Sweet Reward
way of temptation. What the hell had he been about to do? He was apparently more tired than he’d thought.
    Shaking herself from the odd, mesmerizing spell Jared Livingston’s eyes had cast on her, Mia pulled the phone from her pocket. “This is Mia.”
    “Mia, you okay?”
    She smiled at the concern in the warm male voice. “I’m fine. Guess you heard about everything.”
    “Yeah. Just now. You should’ve called me.”
    “I didn’t want to bother you. I knew it was your night off.”
    “You know you could never bother me.”
    “Do you guys have any suspects yet?”
    “No, but we’ll find him, I promise. The report said another man was with you.”
    Mia looked up to see Jared pouring steaming water into the mugs she’d set out. She liked that he was doing that. She liked too many things about him, which was ridiculous, since there were so many things about him that pissed her off.
    “Yes, a friend who’s in the business.”
    “I’m assuming you were meeting Spunky for information.”
    “Yes … someone didn’t want me to get it.”
    “What was it for?”
    “The abduction case—the Hempstead baby. I thought it might be related to another case.”
    “Guess you haven’t heard the news. They found the baby.”
    “Seriously? Where? Is he okay?”
    “Yeah. Family got a ransom call; money was delivered, and the baby was found. Don’t know who did the deed, though.”
    Then that case had nothing to do with hers, after all. “But why kill Spunky? Something doesn’t make sense.”
    “What about other cases you worked with him on? Could it be one of them?”
    That was a possibility; he’d been her main informant and had helped her on several recent cases. She shook her head to clear her thoughts and felt no better. Exhaustion and grief had frazzled her mind. “Let me think this through. Can we talk tomorrow?”
    He dropped his voice to a softer, more intimate tone: “How about I take you to dinner?”
    An instant before saying yes, Mia stopped herself. Todd was one of several friends she had at the police department,but he’d made it clear that he’d like a different relationship. Mia liked him immensely, but she felt absolutely no attraction toward him. Saying yes to dinner would be leading him on. She had been used before; it wasn’t pleasant.
    “I can’t, but thanks. How about I come to the station around eleven? Maybe we could grab a cup of coffee.”
    His responding sigh was heavy with disappointment. “Okay, I’ll clear some time for you around eleven.”
    “Thanks, Todd.”
    Mia closed her cellphone, more than aware that she’d hurt her friend but unable to do anything about it. She turned to find Jared holding a mug of tea for her.
    Smiling her gratitude, she took the tea and swallowed a sip. Sugar exploded on her tongue.
    “Put in a little extra sugar. You’ve had a few shocks tonight.”
    “Just had another one. That was a friend of mine. He’s a detective at the Fifteenth Precinct. The Hempsteads’ baby was found alive after a ransom drop.”
    His eyes narrowed in thought. “Were you working with your informant on any other cases?”
    “He’d recently given me some information on an abduction for hire. I rescued the girl, but the police are still looking for the suspect.”
    “You think this was payback?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “Let’s sit down and see if we can figure this out.”
    Mia knew she had some choices to make. And though part of her didn’t want to say the words, she knew they had to be said. “With the ransom demand, it’s apparent that this has nothing to do with your case. Tell Noah I’m sorry to have involved LCR.”
    He considered her for several seconds. Those silver eyes did something to her blood pressure, and she wasn’tsure she liked it. But what she knew for certain was that Jared Livingston couldn’t be a permanent part of her life. Not only did he live thousands of miles away, she had grave doubts that her heart could handle him. Her

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