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       Return to Poughkeepsie, p.39

           Debra Anastasia

  “Sir, we’re in process here. If you’ll excuse us…” The first holstered his weapon and approached her carefully.

  He pulled her hands behind her and grabbed his handcuffs. Ryan pulled out his cell phone and dialed Kathy, the receptionist at the station.

  “Hey, cutie,” she answered. “I’m headed out the door. What’s up?”

  “What’s your badge number, partner?” Ryan wasn’t above getting physical, but after staring for a moment, the man rattled off a number. Ryan repeated it to Kathy and asked her to run it. It was wrong, the way these guys were going about things. “What’re the charges?” he asked them as he waited.

  “This is our case, and now is not the time.” The second man pulled Eve to her feet.

  He was staring into her eyes when Kathy told him what he already knew: “There’s no record of that number. You need some backup, baby?”

  “Okay, sorry. I know you were leaving. Thanks for your help on that.” Ryan hung up on her and turned to the men.

  “I apologize—just jittery lately. You guys need any help bringing her in?”

  “No, we’re good. Thanks, though.”

  They pulled Eve along and tossed her in the back of the car in a way very unlike what any real cop would do. One jumped into the driver’s seat, and the second slipped in next to Eve in the backseat as she righted herself.

  She slumped again, as if she’d been hit or shot, as the car pulled away, lights and sirens blazing.

  Beckett pulled into the hospital’s parking lot feeling off. Something wasn’t right, but damned if he could figure it out. He called Eve and it went straight to voicemail.

  Though she hadn’t said it, he knew she’d shied away from seeing baby John because her own scars would never actually heal. Regret swelled up as Beckett’s brain reminded him again that her life was painful because of him. He shook it off and refused to be anything but joyful on his brother’s big day.

  He met Chaos in the lobby, and the man walked him through the visiting process so he could see Chery before the baby-meeting event. When he entered her room, she was dressed and seemed poised to leave.

  “Hey, pretty. How you holding up?” Beckett embraced her gently.

  “I’m all right. Tough stuff, though—this thing.” She didn’t seem to know where to put her hands.

  “You still sure this is what you want?” Beckett sat on the empty hospital bed.

  She nodded. “But I feel like I’m torn up on the inside. It hurts so much.” Her eyes filled and Chaos beat Beckett to her side, rubbing her back. “But it’s the right thing. He can have a clean slate. He deserves it.” She shrugged as Chaos handed her a tissue.

  “I can’t imagine. All I know is you’re fucking brave as fuck,” Beckett said.

  Chery laughed a little. “You’re a goddamn poet.”

  “Where’s Vere?”

  Chaos answered. “She’s at the day facility. We’re getting her as soon as Chery’s got her walking papers.”

  “That’s cool. How’s the dog working out?”

  Beckett got the full story of Vere’s birthday party and how much she’d loved the gift he’d sent. The dog, rescued from death row and now named Camo, had arrived by limo, complete with all the food and toys he’d ever need.

  Soon enough the nurse came in with a clipboard, so Beckett gave Chery a hug and shook Chaos’s hand. After asking a few questions, he was directed to a room clear on the other side of the maternity ward.

  Inside, Fairy Princess was feeding baby John and beaming.

  “Now that’s a fucking sight. How beautiful you are.” Beckett leaned against the doorframe.

  “You hitting on my wife?” Cole pounded Beckett on the shoulder.

  “Every chance I get. She’s a sweet piece of woman.” He grabbed his brother up in a hard hug. “Congratulations, Daddy. You guys getting to know each other?”

  Cole held up his arm for the shake. “It’s amazing. He is just…an answer to prayers.”

  The handshake got a third arm as Blake entered and joined in. This was magic for Beckett, pure and simple. The world slowed down, his cares melted away as he looked from face to face. He loved these men so fiercely, it’d probably scare them if they knew.

  Livia came in behind Blake and busted through the boys, passing Kellan to Beckett and Emme’s hand to Cole.

  “Rude.” Beckett teased her.

  She shot him a look as she kneeled in front of her new nephew in her sister’s arms. “Oh, Kyle…” was as far as she got before both women were crying.

  Beckett knew he wasn’t the only man now looking around the room, trying to avoid tearing up himself.

  Emme pulled on Cole’s hand. “Why are they crying?”

  Her uncle bent down. “Well, sometimes when all your dreams come true? The best you can do is cry. It’s happy, not sad.”

  Beckett laughed as Kellan put his little hand in his mouth.

