Stop at Nothing

By: Kate SeRine

For Z.L.S.…

my very own happily ever after

Chapter 1

Well, son of a bitch.

The little bastard had decided to run. Didn’t that just fucking figure? It was at least ninety degrees, and the air was so thick Kyle might as well have been trying to inhale the gumbo that the citizens of New Orleans found so enticing. And now that freaky little shit Harlan Rhodes was sprinting down Decatur Street wearing nothing but a Speedo, tube socks, and glittery gold sneakers.

No one even raised an eyebrow—except for a random tourist or two who hadn’t quite figured out that natives of the Big Easy were rarely surprised by anything.


Kyle groaned inwardly when his partner, Dave Peterman, called out to him. He could already hear the ass-chewing he was going to get later for pissing on protocol. But screw it—Kyle wasn’t letting Rhodes give him the slip. No way in hell. He’d been working this case almost since he’d arrived in New Orleans a year ago and finally had the key witness needed to put an end to one of the biggest human-trafficking operations in the country. Peterman was just going to have to get his ass moving.

Rhodes suddenly darted into the street, sprinting toward Jackson Square, causing cars to come to a screeching halt. Kyle raced after him, ignoring the cacophony of blaring horns and shouted obscenities. Sweat soaked through his shirt. His suit jacket and tie began to feel like a wet straitjacket, restricting his movement. But the adrenaline pumping through his veins pushed him forward.

For all his wiriness, Rhodes was struggling just as much as Kyle in the heavy air, his strides beginning to slow even as he vaulted over a couple picnicking in the grass. The muscles in Kyle’s legs were on fire and his breath sawed in and out, but he surged forward in a burst of speed.

When he was within a few feet of Rhodes, Kyle lunged, tackling the other man. They crashed to the pavement, sliding along the concrete path and nearly taking down a bride and groom making their vows before a preacher dressed in a Colonel Sanders-like white suit, string tie, and goatee. Ignoring the couple’s startled cries, Kyle wrapped his arm around Rhodes’s neck, putting him in a headlock and rolling until the man was on his stomach. Kyle scrambled to his knees and twisted Rhodes’s arm behind him. The man bucked, trying to throw him off, forcing Kyle to press his knee into Rhodes’s back to keep him down.

“Now,” Kyle panted, having to yell as the brass band on the other side of the fence struck up their first tune of the afternoon, “I think you had a few things you wanted to tell me, Harlan…”

“Suck my dick!” Rhodes spat. “I ain’t tellin’ you shit, Dawson!”

Kyle shrugged, slapping handcuffs on Rhodes and dragging him to his feet. “That’s what you think, asshole.”

* * *

Kyle popped a handful of peanut M&M’s into his mouth just as Peterman stormed out of the assistant director’s office and halted abruptly to give Kyle a shitty look. So, pretty much business as usual.

He’d been catching hell from the moment he set foot in the New Orleans office. The other agents treated him like a piece of shit that’d been dumped on their lawn. Whatever. He didn’t give a rat’s ass what anyone else thought of him personally. He wasn’t there to make friends; he was there to do his job. If they felt threatened by that, then screw them.

So instead of kissing their asses to ingratiate himself into their good-ol’-boys’ club or slinking off into a corner to lick his wounds, Kyle had fallen back on the arrogance and insolence that had served him so well before. He’d figured out a long time ago how to get under people’s skin and turn their own attitudes around on them, thanks in no small part to the decades-long pissing match he had going on with his father.

“You guys have a nice chat?” he taunted Peterman. “Or were you just dropping by to polish Skinner’s knob before demanding a new partner?”

“Fuck off, Dawson,” Peterman sneered. “I gotta get home to my kid. I don’t have time for your shit.”

Kyle leaned back on the hand-carved wooden bench that sat in the hallway outside his boss’s office, regarding what he figured was now his former partner, and feigned a concerned frown. “How will I go on? First Hughes and now you? I’m heartbroken, Peterman.”

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