Fiona Gallagher hails from a long line of Chicago lawmen, and has fulfilled her heritage as a prosecutor, driven to put away the slime of the streets. But now she's going head-to-head with the police force, on the trail of a cop gone bad…
Detective Ray Doggett is hell-bent on preventing Fiona from getting in too deep. The determined prosecutor has gotten too close to exposing the truth about the crime ring…and about him. Forcibly attracted to Fiona, he'd been sent undercover to investigate corruption—not fall in love. That is far too dangerous…for both of them.
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By Amanda Stevens
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt wasn't a noise that awakened Fiona Gallagher, but a scent. A sultry, provocative fragrance that carried a subtle note of sandalwood.
She tried to rouse herself to investigate, but the dream kept pulling her back under.
"You always smell so good."
He tangled his hands in her hair. "How good?"
She looked up with a smile and then showed him.
Heart pounding, Fiona bolted upright in bed, her frantic gaze searching the far recesses of the room. It was dark, but enough light filtered in from the street that she could make out all the corners, all the nooks and crannies.
Nothing stirred, not so much as a ghost. She was alone, safe and sound in her second-floor apartment protected from intruders by a series of locks and dead bolts her brother, Tony, had helped her install when she'd first moved in six years ago. No one could get in. She was fine.
Except ... she wasn't fine. She'd been dreaming about David again, dreaming she was still in love with him. That only happened these days when she was under a lot of stress.
The DeMarco case had brought back the nightmares, she thought wearily. As a prosecutor for the Cook County State's Attorney's office, Fiona had come face-to-face with evil before, more times than she cared toremember.
But there was something about Vince DeMarco's eyes ... the way he looked at her ... that sly smile ...
There was something about him that reminded her of David.
Falling back against the pillows, she wiped a hand across her brow. Seven years since that night and David Mackenzie still had a hold on her, one so powerful that sometimes, during moments of weakness, she imagined his scent in her apartment. Heard his voice over her telephone. Saw his smile on every defendant.
Even fully awake now, she could still smell his cologne, but she knew it wasn't real. It couldn't be real. She and her therapist had hashed out her hallucinations a long time ago. "The scent is symbolic, Fiona. Not of David, but of your guilt."
Her guilt smelled like sandalwood. Good to know.
Realizing she would never fall back asleep now, Fiona got up and went into the bathroom to splash cold water on her face. Pressing the towel against her skin, she studied her reflection in the mirror. Outwardly she looked the same as she always had, but deep inside, where all her dark secrets lay hidden, she'd undergone a drastic metamorphosis.
You can't go through what you did and expect to walk away unchanged, Dr. Westfield had warned her.
She couldn't expect to ever have a normal relationship again, either, but then, relationships were overrated in Fiona's opinion. She had her cat, she had her career, she had HBO. What more did a girl need really?
Flipping off the light, she returned to her bedroom long enough to pull on a robe over her pajamas, then she padded on bare feet down the hallway to the living room. Her apartment was small, cramped and drafty, with lots of creaking floorboards and noisy water pipes, but Fiona didn't mind. The quiet, once-elegant neighborhood on the Near North Side of Chicago with its well-kept lawns and shady streets more than made up for the inconveniences.
And it was a long way from Bridgeport, she reminded herself ruefully as she glanced out the window at the fog-shrouded street below her. Maybe not in miles, but in culture and attitude.
Her parents had grown up in the same blue-collar neighborhood on the South Side where they still lived in the same house they'd bought when they first married. They had the same neighbors, the same circle of acquaintances, the same values and expectations. They'd raised four kids in that neighborhood, and two of Fiona's brothers had moved only a few blocks away from the family home.
By contrast, the ambitious, thirtysomething professionals who flocked to the renovated brownstones in Fiona's neighborhood guarded their privacy like rabid rottweilers. She had a nodding acquaintance with only a handful, knew even fewer by name. Like her, most of them came home late - briefcase in one hand, cell phone clutched in the other - to close themselves off from the rest of the world until it was time again to rush off to work the next morning.
There were hardly any families in the neighborhood, no children playing on the stoops. The streets were sometimes almost unnaturally quiet, and if this deepened Fiona's sense of isolation and the occasional bout of loneliness, well, there was also no one there who knew about David. No one to look out their front window when she drove home each night to shake their heads and wonder how such a nice girl like Fiona Gallagher, someone with her brains and education, the daughter of a cop, no less, could have fallen in love with a killer.
In their own way, though, they were still proud of Fiona in the old neighborhood. She was a rising star in the State's Attorney's office, a tough, bare-knuckles prosecutor who fought crime just as ferociously as she battled her inner demons. In the past six years, she'd won every major case, including a high-profile murder trial that had put her on the radar of Chicago politics.
Fiona had been so ruthless in her cross-examination of the defendant, a well-known businessman, that a reporter from one of the local papers had dubbed her the Iron Maiden, the prosecutor who wasn't afraid to take on anyone, including the rich, powerful and politically connected.
"No one is above the law," she'd been quoted in the papers, and if she and her brother, Tony, were the only ones who could fully appreciate the irony of her motto, that was just the way it had to be, Fiona had long ago decided.
Turning from the window, she walked over to the small dining table she used as a desk and surveyed the usual mess: an empty Diet Coke can, a greasy paper plate with a half-eaten slice of pizza, stacks of files, police reports and a yellow legal pad with a blank sheet of paper staring up at her.
She'd been working on the closing argument for the DeMarco case when she'd staggered off to bed just after midnight. Staring at the blank page now, Fiona frowned. She hadn't made much progress earlier, and she knew why. She was nervous about this case. Nervous in a way she hadn't been in years.
It was a rape case, for one thing, and, aside from the fact that she'd worked almost exclusively on homicides for the last four years, rape cases were notoriously unpredictable. In this instance, there wasn't even DNA evidence to corroborate the woman's testimony. Vincent DeMarco had used a condom. He was also a cop, a veteran detective who worked under Frank Quinlan's command.
Quinlan was one of those clout-heavy cops who was virtually untouchable. Fiona had found out just how well connected he was when she'd cooperated with an Internal Affairs investigation into Quinlan's interrogation methods.
A man she'd successfully prosecuted for murder, who was currently serving a life sentence at Stateville, had brought a lawsuit against the police department alleging that Quinlan and some of the detectives under his command, including DeMarco, had forced his confession by using physical and verbal intimidation, i.e. torture.
Fiona had been outraged. She always set out to win in the courtroom, but the last thing she wanted was to send an innocent man to prison or have a legitimate conviction overturned because of sloppy investigative work or police misconduct. It reflected badly on her and on the office of the state's attorney, and she took the allegations personally.
Eventually the lawsuit was dropped, and Quinlan was exonerated by a police review board. But to this day, he carried a fierce grudge against Fiona. He'd refused to cooperate with her in the DeMarco investigation, partly out of loyalty to one of his own cops, but mostly, Fiona suspected, because he wanted to see her fall flat on her face.
A possibility that seemed more likely with each passing day. The case wasn't going well and Fiona knew it.
She stared at the blank page for another moment, then jotted down the first statistic that came to her mind. One out of every three women in this country will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. One out of every three ...
Excerpted from Gallagher Justice by Amanda Stevens Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book. This is my first time read of Amanda Stevens. I will definitely read more of her books. The story keeps moving and holds you in suspence while you try to figure out who the cops "gone bad" are. I though I had it all figured out. Ha, a surprise ending changed all that. If you like a story of "who done it" mixed with romance, this one is for you.