Jensen Bell had twelve happy years before her mother disappeared and her whole world went to pieces. Since then, she's become a cop—one who takes great pride in her work, and in helping keep others safe. The saving grace in her own life has been Dean West, the only man who can make her burn with desire and help her through her burdens. But when a shocking discovery turns her life upside-down, even being wrapped in Dean's arms might not be enough to keep her out of harm's way in Break for Me by Shiloh Walker.
About the Author
Shiloh Walker is an award-winning writer…yes, really! She’s also a mom, a wife, a reader, and she pretends to be an amateur photographer. Her Secrets and Shadows series includes Burn for Me, Break for Me, and Long for Me.
Read an Excerpt
Break for Me
By Shiloh Walker
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Shiloh Walker
All rights reserved.
Sexy, arrogant son of a bitch.
Running her tongue across her teeth, she watched as Dean West entered the room. Of course, Dean just didn't simply enter a room. He had a way of strolling in, lazy movements and lazy looks, a lazy smile like he was just in to stop and chat.
The first time she'd met him, that lazy demeanor, that slow, lazy voice, and those slow, lazy smiles had caught her off guard. He'd taken over for the previous DA and nobody had been exactly prepared for him. Brent Cummings, a pricey defense attorney who had been brought in after Maria Bingham's third DUI had landed her snotty ass in jail, had looked right through him, even after Dean had settled into the seat across from him and Maria.
That little meeting had ended with Maria all but sobbing against Brent's shoulder and her parents bellowing about a misuse of power.
Maria was into her second year in jail. Her parents still cussed Dean out any time his name was brought up. Personally, Jensen didn't know why they were pissed off at him — Indiana's laws were a minimum of one year in jail after the third DUI. She was lucky she wasn't doing the full ten. The judge could have ordered that, especially after she'd plowed her parents' pricey Benz into a playground. If it had been any earlier in the day ...?
Dean's gaze cut her way and she had to fight not to clench her jaw. Normally, she didn't mind seeing him around here. Well, that wasn't entirely honest. She minded. Quite a bit. He made her itchy, in all sorts of ways, but on a professional level, Dean did a kick-ass job.
But today? Yeah. She wasn't thrilled.
Lou Pruitt, scum of a special sort, was sitting in a cage and he'd claimed he wanted to make a deal, could give up all sorts of names. But he'd only give up those names if he could speak with the attorney who could make him a deal.
That had been hours ago.
Now Dean was back. Dean, with his slick suits, his beautiful smile, and that too-canny brain. Today the suit he wore was black, all black and the suit flowed against a body that was practically imprinted on her brain. Not for the reasons she'd like — the man kept showing up on the same path where she liked to run, dreads tied at the nape of his neck, sweat gleaming along smooth, brown skin. Every damn time she saw him, it was enough to jerk her normally passive libido out of hibernation and make her want to jump him.
Right now, though, if her instincts served her right, she wasn't going to like what was getting ready to happen.
He came to a stop in front of them and nodded.
No smiles today, huh? Frustration chewed at her as his sober eyes met hers.
"I'm here to speak with Mr. Pruitt," he said.
* * *
You already know.
Dean's mother hadn't raised an idiot and he wisely kept those words behind his teeth. He had a feeling Jensen was already fantasizing about relieving him of a few of those teeth — not that she would. She was a straight cop, clean as they came and while she might fantasize about punching him, she'd vent her fury on the punching bag they kept in the break room/locker room.
She might pin his picture to it, though.
Just then, he didn't blame her.
This entire thing left him ready to chew nails.
But he was going to concentrate on the end goal.
That was what had to matter.
And no matter what Lou thought, he wasn't getting out of here with just a smack on the wrist.
Jensen was too good at her job and she'd wrapped him up tight, all but signed, sealed, and delivered.
It would have been a pleasure to put that son of a bitch through a trial, though.
Dean had to focus on the bigger picture, which really sucked, and not the immediate pleasure of walking in there, telling Pruitt to kiss his ass, and then walking away.
In the end, this saved the taxpayers the cost of the trial, Lou would do time, maybe get his act together and they could all focus on some of the bigger problems.
Lou was like a greasy hot dog grabbed from a gas station.
Dean had his mind set on a ten-course meal. Thanks to the information he'd already conned out of the man, he knew just where to start looking.
But first, that fucking deal.
As he went over the right way to answer the woman in front of him, Chief Sorenson came out of his office.
Fuck me, Dean thought sourly.
