Deputy Sheriff Dale Jackson investigates a brutal murder, exposing heroin traffic in the New Mexico community he seeks to protect. Searching for information, a chance meeting with enticing but corrupt Elena Chavez and the sighting of two suspicious men at her apartment building leads him to engage in a devastating night with her. When he confronts the drug dealers, a gun battle ensues, and Dale is shot and gravely wounded. Hospitalized, he remembers the seamy events and the reckless things he did. He mourns what he considers to be his loss of integrity.
Nurse Sharon Mitchell encounters the handsome deputy in the hospital as he fights to recover. Attracted to the decent, exceptional, and intriguing man, she pursues him, trying to form a relationship. Dale warns her off him, but she’s determined to help him. Can Sharon reach him, or will he be ruined in his own eyes as an honorable man?
Dale left her there and walked out, locking the front door behind him. He trotted down the stairs and out across the empty street to his car, went home, and stood in the shower, thinking of disease. He scrubbed all over. He would see her again tomorrow night. Or sooner. He had to. He had not gotten enough. It made him want to run far away.
He could not sleep. He lay in his bed, the sheets clean and fresh, and remembered the dirt and chaos of Elena Chavez, the violence and abandon. It was another world. He had done ghastly things, had used her and forgotten himself and everything he believed about himself. He had opened a forbidden door and coolly walked through it. How easy it had been. Just below the civilized façade, another Dale lurked, a man capable of brutal lust. It filled him with dismay. What had he become and when? Could he find himself again, the self he knew?
He sat on the edge of his bed, gave up, and dressed again. No way to change what had happened. No way to forget. He had to act, do something to make it all right, to justify his actions. He would find the men and hurry away from her.
His Glock was locked up at the office. He took his .38 revolver from its hiding place, dropped ammunition into the chambers, and snapped it shut, moving mechanically, not thinking about it. Just doing it. He was getting deeper into…. He wasn’t sure what, and he didn’t know how far down it would go. Every instinct drew him back there, knowing the men would come. He dropped the gun into his pocket, the snub nose fitting without too big a bulge, and left his apartment, got in his car, and returned to Second Street.