When Nick O'Flaherty arrives at the scene of a double homicide to find he has a witness to the crime, he thinks it's his lucky day. But when he realizes his witness is suffering from amnesia and can't even remember his own name, Nick wishes he'd gone with his gut and put in for vacation time.
Then Nick's boyfriend and former Recon teammate, Kelly Abbott, joins him in Boston, and Nick finds his hands a little too full as the case and his personal life collide. The witness he's dubbed "JD" is being tailed by Julian Cross, a retired CIA hitman. To complicate matters further, JD forms an attachment to Nick that Nick struggles not to respond to as they search for the key to JD's identity.
Trying to determine whether JD is friend or foe as they investigate the crime puts them on the trail of a much older mystery. When multiple attempts are made on their lives, Nick is forced to turn to old enemies and new allies to solve a centuries-old crime before he and Kelly get added to the history books.
Read an Excerpt
Cross & Crown (A Sidewinder Story)
By Abigail Roux, Rachel Haimowitz
Riptide PublishingCopyright © 2014 Abigail Roux
All rights reserved.
Detective Nick O'Flaherty climbed out of the unmarked car and took the opportunity to stretch his back as he looked around the chaotic downtown crime scene. Gawkers were lined up at a checkpoint near a narrow side-road intersection, even though it was barely sunup. An ambulance sat with its lights off near the storefront. Uniforms milled around, waiting for the coroner to show up.
"Hey, Tommy," Nick said as one of the uniforms approached him. "How're your girls?"
"Same as always, Detective, running the show. How's your first week back off desk duty?"
"Blissfully boring. What've we got?" Nick asked him.
"Looks like a smash and grab gone wrong. Old bookstore. Shop's all busted up. Two dead."
"IDs?" Nick asked as he pulled a pair of latex gloves from his coat pocket.
"One's the shop owner. We're still waiting on the ID for the other. But there's something else you got to see."
Nick's partner joined them, brushing against Nick's shoulder. "Something besides the dead bodies?"
The officer nodded. "Good morning, Detective Hagan. Yes, we got a witness."
"Hallefuckinlujah," Nick muttered as he followed.
"Don't thank your lucky stars just yet."
Nick repressed a groan as Tommy led them toward some evidence tags in the middle of the road.
"This is where they found him," Tommy said.
"In the road?" Nick asked.
"On the ground?" Hagan added.
"Yes, sirs. Thought he was another body at first."
"Where is he?" Nick asked.
Hagan smacked Nick on the arm. "That's why they gave us this one. So you could go question him and not fuck up a crime scene."
"Hey," Nick grunted.
"You're the people person who donated half his liver to his dad," Hagan said. "You take the easy part, I'll go get coffee."
Nick grunted as his stocky partner trundled off toward one of the trucks. Hagan and his love affair with coffee were a bane of Nick's existence.
Nick glanced around the scene again. The front windows of the store had been busted out, probably shattered by the gunfire. Two bodies were sprawled on the sidewalk in front. Shelves of books inside had been toppled, the interior a mess of old tomes. Dust motes floated in the floodlights. Standing behind the barricades was a mass of onlookers.
Nick sighed heavily and scanned the crowd. He didn't see anyone who looked like they might be trying to offer information, just a bunch of people with nothing better to do than gawk as the sun rose. Then his eyes landed on someone who looked familiar. Tall, broad shoulders, dark hair. He was wearing sunglasses, and his turned-up coat collar hid some of his face.
But Nick thought he recognized him. He started toward the barriers. "Garrett?"
The man ducked his head and disappeared into the crowd. Nick trailed to a stop. Zane Garrett would not have ignored Nick's greeting. Nick had obviously been mistaken.
When Hagan returned with two steaming cups of coffee, they climbed back into their unmarked, and Nick dumped his coffee into the street before closing the door and heading off for the hospital to check on their witness.
Hagan's coffee, and apparently his patience along with it, were reaching the dregs when they finally found the room their witness had been moved to after his MRI and CT scans and whatever else they'd put the poor guy through. An officer was on the door, and a nurse was in the room checking the man's vitals.
He was sitting on the edge of his bed, a blanket around his shoulders. He had his head down. His hair was light and wavy, and he had a day's worth of stubble. There was a bandage on his neck that seemed to stretch up into his hairline. He was wearing jeans and a blue cardigan, and his shoulder was covered in blood. He certainly wasn't dressed for midnight acrobatics like a robbery, and though his current state spoke of more than just one bad night in a row, he didn't ping Nick as an addict.
Nick slid his suit jacket aside to show his badge before approaching the witness. "Morning, sir," he said.