"I need to speak with Pruitt." He managed to drum up a professional smile, although smiling and small talk were two things he didn't feel like engaging in. Drug cases pissed him the hell off. They were the main reason he'd left Lexington. He had to deal with them here to some extent, but not quite like this and he needed to level out.
But he couldn't go pissing off the cops, either.
They were ready to hand him his ass, though.
It seemed the entire police force of Madison, Indiana was watching him as they led him through the station.
Jensen, her eyes were all but boring into him.
Somehow, he didn't think this was going to increase his chances of getting her to go out with him.
But those odds hadn't ever been all that good.
* * *
Arms crossed over her chest, she listened as Dean laid it down for the man sitting across the table from him.
If she clenched her jaw any harder, she was going to break the enamel off her teeth.
She'd consider it worth it, because it was either clench her teeth, or slam her fist into the window in front of her and if she did that, her boss, Chief Sorenson, a man she admired a lot, would see the evidence of her slow-burning fuse.
She was going to explode, and she didn't want it to be here.
"Understand me now," Dean said, his voice slow and lazy, sexy as a hot summer night. "You're giving up your right to a trial. We're giving you a good deal here, but you go to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. This is it."
"Why the fuck do I gotta go to jail?" Lou demanded. He'd already asked it twice.
Dean explained it again, his eyes steady, patient, his voice just as easy, like he could do this all day.
As he finished, he held out his hands. "I did what I could, man. This is what we got. It's this, or you go to trial, and let me tell you, I don't think you want that. You do that, and you could be looking at a much longer stretch. You got that assault charge from a few months ago, another one from two years back. A history of violence complicates things now that we're looking at drug charges on top of it. You were making meth. Crystal meth. The state's cracking down on that."
"Shit. I beat the fuck out of a man who touched my wife."
Jensen rubbed her ear. "Beat the fuck out of him with a tire iron."
Sorenson hummed under his breath and continued to watch Dean.
"Be that as it may, you were convicted. Did a short stretch then, were lucky to get out when you did. Now here we are."
"Here we are," Lou muttered, his gaze bouncing around the room, one knee jiggling madly under the table. For all his nervous fidgeting, the man was focused, and he was pissed. Abruptly, he leaned forward, glaring at the documents the DA had put in front of him. "Fuck. Fine. But you better get them sons of bitches who landed me here. Got it?"
They would be thorough. Dean was just that, thorough, one of the best DAs the little county had ever seen. Sometimes she wondered why he worked this little town instead of someplace bigger. She'd heard he left Lexington to come here, but she didn't quite understand why. Someplace like Louisville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati — they'd probably love to have a man with a brain like his.
But he was here, getting ready to put a man guilty of manufacturing crystal meth behind bars.
The problem was Lou wasn't going away for very long.
He'd been making that shit when he had a kid in the house, just fifty feet away from the old pole barn where his lab was, while his pregnant wife was blissfully unaware as she hung up clothes in their backyard every day of the week.
He was getting one hell of a deal of a lifetime.
Because Dean had his eye on bigger fish.
"He's going to do time," Sorenson said, his voice soft. "Pruitt might yet get his act together. His wife ..."
Jensen closed her eyes.
"Steffie is leaving him. She was loading up the car and her son this morning. Moving back to Marengo with her folks, and if I know anything about Steffie's dad, Lou isn't going to try and mess with her unless she's willing to take him back. It's going to force him to take a good hard look at things. He wasn't a bad kid. He might change."
"I don't give a damn about him," she said, turning her back on the interview. "I care about the wife, the kid he endangered every day at that lab."
"And the lab is shut down. In the end, we have to be satisfied with that. Plus, he's turning on several other boys here. We're getting the bigger fish, Bell."
Maybe that helped ease the burn in her gut. But not by much.
Not much at all.
* * *
Nobody wore attitude quite the way Jensen Bell did.
Some women wore their jewelry, their makeup, all of it as armor.
Jensen didn't bother with any of that. She wore attitude.
Dean suspected she had reason. One of only two female cops in the small town of Madison, she put up with her share of shit. He'd seen it.
Being in the minority was something he could appreciate. He was far from the only black man in the little southern Indiana town, but he was the only black DA on the payroll. The only black cop in town was fifty-two, and just then, as Dean moved through the station, Luther Gardiner shot him a look and then shook his head, like he wasn't too inclined to waste any words with him today.
They usually bullshitted for a good ten minutes.
Too fucking bad.
He wasn't going to waste his time on a small-time thug like Pruitt when he could bring down the bigger guns.
