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Backdraft (Criminal Intentions Season One #10)
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ABOUT THIS EPISODE
When a 911 call goes wrong and a young man goes missing, it falls to Malcolm and Seong-Jae to investigate the responding officers when Internal Affairs’ internal politics leave the case compromised and the officers aren’t willing to talk. But with Seong-Jae on the wrong side of the thin blue line, tensions just may turn violent before the detectives find their answers–and only their trust in each other will keep this investigation from hitting a dead end. Will Malcolm and Seong-Jae’s savage love survive the test, or will this case end in self-destruction?
With Sade mysteriously vanished once more, taking one of their major assets out of commission, it’s anyone’s game. Especially when their missing young man becomes a dead young man…and no one will admit who’s truly responsible for his violent demise.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Baltimore homicide detective Malcolm Khalaji has his own way of doing things: quiet, methodical, logical, effective, not always particularly legal. He’s used to working alone—and the last thing he needs is a new partner ten years his junior.
Especially one like Seong-Jae Yoon.
Icy. Willful. Detached. Stubborn. Seong-Jae is all that and more, impossible to work with and headstrong enough to get them both killed…if they don’t kill each other first. Foxlike and sullen, Seong-Jae’s disdainful beauty conceals a smoldering and ferocious temper, and as he and Malcolm clash the sparks between them build until neither can tell the difference between loathing and desire.
But as bodies pile up at their feet a string of strange, seemingly unrelated murders takes a bizarre turn, leading them deeper and deeper into Baltimore’s criminal underworld. Every death carries a dangerous message, another in a trail of breadcrumbs that can only end in blood.
Malcolm and Seong-Jae must combine their wits against an unseen killer and trace the unsettling murders to their source. Together, they’ll descend the darkest pathways of a twisted mind—and discover just how deep the rabbit hole goes. And if they can’t learn to trust each other?
Neither will make it out alive.
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[0: BREATHE WITH ME]
TOMASZ KOWALCZYK’S FATHER IS DYING.
That is the only thought in his mind, as he grips his father’s shoulders and pins them to the blood-streaked concrete of the front porch, struggling to still his thrashing, holding fast even when his father’s narrow bird-wing collarbones nearly bite into his palms.
Jakub Kowalczyk is dying, and there is nothing Tomasz can do except cry.
Cry, hold him down, and plead for him to stay just a little bit longer—begging “Please, Papa, please, it’s going to be okay,” each word in soft, familiar Polski tasting like a tear dissolving on his tongue.
Jakub Kowalczyk is old. Eighty-seven this last Tuesday, and yet until tonight, until this moment he was hearty and strong as ever, in full possession of his senses. You’ll live another twenty years, his doctor had said at his last checkup…and while Tomasz has always known that was not possible, it still gave him a sense of relief to know the foundation of his world, his family and his parents, is still firmly in place so long as his father takes his medications.
But it is not a missed pill or injection or blood test that is killing Jakub now.
A rainy evening. A single loose stone step Tomasz has been promising to fix for weeks but never quite got around to, when every night he’s too tired to do more than help his wife around the house, tuck the girls in to bed, sometimes stop by his parents’ to bring a plate if his mother’s arthritis is too bad for her to cook and his father’s being finicky in the kitchen—while weekends are errands and yard work and trying to patch his aging house back together before it collapses on itself, with little time for the small things around his parents’ much more solid brownstone. It’s just a little moment of negligence, of procrastination, overlooking something so small it shouldn’t matter at all.
Until Tomasz dropped by with a bag of fresh vegetables, excess after his wife Martina had gone overboard at the farmer’s market and bought so much they couldn’t fit it in the fridge. Over laughter, shared kisses, they’d just said they’d give the extras to Tomasz’s parents. That, too, was a small thing, but one of those small things that reminded him that to Tomasz, to his father, to his mother Agusia, food is more than family. It is a way of life, a connection between community, a single rustling plastic bag building a bridge to bring him home.
His father was all smiles, as Tomasz raced up the walk with his jacket pulled over his head and the bag dangling from his arm, the heavy weight of long zucchinis and fat aubergines making it sway and rustle wildly, the rain pelting the bag in little plastic plicks. Tomasz bounded up the porch steps two at a time, and his father came to greet him, his hands outstretched, reaching for the bag with a laugh and a jibe on his lips.
Yet laughing words became a startled cry. A smile became a look of horror, shock, dread. Time slowed, ground down, ticked by in seconds in which Tomasz could see every instant fly past, every detail down to the gritty bits of crumbling gravel and mortar between the stones of the front steps. He saw how the slab moved under his father’s heel just enough to pitch him off balance. How the slick rainfall greased the slide of his smooth-soled house-slippers. How his father’s hands went up, fingers still tangled in the edge of the plastic bag, and as the plastic ripped and his father fell, tomatoes and celery and carrots and zucchini and eggplant spilled across the porch. They bounced, bounced, bounced.
His father didn’t.
And when his skull struck the porch boards, red bloomed.
Tomasz had always thought of such violence in terms of explosions. Like that old comedian Gallagher, a hammer to a watermelon, pop-splash-burst and red flying everywhere. But it was strangely slow, as he stared. The porch boards were dry beyond the overhang, and there was no rain to wash the blood away as it unfurled as slowly as a flower with the daylight, spreading out its crimson petals. His mother called from inside the house, her footsteps growing louder. “Tomasz? Did something happen? I heard—”
Then her screams.
Her screams, as his father began to convulse, his legs jittering against the steps, his heels tap-dancing against the walk, rat-a-tat-tat, his watch drumming a tattoo against the porch boards as Jakub’s eyes rolled back, his shoulders jerked, his mouth opened—and his tongue was, for just a moment, a searching worm before it vanished into a bubbling spew of foam.
His father was having an impact seizure.
Tomasz knew what to do. He knows what to do when this is not Jakub’s first seizure and the pills do not always work, and Tomasz holds his father down with both hands and barks “Call for help! Call 911!”