Act of Valor

By: Dana Mentink

She saw something she shouldn’t have...

A True Blue K-9 Unit story


When airline employee Violet Griffin encounters several suspicious passengers, she’s thrust into the crosshairs of a drug smuggling operation. NYPD officer Zach Jameson and his drug detection beagle, Eddie, can tell this is no small-time threat. Someone’s gunning for Violet, and after recently losing his brother, Zach refuses to lose her, too...especially now that she’s gone from friend to the woman he’s falling for.





“You’re not just a job, Vi.”


Zach didn’t look at her when he said it, and she knew the words hadn’t been easy for him to get out. She gentled her tone. “I know. Thanks for everything.”

“I’ll get you settled in at your apartment. Make sure everything’s secure.”

She stopped when he touched her shoulder.

“Really, Vi. Kidding aside. I want you to be careful.”

A squealing of tires split the air. Zach’s head jerked up. A car peeled around the curve, a flash of a familiar face behind the wheel—Roach. Another person filled the passenger window, big, barrel-chested, shaved head, just like Violet described.

Her attacker.






ONE


Instinct ratcheted up Violet Griffin’s pulse. Something was definitely not right with the passenger who stood before her, his body stiff with impatience. The impatience part was par for the course at LaGuardia Airport in Queens. Her ticketing counter at Emerge Airline was always crazy, and passengers were not known for accepting delays with good cheer, but this guy was downright jumpy. Long and lean, with an ill-fitting canvas jacket, dark glasses and bottle-blond hair caught in a tight braid, he chewed his lip until it was his turn.

“I wanna talk to him, not you.” The man pointed at her boss, Bill Oscar.

She took a moment to breathe, plaster on her “you will not fluster me” mask and flip her curtain of wheat-brown curls behind her shoulder.

“No need. I can take care of you. May I see your driver’s license please?”

He shifted the strap of the bag that hung from his shoulder. “I said I want your supervisor to check me in. That guy, over there.”

She gritted her teeth, trying to keep her thoughts from coming out of her mouth. “I assure you, I can handle it, sir. I’ve been doing this job for a very long time.”

“No,” he snapped. “Him.”

Shifting slightly, her fingers inched toward the security phone. If the man was about to become out of control, he’d be met with plenty of airport security.

But her boss flashed her a plump-cheeked smile. “I got this, Vi.”

Insulted, she stepped aside and tended to another customer. Bill’s easy grin was still in place. He must think her testiness was pure overreaction, since he did not seem the least bit nonplussed. Had he intervened to spare her aggravation, then? But she was an expert at dealing with aggravation and soothing ruffled feathers. She’d been doing it brilliantly for ten years now. She pondered her reaction to the guy as she processed a line of customers. Was her patience thinner than usual? Had her recent anguish started to show at work?

Zach Jameson’s tormented blue eyes surfaced in her memory. He was in agony over the death of his older brother Jordan, the victim of a murder made to look like a suicide. She’d heard the officers gathered at her parents’ diner reliving the terrible situation, trying to grapple with their grief. It had been torment for all the Jameson brothers, Noah, Zach and Carter, and for the entire NYC K-9 Command. Jordy had been the well-respected leader of their unit based in Queens. The loss was compounded by the fact that the guy who planted Jordan’s fake suicide note had run into traffic and been killed while officers attempted to arrest him. The papers had run daily stories filled with more speculation than fact, but until the medical examiner’s official findings were in, only Jordy’s cop brothers knew for sure that their mentor had not killed himself, especially since his widow was expecting their first child.

Sadness and anger cloaked the whole NYC K-9 Command Unit in smothering grief, but it was the youngest Jameson brother who seemed to struggle most. She’d known Zach since she was a kid, and she prayed she could help him through the worst time in his life, but he was cold and distant, buried in a chill she could not penetrate no matter how hard she pressed.

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