Authors: Karin Tabke
Tags: #Contemporary Romance;Romance
Table of Contents
hanks again to my fabulous team, Virna, Tina, Martha and Victoria!
To the best readers on the planet; you asked for more hot cops, so of course I delivered!
I’m so excited for you all to read BREAKING BAD, the first book in my Bad Boys of the Bay series.
BREAKING BAD is based on the characters Jack Thornton and Stevie Cavanaugh from Wanted! These two have some kind of tortured history, and they drove me crazy as I tried to get them back together. Jack has a way with Stevie that will curl your toes. Stevie has a way with Jack that will put a smile on your face, make you shake your head but cheer her on.
So, sit back and hang on for the wild, sexy ride as Stevie and Jack try breaking some bad.
ou’re really going to do this?” Jack asked Simon for the tenth time since he’d announced his engagement last month. He still couldn’t come to terms with the fact that his best friend was going to settle down. To go home to the same woman every night. For eternity. He shook his head. Jack could never give that much of himself to anyone.
His old friend nodded as he straightened his tie. “Nothing and no one can stop me.”
Jack grinned. “I still can’t believe it, West. I remember all those years ago in boot. ‘No woman is going to come between me and all those other women.’ Sound familiar?”
Simon smiled and shook his head. “Yeah, well, I was young and foolish.”
They’d both been. Fresh out of high school and property of the United States Army. They’d joined together and served their four together. They had a bond shared only by those who stared death in the face on a daily basis. After their second tour in Iraq they didn’t reenlist, though their career paths continued to run parallel. Simon went to work for the Sheriff’s Department in the South Bay close to his family and Jack headed to Oakland, where the action was. Only his time with Oakland PD hadn’t been enough of a brain stretch. He’d wanted more of a challenge and went to work for the feds.
“Kat is a hell of a woman,” Jack said. “The minute she walked into the briefing room, I knew you were fucked.” Jack threw his head back and laughed, then got serious. “Fuck that up and I’ll be the first one to offer her a shoulder to cry on.” He meant it, too. Dr. Katrina Winslow was one in a million. A genius, hot as hell, and she had balls. The chick trifecta.
“Not going to give you the chance, man.” Simon said, then looked at Jack and smirked. “What about that long drink of water you were drowning in back in the day? That sheriff’s daughter? Ever look her up?”
Jack’s face tightened. So did his groin. Stevie Cavanaugh. The one that got away. Or more like the one he’d run like hell from. He’d done her wrong. But it was for the best, he’d told himself these last seven years. He still believed it. She had wanted too much from him. He’d seen it in her eyes. The way she spoke, the way she . . . Fuck it all to hell. She was better off without him. Because of what he’d done—leaving her after she’d given him what every guy in the academy wanted from her—she could only think the worst of him, and that’s what he’d wanted. It was easier not to have to hurt her again. And he would. Eventually. Far worse.
But that didn’t mean he didn’t think of her. Because he did. Often. Too damn often.
“Yeah, I’ve been keeping tabs on her through her captain. Russo was my FTO. He’s got his hands full with Stevie. She’s a pistol.”
Simon slapped him on the back as he pulled on his suit jacket. “Does she know her captain’s feeding you intel?”
“Hell no! If she caught wind of me being back in California, she’d hunt me down and saw my balls off with a spoon.”
Simon slapped him on the back again. “Look, man, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but you’re a fool if you stand on the sidelines. It’s been what? Seven years since you were with her? And she’s still under your skin?” Jack swiped his hand across his chin and nodded. “Go after her, man. Do whatever the hell it takes until she surrenders. Then slap a ring on her finger and make it legal.”
Jack shook his head in amazement and whistled. “I’m going to miss my old friend Simon, the beast.”
Simon grinned. “I’m not. Now, tell me, best man, do you have the ring?”
Jack patted the small velvet box in his trouser pocket. “I’ve got it. But there’s still time to run.” Jack would, despite how amazing Dr. Katrina Winslow soon-to-be Katrina West was. Jack was not ready to settle down. He was bad to the bone and liked it that way. No woman, not even the one that got away, could break his bad.
