Neal's a young, handsome rookie cop dealing with all the pressures that being the new guy in a high stress job entails. Dani's a cop who's been on the job awhile. Dani's got a soft heart with a more than a little rebel hidden under her Valkyrie-sized uniform. She's been watching Neal's tension level rise. She thinks she may have a way to help Neal out--and her husband, Finn, is on board with the idea. A simple dinner to check out the dynamics of the potential hookup leads to good time by all.
Neal and his training officer are caught in a driveby shooting. The senior man is serious injured but Neal seems to be unscathed. That however turns out to be less than true when Dani tries to help Neal change out of his blood stained clothes at the hospital. A bullet is embedded in Neal's vest and has caused a kidney injury due to the impact. Dani and Finn spend the next week giving TLC to Neal. As the story draws to a close Neal is offered a more permanent place in Dani and Finn's lives.
“Bet she can bench press more than you,” Carl said to Neal.
Despite being on the far side of the workout room, Danielle Sarkarov heard the comment and held her tongue. Apparently hazing the rookie was a never-ending source of amusement for male police officers. It didn’t matter that Carl was quite possibly right. Dani still felt a pang of sympathy for Neal. A blend of Russian and Nordic genes had dubiously blessed her with being six-feet tall in her socks and given her an impressive lean muscle mass beneath some fairly decent curves. Her husband periodically referred to her as “my wife, the Valkyrie.”
Neal O’Flaherty, on the other hand, was a rail thin twenty-five-year-old rookie cop with thick, wavy black hair, narrow features and intense blue eyes. Dani thought the man had to be the epitome of “Black Irish” genetics. He was gorgeous with wide shoulders, narrow hips, and lamentably always looked like he didn’t eat enough.
Maybe that was Dani’s maternal streak rearing its head, conflicting directly with her strong desire to jump his bones. There was about a ten-year difference in her age and Neal’s. They had talked casually a number of times and she wondered for a moment if she was the only one in the department to have done so. The first year was rough, but if you were female, there was a limit to how far the hazing would go due to ever-present “sexual harassment” policies.
Speaking of sexual harassment, she wondered which way he swung. For a guy that close to beautiful, it had to make the rookie thing that much worse.
Judging from the expression of frustration on Neal’s face as he plucked a different set of dumbbells off the free weight shelf, she suspected he’d had a really shitty day. Dani finished working out and headed off to the locker room.
“Hey, O’Flaherty, you got plans for the evening?” Dani asked as she went past him.
“Huh? Oh, um, no.” Neal looked puzzled.
“Wanna swing by my place in a couple hours? My hubby’s a good cook.”
“Thanks ... but I wouldn’t want to impose.” Neal made what sounded like an excuse.
“It’s not imposing. Everybody’s gotta eat and Finn likes to cook.”
Neal ran a hand through his hair. “Are you sure? Isn’t your husband apt to be pissed?”
Dani thought he looked incredibly stressed. “Nah. That’s what the two hours is for, to give him a little warning. If you’re inspired, bring a bottle of wine. Nothing expensive, ’cause I can’t tell the difference between a ten-buck bottle of wine and a hundred-buck one.”
“Okay.” There was reluctance in his tone.
Dani grabbed an ink pen off a note board by the gym door and wrote her address on Neal’s wrist. It was a silly thing to do, but it gave her an excuse to touch him. What she really wanted was to give him a hug, tell him he’d get through it all, and the job would get easier.
“It’s six now. Come by about quarter to eight.”