Sworn to Be His

By: Allison Gatta

(The Archer Family Book 3)



For Elsie—my sweetest and dearest friend and the best editor a girl could ever ask for





Chapter 1





Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

Jade Lockhart gripped the down pillow and shoved it over her ears. Stupid birds. Didn't they know she'd only just fallen asleep? All she needed was a few more precious moments of beauty rest and then—

She sat up in bed, holding her breath while she stared around for her cell phone.

"I should never fall asleep with that damned thing." She grumbled, then shook out the sheets and tossed all the pillows from the bed. The phone flopped onto the floor with a dull clunk and she snatched it up and pressed the power button.

Nothing happened.

"Shit," she hissed, then pulled on a pair of slacks that had been laying on top of her dresser from the laundry she still hadn't gotten around to putting away. After she shoved on a reasonably work-ready blouse from her closet, she sprinted down the hall, toward the kitchen and—

"Double shit." The neon green numbers on the oven flashed 8:00. She was late. Again.

"Okay, okay, okay," She scurried into the living room, grabbed her sidearm from the hook near the wall, and shoved her cell phone into her pocket. She'd just have to charge it when she got to the station. If she hurried, she'd still be on time to catch the meeting, and once she got there—

The damned speech was on her phone. The reason she'd been up half the night was lost in the ether of her notepad app and she was left with nothing. All those beautifully worded arguments. Poof. Gone.

She slipped on her shoes and pulled her blond hair into a messy knot on top of her head.

"How am I gonna fix this?" She glanced at her cat, Lisa, who rolled over as if to say: "not my problem."

"Very helpful. Right," Jade said, then dropped some cat food into Lisa's bowl before fumbling through her cluttered living room and out her front door.

"Keys," she reminded herself, then grabbed them from the table beside the door and headed out again.

"Okay. Okay. I can totally do this." She squinted in the early morning sunlight then slid into her not-so-glamorous, yet inconspicuous 2010 Camry. That was the one thing people never warned other people about being a detective—the chances of getting a car you'd actually be proud to drive were slim at best. She just counted herself lucky that her car had actually been manufactured within the last ten years.

"Maybe if I think really hard, I can remember what I was going to say," she said. "Okay. New Badges. I was going to say..."

She tried to recall the polite wording for the fact that the rainbow on their new Hawaii State Criminal Investigations Unit Badges looked, well, like a multicolored dildo. Of course, the two little clouds at the base did nothing to help that impression.

Honestly, didn't the police have enough problems without walking around sporting big old d—

"Hey!" She honked her horn as someone cut her off on the interstate into Honolulu. She should pull them over and show them just...

No, she didn't have time for that. She had to come up with a plan for what she was going to say. How she was going to say it. And, of course, how she was going to convince the unit supervisor that she was not, in fact, an hour late for work but rather fashionably tardy.

"Yep, that's gonna be an easy one." She shook her head. "Okay. The badge. I'll just walk in there and say 'ladies and gentlemen, I've put a great deal of thought into this case and I feel there are a number of pros and cons to this badge situation. While I understand we're all busy, we need to band together to rectify—"

But could she say rectify? Didn't that sound a little too much like “erection” given the circumstances?

"No, what about...When you get to the bones of it—"

Nope, that wouldn't work either. Maybe the best option was just to blow the thing up and outline the problem area. Like a little crime scene unto itself.

She pulled into the lot and parked, barely taking the time to lock her car before sprinting into the building and making for the elevator. When she got to the third floor, she summoned her courage, stepped out, and headed for the conference room. Through the slats on the wide, glass wall, she could already tell that Supervisor Sanders was detailing something or another, some other unfamiliar outline was standing beside him.

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