The man looked up. He was haggard, with circles under his eyes. But he was handsome regardless, with eyes that were an unnervingly clear blue. And he seemed confused and scared. Nick couldn't really blame him.
"I'm Detective O'Flaherty. This is Detective Hagan. Were you hurt this morning, sir?"
The man stared at Nick for a few seconds, his eyes glazing over. He blinked and focused his attention back on Nick. When he spoke, his accent wasn't local. It was so far from local that Nick couldn't begin to place it, other than he sounded a little Southern and a little British. It might have even been fake. "They said I was shot in the head."
Nick could think of nothing to say to that. He glanced at the nurse for confirmation.
"He took a glancing blow. It knocked him unconscious, but didn't penetrate the skull. And I told you to stay in bed," she said, forcing the witness to recline and covering him with a sheet.
Nick gaped at her. "Jesus."
The witness cleared his throat and fiddled with the sheet, obviously uncomfortable.
"What's your name, sir?" Nick asked him.
"I don't know." He looked back at Nick, his expression sincerely distressed.
Nick sniffed and scratched at his chin, not sure whether to be annoyed or concerned. Either the man was exceptionally good at stonewalling, or he had a serious case of traumatic amnesia. "All right. Can you tell me what happened this morning?"
"No, I'm sorry. I don't remember. I don't know."
"What do you know?"
"I know I got shot in the head."
"You don't remember anything?"
The witness winced. "No."
"You don't remember your name."
"No, Detective. I'm sorry."
Nick nodded and carefully patted the man on the shoulder. He turned to his partner, who stood near the doorway. Hagan had both eyebrows raised, his jaw working back and forth. Nick excused himself, and he and Hagan moved into the hallway, leaning their heads close to talk.
The officer on the door offered what little he knew. "He's got no ID on him. Nothing; looks like whoever shot him thought he was dead and picked him clean."
Hagan huffed. "So not only do we got a witness who's got no idea what happened, he's got no idea who he is?" He barely restrained an incredulous laugh. "That's not a witness, it's another motherfucking crime."
Nick glanced over his shoulder through the door, to the man on the hospital bed. "No ID, no memory, shot in the head in the middle of a gunfight outside a robbery of a used bookstore. What. The. Fuck."
"This ain't a robbery," Hagan said with a grunt. "You don't shoot three people for an old book, I don't care if it's the Gutenberg Bible."
Nick nodded. "You realize this guy could be the doer."
"You think he's faking?"
"He's either a very lucky witness who lived through this, a perp who legit can't remember, or he's faking." Nick shrugged.
"You were spec ops. You were trained to lie and shit. Can you tell if he's lying?"
"Yeah, but if he's faking, he's damn good at it, 'cause I'm leaning toward believing him."
They both turned to the witness again. He was once again sitting in bed with his head hanging and his eyes closed. His hands were trembling as they clenched at the blanket in his lap. The nurse had left him.
"What do we do?" Hagan asked.
Nick was at a loss. Did they treat the man as a witness or a suspect? "Either way, if he's a perp or he's a witness, he'll need someone on him," he finally said.
Hagan patted Nick's shoulder. "Great. You go break the news to him, I'm going to get some coffee."
Nick glared after his partner as the man lumbered off toward the nurses' station. He took a deep breath to steady himself. It wasn't his first case back since his surgery, but it was his first case back from behind a desk. He hadn't been dealing with people lately so much as paperwork.
The witness looked up when Nick approached, and tried to straighten his shoulders, but they slumped again, probably under the weight of his injury and exhaustion.
Nick's heart went out to him, and he had to fight to keep his attitude professional. "I'm going to have this officer stay with you in the hospital until they release you. Keep an eye on you. Then he's going to bring you the station to talk with us a little more. That sound okay?"
The man nodded, then winced and brought his hand up to his bandage. "You think I'm in danger?"
Nick chewed on his lip for a second. "It's a real possibility, I won't lie."
"It's also a possibility I shot those people, isn't it?"
Nick stared at him, shocked again by the man's strange mix of perception and vulnerability. "That is also a possibility, yes."
The witness rubbed a trembling hand over his face. Nick placed a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to offer comfort. The man reached up and gripped his fingers hard. He didn't raise his head or say anything. He just seemed to need the contact.
"It'll be okay," Nick whispered. "We'll figure this out."
* * *
"So, we got the shopkeeper's daughter coming in to try to ID the body," Hagan told Nick, returning from the station break room with two cups of coffee. They'd been partners for almost three years and Hagan still couldn't remember that Nick didn't drink coffee.
Hagan set the cup down in front of him, steaming and giving off a sickeningly strong smell.
"Throw that away," Nick ordered.
