Slow Hands

By: Lauren Bach


"Dance with me." His voice was a caress.

She resisted, but Alec pulled her into a sweep that matched the soft mellow beat.

His tie had disappeared and his shirt was open at the neck exposing a smooth vee of tanned skin. His arms were all muscle, his thighs solid as they brushed against hers.

Keira shivered at the memory of how he'd looked ten years ago, how just seeing him could make her want him on the spot.

She struggled to regain some distance. She had told herself she was fine with Alec returning and had even planned her first words. Damn if she could remember what they were now.

"Do you feel it?" he whispered. "The electricity between us?"

In the dim light, his eyes were so dark they appeared totally black. She recalled the magic. The heat. The fire. The way he kissed, the way he touched.

Damn him for making her remember.

To Mindy Jackson Desmond

Brilliant, gorgeous, talented. . .

And Hannah Luanne Desmond

My beloved, adorable, precious angel..

I will never be good enough to

deserve having you two in my life.


Alec Dempsey preferred to stay north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Way north. Like Seattle.

He wasn't happy to be in Tennessee, in a suit and tie, in the stuffy conference room of the Memphis FBI field office.

He also preferred to work with his own kind. ATF. Alcohol. Tobacco and Firearms.

FBI agents hogged the spotlight in joint ventures. They had huge egos, big superiority complexes. Little dicks.

The two FBI agents sequestered with him were prime examples. Condescending, but polite. After all, they wanted something from him.

His boss said he'd been specifically requested for this assignment, had urged him to consider it. Alec's gut told him that wasn't a good sign. He'd just been cleared for active duty after two months warming a desk. He wasn't in the mood to play second string.

Special Agent Horace Phelps, balding and overweight, sat directly across the table. He bared his teeth in what Alec presumed was a smile.

"I'll cut to the chase, Dempsey. We want you for an undercover job in Freedom, Arkansas."

The tightness in Alec's middle increased. "You're joking." He looked from Phelps to the second agent, leaning silently against the wall. Neither man laughed. "Undercover? In my hometown?"

"Yeah. You'll go in as yourself," Phelps went on. "The prodigal son."

From what Alec recalled, the prodigal son was welcomed home with open, loving arms. Few arms would be open in Freedom. He doubted anyone even remembered him.

And the one person who knew him best would probably prefer to see him crucified.

Though he already knew he'd refuse the assignment, he feigned interest, more than a little curious. "What does the FBI want in Freedom?"

Phelps slid a mug shot across the table. "This guy look familiar? Ian Griggs. AKA inmate number 84736. You went to school with one of his younger brothers."

Alec looked at the photo, eyes narrowed. He remembered the brothers Griggs. They'd been the town scourge. Bad seeds, all three of them. And they'd come to an even worse end.

"I think half the country remembers those boys," Alec drawled.

Five years ago, Ian Griggs and his two brothers had hijacked an armored truck outside Little Rock and made off with two million in cash. The money was never recovered.

Alec recalled the story. Or at least the sensational headlines the media frenzy generated. As rumor spread that the pilfered cash was stashed in the Ozarks, treasure hunters descended in droves, clashing frequently with private landowners, and even forcing the closure of several state parks.

The news coverage had also brought to light another, lesser-known story that Alec had followed with far more interest. His unease grew.

'Two of the brothers died in a fire after a shoot-out with police," Phelps continued. "Ian Griggs went to prison, refusing to plea-bargain the location of the money in exchange for a reduced sentence."

Alec's frown deepened. "I thought he claimed one of his brothers hid the money. That the secret died with him."

"Yeah, right." Phelps made a jerking-off motion with his hand. "Everybody believed that one."

"Then what's the deal? Has the FBI decided to search for the money again?" If they thought Alec would make a good tour guide, they could think again.

Phelps shook his head. "Griggs's sentence just got commuted. Which means he qualifies for parole at the end of this month. He's been a model prisoner, and we believe the request will be granted."

"Commuted?" Alec stiffened. "And you're not opposing it?"

"We're pressing for supervised probation in a halfway house in Freedom." Phelps leaned forward. "He's got two million reasons to return, and we want someone there to watch him."

Alec glanced at the mug shot. While the news of Griggs's likely parole surprised him, it wasn't shocking. He'd been with ATF five years. Army Special Forces before that. He knew justice wasn't always served, accepted it.

Except in this instance.

Ian Griggs had never even been tried for the worst of his crimes. Assault and battery. Attempted rape. "You're perfect for this job," Phelps pressed. No, he wasn't.