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The autopsy report identified the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head, but it had not been ruled a homicide. Jack's body had been found under the remains of a collapsed wall, covered in debris, any of which could have resulted in his injury.

The fire marshal knew her, however, and was a little more forthcoming with his off-the-record speculation. Their investigation had found faulty electrical circuits at the location, but he had also hinted that due to the severity of the burn and the amount of water they had used to extinguish it, any potential evidence of arson would have been destroyed. Also, Jack had been found inside a locked room with no key, and there were indications that his body had been dragged, but nothing conclusive.

That was when the nightmares had started—Jack calling to her from the other side of a large wooden door. Try as she might, she couldn't pry it open. His shouts soon turned frantic. Then the smoke would start, quickly growing thicker, stinging her eyes and shortening her breaths, but she kept digging at the small space between door and frame, slivers sliding into her fingers like pins into a pincushion. When his voice cut off, she'd wake in a cold sweat, panting and in tears. It would take hours to calm down enough to fall back asleep.

Fatigue was taking its toll. Already withdrawn, moody, and still in mourning, adding exhausted to the list had her co-workers keeping their distance.

She'd spent most of December going to work during her regular shift while investigating Jack's death on her own time. The detectives working on the case provided little help. Not that they weren't doing their jobs. There just weren't any new leads to work with.

Other than Spinelli's file, of course.

She kept that little tidbit to herself.

It was filled with photographs taken during deliveries, mostly of loading docks and warehouses, complete with addresses, times, and dates. It all centered around one week-the week of Jack's death. It seemed a rather detailed report to be keeping on such routine dealings . . . well, routine for them anyway considering the business they were in. Nevertheless, she hadn't wasted any valuable time trying to figure out the inner workings of Spinelli's brain cells.

The pictures were grainy yet clear enough for her to recognize Jack's form-further verification of Spinelli's accusations. Disappointment had oozed over her, sucking her spirit down like mud after a rainstorm, but she'd kept it all to herself, remembering his warnings.

She had been staking out the addresses listed in the file, hoping to run into one of the others from the photos, none of whom she had recognized. So far she'd come up empty. Gus Chilvati wasn't stupid. It was unlikely he would use the same locations twice.

It was Christmas Eve and she was standing outside Spinelli's building, having taken a detour on her way to pick up Janine. Her investigation was stalling and she was desperate to kick-start it with fresh information-something she hoped his files would provide. What she was about to do was illegal, but since most of their activities were illegal, what the hell. "When in Rome . . ." she muttered.

Her eyes scanned the eight-story office complex bearing the name CHILVATI GROUP LTD. This was how the family thrived. Hiding behind a large labyrinth of businesses, they were experts at using corporate structures and government bureaucracies to their advantage. Every time she drove by the place, it felt like a giant fuck-you.

A small restaurant took up part of the first floor. A sign on the front window said it was closing at five o'clock for the holiday. Perfect timing. The side door caught her eye. It was one of those nondescript types that swung shut and locked, only accessible street-side with a key.

The Dangerous Ones [✔️] (#1 in the Chilvati Series)Where stories live. Discover now