Ofif cer Samuel Packard hauled her in, only to see another cop his former partnertake her from the precinct without cause. So he followed. Betraying a friend went against Sam's beliefs, but he suspected that something was going on, and that Rosa just might be innocent. The dangerous predicament he discovered her in only cemented his desire to help. Now, if only he could get his beautiful suspect to cooperate....
|Publisher:||Steeple Hill Books|
|File size:||193 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Flashing lights, on a plain, brown sedan, blinked an unwanted command.
She momentarily closed her eyes, willing the image in the rearview mirror to disappear. When she opened them again, the cop remained. There'd been a time, she remem-bered, when cops drove cop cars, a time when plain, old, everyday vehicles didn't suddenly sprout flashing lights. Taking a deep breath, she glanced at the speedometer and tried to control the urge to flee.
Every time she saw a cop, she wanted to floor it and veer out of sight. Since she usually obeyed the speed limit, the cop always went around her in pursuit of some other offender. But, no, not this time. The speedometer and rearview mirror informed her that this time, this cop was definitely after her.
She hesitated a moment too long. The traffic signal in front of her switched from yellow to red. She hit the brake and only her seat belt kept her from serious injury.
Run the light!
Her fingers gripped the steering wheel. There'd be no time to get to the trailer and grab her suitcase. No time to pick up her cat.
Checking the rearview mirror again, she watched as the patrol car gained on her bumper. Instinctively, she adjusted her hat, trying to cover her face, and watched the cop motion her toward the side of the road. He was that close.
No, no, no.
Her foot, already poised for the escape she so desper-ately desired, brushed the gas pedal.
But there was always the chance the cop would just hand over the speeding ticket and be done with it. She slowly pulled off the street and into a deserted grocery store's parking lot. The front passenger tire bumped over the curb.
Great, just great.
She willed her fingers to cease trembling as she turned off the engine and slipped a bulging manila folder under the passenger seat. She carefully opened the glove com-partment and took out the Arizona driver's license which displayed the likeness of Lucille Damaris Straus complete with a tight smile and short, choppy, black hair.
Please let this be a speeding ticket.
She should never have purchased this car. Statistics showed that red cars were pulled over for speeding more often than cars of any other color. And a Mustang just begged for attention. The car had gotten away from her today.
Why hadn't she been born an economy car kind of girl? Life sure would have been simpler.
She'd spent the last two years being careful, watching the speedometer, stopping longer at red lights than neces-sary and making sure she never forgot to use her turn payments, house payments, child support, whatever, and needed to sell the Mustang cheap. She half purchased the vehicle in order to help the man. She'd half purchased it because she liked the car. But, no matter, truth was she'd messed up, started feeling safe, given in to impulse and a lead foot.
The cop finally stepped out of his vehicle. Great, he wasn't even in uniform. Lucy didn't want to follow his rigid movements in her rearview mirror. What she wanted to do was stomp on the gas and leave him coughing in exhaust fumes. But, if she did that, there would surely be a problem. If she waited, there might be a problem.
He strode toward her, adjusting his sunglasses and walking ramrod straight. No doubt about this man's physique. He looked sort of like the Ken doll she'd had as a child. A second look told her that Ken did not hold a candle to this copthe muscles of his arms about burst out of his sleeves.
Great, and probably he had that Ken doll good-hearted-ness, too. He wouldn't fall prey to tears, apologies or coy looks. This one had already started filling out some sort of ticket and most likely had radioed in her license plate number.
The driver's license stuck to her damp palm as she took a deep breath. Of all places to get arrested, Gila City was on the bottom of her list, and it was a long list.
The cop rapped on her window. "Ma'am, step out of the car, please." The afternoon sun bounced off his mirrored glasses, giving him a peculiar insect sort of look. She wondered if the glasses were protection against the come-hither attitude of females who wanted to avoid speeding tickets. Well, she wasn't one of them. She opened the door but didn't step out. Swallowing before speaking, she tried to sound in control. "Is something the matter, Officer?" "I need to see your license and registration."
"I have them right here."
"I'll take them." His voice was textured steel. "Please step out of the car and take off your glasses."
