women's Center. Each book is a stand-alone romance about competent, independent women and the equally competent, independent men they can't ignore--or live without.
“Drop the gun, Lady.”
Selena Dunn stared into the barrel of Benny ‘the Bear’s’ Glock, her heart tripping wildly. But her hands remained steady on the grip of her Sig, aimed at the dirt bag’s tattooed chest.
“You first.” She edged around Benny Ramos to the table his portly figure partially concealed. A sizeable packet of white powder lay next to several neat stacks of banded bills. “Looks like business is good.”
She grabbed one bank strap of hundreds and shoved the cash inside her camisole. Sweat stained her forehead and tickled the paper wedged between her breasts. “I’ll make you a deal, Mr. Ramos. Pay up on time in the future and I won’t mention your stash to the cops.”
Ramos’s gaze steeled against hers, then darted over her head. He coughed out a hoarse laugh. “What the hell kind of deal is that?”
“It’s a Dunn deal.”
Heart hammering, adrenaline pumping, Selena backed out of the abandoned warehouse. And slammed into a solid wall of chest.
“Dallas P.D. Drop your weapons.”
* * *
Recovering his breath, Detective Alton Richard Donovan III, aka Trey, backed away from the firm butt nestled into his pelvis. When the woman bent to place the Sig on the concrete floor, her jeans hugged her well-shaped ass as if they’d been sprayed on.
He kicked her weapon out of reach. Trey’s partner, Evan O’Malley, cuffed the douche bag standing beside what was probably uncut cocaine and recovered the perp’s Glock. This should be a slam dunk for the guys in Narcotics. Benny Ramos was a low-level drug dealer, but they’d been hunting his operation for some time in hopes of getting to the next level in the organization.
“Hands on your head, fingers laced,” Trey directed his prisoner, holstering his weapon. He wasn’t sure if she was buying or selling, or just plain stealing, but they’d sort that out soon enough. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will--”
“Excuse me, Officer, but you’re making a serious mistake.”
“I’m a private investigator. I’m here on a case.” Hands spread at shoulder level, the woman turned slowly to face him. Earnest brown eyes stared into his, defiant and vulnerable at the same time. Her penetrating gaze roved over his chest to the badge at his belt, then swept steadily downward over his six-foot frame. Then met his eyes again. “Nice suit, Detective.”
“Thanks.” Trey returned the favor of inspection. A Texas Rangers baseball cap secured the woman’s dark brown ponytail, rounding the angles of her tan face. She wore a black leather jacket, the aforementioned tight jeans, and calf-high boots. But his gaze lingered and locked on the fistful of hundred dollar bills stuffed into the bra of her tank top. “Nice camisole.”
Her lips curled into a sneer that showed even white teeth.
“Put the money on the table.” Trey drilled his eyes on her face. ”Slow and easy.”
Unmoving, she returned his gaze with an innocent stare.
It was a little late to pretend she didn’t speak English. “Dinero al mesa,” he growled.
Again, she ignored him.
Placing his hands on her shoulders, he spun her around, then clamped handcuffs around her slim wrists.
“I’m a P.I.,” the woman repeated as he finished Mirandizing her. She turned again to face him, her dark eyes blazing. “My license is in my inside jacket pocket.”
“Private investigator my ass.” The drug dealer spat three feet across the dusty warehouse. “Who the hell asked you to investigate me?”
“Maria?” Benny Ramos’s expression softened for a moment, then hardened into contempt. “What’s that bitch want?”
“The eighteen months of child support you owe her.”
Child support? Trey eyed the bills still snuggled between his prisoner’s petite breasts. Possibly her purpose here had nothing to do with drugs. But he wouldn’t know until he brought her in for questioning.
And secured the evidence.
Slipping on his gloves, Trey drew in his breath. Easy does it. Like visualizing a golf shot before the putt, he mentally planned the extraction of the evidence before reaching out. Then slowly, deftly plucked the cash from its softly rounded cup.
O’Malley, aka Fireball, lifted a bushy red eyebrow and smirked.
Trey flipped through the strap of hundreds in his hand. Ten thousand dollars. At roughly six hundred a month... Glancing at the stacks of money she’d left on the table, he started to believe this woman was telling the truth.
Still, he’d caught her in possession of stolen property. “We’ll straighten this out at the station, Ms.--”
“Dunn. Selena Dunn.”
“Yeah, and that’s a Dunn deal for you in jail,” the dealer sneered.
Doors slammed outside as a pair of squad cars arrived, and behind them, a couple of Narc guys jumped out of a tan Toyota Corolla. “The cavalry is here,” O’Malley said.
“Hey, Cash.” Trey held out the roll of bills to the lean, black Narc detective he’d known since they were rookies. “Ms. Dunn here retrieved this from Mr. Ramos at gunpoint.” He cocked his head toward the drug dealer and his stash.
His friend grinned, his eyes lighting up as if he’d drawn a straight flush at poker. “Thanks, Donovan. We’ll take it from here.”
Trey escorted Selena Dunn to one of the squad cars while O’Malley hauled his prisoner to the other.
“Maria’s a damned liar,” the drug dealer yelled as the uniformed officer pushed his head down and nudged him into the vehicle. “We only split up a year ago. And that ain’t even my kid.”
“Biology is not an issue, Mr. Ramos,” the sassy P.I. responded. “The fact is, you were married to Maria at the time Nicky was born. Legally, he’s your son.”
Trey squelched his smile.
After they’d handed off the suspects and returned to their vehicle, Trey high-fived his partner. “Cash and his department are going to love bringing in this one.”
“We should get the collar.” Evan ran his fingers through his fire red hair. “We deserve something for our trouble. If you’d let Patrol take that call, we’d be finishing our lunch now.”
