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Shake Down
 


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Shake Down


  Shake Down

  By Jade Chandler

  The by-the-book detective and the badass bounty hunter: opposites attract as they’re forced to work together

  CHARLIE

  Hunting murderers is what I do, but this pair is different. A modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, they’ll kill again unless I stop them. I need help—and help in this case looks like bad-boy bondsman JoJo Marcone.

  Good. Bad. Right. Wrong. Gray is dangerous, and Marcone is the most annoying shade of gray—the one that pushes me from merely turned on to totally insatiable.

  JOJO

  Tracking down a skip for Jericho Bail Bonds doesn’t usually involve partnering with a hot lady detective, but this is no ordinary case. Too much blood has been spilled on my watch, and with the mob after us, it’s getting harder to keep Charlie safe.

  It would be easier if she’d stop stealing my bike.

  I’m the last guy Charlie ever saw herself with, that much is clear. But I need to find her before our enemies do—and then convince her to follow her heart.

  This book is approximately 80,000 words.

  One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

  Carina Press acknowledges the editorial services of Deborah Nemeth

  Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Excerpt from Enough by Jade Chandler

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Also by Jade Chandler

  Chapter One

  Charlie

  I hunted murderers for a living, yet my partner and I couldn’t find a trace of our latest killers. The entire Oklahoma Police Department was searching for a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, yet they evaded us. Brie and I had become involved last week when they’d killed two guards at a small bank on the edge of the city. Now we were part of the task force tracking them down. With a taste for blood, they’d kill again unless we stopped them.

  We drove to the south part of the city to interview a bartender. A tip had come in to our hotline that the couple had been in the bar last week. While I doubted much came out of the interview, we had to follow up.

  “You call the bounty hunter,” my best friend and partner, Brie Devough, pointed at me before turning back to the road. It was her week to drive, and I hated every minute in the passenger seat. I was a total control freak, I admit it.

  “No way, I don’t like bounty hunters.” They operated outside the law and we shouldn’t even need them. Police should be tracking down and arresting criminals. The whole bail bonding thing was one of those shadowy professions that society should’ve outgrown by now.

  Brie and I didn’t agree about bounty hunters or the media. Brie subscribed to the it-takes-a-village-to-catch-a-murderer philosophy, but I opted for the it’s-best-to-do-it-myself code of law enforcement. I didn’t need anyone, not even a partner, but if I had to have one, Brie was the best there was. It’d taken me two years to even warm up to her, and another two before we’d become like sisters. Granted, we’d been paired together only weeks before my life went to hell, but even on a good day, I wasn’t the trusting kind.

  “It’s rock, paper, scissors then.” She started rocking her fist in the familiar gesture.

  “Hands on the wheel.”

  She ignored me. “One, two, three, go.”

  Her rock smashed my scissors. My partner was scary good at this game. Maybe I should insist we go back to the coin flip to decide the duties neither of us wanted.

  “Fine, I’ll call him.”

  “Everyone says he’s a stand-up guy.” Brie smiled and glanced my way. “He’s connected.”

  “To the mob?” Bounty hunters were just that kind of shady.

  “No.” She rolled her eyes. “He knows half the force. Dated more than a few, I think.” She grinned at me. “Speaking of dating—”

  “We weren’t.” I had no desire to go here again. Brie was stubborn and opinionated about my dating life, or lack of one.

  She took the exit off the interstate to a seedy part of the city, driving down streets filled with boarded-up buildings. “So are you going to the lake this weekend? You promised you’d go before the month was over.” Brie insisted I get a life, but I only wanted to work. “Tom’s taking me and a few others.” She waggled brows at me.

  “You go turn into a bronze goddess, I’ll be here catching Archer and Deidre—once they’re behind bars, then maybe the lake.” The newlyweds had been causing mayhem for two months, but had killed their first person less than a week ago. My gut said by next week they’d kill again. No one argued with my gut because it was always right.

  “You can’t live in the past forever.” She pulled into a gravel parking lot of a rundown bar that had a flickering Bud Light sign in the window.

  “I won’t, but I’m not going to fuck my way through the grief either.” My words were sharper than I intended.

  “Three years is a long time.” Brie never backed down—I loved and hated that about her.

  “Let’s go talk to this guy.” I changed the subject. “I’m the bad cop.”

  She chuckled. “I never get to be the bad cop.”

  “It’s just not you, admit it.”

  Brie could be tough, but she had a sunny smile that stayed on her face all the time. Definitely not the bad cop.

  “Maybe.”

  We got out of the department-issued sedan and strode into the bar. A single guy who had to be in his sixties sat on a bar stool; he was the only patron. We strode down the bar to the bartender.

  “Hello.” I flipped my badge to him.

  “Police officers, how can I help you?” His sleazy gaze slipped down me then Brie.

  “You Rick? The owner?” Brie played on the guy’s ego. This overweight kid was not the owner.

  “Nah, just work here.” Yet he stood straighter.

