Contemporary Romantic Suspense/26,300 words

Undertow Anthology

Backwater Blessing

When Cole, Mr. FBI, and Logan, local cop and reigning Ice Princess, hook up to solve a case of Mississippi corruption at the highest judicial levels, sparks fly. Their attraction is hotter than the sultry southern sun. She wants to hate him—but she can’t. And Cole would never commit career suicide by staying in a backwater Mississippi town… not for any woman… especially not for Isabella Logan Church.

 

Other Books by Kris


Excerpt

Chapter One

“This thing has all the hallmarks of a political nightmare.”

Agent Cole Davis sat in Deputy Director Hayes’ office and waited. Hayes paced, his shoulders hunched, as if the weight of the world pressed down on him. The furrows in the Deputy Director’s brow lay in ruts, slashed deep and chiseled there by years of unrelenting stress.

Cole would do almost anything for the man. Hayes had been Cole’s mentor since he stepped across the threshold into the agency. Green and wet behind the ears when Agent Hayes took him under his wing, the man became Cole’s savior. Their student/teacher relationship lasted through seven years and two promotions, which was amazing by Agency standards. He watched Hayes carefully, hoping his fast-tracking conclusions weren’t the same as Hayes’.

“I need you to go to Mississippi.”

Bulls-eye. Shit, why me?

“Mississippi?” Cole’s voice didn’t betray the emotion peaking under the false calm he projected. Damn it he’d proven himself—many times over. He was one of the best undercover assets in the Agency. Being sent on some podunk assignment to play nursemaid to a county sheriff was a gross misuse of his talent. He knew it and Hayes knew it too. But, if Hayes needed him…

“Listen, this isn’t punishment. The contact I received this lead from is a friend. I met him at a Mensa convention about ten years ago.” His boss scrubbed his hand over his five o’clock shadow and gestured toward the folder on the desk in front of him. “Look, a casual observer would never know it, but Kevin Deadeaux is a genius. His IQ is off the charts. If a fraction of what he believes is happening down there is, in fact occurring, this assignment may be good for your career.”

“May be?” Cole watched as Hayes stood and turned to look out the corner office window. He wanted a view like this. In fact, the drive he had to have his own corner office was the primary reason he’d consider taking this case.

“Taking down dirty federal judges will help to keep you highlighted for promotion. We’re talking systemic corruption and graft. A deputy in Mississippi stumbled onto some information and has a theory. There is more than a possibility the deputy’s instincts could be correct. If it turns out to be a wild goose chase? You did me a personal and professional favor. I’ll owe you big time.”

Hayes had always shot straight. If the man acknowledged he owed you a debt, it was a golden ticket. One he’d take. Cole digested the information and the promise. “When?”

Hayes tossed the slim manila folder toward him. “One week from tomorrow. This is your cover and a synopsis of my conversation with Deadeaux. Because of the federal implications, no one can know about your Agency ties. You’ll go as a D.C. cop who wanted a change from big city crime. You were hired by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. You met the sheriff once through Logan Church, the deputy who put these wisps of information together. Your way past the good ol’ boy system down there is through Church. You met each other at a hostage negotiation school the agency put on here two years ago. You kept in touch.”

The director held up a hand stopping his question. “Yes, the class roster has been altered to show you both went through at the same time.”

Reluctantly taking the folder, Cole asked, “What resources do I have?”

Hayes sat down in his chair and ran a hand through his hair. “Full support on all avenues, but you have to get us the evidence and information without the locals becoming curious. Kevin Deadeaux didn’t go into details, but he’s suspicious of everyone except Church. So, no contact with our local agents down there. We don’t know how deep this stink goes, but from what Kevin insinuates, we could have dirt on multiple levels, local, state and most definitely federal. Dennison will be your contact up here.”

Amber Dennison. Had Hayes purposefully sweetened the pot putting her on his team? The on-again off-again dalliance they enjoyed in the past might be on again. It didn’t even bother Cole to think Hayes might know about their colleagues-with-benefits relationship. Hayes had a way of knowing everything. “Alright, I’ll close out my reports and drift down south.”

The director stopped him before he left the office. “Agent Davis, don’t underestimate these hayseeds. They’ll close ranks if they suspect you’re a fed. Hell, the good ol’ boy system down there would make the seasoned politicians in D.C. green with envy. I don’t need you ending up dead.”

Cole gave him a two-fingered salute on the way out the door. “Roger. I copy. Dying is not authorized.”