“I want you off the case, Marx. We need room to do our job.” The balding officer shifted his bulging frame deeper into a worn leather chair. It creaked under the abuse.
“Not happening, Lieutenant.”
The older man pursed his lips. “I’ve seen this before, son. It never ends well.”
Evan Marx faced his superior officer, not bothering to hide a ragged pain lurking behind tired eyes and nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“I’m watching you. One wrong move, Marx…”
Dismissed, he strode past three donut-ripe deskhens feigning disinterest and entered his own office. He slammed the door and fell into his chair. The file lay open on his desk and he pushed aside a day old coffee and slid it closer.
“Hey muchacho.” A heavy Latino accent sang from the other side of the door.
The door opened and Kevin Moruiz flashed a brilliant smile. “Hey man. How you holding up?”
Evan shot the man a cold stare and ran a hand through hair that hadn’t seen a comb in two weeks.
“Right. Listen, we got him. Routine traffic stop. Dude’s got some of her things in his car.”
Evan’s heart flipped as he fingered the Glock in his holster. He grabbed his keys and Moruiz followed, spouting details on the way to the patrol car. He slid behind the wheel and gave the car hell until they reached the corner of Anthum and Gale where police strobes lit dark streets.
“Hey man, don’t lose your head, okay?” Moruiz pleaded. The car door slammed while Moruiz struggled with his seat belt.
Evan snaked behind three officers, their guns drawn. In the center of their circle, stood the man who’d stolen her. Clean cut and shaven, he looked almost sane. Evan crouched and snuck beyond the officers, headed for the subway stop he used every Sunday to meet his Aunt Shasta when he was nine. The shaft’s tunnels led to an oversized manhole he’d found by accident once and he headed for it.
Evan reached the manhole and lifted the lid, climbing into the fresh night air once again. He drew his Glock and crouched on the ground beside a tall, brick platform. Stairs shielded him from view of the officers. Evan flipped the safety and aimed at the grinning man who’d caught sight of him.
“She was always mine, Marx.”
Hatred burned up Evan’s chest and roared in his ears. The man smiled again.
The officers opposite them shuffled and shouted orders.
“You knew it. From that day in the courtroom when I first saw her, you knew she was mine.”
The hateful memory forced itself into a clear vision. Her face, her pleading eyes.
I can’t do this, Ev. I thought I could testify, but seeing him…He murdered my mother.
You have to, Joss. He has to be put away.
“You didn’t expect I’d be acquitted. You didn’t expect I’d come back for her. You loved her, didn’t you, Officer Marx?”
Evan swallowed the singing heat his throat and zeroed in on the bastard’s adam’s apple.
One of the uniforms shouted again. “Marx! Put the gun down!”
Evan closed one eye.
“You can’t kill me and bring her justice too, Evan.”
“Stand down, Ev,” Moruiz pleaded.
“She died screaming your name.”
Evan tightened his finger on the trigger.
The monster’s smile fell. “You’ll never be a cop again. That means something to you.”
“You sure about that?”
Evan emptied the Glock into the man’s chest, seventeen bullets. One for each year he and Joss were partners since the Academy.