THE GUNSHOTS pinged off the wall behind him. None of them were even remotely close. Either the guy was blind or high as a fucking kite. There was no other explanation. Even someone with minimal knowledge of guns could’ve hit better than that.
“You know, there are easier ways to make your unhappiness known,” Cade yelled between gunshots. “Ever tried sending a card?”
The answer he got was a new blast of gunshots. A smile stretched his lips as he moved to sit on his ass, figuring this might take longer than he first assumed.
“You messed up when you kidnapped those kids, Jerry,” Cade said. “I mean, I knew you were stupid, but I thought you’d at least stick with the drugs.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Jerry yelled, his voice high and scathing.
How did he end up spending his Friday night in an abandoned warehouse, dodging bullets, and doing Vice’s job for them? Of course, he’d been appointed to be the bait but at least he got Mackintosh to admit he found Cade distracting. Which he found was a great compensation. There was a lot of ammunition in Mackintosh’s little confession and he planned to use it to the fullest.
“I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, Jerry, but I’m really bad at shutting up.”
Unless Cole was involved. Though, Cole could also make him louder. Much louder. The past five months were proof of that. Mrs. Jones was sure to point that out whenever she got the chance. Granted, she’d gotten quite a show that one time they hadn’t made it from the car in the driveway to the house. He rather enjoyed those times when he managed to get Cole to lose all inhibitions.
“Have you met my partner? Big, grumpy guy who looks like he can tear you in half with his bare hands?”
“I don’t see your partner with you,” Jerry yelled. “No one for you to hide behind.”
“These barrels are doing the job quite well so far, or maybe it’s because your aim is worse than a blind man’s.”
He received another round of gunfire for that, some of the shots closer than he liked. Made him glad he was wearing a vest. He shifted onto his knees and peeked out from behind the barrels. Jerry was reloading his handgun, his eyes flicking towards the door he was guarding. Jerry was far enough away from the door with nothing to provide cover if he tried to make a run for it. At least Cade hoped he wouldn’t because that door led to the basement where Jerry had stashed all the kids and Cole, along with vice, was leading them out through the ventilation system right then. Cade raised his gun and got off two shots before Jerry fired back. With a huff, Cade dropped back onto his ass.
“Are you guys about done?” he whispered into the comms unit Vice provided him earlier. “My ass is getting cold.”
“Like I give a shit about your ass,” Mackintosh’s voice came through loudly in his ear.
“Puh-lease. You love my ass.”
A disgruntled sigh sounded in his ear, making him smile.
“We’re getting the last one out now,” Cole said. “Thirty seconds then Mackintosh and I will go in through the basement door.”
“What’s his position?” Mackintosh asked.
With another peek, Cade checked to make sure Jerry was still in the same place. The guy was intent on giving the warehouse new windows if his shooting was anything to go by.
“Twenty feet from the door, his back to it. Want me to keep him distracted?”
“Copy that,” Cole said.
“Hey, Jerry?” he called out. “Remember that partner of mine you were talking about?”
“Don’t you ever shut up?” Jerry shouted.
“Only occasionally during sex.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“A lot. But it’s not like you’re any better. You’re the one going crazy with a gun you can’t control. Hell, there’s a bigger chance of me getting hit by a ricochet. You know what? That’d be a sad way to go. Killed by the ricochet of a guy who couldn’t even hit you if you stood ten feet from him. Screw this. I surrender.” He stood and put his hands in the air.
Jerry looked at him funnily, the surprise rendering him immobile for a moment. It was enough for Cole and Mackintosh to close in on him.
“Drop the gun and put your hands in the air,” Mackintosh bellowed.
Cade drew his gun and aimed it at Jerry who’d gone stock-still. Jerry hesitated, his eyes shooting from Cade to Mackintosh and Cole. Cade wasn’t sure what Jerry was going to do, so he kept his own trained on him. Jerry cursed and bent down slowly, putting his gun on the ground. Cole holstered his gun and strode over to Jerry. He was none too gentle when he put Jerry in handcuffs.
He holstered his gun with a sigh of relief. Mackintosh grabbed Jerry, pulling him towards the uniforms swarming the place as he read Jerry his rights. Cole was already heading out of the warehouse so Cade followed. Cole stopped just outside, by the entrance. Cade walked around him so they were facing each other and he could look up at Cole with narrowed eyes.
“Took you long enough,” he said.
