Series: # 2 in series: Benevolence
Cover Artist: Martine Jardin
Heat Level: 4 flames
Word Length: 91620
Number of Pages: 327
Release Date: July 15, 2011
‘Caught between deception and the truth, some secrets are better left unspoken.’
The smuggling ring has scarcely been shut down, when the body of a dead slave is discovered inside a dumpster outside the Pink Flamingo, another seedy nightclub in District D. The victim is only the first, in what soon becomes a string of bizarre murders. As the investigation progresses, everyone is labelled a potential suspect. The slave community is fearful of what might be lurking in their midst.
Death and disorder comes in spades. Mr. Shiru’s in deep trouble with associates from overseas. Amanda is nearing the end of her third trimester and Algar Flynt is after the Beautiful Dragon once again. Then the murderer makes an attempt on a friend’s life and the clues lead Sloan to a very disturbing conclusion. Could it be one of his own killing the slaves of Avalon or could it be much worse?
“Nice to see you, Sloan.” The guard at the front lobby slid a registry in front of him. “Sign please.”
“Has the dinner break started for the clerks, Barney?” he picked up the pen.
The old codger checked his watch, then stamped the signature box. “Yep. The girls have an hour break.”
“What’s up? Here’s my ID if you need it again.” He flipped open his wallet.
“It’s nothing like that…” The guard ruefully sighed as if there was something he felt guilt over. “The clerk you’re coming to visit, Amanda, she’s pregnant, that’s what I heard anyway, and everyone says the baby has no father.”
“Is there something I should know, Barney?”
“The thing is…Amanda is a sweet girl, and the others have been pretty nasty.”
“You know, they say rude things to her and they’ve scared her.” The guard looked up. “I don’t think it’s right. I think someone should do something.”
“I do. Whoever the father is, he isn’t around and she needs help. You’re her friend, you should say something on her behalf. Protect the girl.”
“I see…” Sloan curled a stick of gum inside his mouth.
The cafeteria was located on the main floor at the back of the Federal Government Building. The dining space took up a good three thousand square feet and serviced two hundred seats. All the tables stood separated in clumps and surrounded by the fake shrubbery. There was a self-service bar and cash register at the front next to the entrance. Sloan wandered into the queue and scanned the place first before opting to get a tray and lunch. He spotted Amanda sitting alone in the centre of the cafeteria. Then he noted a group of younger cops fifteen feet away from her. The men were boisterous. Beside the men were the APF clerks, Amanda’s direct co-workers, who were talking and smoking. Sloan moved further ahead in the line-up and placed a cup of coffee on the tray along with an egg salad sandwich, wrapped in wax paper.
Amanda jumped when the hunter’s tray rattled the table. He stood in full view of her co-workers. She sniffled and hastily wiped both eyes. “You made it.” She nervously glanced at him.
“Yeah, and how are you doing, doll?”
“Oh fine—real good actually. The morning sickness has finally stopped. And you?”
Her smile was pitiful and about as full of BS as any smile could be.
Sloan sighed and placing a hand on either of her shoulders, he leaned down and kissed the side of her face. “I’ll be right back.”
Fighting to squeeze her plump belly out of the chair and away from the table, Amanda quickly turned. “Where are you going?” she begged with a hand in the air. He was heading towards the cops’ table. “Oh, Sloan, don’t—please!”
An elongated shadow crept across the table and the merriment faded. All the rookie officers looked up at Sloan.
Sloan had the guy by the throat and his gun out so fast the other cops didn’t dare breathe let alone move. “A real asshole, aren’t you?” He felt the guy swallow, then nod. “I don’t care much for assholes.” He applied a bit more pressure around the Adam’s apple and the gun remained stationary, resting at the cop’s temple. “The thing is, I go away for a few weeks on business and when I return, I find out the mother of my baby has become the laughing stock of the precinct. People, like you, and your asshole buddies here are cruel…calling her a slut…” Sloan got in tighter and searched the guy’s sweaty features. “And to be honest, I don’t like the abuse. So, here’s the deal, asshole. If I ever find out you and your buddies here are harassing my girl again, I will come back and when you’re off shift, I will beat the living daylights out of you. Got it?”
