The police had already sectioned off the alley where a dead body lay. They weren’t letting either him or Charlotte near it and that was fine with both of them. She was sitting a foot away from him on a bench in front of a historic hotel that had shut down their front entrance for the time being. She held Reece in her arms. He was wide awake and looking around in curiosity as he sucked on his pacifier, but thankfully he was too young to understand what was going on. He was too young to do much of anything other than eat and sleep. A small blessing.

“Sir, we just need to ask her a few more questions.” The uniformed police officer was just doing her job. The petite Hispanic woman had her hair pulled back into a tight bun and her expression was soft when she glanced at Charlotte. “I have a young daughter myself so I can imagine how stressful this is for her, but we need to take her down to the station to give a full report and talk to a sketch artist.”

Kell gritted his teeth, hating that she’d have to go down there and hating more the fact that she’d witnessed a murder and had come close to losing her own life if that scumbag had gotten any closer. He couldn’t know for sure, but the man had just killed someone in an alley and Kell seriously doubted he’d have let Charlotte live if he suspected she’d seen him.

His heart was still working overtime as he tried to convince himself that the two people who meant more to him than anything were okay. “And I understand that, we’re just waiting on…” He trailed off, relief flooding him as he spotted Harrison Caldwell, one of the owners of Red Stone Security, striding down the sidewalk. He had Anthony Carlson, a member of Miami PD’s SWAT team, with him. Hell yeah. Kell had known he would need reinforcements when Charlotte had whispered the most terrifying statement in his ear. “A cop was involved in this.” Miami had a good department, but there was no way in hell he was letting anything get covered up or putting Charlotte in harm’s way because of a leak. She was only talking to a select few about what she’d seen. As well meaning as this officer seemed, she was just a beat cop and he needed someone higher up the chain. Someone they could trust.

“Delgado, good to see you, but I’ve got it from here,” Carlson said as he stopped in between them. He was wearing street clothes, but the woman clearly knew who he was.

She flipped her notepad shut. “You sure? A detective will be on scene in a few minutes.”

Carlson nodded, his dark eyes serious. He waited until the woman was out of earshot before turning to look at Kell. Harrison stood a few feet away, hovering next to Charlotte and Reece. When he asked to hold Kell’s baby Kell was surprised, but kept his focus on Carlson.

The man scrubbed a hand over his face, sighing. “Is she sure there was a cop involved in this?”

Kell hadn’t had a chance to talk to her in private so he only knew what little she’d relayed to the police and that one thing she’d told him. Nodding, he looked to Charlotte, whose eyes were wide and face pale as she glanced back and forth between him and Carlson.

“Honey,” he said softly, “This is Anthony Carlson and you can trust him. We’re going to have to go down to the station and you’ll have to talk to a sketch artist, but you and Reece are going to be safe.”

Even though he was way too young to understand anything, Reece made a gurgling sound at his name and grabbed Harrison’s nose. Kell frowned at his boss, not liking how high he was holding Reece on his shoulder.

Charlotte’s voice pulled his attention away. “If you trust him, I trust…” She trailed off, her face paling even more as she focused on something across the street. “That’s him, that’s the guy who was with the blond man who stabbed that poor man in the alley.” She wrapped her arms around her middle as she started to shake.

A dark-haired man wearing jeans and a bomber jacket was talking to a uniformed officer who had been speaking to one of the people who’d witnessed Charlotte screaming and running for her life. Kell wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her tight. She instantly leaned in to him, her shaking worsening.

“That fucker,” Carlson cursed. “You’re absolutely sure that’s him?”

“He was two feet away from me. I’m sure,” she rasped out, her voice trembling. Hell, no wonder. Kell was just impressed she’d managed to keep it together so long. Her smart thinking had saved her and Reece.

As if he knew he was being talked about, the man looked over at them. He made eye contact with Charlotte, his expression deadly. That was when Carlson took off at a full run across the street. The cops had completely sectioned off this block so the road was clear.

The man’s gaze widened for a brief moment before he turned and sprinted in the other direction. He cut through the park disappearing behind a cluster of trees, but Carlson was gaining speed. The man moved like a trained runner.

“Holy crap,” Charlotte murmured.

A few of the other officers were looking around in confusion at first. The uniformed woman who’d spoken to Charlotte earlier was the first to join in the pursuit, but other officers quickly followed.

