“How, Angel? I don’t understand!” Micah was dragging his hand through his hair the way he always did when he was upset. That was normal. She was used to that gesture. What scared Angel the most and tugged at her heart were the tears building in his eyes. Micah had been a homicide detective for ten years. He was a street cop for five years before that. At thirty-five years old he had probably seen almost everything there was to see, and somehow, she had been the one to make him cry. Fuck.
“I don’t know.” She was whispering and her voice was shaky. She had just killed her career and destroyed the rest of her future with the same figurative bullet. Micah was looking at her like she was an alien with two heads. Sadly, she couldn’t blame him. She was happy she was merely getting that look, and not the one of pure hatred that she had thought he’d have for her.
“You’re just confused, that’s all. Have you been using drugs with them? That’s probably what happened. You got in too deep. The drugs and the alcohol and…”
“I’m stone cold sober. The most I’ve indulged in is a few beers at a time and a hit or two of a blunt, you know that. I showed up for every one of my mandatory drug tests. Micah, I’m not confused. I’m in love…with Dax Marshall.” There it was…that look of disgust that would quickly turn into hate, she was sure. She knew that he was wondering if she had been sleeping with Dax and him at the same time, when they last made love. He’d have to go way back. It was months ago. They had both been so wrapped up in this case…and then what happened to her dad…that he hadn’t really questioned it, at least not to her, out loud.
“You’re screwing him?”
“I prefer not to call it that, but yes.”
He snorted. “Should I say, making love? Jesus fuck, Angel. What a fucking mess. I knew this was a bad idea. I told them when they set this up. It was a bad, fucking idea.”
Angel came out of the Hartford Police Academy two days after her twenty-first birthday. She was fresh-faced and filled with excitement for her future. Her dad was a cop as well as two of her brothers. Angel had four brothers. Two of them had bought a fishing boat together and gone in a wholly different direction. But she had always wanted to be a cop, just like her dad. Dad was her hero from the moment they laid eyes on each other and she wanted him to be proud of her more than she wanted anything in her life. She had worked on the streets for five years now and had just taken the test for her detective shield. A few days after that, her captain pulled her into his office and told her that he wanted to send her in to infiltrate one of the most lethal motorcycle clubs on the East Coast. She’d been scared to death, but thrilled at the same time. It was going to give her career wings if she handled it right. Her dad had been so proud then, but she was pretty sure he wouldn’t be now.
“Is this about your dad, Angel?” Her dad was the one that gave her the name “Angel.” Angel’s real name was Cecelia Brady. Her dad had called her Angel her entire life and that was what she had always told people that her name was. It stuck, and her dad even had it tattooed, along with a pair of white wings, on the top of his right arm.
Angel had leaned into his coffin three weeks ago, just before they closed the lid and put him in the ground, and pressed her lips to it. She looked down at him that day and found it hard to believe that she’d never hear his voice again, or see him smile. She would never forget how he lit up a room when he walked into it. Everyone loved him. After he died, Angel and her brothers were heartbroken. But this wasn’t about her dad. She was devastated about his death, but she wasn’t so depressed that it had made her suicidal the way she knew Micah thought she was. A cop that comes from a family of cops, in love with the president of an outlaw biker club…she has to be suicidal, or just plain crazy. She knew that was what he was thinking. But this wasn’t about any of that. It was simply about Angel and Dax. It was her life and she was taking control of it once and for all. “I fell in love, Micah. Why is that so hard to get?”
He actually snorted. “Well, for starters, because this whole time I was under the impression that you loved me.”
“I’m sorry.” She whispered that too. She was sorry and so ashamed of what she was doing to him. Micah and Angel had been together for three years. She did love him, but lately it had felt more like the love she had for her brothers rather than the kind that she should have had for him. She just couldn’t deny how she felt any longer. “I’m sorry I hurt you. That was never my intention.”