Cole rolled his eyes but his lips quirked into a barely hidden smile. Cole opened his mouth, probably to say something snide but he never got the opportunity as Brent appeared behind him and slapped him on the back of his shoulder.
“Nice job, guys. Thanks for the help.”
“Anything for you, my darling,” Cade drawled, blowing him a kiss.
Brent pretended to catch it, holding it against his heart while making a face that should’ve probably looked cute but he failed miserably.
“You look constipated, Gallagher,” Mackintosh said, appearing from behind Cade.
Brent grimaced at him. “Thanks, partner.”
Mackintosh shrugged, looking unapologetic. He turned around, something resembling a smile spread across his face as he held out a hand to Cole who shook it with a smile of his own.
“Thank you for your help, Banks,” Mackintosh said.
“You’re very welcome,” Cole said. “I’m just glad the kids are safe.”
Mackintosh turned, noticing Cade, which made him wince. Cade felt his lips spread in a mocking smile.
“Mackie. You here to thank me, too? I know just the way—”
“Please control this dimwit,” Mackintosh said over Cade’s head.
Cade glanced over his shoulder, finding Cole looking at Mackintosh with an amused expression on his face.
“I don’t make promises I can’t keep,” Cole said.
Cade snorted, glaring up at his partner. All Cole had to do was look at him with those dark, commanding eyes and tell him to do something and he’d do it, no questions asked. Well, most of the time anyway. Especially when they weren’t wearing any clothes. Like last week when he’d told Cade to grab a hold of the headboard and not let go until he was told to. He might be bossy himself in bed, but he loved Cole’s bossy side as well. He cleared his throat to hide the flare of desire rushing through him, but Cole must’ve seen it as he looked at Cade with heat flaring in his green eyes.
He glanced down at the ground, attempting to will away the blush burning its way up his neck. He’d been blushing a whole lot more since Cole came into his life. Usually, he didn’t care because he knew Cole liked to make him blush and when he did, Cole tended to lose most of his inhibitions.
He looked up just in time to see the newly elected States Attorney approaching. Anthony Gibbs was perfect for the job. It suited him as well as the grey pinstripe suit he was wearing. It brought out his eyes and those few greying hairs.
“What a shit show,” Tony said, coming to a halt across from Cade. “Remind me again why I let you guys run wild?”
“’Cause we’re good at catching scumbags,” Stryker said.
Tony turned to Stryker, his lips quirking at the corners but not quite lifting into a smile. As far as Cade knew, those two had always had a great work relationship but since Tony started dating Stryker’s little brother, their relationship evolved into endless teasing from Tony. The kind he’d always had with Cade, which was one of the reasons he liked the man so much.
“Gemma wanted me to say hi and inform you you’re sleeping on the couch tonight,” Tony said, the smile finally breaking free.
“Oh, fuck,” Stryker exclaimed. He dropped his head into his hands, a long groan pushing through his lips. “I forgot mom’s birthday party.”
“Your mom was pretty cool about it. It was only when you didn’t call she started to think you were dead. But don’t worry, I already told them you were just working.”
“She’s gonna kill me for this,” Stryker groaned. “Or worse.”
“You’ve got a lot of groveling to do. I mean, your brother was growling when I left. Growling, Matt,” Tony said, shaking his head. “The only time he usually does that is when—”
“Alright,” Mackintosh interrupted. “Let’s get back to work.”
He turned around and trudged off, his shoulders tense. Tony just laughed it off.
“Well, ain’t he cranky,” Cade said, sighing.
Brent nudged Cade’s shoulder with his own. “You’re not the only one who makes him cranky anymore.”
True that. Mackintosh was skirting the line but he kept his homophobia in check around Tony. Getting on the new State’s Attorney’s bad side wasn’t smart and Mackintosh hadn’t made team leader by being stupid.
“There he is,” Tony said and started towards the black Lexus just parking outside of the crime scene tape. “Come meet the new prosecutor assigned to vice.”
The guy wore a blue tailored suit that fit him like a second skin. His blond locks were styled to perfection. He had an air about him; a self-assured cockiness coming from being born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
“Blake,” Tony said. “Meet homicide detectives Cade Lawson and Cole Banks. They’re the ones I told you about.”
A shy smile graced Blake’s lips as he stepped towards Cade.
“Hi,” Blake said, taking Cade’s offered hand.
“Hiya, Blake. Welcome to the madhouse,” Cade said, chuckling.
