Dallas, Texas, October 2012
Officer Diego Miguel Martinez strapped the breaching ram into place along the inside wall of the Dallas PD SWAT operations truck, then stepped out into the torrential downpour, cursing as what felt like a frigging bucketful of freezing-cold rain found its way down the back of his coat. As much as he despised the long raincoat that was part of his uniform, he really should have worn it tonight. Behind him, someone chuckled, and he turned to see Officer Hale Delaney regarding him with a grin, blue eyes twinkling with amusement.
“I’m not complaining about the help, but if you’re out in this monsoon much longer, you’re going to start sprouting gills.” Tall and heavily muscled with dark blond hair, the SWAT cop unloaded the M4 carbine he held, dropping the magazine and taking out the round in the chamber. “They had you securing the perimeter for what, four hours?”
Diego laughed. “Actually, it was closer to five, but who’s counting?”
Perimeter duty was what patrol cops with barely three years on the force like him did while officers like Hale—one of his best friends in the department—and the other members of the SWAT team got to kick in doors and save lives. Tonight, Diego had stood and watched from the outside as four members of the Dallas Police Department’s most elite unit had gone up against a deadbeat husband who’d gotten high as a kite and barricaded himself in his house with his three children. The man had threatened to kill the kids if the police didn’t bring him more drugs. Because, according to him, everyone knew the cops had a lot of drugs locked up in their evidence room.
After hours of unsuccessful negotiations with a suspect who was quickly coming unglued, Hale and his three teammates had entered the house. While Hale and his SWAT buddies were all huge, they’d moved so quickly and quietly in the total darkness surrounding the property that Diego had never even seen them. One second, the father had been shouting he was going to end them all, and the next, SWAT was bringing the children out of the house, along with their handcuffed druggie dad.
It had been awe-inspiring to see and enough to finally convince Diego that he wanted to get into SWAT. He’d been thinking about it ever since running into Hale months ago during another hostage situation at a bank. He knew getting past the physical assessment exam at the SWAT compound would be tough as hell, but when had he ever let a challenge hold him back?
“Though if we’re being honest,” Diego added as he shook Hale’s hand, “I was soaked to the bone after the first thirty minutes. The rest was just for fun.”
Hale winced as he stepped in the vehicle and locked his weapon into the rack mounted on the wall. “Sorry it took us so long. We wanted to give our negotiator a chance to talk the guy down and get him to come out without a fight. Didn’t go that way in the end, though. But at least those kids are safe. That’s the important thing.”
Diego didn’t know the SWAT team’s negotiator very well. All he knew was the guy was as big and jacked as Hale, and he must have the patience of a saint to do that job. While Diego appreciated the man’s conflict-resolution skills, there was no way in hell he could ever be a negotiator. Talking a person on a three-day meth bender off a metaphorical ledge wasn’t his thing. Kicking in doors and saving a bunch of kids, on the other hand? Let’s just say that deal had his name written all over it.
“Don’t worry about it,” Diego said as Hale came back out of the truck. “I knew tonight was going to be miserable the moment I saw the weather report this morning. I’d rather get soaked standing out here helping you and your team rescue those kids than handing out tickets to a bunch of doofuses for urinating in public.”
Hale laughed, falling into step beside Diego as he walked along the street toward his patrol car. “Ah, the trials and tribulations of a beat cop in North Division on a Friday night. Can’t honestly say I miss that stuff. The clubs along Harry Hines Boulevard still generating lots of calls?”
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