“Not on your fucking life,” Simon said striding past him, a man on a mission. Suicide mission if you asked Jack. Women in general were forgettable. Except the one itch he hadn’t been able to scratch out of his system.
teven James Cavanaugh the Third had been born with ovaries, but her father refused to see her as anything but the son he would never have. From her name to her namesake’s omnipotent position as the Alameda County Sheriff, she had understood, from the cradle, that despite her being female, she would follow in the illustrious footsteps of five generations of Cavanaugh men to excel in a law enforcement career. Nothing less than chief or sheriff at retirement was acceptable. It had been drilled into her that as a woman she would have to work twice as hard for half the respect a man earned just by having a dick.
There was no margin for error. It would shame the name.
Despite his death five years ago, Sherriff Cavanaugh’s deep authoritative voice still droned in her ears. “Don’t be anyone’s gossip, Stevie.” “Never show weakness, Stevie.” “Never give anyone ammunition to use against you, Stevie.” “Identify your weaknesses and make them your strengths, Stevie.” And the hard, fast rule? The one to never break: “Never disgrace the badge, Stevie.”
A slow cynical smile cracked her serious face. How disgraceful would her father think her behavior was as she sat here watching a suspected killer jerk off through a high-powered video camera?
The smile faded. Not at all, because the shame would not be that she was watching a naked man pleasure himself, but that she had not made an arrest in one of Northern California’s most notorious murder sprees.
The pressure to make an arrest infused every facet of her existence. It hung around her neck like a thousand-pound yoke. No one pressured her more than herself.
Nervous she would get caught gawking, she pulled away from the camera she had been looking through, glanced over her shoulder and let out a small sigh of relief. The last thing she wanted was to give anyone, especially the men she worked with, a reason to rib her. She’d earned the Iron Maiden moniker because everything about the term was true about her. She was hard, cold, and impenetrable. And if anyone got too close? They felt the sharp bite of her resolve.
She’d worked her ass off, graduating as high school valedictorian a year early. She’d earned her bachelor’s before she was twenty. On her twenty-first birthday, she entered the police academy. Of course the sheriff’s daughter graduated top of her class. Nothing less was acceptable. She’d accomplished so much by graduation that she felt like she was eighty, not almost two years out of her teens. God, she had been so serious then, and for all of her knowledge and accomplishments, so very naive when it came to men.
She was smarter now. The scar tissue entwined around her heart was a reminder of the consequence of trust. It was the kind of scar tissue that resulted from giving yourself over to a man who had shone his light on the darkest part of you. A part of you that you didn’t know existed until he revealed it. A part of you that, once tapped, changed everything. The way you saw the world. The way you lived. The way you trusted. Or would never trust again. He had shown her the light only to take it away.
Stevie settled back into the camera and watched her subject stroke himself. She’d been accused of being frigid because she didn’t date, much less flirt.
Stevie wasn’t frigid. Jack had shown her she was far from it. She wasn’t antisocial either. She was simply not interested in any type of relationship. Even the most casual. For a relationship to work, she would have to expose herself once more. That would give people power over her. She would never hand over her power. Not again.
She sure as hell liked to tempt fate in other ways, though. Stevie lived on the physical edge of the tightrope of life. She got her rocks off jumping out of planes, climbing mountains, and chasing bad guys through the mean streets of Oakland.
But she didn’t do emotional. Jack had made quick work of that. Had she adhered to the Cavanaugh Commandments, her heart would still be intact. Yet, years later, despite what she knew, she still felt the sting of longing for the man who’d known what she’d needed even when she hadn’t, then left her in the middle of the night, taking her need with him.
Nope, she made damn sure she wasn’t anyone’s water cooler hot topic. Since her promotion three years ago to detective, she didn’t have time for a relationship anyway. Her job served her personality well. She liked the structure, the physicality, and the brain stretch. The best part was justice for all. She was black and white when it came to right and wrong. Smiling, she focused back on her subject who was getting quite comfortable with his naked self. But she was not so black and white in her tactics. She was never above the law, but neither was she below bending the rules.
Her subject, Mario Vito Spoltori—or as he was known on the BDSM boards she haunted, The Edge, for his penchant for edge play—had turned to fully face her. The blinds had been pulled open over the large window of his bedroom so she had an excellent view of what God had so benevolently bestowed on the man. Spoltori portrayed himself as a quiet conservative stockbroker, but in reality he was a vicious misogynistic killer. This entire scenario playing out before her was a complete 180 from his regular “I’m Mr. Normal” behavior.
“What are you up to, Mario? Why the show?”
