Derek “Sav” Savvas frowned up at the torrential downpour that hadn’t ceased in close to twenty-four hours. A lot of shit had shut down in the aftermath of the storm that didn’t seem keen on moving away.
Sure as fuck didn’t stop crime.
He shook his head as he drove down the rain-sluiced ramp and into the parking garage. Much more of this and they would be swimming from their cars to the door. It appeared the drains were working overtime to keep up with all the water.
After he parked and shut off the engine, he closed his eyes for a moment and rubbed his temples. Some days he hated being a detective and this was one of them. Having to deliver the news that a loved one had passed, escort them to the morgue for identifying and then ask them all kinds of questions that quite honestly were just rude.
His partner was enjoying some much-needed time off so for the moment he was running solo. Not that he minded. Derek was more than capable of handling the job on his own. Trudging inside, he nodded as he passed familiar faces through the bullpen to his own desk.
He’d just hung up his coat and was making his way through the close-spaced desks for the coffee machine when he bumped into another detective.
“Damn. I’m sorry, Lopez. Wasn’t paying any attention to where I was going. Just focused on the coffee.”
The man didn’t seem to register what he’d said for his scowl never lessened.
“Figured you be by sooner or later once you heard the news. You do realize that there are other detectives capable of handling cases and keeping somebody safe.”
Cocking an eyebrow, Derek stared down at the shorter, much more rotund man. “First off, I apologize for running into you stating I was too focused on coffee. Second, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about because I just got back in. Third, not really appreciating the attitude. What the hell’s your problem and what is this case that I’m supposed to be taking away from you?”
Lopez flushed, his skin becoming ruddy, although to be honest, Derek wasn’t sure if it was from embarrassment or from drink that he had no doubt the man had already been indulging in for the day. Either way, he didn’t really care. He didn’t have the most friends on this force because he did things his way and wouldn’t hesitate to call somebody out if they fucked up.
For a couple of charged moments Lopez held his gaze, almost as if he were going to challenge him. Then he backed off like Derek knew he would.
“Just a call from the university.”
One word. Just that one goddamn word was all it took to turn his insides into a quivering mass of nerves and a bundle of untold emotions. Making him feel more like an untried youth as opposed to a seasoned detective.
Ensuring to keep his expression straight, he held the man’s gaze. For two ticks of time he remained silent. Then with a pointed glance at his watch, discerning the time, he shrugged.
“Anything in particular or just your generic call from a university?”
Even though he made sure there was no interest in his tone, Derek knew without a doubt that this had to do with the one woman who’d turned his world upside down from the very moment she’d lit into him in a hospital room.
“It was the dean calling. Apparently he’s worried about one of his professors. She’s been getting death threats and doesn’t seem to be all that worried about it. But he’s concerned for the school, the students and of course his professor.” Lopez looked at his partner and shrugged. “Although it beats me why anybody would go after someone who taught math lessons. Maybe it was just simply to rid the world of them because, seriously, math.”
Although he hadn’t heard a name yet, Derek struggled to hold on to his temper and his control. Maybe, just maybe the cards would align for him in a different way.
“I’m sure you’ll remember her, Sav. Last year her sister got shot. You know ADA Coleman. The professor is Shai. That one family who adopted the two girls. The professor is the Black one.”
That was it, the name that he was waiting to hear. He cocked an eyebrow again at Lopez. The man cleared his throat and amended his statement right quick, so it was much more politically correct.
Who the hell is trying to kill her now? And why didn’t he feel a bit more shocked that she was in trouble?
It wasn’t like she walked around arguing with people. At least other people. With him, it seemed the second her mouth opened, out came combative words. Or was that from him? Either way, she heated his blood in ways that weren’t professional at all.
“Well, you did get one thing correct, Lopez, amongst all your blathering just now.”
The man shrugged. “About?”
“The fact that I’m taking this from you.” He held out his hand for the file.
Lopez stared at him as if he were joking. Derek didn’t blink, just waited. The man’s expression grew mutinous, but he handed over the file.
“Figures,” he muttered.
Derek didn’t respond, just turned away and went back to his desk, the need for coffee gone. All he needed now was to make sure that he got to this woman and took care of her threat to make sure she was safe.
Yes, sure, that’s the only reason you are demanding this case.
Ignoring his subconsciousness, he skimmed through the file, his gut moving from the butterflies he got when he thought about this woman to anger over the fact that she was in danger and someone was trying to hurt her. He’d decided a long time ago that if he were to find a woman and settle down, Shai was going to be the one.
The words on the page didn’t make him feel any better and he was out of his seat, marching toward his lieutenant’s office. Only by force of habit did he knock first instead of barging right in as he wanted to do.
“Come!” the deep baritone rang out.