“What are we supposed to do?” she asked.

Harrison answered before Kell could. “Just wait.” They both turned to look at him and he continued. “Carlson will catch him and if he doesn’t, that guy will be found soon. He wouldn’t have run if he wasn’t guilty. Probably didn’t realize there was a witness until he showed up. My guess is after him and his partner murdered the man in the alley, they went dark.” He shrugged as he spoke. “Don’t worry. Miami PD won’t put up with dirty cops. Whoever he is, he’s going down.”

Kell figured Harrison was right about the two men going dark. After killing someone, they wouldn’t want any communication for a while. Not until the heat blew over. But there was still someone else out there. Someone else who’d seen Charlotte’s face and had been close enough to harm Reece. Their innocent son. As if he read his expression and need to keep Reece close, Harrison handed him to Kell then motioned for Charlotte to sit back down. She practically collapsed on the bench, but instantly held out her arms for Reece. Though Kell wanted to hold his son he also understood her need. Handing him to her, Kell sat next to them and put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. He couldn’t believe any of this was happening, but he was damn glad to be in their lives. No matter what happened, he would protect his own.

* * * * *

“The dead guy is part of a Mexican cartel?” Charlotte kept repeating everything Kell was relaying to her in question form but she couldn’t stop it. Life had just gotten a whole lot scarier.

“No, he has an association with them,” he said quietly. He sat on the opposite end of his couch, giving her a little distance as she tried to digest everything. She hadn’t had to ask either; he seemed to read her very well and understood her need for space. After spending hours at the police station they were back at Kell’s and Reece was sound asleep. Harrison had been calling with updates and Kell had just hung up with him only to give her more horrific news.

“What does that mean?”

“He’s either done low level work for them or he’s related either by blood or through business to someone in the cartel. Either way, this makes his killer a target, not you.”

“How do we know the blond man who killed him isn’t part of the cartel?” The thought made her entire body turn cold in fear.

“Carlson doesn’t think he is. Your description and sketch match someone the guys from vice have been watching and that guy is in bed with one of their competitors.”

They’d wanted her to look at pictures of criminals but Reece had been fussy and she’d been ready to get the hell out of there after talking to the sketch artist. Clearly they’d matched her picture up with someone. “So they’ve found him?”

Kell shook his head, his expression dark. “No, he’s fallen off the face of the earth.”

“What’s his name?” She knew it wouldn’t matter, but she wanted to put a name with that terrifying face. The one that had promised her certain death.

“His real name is Cecil Talley but apparently his street name is Ice Man.”

Despite the entire horrific situation, Charlotte laughed under her breath at how stupid that sounded. Before she could ask another question, Kell answered one she’d been wondering about.

“And he’s had suspected dealings with Reed West.” The cop she’d seen that afternoon.

“So they killed someone with an ‘association’ with a freaking cartel and West isn’t talking,” she muttered to herself. Just great. Reed West was refusing to talk until he had a lawyer present and his lawyer wouldn’t be in town until early tomorrow morning.

Even though there was nothing she could do about it, she felt as if she was in a state of limbo wondering and waiting what would happen next. If this thing ever went to trial she would have to testify and that brought on a whole other mess of fears.

“Come here.” Kell’s voice was low as he held out an arm.

Charlotte wanted to resist but right now she didn’t have it in her as she scooted down and laid her head on his shoulder. It had been a long day and Kell had been there for her every step of the way, bringing in men he trusted, taking care of Reece when she couldn’t. The man was a rock. She’d been on her own for what felt like forever and she was just getting the hang of this motherhood thing. She didn’t want to get used to leaning on anyone if it wasn’t going to last.

Not even Kell, who was not only walking, talking sex appeal, but a damn fine man. He’d totally stepped up when she told him about Reece, not even questioning his paternity. That meant more to her than she could ever express. But if she got used to all this support it would be that much harder to move out on her own in a few months.

His hold around her shoulders tightened as he placed his chin on top of her head. She inhaled, breathing in that masculine scent of his that had always driven her a little wild. Sliding a hand over his chest and around him, she savored the feel of all that hard muscle. It was hard not to remember what he’d looked like naked as he’d taken her hard and fast up against the hallway wall on the way to her bedroom a year ago. Then he’d taken her gentle and slow when they’d finally made it to her bed.