Chapter 1

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Chapter One 

Detective Chase Kelly stared into the nose of a .45 semiautomatic, his mind desperately seeking a way out. “Has anyone ever told you that you have anger issues?”

Had it been a lowlife perp with his finger on the trigger, the situation might have been easier to swallow. But it wasn’t a perp. He forced a calm that he didn’t feel into his voice. “You should see someone about this.”

Zeke Duncan, his partner for the last two months, nudged Chase with the gun. Chase bumped against the steel ledge of the bridge. A good forty feet below, the slow ripples of the lake splashed against the shore. He stared in the direction of the ‘61 Bellaire Chevy parked a half block down the street, which had brought him to death’s door. Hip-hop music blared from the souped-up Chevy’s stereo. Big Bruno, the driver, a known street dealer and all-around bad guy, danced outside it, his feet shuffling to the beat, his head bobbing in and out like a turtle.

Chase motioned toward Bruno, hoping to buy a few more minutes to figure out how to get his ass out of this jam. “Such talent and he’s wasting his life selling drugs. What gives?”

“Where’s the damn book?” Zeke asked, the sun glinting off his receding hairline.

What book? Chase mentally filed that piece of info to consider later. “Now you’re gritting your teeth. That’s another sign of rage syndrome.”

The barrel pressed cold against Chase’s temple. Panic roiled in his stomach, hitting a ten on the Richter scale of serious emotional upheaval. He didn’t have time to analyze it. Nor would he give Zeke the pleasure of seeing his fear.

Zeke’s nostrils flared. “Wanting to die is one thing, but you disappoint me. I thought you’d at least care about your fellow officer Stokes. All it took was one bullet.”

“He ate my last cherry-filled donut last week.” Chase shrugged, appearing cool on the outside, but inside . . . If Stokes was really dead, he had two little boys who, thanks to Zeke, would grow up without a father. “And you know how much I love those donuts.” It took everything Chase had not to go for Zeke’s throat, rip out his vocal cords, and tie them in a bow around his freaking neck. Chase resisted, knowing Zeke wanted him to lose control and make a foolish move so he could find the motivation to pull the trigger.

Chase, on the other hand, needed just a few sane seconds to make sure the move he made wasn’t foolish. He needed a plan that excluded the lake below, a bullet, or another confrontation with dancing Bruno. The big man had given Chase a few solid blows to the ribs while forcing him into the car earlier. What Chase needed was to reach the gun Bruno had overlooked, the one strapped to his ankle.

Zeke sneered. “You know what they’ll say, don’t you? You were just another Houston cop gone bad. Lost your wife and your sense of justice. And I’ll be the guy who took you down after I saw you kill Stokes. Of course, I’ll take it hard.”

“Do you grind your teeth at night, too?” Acid burned Chase’s stomach. “That’s bad for your over-bite.”

“You think you’re funny?” Zeke jammed his gun into Chase’s cheek. “Laugh if you want, but I’ve already set this up. After an anonymous tip, the captain found that missing cocaine under your bed. I was told by IA to bring you in. What a pity that you turned on me and I had to shoot.” Zeke’s mouth pinched and creased white. “I can make this easy or hard. What do you want? I let Stokes go fast. One to the heart was all it took.”

Chase held out his hands, hoping his rage didn’t make them tremble. “Can you give me a second? I just hate making spur-of-the-moment decisions.”

A glint of hundred-proof evil flashed in his partner’s eyes. Time had run out.

Chase knocked Zeke’s hand to the right. The gun fired, the bullet shattering one of the Chevy’s headlights. Bruno’s dance routine ended. “My car!” All three-hundred-plus pounds of the man came barreling at them. Thankfully, Bruno danced better than he barreled. The man ran like a drunk elephant.

Chase slammed Zeke’s wrist into the bridge’s steel rail. Seeing his gun hit the pavement brought a flash of relief, then Chase spotted Bruno digging into his pants. The man had either serious jock itch or his own gun, and Chase would put his bet on the gun.

Without enough time to go for his own weapon, Chase shoved Zeke down and took his only out. Not one that he felt particularly happy about either. He dove off the bridge, and the hot pain of a bullet exploded through his shoulder right before he smacked into the water below.

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