Doing as bidden, he stepped into the crowded office. Ricardo Meeks sat at the large metal desk, an old coffee mug with a chipped rim and a police shield on it to the left. Stacks of papers were to the right and a partially eaten pastrami sandwich in the middle added its fragrance to the air.
He tipped his head forward and peered up over the rims of his round spectacles. “What do you want, Sav?”
“I’m taking over the Monroe case from Lopez.” He shook the file in his hand to emphasize his point.
Lieutenant Meeks pursed his lips like he was sucking on a lemon and lowered his pen to the desk in slow motion. “Are you asking or telling?” The voice was low and dangerous.
Most times, he would have heeded the warning but right now, Derek didn’t care. No one else was protecting his woman.
He swallowed and found his balls. “Telling. Before you get upset and start informing me that you make the decisions around here, I’m already acquainted with her and I think she may be a bit more receptive to having to be in protective custody if it comes from me.”
Meeks leaned back in his chair, the springs squeaking with the added weight the man had begun to carry. He pushed a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair, leaving behind a small streak of mayonnaise on his temple.
“That’s right, when ADA Monroe, or Coleman, whoever she is now, needed protection, that’s her sister. You really think she will be okay hearing it from you?”
He lied through his teeth. “Absolutely.”
His lieutenant nodded. “Get it done then. Nothing more until you get her set up and this resolved. Lord knows I don’t want her sister coming after me because we couldn’t keep her safe. I swear, it’s something with this family.”
The thought had crossed his mind.
“I’ll head over to the university and let her know about this. And yes, I’ll inform the dean we are on it as well so he doesn’t worry so much.”
Meeks was already returning his focus to the items before him. Derek shrugged and backed out, closing the door behind him. In his periphery, he spied Lopez glaring at him but he refused to acknowledge the man. He’d pull whatever strings necessary to get this detail. And keep it.
He hastened to his car and got back behind the wheel. As he exited the garage, he shook his head once more over the rain and put his car in the direction of her office. Already, his gut was tightening in anticipation of seeing her again.
Jogging into the building he knew her office was in, he stopped to shake off the excess water. He knew where her room was and made his way there only to be waylaid by one of the teaching assistants.
“Dr. Monroe is in class.”
He met her gaze and nodded. “Where?”
When she flicked her eyes to the badge, she paled a bit but then she told him. He thanked her and went on his way. At the auditorium, he let himself in and claimed a seat in the back. As usual, his breath escaped him as he stared down at this firecracker.
What the hell is this man doing in my classroom? Why is he here and why the hell does he make my knees weak and my body remember it has been far too long since anything other than a vibrator has been between my thighs?
Shai Lynne Monroe licked her lips and dragged her gaze away from the long-limbed Greek detective who’d taken a seat in her class. Damn him for looking even better than when she’d seen him last time.
How a detective could get away with not being clean-shaven, she wasn’t sure, and let’s face it, she didn’t give a damn, because he was hot as fuck. Brown hair that he typically wore pulled back, green eyes that saw far more than she wanted him to and that square jaw. Her fingers burned with the urge to explore him.
Yanking her attention back to the lecture, she pressed the clicker in her right hand to switch to the next slide. With her left index finger, she pushed up her glasses and continued her trek back and forth before the class. She’d never been one to stand still and talk, she had too much pent-up energy for that.
Her sisters said it was because she wasn’t getting laid. That could be true, although she’d never admit it to them.
She slipped her stare back up to the man in the back row. He watched her. She could feel it. Her skin always heated around him with that gaze of his upon her. Skimming the rest of the room, she continued to give her lecture. She also didn’t use the microphone—her voice carried and it wasn’t like the room was full.
Shai managed to finish her entire presentation without once tripping over her feet or making a fool of herself. Something she would praise herself for later. Right now she just had to finish up until class was dismissed.
When the bell rang, she waited until the final student had left before shutting off the PowerPoint. She never turned it off right away, knowing that some people wrote a bit slower, and she didn’t want to rush them. Yes, this was a specialized class. However, she cared about each and every one of her students and wanted them to succeed.
The detective sauntered his way down the steps, toward the platform she stood upon. She couldn’t help but notice the way that the young women looked at him as he went by. Not that it mattered, he never once looked in their direction. All his attention remained focused on her. A bit unnerving if she cared to admit it.
Which of course she didn’t. One thing Shai was extremely good at it was ignoring what seemed to be right in front of her face if it didn’t have anything to do with work.
She cut her gaze to him and followed him as he walked over to where the stairs were to get up to the platform. His slacks conformed to his ass and with each step he took—damn if her fingers didn’t start to burn once more.
Heaven help her. If that voice of his got any deeper, she would turn into a puddle right here and now.