  Blake patted his shoulder. “Careful, he loves to feed people.”

  He was about to reply that Kellen took after Uncle Cole when the boy stuffed a wet cracker in his mouth.

  After he’d gagged it down, Beckett tried not to hurt the kid’s feelings. “Yummy.”

  Kyle passed John to Livia and snickered. “Looks like you loved it, hot shot.”

  “Pipe down, sweet ass…” He noted the children and quickly covered, making the word longer. “…ociated banker?”

  Kyle hugged her niece and stole her nephew from Beckett’s arms. “Look at that, big guy. You have some company.”

  Everyone started talking at once, and the kids got down to playing with the toys Blake pulled out of their bag. Pictures were taken in every possible combination.

  Cole sheepishly asked Blake if he could come double-check the car seat just to be sure, and Beckett followed, leaving the women and children in the hospital room.

  “Thanks so much for coming to see John. Means the world to us.” Cole was every inch the proud papa. “I feel so alive when we all get to be in the same place. Doesn’t happen nearly enough.”

  “Couldn’t be anywhere else, brother.” Beckett slapped Cole’s back as the three stepped off the elevator and headed out to find the car.

  “I had it parked in a reserved spot and totally forgot about it,” he explained with a laugh. “This morning I got here just as the doctor was waiting to pull in. He was pissed until I explained I was out of my mind.” Cole opened the back door and Blake checked the seat, showing Cole how the belt fastened and where it should sit on the baby’s chest.

  “I’ll text you a picture of my handiwork before we leave,” Cole promised. He and Blake slipped into daddy talk as Beckett checked his phone. Three text messages rolled in as soon as he opened it.

  They were from a douchebag with bad fucking news. Word had it that Eve had been arrested. Beckett looked up, and as if the messages brought the man forth, John McHugh and Kathy approached them from down the row of cars in the parking lot.

  After hearty congratulations all around, Beckett asked John for a moment. To his credit, the man squelched a look of disdain and stepped aside with him.

  “I just got intel saying Eve has been arrested. You know what for?” Beckett’s mind was going a million miles an hour. There’d been no movement, no threats for months. Why now? Though, of all things, getting picked up by the cops was one of the safer options for Eve.

  Confusion crossed John’s face. “Really? I think your intel is shit. Let me find out.” He stepped aside and pulled out his cell phone.

  Beckett noticed Kathy waiting, within earshot. “You know anything? Everyone knows the receptionists are really the brains of the place.” He moved closer to her as John shot him a dirty look.

  “No, sir. Eve’s father is a friend of mine, so I think that would perk up my ears. But…” She bit her lip.

  He urged her to continue.

  “Just before we left—weirdest thing—I think one of our officers was investigating a possible impersonation of a police officer. I
m sure it’s just a coincidence.”

  John rejoined the conversation with a stern face. “Ms. Eve Hartt is not being detained, nor is there any indication she has had contact with our force. I guess your shit intel was just shit. But if you hear anything further, let me know. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a grandson to meet.” John held out his hand to Kathy, who gave Beckett a shrug.

  Beckett hated the scenario that had just played out in his head. Grabbing up Eve was damn hard. She’d be looking every which way for someone out of the ordinary. But if they had badges, she might be forced to go with them. This could’ve been the most perfectly executed kidnapping ever.




  I can’t even begin to fit my gratefulness in simple words. Because you are so open-minded, intelligent, and wicked sexy, I can take chances and put every bit of my imagination into my books. You unleash me. XOXOXOXOXO


  To Mom and Dad S and Pam: Funny is funny. Thank you for making me laugh and never being far from my heart. I love you.

  To Mom and Dad D: Florida looks so good on you! Welcome to your forever. I love you.

  S, E and J: You guys are amazing.

  My Aunt G and M and J: Your support is crazy fun!

  My Aunt J and Uncle T: From soccer games to books, you guys have always been there.

  Other aunts, uncles and cousins: You know who you are! I love you.

  Omnific Publishing:

  The dream makers! To the ever-stunning Elizabeth: You are my fairy godmother.

  Enn, we will take over the world together!

  Micha (my bitch forever and cover designer to the stars) and Traci, you guys are spectacular.

  Huge thanks to Coreen, CJ, and Kim. You are the wheels on this vehicle!

