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One Eye Closed
By Karen Whiddon
SilhouetteCopyright © 2005 Karen Whiddon
All right reserved.
Acrash from the reception area made everyone turn. The Wicket Hollow police station was usually closed this time of night. Everyone in town knew that. The overeager reporters who'd been camped out front had finally gone back to the Red Inn Motel. They'd gotten all of the story they were likely to until tomorrow.
Lyssa Reinholt-Lupe shivered. Not from cold, but because the back of her neck tingled a familiar warning.
"I'm sure that door is locked." Officer Kane frowned.
They all heard a sharp crack, then the unmistakable sound of glass shattering.
"What the -- " The two local cops rushed forward, guns drawn. Officer Kane darted a quick look at Lyssa and followed. Four of the FBI agents moved near Lyssa, enclosing her in a protective circle. While they did not draw their weapons, their holsters were readily accessible. The other two, including Special Agent Trask, waited in the back of the room, looking bored.
"Lyssa." A male voice bellowed. Lyssa gasped. She recognized that voice. Always would. Despite her best efforts, the sound of it still haunted her dreams.
Now her impromptu guards armed themselves, weapons aimed at the door.
"Wait. That's...Alex?" Heart pounding, Lyssa started forward, only to be blocked by a frowning FBI agent.
"Do you know that guy?"
Know him? She'd married him two years, eleven months and ten days ago, not that she was counting or anything. Though their impromptu marriage had started out only as a means to protect her from her sister's gang's initiation rites, technically they were still husband and wife. Neither had bothered to take the necessary steps to dissolve it.
"He's my husband." She shoved at the agent with one hand. "Let me through. I can take care of myself."
The man looked skeptical. "Maybe you can. Maybe you can't. Do you know him?"
Still intent on pushing past him, she opened her mouth to speak. But the night's events -- assault, near-death, rescue, interrogation, and now this -- finally took their toll.
The edges of her vision blurred, then grayed. She staggered, then stumbled, before everything went black.
Why'd they put me in jail? Alex glared at the black iron bars and waited for the constable or sheriff or whoever was in charge in this Podunk little town to arrive so he could get his single phone call. They'd taken his cell phone and wallet when they'd locked him in this place.
Worst of all, they hadn't been impressed when he told them who he was. They'd taken his ID, proof positive he was a federal agent -- DEA to be specific -- but still they'd refused to let him see Lyssa. He'd been cooling his heels here for well over an hour, fuming. When these locals finally got around to letting him out, heads were gonna roll.
Instead, four government agents paid him a visit. He recognized one of them, a tall, dour man with close-cropped graying hair.
"Never thought I'd see you here, Lupe." The FBI agent Alex knew as Trask unlocked his cell door. He indicated the other men. "FBI. All of us."
"Why am I here?"
The other man raised a graying brow. "Why the hell did you try to pick a fight with two armed locals? There are more conventional methods of gaining entry than trying to force your way in without answering questions. You broke the door, too."
"They wouldn't let me in." Knowing he sounded surly, Alex produced a smile. "Even when I told them who I was."
"Really?" Trask handed Alex back his ID. "DEA hasn't been called in on this case and, even if they had been, you're on leave."
"I'm not here on DEA business. I'm here to see Lyssa." Alex fought the urge to bare his teeth. "My wife."
"Your what?" The other man's lined face creased even more in puzzlement. "When did you get married?"
"A few years ago, when I was undercover in Hades Claws. Lyssa joined the gang trying to get her sister out. I could tell she didn't belong there. Any unmarried woman was fresh meat to them -- they believed in sharing." He knew his tight-lipped smile looked savage, but didn't care. "Lyssa's sister didn't mind. Lyssa did."
"So you felt sorry for her and married her." Trask shook his head. "You always had a reputation for helping the underdog, but this -- " He laughed. "So are you still married? Or did you divorce her once the case was finished?"
Conscious of the other men's avid interest, Alex clenched his teeth. "None of your business."
"You're not together anymore."
"She left the gang when she realized her sister wouldn't. I had to stay and wrap things up." He glared at Trask. "I need to see my wife."
"She doesn't want to see you." Agent Number Two stepped forward. "She passed out when she heard your voice."
"Passed out? Is she okay?"
"Exhaustion. She'll be fine as long as you stay away."
"Did she say that?"
"Of course not."
Alex continued to stare at Trask.
Trask looked back, expressionless.
Checking his watch, Alex let the other man win. This time. He grimaced. "I'll pay for the door. I need to go. Now."
"Wait a minute." Trask crossed his arms. "Alex, you were undercover for a long time."
"Sometimes men who've been under that long lose track of what's acceptable behavior."
"Look -- " Alex exploded " -- I -- "
"Taking a swing at uniformed locals isn't -- "
"I know." Dragging his hand across his mouth, Alex exhaled. "I made an error in judgment. I'm worried about my wife."
"I'm trying to help you. Sure, we've ruled you out as a suspect -- "
Trask continued as if Alex hadn't interrupted. "But your behavior here indicates to me that you need to talk to someone. Surely the DEA can refer you."
"I already said I'd pay for the damn door."
"What about your wife? Are you gonna stay away from her?"
Excerpted from One Eye Closed by Karen Whiddon Copyright © 2005 by Karen Whiddon. Excerpted by permission.
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