Burning For Claire

By: C.M. Steele

(The O'Connell Family Book 2)


Prologue


“Williams. In my office, now,” called my director. Damn, I knew I was in deep this time. I was probably getting fired. Why didn’t I learn my lesson? I had to get crazy and act like I was some unstoppable badass, destroying everything in my path to catch one dang criminal.

I walked into his office ready to get my ass handed to me. I closed the door and took my usual I’m in trouble seat.

“What’s up, chief?” I asked as I waited for him to lay it on me.

“You know you’re really a pain in my rear, Williams. The government doesn’t like to fork out money to fix the damage caused by their own agents,” Director Edgar Martinez said. We’d been partners many years ago when I joined the bureau, but because of a case I was suspended and he was transferred and promoted. We still stayed friends, but he wasn’t as reckless as me and that was the reason he was the director of the McAllen office, and I was just an agent.

“What was I supposed to do? He had three hostages.” I tried to plead my case.

“Hey, off the record, I think what you did was pretty awesome. The problem is this isn’t an action movie. You destroyed over two million dollars in city property.”

“So what’s going to happen? Am I fired now?”

“No, you’re not, but I want you to lay low for a while. I’ve got an assignment for you out in the suburbs of Chicago.”

“What? In Chicago? Far Enough?”

“Actually it’s a suburb of Chicago, and Juneau, Alaska could be an option if you’d like?” the prick said with amusement. “Do you remember the Lake family that lived outside of Victoria?”

“Yes. Didn’t they move away to somewhere up north?”

“Yes. They moved to a town outside of Chicago called Collinsville.”

“Okay, so what’s the assignment?”

“I need you to go undercover and befriend their young daughter. Rumors are going around that they're going to sell her to the highest bidder on her 18th birthday. That’s almost two years away. We need all we can get on the potential buyers. A larger issue may be at play than just a sale of one girl. Rumors are that the people involved are used to making these deals, and she’ll be the oldest one, yet.”

“Why isn’t the Chicago field office handling this one? It’s in their state now.”

“They are inundated at the moment, plus the mess started before they left our jurisdiction, so they feel it belongs to us. If you need help they’ve got your back. Hell, they’re even willing to throw in your brother-in-law to help you with the case.”

“So this is a two year assignment? Damn, you really want me to lay low.”

“It’s up to two years. We might be able to pull the plug sooner.” Lying ass bastard.

“Okay...I’ll do it. I don’t have any reason to stay here.”

“I thought you had a girlfriend?”

“Me. Nope, we ended it three months ago. I wasn’t ready to settle down with any woman, let alone a broad with a broken moral compass. I don’t need the extra stress.”

“Tell me about it. I’ve been married for a decade, but it’s worth all the grays I've got. Although, some of grays are from you.”

“I’m so glad I could contribute,” I said with a smirk.

“Yeah, prick. Take this file and get out of my office.” He handed me a file with a manila envelope. I opened it up and saw all my new identification and credit cards.

“You were sure I’d take the job,” I accused.

“Have you ever turned down a job helping those who can’t help themselves?” I just shook my head. “I rest my case. You leave by Friday. Good luck and remember winters are shitty there, so you might want to solve it faster than the two years.”

“Shit. Okay.” I got back to my desk and started to look at my file then a moment later, I was back in his office. “A district manager? Really. I couldn’t just be a mall cop? Or why not the mall custodian. Thanks for the upgrade in my lifestyle,” I hissed.

“Hey, if it was up to headquarters you would've been a bum on the street and visit a soup kitchen she volunteers at. So you’re forced to live like a normal person for a change, instead of a wealthy lawman—deal with it.”

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