Don't Look Back (Texas Justice #3) by Christie Craig

Prologue



Why do I not like this?” Detective Connor Pierce, with the Anniston Police Department’s Drug and Gang Unit, put his hand close to his weapon as he and his partner eased down the alley. Darkness and danger hung heavy. The only streetlight, about twenty-five yards down, cast a bluish hue on a parked car as they approached.

A breeze carrying the scent of garbage from the dumpsters lining the graveled path flowed past. That smell was welcome compared to the foul smell of human urine. A few murmured voices echoed in the distance like background noise. His ears automatically tuned in to listen.

Detective Donald Adkins froze. “Is that him?” His voice lacked the concern Connor felt.

“Can’t tell.” Connor stared at the two figures standing at the back door of what he thought was the liquor store, wishing they were not still too far away to see clearly. Rumor had it that Carter Thompson, a small-time drug dealer, did business behind that liquor store.

They weren’t even after Carter. They were after his cousin, a guy known as Dirt. He was a more serious and harder-to-find dealer. Dirt was suspected of selling counterfeit oxy containing fentanyl.

There had been fifteen overdose victims and a total of eight deaths. Three of those fatalities had been teenagers. Adkins, who was ten years older than Connor, had a teenage son who went to school with one of the victims. For him, this case was personal.

After seeing a comatose sixteen-year-old girl on a respirator yesterday, it felt pretty damn personal to Connor, too. They had to catch this guy before more people died.

“I don’t think that’s him,” Connor said as they drew closer.

“Too tall,” Adkins confirmed, just as they were spotted.

“Cops!” someone screamed, and loud popping noises followed.

“Shit!” Connor and Adkins dove behind a dumpster. Both hit hard on the gravel. Connor pulled his weapon and peered around to locate the shooter. “Two of them, behind the car.”

When Adkins didn’t respond, Connor looked over his shoulder. His partner for the last year lay on the ground, a pool of blood collecting around his head.

Before Connor’s knees even hit the ground, he saw white matter mixed with Adkins’s spilled blood. Then he saw his partner’s eyes.

Open.

Empty.

Dead.

“No!” Another bullet whizzed past. He grabbed his phone, hit dial, and yelled out, “Shots fired. Officer down.” The words physically hurt to say. No one could save Adkins. “Two one three Fourth Street. Alley behind Lone Star Liquor Store.”

A car’s engine roared to life, and it started backing out. Panic pumping through his veins, he peered around the heavy metal container and saw movement behind a pile of boxes.

“Anniston PD, drop your weapon!” He darted out and ran to the next dumpster. “Throw down your weapon!” He’d give the bastard one chance. Then all bets were off.

Another bullet clanked against the metal. The car sped out.

Connor shot off three times. He heard a grunt, saw a figure fall. Racing forward, heart hammering in his chest, gun held out and ready, he cut behind the boxes. There on the gravel, bleeding from his chest, lay his shooter.

“Shit!” Connor yelled out in both fury and horror when he saw the young shooter desperately trying to breathe. He was just a pimply-faced kid. A weapon lay beside the boy’s hand. Connor kicked it away. “Fuck! Why did you do this?”

“Tell my mama…” Blood trickled from his lips as he took a raspy breath.

“I’m scared,” he whimpered.

Emotions raged in Connor’s chest as the image of his dead partner flashed through his mind. Somehow Connor found it in himself to reach for the boy’s hand. “Help’s coming.”

The boy’s head slumped to the side and his young dark eyes went as empty as Adkins’s.





Chapter One



Three and a half years later.

How had she lost him? Brie Ryan white-knuckled the steering wheel and slammed her foot on the gas pedal so hard, so fast, the Mustang’s rear end fishtailed.

“Fudge bars!” She could lay down some trash talk that would make concrete blush, because sometimes you had to keep up with the guys to earn respect. But when really mad, she deferred to the creative cursing of the one true parental influence in her life, her manny.

Sucking air through her teeth, she kept looking. One minute the Porsche was there then it wasn’t. She hit redial on her phone, hoping to reach Carlos Olvera, the only person who knew what she’d been up to for the last four months. The call went straight to voice mail. Again. It didn’t make sense. He never turned off his phone.