Foundation For Three

By: Vella Day
Montana Promises Book 2


To Carol Adcock-Bezzo. Thank you for letting me share your wonderful family stories.

Chapter One

Detective Thad Dalton didn’t expect any trouble driving down Fourth Street at ten in the morning in Rock Hard, Montana. Regardless, he kept his gaze on the sidewalks for any suspicious behavior. The traffic was going at a comfortable speed, and all looked good, but that was when the shit tended to fly.

“Mind pulling into Dunkin’ Donuts?” his partner asked as he dragged a fist over his eyes with a bit too much vigor. “If I don’t down some caffeine, I’ll fall asleep.”

Thad shot Jeremy Warner a glare. Crap. Dark circles underlined his eyes. “You tie one on last night?” His partner loved to party. Hell, so did he, but not enough to affect his performance the next day. Their work required constant vigilance.

“A bit.” Jeremy winced and slowly lifted his hand to rub his temple, as if a headache had already taken hold.

Thad worried Jeremy might never get his shit together. He was young, but he’d been a good beat cop before joining the Street Crime Unit. Thad valued loyalty and reliability above everything else in his life. He strove for it personally and expected it from his partner, and right now he wasn’t a damn bit sure Jeremy could deliver.

Thad turned into the drive-through on Crenshaw and drummed his fingers on the wheel while he edged the car forward. Once at the window, he ordered a medium-sized black coffee for himself and a jumbo one for his partner. “Douse the second one with cream, will ya? My partner here needs lots of sugar, too.” Thad didn’t want to think what Jeremy’s insides looked like, but as long as he could outrun a criminal and shoot straight, Thad didn’t much care.

Back on the road, he finished half his drink and set it in the cup holder just as his radio signaled. “There’s a two-eleven in progress,” Dispatch sputtered out. “First and Elm. Wilson’s Electronics. Suspects are considered armed and dangerous. All available units respond.”

“Fuck.” His heart hitched as adrenaline raced through him. It was Chuck Wilson’s place. Given the rundown area, good chance it was gang related. Since they were only a few blocks away, Thad pressed on the accelerator and shot up Ridgewood.

“Shit!” Jeremy dropped the coffee into the holder on his side and wiped his possibly burnt hand on his pants.

That couldn’t have been helped. “Sorry. Hazard of being a cop.”

“My fault.” Jeremy flipped on the sirens and answered the call, saying they were only a few blocks away.

Thad cursed and blasted past a car going too slow. As he sped down the street, he kept watch at every intersection to make sure a vehicle wasn’t pulling out. Every second that went by meant the thieves would be farther away and harder to catch. He skidded around the corner, hanging a left onto First.

“There,” Jeremy shouted, pointing to two men running down the street both carrying what looked like pillowcases.

Seriously? Pillowcases? Thad searched the street for a getaway car, but no vehicles were parked nearby. Chuck burst out of his store, spotted them, and waved his arms, pointing at the perpetrators. As soon as the two alleged thieves ran past the bookstore, they ducked down an alley. Thad jerked the cruiser to the left to follow, but had to slam on his brakes when two dumpsters blocked his way.

“Damn it.” Jamming the car in park, he and Jeremy both jetted out of the cruiser. “Go back around,” Thad shouted. “Cut them off on the other end.”

Sirens sounded from a block away, which meant he’d be halfway down the alley by the time the assist arrived. Given the speed of the thieves, Thad couldn’t afford to wait for backup.

He drew his weapon, knowing the dangers of going in blind. Thad raced down the alley, stepping over cans, bottles, and a host of other trash. He counted only two men, but there could be others waiting around the corner. Neither man had a weapon in his hand, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have an arsenal stuffed in their pants. The dispatcher had stated they were armed.

“Stop! Police!”

No surprise they didn’t mind his order and kept running. Thad’s heart slammed against his ribs and the strain in his legs burned as he chased after them. The alley stunk not only of garbage but also of something he didn’t want to identify.

Pumping his arms hard, Thad sprinted toward them, ignoring every ache and pain in his body. Thirty-four hadn’t seemed old yesterday, but it sure felt ancient today. One of the men looked back over his shoulder. Shit. He was just a kid. Maybe eighteen or nineteen at most.