Trey started the engine and flipped the air conditioner to the highest level. “It was right around the corner from the café. How could we not take it?” He grinned at his friend. “You didn’t need that second slice of pie anyway.”
O’Malley straightened his shoulders and made a show of sucking in his twenty-extra-pound gut. “I’ve been working out.” A mock frown. “But hell, even on the job I wind up with the hairy loser and you get the pretty girl.”
Trey chuckled, unable to deny he’d gotten the better deal. If he’d met Selena Dunn at a bar instead of at a crime scene...
“Ya think she’s really a P.I.? What if that stolen money actually was for the dirt bag’s child support like she claimed?” Evan had a good heart, always bleeding for the underdog. Especially where kids were involved.
“What if it wasn’t? The woman had ten thousand dollars stuffed in her boobs. You expect me to say ‘Have a nice day’ and let her walk?” Trey maneuvered the vehicle across the bridge spanning the Trinity River toward their downtown station house. “She’ll have her day in court. The justice system works.”
“Easy for you to say.”
Trey was used to the guys in the squad giving him a hard time about his ‘privileged’ upbringing. But the justice system applied to everyone equally. Or it should.
“We’ll follow up at the station,” he assured his partner. When they got back to the precinct, he’d have Fireball question her. Trey wouldn’t allow the bust to go soft because his dick had gone hard.
But thirty seconds after entering the interrogation room, his partner returned. “She lawyered up,” O’Malley said. “We’ll have to wait for the public defender.”
Trey shrugged, having expected nothing less. “I checked out her weapon,” he reported. “It’s legit.” He pointed to his computer screen. “Nine millimeter sig registered to a Selena Dunn. And she has a license to carry.”
O’Malley sat at his desk opposite Trey’s and typed at his keyboard. “She is a registered P.I.”
“I’ll check out her website.” Trey found the page for Selena Dunn, Private Investigator. His gaze lingered for a moment on her profile photo. Brown, intelligent eyes. Windblown hair fluttered around her face as if this were an action shot, caught while she was chasing a perp. Those full, pouty lips looked like they were made to be kissed.
A little zing went through him, not unlike the moment when she’d whirled around to face him. Stop it.
“What do you think Ramos meant when he said she was a Dunn deal for the jailhouse?”
Trey forced his eyes away from the photo to read the hype she’d printed about herself. The tag line under her name read, It’s a Dunn Deal. And below her picture: How long has it been since your ex paid child support? We specialize in finding deadbeat dads. “Right here,” he said.
Evan wheeled his chair over. “I guess she is what she says she is.” He shot Trey a triumphant look, as if his faith in man—or in this case, woman—had been validated. “Should we spring her?”
“Not yet. There’s still the money issue.” Even if the woman had told them the truth and her motives were pure and noble, she had no legal right to take a man’s money at gunpoint.
A scumbag drug dealer’s money.
The sound of high heeled shoes click-clacked behind him. “Hello. I’m looking for--” When he turned, the beige-suited woman gasped in surprise. “Trey?”
“Kate Steele.” He stood and kissed the tall brunette on the cheek. He and Kate had grown up streets apart in Highland Park and attended the same private schools, even graduating SMU together. “It’s been a while. How’ve you been?”
“Good. Business is booming. You guys keep bringing me clients.”
“And you keep getting them sprung.”
Evan mimed drinking a cup of coffee and headed to the break room.
“You don’t miss the corporate law gig?” Trey asked.
“Not at all.” Kate leaned against the wall, almost disappearing against a background the same color as her suit. “Do you?”
“Hell no. It took only one year of law school to convince me how much I’d hate a life of sitting behind a desk protecting rich people’s money.”
Trey loved being a cop. The awesome responsibility of protecting those powerless to protect themselves. The intrigue of solving the puzzle leading to a righteous bust. Being part of the brotherhood of blue, a family who looked out for its own. Every day was an opportunity to score for the good guys and he loved everything about being a police detective.
He eyed the unfinished arrest report. Except paperwork.
“I’m here for one of yours,” Kate said. She looked down at her notebook. “Selena Dunn?”
“You got here quick.” Trey handed her a copy of the arrest record and grabbed his suit jacket off the back of his chair. “I’ll take you over.”
Kate scanned his report as they walked. “Seriously?” she chided. “You arrested a P.I. on the job? You guys must be desperate for collars.”
“We also picked up a drug dealer and twenty kilos of cocaine. Your client had just relieved him of some of his profits.”
“Maybe she took just what would fit into a B cup.”
Kate rolled her eyes. “Always the ladies’ man. You and Candace still a thing?”
“Nah, that’s been over for a while.” He stopped in front of the interrogation room and pushed the door open. “What about you? Seeing anyone serious?”
“No, not in a long time. Work takes too much of my time. Not that I don’t love it. Daddy keeps trying to entice me to come back to the firm but...” She smiled up at him. “You know.”
Copy that. Trey’s father, Alton Richard Donovan Jr., had decided when Trey emerged from the womb that his destiny was to become an attorney and join his father and grandfather in the family business. “We should grab a drink and catch up,” he said, holding the door open while Kate stepped inside.
Selena Dunn sat with her elbows propped on the metal table, the cup of coffee he’d offered her untouched. She’d removed her black leather jacket, and the lime green camisole now unadorned by state’s evidence showed off the cleavage he so clearly remembered not touching. “Is this my attorney?” She looked at Kate and then glared pointedly at Trey. “Because if you two need to get a room--”
“I am your attorney.” Kate shook Selena Dunn’s hand. “Kate Steele.” Affixing her professional face, she turned to Trey. “Detective Donovan, have you informed my client of her rights?”
Kate looked from him to Selena and back again at him. “I’d like a moment to confer with my client alone.”
“Of course.” Feeling like an unwanted load of testosterone, Trey backed out of the room.