Slave to Love

By: Nikita Black

Chapter 1


Special Investigations Section Officer Caroline Palmer rested her back against her partner's chest and contemplated Homicide Detective Michael 'Mick' McGraw as he strode through the SIS—better known as the vice squad—door.

Okay, cometh was the wrong word to use. Arriveth would be more in keeping with the glacial Detective McGraw, who probably hadn't come in years.

Caroline lowered the pimp's case file her partner, Julio, was reading over her shoulder and tapped his linen-clad thigh. When she saw McGraw turn and head straight toward them, she dropped the file.

Damn.

Why was it every time she ran into the frustratingly cool detective, she was dressed like a hooker? She stooped to retrieve the scattered contents of the case file from the floor. She'd just come off working a night of decoy out on Colorado, and was dressed in her favorite pro outfit—bright red mini-skirt and a glittery off-the-shoulder sweater—guaranteed to attract any man's attention.

But not the Iceman. McGraw was unmovable. Unfortunately, the five minutes of flirting she’d done with him before being informed of his “untouchable” status probably had him convinced she threw herself at anything in pants. Which of course couldn’t be further from the truth. Since coming across the street from Traffic a year ago, she’d been as unobtainable as he was. She just didn’t make a religion of it like the Iceman. Not that she cared about his interest or lack thereof. She’d simply like to make a good impression on the department legend, on the off chance she got her fondest wish—a transfer to Homicide. Playing with fire was not her thing.

Ignoring the expensive spit-polished shoes which came to a halt directly in front of her, she gathered up the papers from the floor, tugging down on the hem of her skirt, vainly attempting to cover as much black-stocking-clad thigh as she could manage. The outfit was naturally designed to make any red-blooded man break out in a sweat, even at eight a.m.. Good thing McGraw's veins were filled with ice. Maybe he wouldn’t notice.

She could hear the guys at their desks softly snicker, but she knew it wasn't her they were laughing at. Although the whole department admired Mick McGraw’s near mythical skill and tenacity on the job, everyone thought he should lighten up. He had nothing to prove to anyone...even if his father was a murderer.

McGraw braced his feet apart, one shoe coming to rest on the edge of the last paper from her file. What the hell...?

She lifted her gaze, up past long, muscular legs encased in well-fitting navy slacks, up past lean masculine hips and waist. Past the absurdly broad chest which stretched a white button-down shirt to maximum capacity. And up past the choke-knotted red-striped tie and strong, shadowed jaw. All the way up to McGraw's sharp, icy-blue eyes.

God, he turned her on.

Shit.

No. He didn’t, she told herself firmly.

“Detective?” she said, clearing her throat. And noticed that her scoop-necked sweater was gaping open, giving him a taste of what he'd be missing if she were that kind of girl. But she wasn’t, so she slammed it to her chest with one hand. “You seem to be on my case,” she snapped.

His cool eyes assessed her, and for a second she thought he might make a retort. Instead, he wordlessly moved his foot just enough for her to retrieve the paper, which she did and then rose. Four-inch platform heels on top of her own five-foot-eight height let her look down at most men. It instantly irritated her that she had to crane her neck just to meet this one's gaze.

“You're wanted in my office,” he said.

She rolled her eyes. “Subtle approach, McGraw. Does it usually work?”

His chiseled lips thinned. “Every time. Let's go.”

She hiked her brow at his impassive tone. Lord, he was serious. “Sorry, I'm busy. We’ve been out all night and I have a pile of paperwork to finish before my shift ends.”

Her partner Julio's hand came around her waist from behind and pulled her back to rest between his thighs as he sat on the desk they shared. “What's this all about, Detective?”

McGraw's glance flicked to Julio's proprietary hold on her, but his expression remained shuttered. “Taking your role to an extreme, aren't you, Sergeant Martinez?”

Julio played pimp on their john busts while Caro trolled sidewalks. But her partner tended to look the part even when they weren't on the job.

“Just watching out for my girl,” he answered with a good-natured smile, his other arm coming around her waist, too. It was all part of their arrangement. Kept the goons off her, and suspicion diverted from him.

McGraw wasn't impressed. He looked down at her and jerked his head toward the door. “Come on, everyone's waiting.”

Caro crossed her arms under her breasts. “Everyone who?” He might be the reigning god of Homicide, but she really did have a ton of work to do before going home. And her chances of working for McGraw anytime in the near future were somewhere between slim and none. “Look, I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what's going on.”

“Chief Trujillo will explain when we get there,” McGraw said, stepped back and looked at her with an iron-willed expectancy. The good detective was obviously not used to anyone balking at his orders. Of course, the minute he'd mentioned the Chief, she knew he’d won this little battle.