"Whatever. You're welcome." Hagan sat and chucked his feet up on the desk opposite Nick's. They were set up facing each other. Nick glared at the coffee cup, then his partner. Hagan gave him a toothy smile. "What else we got working?"
"Prints are going through the system for the other victim, and the amnesiac witness." Nick held up a photograph from the crime scene. "Aside from the fact that the perps apparently riffled the bookshelves and made a damn mess of everything, the only things that seem to be missing were in this display cabinet." He set it down and slid it across to Hagan. "Don't get your coffee near that."
"Yes, Mother." Hagan picked it up, sipping his coffee as he studied the photo of the display case. The glass doors were intact, the wood unscathed. Whatever had been inside hadn't been under lock and key. "I mean, what else does a bookstore display besides books?"
Nick shrugged. "I've seen some where they have antiques on show. They're usually just for atmosphere, though, nothing worth a motherfucking heist."
Hagan raised an eyebrow from behind the rim of his coffee cup.
"Yeah. Heist. Everything we have here is looking like a pro job. The security was disabled, there's no sign of forced entry, and since the shopkeeper bled out where he fell on the sidewalk, it's probable he wasn't supposed to be there and the robbers literally ran into him on their way out and panicked."
"That's a lot to infer from what little we have."
Nick shrugged. He'd always had a knack for seeing crime scenes lay out. He never denied that he could be wrong, but he usually wasn't.
"One more odd job for this one, one of the dead guys had a bag under him. They found it when they moved the body. It had four books in it."
"From the shop?" Hagan asked.
"We can only assume until the daughter gets here to ID them. They're all old, too."
"Just old? Or old as balls?"
Nick barked a laugh before he could stop himself. "The latter, I assume. Three early nineteenth century, one dating to the Revolutionary War. We can probably assume they were in that display case along with whatever objects were taken because everything else was just trashed, not stolen."
"So, you're a bookshop owner and you have this display case set up with rare books," Hagan mused.
"The objects you'd put in there for atmosphere would be related to the books, right? Somehow?"
"In my world they would be," Nick agreed. He pondered it briefly, then nodded and called over one of the uniformed officers working nearby. "Do me a favor, bud, put out some feelers to city pawnshops and dealers, stay on the lookout for artifacts dating from 1750 to 1820. They might be stolen."
The officer nodded and headed off.
Hagan scowled at the photo again. "Was the case wiped clean? Why would they wipe it down if they were wearing gloves?"
"They didn't. Get this. Best the Crime Lab can tell, they wiped the motherfucking dust off the case to ruin the outline of whatever objects were there."
"Covering their tracks, or ...?"
"I guess. At least slowing us down. Shouldn't be hard to find out what was in there, though," Nick said, still staring at the photos of the crime scene. He absently reached for the cup on his desk, taking a sip before remembering it was coffee.
He turned his head and spit it out into the trash can, coughing and gagging as Hagan laughed at him.
"Motherfucker," Nick grumbled. He tossed the coffee cup into the trash and glared at his partner again.
"Detective O'Flaherty!" Captain Branson called from his office door. Nick turned in his chair and glanced over his shoulder. The captain waved him over.
"What's up, sir?" he asked when he got closer.
"The witness from the bookshop?"
"He's here. You need to get in on this one."
Branson handed him a file. It was labeled John Doe. Nick shook his head; all it contained was the report from the hospital. He made his way to one of the interview rooms and greeted the officer on the door with a pat on the shoulder. When he entered the room, the blond man met his eyes.
"How you doing?" Nick asked as he sat opposite him.
"I would say I've been better, but ... I don't really know if that's true," the man said with a wry laugh.
Nick snorted. "Still got your sense of humor at least. That's something." He opened the file again. It was paltry at best. Useless. "They been calling you John Doe?"
"Yeah, it's ... it's a name, I guess."
"Yeah, I can see that getting old fast. Listen, all the John Does I ever knew were already dead, so how about I call you JD? That work for you?"
He nodded and gave Nick a tired smile. "Yeah. Yeah, that works."
Nick was silent for a moment, studying the man. He looked even more worn than he had at the crime scene yesterday. Under that, Nick could see the fear. "Has anyone offered you coffee? Something to eat?"
"I had a bagel. Don't have much appetite."
"Okay." Nick put both elbows on the table. "You remember anything new? Anything at all?"
"No, Detective, I'm sorry. The doctors said I have amnesia caused by the trauma. Physical or mental, they couldn't say. They also couldn't say when or if my memory would return. They said amnesia was a very case-by-case type of thing, so ... it might all come rushing back, or it might come back in pieces. Or it might not at all. Ever."
"Wow. That's rough."
JD laughed bitterly. He twisted his fingers and nodded.
