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Criminal Intentions: Collateral Damage (Criminal Intentions, Season One #8)
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ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Tragedy strikes on the homefront when a husband and father snaps…but if Detectives Malcolm Khalaji and Seong-Jae Yoon can’t track down a killer on the run, this crime of passion may take one more victim. Moral boundaries blur, lines cross, and even as a secretive puppetmaster watches from the shadows, both Malcolm and Seong-Jae must make a choice. One path leads to salvation.
While the other may leave an innocent dead.
And not even the feelings growing between them will stop Malcolm and Seong-Jae from shattering for good.
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: KINGS NEVER DIE]
TODAY IS THE DAY.
Danielle Ashbury is moving out. The car is piled high with her things—everything she wants to keep, everything she needs to start over, everything her little girl needs to be happy. She doesn’t care about the house, the furniture, the fine decorations and paintings. It’s just a house. Houses can be bought.
Happiness can’t, and lost happiness can’t be somehow magically recovered like the sand once the hourglass has fully tipped over.
It’s been a long time since she was happy. A long time since they were D&D, Danielle and David, smiling in their wedding photos and wreathed in roses. She remembers that day, and how the roses had smelled faintly rotten, and a bee had slipped down the back of her wedding dress and stung her until she broke out in hives and spent her honeymoon night sobbing in a puddle of calamine lotion.
Maybe she should have taken that as a sign.
It wasn’t all bad. This failure of a marriage has given her Melanie, and Melanie is everything—little girl all bundled up in the back seat already, clutching her teddy bear and looking out the window and humming. She’s always humming, little songbird who loves to watch America’s Got Talent and The Masked Singer and any other show where she can hop and dance in front of the TV and sing along.
To her, this is just another trip, like the time they drove to Disney and ended up hot and sweaty on the side of the road with a flat tire, but Melanie still singing so happily in the back seat.
She doesn’t know yet that when Daddy comes home today, he will no longer have a wife and child.
If asked, Danielle can’t even quite explain why. It’s not that the spark is gone, the magic. That’s what couple’s counseling is for. It’s that she doesn’t feel married at all, when David comes home later and later every night, living at the office—or possibly living in another woman’s bed. She’s wondered if he was cheating, wondered if she was imagining the occasional whiff of something floral and cloying on him, but she’s decided she doesn’t want to know. It won’t do her any good.
It won’t help.
It won’t make her love him again, and it won’t make him see her when she’s been invisible for many long years.
No way to live, she thinks as she hefts another box into the trunk of her Kia and slams the lid down. This is no way to live. No flower can survive, deprived of sunlight.
She isn’t a delicate flower…
But she needs light.
Light, and more than anything…room to grow.
She checks the contents of the car one last time, and peeks in through the window at Melanie, wiggling her fingers and smiling.
“Just one more minute, honey,” Danielle says, and straightens to retrieve the manila envelope off the dash. It’s thick, heavy with the weight of what it means.
Legal, final, more than just a separation, a trial. She doesn’t want to drag things out anymore.
Rip the Band-Aid off.
Leave the papers where he can find them, with his house keys…
Her sister is waiting for her, in Mount Vernon—even if she hasn’t told Amalia yet, the decision an impulse, a rush of sudden need, but she knows Amalia will welcome her with open arms.
Open arms, and the chance for a new life.
She bustles up the walk, tugging at her keyring, using her fingernail to pry the separate rings loose so she can slip the keys off. House, garage, storage shed, the spare to his car. She’s so preoccupied with the keys that she doesn’t notice the door, which she had closed, swings open lightly at her touch. She does not notice anything, until she lifts her head to navigate the foyer, steps into the living room…
And sees David sitting there, his stern and upright figure settled on the couch, his head propped against his knuckles as he takes in the minor disarray left of the room when she has taken what she wants or what she needs, but very little among the ornate and expensive decorations.
David has brown eyes, the brown she fell in love with, the memory of shared sodas and sweet chocolate kissed from each other’s lips. But they are almost black now, a strange and inhuman regard she doesn’t recognize as he studies her calmly. He does not move. Does not stand up.
He only looks at her across the expanse of the room, and curls his other hand tighter around the silver shine of the gun in his lap.
Her world narrows to that. It’s a Smith & Wesson, detailed and articulated and exaggerated in all its stylizations, and her first ludicrous, panicked thought as her brain short-circuits and explodes to frightened pieces of nothing is that she isn’t going to die like this, shot by a gun that looks like it belongs in a cartoon, like the ones Melanie watches with that strange little man Yosemite Sam.