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Dangerous Justice

Written by Terri Reed

Someone is after Capitol K-9 Unit tech guru Fiona Fargo, and they'll stop at nothing to keep her from decoding the secrets of Washington, D.C.'s elite. She knows Officer Christopher Torrance and his canine partner Dutch will keep her safe, but he's the last colleague she wants dogging her heels. Spending time with him might reveal her secret crush on him. But with killers determined to silence her forever, she'll have to put aside her fears and accept his help. Chris has secrets of his own, and a failed engagement makes him leery of moving forward with any woman, even the beautiful Fiona. As they hunt for the killer, they'll find that love can break any barrier.

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Chapter One

Someone was following her.

The fine hairs at the nape of Fiona Fargo's neck prickled. She glanced over her shoulder. No one was there. She pushed her green-framed glasses up on her nose, unable to shake the sensation of being watched.

Tugging her coat tighter against the frigid night air, she picked up her pace down the darkened sidewalk toward her apartment building located in Foggy Bottom, a Washington, D.C., neighborhood. She'd chosen the location because it was a short walk to the Capitol K-9 Unit's headquarters where she worked as tech support for the elite team of officers and their canine partners.

Normally, she had no problem with the ten-minute jaunt. But on this February night, with snow swirling in the air and pockets of ice making the sidewalk slick, she wished she'd taken Chris up on his offer of a ride home.

But she'd said no to the handsome man because she didn't want to be a bother. She was an independent woman and wanted everyone at the Capitol K-9 Unit to see her as such.

Especially Christopher Torrance, the officer who starred too often in her daydreams.

The front entrance of her building was shrouded in darkness. The entryway light must have burnt out. She would let the building superintendent know right away. With quick steps, she vaulted up the stairs to the building's main door.

Glass crunched beneath her feet.

The light hadn't burned out, it had been smashed.

Fear churned in her stomach and made her hands tremble as she dug into the hobo bag slung over her shoulder in search of her keys. Her fingers curled around the cold metal canister of pepper spray attached to her key fob, giving her a measure of comfort.

The scuff of a shoe on the stair behind her sent her heart rate skyrocketing. She wasn't alone.

Lord, please help me!

Before she could turn, a large hand clamped over her mouth while a strong arm wrapped around her middle and lifted her off her feet.

Panic revved through her blood. Her self-defense training kicked in. She slammed the heels of her boots into the assailant's shins while yanking the key fob out of the bag. She squeezed her eyes tightly closed, lifted the canister of pepper spray and directed a stream over her shoulder at her attacker. He yelped with rage, but didn't release her. The tainted air burned her nose and throat.

Blinking back tears from the stinging pepper spray she used her keys as a weapon to scratch at the arm around her waist but to no avail. She clenched her teeth, once again squeezed her eyes tight then flung her head backward, ramming the back of her head into the nose of her assailant. And knocking her glasses askew.

Pain exploded through her skull. The mugger roared a loud expletive and let go. She landed on her feet. With her head reeling from the blow she'd delivered and from the effects of the pepper spray, she continued her defensive tactics by jamming her elbow back into her assailant, sending him stumbling down the steps.

She didn't wait to see if he would flee or come after her. She unlocked the door, ran inside and pushed the door closed with a satisfying click. Her attacker, obscured by the darkness, banged on the pane of glass in the door.

Digging out her phone with one hand, she fled up the staircase, chased by the sound of glass shattering. She prayed she made it inside her apartment before her attacker caught her. And that she could dial 911 fast enough.

# # #

Officer Christopher Torrance tapped his fingers on the steering wheel of his Capitol K-9 Unit vehicle waiting for the light to change. He and his canine partner, Dutch, a strong and agile German Shepherd were on their way home from their latest assignment—public order enforcement at the White House during a State Dinner in honor of a visiting foreign dignitary.

Tonight had gone exactly how Chris liked, uneventful and boring. Now all he wanted to do was veg-out on the couch with Dutch beside him and a bucket of fried chicken to munch on while watching the Washington Wizards basketball game.

The radio on his dashboard crackled to life. "Unit 9. Captain McCord needs you." The unit's dispatcher's voice held a note of urgency that set Chris's senses on high alert. "A home invasion." The dispatcher rattled off an address. "The victim is Fiona Fargo."

Surprise punched him in the gut. Fiona, the Unit's computer whiz. "Roger. Unit 9 responding."

He flipped on the siren, maneuvered through the traffic and raced to assist his captain.

An image of the red-haired sprite danced through his mind. Eclectic, eccentric and engaging. Fiona was so much more than just tech support. There were times when Chris and his coworkers joked she was the glue holding them all together. Or at least keeping them all alive. She was their eyes and ears in the field. And the woman who could uncover any information they needed, no matter how important or trivial.

He brought his vehicle to a screeching halt next to his captain's empty SUV. Chris jumped out and released Dutch. Together they hustled up the walkway toward the brick building's front entrance. D.C. Police officers were on scene. Plastic yellow evidence markers dotted a trail from the concrete steps leading across the lawn to the street.

Chris nodded a greeting to the officer standing post near the stairs.

"Captain McCord and Glory are already tracking the perp." The officer gestured toward the steps. "Broken glass."

Needing to protect his partner's paws, Chris patted his flak vest covered chest. "Hop."

Without hesitation, the dog leapt into his arms. Chris carried the hundred plus pound dog inside. Pausing on the first floor landing, he set Dutch on his feet. The unit's dispatcher said the fourth floor, apartment five.

"Geh Voraus." He used the German term for go ahead. Together they pounded up the next three flights of stairs.

When they reached the fourth floor, Chris halted.

Blocking the open door of Fiona's apartment was a smashed-in, long white floral box with crushed red rose petals spilling out like drops of blood.

Dread twisted in his gut. Had the intruder gained access by pretending to deliver flowers? Was Fiona hurt?

"Voran," Chris instructed Dutch with a gesture at the offending box.

The dog approached the box, sniffed, then stepped over it, sniffed again then sat, his signal all was clear.

Chris hurried forward, stepped over the box and entered the apartment. The bright colored furniture and decorations barely registered as his gaze zeroed on Fiona. She sat on a round, cotton candy pink ottoman massaging her temples.

Chris moved to squat in front of Fiona. "Are you okay?"

Her bloodshot gaze behind a pair of bright green glasses snapped to his, and she gripped his hand. "Did they find him?"

The fear in her emerald eyes tore at him. He resisted the urge to tuck a stray strand of red behind her ear. "Captain's out looking, but you're safe now."

She took a shuddering breath. "Thank you for coming."

"Tell me what happened."

In a shaking voice, she told him of the attack.

"You didn't get a look at his face?"

"It was too dark. But he was big and wore gloves. I did scratch his arm, though, with my key."

"Good. That will provide DNA." Chris glanced to the door. "Where did the flowers come from?"

She wrinkled her nose. "Those aren't important."

"Did your attacker bring them?"

"No, they were already there." She looked away and bit on her lush lower lip.

Tearing his gaze from the momentary distraction, he said, "Fiona, what are you not telling me?"

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About the author

At an early age I discovered the wonderful world of fiction and declar...

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Terri Reed

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