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Sworn to Be His(The Archer Family Book 3)(5)

By:Allison Gatta

She tried to picture a day when she didn't eat her lunch with Derrick or  run her leads by him, but she came up with nothing. Nothing but sitting  at her desk with her stupid lean cuisine and staring at the computer  while she tried not to look at Detective Freddrick's unhealthy  collection of troll dolls in the cubicle across the aisle.

That was no way to work. Hell, it was no way to live. She had to do something. Make a plan.

Jade Lockhart: Are you free tonight?

Derrick Archer: You know I'm only dating you at work, right?

Jade Lockhart: Yeah, but I think we need to come up with a plan for what  that's going to look like. Want to go for some drinks and talk it over?  I think I have some leads from an interview today, too.

Derrick Archer: You paying?

Jade Lockhart: You wish.

Derrick Archer: Fine. But it'll cost you five more court orders.

Jade Lockhart: Two

Derrick Archer: Three.

Jade sighed.

Jade Lockhart: You've got yourself a deal.

The fact that the bar around the corner from the police station didn't  have a biohazard sign in the window was a mark of the Department of  Health and Safety's falling standards. Or maybe there was a sign and the  window was simply too dusty for anyone to see it clearly. Whatever the  case, Derrick walked into the place with trepidation and not a little  bit of skepticism.

As soon as the door opened, loud heavy metal music blasted all around  him and he skirted past bikers and their girls in order to sidle up to  the varnished cherry bar.

The man behind the counter, a skeletal version of Steven Tyler, was on  the far side of the room, talking to the woman he now recognized as  Jade. Apparently the old guy said something funny, and she threw back  her head as she laughed along with him.

"Hey," Derrick called to her, and she turned the full force of her smile  on him before extending her copper mug in his direction. "Hey. Come sit  down." She said something else to the barman before Derrick was in  earshot, and the other man rushed away with another copper mug in hand.

"Why the hell would you come to a place like this?" Derrick glanced around.         



"Don't say that too loud. One-eyed Jerry is sensitive to newcomers as it  is." She winked at a man with a hunchback who was in the middle of  throwing a dart at a hand-drawn cork board target.

"Are you about to tell me you have a whole secret life I don't know  about? Because I have to tell you that is not what I signed on for."

Jade rolled her eyes. "Don't be stupid." She lowered her voice and leaned in, "This is where you get the best snitches."

Derrick glanced around, careful not to allow anything to register on his  face and even more careful not to show how deeply he breathed in her  cinnamon apple scent.

In a whisper she went on, "I come here all the time. The bartender keeps me informed and in drinks."

As if to prove her point, the man was already trotting back toward them with a fresh drink in hand.

"Sully here makes the best Moscow Mule this side of the big island." She  beamed at him and he smiled back a crooked, jagged grin.

Derrick followed their lead, but the man's smile dampened in return.

"Ignore him. You're new. It's gonna take awhile for them to trust you. Plus it doesn't help that you look like a cop."

"I am a cop."

"Even worse." Jade took a sip of her drink and then plunked it back down  on the bar. "Okay, so what do you want to start with-the case or the  plan for our so-called relationship?"

"Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first. The case."

"Dealing with the mafia is easier than pretending to be my boyfriend?" She raised her eyebrows.

"So far..." He didn't bother to finish his thought and Jade guffawed in response.

"Fine, whatever. So, I had three other witnesses this afternoon and basically none of them panned out."

"No big shock there."

"Except one." Jade held up a finger. "Her name is Crystal, and she's a dancer at the Slippery Beaver."


"Hey, I didn't name it." She held up her hands in mock innocence.

"Okay, okay, so what did Crystal say that was so helpful?"

"She said she recognized one of the guys, not from the news but because  he was one of her regulars. The club is one that Scaglietti and his guys  launder money through. She said they're there almost every Friday  night."

"So you...what? Plan to put a wire on her and send her in?"

"Strippers can't exactly hide wires. No, I was thinking we'd have to go  undercover." She frowned at him, apparently waiting for something.

And then it clicked.

"You're going to go there undercover as a dancer? Why can't I just be a bartender instead?"

"Who do you think has a better chance at getting information? A scantily clad woman or a guy who looks like a cop?"

Derrick was silent, but he couldn't argue her logic. Still, the idea of  her going into a place like that, with people like that...

"I'm going with you." he said at last.

"You don't-"

"I'm going with you. I'll pose as a customer. Nobody will notice me, but  I can get pictures and case the place in a way you won't be able to."

This time it was Jade's turn to think. She pursed her full mouth  silently, then gave him one single nod. "Okay, you've got a deal. So now  that the easy part is handled..."

"We have to talk about your harebrained scheme."

"Not harebrained. Maybe just a little...unconventional."

"Call it whatever you want. It's nutty."

"Be that as it may, the more I think about this, the more concerned I  get. I filed all the HR paperwork this morning and that's all ready to  go, but I have no idea how we can be a couple and be professionals at  the same time," Jade said.

"We'll have to spend a lot of time together."

"We already do that, though. I think we need to engineer some kind of spark or something. Some...flirtatious spirit."

"Flirtatious spirit? Are you serious?" Derrick asked.

"Dead serious. Now, come on. We've got to brainstorm how to flirt."

"Do you even know how to flirt?" he asked, and she blinked up at him  with a blank expression before it contorted into something like anger.

"Of course I know how to flirt," she shot back.

"Okay, give me your best come on."

"Well you can't just put me on the spot like that. The best I've got is 'Hey there sailor.'"

"Which would work great if we were in the 1940s."

"Fine then, how do you normally flirt with someone?"

"I don't normally have to try."

She rolled her eyes. "Why is that always your go-to response? Everybody has to try sometime."

"That's where you're wrong."

"Okay, well, um, what if we tried to hold hands?" She rested her palm on  the bar top and Derrick reached out to take it. The second his skin met  hers, it was like a little electric spark had fizzled up his arm and  shot directly into his heart. For an instant, he nearly pulled away in  surprise, but then he wrapped his fingers around hers and squeezed  gently.         



"This is..." He started and she nodded.

"Weird." She finished for him. "So we could, I guess, hold hands during lunch."

"Right, Okay. We can do that."

"And we could also, I don't know, could we have nicknames for each other? Cutesy ones?"

"Like Sugar Tits?" He offered.

"I was thinking a little less graphic."

"Sugar Boobs?"

She frowned at him.

"Okay, fine. I'll come up with something else. I'll call you..."

"You can call me Jay. That was what an old boyfriend of mine used to call me."

Derrick grimaced. He wasn't sure why, but the idea of calling her by  some affection another man had given her rubbed him the wrong way. "No, I  don't think so. I'm going to call you Champ."

"And what am I supposed to call you? Slugger?"

"No, you can call me Dare. That's what they called me in the service."  He said it casually, almost without thinking. In fact, he wasn't sure  what had jogged his memory of the nickname to begin with. He hadn't  thought of it in years, not since his last deployment. That name was one  of the very few good things he had to hang on to from those days.

"Okay, then, Dare it is." she looked at him thoughtfully for a moment,  then said, "We'll think of something else for you to call me."

"Yeah, I'll keep at it." He nodded.

They sipped their drinks in silence for a moment, then Derrick said, "So is that all? That seems like the basics."

"There's one more thing."


"Well, I was thinking...Kelly and Freddricks kiss before they leave every day."

"Yeah, so? They're..."

"They're together. And we're supposed to be, too. So if we're going to  act like we're together, we're going to have to be able to kiss without  it being weird."

"But it is going to be weird. It's going to be very weird."

"Right, so we're going to have to work through that and practice," Jade said.