Tie Me Down

Page 1


Chapter One
It was hot as only New Orleans could be.
Hotter than a cat on a tin roof.
Hotter than the Cajun cooking her mother used to make.
Hotter than hell.
And she was burning up, fury and sorrow eating her from the inside out.
More than ready for the day from hell to be over, Genevieve Delacroix slammed out of the precinct on the fly, then cursed as she plowed straight into the sticky heat the city was known for. It rose up to meet her like a wall—thick and heavy and all-consuming.
Pausing to catch her breath, she stared blindly at the planters full of cheerful posies that lined the front of the precinct. Her partner, Shawn, had picked a hell of a time to take a vacation—in the middle of the busiest week homicide had seen in years. After working four homicide scenes in as many days, it was a miracle she could still put one foot in front of the other.
Today, she’d awakened to a ringing phone, news of a brutal, sex-related homicide the first thing she’d heard as she surfaced from a sleep so deep it was almost like death itself. Yesterday it had been a murder-suicide. Two days before that, a domestic dispute turned deadly.
Not to mention the bizarre call she’d gotten earlier that afternoon promising her—with sexually graphic delight—that the caller would be seeing her very soon. As the only female on the homicide squad, she got her fair share of calls from weirdos, and this one was nothing unusual—but it still put her back up, as they all did.
Sighing, she rubbed a weary hand over her eyes. This week, the Big Easy was anything but.
Taking the precinct steps two at a time, Genevieve glanced around the French Quarter, where she’d worked and lived for most of her life.
Tonight she could see none of the beauty the Quarter was known for. The architecture, the colors, the history—it all faded beside the sickness she’d witnessed that morning. The most recent in a long line of f**ked-up and twisted crimes that ate away at the city’s population like a cancer.
Her argument with the lieutenant rang clearly in her head as her long legs ate up Royal Street’s narrow sidewalks.
Not enough similarities in the causes of death in the murders.
Not enough similarities in the three victims.
Not enough evidence, in her boss’s not-so-humble opinion.
But in the eleven years she’d been on the force, Genevieve’s gut had never been wrong, and right now her instincts were screaming that the case she’d caught this morning—the brutal rape and murder of a nineteen-year-old Tulane student—wasn’t a freak event. A serial killer was at large.
True, the causes of death in all three murders had been different, as had the body dumps—Jackson Square, a bar called Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, Senator Mouline’s house—but the feel of the scenes had felt too similar for it to have been a fluke. The evident, full-out rage the killer had been in when he’d inflicted the wounds had been the same, as had the desperate need to cause as much pain and humiliation to his victims as possible.
Without knowing where she was going, Genevieve made a quick left on St. Peter. She knew only that that she couldn’t face going home and reliving the whole damn day over and over in her head until she wanted to scream—or sob.
The image of Jessica Robbins’s body was in front of her eyes, the atrocities done to her burned into Genevieve’s brain by the hours and hours she’d spent working the case. By the helpless anger she felt at not being able to stop the crime.
By the failure she was already anticipating.
If this was the work of a serial killer—and her experience and instincts shouted that it was—then he was damn good at his job. Maybe the best she’d ever run across. And she’d need more than a condescending smile and a load of denial from her egotistical boss if she was going to catch the bastard.
Sickness churned in her stomach and turned her legs weak. Chastian couldn’t be allowed to sweep this under the rug, like he did so many of the other ideas she went to him with. He couldn’t be allowed to discount her ideas just because she was a woman and in his screwed-up opinion didn’t belong in homicide. She knew how to do her job, and would be damned if she was going to let his sexist bullshit stand in the way of her doing what she knew was right.
A couple of frat boys cruised by, jostling her, and Genevieve nearly jumped out of her skin. One more sign that she was wound tight enough to break.
“Hey, baby, let me buy you a drink.” One of them leered at her, his vacant eyes testimony to just how many drinks he’d already bought.
“I think you’ve had enough.” She started to move away from him.
“Aww, come on, darlin’, don’t be like that.” The second one blocked her way, and Genevieve sighed as she saw her day going from miserable to excruciating in the blink of an eye.
“Guys, you’re already drunk off your asses and it’s only”—she glanced at her watch—“seven thirty. Why don’t you head back uptown and sleep it off?”
“Is that an invitation?” the first one asked, leaning in so close that she could almost identify the brand of beer he’d been slamming back.
“Not the kind you’re looking for.” Straightening up, she shoved past them. “Now scram.”
With much grumbling, they did, and Genevieve started to walk away. But now the idea of a drink had begun to sound entirely too good to pass up. Maybe a hurricane—or three—would help get Jessica out of her head.
Shouldering around the crush of tourists standing in front of Pat O’s, she slunk into the much less raucous bar a few doors down. If she couldn’t force the memories out of her head, maybe she could drink them away. At least for tonight.
* * *
Cole Adams slid onto the barstool next to the blond bombshell with more curves than a baseball and wondered how to start up the conversation he was dying to have.