Blake’s eyes widened comically, making his chuckle turn into a cackle. Brent hip-checked him away from Blake and took his place in front of him.
“Don’t mind him. He was dropped on his head one too many times as a kid,” Brent said, smiling like he got paid for it. “I’m Brent. We’ve talked on the phone a few times. I’m the Vice Department’s liaison with the State’s Attorney’s Office.”
“Ah. Yes, I remember. It’s nice to finally meet you,” Blake said.
The smile was back on Blake’s face and it stayed there as Cole stepped forward and shook his hand.
“Welcome. I hope you settle in well despite all the crazies,” Cole said and, not so subtly, motioned towards Brent and Cade. They both flipped him off, much to Blake’s amusement.
“Where did everybody go?” Tony asked, glancing around the lot.
Stryker was on the phone a few feet from them and from the expressions crossing his face, it looked as if his date with the couch was inevitable. Stryker’s partner, Detective Emma O’Neil, was nowhere to be found. She’d been there earlier when Cole and he were recruited for the operation. She was probably with the kids along with Social Services and the precinct’s psychiatrist.
“There you are,” Tony said.
Cade glanced up in time to see Mackintosh join them once again. He watched as Blake turned around and faltered when his gaze caught onto Mackintosh.
“Detective Ian Mackintosh meet ASA Blake Henley,” Tony said.
Blake and Mackintosh stood frozen as they stared at each other for a long moment until Mackintosh blurted out, “Motherfucker.”
That seemed to pull Blake out of his stupor. He narrowed his eyes at Mackintosh, those baby blues alight with a deadly fire. Cade crossed his arms and waited for the shit-show that was no doubt about to go down.
“If I remember correctly, you’re the motherfucker,” Blake said, anger dripping from his every word.
Mackintosh snorted. “She was the one who came to me.”
Blake stepped right up to Mackintosh, putting them chest to chest and even though Blake was at least five inches shorter than Mackintosh, he didn’t seem fazed by it. Not in the least.
“You think that makes it alright? You’re just as fucked up as you were back then,” Blake said. “My father marrying a girl that young was gross, but you, you take the fucking cake.”
“Alright,” Tony said, putting one hand on each of their chests and pushing them away from each other. “Leave your personal shit to your own time.”
Mackintosh growled something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like ‘fuck me’ before he whirled around and stalked back towards the line of police cars.
“Did you two give your statements yet?” Tony asked, his glare centered on Cade.
Before he could even open his mouth to answer, Cole grabbed a hold of his wrist and started to drag him away while saying, “We’ll get right on that.”
He followed along, grinning at the back of his partner’s head. He’d just gotten so much ammunition. He held back from rubbing his hands gleefully, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to use it.
Giving their statements didn’t take long and soon after, they were headed for Cole’s car. Cole watched him with narrowed eyes as he asked, “You enjoyed that, didn’t you?”
Cade grinned up at his partner who in turn shook his head at him.
“Did you see the way Mackie looked at Blake? There’s definitely something there,” Cade said. “I’m gonna be a hundred bucks richer soon.”
“You need to stop with the betting,” Cole said.
“Oh, come on. Mackie is gay and you know it. Don’t get all surly just cause I made a bet about it. You should know by now, I only make bets I can win.”
Cole didn’t say anything, he just turned his gaze straight ahead and turned on the car. Cade tilted his head to the side, watching his partner for a long moment.
“This is about our last bet, isn’t it?”
Cole grumbled before swearing under his breath. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Cade slid his hand up Cole’s thigh, a playful smile on his lips. “Want me to make you forget all about it?”
Cole hissed through his teeth, placing his hand on top of Cade’s and effectively stopping him from moving it any further up his thigh. Cade glanced up, meeting Cole’s heated gaze and licked his lips before biting down on his bottom lip.
“Fuck,” Cole growled.
Cole removed Cade’s hand from his thigh, much to Cade’s disappointment. He thrust out his bottom lip in a pout and batted his eyelashes at Cole.
“Don’t give me that look.”
“Keep your hands to yourself or I’m gonna tie you up.”
“You realize that’s not really a threat, right?”
Cole rolled his eyes with a deep, long groan. “Don’t make me spank you too.”
“This just keeps getting better and better.”
“How about this; I promise to fuck you hard and so thoroughly you won’t be able to walk without remembering me for days. If you keep your hands, lips, and dick to yourself until we get home.”
Cade crossed his legs and said a silent prayer. “Deal.”