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IMPULSE
by Debra Webb

Genre: General Romantic Suspense, Romantic Suspense

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When he closed the fridge door Jess was standing there staring at him, hands on hips and glasses pushed up into her hair. The image of her, barefoot and glaring at him, was so familiar it took his breath. All those years together…fighting like wildcats and making love as if there were no tomorrow.

“We need to talk about how you see me in the field.”

As much as he might assuredly need another cold one for this, he would be smart to keep a clear head. He set the beer on the counter. “Okay. Talk.”

Sitting down wouldn’t make it any easier.

“You asked me to take the position of deputy chief over a unit that will investigate major crimes, maybe even cases like this one, and yet you persist in treating me like a helpless civilian,” she charged. “Worse, like a helpless woman.”

Okay, maybe he did. “I’m trying, Jess,” he admitted. “It’s just a different role for me where you’re concerned.” He held up his hands when she would have lit into him again. “My brain knows that you are as capable as I am when it comes to the job. Maybe more capable. But here,” he flattened his palm on his chest, “I just haven’t been able to get that yet.”

The truth was out. So shoot him. He still had feelings for her, strong feelings. Anything that would hang on this long had to be real.

She looked stunned or horrified or maybe both.

“You wanted the truth, right? Or did you want me to tell you something that feels less awkward?” He couldn’t ignore this any longer and tiptoeing around the idea wasn’t working for him.

“They’re all watching us, Burnett. Every sergeant and lieutenant and damned deputy chief in Birmingham PD is watching and waiting to see if you gave me this job to keep me here for personal reasons.”

He couldn’t tell if she was worried, hurt or angry. But he was angry.

“I wanted you to stay.” He held up his hands in surrender. “I wanted it and still do more than I’ve wanted anything in a long time. But, I offered you the position because you’re more than qualified and we need you. End of story.” He held up his hands in surrender. “Wait, you probably can’t accept my word on that since you don’t trust me anymore.”

She crossed her arms over her chest signaling she was ready for battle. “You want to talk about trust? Here’s a perfect example. You want me to stay more than you’ve wanted anything since when exactly? Since you married Annette Denton? Or” she shrugged “I can’t remember the names of your other two wives. Or maybe since the last time that reporter brought take-out to your door and you wanted her.”

“You expect me to feel guilty because I tried to move on with my life and failed three times or because I have needs? What does that have to do with trust?”

“No! I want you to feel guilty because you walked out on us twenty years ago and now you have the audacity to pretend you are so here for me. That was about trust and you broke mine.”

He looked away, tried to slow the emotions churning inside him before meeting her expectant gaze. “Are we never going to get past the past?” Bring it down a decibel. Shouting was not the adult thing to do and they were both adults now. “I thought we talked about this already. Last week, remember? How many times are we going to do this? We can’t just go from here?” Christ, she was like a dog with a bone.

“As soon as you drag yourself out of denial,” she charged, “we can move on. What do you say, Dan, are you up to the challenge?”