When Jake Evans almost dies due to Dan Rogers' showboating during an undercover operation, he loses any trust he had in the man who had been his partner both on jobs for the Firm and in their personal life. Once he's healed, he quits the Firm and opens a private investigation agency.
The two men are thrown together when Fairfax, Dan's superior at the Firm, brings Jake in to help stop a child trafficking ring. The mission might be successfully completed but the tension between the two men still remains.
Dan needs to convince Jake there was a reason behind what he did, beyond stopping the gang they were after. The problem is, he has to make Jake listen to him and believe what he says, because even after a year apart he still loves Jake. With that in mind, he follows when Jake goes out of town in search of a missing young man.
Will Dan succeed, or is Jake's trust in him irrevocably broken?
From the scowl on Maddy's face when Dan came into Jake's agency as soon as it opened Friday morning, he was sure she was not at all happy to see him.
He didn't let that stop him from asking, "Is he in?"
"If he was, he wouldn't want to see you," she replied tartly.
"When do you expect him?"
"Like I'd tell you."
"Look, I know you don't like me, anymore than he does at this point, but at least give me a chance to try to explain." Dan flashed his most winning smile, hoping it would melt her enough to listen.
"What's there to explain? He almost died because of you."
Dan bit back an angry retort. What do you know about what happened? he wanted to ask -- and didn't. Instead, he lowered his head to acknowledge her words as he rested one hand on the corner of her desk.
"Do you think I don't know that and regret it, because I do, damn it?" He softened his tone of voice. "I was stupid. Rash. I wanted it over. We couldn't be together because as part of our cover we supposedly hadn't known each other before we made it into the gang. We had different apartments, did different things while trying to gather the information we needed, with no chance to be together because someone might see us and catch on." He took a deep breath. "It was driving me crazy. Him, too. But what could we do? Then I saw a chance to bring things to a close and take down the gang. I'd found out that the boss kept records that would incriminate everyone involved, probably either hidden on his computer or locked in the safe in his office. I didn't tell Jake. I figured I could handle getting them myself without putting him in potential danger. I took advantage of the boss calling meeting of the gang at the building housing his company, which was a front for his criminal activities."
He paused, and then began pacing.
"And?" Maddy asked when he didn't continue.
"I'm sure he's told you, but I will, too. I saw a chance to leave the meeting long enough to get into the office and I took it. Found what I was after but someone saw me coming out of the office, yelled at me to stop, and all hell broke loose. Jake called Fairfax for backup right before he was shot. Some of our people got there in record time and dealt with the bastards." He came to a stop in front of her desk. "The rest you know. I almost got him killed, all because I loved him and couldn't stand our having to pretend any longer that we just gang members, strangers until we joined up, and nothing more."
"Hell of a way to show you loved him," Maddy replied dryly.
"You think I don't know that ... now?" He leaned against the desk, staring at her. "Have you ever loved anyone so much you'd do anything to be with them? I didn't think anyone would notice I'd slipped out of the meeting. It was supposed to be in and out and the end of our job." Dan turned away then, not wanting her to see the anguish he was feeling, the remorse for what he'd done that had cost him his relationship with Jake. "I love him, Maddy. As much as he hates me, I still love him. That will never change."
"He doesn't hate you, Dan," she said softly. "He doesn't trust you but he doesn't hate you."
He looked at her, praying she was telling him the truth. As far as he could figure, if it was the truth she could have kept silent about it rather than tell him. "How can I regain his trust?"
"I can't tell you that. It's up to you to figure it out. That said," she sighed. "I know where he is right now, or should be."
Dan lit up with hope. "Where?"
"Oh." His shoulders slumped before he straightened them again. "Do you have an address?"
"Maybe." She tapped the keyboard, got a pen and paper and wrote it down. "This is where he was staying as of this morning. That's the best I can tell you."
"Thank you," he replied sincerely as he took the paper she handed him.
"He's going to kill me, but I'm a romantic --" she touched her chest over her heart, "-- and I care about him. Do not do anything to hurt him or you will answer to me."
"I won't. I swear."
He was already calling to make a flight reservation as he left. He wondered if the fates were on his side because he was able to book a seat on one that was leaving at eleven-fifteen, giving him time to make a mad dash home to grab some clothes. He crammed them in his carry-on bag and was on the road to the airport five minutes later.