Home > Rise (Rise & Fall Duet #1)

Rise (Rise & Fall Duet #1)
Author: Grahame Claire

Chapter One






“You’re under arrest for securities fraud and tax evasion.”

I didn’t move.

Neither did the jerk in the dark suit. His pitch-black aviators shielded his eyes, so I couldn’t read what was in them. What the hell was happening?

Fingers dug into my arm. “Lincoln?”

I couldn’t look at my sister. Couldn’t answer.

Beau pointed at the man. “You’ve got the wrong person.”

Don’t take that tone, little sister. You’ll end up in a cell beside me.

“Aren’t you supposed to investigate before taking someone in? Those are some serious allegations. My brother is innocent.” Leave it to Teague to start swinging if anyone threatened me. I appreciated my brother’s loyalty and friendship, but I didn’t want the three of us to end up behind bars.

The agent’s lip curled. “Oh, we’ve done plenty of investigation. And by the time we’re finished, he won’t see the light of day again.”

“This is a mistake.” Beau’s loud, angry voice had turned low and mean. “I hope you don’t like your job.”

“Are you threatening a federal officer?”

Muffy, one of the dogs my brother’s girlfriend—fiancée—rescued, stepped between me and the agent. His rear was against my leg. It wouldn’t change the situation, but something about him taking up for me too made me feel . . . something I wasn’t certain how to define.

“Control that dog.” The agent put a hand on the weapon at his hip.

“Do not do that.” If he hurt this dog or anyone in this vicinity, he’d have a legitimate reason to arrest me and he’d never be employed again in law enforcement.

He didn’t move his hand from his gun.

I snapped and pointed to the sidewalk. Muffy obediently sat on my foot, though he kept his focus trained on the perceived threat.

“Turn around. Place your hands behind your back.”

I didn’t move.

“If you resist, it’ll make things worse.” There was a gleam in the agent’s tone.

What did he wish to do? Tackle me to the ground?

I kept my features neutral, though I wanted to smirk. I had a good fifty pounds of solid muscle on this weasel. If he charged, it would be like running into a brick wall.

The only advantage he had over me was a gun.

“Do the honorable thing and let’s repeat this scene in the morning in the privacy of my home,” I said evenly.

His lip twitched in annoyance. “You don’t get to choose the moment of your arrest.” He pulled out his handcuffs. “And that would give you just enough time to run.”

“You’ve disturbed a family occasion.” The most important day of my brother’s life.

“You’ve defrauded the federal government.” His voice rose as if he was losing patience.

“Present the proof.” I was stalling even though this was an unavoidable fate.

“Not how this works, Hollingsworth.” He twirled his finger. “Turn around.”

“Shouldn’t you have backup or something?” Beau challenged.

“Yes,” Teague answered for him.

“You’ve all watched too many TV shows.” He stepped closer.

Muffy’s weight seemed to grow heavier on my foot, like he was my anchor and wasn’t going to let this man take me away.

I refused to turn around. If he wanted cuffs on my wrists, he’d have to make the effort.

“Read your paperwork again, hon. You’re making a mistake.” Miss Adeline, the old woman who ran Grey Paws, the dog rescue, with Pepper, finally spoke with her sharp tongue. “Let me see it. I’ll do it for you.” She held out her hand.

The agent was not amused. “Are you mocking me?”

“No. I’m helping you. What a fool you’ll look like when we prove you arrested the wrong person,” she said.

How I’d ended up with all these people who would blindly support me I’d never understand.

“Unless you’re a judge, that’s not happening.” He circled me, grabbed the arm Beau wasn’t holding, and yanked it behind my back.

Another strike.

Beau didn’t release her grip, even when he jerked my other arm back.

The metal was warm from where he’d grasped the cuffs in his palm. I’d expected it to be cold.

He tightened them so they cut into my wrists.

I said nothing.

He wanted me to complain, and I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

“You’re a criminal!”

An old VW bus painted in a shocking teal and white color scheme stopped in the street.

I’d only seen those faces once, and it hadn’t been pleasant.

The boy’s announcement to all of Chelsea was downright humiliating. I wasn’t angry. He hadn’t meant for it to be harmful.

He was simply being honest.

Jade eyes penetrated me from the driver’s seat. They held every bit of the disdain they had the last time we’d met, and they were no less intimidating now.

The boy opened the passenger door and raced toward me.

“Eric!” she called to no avail.

“What did you do?” There was an innocence about him I envied. For all the judgment in his sister’s eyes, only simple curiosity was in his. “You were nice to me.”

Had I been?

When had anyone ever called me nice?

Lexie Logan sprinted around the van. Her long purple dress flowed behind. I’d give her extra points for speed on pencil-thin heels. She had on gold feather earrings that dangled almost to her shoulders.

Eric had on a purple bow tie to match her dress. They were an interesting pair who seemed to excel at sprinting as well as gourmet dog food.

“Eric, you can’t jump out of the van whenever you want,” she said breathlessly. Her judgmental expression directed at me had morphed to one of worry over him.

“I didn’t jump. I pulled on the handle and got out.”

Beau snorted. I pressed my lips together to keep a straight face. Technically, he was right.

Lexie let out a tiny huff. “Please don’t get out unless I say it’s okay.”

“Sure thing,” he said easily. He barreled over to Miss Adeline. “Where’s Millie?”

“At our new place, waiting for you to come see her.” She high-fived him.

“As enjoyable as this precious scene is, I don’t have all day. I’m taking you in.” The agent pulled on my cuffs.

Inwardly, I hissed at the bite of pain.

“You didn’t identify yourself.” Beau put a hand on her hip. “Take those off.”

“Show us some ID. More than a badge,” Teague demanded.

“Oh, for God’s sake.” He rummaged through his wallet and pulled out a card. He thrust it out to Beau, along with his badge.

“How the mighty have fallen,” Lexie said under her breath. She hadn’t changed from the first time I’d met her at Grey Paws. Why did Pepper and Miss Adeline purchase dog food for their greyhound rescue from this woman?

Anger, hot and fierce, pushed to the surface.

“If you’re going to take me away, get on with it.” I refused to stand on this sidewalk in handcuffs any longer, especially in front of her. Miss Know It All.

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