Spoltori’s known body count was three. All three women had been wives of prominent Oaklandites, the sitting mayor’s largest campaign donors. Each victim had been kidnapped exactly one week before the impending full moon. Each body was found the morning after the rise of the full moon, wrapped in Saran Wrap, mummy style, with only their genitalia exposed, and bloodless. It was the cut patterns that had caused the blood loss that had led her through the dark underbelly of extreme BDSM to The Edge.
In the underground dungeons where he slithered, the cut patterns were his signature. But there was no DNA linking him to any of the bodies and he had airtight alibis for each murder. It didn’t matter; Stevie always listened to her gut, and it was what made her such a good cop. Her gut screamed he was the killer, so she set her sights on him while her team worked the streets.
She’d been watching Spoltori like this, through a video camera, sitting in a stuffy ten-by-ten room from across the street, for nearly a month with nothing to show for it but the monotony of a normal working Joe’s life. He was good at acting like a Boy Scout though he was far from it. Today he proved it. After tedious hours and days of watching the paint dry, she was awarded a peek at the man’s assets.
Stevie wolf-whistled as he stroked his swelling penis to an impressive size; couldn’t really blame the women and the men who waited months for an hour of this notorious Master’s time. Spoltori was in excellent physical shape and not hard on the eyes. She suspected that to command such demand, he was very good at what he did.
Warmth pooled within her belly. But the build was not for Mario. It was for the only man she had ever slept with, the one who’d ignited the fire in her seven years ago. She would have followed him to the ends of the earth . . . but after the culmination of months of cat-and-mouse sexual tension so powerful it became painful, followed by one perfect night of surrender, he’d never called.
“Prick,” she seethed, still not over it. Mentally she berated herself for her foolishness, although she’d been doing that for years. Shame at losing her rigid control and being sucked in by him was hard to set down and walk away from. She’d managed to keep the one-night-stand from her father. She would have lost his hard-earned respect. His perfect daughter was not so perfect after all.
That would have made an already bad situation unbearable.
So, yeah, Jack Thornton had done her wrong and if she weren’t an officer of the law, she’d hunt him down, cut his balls off, stuff them down his throat, and watch him choke to death. But she was sworn to uphold the law, not hunt down Lotharios like Jack.
Shaking her head, Stevie leaned in closer and gave the self-entertaining Spoltori her full attention.
Apparently it didn’t matter that he was standing in front of a fully exposed window with an unobstructed view of Broadway, a busy Oakland boulevard, in the middle of the day.
He closed his eyes, tipped his head back and in long languid strokes he manipulated himself. Highly unusual behavior in light of what she knew about Spoltori’s public persona. If she didn’t know any better, she’d swear he knew he had an audience.
Impossible. While his windows were transparent, the small office she’d begun to loathe had reflective film with the exception of one small square cut out for her ever-watchful lens. The only way he could possibly know he was under surveillance was if he had gained access to this room, which he hadn’t. The security video feeds were reviewed daily. There had been no breach. Dismissing the thought, she continued to watch his show.
His long tan fingers squeezed his burgeoning erection. Stevie winced. He was enormous. She knew from the gossipy chatter among the subs that The Edge never penetrated his client/subs with his penis. Nor had he had intercourse with the victims, yet all three victims
been penetrated with something.
Slowly, provocatively, he began a slow grind. When he bit his bottom lip and splayed himself against the window, Stevie shook her head. “Jesus,” she breathed, unable to drag her eyes away. If she got caught . . . She glanced over her shoulder again, making sure no one had slipped in while she was so preoccupied. Exhaling a relieved breath, she leaned back into the lens for the denouement.
Spoltori pumped faster, his eyes riveted straight at her across the street. The lens was so powerful that she could see the beads of sweat dampening his brow. His eyes narrowed and she knew he was about to come. She held her breath.
“Hello, Stevie,” a very deep and very familiar voice said from behind her.
Time stopped. Her spine stiffened as her breath lodged in her lungs. Her heart slammed hard against her sternum, the velocity shaking her to her core. And God help her, that longing ache that the sound of his voice had stirred all those years ago, stirred in her now.
Hers had been, from the day he touched her in her first defensive tactics class, a spontaneous physical reaction to him. And as they had then, her breasts swelled as her nipples tightened painfully, triggering every body part south into carnal chaos.
When she slowly turned around, the blood drained from her face as her worst fears were confirmed.
“Jack,” she breathed.