A Hard Place To Find
Click on image to enlarge.
by Jaxine Daniels
Description: Chris Gabriel left JAG to do something more ethical, more honest. He found his niche as a PJ. When an old flame shows up on his doorstep begging for sanctuary and his silence, he can't turn her away. The man who never lies, is forced to do just that. When her husband is found murdered in Gabe's apartment, and she has vanished, Chris is the only suspect. Offering her sanctuary was one thing, but taking the fall for murder quite another. Or so says his JAG attorney, Claire Janova, who must defend a man who will not defend himself.
eBook Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc., 2006 2006
eBookwise Release Date: October 2006
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [251 KB]
Reading time: 159-223 min.
Sergeant Chris Gabriel was clearly expecting someone else when he pulled the door open. His expression went from hope to disappointment to no emotion whatsoever in a matter of seconds.
Claire looked up into pearl grey eyes and held out her hand.
"Sergeant Gabriel, I'm Claire Janova."
He looked from her hand to her face and back to her hand but didn't move a muscle.
"I'm a JAG attorney from D.C."
"Can I come in and talk to you?"
Chris was rooted to the spot. He'd been hoping--expecting--the woman on the other side of the door to be small and blonde, not tall and dark and gorgeous. She wore jeans, sandals, and a crisp striped blouse and her dark hair hung down past her shoulders. She had a voice that struck him first as hoarse, but then as acutely sultry.
A JAG attorney from Washington?
Reluctantly he found his manners--he really didn't want to see anyone aside from Suzanne--and a JAG attorney was low on the list. But good breeding was hard to overcome so he reached out and shook her hand, impressed by her firm grip.
"May I come in?" she asked again, smiling.
Smile or no smile, this woman was all-business. And while she didn't, at this point, appear threatening or sinister, he was wary. But he had nothing to hide.
He had a great deal to hide, just none of it because he, personally, was guilty of anything.
Except maybe stupidity.
He stepped back. "Come in." * * * *
Sergeant Hero reluctantly let her inside. For a strikingly handsome man, he looked like hell.
"When was the last time you slept, Sergeant?" she asked, actually shocking herself and, the way he straightened his shoulders told her she'd shocked him as well.
"What do you want, Lieutenant?"
"Actually, it's Captain, but call me Claire. I'm here officially unofficially by request of Colonel Grisham to find out what happened to Max." As she spoke, she wandered inside to what looked to be a living room.
The apartment had beautiful wood floors and the walls were made from glass block, giving the entire space a lot of light. The living room was straight in, and was lined with near-floor to ceiling windows that looked out at the second floor apartments across the street.
Turning left, just past the couch that faced the fireplace, she saw a pool table and, beyond that, a very modern looking kitchen. Chris had followed her and she now stood looking out the windows by the pool table.
"You know him?"
"So, Sergeant, you want to tell me what happened to Max?"
The question was interrogatory, the tone was light. Chris winced anyway.
"The police deemed it suicide."
"That's what they told me, before kicking me out of my own house."
"Is that what you think, that Max committed suicide?"
"I don't know what to think."
The way the light played on her dark hair was a bit distracting. But when she turned and smiled, full-on, showing dimples that went with the slight cleft in her chin, Chris began to wonder if he'd lost his friggin' mind. His body reacted and he had to concentrate to keep up.
"You found his body?"
"Why was he here, Sergeant?"
The way she used his rank made him nervous, irritated.
"You can call me Chris."
"Why was he here, Chris?"
"I don't know. He showed up while I was on a mission. I didn't know he was here."
"So the first you knew of it was when you found him dead."
Claire smiled at his use of her rank. The witness was becoming hostile. Time to switch tactics.
"I'm sorry. I know this must be hard for you. I understand that you and Max went way back."
Tired or not, grieving or not, Chris Gabriel was not stupid. Now he smiled at her, but not in a good way.
"Listen, Captain, I don't know what happened here and I'm not much in the mood to play your games. Besides, I need to get in to work." Now he held out his hand pointing the way out. "If you have questions, maybe you should ask the police and leave me alone."
Her cue to leave.
"Thanks for your time," she said, hoping that it didn't sound like a line--she did mean it. Then she moved past him and toward the door, only stopping when he moved to open it for her.
"One more quick question, though. Have you seen Max's wife recently?"
He whipped around, the door halfway open. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. She's been missing for over a week. We're concerned."
"Goodbye, Captain Janova."