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Bravo Tango

Written by Julie Miller

Justin Grant, a tactical officer with KCPD's bomb squad, is recruited to go undercover to find those responsible for a series of bomb threats in Kansas City. While trying to form ties with a group of mobster-wannabes, he must rush a suspect to the ER- where Dr. Emilia Rodriguez threatens to blow his cover. 
Emilia Rodriguez is all business...and her business is saving lives. But because of Justin's flirting and an intimate-looking situation, the gang pegs Emilia as Justin's girlfriend, involving the doctor in the dangerous case.

As Justin delves deeper into the gang world to find who’s responsible for the threats, he must also ensure the safety of the woman he has involved...the woman he is falling for.

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Chapter one

Static crackled over the radio clipped to Justin Grant’s Kevlar vest. “Heads up, Grant. Stand down from Bravo Tango alert. Klein’s bomb is a dud. Second-floor lab clear.”

Justin allowed himself a moment to breathe normally as he listened to his TAC team leader, Michael Cutler, relay orders to the three KCPD tactical assistance specialists who’d been sent inside the evacuated building to do a recon sweep after a Bravo Tango- cop-speak for bomb threat- had been called in that morning.

“First floor clear.” That was Murphy reporting in.

Justin removed the protective goggles he wore and wiped the sweat from his brow. This basement was too damn hot for an autumn day when the temperature outside hovered at a balmy fifty degrees. Either this small, independent lab- a new addition to the reclamation of Kansas City’s historical downtown district- was literally cooking up some new kind of miracle drug, or they had a problem with their heating system.

“Grant, do you copy?” 

“Roger that, Captain. “ Justin pulled off his helmet and scraped his gloved fingers across the top of his short hair, uncaring that the golden strands stood up in spiky disarray.

He wanted to take one last look. He wasn’t feeling the calm yet, that preternatural instinct inside him that was a more reliable “all clear” order than any departmental procedure.

“Something’s hinky here.” He set down the helmet and used his flashlight to make another visual scan of the basement. He spotted the thermostat on the far wall and made his way toward it. “Did anybody crank the heat when they came in?”

“That’s a negative,” Cutler replied. “You know we’ve got the gas turned off.”

“Hmm.” The thermostat had been moved to its highest setting, then had the adjusting tab broken off. Justin pried off the cover. The wiring looked normal. But the calm hadn’t kicked in yet. He broke out a section of the drywall and followed the wires around to the furnace. “Doesn’t it seem like the bomb squad’s been busier than usual lately?”

He kneeled down to inspect the gap between the building’s iron boiler and the warped concrete floor beneath. “Somebody with a grudge has got too much time on his hands. First, it’s a threat on the University research lab. Now it’s Markon Pharmaceuticals. They broadcast the threat, KCPD clears the building, time and money are lost—”

Justin’s commander jumped into the discussion. “Two medical tie-ins give us a pattern. A patient got misdiagnosed. The lab didn’t get a drug approved in time. That’s payback, pure and simple. But how do you explain the other threats we’ve had across the city? The convenience stores? The bus terminal?”

“Copycats? Thrill-seekers? These threats are a hot story in the press right now. Maybe our guy’s just been practicing his craft.” Or maybe the recent spate of bomb scares, and influx of illegal explosives and bomb parts into the area, was the equivalent of one sicko’s very dangerous, very adult way of playing with matches.

Or not. Justin’s sharp eyes caught sight of the red plastic-coated wire buried in the bundle leading to the furnace’s control panel. “What have we here?”

Justin swung the light up to the row of pressure gauges. Son of a bitch. “I’ve got an independent heat source feeding the temperature in the basement.” He was on his feet, ripping off the panel and exposing a portable propane tank. This bastard was nothing if not clever. He eyed the gauges. Approaching critical. Hell.

The arrow swung into the red zone. “I’ve got a temperature trigger.”

He saw the relay switch too late. A chain reaction had already been set into motion.

Klein’s voice crackled through the static. “Damn it, this thing’s ticking again! I’m going to attempt—”

“Negative, Klein! Abort! Abort!” Justin shoved open the door and hit the service stairs, climbing them three at a time. “Damn it, Cutler, stop him!”

“Return to base. Repeat. Return to base.”

“Clear the building!” Justin shouted. Murphy dashed out ahead of him. “Klein!”

But it was too late.

Justin knew it in his bones an instant before he heard the detonation, a nanosecond before the concussive blast of air hit him in the back and lifted him off his feet. He knew Klein was dead before he hit the asphalt and was swallowed up by oblivion.

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