24 Hours --by Kay David

By: Kay David
Chapter One

Destin, Florida,

4:30 p.m.

In 10 minutes, Sarah Greenberg's world was going to end.

If she didn't get to the bank, deposit her paycheck, and make it to the training field in the next 10 minutes, life, as she knew it, would be over. Her rent check would bounce. But worse than that, she'd be tardy, a major offense in the eyes of Lena McKinney, Sarah's boss and the commander of the Emerald Coast SWAT Team.

As the information officer of the SWAT team, Sarah had been begging for a promotion. The exercise Lena had planned for today was Sarah's big chance to prove she was ready to move up.

Wheeling into the bank's crowded parking lot, Sarah slid her jeep into the last open spot and grabbed her purse. Working for the SWAT team was exciting, but Sarah longed for more action. A multicounty organization, the team handled all the dangerous situations the local police forces couldn't handle. With their extra fire power and special techniques, the SWAT team was a force of its own.

But Sarah's position on the team seemed mundane to her. Whenever there was a hostage situation, it was her responsibility to find who the captors were and how they could impact the situation. She garnered floor plans and telephone numbers, neighbors' names and relatives' jobs. If it was a domestic complaint or an assailant was holding a gun to someone's head, it was her job to discover who he was and why he was doing what he was doing.

Her job was vital, but she could do more and she wanted to prove that fact to Lena.

Jumping from her vehicle, Sarah ran toward the door of the bank and slipped inside just as the security guard was reaching out to close it.

She gave the gray-haired man a grateful look. She'd lived in Destin all her life and Tommy Tipton had been the guard ever since she had come here with her father. "Thanks, Tommy," she said breathlessly.

"No problem, Sarah." He grinned. "It's always a pleasure to see you, late or not."

She flashed him a smile, then hurried toward the front of the lobby. There were two tellers and a half-dozen waiting customers. Sarah almost groaned out loud. The wait would be forever!

Before she could decide to leave or stay, a motion caught her peripheral vision. She focused without thinking, her cop's radar coming on, her gaze swinging to a man near the front of the line.

After a moment's study, she decided she was being paranoid. There was nothing that unusual about the stranger. Casually dressed and wearing sunglasses, he seemed anxious for the line to progress, stepping slightly out of the queue to look ahead. He was tapping his foot impatiently. She relaxed, but all at once, the feeling returned, even stronger than it was before.

Sarah looked again, her stare going down the line a little more closely this time. The man she'd first noticed had stepped back and she could now see the people ahead of him. Along with a couple of teenagers and a gray-haired retiree in shorts and dress shoes, there was a woman corralling two little boys, an impatient businessman batting papers against his leg, and a solitary figure dressed in black, standing completely still.

Sarah concentrated on the last person, her heart first stalling then accelerating. No one else had shoulders that wide or hair that dark. No one else could send her pulse into such panic. No one else could make her want to turn and run.

No one but Ray Maitland.

The only man she'd ever loved and hated at the very same time.

To be continued

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