Today's Reading

At the station, as they filed their reports at the end of the shift, Leah was thankful that Tanner was low-key. He simply did his work, no useless chatter. He filed the evidence and the part of the report about finding Carlos in the tub. When they'd left the hospital, Alex was hanging on by a thread while Carlos was stable. Michael and Lavinia were still there, trying to comfort the girl, who was now comatose. Leah appreciated the couple and told them so. People not family were seldom so warm and caring.

Since there was a chance Alex might die, they'd handled the call like an attempted murder. Homicide investigators had been called out, and they did their own investigation at the scene. As a result, Clint and Leah had been on the call for the whole night.

Leah didn't believe Carlos meant to kill himself. Yes, he'd lost a lot of blood, but the cuts were shallow and across the veins, so the bleeding was easy to stop. She believed he did it for sympathy—after all, that's what a coward would do.

As she finished the last bit of the paperwork, she looked up at Tanner across the room. Her tired mind wandered, and she considered what she knew about him. He wasn't one of Brad's friends; therefore he wasn't in her social circle. She'd never heard any criticism of his work, just knew that he had the nickname Saint Tanner because he didn't drink, not even a beer after work. Brad always said you couldn't trust a guy who was a teetotaler. Leah didn't completely agree with that adage and at times thought Brad drank altogether too much. He blamed it on the job. She had the same job and couldn't keep up with him.

Saint Tanner wasn't a bad nickname; some guys had worse. Like Marvin Sapp. His was Pinky because of his complexion—any exertion caused his face to turn bright pink. Leah thought Saint was much better than Pinky.

Tanner was older than she was, but not by much. He had dark-brown hair with a hint of red, but she doubted he'd be called a redhead. His eyes were a pale color, almost green but more hazel, really.

He was handsome, she decided, in an understated way. Strong jaw, classic features, well-built. She did know that he played on the department basketball team. Though she herself had played ball in college, she'd never watched a department game. Brad hated basketball, liked to say the only real sport for men was football.

Tanner wore a neatly trimmed mustache, and right now there was dark stubble on his chin. She noticed that he had a long, light scar running from his right eyebrow down the side of his face toward his ear. She wondered about that.

She didn't know if he was married or not. He wasn't wearing a ring, but that didn't mean anything; Brad never wore one.

Tanner looked up and caught her staring at him. She looked away, knowing that she was blushing and unable to stop it.

"Something wrong?" he asked.

Leah sighed. "I'm tired. It's hard to focus."

He grunted and looked at his watch. "Well, we're EOW an hour ago. Why don't you go home. I'll finish up."

She met his steady gaze. He still looked as if he could work another shift without any effort. Her phone buzzed with a text. It was Brad.

Coming home? I miss you. He added several hearts and flowers. There. He was sorry. He'd never meant what happened earlier.

"Thanks, Clint, I appreciate that. You won't be long?"

"Nah, almost done."

Leah nodded and headed for the locker room. On the way she passed the wall where all the medal of valor recipients had their pictures hanging. Brad's was there. He'd dived in and pulled a drowning woman and her two children out of the Rogue River two winters ago, earning the medal.

He was no coward, Leah told herself. And she was no victim.


CHAPTER TWO

Clint watched Radcliff until she was out of sight. Since he'd been working detectives and special assignments for the last three years and only recently transferred to patrol, this was the first time he'd worked a call with her, but he'd recognized Leah Radcliff from a different venue. He smiled as a memory surfaced. Years ago, long before she became a cop, Leah Radcliff had been an all-American basketball player for Oregon State. Her play on the court had impressed him. He'd been a senior at OSU when, as a sophomore point guard, Leah was named MVP. The school newspaper had dubbed her "Mighty Mite." She was always the shortest, but back then her stats were consistently stellar. He'd often read her described as "quick-thinking and agile." Now she was a solid cop with a great reputation, but he could tell her mind was not on the job tonight.

He chewed on the top of his pen, powered down the laptop, and tried to return his thoughts to the call. But all he could think about was Leah. To him she was strikingly pretty. Black hair and brown, almond-shaped eyes, sturdy build... She moved like an athlete; there was no frilly pretense about her. Her long hair was often pulled away from her face. Surprisingly feminine, even petite-looking in the uniform, vest, and gun belt, Radcliff avoided looking bulky like everyone else did with the accoutrements they had to wear nowadays.
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