DISCLAIMER: I do not own any character whose name you recognize. If I did, Bella would not be so damn stupid in the books.
A/N: I can't believe I'm posting this "hot off the press" as it were, but I'm hoping to tempt a Beta reader into working with me, since no one will respond to my requests. (Am I really that bad?)
"…'right a'ready…" I mumbled, slapping off my alarm clock. Contrary to what the boys down at the station believed, I am NOT, in fact, a morning person. But, there is just no point to laying around in bed all day when there are things to be done and cases to be solved.
I stumbled to the shower…
"IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou," Quil chanted, only mildly surprising me with a hug from behind. "You are the best. Ever." I could smell his non police station issued coffee that wafted from his breath.
"Yeah, yeah, Ateara. I get it. Get off, already," I mock grumbled.
From the corner of my eye, I caught Embry's gaze as he lifted up his surprisingly girly non-fat-double-whipped-mocha-latte in salute. "You're the best, Bella," he agreed.
I ignored the warm glow their caffeine induced praise left me in. "Hey--self preservation," I insisted. "I know how you two are without real coffee."
"Let's go!" Embry shouted as he all but slammed his desk phone into its cradle. "We got a lead."
"The address?" I guessed as the three of us rushed to put on our coats.
"Yeah. The Super called. Said someone's just used the personalized key code for the apartment."
"SHIT! Get him!" Embry cried, giving chase to our suspect.
"On it!" Quil announced as he put forth a burst of speed, surpassing Embry and I. We followed, and watched as our partner disappeared into an abandoned building. Stupid clichés.
"Back Quil. I'll cover the other side," I told Embry.
He nodded and we split up.
The extra speed I poured on was worth the stitch in my side because I saw our guy trying to tear out the back door as I rounded the corner.
One thing for clichés was that they were at least predictable. Abandoned buildings always have at least one back door.
I braced myself and threw all my weight against the door, causing the suspect to stumble backwards. I used the precious seconds to draw my gun. "Freeze!" I commanded.
Of course he didn't. But it didn't matter because just before the guy could make another break for it, Quil tackled him to the ground.
"'Freeze' means 'stop', idiot," he growled, cuffing the guy.
Embry came barreling out the door then too, gun in hand, but relaxed at the sight of us. "You got him?" he asked Quil.
"Nah," Quil answered, tossing me a wink. "Swan did."
"Go, Bella!" Embry cheered in my ear as Quil recited the Miranda Rights.
I loved the bullpen. The cacophony of telephones, faxes machines, loud criminals and fellow cops always energized me the way cleaning used to. I thrived on the noise and energy. It helped me push through my day.
"I don't get it," Quil groaned from his desk. He leaned over his keyboard, clearly frustrated. "How the hell can you actually like doing this fucking paperwork, Bella?"
I frowned at him, even though he called me out. It was true. I preferred writing the reports and sifting through the statements more than anything else--even cuffing the bad guys. I even wrote my personal reports by hand but always typed everything up as well.
"The devil's in the details, Ateara," I teased. "And I hope you're not speaking to Claire like that."
From the next desk over, Embry snorted. "Claire's probably the one encourage him."
Embry once let it slip that Quil--"fun-loving-badass-cop-extraordinaire" (Quil's words; not ours)--was in a very serious, very long term relationship. I was pretty surprised, given what I knew about Quil back then. He just didn't seem the type. I was even more shocked to learn that his girlfriend was only a junior in college and that Quil had basically been in love since the moment he laid eyes on her at some cookout or something.
Claire was a bit wild and kind of a tomboy, but seeing her and Quil together--it made sense, even though I never would have believed it. They mellowed each other out, oddly enough. Oh well. This world took all kinds….
The three of us turned our heads in unison to see our boss, Captain Sam Uley, standing in the doorway of his office with what had to be one of the most gorgeous men I had ever seen.
The new guy shared the same sepia toned skin and fantastic skeletal structure of the Native American heritage, like Sam, Quil and Embry did. His hair was black, thick and glossy, and pulled back to a low tail that went just past his shoulders. It was the longest hair I had ever seen on a male officer.
Standing next to each other, the two of them made quite an imposing sight. Both tall--reaching well over six feet--dark and handsome and clearly not pleased. For a second, I wondered if they were related, but quickly discarded that notion. For one, while they had similar colouring, neither the Captain nor his guest looked even remotely alike. And their body language was all wrong for a supposed visit to a relative. Sam was crossing his arms and the male model beside him was clenching his jaw in such a way that I could see it from where I sat.
"Uh-oh," Quil muttered cheerfully.
"What did you do, Swan?" Embry asked in a concerned tone.
"Me?! He probably wants to talk to me about the two of you," I joked nervously. I rose from my desk, keeping my eyes on the new guy and my boss and tried not to let my emotions run across my face. I was rewarded for my efforts by witnessing the surprise run across the stranger's face before he whipped his head to stare at Sam.
I struggled to hide my smirk. Female cops weren't uncommon, but someone of my stature wasn't exactly what one would expect. I knew I was slender and pale and a little on the short side and I used it to my advantage. Bad guys rarely saw me coming.
I saw the new guy open his mouth to speak, but with all the noise in the pen, I didn't have a prayer of hearing him.
I barely made it halfway to the office before both men at the doorway turned back in to the office, leaving me to follow and close the door as per instruction.
"You wanted to see me, sir?"
The Captain sighed.
My stomach dropped as I settled into a chair. Nothing good ever followed that sigh. I noticed the room's other occupant remained standing.