  Jessica Royer Ocken, you are the only reason anyone can read my chicken scratch. You are a sculptor, a poet, an excellent mimic of Beckett, a visionary, and a super-accepting professional. I owe you more than thanks. The laughter, the giggle, and the understanding we get to have is my favorite part, I swear it. XO

  Carol Oates, how can two people who live so far away know each other so well? You are totally selfless with Poughkeepsie and its boys. I would be lost without you. XO

  My Omni sisters, you couldn’t be more fantastic.


  I have so many of you I would like to ride like a pony while hugging your neck it’s insane. On my Twitter I have a list of all my friends, so I’m thanking that list now. A special ass spank to: The Smut Club, The Sub Club, Read Love Blog, Flics2Flics, Aestas Book Blog, Dymps, StacyHgg Reads, The Pixie Reader, Sweet Spot Book Spot, Hootie and Glo, Autumn Review, Bookish Babe, The Bookish Brunette, and Supernatural Snark. Holy crap, I adore you all.


  Karen Hancock, you and me and the beach, baby. Poughkeepsie Street Team, each one of you is such an ass-kicking, stone-cold amazing rock star. My Sweet Filets! (Shalu, Erika, TK, Gin, Amanda, Kiya, Alice, and Nina, the sleepover will be epic!) My F.R.I.E.N.D.S., you are so freaking helpful! Miss TammyVoiced, your brownies are my favorite drug. I can’t believe I get lucky enough to be your friend. Shannon Lumetta, I’m keeping you forever—book or no books. Silly Jilly Stein, Nise, Denise, and Alicia, touch those tats for me and the boys! And love to Midian, Andarta, GraceDZ, Sunny, Tricia, Jen M, Sarah, Noemi, Suzy, Trayce, Ambyr, Rachel F, Jennifer, Thessamari, Gitte, Jenny, Eve and Eve, Ayeisha, Lori, Jennifer, Arethea, and Clista. Julie and Teresa Mummert—thank you so much for the moist cover blurb! You are awesome!

  About the Author

  Debra Anastasia is busy, just like every other mom. There’s dinner, the dogs, the two kids, and her violent IBS—which is under control thanks to medication except for occasional multi-tonal farts. Her first love and crowning achievement is her thriving career as the weirdest mom on the block.

  Her writing started a decent handful of years ago when—along with the animals and humans in her house—the voices of characters started whispering stories in Debra’s ear. Insomnia was the gateway to plots that wouldn’t give up, wouldn’t let go. Now they stalk her everywhere. Halfway through making lunches, a twist takes hold and—fingers full of peanut butter—she finds somewhere, anywhere to write it down.

  She’s eternally grateful to Omnific Publishing, which has now published four of her books: two in the Seraphim Series and two in the Poughkeepsie Brotherhood Series, as well as her novella, Late Night with Andres. That one is special because 100% of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. (So go get it right now, please!) She also very much appreciates her open-minded readers, who embrace everything she has to offer, with a focus on anti-heroes and bathroom humor.

  Debra lives in Maryland with her family. You can find her at and on Twitter @Debra_Anastasia. But be prepared…

  Check Out These Titles From Omnific Publishing

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  The Seraphim series: Crushed Seraphim & Bittersweet Seraphim by Debra Anastasia

  The Guardian’s Wildchild by Feather Stone

  Grave Refrain by Sarah M. Glover

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  Blood Vine series: Blood Vine & Blood Entangled by Amber Belldene

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  New Adult

  Three Daves by Nicki Elson

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  Young Adult

  The Ember series: Ember & Iridescent by Carol Oates

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sp; Destiny’s Fire by Trisha Wolfe

  The Reaper series: Reaping Me Softly & UnReap My Heart by Kate Evangelista

  Erotic Romance

  The Keyhole eries: Becoming sage (book one) by Kasi Alexander

  The Keyhole eries: Saving sunni (book two) by Kasi & Reggie Alexander

  The Winemaker’s Dinner: Appetizers & Entrée by Dr. Ivan Rusilko and Everly Drummond

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  Anthologies and Singles

  A Valentine Anthology including short stories by Alice Clayton, Jennifer DeLucy, Nicki Elson, Jessica McQuinn, Victoria Michaels, and Alison Oburia

  It’s Only Kinky the First Time (Keyhole series) by Kasi Alexander

  Learning the Ropes (Keyhole series) by Kasi & Reggie Alexander

  The Winemaker’s Dinner: RSVP by Dr. Ivan Rusilko

  The Winemaker’s Dinner: No Reservations by Everly Drummond

  The Winemaker’s Dinner: Amuse Bouche by Dr. Ivan Rusilk

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  Coming Soon From Omnific Publishing

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