White Collared Part Four:Passion

By: Shelly Bell

Chapter One

SHE WAS FLOATING on a silky cloud in the azure sky, the sun beating down on her and a warm breeze grazing over her naked flesh. No one could reach her here. She was completely safe.

And thirsty. So, so, so thirsty.

What she wouldn’t give for a Sloe Gin Fizz.

Cool, smooth glass pressed into her palm as if she’d conjured her favorite drink out of thin air. Without spilling a drop of her refreshment, she somersaulted down the length of the cloud.

She chuckled, the noise of it foreign to her ears. How long had it been since she’d truly laughed? Why had she ever stopped?

Flying high above the earth, she could laugh as much as she wanted. Drink as much as she wanted. Play as much as she wanted.

She took a sip of her drink, and before she knew it the glass was empty. Yet the sides of her throat stuck to each other. She was still so thirsty. Maybe she needed another drink. Water this time. She waited for it to magically appear, but her hands remained empty.

Her cloud turned black and thunder rumbled. She reached out for him, momentarily forgetting she was alone. Always alone.

She didn’t want to stay up in the sky here any longer.

All the drinks in the world wouldn’t quench her thirst.

Not without her hero.

From below, someone called her name. Was it him?

It was time to find out. She slammed back into her body and opened her eyes.

Chapter Two

Six Days to Elections . . .

BLUE EYES FILLED with tears stared down at her. Nick ran his hand over her hair as her head rested in his lap. “Thank God you’re all right.”

Why did she smell gun powder?

She tried to turn her head toward the other side of the room, but he stopped her with his hand on her cheek. “No, Kate. Don’t look. You don’t want to see.”

A hot rush of adrenaline streamed through her body, cramping her stomach. Nausea tickled at her dry throat. It all came back, swamping her with horror.

Miles Joseph had attacked Hannah. Murdered Stephanie and Alyssa. She’d held a gun in her hands.

And Nick had saved her life. How could she ever repay him?

Her chest ached, and she shivered. “Nick.”

His thumb caressed the skin under her ear. “Shh. You’re safe now.”

She needed to make him understand. “Miles Joseph killed Alyssa. I found the evidence in his drawer.”

The bloodstained knife. And he’d admitted he’d tried to kill her. He would’ve shot her if Nick hadn’t stopped him.

He removed his suit jacket and laid it over her. “I know. But it’s all over.”

“I tried to shoot him with the gun you gave me, but I couldn’t do it. I froze.”

“It’s okay, baby. I did it for you.”

The guilt pierced her heart like a threaded needle to fabric. Her father’s death had haunted her for years, and there wasn’t a day she didn’t wonder if she could’ve done something differently. She didn’t want Nick to suffer the same fate. “It’s not okay. You don’t know what it’s like to live with the knowledge that you killed someone.”

His breathing grew rapid. “Better me than you. I’d kill a hundred men for you, Kate. Haven’t you learned that by now?” He tucked her hair behind her ear. “I can’t believe I almost lost you. It’s all my fault. I should’ve never let you go to Benediction with Jaxon, and as soon as I realized you were in danger, I should have taken you off the case.”

She gave him a weak smile. “You tried.”

“I should’ve tried harder.”

The familiar sour stench of death drifted from Joseph’s body. Her stomach rolled, and she inhaled through her mouth, fighting against the nausea. “I wouldn’t have listened. I wanted to help Jaxon and I knew the risk. I kept things from you when I should have been honest. It’s not your fault.”

“What if I’d been too late? I would’ve never forgiven myself.”

When she’d gotten off the phone with Logan, she should have immediately called Nick. Good thing he’d shown up when he had. “How did you know I was here?”

“After I spoke with you, I decided it was best to have Jaxon turn himself into police custody. That way we could at least take the wind out of the sails of District Attorney Savage’s press conference and frustrate his self-seeking last-minute election ratings grab. I arrived as a car backed out of his garage, and so I followed. When you arrived in the lot, I was going to call out to you, but Jaxon called to apologize for lying. I was on my way to your desk when I heard your voice coming from Joseph’s office and caught enough to know you were in trouble.” His throat worked over a swallow. “You could’ve died because of me, and that will stay with me until my dying breath. Kate, I lo—”

“Police,” a male voice announced from down the hallway.

What was Nick going to say? Was it possible he was in love with her?

He helped her to her feet and kept his arm around her, as if he feared she’d collapse if he didn’t support her. She was grateful for him, but she couldn’t help feeling the person she needed the most wasn’t here.


A lump of regret clogged her throat. She’d hurt him. Blamed him for lying to her when she’d lied to him as well. He’d made a mistake and should’ve come clean about his alibi from the beginning, but he hadn’t deserved to have her walk away from what they had together.

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