Home > The Saint (The Intelligence Unit #5)

The Saint (The Intelligence Unit #5)
Author: Kimberly Kincaid

 

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Detective Liam Hollister was never more than two steps away from his Zen. The fact that he was a detective in Remington’s most elite crime-fighting unit made this a tough fucking go sometimes. After all, finding your chill when you were being threatened at gunpoint wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. But cultivating calm when shit went pear-shaped was a survival skill Liam had learned long before he’d become a cop. It wasn’t just an occupational bonus.

It was a survival skill.

For as much good-natured crap as his unit-mates gave him for his nothing-to-see-here attitude, being calm to a fault was still better than the alternative. After all, Liam had endured enough emotional chaos in his life to be full-up on the stuff, thanks. All of those out of control feelings that ripped a path right through an otherwise normal life like a tornado leaving destruction in a small town?

Hard pass. Emotions wrecked everything they touched, and Liam wasn’t interested in being wrecked.

Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt and the scars to prove it.

Sitting back in his chair at the Crooked Angel bar and grill, he surveyed the crowd, where his unit-mates—as well as all of their mates, plus a bunch of firefighters and doctors—filled a half dozen tables around the bar. Detective Matteo Garza had his arm slung over his fiancée Delia’s shoulders, her engagement ring winking in the soft glow filtering down from the tiny white lights covering the rafters overhead. Detective Shawn Maxwell and his three-year-old daughter, Isla, were sharing a plate of fries with Garza and Delia, although “sharing” seemed to be a pretty loose interpretation of what was going on.

“Okay,” Delia said, her sunshiny smile aimed mostly at Isla. “We’ve got forty-six fries on this plate, and there are four of us. That would put us at eleven point five fries per person, but we do have other variables to consider.”

“Babe,” Garza started, not unkindly, but Delia held up a hand.

“I’m a forensic accountant, Matteo. Analyzing numbers is what I do. Now, where were we? Ah!” Delia pulled two fries off the plate and handed them over to Isla with a wink. “Now we have a much more even number. Eleven fries per person. While we could take into account the fact that your dad is much bigger than you are”—she gestured to Maxwell, who, at six-three and two hundred forty pounds of solid muscle, was basically a retaining wall with legs—“and because of that, he requires more food, there is a much more important variable to factor in.”

Maxwell’s black brows lifted, and his fiancée, Francesca Rossi, leaned in to ask, “Which is?”

Delia grinned. “Isla’s much cuter than all of you, so she gets dibs on the fries.”

“Thanks, Miss Delia,” Isla beamed as Delia pushed the plate in her direction, and okay, Delia wasn’t wrong about the cute thing. Even Liam, whose experience with kids was limited to doing everything he could not to create one any time soon, could admit that.

“You’re welcome, sweetheart. Dig in.”

The group settled in to eat, with Isla sweetly sharing her fries. Further down the table, Liam’s unit-mate and partner, Detective Isabella Walker, was feeding her seven-month-old son. Beside her, their other unit-mate, Detective Addison Hale sat next to her boyfriend, Ryan Dempsey, her head thrown back in laughter at something the firefighter had said. Dempsey simply grinned and shrugged one shoulder in response, so easily that you’d never know the body part in question had, in fact, been Swiss cheese a mere twelve weeks ago. Thankfully, the unit had been able to take down the stalker/serial killer who had shot Dempsey, and the surgical team at Remington Memorial had done a bang-up job taking care of him, despite his pretty nasty injury. Of course, there had been a shitload of physical therapy and restricted duty involved, too, but in the end, Dempsey had healed up good as new.

Fantastic, really, since Hale would’ve been a nightmare to live with if any permanent damage had been done to the guy.

Liam took a leisurely sip of his beer and a deep breath to go along with it, letting both of them cement his calm. Of all the cops in the unit, Hale was the last one he would’ve ever expected to fall head over boots in love with anyone. Sure, Isabella was fierce, and Garza made Oscar the Grouch look like a cute and cuddly puppy. And Maxwell—good God, the big, broody detective was the king of Menace Mountain when he wanted to be. But despite Hale’s bubbly disposition and always-positive outlook, she had dodged even the most casual of relationships until now. The fact that she’d fallen so obviously in love with Dempsey made Liam painfully aware of two things.

One was that even the world’s biggest commitment-phobes could end up catching feelings for someone if they weren’t careful.

And two was that he was the last commitment-phobe standing.

Giving himself a mental shake, Liam smoothed over the thought. He wasn’t against commitment—at least, not when it applied to other people. Seeing his closest friends happy made him happy. But Christ knew that dating, especially for someone in his line of work, was messy at best. If there was one thing Liam didn’t do, it was mess. Nope. He liked things nice and easy. Calm. Predictable.

No muss, no fuss. Relationships, with all their inevitable drama, need not apply.

He’d already experienced enough drama in his life to last until the day they put him in the ground. He didn’t want any more. Ever.

Liam’s phone vibrated in his back pocket, tugging his attention fully back to the bar. Putting his mostly full beer on the table in front of him, he palmed the thing, noticing out of the corner of his eye that Isabella had made a similar move. The message was short and to the point, but it didn’t bode well for the beer in front of him.

Reported assault at 612 Rutherford Street. Patrol on-scene. Requesting immediate Intelligence backup.

His pulse kicked into the involuntary up-and-at-’em it always did when a call came in, and he smoothed it over with a nice, deep breath.

“Damn it,” Isabella muttered, lifting her gaze to meet his.

“It’s all good,” Liam said, which he might as well have tattooed across his forehead for how often he uttered it. “Patrol’s already there, so the scene’s probably secure. I can take it solo, if you want.” Not that he’d rather hang out at a crime scene than at the Crooked Angel, but Isabella had a family to go home with.

She also had a work ethic built like a titanium vault, because she shook her head as she stowed her phone and stood up. “And let you have all the fun? Never.”

Maxwell’s dark brows gathered over his steely blue stare. “What’s up?”

“Patrol responded to an assault call and Sarge wants us on scene,” Hollister said.

“Just you two?” Garza asked, and Isabella nodded.

“Looks like it.”

Garza’s expression veered toward concern, but Liam shrugged it off, his heartbeat already back in no-big-deal range. “Probably means he’s covering his bases if he only called in two of us. Plus, you guys took that robbery call two days ago while Isabella and I were in court. We owe you one.”

“That’s true,” Hale said, having swung toward them to join the conversation. “You guys got a cushy day of testifying while we had to beat the streets.” She waggled her brows and laughed. “It’s still a little weird that he only called you guys, though.”

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