Sean was standing in his kitchen making a stack of nachos to rival the eight-layer cake he demolished in college on a dare. He was lucky Tammy let him hit the gym as much as he did. With his appetite, he was going to turn into a fat bastard the day he stopped working out. He smiled as he dumped a can of olive slices over the top, his big hands dwarfing the little container. Tammy had taken the kids to her mom's place for the day, so he'd not only worked out, but was looking forward to nearly five hours watching football.
He winced when his cell phone buzzed in his pocket and prayed that it wasn't Tammy letting him know she was on her way home with a sick kid. He loved his family, but his job as a homicide detective didn't give him enough downtime. A Sunday off rotation paired with uninterrupted, unfiltered access to the television was the Holy Grail.
He frowned at the 253 area code without caller ID and shrugged before answering the phone. "This is Sean Howard."
"Hi, Sean. How's the family?"
Sean would recognize that voice anywhere, even with the static crashing across the line like waves battering the shore. "Olivia? I didn't recognize the number. Man, you need to switch providers. That is one helluva connection." He strained against the phone, hoping her voice would come through clearer. It was a little husky and still sexy as hell.
"Yeah, I changed the number recently."
Sean shut his eyes, struggling to push the image of her face out of his mind before responding. "The kids are good. Growing all the time. Tammy is pregnant with our third."
"Congratulations! That's great, Sean." She sounded sincere, which was surprising considering they broke up because she didn't want to settle down or mess with kids of her own.
"Yeah, thanks. Kids are such a joy. It's really the best thing I've done with my life." Shit. He shouldn't have put it like that. He didn't want her to think he was rubbing her nose in an ancient fight. "How're you doing?"
"Oh, fine." She sighed into the phone before she blurted, "Sean, I kind of need a favor."
He hadn't heard from her in four years, but Sean was loyal to a fault. "Sure. What's up?"
"Do you know of any discreet suppliers of self-defense equipment?"
Sean let the air fill with static as his cop instincts screamed. The words "discreet" and "self-defense" were an infamous combination and usually led to his specialty: homicide. And usually it was the woman trying to protect herself who ended up dead. "What do you need exactly?"
A surge of heat burst along Sean's spine and flared out, warming his chest. He suddenly knew what was plaguing Olivia, and he stood gripping the countertop until the wood creaked. He fought the urge to find her and protect her. "Is that bastard still bothering you?"
Sean Howard is a homicide detective for the Seattle Police Department. Suspects underestimate his intelligence because of his brute size, but he has an uncanny ability to find a weak link in a story and capitalize on it during interviews. Despite his intimidating physique, he is a family man and a good father to his two sons. Some cases are harder than others, but he does his best to leave work at the door. Time with his boys helps ground him.
Prior to settling down with Tammy, Sean was in an intense relationship with Olivia Kardos. It took months to get over her, and if he's honest with himself, she's the one who got away. Sean wants to make the right decisions for his family, but this phone call is just the first in a series of events that drag him into a struggle between being a good husband and saving the woman he loved with a frightening intensity.
The first two chapters of All the Pretty Bones are being sent to my mailing list tonight!