But while he could easily brush off Luther's dismissal, and every other damn cop in the department, it wasn't so easy when Jensen glanced at him, then through him as she continued to speak with the chief.
He debated on just heading on out. Wasn't like he didn't have more work than he knew what to do with, and as he continued toward them, Jensen's shoulders tensed, while her spine went ramrod straight.
That attitude of hers shouldn't be so appealing.
He understood the need for the attitude — he'd learned young to cover his, though. Cover the attitude, cover the teeth, all until he had reason otherwise. Jensen had either never learned to hide that attitude, or she just didn't see the point and as he came to a stop next to her, she all but snarled at him.
He didn't even have a chance to figure out what to say — a problem with her, because looking into her eyes had a habit of leaving him temporarily dumbstruck. It only lasted a second or two — his mother had a habit of teasing him that she'd know he was serious about a woman when he found the one that made him shut his mouth for more than two seconds, and that woman, apparently, was Jensen.
But those two seconds were two seconds too long because a man he thoroughly disliked decided to make his presence known.
"You know, if it was me," Detective Jeb Sims said, edging his way into the knot of people, one hand gripping a cup of coffee while the other rested on the butt of his weapon. He constantly seemed to be touching it. "I would have gone for the bigger problem anyway, Bell. Pruitt is a pimple on society's ass, but you shoulda known he wasn't going to do much time. It wasn't a big bust or anything. Don't go getting your panties in a twist."
Dean tensed, something ugly building in his throat.
Jensen's eyes went tight around the corners, something so minute, gone in a blink. She turned her head, the sleek fall of her hair shielding her face from him as she looked at Sims.
"Well, you see, that's the difference between you and me, I guess, Jeb," she drawled, her voice cool and lazy, like she didn't give a damn about anything Sims had to say. "You see, I was focusing on the man, the meth lab, the laws ... and the safety of his family. I'm a cop, you see. To serve and protect. The size of the bust wasn't the issue. The safety of that kid and his mama were my number one concern." She shrugged and looked away. "And don't get too concerned about my panties, either. I'll take care of them."
"I just think —"
"I think you need to not worry about Bell's cases," Sorenson said, his voice mild. The look in his eyes was anything but. "Don't you have some of your own to deal with anyway, detective?"
Jeb's face went a slow, ugly shade of red, but he pasted a wide smile on his face. "That, I do. Sir."
He ignored Dean completely.
After Sims moved out of the area, Dean tried to catch her eye but she looked directly at the chief. "I'm done for the day. You have a nice night."
"You did good work today," Sorenson said.
She nodded at him, tried to avoid looking at Dean.
You are not just going to completely ignore me. He moved to intercept her.
Her mouth flattened out.
"If you've got a minute, detective?" he asked.
"Actually, I'm afraid I don't have many of them. I need to wrap things up for the day. I'm meeting my family in a bit." She edged around him, moving to her desk with fast, easy strides.
He doubted he was the only one who noticed the looks the two of them got — not that anybody made any effort to hide them. Nosy fools. Ignoring the cops loitering in the area, he waited by her desk as she collected some files, moved them into her bag.
"It won't take but a minute. I'll just walk you to your car."
Something flashed in her eyes, but she gave him a tight smile and strode past him.
He matched her quick strides easily. She moved damned fast, he'd give her that. Five foot two, he'd bet, and she moved like the entire world was an obstacle course she had to conquer and she only had a finite amount of time to do it. They hit the doors and he paused to see which way she'd go.
They were outside in the brilliant light of the summer sun in a moment and he fell into step beside her as she headed down the street.
"You made a clean arrest."
A withering look came across her face.
"I'm well aware of that, Mr. West. But thanks for the seal of approval. It means the world to me."
Ouch. She had a bite to her. Another thing he found all too appealing about her.
There was very little about her he didn't find appealing. That just served to make moments like this harder. Sometimes it felt like they were playing on opposite teams.
He reached up, slid his own glasses on. The heavy weight of his dreadlocks hung in a neat tail at his nape, and already sweat was collecting there. It had been a murderously hot summer, punctuated with frequent, ugly thunderstorms and all he wanted was to see some sign of fall.
And maybe, have her look at him with something other than antipathy.
"You realize he has information that we need," he said as she rounded the corner.
"I do realize that." She reached the edge of the small parking lot where the city cops kept their cars. One hand moved to her hip and behind the shield of his lenses, he found himself eyeing that soft swell, wondering how hard she'd hit him if he reached out, caught her other hip in his hand, drew her to him. "Just as I realize we do want to get those other sons of bitches in jail."
