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Where There’s Smoke (Criminal Intentions, Season One #6)
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ABOUT THIS EPISODE
They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire—but Malcolm and Seong-Jae have a lot of blood and no body in a case where the only witness to a murder may be the killer himself. Yet as they chase down a victim who may or may not exist in a crime that may or may not have happened, it’s the sparks flying between them that threaten to ignite into dangerous flame…and by the time this case is over, their relationship may never be the same. One kiss, one case, one night may change everything…
…and when Malcolm and Seong-Jae come together, someone’s going to get burned.
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: GO TO THE DEEP END]
TISHA JONES IS FIVE SECONDS away from breaking up with her fool ass boyfriend.
She knows damned well why he’s brought her out here to Federal Hill Park at this time of night. The same reason every car around them is rocking and swaying; the same reason he’s put that bump and grind music on, like his narrow ass is being subtle. Like the nice dinner and the movie weren’t just setup for this. Like she doesn’t notice the condoms in the cup holder, the lube on the dash.
She may barely be out of high school, but she ain’t stupid.
Trae sits in the driver’s seat, thumping his thumbs against the steering wheel in tune with Usher’s tired ass. Usher. In this year of our goddamn lord, and not even the new shit with him trying to be relevant again. “Slow Jam.” Trae’s playing “Slow Jam,” and actually thinks Tisha’s gonna let him hit it to that golden oldie.
She’d even stolen some of her momma’s rosewater perfume for this date.
She folds her arms over her chest, looking out the window, glaring at the fogged-up windows of the Subaru parked next to them. “Take me home.”
Trae sighs, flashing her one of those charming smiles. He always gets her with those smiles, made even more devastating with those light redbone eyes against that pretty dark skin. That’s the problem with Trae. He know he fine, and he think it’ll get him everything.
She never should have dated a player.
“Tish. Baby, why you mad? I just want to be with you.”
“You mean you wanting to get it wet.” She snorts. She’s not falling for it this time. “I told you I ain’t ready. Hell, my grandma would kill me, she knew I was here with you.”
“We don’t have to do anything.” His hand falls to her thigh. He got them long fingers, them fingers that make girls think things even when they don’t want to. “We don’t have to do anything, for real. I just wanna kiss a little.”
“Nobody comes to Federal Hill to kiss a little.”
“Take me home,” she says firmly. “Or I’m dumping your garbage ass right here.”
Trae groans, leaning forward and thunking his forehead against the steering wheel. Passing headlights flash off the diamond stud in his ear, highlight the smooth shading of his fade. “I swear I ain’t trying to pull nothing.”
“Then take me home.”
“I am. We going, okay? We going.”
He sits upright and gives her a long look, almost hurt, but she’s not falling for it. Not tonight. And after a long silence, there’s the sound of the gear shift grinding, and the old Mercedes—the old one he only drives ‘cause his no-good daddy don’t want it no more—jolts to life around them. Maybe, if he takes her home right away, she’ll forgive him one day, but she’s gonna make him suffer for it first.
Boys like Trae think they playas, but every playa gotta learn his place.
He leans over and turns the music off, as they ease onto the highway. There’s silence between them, thick and heavy, until he murmurs, “You know I love you, yeah?”
“Boy if you think you gonna play that as your get outta jail free card—”
“I’m not!” He smacks the heel of his palm against the steering wheel. “Look, I’m tryna say something here.”
“Then say it.”
“I’m sorry.” He glances at her, and his eyes are all gold, like a cat’s. He got what Tisha’s momma call them witch-eyes. “That’s all I’m tryna say. I’m sorry.”
He means it. She can tell he means it, but she’s not ready to let go of being angry just yet. She mumbles something under her breath, sinking down in the Mercedes’ bucket seat, and folds her arms over her chest.
But when he reaches over to rest his hand against the back of the seat, fingers playing against the little baby hairs at the nape of her neck and making her shiver, she doesn’t push him away.
They’re on that dark lightless lonely stretch of highway halfway back to her house, though, when the Mercedes coughs and sputters. Tisha don’t like that. This that long line of road where they always say don’t let the cops catch you, ‘cause if you browner than a paper bag you gonna disappear into the tall grass, and they find you in a ditch somewhere six months later, no idea how you got there. Her skin prickles and chills, as the car starts to slow.
“Trae, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know, baby. I don’t know.” He’s stomping the gas pedal, yanking at the gear shift, but the car ain’t going and the engine’s getting quieter and quieter. Trae swears, cussing up a storm as he takes the wheel and nudges the Mercedes toward the shoulder.
They make it to the other side of the white line, off the road, before the Mercedes coasts to a halt. Still throwing out every fuck and damn on the planet, Trae tries the key in the ignition, yanks the gear shift, tries again, but all he gets is a cough and a wheeze. Tisha hunches down in the seat, biting her lip.