Paw Enforcement

Read the Excerpt

Chapter One

Job Insecurity

Fort Worth Police Officer Megan Luz

My rusty-haired partner lay convulsing on the hot asphalt, his jaw clenching and his body involuntarily curling into a jittery fetal position as two probes delivered 1,500 volts of electricity to his groin. The crotch of his police-issue trousers darkened as he lost control of his bladder.

I’d never felt close to my partner in the six months we’d worked together, but at that particular moment I sensed a strong bond. The connection likely stemmed from the fact that we were indeed connected then–by the two wires leading from the Taser in my hand to my partner’s twitching testicles.


I didn’t set out to become a hero. I decided on a career in law enforcement for three other reasons:

1)  Having been a twirler in my high school’s marching band, I knew how to handle a baton.

2)  Other than barking short orders or rattling off Miranda rights, working as a police officer wouldn’t require me to talk much.

3)  I had an excess of pent-up anger. Might as well put it to good use, right?

Of course I didn’t plan to be a street cop forever. Just long enough to work my way up to detective. A lofty goal, but I knew I could do it–even if nobody else did.

I’d enjoyed my studies in criminal justice at Sam Houston State University in Hunstville, Texas, especially the courses in criminal psychology. No, I’m not some sick, twisted creep who gets off on hearing about criminals who steal, rape, and murder. I just thought that if we could figure out why criminals do bad things, maybe we could stop them, you know?

To supplement my student loans, I’d worked part-time at the gift shop in the nearby state prison museum, selling tourists such quality souvenirs as ceramic ash trays made by the prisoners or decks of cards containing prison trivia. The unit had once been home to Clyde Barrow of Bonnie and Clyde fame and was also the site of an eleven-day siege in 1974 spearheaded by heroin kingpin Fredrick Gomez Carrasco, jailed for killing a police officer. Our top-selling item was a child’s time-out chair fashioned after Old Sparky, the last remaining electric chair used in Texas. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.

To the corner, little Billy.

No, Mommy, no! Anything but the chair!

I’d looked forward to becoming a cop, keeping the streets safe for citizens, maintaining law and order, promoting civility and justice. Such noble ideals, right?

What I hadn’t counted on was that I’d be working with a force full of macho shitheads. With my uncanny luck, I’d been assigned to partner with the most macho, most shit-headed cop of all, Derek the “Big Dick” Mackey. As implied in the aforementioned reference to twitching testicles, our partnership had not ended well.

That’s why I was sitting here outside the chief’s office in a cheap plastic chair, chewing my thumbnail down to a painful nub, waiting to find out whether I still had a job. Evidently, Tasering your partner in the cojones is considered not only an overreaction, but also a blatant violation of department policy, one which carried the potential penalty of dismissal from the force, not to mention a criminal assault charge.

So much for those noble ideals, huh?

I ran a finger over my upper lip, blotting the nervous sweat that had formed there. Would I be booted off the force after only six months on duty?

With the city’s budget crisis, there’d been threats of cutbacks and layoffs across the board. No department would be spared. If the chief had to fire anyone, he’d surely start with the rookie with the Irish temper. If the chief canned me, what would I do? My aspirations of becoming a detective would go down the toilet. Once again I’d be Megan Luz, a.k.a. “The Loser.” As you’ve probably guessed, my pent-up anger had a lot to do with that nickname.

I pulled my telescoping baton from my belt and flicked my wrist to extend it. Snap! Though my police baton had a different feel from the twirling baton I’d used in high school, I’d quickly learned that with a few minor adjustments to accommodate the distinctive weight distribution I could perform many of the same tricks with it. I began to work the stick, performing a basic flat spin. The repetitive motion calmed me, helped me think. It was like a twirling metal stress ball. Swish-swish-swish.

The chief’s door opened and three men exited. All wore navy tees emblazoned with white letters spelling BOMB SQUAD stretched tight across well-developed pecs. Though the bomb squad was officially part of the Fort Worth Fire Department, the members worked closely with the police. Where there’s a bomb, there’s a crime, after all. Most likely these men were here to discuss safety procedures for the upcoming Concerts in the Park. After what happened at the Boston marathon, extra precautions were warranted for large public events.  

The guy in front, a blond with a military-style haircut, cut his eyes my way. He watched me spin my baton for a moment, then dipped his head in acknowledgement when my gaze met his. He issued the standard southern salutation. “Hey.”

His voice was deep with a subtle rumble, like far-off thunder warning of an oncoming storm. The guy wasn’t tall, but he was broad-shouldered, muscular, and undeniably masculine. He had dark green eyes and a dimple in his chin that drew my eyes downward, over his soft, sexy mouth, and back up again.

A hot flush exploded through me. I tried to nod back at him, but my muscles seemed to have atrophied. My hand stopped moving and clutched my baton in a death grip. All I could do was watch as he and the other men continued into the hall and out of sight.

Blurgh. Acting like a frigid virgin. How humiliating! 

Once the embarrassment waned, I began to wonder. Had the bomb squad guy found me attractive? Is that why he’d greeted me? Or was he simply being friendly to a fellow public servant?

My black locks were pulled back in a tight, torturous bun, a style that enabled me to look professional on the force while allowing me to retain my feminine allure after hours. There were only so many sacrifices I was willing to make for employment and my long, lustrous hair was not one of them. My freckles showed through my light makeup. Hard to feel like a tough cop if you’re wearing too much foundation or more than one coat of mascara. Fortunately, I had enough natural coloring to get by with little in the way of cosmetics. I was a part Irish-American, part Mexican-American mutt, with just enough Cherokee blood to give me an instinctive urge to dance in the rain but not enough to qualify me for any college scholarships. My figure was neither thin nor voluptuous, but my healthy diet and regular exercise kept me in decent shape. It was entirely possible that the guy had been checking me out. Right?  

I mentally chastised myself. Chill, Megan. I hadn’t had a date since I’d joined the force, but so what? I had more important things to deal with at the moment. I collapsed my baton, returned it to my belt, and took a deep breath to calm my nerves.

The chief’s secretary, a middle-aged brunette wearing a poly-blend dress, sat at her desk typing a report into the computer. She had twice as much butt as chair, her thighs draping over the sides of the seat. But who could blame her? Judging from the photos on her desk, she’d squeezed out three children in rapid succession. Having grown up in a family of five kids, I knew mothers had little time to devote to themselves when their kids were young and constantly needed mommy to feed them, clean up their messes, and bandage their various boo-boos. She wore no jewelry, no makeup, and no nail polish. The chief deserved credit for not hiring a younger, prettier, better accessorized woman for the job. Obviously, she’d been hired for her mad office skills. She’d handled a half dozen phone calls in the short time I’d been waiting and her fingers moved over the keyboard at such a speedy pace it was a miracle her hands didn’t burst into flame. Whatever she was being paid, it wasn’t enough.  

The woman’s phone buzzed again and she punched her intercom button. “Yessir?” She paused a moment. “I’ll send her in.” She hung up the phone and turned to me. “The chief is ready for you.”

“Thanks.” I stood on wobbly legs.

Would the chief take my badge today? 

Was my career in law enforcement over?