  “We’re looking for these two.” Brie pushed the two photos of Deidre and Archer across the wood bar top.

  “Never seen them.” He barely glanced at the photos. He lied. Maybe this lead wasn’t crap after all. The old guy had moved from his bar stool and stood beside Brie. A gnarled finger pointed to Deidre. “That’s your cousin Didi.”

  The bartender glared at the old man.

  “And her new beau.” He gave Brie a big grin, minus one of his front teeth. “When was that? Last weekend? Two weeks ago? They were here and talked to you.”

  “Chet, here’s a beer on the house.” The bartender set a Pabst Blue Ribbon can on the bar.

  The old guy took the can and wandered away.

 
“Your cousin?” I tapped on the picture.

  “Yeah.” He sighed. “I don’t like to rat out family.”

  “What did you two talk about?”

  “I wanted her to turn herself in and she wouldn’t. My dad, well, he married them, you see, and he’s mighty upset about the way they’re going on now.” He held up his hands. “This was long before they killed that guard, though. I washed my hands of her, trouble always did follow that one.” He brushed his hands against one another. “She owes me fifty dollars too, but she wouldn’t pay me.” He whined the last part.

  Most likely he tried to get Deidre to give him some of her illegal gains. No wonder they argued.

  “Do you know where she is now?”

  “Only place I knew about was her mama’s place. She gets her mail there, not that she’s slept there in a long time. Always with some loser and now married to a murderer... You can’t pick family.”

  Brie picked up the two photos. “You have other family in the area?”

  He shook his head. “Just my dad and Deidre’s mom, and me.”

  “You give us a call if she comes back.” I handed him my card.

  “Of course, Detectives, of course.”

  We left the bar without a lot of new information, but we had another bit of the puzzle. Enough pieces and we’d pin them down.

  “Likely means they’re staying in the southern part of the city,” I told Brie as she pulled out of the lot.

  “Yup, and she wasn’t afraid to be seen by family. But the murder will change that,” Brie agreed.

  “We should add this to the uniforms’ list.” The task force had created a list of known places and we had uniform officers check them out each week. It wasn’t likely they’d show up again, but sometimes it was the routine follow-up that broke a case wide-open.

  My thoughts shifted to Archer Logan, or Clyde, as I’d named him. Crafty, smart and dangerous—the definite brains of the duo. Deidre Logan, or Bonnie, was beautiful, manipulative and deadly. He was the one who’d shot the guards, but the witnesses had said Deidre fed off the violence.

  A little over a month ago, they had robbed their second bank. Celebrating, Archer had gotten into a fight at a bar downtown and ended up in jail. Unfortunately, he’d been bonded out a week before the DNA from the scene pointed to him.

  Another reason not to like him. “The bounty hunter probably doesn’t know anything.”

  “You lost, you call the biker.”

  “What?” I wasn’t following.

  “Yeah, Archer was bailed out by Brotherhood Bonds—run by the Jericho Brotherhood, a motorcycle club.” Brie frowned at me. “I told you Tom works with them on the taskforce.”

  I didn’t remember. “A biker and a bounty hunter—super.”

  “You just need to question him, not sleep with him.” Brie winked at me.

  “Thank God for some favors.” I brooded on the biker connection.

  Bikers were bad news, especially those in clubs. What kind of illegal businesses did the bounty hunting cover up? Not my worry. I just needed to spend a few minutes on the phone talking to the guy, even if I’d prefer to arrest him.

  Once we made it back to the station, I planned to get the bounty hunter off my to-do list first. Always best to get the worst tasks out of the way. Jensen had taught me that. My chest constricted, thinking of my fiancé, even three years after he’d died. Nothing had prepared me for the crushing grief I felt. While it was better than it had been, the grief still stole my breath at the most random times—like now.

  I dismissed the memory and dialed Joe Marcone’s number. It rang three times and I hoped it’d go to voicemail, instead an out-of-breath voice snarled, “Who the hell’s calling?”

  No points for manners. “This is Detective Charlie Pine. I need to visit with you about Archer Logan.”

  “Who the fuck is that?” he growled.

  I heard shuffling in the background, then the smack of skin on skin. “Sit your ass down” was mumbled to someone else.

  “Is this a bad time?”

  “I’m in the middle of a takedown, but he’s not going anywhere. I don’t know...wait...did we bond—”

  “You bonded him out about two weeks ago for assault. I need his current address and phone number for an unrelated investigation.”

  “Huh? Unrelated you say...what division do you work for?” He was quick-witted.

  I’d hoped to avoid the other details. “Homicide.”

  “Fuck me. Give me twenty and I’ll do this face-to-face.” Then he hung up.

  Abrupt. Argumentative. Asshole.

  Brie sat across from me as I replaced the phone in the cradle.

  “Who was that?”

  “Joe, the asshole biker. He’s on his way,” I huffed. Now he’d be sticking his nose in my investigation.

