Don't Look Back [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Joanne Rock
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Men are a risky proposition. It's a lesson NYPD detective Donata Casale learned the hard way. But she's moved beyond her disreputable history and is climbing the ranks at her precinct. That is, until this case?which threatens to resurrect her past?lands on her desk. Suddenly she's paired with the man who once arrested her: the dangerously sexy P.I. Sean Beringer. Donata knows Sean's rebellious ways brought an end to his career as a cop. But his methods are still more than effective at getting her motor revved high. Despite her best intentions, they're soon burning up the sheets together. With all that steamy action between them, can she distract him long enough to solve this case?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Blaze
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2007
7 Reader Ratings:
"I'M NOT WATCHING this with you."
Detective Donata Casale tossed the DVD case on the table in the 10th precinct's media room and glared at her so-called partner.
"Fine." Mick Juarez dumped a steady stream of sugar into his coffee and shrugged with the blasé confidence of a man who didn't have anything to prove. "Don't do your job. It's no skin off my nose."
The scent of java mixed with the stale stench of sweat and crime and cheap aftershave that permeated the building most days.
"Do you ever disagree with anyone about anything?" Donata resented Mick for his refusal to get riled up over stuff when life seemed hell-bent on pissing her off at every turn. "Doesn't it irritate you to know I got stuck with the porno case just because I'm new on the force and a woman?"
She picked up the DVD sleeve again and wondered why her lieutenant thought it would be a good idea to give the sex footage to her and Mick to watch when they were one of the few mixed-gender detective partnerships in the precinct's detective squad. Thankfully, at least Mick had sworn off women after his ex-wife did a number on him a few years back, so Donata never had to worry about any guy-girl chemistry getting in the way of a solid partnership.
"Maybe we got it because our past investigative work might connect to this somehow." Mick stirred his coffee for so long Donata thought she'd scream if he banged the spoon against the mug one more time. "Or maybe we had the lightest caseload to take on something new. Who knows? But to answer your question, no, it doesn't irritate me to be handed an important assignment."
Gently, he pried the DVD cover from her hand and Donata wondered how he could deflate her well-deserved fury so readily. The guy might have a serious sugar habit, but he was a rock. At thirty-eight, he was one of the most respected detectives on the squad. Patient and smart, Mick had outlasted four other partners to end up with her—the rookie no one else wanted because of her checkered past.
She might have been promoted quickly based on job performance, but in her years as a patrol officer, she'd seen the way cops could close ranks against outsiders. She'd overcome some of that bias in her last precinct, but then her promotion to detective had moved her to a new squad and put her at the back of the class all over again at the age of twenty-seven.
"Fine." Donata dropped into a chair near the computer screen and opened the file folder that had been given to them along with the DVD of an underage girl allegedly filmed without her knowledge. "But I'm closing my eyes during the naked parts. I really fail to see how us watching cheap porn will lead to finding any clues about a shady film distributor. From what I understand, the producers usually operate far away from the site of any actual studio humping."
Disgruntled to have been given an assignment surely intended to embarrass her, Donata studied the reports in the file while Mick clicked the necessary commands to load the video footage. New York's lower West Side might be home to a new adult filmmaker, but to her way of thinking, cops had more violent criminals to track than the lowlifes shipping porn across state lines. Possibly they could help a few mildly underage girls leave the business though, and at least that was a goal Donata could get behind. Then maybe watching this with Mick wouldn't feel like such a punishment.
"Maybe. Maybe not," Mick pointed out in typical unflappable fashion. "But one thing's for sure, lady, you've got to get over thinking the whole precinct is out to get you."
Donata stiffened, surprised even easygoing Mick would tread those waters.
She'd been about to remind him of a few choice comments their fellow officers had made the first day she'd been promoted to the detective squad two months ago, when a sudden outburst of profanity halted her.
Shocked at the uncharacteristic response from her partner, Donata looked up from the file notes to see a girl—fifteen at the oldest—slowly undoing her blouse in what appeared to be her home bedroom. Stuffed animals and posters of screen idols competed for space around her bed while the dim light of her computer screen provided the only illumination for her room.
"What the hell is this?" Mick stood so fast the rolling chair went flying out from underneath him as he thundered away from the PC.
Donata, on the other hand, couldn't look away.
"She's got a webcam," Donata replied softly, knowing Mick had a sixteen-year-old daughter who wanted nothing to do with him after being raised by her mother abroad. The sight of this girl on the screen had to suck all the more for him.
And yeah, it was tough for Donata to look at the footage, too.
But unlike Mick, Donata had just found a new mission in life because she recognized the young woman on the screen. Not the girl's name or any part of her identity, maybe, but Donata recognized the desperation. The determination to take charge of life even though you had so few options at that age.
Donata remembered the overwhelming desire to please a lover after being raised with little love to speak of. She understood the innocent willingness to do anything for a guy who showed you a few scraps of affection.
And worse, she knew what it felt like to be betrayed by that same person you once worshipped.
Because the girl on the screen had been Donata once. And not for all the world would Donata let this anonymous young woman face the private hell that she had.
Copyright © 2007 by Joanne Rock.