The Bad Boy Next Door(5)

By: Jody Holford

Chapter Two

Wyatt Daniels had exactly two things on his mind: shower and sleep. In that order. After locking up his gun, he pulled his shirt over his head, tossing it somewhere near the hamper. He detoured through the kitchen and grabbed a can of cola, knowing the caffeine wouldn’t keep him awake. The Patriots’ cheerleaders performing in his living room couldn’t keep him awake for any longer than it was going to take to shower.

The hot water sluiced over his skin, and as he lathered soap along his body, he felt bruises that had yet to show themselves. Some would be covered by the tattoos inked around his biceps, but plenty of them would be visible. He’d hit the gym before work that morning and changed his regular routine with some kickboxing. He followed it up with ten hours on shift, a good portion of that time spent running down leads. And making headway. It was important he remind himself that he was out there doing good, or he’d never stop being pissed at himself. He did a quick rinse of his hair and dragged himself to his bed, falling into it, naked and still a little damp. It didn’t matter. He just needed to close his eyes.

They popped open when his phone buzzed not even forty minutes later.

“Daniels,” he said, not hiding his irritation.

“Hey boss, it’s Jimmy.”

Wyatt threw his arm over his eyes and kept his groan to himself. See? He had manners. “I have caller ID. What’s up?”

“Prints came back on the Muller case. They’re a match to the brother.”

Wyatt looked at the clock. It was just after six. “All right. Bring him in. But give me a couple of hours.” He disconnected and tossed his phone back on the nightstand. Just one more hour of sleep, and I’ll pretend to feel human again.

Since he’d come off his undercover assignment a few months ago, he was having a harder time than usual with the whole acclimating back to normal life thing. He was supposed to see some head doctor—which was protocol after going UC, but who had time for that? He was too busy trying to forget the shit he’d seen. The shit he’d done, had had to do. He didn’t need to talk about it with anyone. More than that, he didn’t deserve to unload on a department shrink and be absolved. His captain had reminded him more than once that undercover meant sweeping a few things under the rug for the greater good. Rolling onto his stomach, he put the pillow over his head to drown out his own thoughts.

He’d barely fallen back asleep when his phone buzzed again. He didn’t even look at the caller ID. “What?”

“Um, hi.”

His brain was mud and his thoughts were having a hell of a time wading through it. The voice sounded vaguely familiar. “What?” He didn’t have energy for more than that.

“It’s Shay. Your neighbor. Do you remember me? I met you in the underground, well, the parking garage, and I guess we didn’t really meet because you didn’t tell me your name, but—”

He cut her off. “Yes. I remember you. It was only a few days ago.”

And what red-blooded male would forget that face and body? Or the way she’d gotten her back up when I’d tried to help her. Though every time she’d popped into his head, he’d done his best to think about something else. How had she gotten his number? As the sleep fog cleared his brain, he remembered he’d forwarded the apartment intercom to work through his phone. Apparently it had been a while since his last visitor.

“Oh. Good. Okay. Well, this is a bit awkward. I tried Brady, but he’s not answering and you’re the only other person I’ve sort of met in the building,” she said. Her voice sounded tinny and far away.

“Are you outside?” He sat up, shaking off the last of his sleep haze.

She laughed, and it should have been annoying, since he hadn’t said anything funny. “Yes,” she said. “That’s the awkward part.”

“You locked yourself out.” Sighing, he grabbed some boxers and pulled them on one-handed.

“Yes. But when I do things, I like to go all out. So I also broke my key in the lock.”

He shook his head, her words muddling his brain further. What am I supposed to do about that? “I’ll buzz you up.”

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