She complied with the "step out of the car" order but ignored the "take off your glasses" command. Again, she tried to keep her hands from shaking. This cop was after something more than enforcing the It's-Our-Town-Please-Slow-Down request. She stuck her hands behind her back. "Why do I need to step out of the car?"
He opened his mouth to answer, but a thud against the side of her car drew his attention.
Glancing in the direction the bullet had come from, she saw dark-haired men, big dark-haired men, three of them. The Santellises. She hit the ground, knees hard to the pavement, and pressed against the side of her car.
This really wasn't her day.
Glancing at the police officer she noticed that he looked as surprised as she did. So, maybe, he wasn't in cahoots with the Santellises who were taking serious risks shooting at her while a copmaybe an honest copwas issuing a ticket. This made them all the more dangerous. The re-alization sent her heart slamming to her throat.
The next thud landed so close to her knee that tiny flecks of red paint settled like drops of blood against her white pants.
"Lady, move!" He pushed her around the car and down. In his eagerness to remove her from the line of fire, he knocked her hat and sunglasses off. His fingers tangled in her hair.
"Just let me" Her knees hit the pavement as another bullet whizzed over the car. The pressure from his fingers disappeared, and Lucy brushed the hair out of her eyes, slipped her driver's license and registration in her back pocket and murmured a quick prayer while she tried to scoot back toward her vehicle. Maybe she could still get away. Maybe she
This time the bullet hit the back window of her car, sending glass raining down.
Months of confiding in the Lord opened her mouth. Her lips moved, but to her sorrow, she couldn't form the words to pray.
Sam Packard edged to the front of the Mustang, crouched, with gun drawn. "Police! Put your weapons down!" He grabbed the radio from his belt and called a Code One Thousand. The assistance he requested better hurry. Right now, the odds didn't favor him. Three men ducked behind the aged, brown Chevy that sheltered them a short distance away. One of them, idiot of idiots, had a cell phone pressed against his ear, even as he took aim. Sam couldn't make any of them.
But the shooters weren't his only problem. He flinched as a gun's report rendered him momentarily deaf. Only the sight of one of the gunmen stooping, as a bullet ricocheted off the roof of his car, kept Sam from covering his ears.
"What the" Sam looked down the length of the Mustang. The woman his scanner identified as Lucille Straus, the woman who moments ago seemed to be praying, was now pressed against the back bumper and taking aim.
She had a Beretta 21!
Without blinking, lips tight, she pulled the trigger. The passenger's side window of the Chevy shattered. One of the men yelped.
Two steps had him by her side. The lady could handle a gun; she'd been aiming at the man who yelped. No matter, she was a civilian butting into his turf. A civilian who might accidentally shoot him. He wrenched the Beretta from her hand, emptied the chamber onto the ground, set the safety and tossed the weapon through the open passenger window of her car.
"Hey!" Her fingers followed the gun, much as a child chased an errant balloon. The look she shot him was pure venom. With one hand he restrained her from crawling through the passenger window to retrieve the weapon. With his other hand, he kept his gun trained on the Chevy.
Sirens wailed in the distance. Sam pushed the woman behind him. The three men jumped into their car and with tires screeching raced behind the grocery store.
He released her arm. "You stay here!"
Taking the radio from his belt, he sprinted toward his vehicle. Two cruisers pulled into the lot. He motioned toward the back.
Behind him, the engine of the Mustang turned over, revving to life even as the woman put it into gear.
Sam didn't bother to yell stop. She clearly had no in-tention of sticking around to answer questions. Looking at the passenger seat of her vehicle, he realized she'd managed to retrieve her gun. Biting back irritation, Sam hoofed it to his car, hit the siren and burned rubber.
Intuition pointed him in the direction of the female instead of the three men. He trusted it, but that didn't mean he had to like it. Felony flight was just one of the things he would charge her with, unless she had one whopper of a story.
Gripping the steering wheel, he inched closer to her bumper. She made a sharp turn, zigzagged past a small park and entered a residential area. He closed the distance, and a school bus did her in. A load of what had to be grade school children spilled onto the sidewalk and meandered toward the center of the street. The Mustang swung left. Both right side tires went over the curb, and the car stalled. Miss Straus disappeared from sight, and Sam wondered if she'd been hurt. Then, her head popped up. She didn't check the rearview mirror as she exited the car.