"Then why are you looking at me like something you just found on the bottom of your shoe?" he asked, taking one step closer.
With a serene smile, she replied, "Am I doing that?"
Nonplussed, he waited.
Fuck, why was he wasting his time here?
She'd made it pretty damn clear —
Abruptly, she sighed and turned away. "Dean, look. It's nothing personal. You did the same thing any other DA would have done, I guess. Hell, Hal Murray couldn't have gotten that much information out of him if he tried for a month straight."
Hal Murray, the DA he'd been brought in to replace, had dropped dead of a heart attack a few years earlier. Supposedly, he'd been busily engaged in some strenuous activity with a pretty young girlfriend — very pretty, very young — in her early twenties — at her apartment in Louisville. He'd been putting her through college. She'd been putting him through his paces. It hadn't worked out well for either of them when he collapsed on top of her.
"Hal would have tried, you know. For all his ... other faults, he was a good lawyer and he tried his best," Jensen said sourly, shaking her head. "But Pruitt would have wheedled and whined and Hal wouldn't have been able to push him half as hard as you did. I figure in the end, this would have gone to court and maybe he would have been found guilty, maybe not. I just ..." The strap of her bag slid down her arm and she let it, the weight of it sending it in a rapid descent down her arm.
Excerpted from Break for Me by Shiloh Walker. Copyright © 2014 Shiloh Walker. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In Break for Me we meet Jensen, one of the three Bell siblings. They have a very tragic past, their mother disappeared 15 years ago, and the mystery of her disappearance is still unsolved and an open wound for all of them. Jensen Bell is the Middle of the three Bell Siblings. She is a Detective in the City of Madison, where she grew up. The tragedy of her past has never left her and she is still looking for her mother. She keeps her emotions under wrap, but there is one person that makes her feel again. Dean West is the D.A and has his own tragic past. He has been attracted to Jensen since he took the D. A. position, but her keep-away-vibes have kept him at a distance. When he finally decides to make his move, sparks fly and not always in a good way. Another hit for Shiloh!! Break for Me is the second of three Novella’s about the Bell Family and part of Shiloh Walkers Secrets & Shadows Series. It picks up where Burn for Me left off. It may be short but it has everything you look for in a book. There is romance, mystery, suspense, and sex. I felt exactly what was happening as a read it. It has been a while since I have felt that intense of a connection with Characters in a book. I instantly fell in love with Dean. The chemistry between him and Jensen is off the charts, when they finally give in to it that is. They have both suffered a great loss that has changed their lives and made them the people they are today. Jensen is still looking for answers to her mother’s disappearance and Dean is still hurting from his past. When they find out more about what happened all those years ago, Dean is right there with her. I am looking forward to the third novella on the Bell Family and hopefully, a conclusion to the mystery of Nicole Bells disappearance.
From the moment I picked up my first Shiloh Walker book, Burn for Me, I added this author to my favourites list. I was hooked on this mystery and these characters storys revolving around the disappearance of the Bell siblings mother 15 years ago. Break For Me continues where Burn for Me left off, delving further into the disappearance of Nichole while following the developing relationship between Jensen and Dean. This novella flowed effortlessly from the first instalment, the character and plot development strong, the emotional connection easy to make and the romance passionate and intense. The chemistry between Dean and Jensen was obvious, a mutual attraction that has been simmering for a while, a slow building sexual tension that they could no longer deny. I really enjoyed the relationship between Dean and Jenson and I thought they were perfect for each other, each beautifully complementing the other. Both Jensen and Dean have their own traumatic history to deal with, both with deep emotional scars, both searching for a way to move forward and I loved the way they supported each other with this. I felt a certain maturity in their relationship that only their life experiences had taught them, further cementing why I loved this couple. Alongside Dean and Jensens' relationship, the mystery surrounding her mothers disappearance is still developing. A shocking discovery is made and the new evidence that comes to light threatens other relationships. I liked the gritty edginess of this story and look forward to seeing the mystery unfold and the repercussions that follow. Shiloh Walker has developed a great storyline in this series and I can't wait to start Chrissie and Guys' story.
