What happens when a landscaper finds herself tangled up in a drug ring and the only man who can save her believes she’s guilty as sin?
Please enjoy this new excerpt from Love’s Bounty the second in the Tilling Passions series available from Liquid Silver Books.
“So, Miss Tilling, tell us again what happened.”
“Do I need a lawyer?”
“You’re welcome to call one, if you’d like.”
“But I didn’t do anything. The drugs aren’t mine. I don’t know how they got in my truck. I was just headed back to Delmont to dump the refuse. I’m a landscaper, and I have a job here in Cutler. I’ve told you all that.”
Ayden paced the little room, watching Deirdre through the window. He had all he could do not to storm into the interrogation room and pull her into his arms. Over the past half hour, she seemed to be shrinking into herself. She’d told the same story a half dozen times, never once wavering about her innocence.
Did he believe her? Or was his opinion colored by their evening together? He scrubbed his hands over his face. This is why you never got involved with women when you were on a case.
“I demand to see her,” a man’s voice bellowed.
The commotion in the hallway happened only seconds before the door of the interrogation room flew open. Shawn Jameson shook off the officer trying unsuccessfully to detain him.
“Mr. Jameson … what are you doing here?” The chief stood up so fast he toppled the chair. It fell with a thunderous clatter.
“This woman is an employee of mine.” He put his arm around Deirdre’s shoulder.
“Shawn, I…” She looked up at him as if her savior had just arrived riding a white horse.
“Don’t say another word, Deirdre. My lawyer is on his way.”
“An employee? We weren’t aware. I don’t think the lawyer is necessary, Mr. Jameson.” The chief sputtered out the words. “We haven’t charged her with anything yet.”
“And yet you continue to interrogate an innocent woman?”
What the fuck? Ayden sat down hard in the closest chair, feeling like he’d just been kicked in the gut.
* * * *
Ayden leaned over the steering wheel of the Saab in the back lot of the precinct. Dark had descended hours ago, and night hadn’t been far behind. He’d been trapped in the little room for an hour, watching the chief fawn over Jameson. But that had been only half the show.
Jameson’s blustery lawyer showed up, shouting and pontificating, and the Cutler police’s big arrest had turned into a circus act, with Deirdre sitting center ring. In the end, they’d charged her with only a misdemeanor possession, no intent to traffic, no court date or jail time. A simple fine that could be paid through the mail.
Who was he kidding? She had pulled the wool over his eyes and led him around by his dick. All fluttery lashes and innocent smiles. “Innocent, my ass.” Ayden slammed back into the seat, banging his head against the leather. “Jameson came to your rescue and offered to post bail a little too quickly for my taste, Deirdre, m’dear. Methinks you’re more than his landscaper.”
He started the engine and backed out of the lot.
“And to top it off, I’m beginning to wonder if the chief’s on his payroll as well. Obviously someone tipped Jameson off about the arrest.” He looked in the rearview mirror. No headlights behind him. He would take a circuitous route back to the 7-Eleven just to be sure.
For the last forty-five minutes, Ayden had been grilling the chief about the citizens of Cutler. He hadn’t let on that Jameson was the suspected drug trafficker the DEA was after, but he’d steered the conversation in his direction several times. The chief assured him he knew Jameson only as a legitimate real estate mogul. It was his business to know the townspeople of Cutler. And Jameson was just that, a citizen who had purchased the rundown estate up on the hill.
Ayden wasn’t sure he believed the story. Not after the way Lafflin had tripped all over himself to make Jameson happy and cut Deirdre loose. It bothered him more than he wanted to acknowledge, when Deirdre walked out of the interrogation room huddled against Jameson. He had no idea where the woman was now.
“Probably cozied up with Jameson at the estate.” Ayden was such a fool.
He floored the pedal of the Saab, racing through the darkness, trying to outrun the prickly unease that had settled itself on the back of his neck.
The night had turned cold, and the thin sports jacket did nothing to keep the chill from penetrating straight to Ayden’s bones as he ran through the house lots back to his condo. The timer had tripped the lights as usual, and Ayden hoped whoever was watching him believed he’d been tucked in since late this afternoon when he’d parked the Jag out front. Slipping through the glass slider, he headed straight for the fridge and a cold brew. He flipped a couple CDs in the stereo just as the knock came at the front door.