Tempting the Law


by Alexa Riley

Prologue

Coen

A little over two years ago…

I stare into the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s the tears that make them seem so bright, almost unnatural, even in the dark of the night. They are unmissable. Maybe it’s the contrast of her dark hair and porcelain skin, but I can’t pull my own eyes away from hers. Fear is clear on the young girl’s face. That’s something she is far too young to have to experience. God knows what she’s been through in the past five hours. One can only pray this was about money and nothing more, but you never know when it comes to thieves.

She looks nothing like the pictures I’d seen of her not hours ago when the search for a missing sixteen-year-old girl was launched. Gone is the effortless, easy smile she had in each picture taken of her. From birthday parties, to cheerleading, to her as a little girl scout. The deep dimples I know she has show no signs of ever coming back. Part of me aches that a piece of her innocence has been lost in all of this.

“I promise I’ll catch you little bit. Just jump,” I yell over the rain that is pounding down all around us, muffling the sound of my voice, muffling the sound of the girl’s cries.

She looks back behind her like she thinks someone is coming for her.

“He’s not coming for you.” Her head snaps back around to me, and I see the relief in her face. No, he isn’t coming back for her, because he’s dead. I’d taken care of that. Three shots to the chest. He was dead before he even hit the ground. Maybe when she learns that he won’t be able to haunt her dreams, she won’t be scared anymore. To know that the man that had taken her on her walk home from school could never grab her again, it was a gift I wanted her to have. An easy one to give.

I wasn’t fucking around when we entered. I wasn’t there to ask questions. I’d only had one thought since the moment I’d seen the picture of young Eden. Kill. Anything that tried to touch her needed to go, and I’d done just that. I didn’t care if it had just been a simple ransom and he’d really planned to give the girl back unharmed. I was taking his life for just thinking he could take her. Just some two-bit criminal who escalated from armed robbery to kidnapping. I’m guessing the gas stations weren’t giving him enough money, and he was smart enough to do a job like this. If he could make a criminal escalation that quickly, God only knew what else he could do. He was better off dead.

“You’ve got to jump,” I tell her again, injecting a little more force into my words. The man wasn’t coming, but the fire was. Eating its way towards her one room at a time, no matter how hard the rain came. A fire the fucker had started when he knew we were closing in. Maybe because he was pissed he’d lost. He figured he wouldn’t be getting his ransom, so maybe he set it to just to destroy evidence. Eden was evidence.

He made sure we couldn’t get up the stairs to her, but that wasn’t going to stop me. One way or another, I was going to get her. I’d rushed back out of the house, hoping to go in from the back. That’s when I saw her little face, her body leaning out the big window.

She nods, her full lips parting just a little and her eyebrows furrowing, but a look of sheer determination crosses her round face. Then she does it. Like she doesn’t give it another thought. She pushes herself through the window and falls into my waiting arms. I catch her easily. Her body wraps around me instantly as I close my arms around her, a barrage of emotions hitting me hard and nearly taking me to my knees.

“Oh my God, you got her!” I her Eden’s mother scream from behind me, and I turn to look in her direction. Eden holds on to me tighter, her fingers digging into me, letting me know she has no intention of letting me go. The possessive feeling I already had for her is bolstered by her fear of letting go.

She’s safe, I repeat to myself over and over in my head. She’s safe.

Her mother runs towards us, Eden’s stepfather in tow. He’s holding an umbrella over himself and his wife to make sure the rain doesn’t get them wet. I would have walked through fire for her. Almost did. But her own parents won’t even risk getting their clothes damp.

“Don’t leave me,” she whispers in my ear. I run my hand along her back, trying to soothe her, or maybe I’m trying to soothe myself. Either way, I feel some of the tension leave both our bodies.

“You have to go to the hospital, little bit.” I would love to keep holding her like this, ensuring nothing like this could ever hurt her again. I could protect her from all the hardness of the world. All the terrible things I know people are capable of because I myself have to see it every day. It’s my job, and I know how horrible people can be. I don’t want anything like that ever touching this young girl again.

She leans back, giving me those big blue eyes. They almost look too big for her face. “You saved me.” Her words are awed, like she can’t believe it.

“I did.”

Her face lights up. Those dimples I was worrying about peek out and make her look even younger and more innocent than she already is. Hell, she is beautiful. Her smile does something to me, soothes the raging feeling I’ve been having since she went missing. It makes me ache to hold her forever.

“I heard once, if you save someone’s life that you’re responsible for that person.” She leans in a little, looking me right in the eyes. Eyes that can see down to my soul, or at least that’s what it feels like. “Does that make me yours?”

Chapter One

Coen

Present day…

I step out of the shower, toweling off and looking myself over in the mirror. As the steam dissipates, I see myself through the haze. The tattoos across my chest and down my arm come into view.

I had it done two years ago, and every day it reminds me of that moment. The moment I saved her. The tattoo starts off as a garden of flowers and leaves on my chest, and then as it goes over my shoulder, it begins to catch fire. The flames roll down my arms, burning the garden in their path. But the flowers stay. Their beauty remains, even in the dark ash, and I’m reminded of the brave girl who said I was responsible for her from that day on.

I’d worked as a detective in the special victims unit, but after my last case I’d had enough. After saving Eden and enduring the inquiry into it afterwards, I was released from the department. They’d deemed that I had acted too soon in killing her kidnapper, but nobody would prosecute me for it. My captain’s hands were tied, and I decided I wasn’t cut out for being a cop anymore. I knew what I did that day was right, no matter what anyone told me. They wanted to move me to another department, but I decided to take early retirement and start my own security firm. I opened Black Guard Security right after I left and haven’t looked back. I knew the day that Eden fell into my arms that I’d made the right decision. I’d saved that girl's life, made sure that man never haunted her dreams, and that was worth everything. I’d made it so she never had to worry about that man coming after her or have to sit in a courtroom and relive that day.

Titanic (1997) | Dermatology | boschrob