Midnight Special Coming on Strong
Author:Tawny Weber

Prologue



HE COULD HAVE BEEN WRAPPED around a sexy redhead, letting her use his body to fulfill any number of her kinkiest desires. He could be playing pirate and the captive wench at that very moment, stripping off his eye patch while singing “Love Machine.”

But, no.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Hunter had figured he’d wrap up the last hour of the day by picking up a low-level criminal reputed to be fencing hot art. Find the guy, work a little intimidation, figure out who he was schlepping bronze nudes for. Easy as one-two-three, done in plenty of time to grab a shower before his date.

Except the dumb-ass fence must’ve had something hot going down, because after finally tracking him down in that skeezy bar in Hoboken ten minutes ago, the guy had taken one look at Hunter’s face, run to his rusty Tempo and peeled out.

Adrenaline racing, he’d chased the idiot over the bridge back into Manhattan. Now, his hands gripping the steering wheel, Hunter stayed glued to the guy’s bumper. He eyed the speedometer. One-twenty heading into a residential district. Probably not a good idea.

As chill as if he were on a Sunday drive, he mentally mapped the area, then pressed down a little harder on the gas so his front fender was level with the Ford’s rear tires. He feinted to the right, as if he was going to ram the guy. He grinned at the wild-eyed stare in the rearview mirror, quickly followed by a look of desperation. The dumb-ass cranked the wheel, taking the first right on two tires.

Hunter smirked, easing back on the gas and letting dumb-ass think he was getting away instead of falling into a trap.

“Special Agent Hunter, in pursuit of suspect in Ford Tempo.” He reeled off the license number and their current location. “Requesting backup at Pier 57. ETA, three minutes.”

Just then, the Ford lost control. The guy bounced his fender off three cars, and then he got stupid. Hunter saw the Ford’s rear glass shatter just in time to duck before the bullet came through his own windshield.

Son of a bitch. This was going to screw up his ETA. To say nothing of his date.

Pissed now, he set his jaw, wrenched hard on the steering wheel and used the momentum of the car ricocheting off the curb to slam into the back end of the other car.

Hunter hated being late.

He didn’t bother pulling his own gun. He just rammed into the back of the idiot’s car. The damned thing exploded. Hunter flinched as the flames lit the night sky, not sure if he was glad or not when the dumb-ass rolled out of the car just before it went kaboom.

The impact of the blast sent his own ride spinning.

He flipped three times, each one sending his brand-new, government-issue vehicle bouncing like a beach ball across the pavement. The seat belt cut viciously across his chest before the air bag deployed with the impact of a fist to the face. Hunter’s head snapped back, his ears ringing like the Liberty Bell.

Freaking A.

As his car slid to a stop, his head kept on spinning like the tires that were whirling in the air. With a growl, Hunter decided that, yeah, he was glad the idiot had been thrown clear. Now he could kick his ass.

Climbing out through the window, he grimaced as his palms met a carpet of broken glass. Pain ripped through his head. Muscles, clenched tight during his little loop-de-loop, seized up painfully.

“Sir?”

Knees drawn up, the back of his head resting against his wrecked car, Hunter opened one eye.

“Ferris.” Figured. The beat cop was Hunter’s age, but gleamed like a bright new penny. Bright, hopeful and so damned young.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m breathing, aren’t I?” As long as the air was hitting his lungs, Hunter was on the job and doing fine. “You get my guy?”

“Layton is rounding him up now. An ambulance is on its way.”

“He needs an ambulance?” Hunter opened both eyes now, squinting across the dock to the other squad car, the cop and the puny idiot who didn’t know how to drive.

“The ambulance is for you.”

Hunter sneered. Then, figuring it’d have more impact if he wasn’t sitting on his ass, he pushed to his feet and shook his head. He regretted the move when the sky did a slow three-sixty. “I’m fine.”

“Uh-huh. Sir, I gotta say, I’ve worked with a handful of feds over the years. Most of them, they’re total paper pushers. But you?” Ferris shook his head, giving Hunter a doleful once-over. “This is the second time in as many weeks I’ve answered a call with you on the other end. Running out of exploding buildings, high-speed car chases... You might want to sit behind your desk once in a while. Push those papers. Give your body time to recover.”

“Desks are for wimps,” he said with a dismissive smirk. Desk jockeys meandered up the ladder. Hunter planned to vault his way up. Eight years on the job and he was a special agent in charge. So far, he was doing pretty damned good, about two years ahead of where his old man had been at his age. Not surprising, since his father had wasted time and energy on marriage and a kid. Of course, as the kid in question, Hunter figured the old man’s choice had worked out fine. But losing his wife when his kid was six had unquestionably put yet another crimp in the career climb. So, while Hunter was more than willing to follow his father’s footsteps as far as his career was concerned, that was as far as it went.

No wife.

No kid.

Just the job.

It’d be nice to quit getting blown up or set on fire, though.

He lifted his hand to the wet patch on his cheek, noted the blood and sighed. Yeah. A break wouldn’t be a bad thing.

“Aren’t you, like, a boss?” Ferris matched his steps to Hunter’s limping stride as they made their way toward the EMTs. “You don’t have to have the crap trashed out of you on a regular basis, right? You could opt out once in a while.”

Well, that was one way of looking at it. Hunter glanced down, saw his new jeans were ripped at the knee, and cussed a mental streak. Dammit. The deputy director wasn’t gonna spring to pay for two pairs of pants in a single month. And the shoes were toast, too.

Behind them, a huge explosion was followed by a gust of fiery air. Bits of metal flew through the air, followed by the sound of the firefighters rushing to contain the conflagration.

There went his car.

“Holy shit.” Ferris turned to watch the blaze.

Hunter didn’t bother looking back.

Not that he’d admit it to anyone, but suddenly the idea of cozying up to a desk for a few days was sounding pretty damned good right this second.