Bella is a well-seasoned, hard-working D.C. cop. She’s not thrilled about having to break in a new partner. But when Alejandro Rodriguez, the N.Y.C. transfer, shows up with a Hispanic name and the looks of a Norse God, she just might have to re-evaluate her ire. Especially when they go on a stakeout together and the simmering tension ignites into full-blown inferno-level heat.

Turns out Alex’s dominating nature is just what Bella needed. Handcuffs anyone?


The police chief called me into his office.

“As you requested, Guitarez, you’re off Vice and back on detective work,” the chief said.

“Thank you, Sir,” I said.

“And I’ve assigned you a new partner, the new guy from New York, what’s his name,” he shuffled some papers, “Rodriguez. Alejandro Rodriguez.”

I frowned. “Williams is off Vice as well Sir, I assumed I’d still be with her,” I said.

“Well you assumed wrong, Guitarez,” the chief said in a firm voice. “We got a new female rookie coming in and Williams drew the short straw. You wanna take her place?”

“No, Sir,” I said.

“So you’re getting Rodriguez. He should be here any minute,” he said and starting shuffling papers on his desk. He looked up. “What are you doing still standing here? Dismissed.”

I’d been on the force since I was eighteen. A lot of that had been sucky assignments, pretending to be a prostitute or a gang girlfriend, or directing traffic as a kindergarten cop. But once I partnered with Williams we had become a force to be reckoned with and the department took us seriously. I was not looking forward to breaking in a new partner.

I sat at my desk and tried not to sulk.


Some New York hot shot.

Or worse yet, maybe a rookie.

This could really suck.

I swiveled in my chair until I was facing the back windows. One thing about a case is I never jump to conclusions. I wasn’t going to jump to conclusions about someone I never met here either.

“Officer Guitarez?” Brittany, our receptionist said.

I swung around.

Holy shit.

“Officer Guitarez, this is Officer Rodriguez. I’m supposed to introduce him to you?”

I sprang to my feet.

Holy, holy shit. As in YOWSA.

“I’m Alex,” he said holding out his hand.

“Isabella,” I said back reaching out and giving his hand a firm shake.

We stared at each other, sizing each other up.

“Are you Latino?” I asked and was immediately embarrassed. It was the kind of question I would hate if it were directed at me. But I was expecting a short Mexican guy with a last name like Rodriguez and this was the most Nordic guy I had ever seen. He was six five, easy, maybe a little taller, with blond hair so blond it was almost white. He had the fine straight nose and square jaw of a super hero. He looked a little like Val Kilmer did when he was in his very first movies, except bigger, way bigger.

“I’m so sorry, I never should have asked that it’s just that I …” oh shit, now how do I finish that sentence?

“You were expecting somebody…taller?” Alex said.

I smiled. He had a sense of humor.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Because I was expecting somebody shorter,” he said.

I frowned. “Hey. I’m 5’5″.”

“Somebody way shorter,” he said.

“I could wear high heels,” I said.

One eyebrow popped way up at that one, disappearing under his fringe of side-swept bangs.

The captain came over and slammed a folder on my desk. “You two caught a double homicide. Welcome to D.C., Rodriguez.”

I grimaced.

I expected a lot of dick swaggering and pissing contests and ‘I’ll drive’ bullshit. None of that from Rodriguez. Just the opposite.

Consistently he said things like, “You should drive; you know this town and this rotunda shit will take a while to get used to.” Or “Why don’t you take lead, you’ll probably have a better feel for the neighborhood.”

I quickly found out he was fluent in Spanish, but even in the barrios he was content to let me take point.

He wasn’t a pussy, and he wasn’t shirking work. He had great ideas and he was pulling his weight. He just let me drive and interview and lead, consistently, which only made good sense, because as he pointed out, it was my town.

Our close rate was as good as it had been when I was with Williams.

And our rapport, even better.

But then we pulled a bogus assignment.

It happens to everyone eventually. You pull an assignment that just sucks. It could be anything. In our case it was watching the country home of a drug dealer who wasn’t even there. The thought was that he might have a witness hostage elsewhere and he might try and escape to this second home although both possibilities were extremely remote. This was more a cover your ass political kind of thing. God forbid it happened and a cop wasn’t on it kind of scenario.

It was in a very rural part of Virginia, what we called horse country because most of the estates were owned by the very rich who specialized in breeding horses for the Kentucky Derby.

Rodriguez and I were on a stakeout with nothing to stake, sitting in an unmarked car, pulled over on the side of a very rural dirt road.

It had been a long two hours. And we had at least another six ahead of us.

“Come here,” Rodriguez said, his voice was gruff.

I looked over at him.


“I said ‘come here,’ he whispered opening his arms up toward me. “If someone drives by we should look like we’re a couple, necking.”

I looked at him like he was out of his fucking mind.

“What the hell else would we be doing, in a parked car, that’s parked in the middle of nowhere?”

He was right. The sun had set and it made us more suspicious. This road only went to the drug dealer’s house. We would have to have a cover and that was the best one.

I slid over on the bench seat and into his open arms. I leaned against his chest and he put his arms around me.

He twisted around and looked in the back seat.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He came back around and spread a blanket over our laps.

“Better?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said. I was stiff in his arms. At first it was a little weird; I’d known him for three weeks. You feel like you get to know your partner really well, really fast, when you’re bonding over a dead body but that is different than resting your head on their chest. Also, he was so much bigger than me, an entire foot bigger, that even sitting down, I noticed our height differences, it was like I was tucked under his arm, low down on his chest.

“This will never do,” he said. “Come here,” he whispered, and his voice was full of that masculine promise, and I felt my body respond.

Then he shifted, moving somehow, scooting lower, slouching maybe. Suddenly my body fit into his perfectly.

“There. That’s it. Better, huh?”

“Yeah,” I whispered, my voice gone all breathy. “Much better.”

Then he kissed me. Just the gentlest brush of his lips against mine. “For the cover,” he said softly.

“Unh,” I said.

“Isabella,” he said firmly. “So we look right, for the cover.” And then he pressed his lips against mine again, more firmly this time, but it was less of a kiss and more of a pose. He backed off a little, just enough to look at me. “Okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

He put his cheek near my neck. He put one hand on my lower back and pulled me in even closer to him. “I can see everything perfectly well from here. If anyone comes down the road, I’ll know, you can trust me. I can see the road.” He nibbled my neck and I shivered. “I can see the house; I can see everything.”

My body flooded and I went boneless against him.

He laughed softly, that masculine laugh that men do when they feel like everything is wonderful. “Hey partner, stay with me here.”

“Can’t,” I said.

“All right, Bella,” he said, and the Bella part he said so softly I thought I might have imagined it. “Why don’t you rest and I’ll keep watch.”

“No,” I said.


“No,” I said firmly. And I slid my hand decisively down the firm planes of his chest, and kept going lower.

“Oh shit,” he said.