Strikeforce (Memphis Heat)
Marteeka Karland and Shelby Morgen
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2013 Marteeka Karland and Shelby Morgen

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"Callahan. Black. My office. Now." Snorrasan's abrasive voice ripped through the squad room.

Jamie Callahan took his time buttoning his shirt before he headed down the hall to answer the summons. Granted, Snorrasan was his commanding officer, and Callahan would never openly disrespect a superior in front of those in his command, but Snorrasan was a son of a bitch at best. Callahan had disliked him from the moment they'd met. Still, the man was good at his job.

"Congrats on the promotion, Callahan."

Callahan glanced up to see Amanda Black heading for Snorrasan's office, those long, long legs of hers eating up the distance between them. And the look didn't stop there. He trained his attention on her face, because looking lower was unprofessional. Not that it helped -- her face was one of her best features. Hell, just the mention of her name was enough to kick Jamie Callahan's libido into overdrive. Except for one persistently nagging issue that even time couldn't sweep under the history books.

"Thank you, Officer Black. Glad to see you're back on duty." He was now her commanding officer. And that meant she was off limits. Which didn't help a whole hell of a lot, but sometimes addressing her formally, saying her rank out loud, made him acutely aware he had his integrity to protect.

"The feeling's mutual, I assure you. Fucking hospitals give me the creeps. Especially the one I came from. I felt like a giant lab rat. Work seemed the only cure." Her smile seemed to light up the world, taking away some of his tension over almost losing her. But not all of it. He doubted that fear would ever completely dissipate.

"We've missed you." I missed you. They'd lost Smith and Reginold, and nearly lost Black and White as well.

Callahan held open the door to Snorrasan's office, acting like the gentleman his mother had wanted him to be and not the horny teenager he felt like around Amanda.

"Black. Callahan. Glad you could make it." Snorrasan's humorless tone still managed to convey his general dislike at being kept waiting. "Sit down." Snorrasan didn't waste time with preliminaries. "Both of you lost partners in that clusterfuck last month. Now that Black's back on full duty, I want you to work together. I'm officially assigning you Black as your new partner, Callahan. Try to keep this one alive."

Fury ignited deep in Callahan's chest. Keep this one alive? It'd been an ambush, plain and simple, and no one had asked the question he needed answered. "Yeah? That'd be a hell of a lot easier if I know someone's got my back." Where the hell had Snorrasan and his team been?

"Funny you should mention that." Amanda slid in smoothly, looking down at her long fingers, inspecting her nails like a queen might when addressing a peasant. "White and I were supposed to have a team coming in behind Callahan and Reginold. If I'm not mistaken, that was the plan devised by..." She trailed off as she looked up at Snorrasan, capturing his gaze in one so cold, Callahan was sure the room chilled by ten degrees. "You."

Snorrasan stiffened. "Just what are you trying to say, Black?"

"I'm saying, before you go making snide remarks, get your fucking facts straight. If anyone dropped the ball, it was your team. Not Callahan."

That was way more than insubordination, but Callahan wasn't touching it. He suspected Snorrasan wouldn't either. Mainly because Amanda was dead on right.

Snorrasan smiled. "Just as I suspected. You two will be perfect for one another."

Callahan bristled at that one. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"Why the fuck do you think I promoted you, Callahan? Not for your charm, that's for damn sure. You're one of the most insufferable, hair-triggered bastards in my squad. As for Black, you take insubordination to new levels. You're also two of the finest cops I've ever worked with. You're both too damn honest to keep your mouths shut, even when it's in your own best interest. Which means I can trust you. And right now I can't say that of everyone on this squad."

All Callahan's animosity drained away at the deadly calm in Snorrasan's tone. A spike of electricity ran up his spine like the razor edge of a needle. "What are you sayin', Boss?"

"I'm saying, watch your backs. You're asking the right questions, but you need to ask them a little more carefully. We were set up out there, all of us. I don't have all the answers. Yet. You're going to help me find them. You'll be working with Lieutenant Carson and Officer Regan on this. I want to know who sold us out, and I want to know before we lose another team. Don't trust anyone else, pack or not. Are you in?"

Damn it. Under any other circumstances, Callahan would have gone off on Snorrasan for assigning him the hottest single woman in the precinct for a partner, but Snorrasan was right. If the squad had been compromised, there was no place Amanda was safer than in his sight. His dick would just have to learn to ignore her delicious body and let his other brain focus on work. "Fuck, yeah. I'm in."

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