A Shot at Love

By: Peggy Jaeger


For Stephanie Krist…your talent with a camera and your love of photography shines through every picture you take. Hey—you even made me look good! No small feat, that.

Chapter One

Special Agent Kyros Pappandreos scanned the midtown Manhattan street in front of him and swore.

“I want to see the cops who were first on scene right now,” he demanded of the uniformed NYPD officer next to him. Ky turned to his partner. “How did this happen?”

“It looks like a blitz attack.” Jon Winters squinted an eye at the midday sun. “They’d finished lunch, were walking back to the car.”

“We didn’t have eyes or ears on them?” Ky asked, surveying the gory scene. Two of his best agents were dead and his witness lay with his face kissing the curb, pooling blood drenching his inert form, arms bent back in unnatural angles at his sides.

“Neither,” Winters said. “They were out of touch for an hour, tops. Our guys had their cell phones, but no communication since they left the hotel.”

“This is unbelievable.” Ky squeezed the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger and let out a heavy breath. Three years of work shot to hell in a matter of seconds.

“Agent Pappandreos? You wanted to speak with me?”

Ky turned to the metro officer who approached him, noting the name badge over the left breast pocket of his blue uniform shirt. “Officer Johnson, you got here first?”

“Yes, sir. My partner and I responded to a shots fired at one fifteen.”

“I want details. Where were you when the call came?”

“Outside the deli between Madison and Fifth, two blocks over. Dispatch alerted us, we raced down, saw the victims on the sidewalk. Whole thing was done by the time we got here.”

“Any ID on the shooters? Witnesses? Did anyone see anything?”

“It was pretty chaotic when we arrived. The area’s packed this time of day with lunch business. Lotta banks and professional offices are headquartered around here. People heard shots, ran for cover.” He referred to his notepad. “I got a few statements about a black van, dark blue, maybe. No one got a license or has been able to give an accurate description of the vehicle. It pulled up, shots were fired, it sped off. Matter of seconds it was all over and your three vics were on the ground.”

“Johnson, I’ve got a witness,” another metro uniform called as he sprinted up to the trio. Ky turned in the direction of the voice.

“This is my partner,” Johnson said.

“Where’s this witness?” Ky asked.

“I’ve got her isolated by my squad car.” He shot his thumb in the direction behind him. “Says she saw everything, and—get this—she’s a professional photographer. Filmed it all as it went down.”

“Take me to her,” Ky said. “Jon?”

“Yeah, Papps, I know. Go interview this witness. I’ll coordinate from here.”

“Let’s go,” Ky commanded the officer.

“That’s her.” The officer pointed to a police vehicle in the middle of the barricaded street a moment later. “Name’s Gemma Laine.”

A woman stood next to the vehicle, a cell phone at her ear, her back to him. Tall, maybe as tall as him, and slender, her back tapered down to a miniscule waist, her legs clad in tight, faded jeans. When she turned Ky almost stopped midstride, the questions he intended to grill her with jumping out of his head. His breath caught as he simply stared at the loveliest woman he’d ever seen.

Hair the color of midnight, straight as a board, fell to just below her shoulders, blowing back from her face in the gentle afternoon breeze. Blunt, chopped bangs fringed a pair of large, bright-blue eyes. Plump, coral-colored lips moved as she spoke into the phone and for a brief, hot second, Ky wondered if they’d taste as delicious as they looked.

Her gaze stayed on him as she spoke.

“I’ve gotta go,” she said into the phone. “Yeah. I’ll call when I’m done. Love you, too.”

“Miss Laine?”

She tucked the phone into her back pocket.

“I’m Special Agent Pappandreos. I need to speak with you about what you saw.”

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