THIRTY-SIX

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Virginia was hoping for a peaceful shift. School was back in session, and she had spent most of her free time during the past week running around with Janine, trying to find all the items on her school supplies list. With each passing year, those lists grew longer and longer. How did the people who couldn't afford it manage? Maybe the station should do a school supply drive next year, she pondered as she pulled up.

She was on afternoons for September, and as soon as she walked in, she knew the quiet day she longed for was not meant to be. Her curiosity spiked with the heightened buzz that greeted her at the doorway.

She spotted Walt sitting at his desk next to hers. He had joined their station not long after she had. Compared to his partner, Joe, he was the quieter and less volatile of the duo. It was what made them a great team: Walt's calm thoughtfulness complementing and often having to rein in the more hot-headed Joe. That was not to say that Walt was a softy by any means. He was like a tamed lion, calm and under control but just as dangerous as the wild one if pushed too far.

He was a handsome man with a full head of red hair that had a dark copper tone to it. The joke around the station was that he spent more money on styling products than all his female counterparts—put together. With its striking color and thick abundance, it became a target with some of the other hair-challenged officers. Women certainly loved to touch it, which only helped increase the level of teasing from those with receding hairlines. But Walt took it all in stride, brushing aside their comments without retort.

He'd been good to her while she'd been hospitalized, coming every afternoon to visit. At the time she'd assumed he'd been elected as the station's representative, taking on the duty to keep everyone informed about her progress. She had later learned, however, that Walt had insisted on being the one to go to the hospital every day. That little piece of office gossip had surprised her—in an unsettling way. Yet he'd been nothing but professional since her return. And right now, he was all business.

"What's going on?"

"We're going after Spinelli's nephew." He shuffled through some papers on his desk and handed her a copy of the arrest warrant. "They have security footage of him and a couple of other teens robbing a jewelry store. We're about to head out and pick him up."

Shock prevented her from absorbing the words on the paper as she scanned over it. What the heck is that kid thinking?

Captain Beal exited his office in a rush. With a wave of his arm, he beckoned Walt over. "Virginia, you're coming too," he called.

She ran to catch up to him, Walt falling into step behind her. Four more men joined them, Joe included.

She did the math. "Seven of us?"

"Got word he's at the Chilvati office building. We can't be going in weak," Cap pitched over his shoulder.

Great. A confrontation with Spinelli was not how she'd envisioned starting her workday.

They drove without sirens and parked outside the building. People on the street were gawking as they stepped out of their vehicles. It was a nice area of town, not accustomed to seeing five police cars pull to a stop all lit up like Christmas trees. In her opinion it was a little overkill for a teenager.

Cap had their rookie watch over the cars while the rest of them entered the building and headed for the security guard.

"How can I help you?" the man said dryly, not looking the least bit intimidated by their show of numbers.

"We have a warrant for Simon Spinelli." Cap deposited the papers on the desk in front of him. "We are going up to Mark Spinelli's office."

"All visitors have to fill out these forms." A clipboard was plunked on top of the warrant. No shortcut was coming their way just because they were cops.

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