Chapter One

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Screw her suspension.

No one—not even the FBI—was going to take another case from her.

NYPD Homicide Detective—former detective—Veranika Russo followed the river of red streaks in the marble tile, nearly blinded by the flashes from the cameras documenting every shred of evidence within the bank's vault. She passed the technicians one by one, their dark jackets mere blurs. All she had to do was keep her head down and her mouth shut.

Brown arcs and splatters—dried blood—stained the cream-colored walls like some sick Rorschach Test. She forced her gaze to connect with one of the rookie officers headed in the other direction for a clue as to what she was about to walk into. Dispatch had reported two bodies over her scanner—nothing else—but the disgust written on the poor officer's face said it all. They'd caught a bad one. But would it be enough to lift her suspension when she solved the case?

The air changed as she neared the vault and Nika nearly gagged. Sulfur. That indicated age on these deaths. Maybe two or three days, but the coroner could tell her for sure. Her shoulder blades drew toward one another. Three days? Too long for the bank not to notice two of their employees hadn't shown up for work.

Nika unburied her cell from her jacket pocket. No answer from Rachel. Then again, her sister wasn't exactly known for keeping in touch. Especially after what'd happened between them last year.

"Detective Russo," a deep, sexy, baritone voice said over her shoulder. "Didn't expect to see you here."

The hairs on the back of her neck stood. Recognition tensed every muscle running along her spinal column and she froze. Damn it. Why did he have to be here? She closed her eyes. No point in pretending he hadn't seen her. He might be FBI, but he wasn't as dumb as his job made him out to be. Spinning toward him, she forced a smile. "Agent Wyatt, I didn't realize missing persons had an interest in this case."

"Call me Grayson. And one of the victims is a regular of ours." In the chaos of camera flashes and blood, Special Agent Grayson Wyatt of the FBI actually smiled at her. Sculpted brown hair defining an already sharp jawline only accentuated the electricity surging beneath her skin as she studied him. "But I don't remember Lieutenant Turner calling you in for this case."

Her heart rate picked up the longer she stared into those suspicious green eyes. Swallowing the dryness in her throat, she swiped her tongue across her bottom lip. Keep it together. The second he learned she'd been suspended he'd have her escorted from the scene. Like the good FBI agent he was supposed to be. Nika exhaled hard as her lower abdominals clenched. "He didn't have to. I was already in the area."

Grayson's lips thinned into a straight line and accentuated the lines around those mesmerizing eyes. The playfulness she'd tried ignoring the few times they'd gone out for drinks after a successful case last year set into his features. "Your secret is safe with me. Although, you might want to avoid your partner taking a statement from the bank owner to your left."

Tingling spread from behind her sternum. He knew about her suspension. How? And why would he help her cover it up?

"Reynolds is here?" Nika scoured the scene as a distraction. He might be attractive as hell, but if the FBI was involved in this case, they intended to take over and she'd lose any chance of getting her badge reinstated. Not happening. "Just what I need."

"Care to take a look before your lieutenant walks in the front door?" He motioned her toward the group on onlookers surrounding the scene. His navy FBI jacket and dark pants stood out against his tan skin and a single crevice between his eyebrows shifted as he'd studied the scene. Even through his windbreaker, she'd noted muscled arms she most likely couldn't get her hands around. Two Beretta M9s strapped into his black shoulder holster peeked from under his jacket. No sign of a partner, though. Odd. He usually traveled within a pack. Not exactly standard to take on a case alone. Heat swept through her the longer he stared at her and she swallowed hard. She wouldn't credit it to him. She didn't even really know him. Hell, she hadn't even seen him in almost a year.

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