“G-girl…she’s y-your girlfriend?” he hoarsely stammered.
“That’s what I said.”
“We-we didn’t know. Sorry.”
Amanda almost fainted as the hunter approached, putting his gun away. Everyone in the cafeteria stared. “Oh my God…” she exclaimed as he sat down beside her. “What did you do?”
“Exactly, I put the fear of God into them.”
Amanda reached up to touch his stern face, then all of a sudden hugged him. Sloan embraced her. “I really wish you’d dump Vale and live with me.”
“Sorry, doll.” Sloan kissed her, then the alarm went off. “I think it would be best if we ate somewhere else.” He stuffed the sandwich in his pocket, took her by the arm, grabbed her coat and purse, then walked fast from the cafeteria. Soon as they were out in the main lobby near the entrance, he noticed one of the rookie cops talking to an armed guard who was the head of security. And, behind him was a ten-man team. The alarm blared louder and everyone working the floor wandered into the lobby area to see what the hubbub was. The rookie pointed in Sloan’s direction. “Crap.” He gingerly strode for the revolving front doors. The thunder of footsteps came and Amanda looked back. “Don’t look, doll. Just keeping moving.” They exited through the spinning doors with a whoosh. Sloan strode faster, almost dragging her to the Monte, pushing through all the people. He had parked the car several blocks away. But once they were outside and blended in with the sea of pedestrians, the city guards readily gave up the pursuit. Amanda held her stomach panting as Sloan unlocked the Monte. “Get in.” He made sure he closed the door before heading around the other side.
The conversation during the car ride was minimal.
“You could be charged,” Amanda said.
“Whatever. It was worth it.”
“I worry about you, Sloan.”
“No need. I’m a big boy.” Sloan reached just in behind the passenger seat. Then placed the box of Belgium chocolates on her lap. “Those are for you, doll.”
“A gift?” Her baby-blues watered a little and she lightly ran her hands over the delicate wrapping paper to get a total feel. “Oh, Sloan…and such pretty paper. I love pink.”
“I know you do. Everything in your closet is pink. I’ve never seen so much pink in one place.”
“Did you snoop?” She resentfully eyed him.
“Yes but only for medicinal reasons.” Sloan stuffed a fresh stick of gum inside his mouth, then laughed when she slapped his knee, it was like a child hit him. “Stop your bitching and just open it.”
Amanda stuck out her tongue, then slipped her tiny fingers in under the taped edges. The paper tore away from the box. She lifted the lid. A mixture of white and dark chocolate were moulded into different shapes. “Ohh, Sloan!” she squealed with delight. “I love chocolate! How did you know!”
“Don’t most women.”
“I suppose.” She debated over which one to try first. Eventually she chose a swirled, chocolate leaf. She sucked on it for a moment, then smiled. “This is so good. Oh and it just melts in your mouth. You should try one.” Amanda found a nice dark piece, a heart. “Here try this.” Sloan leaned sideways in her direction and when the candy touched his lips, he opened his mouth. Amanda popped it inside, then eagerly awaited his reaction. “Good huh?”
“Yeah, not bad at all, doll. Nice and rich.”
“Would you like another one?”
“No thanks. One’s enough. I’m not big into chocolate.”
“Did you know, chocolate is an aphrodisiac and it can be used in a variety of ways during sex?”
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re trying to seduce me.”
“I could dip your cock in melted chocolate and suck it,” she said with hopefulness.
Sloan glanced at her. The girl’s lips swelled to a delicious, tender crimson. He pictured his cock in her mouth, then nervously choked with laughter and look ahead. “I bet you could.”
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