"Swan, this is Detective Jacob Black," he said, gesturing to the man in the corner. "He just transferred into the unit." I had barely a chance to acknowledge Black when Uley started in again. "I want to place him with you."
"What!?" I heard Black cry just as I spluttered out an "Excuse me?"
"You mean with the team?" I tried.
"I mean with you, Swan. Partners. Call and Ateara can handle themselves."
I tried not to let my shoulders slump in defeat, but I was pretty sure my feelings were evident. Sam Uley's word was always final. No ifs, ands or buts about it. No exceptions.
Black must have known this too, because he didn't offer another protest.
"Here," Uley pulled a folder and held it out to me. "You two can start on this."
I took the folder and opened it to look at the file. Behind me, Black shuffled forward to look and I angled it so he could read over my shoulder.
Whoa. I had not expected his voice to sound so…..well, sexy. It was warm and slightly husky. I could be in big trouble. 'Focus, Bella,' I told myself.
Cullen Pharmaceuticals was one of THE top Medical Labs in North America, springing up almost overnight. There was always something new coming from them, the next biggest and best discovery in the medical world. I'd remember hearing somewhere that the CEO was some medical prodigy about my age--pretty young to be spearheading a multi billion dollar corporation.
"Cullen himself called this morning to report his secretary missing. Few hours later, a couple uniforms get a call about a wrecked Mazda out in New Castle matching the description of the secretary's car. Her fiancé also reported her missing, saying she never came home."
I flipped through the photos of the car and the poor girl. It wasn't pretty. Blood from a very large head wound had covered half her face and neck. Her left shoulder looked broken and her head itself was leaning against the steering wheel tilting at an angle that wasn't natural.
"Wasn't she wearing her seatbelt?" I muttered, more to myself than anything.
"Looks like she was hit pretty hard," I heard Black state.
I nearly jumped at the nearness of his voice. He had to be leaning down right behind me. He reached over my shoulder and gently tugged one of the photos of the wreck from my hands, before placing it back on top of the small stack and pointed with a large hand. "Look at the size of this dent."
Honestly, I knew squat about bodywork or anything about cars in general. A fact that remained a sore point with my old college roommate, Rosealie--who, despite being a debutante, could fix her own car.
I merely nodded absently, trying to focus on the photo in front of me and not the guy behind me. Why was I so aware of him?
The sound of Captain Uley clearing his throat shook some sense back into me and we both looked up to see him staring expectantly at us.
"We'll uhh, get right on it, sir," I responded, standing up hastily.
Uley nodded. "Swan'll show you your desk, Black." And like that, we were dismissed.
Black scowled for a moment, but let it go as we left the office.
"So, how much of a good thing am I breaking up?" he asked as we crossed the pen.
I frowned. "Call, Ateara and I are a good team," I insisted. "Well…we were, I guess."
Black put a warm hand on my shoulder and stopped me. "I didn't mean to come in and wreck any happy homes," he said sincerely. "Honestly, I was trying to convince the Captain that to let me go alone. I work better that way."
I could tell he wasn't just bragging or trying to be mean, just being truthful. Which was kind of sweet, coming from a cop in Homicide.
I sighed and ignored the fluttering in my stomach. "Sam Uley's just doing what he thinks is best. It's worked pretty well, so far," I admitted. I reached up and gave his hand a squeeze. "We'll just have to make do."
We made our way back over to my now former partners, who were watching us openly. Embry leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms over his face and smirked. Quil leaned forward.
"What's going on, Swan?"
"Guys, meet my new partner, Detective Jacob Black."
"Partner?!" Quil cried.
"He didn't…." Embry breathed.
"He did," I assured him.
"Why weren't we informed about this?" Quil demanded.
"I just told you," I muttered dryly, crossing my own arms. "Sam probably didn't want to deal with your outbursts."
"Aren't there proper channels to go through or something?" Quil continued, furthering my point.
"You're just upset Swan's not gonna be here to hold your hand when you have to do paperwork."
I turned to Black who had an eyebrow raised at the rapid fire pace the three of us conversed. "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Du--"
"Detectives Quil Ateara and Embry Call," Quil interrupted loudly, standing and holding a hand out to shake.
I rolled my eyes as I saw Quil administer the squeeze test. Black took it in stride if his grip was any indication.
"Any relation to Ephraim Black?" Embry asked calmly as he too, shook hands with my new partner.
A funny expression came over Black's face. "Uh, yeah…..my great-grandfather."
Embry whistled low. "That means William Black's gotta be your dad. You come from a long line, man."
Quil's eyes grew wide. "Your father Billy Black? He's a legend!"
Black shrugged. "He's just my dad. And I'm just Jacob."
Just Jacob. I liked the way that sounded.
I cleared my throat. "So, we've got to get to work. But, I'll get that report to you first thing in the morning," I told Embry. "Let me know when I need to sign off."
He nodded. "Will do. Good luck with 'just Jacob'."
I swallowed. "Thanks." Really, it was ridiculous to be this sentimental about leaving the case to the boys. They were still going to be stationed right next to me and here I was, trying to talk myself out of 'goodbye' hugs.
"Keep me in the loop, okay?"
"Sure," Embry said, just as Quil scoffed and said "Duh!"
I smiled. Those two…
I turned to Jacob, who was watching me with a soft expression. I was going to be horrified if I even so much as sniffed.
"So!" I said a little too brightly. "Let's get to work!"
A/N: I know. It needs to be formatted. Badly. Nothing I do sticks in the editor.....argh!