Should he open with the truth? He wasn’t sure how well this beautiful woman would take to the fact that he’d been researching her for months. That he’d followed her from the police station. That he’d been lurking around outside the precinct, waiting for her to come out for nearly an hour.
That he wanted a whole lot more from her than she’d be willing to give.
He’d meant to stop her there, to tell her what he wanted right from the start. But she’d looked so enraged—and miserable—that he couldn’t help wondering what had caused the devastation written so clearly on her face.
But before he could decide how to approach her, Genevieve had started off at a walk so fast it was nearly a run, and he’d been forced to follow her or lose his chance.
He couldn’t afford to mess this up. Not now, when he’d finally gotten everything set up the way he wanted it.
Glancing at Genevieve out of the corner of his eye, he nearly snorted. Yeah, right. Things were going exactly as he’d planned.
Except that she looked more likely to shoot him than listen to him.
Plus, the speech he’d prepared sounded incredibly stupid now. Like a bad pickup line instead of the appeal to her conscience he’d intended.
Maybe he was just paranoid—and who could blame him? He’d done his homework on the NOPD so thoroughly that the face of every homicide detective on the force was familiar to him by now. But Genevieve’s picture hadn’t done her justice. On the computer screen, her hair had looked more of a dirty gray than the honey blond it really was, and her ample curves had been hidden under an ill-fitting suit. Now Cole was struggling to deal with the arousal that had wrapped around his gut like a fist at his first sight of her, and had only gotten worse as he’d watched her sinuous glide through the Quarter.
Looking at her from beneath his lashes, he watched her long, unpainted fingernails tap an impatient rhythm on the bar as she leaned back on her barstool in a parody of relaxation. What did it say about him that the guarded accessibility of her frame—combined with the sight of those loose, feminine fingers—had him longing for the feel of her against him? For the feel of her hand on his suddenly—and unexpectedly—hard cock?
Fuck, damn, shit. What was he, a horny teenager who couldn’t keep his dick under control? Or a man who knew what he wanted, one with a secret to unravel and could find only one woman to help him do it?
This couldn’t be happening. Not now, when he was so close to getting the ball rolling. Not now, when he had Detective Genevieve Delacroix almost exactly where he wanted her.
But it was happening, his body spinning rapidly out of control while his mind struggled to find a way to approach her that she wouldn’t find threatening—or annoying.
“So, can I buy you a drink?” Her question came out of nowhere, in a no-nonsense tone and a voice that was pure, sugary Georgia peach. Smooth and silky and sweetly delicious, despite the hint of hard-ass he heard just below the surface.
Surprise swept through him, and he wondered if she would taste as good as she sounded. The contrast between her voice and her tone intrigued him, one more example of the numerous contradictions that seemed to make her up.
The lush body covered by that ridiculous suit.
The indolent pose belied by the watchful eyes.
The gorgeous voice with the don’t-fuck-with-me tone.
It made him wonder who the real Genevieve Delacroix was. Made him want to f**k with her—to f**k her—and to hell with the consequences.
As he struggled to regain control—to keep his eye on the prize—the wicked curve of her lips kept interfering with his concentration.
“What are you offering?” He kept his voice low as he angled his body toward hers, savoring the rush of arousal pouring through him. Inconvenient or not, it had been far too long since he’d felt this instantaneous reaction to a woman.
Her barely-there smile turned into a smirk. “That depends what you ask for.”
He nodded to the bartender who had sidled up to the other side of the bar. “A shot of Patrón Silver.”
“Interesting choice.” Genevieve quirked a brow before turning to the bartender. “I’ll take an Absolut and cranberry.”
After the bartender moved away, she leveled a pair of deep blue eyes at him and Cole fought the urge to squirm. Genevieve had cop eyes—world-weary, cynical and more than willing to believe the worst.
For a split second, it was like looking into a mirror, his own tormented emotions of the past few years staring back at him. But then a shutter came down, blocking him from seeing anything but a sardonic amusement that sent shivers up his spine.
“So,” she demanded as she leaned forward until her mouth was only inches from his own. “Do you often drink alone?”
It was his turn to raise a brow. “I’m new in town. I don’t have anyone else to drink with.”
“I’d feel sorry for you, but I get the impression that’s more by choice than necessity.” Her cerulean eyes glowed as they swept over him, and he couldn’t stop his body from clenching in response.
“So what about you?”
She inclined her head. “What about me?” Her peaches-and-cream voice was ripe with approval, and he felt his c**k throb. Shifting a little, he tried to adjust himself so his hard-on wasn’t so obvious—or painful. But a quick glance at Genevieve told him that she was more than aware of his dilemma—and that she was enjoying it.
“Do you often drink alone?” He parroted her words back at her, determined to gain control of the conversation.
“Who says I’m alone? I could be waiting for someone.”
She was bluffing—pushing him hard with her f**k-off voice and come-hither body language—and normally he’d be more than happy to go along for the ride. But now wasn’t the time for this, he reminded himself forcibly.
“Should I leave?” He started to stand.
“No!” For just a moment her façade slipped, giving him one more glimpse of the frustrated, tired, too-pissed-off-to-be-alone woman behind the mask.