“Damn it, Angel! Don’t you see that it’s not me I’m worried about? I mean…hell yes, it hurts. I feel like you reached into my fucking chest and ripped my heart right out. But I’ll get over it. I’ll live. I can’t say the same for you if you hook up with this guy. He’s dangerous, Angel. He’s the main reason why you were put there to infiltrate this club. He was our number one suspect, you remember that, right? You remember all of those bodies…the burnt and mutilated bodies?” Angel shuddered. She remembered them. The smell of those bodies in that shallow grave behind the big old farmhouse in the country would be burnt into her nostrils and her memory forever. It was the most horrible thing that she’d ever seen, or smelled. She had wanted to catch whoever had done that and see that they paid for it, worse than she’d ever wanted anything, and she had helped that happen. They had two men in custody and if they kept digging, she was sure they’d have more. For six months, as she was falling in love with the president of the Southside Skulls, she was doing her job. Her job was done and now she had every right to move on with her life.
“We have the perps in custody, Micah. The Sinners were responsible for that hit on Mayhem. Now Mayhem is pretty much wiped out and the Sinners have gone back to their own territory. The Skulls don’t have any arguments with them, and they had nothing to do with what went down that night.”
“The Sinners are a spin-off of your boyfriend’s club.” He spat out boyfriend. “If they took on a hit as big as the bulk of the members of one of the most dangerous MC’s in Massachusetts, they did it at the behest of Dax Marshall.”
“Grant Benning is the president of the Sinners, not Dax. Dax only calls the shots for the Skulls.”
Micah bent forward in his chair and put his head in his hands. When he looked back up at her, the angry look was gone and it had been replaced by a sad one that made her heart feel like it was breaking. “So let’s put all of the police business aside for a minute, Angel. Where do you go from here? Are you really, honestly prepared to walk away from everything, to be with this…biker? You’re going to give up your family, your job, us…to be what? An old lady? Jesus Angel, I can’t even wrap my head around that.”
“Do you love me, Micah?”
“Of course I do; it’s not my feelings that are in question here.”
“Neither are mine. But my point is, if I wanted to say, move to California, you’d go…right?”
He shrugged. “You want to go to California?”
“No. I’m trying to get you to understand. You love me, so you’d be willing to change your life for me. I love Dax. I’m sorry to keep saying that, I know it hurts you. But you want me to explain this, so I have to tell you the truth. I love him and yes, my family is not going to understand that any more than you do. But I’m twenty-six years old and the bottom line is that it’s my choice. I’m making the choice to be with him, whatever else I have to give up.”
“Does he know that you’re a cop, Angel?”
She resisted the urge to put her hands across her aching belly. She didn’t want Micah to know that it was hurting. She had ulcers already at the age of twenty-six. She worried way too much about everything. “No, and he doesn’t have to know. I’m going to see the captain this afternoon and resign. I won’t be a cop any longer.”
“This is insane, it’s dangerous. Angel, if he finds out that you were a cop, or that you come from a family of cops…”
“Dax would never hurt me.” Micah was looking at her like she had completely lost it. She knew that he thought she was being naïve, but the connection she has with Dax went deeper than anything that she’d ever experienced and as impossible as it was to explain, she knew it was real.
“Assuming that you’re right about that, it’s not the only risk. We’re not going to stop going after them, Angel. You’re just as likely to get caught in the crossfire as anyone else. You know as well as I do that it happens all the time. They’re out of control and this community is demanding we do something about it. You know all of this. Are you willing to risk your freedom if you get caught up in a sweep? Or, God help you, your life?”
God help her but she was willing to risk everything to be with Dax. This was no impulsive decision. She had lain awake night after night agonizing over the consequences of it. But when the sun came up the next morning, every one of those nights had something in common…the final decision was that she’d do anything to be with him. She didn’t answer Micah’s questions. Instead, she managed to usher him out of the apartment and even secured a promise from him not to tell her family or captain until she had a chance to talk to them. Micah loved Angel the way she loved Dax and that was the only saving grace in this situation. He might never forgive her for hurting him, but she still trusted that he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. It took about ten minutes after he left for her to find out how wrong she was. She had picked up her phone to call the captain and arrange a meeting, and it began to ring. It was her brother Kyle’s ringtone, and as soon as she heard his voice on the other end of the line she knew that Micah hadn’t kept his promise.