“What can I do for the great Detective Savvas?” She reached over and clicked off the computer that had her lesson on it. Part of it was because she did have to pack up and head back to her office and the other reason was she needed something to do to distract her from the fineness that stood before her.
“Seems to me you’ve gone and got yourself into a bit of trouble again.”
Of course that was why he was here. The man would never come here under the pretense of actually asking her out on a date. Not that she blamed him, for she hadn’t been easy on him their last few interactions.
“How did you even hear about it? Not that it matters, I’m not listening to it. And I’m not letting it change my life. This is nothing more than the ramblings of some crackpot.”
He tsked. As he moved closer to her she had to lock her knees to keep from retreating from the powerful and predatory look in his gaze.
“I’m sorry you feel that way. But this isn’t about what you want. This is coming from the dean of your school and he wants you protected. He’s taking this seriously, and you should too. He wants you safe, he wants the students safe. It’ll be much easier for you if you just agree to work with me on this.”
“Low blow bringing in my boss. Fine. What’s the deal? Same as last time? Cops following me at a distance, interrupting my life?”
Their eyes locked, neither giving an inch. She wasn’t sure how much time passed before the slam of an auditorium door snapped her out of the trance she’d been sucked into.
“Oh good. I heard you were here, Detective. I wanted to catch you before you left. By the fact I see you two talking, can I assume that this is worked out and you will take some protection?”
Detective Savvas raked his gaze over her and muttered, “I’ve got all the protection we’ll need.” In a louder voice he continued so the dean could hear. “We’re still working out the final details but yes, sir, she’s accepted the protection.”
She couldn’t even find the words to dispute him. His low comment had one hundred percent thrown her off her game. Was this man actually coming on to her? If he was, what the hell was she going to do about it?
Dean Serco sighed heavily as if the weight of the world had just been released from his shoulders. She didn’t want to dispute him, for truth was, she liked this man. A lot. He’d been one of the few who’d gone to bat for her about getting tenure at such a young age. If he was concerned for her, she would take it to heart and abide by whatever this detective wanted to stick her with.
Oh, if he would only stick me.
The dean looked at her as he hastened up onto the stage and took her hand in his.
“I know you don’t think this is serious but I implore you to do what he says and stay safe.”
She didn’t even look over at the detective because she knew what she would see—arrogance and the look that told her ‘yes, listen to the dean for he is absolutely correct.’ That wasn’t anything she needed to see right now.
“I promise. I don’t want you to worry. If it will make you feel better about doing what’s best for the students, I’ll take some time off from here. Just until this is taken care of. That way I don’t put anybody on campus in danger. I know you all went through a lot when my sister was being threatened and I know some of the parents weren’t exactly pleased that one of the professors had to have a police escort at all times. I don’t want to put you back into that situation.”
There was no denying the relief that spread over his features. Even so, he didn’t release her hand right away.
“I don’t want you to think we don’t value you or don’t want you here teaching.”
She forced a smile. “I don’t think that all. All of my stuff for the rest of the lessons is self-explanatory for whoever you have take over. And they can always call me if they have questions. Okay?”
He nodded and for a moment there she wondered if the roles had just reversed where he was the one endangered, needing to be coddled and protected, and she was the one offering that. With a shake of her head she released his hand and stepped back so he could get on his way.
Shai crossed her arms as the dean hurried back up the steps to the door and slipped through, leaving her once again all alone with Detective Derek Savvas. Pivoting on her sensible heels—maybe they weren’t so sensible—she met that intense green gaze once more.
“There you go then. No need to have somebody here while I’m teaching because that’s not going to happen now.”
“You and I need to go somewhere and talk. I need a list of whoever you think is going to be doing this, any potential suspects, so we can start running down leads, get you back into your normal life.”
She snorted and rolled her eyes. “Like you know a damn thing about my normal life. Every time you’re in it there’s an upheaval.”
His grin was tight although no less predatory. “Let’s hope this gets solved quick then.”
“Been hoping that since you first mentioned it.”
A muscle flexed in his jaw, but he didn’t respond, which was fine—she had other things to attend to. Packing away the rest of her things, she scanned the room to make sure she didn’t leave anything behind. It wasn’t like she was going to be back tomorrow.
“Is this where you tell me you’re sticking beside me?”
“Never had any complaints before.”
She leaned closer to where they were almost touching and took a deep enough breath that her breasts would brush against his chest. “I don’t believe prisoners have much of a say in the matter, do they?”
His eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled and damn, it took him from handsome to fucking unbelievably gorgeous. A flash of white teeth against his tan skin didn’t do anything for her libido except pump more life into it.
“I have to go back to my office.”
“Lead the way. We can talk there.”
She did as he bade and each step was more and more difficult. It didn’t help to know this man was behind her, especially considering the burn she was feeling on her ass from his stare.