His fingers fumbled as he stopped his vehicle, grabbed the keys, clicked the lock and took off after her. Quickly he scanned the area, locating her easily. She crouched between two bushes, stock-still for a moment, one hand patting the ground as if she'd lost a set of keys, then leaped the fence of a small, stucco home.
His peripheral vision took in the kids, parents and bus driver frozen in the background. Then, he took off and followed her over the fence. "Police! Halt!"
A dog trotted by her side, not yapping, not nipping, but seeming to enjoy the sight of a woman charging through its backyard. Lucy Straus. How did he know that name? Now that the ridiculous hat was history, he could see facial features that didn't deserve to be hidden.
She didn't crouch or hesitate before climbing this next fence and landing in yet another yard. Maybe she'd gotten her bearings. Sam scrambled over the fence and lunged. His fingers touched the material of her shirt, but the fabric slipped through. She slowed, looking left, then right. Her eyes were wild, like a caught deer. Her indecision gave him the opportunity he needed. His momentum tumbled her down with him right alongside.
Sam scrambled off the ground and yanked her to her feet, grabbed his handcuffs and secured them around her wrists.
Then, he relieved her of the gun that was once again stuck in an ankle holster. "You have the right to remain silent"
Her foot hammered down on his instep. His grip loosened. She pulled away and managed to assume a position of flight. He had her on the ground in two seconds and finished giving the Miranda to the back of her head. She muttered a response, but since her mouth was jammed into the grass, he didn't catch the words. Had she cursed or begged?
He pulled her to her feet.
Sweat dribbled down the hollow of her neck. Her chest rose and fell with indignation. Finally, she spoke. "I'll pay you a thousand dollars to let me go."
A bribe! She'd offered him a bribe! Sam's eyes darkened. "Lady, it's worth a thousand dollars just to find out what's going on." He pushed her toward the street where his cruiser's lights still flashed. Some of the kids and their parents had disappeared; others hovered at the edge of the sidewalk mesmerized by the chase. Lucy went willingly until they neared her car. Then she bucked. Sam followed her eyes. Four bullet holes formed an erratic L shape in the driver's side door. The woman went to her knees so quickly that Sam lost his hold, but she wasn't running.
"You're safe. Gila City's finest are taking care of the shooters right now."
She clamped her lips together, and Sam knew he'd get no information from her at the moment. He secured her in his backseat, radioed his location and returned to her car. Before stepping in, he glanced back. No movement. Sam liked challenges, and right now, the womanwho smelled like peaches and shot like John Waynepromised to be an entertaining puzzle.
He straightened her car and turned off the ignition.
Then, Sam exited the Mustang and started walking toward his vehicle. He had questions; she had answers. He doubted a liaison would be formed.
He opened the driver's side door and slid in. "Ma'am, do you want to tell me why you took off?"
At first she looked the other way, and then with short, jerky motions she turned to glare at him.
All thoughts of getting the answers to his questions fled.
Watching her chin jut out in defiance, Sam felt a righ-teous anger himself. Because the three men had involved him in the exchange of gunfire, Sam thought he had every right to know why they'd been shooting at her.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
More suspenseful than romantic, Pursuit of Justice will keep you on your toes as you experience the stress of being in danger with Rosa and Sam, who are trying to avoid being killed...all the while pursuing justice. This story has more details, plot points, twists, turns, herrings, and action than most suspense novels. It's not overly violent, but at the same time it's by no means a soft story. Plenty of action fills this novel, and up to the very last page the characters are exposing more lies and murders, and are running from danger! Reading Pursuit of Justice made me feel like I had stepped into the middle of a NYPD Blues episode. Personally, I like more romantic tension in a romantic suspense story, but the suspense piece was interesting enough that it made up for the lack in that area. Plus, the characters were unique, and given the intense pace of the story I think it would've been difficult to develop a believable romantic relationship. I also loved Rosa and Sam's interactions with Rosa's cat, Go Away. The humor was precious, right down to the heaved cat food on the leather seats.
Great Plot - Well written