The members of the Bell family are heartbroken over the loss of the mother 15 years ago and are each stubborn in their own way. Sometimes they fail to see what's right in front of them. Dean West, DA, and Jensen Bell, police detective, have massive chemistry and have been dancing around each other for quite some time. They both have tragic pasts. When old tragedies surface with the Bell family, Jensen needs a strong shoulder to lean on. Will she let Dean be that person she turns to or will he be so wrapped up in his past that he fails to be there for her? Again, I wish it were longer but for being a novella, it's a very complete story. The mystery is beginning to break and the truth is starting to surface. Received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
I loved the story and I loved the characters, but I had a problem with the switch in POVs. I know that more and more authors are writing dual POVs. I like this writing style less and less. Sometimes, it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I would have liked if we got 1 or 2 chapters of Dean’s POV instead of getting both Dean and Jenson’s. I do not always want to know what the other character is thinking throughout the book. I know this is personal preference and it is only my opinion. The author did a great job introducing me to Jenson and Dean and having me connect to them. This couple have known each other for a while and kind of had the “game” of “not sure if you like me, but I like you” and vice-versa, but I loved how they came together. There was romance and mystery in this book. Some revolutions come out about Jenson’s mother who disappeared 15 years ago. The author again did a great job putting everything together in 80 pages. A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
3.5 Stars ~Reviewed by FRANCESCA & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog This second installment prequel into the town of Madison and another step closer to finding out what happened to the Bell family. This story is about the sister, Jensen. She’s a badass cop and has been damaged and affected just like Tate was about their mother’s disappearance. Now on the anniversary, Jensen’s emotions run high and her attraction for the new sexy DA can’t be denied any longer. I always love a strong heroine but in this case, even though Jensen is tough and kick ass, she shows a very vulnerable side of her personality. Dean West has been waiting for over a year to make his move. His intentions towards Jensen are clear. He doesn’t want just one night, he wants to be with her and give their attraction a chance to flourish into a relationship. Maybe his timing was just right this time. He’s just the rock she needs to get through finding out what happened to her mother. I think the author did a great job of bringing these two characters together. We get enough back story to know that this is not insta-love or even insta-lust. They’ve been tiptoeing around each other for a long time. That always helps me dive in easier with a short story like this. And when they finally came together…it was undeniable and explosive! Although I enjoyed Dean and Jensen, their connection and their chemistry, I think this story was a bit too short for me to form an attachment to the characters. It was more interesting to see the unfolding of the bigger picture in the story, for me. This felt more like a slice of life type story, even so, a very enjoyable one at that. However, the writing is as always flawless and engaging and I can’t wait to see the final chapter in the Bell family saga, as well as diving deeper into Madison. *ARC provided by publisher
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 3 3/4 REVIEW: The second novella in Shiloh Walker’s new Secrets & Shadow’s series picks up where we left off in Burn for Me. With the Bell family still looking for answers about their mother’s disappearance. But are they going to be ready for the answers if/when they get them? Since this was a novella I can’t give you much. Other than I enjoyed Jensen & Dean’s story. I did find the story line a tad-bit fast it was still a good story. I am very much looking forward to the next novella in this series. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley & St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
My rating: 5 of 5 ¿¿ Fifteen years ago, when detective Jensen Bell was only twelve years old, her mother disappeared without a trace. What followed were years of agonizing turmoil, limbo and loss, with nothing to show for it but a career in law enforcement, and a tendency to keep a tight reign on her emotions. The only person who seems to shake her up, is D.A. Dean West, who has the ability to get under her skin in more than one way. Since meeting the small but fiery detective Bell a year ago, Dean West has been waiting for an opportunity to approach her on a personal level, but so far he has barely been able to hang on to his gonads whenever dealing with her. Ironically, her abbrasive demeanor doesn't quite hide the glimpses of desire he can see reflected back to him. When a recent rainfall reveals a possibility of a lead, many years of tightly held control finally break loose and the only one who can seem to hold Jensen together is Dean. **** Short but incredibly potent!!! I strongly suggest reading Shiloh Walker's BURN FOR ME first. It is the story of Jensen's brother Tate and will help with some of the background and continuity of this installment, even though technically this is a story in its own right. There are few as adept at describing a passion hot and bubbling right under the surface, quite as eloquently as Ms. Walker. Similarly the closely held feelings of pain and anger, so near to explosion. She never needs to use the actual words to paint the emotional turbulence, but manages to paint an indelible picture nonetheless, simply using her solid knowledge of her characters, through mannerisms, scarse words and mere hints of demeanor to get her point across. Not often would I give a five star rating to a short story as this, but despite the limited word count, there is nothing missing from this book. Everything I need is right here, in a minimum of words, yet every word as meaningful as the next. ¿Beautiful, insightful and intelligent writing!!¿ **Copy provided in return for an honest review.**