  Brie rubbed her hands together in glee. “I want to see if he’s as hot as Mallory says. You know she dated him a couple of times.”

  “A biker?” I whispered. That was pushing it even for Mallory, who dated, which meant slept with, anyone with a dick. But I couldn’t believe she’d gone outlaw.

  “I know. Even if Tom says they’re legal, I wouldn’t want to go there.” Brie’s grin widened. “I’ll bet you a trip to the lake this weekend that Mallory is here in under a minute after she sees Marcone.”

  “So if I win...what happens?” I got the part where I’d have to go to the lake if I lost, but I couldn’t see the advantage for me.

  “I’ll stay here and work if you win.” She rolled her eyes at me.

  “Oh no, you’ll just bitch and moan the whole weekend, not a win for me.” I knew how she was when her Tom-time was interrupted.

  “Fine.” She gave me the stink eye. “I’ll stop harassing and let you off the hook for the trip to the lake you promised me.”

  Now that sounded like a damn fine deal. “Deal.” I held out my hand to shake on it. Surely Lois Mallory would have enough pride to stay away.

  I busied myself with the endless paperwork. About a half hour later the bullpen quieted when the door swung open and one of the sexiest men I’d ever laid eyes on walked through the door. Over six foot, well-developed muscle that didn’t look stacked on, and close-cropped coal-black hair—the man had Italian and military stamped on his forehead.

  Inside the door he stopped and spoke with one of the older homicide detectives. After a quick chat his gaze zeroed in on me. He strode my way full of purpose and more than a hint of swagger.

  “Damn, he’s gorgeous.” Brie all but drooled.

  While his focus never wavered from me, he stopped a couple more times to chat up different detectives. Mallory wasn’t one of them, but she stared at him like she wanted to undress him right here. I had no idea he knew so many of the detectives. Was he an informant? But then they wouldn’t be so open about knowing him. It didn’t make sense, at all.

  As he neared, I could make out the patches on his black leather cut, as biker gangs called their vests. His name read JoJo under a Jericho Brotherhood patch; lower, a patch read 1 percent. There were a few other patches but I didn’t know what they meant. Didn’t that 1 percent mean his club were criminals?

  He stopped at my desk and held out his hand. “Hey, I’m JoJo.”

  I stood and grasped his hand in a quick handshake. “Charlie. And this is Brie, my partner.” I pointed to a chair. “Have a seat.”

  Before JoJo sat down, Mallory had materialized at my desk. Goddammit, I’d have to go to the lake.

  “Here’s the report from today’s canvas.” She dropped it on my desk.

  “Yeah, I got the same one in my email.” I gave her a pointed glare. She’d cost me my weekend and had used a totally lame excuse to sashay her ass over here. Pathetic.

  Brie coughed to cover her laugh. “Thanks, Mallory. See ya later.” Brie eyed Mallory and then
the other detective’s desk.

  “Oh, right.” She turned and did the same sultry walk back, a walk more suited to a whorehouse than a cop shop.

  “So why are you sniffing around my guy? What did he do?” JoJo went straight to the issue.

  “He’s a person of—”

  “He’s part of the duo robbing banks and now killing guards.” Brie just gave it all away. She never played it close to the vest.

  “Fuck me.” He pounded my desk. “How long has he been in the wind?”

  “Do you have better information on him?” I spoke with my most forceful tone, needing him to pay attention.

  “Nope, same address, same phone. How long?” He drew the last two words out.

  “We’ve been trying to locate him via BOLO and canvas the last six days, and we put his picture on the news last night.” Brie was entirely too helpful. “His bail was revoked today.”

  “Son of a bitch.” He snarled the words and stood. He was out the door in a flash, leaving me with too many unanswered questions.

  “He’s intense.” Brie snorted. “I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of him.”

  “And you gave away all the good info before I could pump him.”

  “If he can find the guy, all the better.” Then she narrowed her gaze on me. “Bring plenty of sunscreen for the lake this weekend.”

  “You’re going to make me do that in the middle of a case?” I tried whining like Brie did when she didn’t get her way.

  The evil woman just rolled her eyes. “Hell, yes. We leave Saturday at noon and be back Sunday before sunset, unless we catch a new case.”

  I prayed we caught a case. I wasn’t good with fun.

  Unfortunately we caught our new case later the same day and by Saturday morning we’d wrapped it up. Typical homicide—lover’s quarrel turned deadly. Open and shut. We had no new leads on the Logans, so I was lake-bound.

  And of course, it couldn’t be a close lake; no, I’d agreed to trek almost three hours south to the Texas-Oklahoma border with Brie, Tom Fisher and a half dozen of our friends. To make things worse, we were camping in tents—not my favorite.

  Chapter Two

  JoJo

  The Logans had disappeared, leaving me out the $40,000 if they escaped. I’d looked in all the typical haunts and came up empty. But leads would start popping once word spread that I was paying good money for leads.

 
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