Nick was having a hard time reading him, something he was usually pretty good at. JD's exhaustion was masking everything else. Nick gave it a minute or so of silence, waiting to see if the man would begin to fidget or talk. But JD merely sat there, watching his hands, occasionally glancing up to meet Nick's eyes.
Nick finally gave up on that tactic. He tapped the file in front of him. "Even though you don't remember anything, we're going to treat you as a witness and put you under protection. Ballistics are telling us there were at least two shooters. One was standing behind you, clipped you in the head." Nick tapped his own head in the area where JD was bandaged. "Killed at least one of those two victims."
"The other bullet hasn't been recovered yet. We'll know more soon. But until we get to the bottom of this, you need to be safe. Whoever did this won't know you can't ID them when they find out you aren't dead."
JD nodded. He glanced up at Nick, his blue eyes piercing. "You don't have to dance around it, Detective."
"I know I'm a suspect. It's okay. You don't have to mince words."
Nick met his eyes for several seconds, letting JD see what suspects usually saw: a hardened, intelligent cop who would put them behind bars if they made even the tiniest of slips. "All right then. You are a suspect. Our only suspect, right now."
Despite his show of bravado, JD blanched. Nick couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy. Not knowing who he was or what kind of man he was, it had to be terrifying. Add to that the fact that he was facing a potential murder charge? He had to be reeling.
Nick took his notepad and a pen from his pocket and placed it on the table, then slid it toward JD. "I'm going to go arrange for somewhere for you to stay tonight. While I'm gone, try to write down anything about yourself you can think of."
Excerpted from Cross & Crown (A Sidewinder Story) by Abigail Roux, Rachel Haimowitz. Copyright © 2014 Abigail Roux. Excerpted by permission of Riptide Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
~Reviewed by ANN & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog Since the last book in the series, I’ve been anxiously awaiting for this book. I wanted to know what Abigail Roux had in store for Nick and Kelly. However, at the same time, I didn’t bother reading the blurb before diving in because I didn’t want to go in with expectations or opinions on how this book should be written. One of the hardest things about writing a spin off series that takes readers away from such beloved characters and focuses more on secondary characters, is that people will always compare it to Ty and Zane. As much as I adore them, I wanted to give Nick and Kelly a fair chance. In the beginning of CROSS & CROWN, Nick finds himself in the middle of a double homicide involving a guy who cannot remember who he is or why he was at the scene of a crime and some missing old books. Not to mention, a familiar face is spotted at the scene as well and sparks some suspicion. Yet through all this, Nick is supposed to be taking it easy and spending time with his new boyfriend, Kelly. Kelly is a great character. I love his enthusiasm and his constant support. I think he handles Nick’s darkness well and combats it with the humor that makes this series so fun to read. Nick, on the other hand, has that alpha thing going on and the way he tries to take control often leads to more sexy times. I cannot complain about that. Tension arises, but never really manifests into a real problem when JD, the guy found at the scene who cannot remember his identity shows an interest in Nick. While Roux plays it up slightly, I don’t think it was ever a real issue in the first place. I think she was just trying to show that Nick had a choice before him- he could have anyone he wanted, but he chooses to be with Kelly. I like the romantic notion in that. “Doc. There is no ‘something else’ for me. There’s no second option. It’s you. It’s just you. ” Julian Cross plays an significant part in the story and while I wasn’t sure how it would all work out at first, I think in the end, it was entertaining to have them all together despite their strained dynamics. Roux has now revealed how she plans on taking the series. I am still unsure of how I feel about this. The idea is intriguing, but I will hold off on any judgement until I read the next book in the series. However, the treasure hunting route doesn’t seem so bad when you consider the hunt for the treasure in this book. CROSS & CROWN sets the series in motion. With its tender moments mixed with the action and suspense, I think readers should definitely give Nick and Kelly a shot. *ARC provided by publisher
Can't get enough - I just love these guys!! You first meet these guys in the Cut & Run series and this story starts after book #7. I was so wrapped up in that series, I'm not sure if you can read this one without having read that one first but I suppose you can because Nick really only shows up a few times. There is just more talk about the Sidewinder group in general and how they came about in the C&R series to understand the bond they have. If you plan to read the C&R series, I also suggest reading "Warrior's Cross" right after book #4 because those MC's play prominent roles in book #5 of the Cut & Run series. I also read this book ("Shock & Awe") after book #7 because Nick and Kelly's timeline in the Sidewinder series starts right after that story about New Orleans. Then I went back to the Cut & Run and read #8 (Ball & Chain). Then I read the short "High & Tight" and then "Cross Shield" - both from the Sidewinder series. Lastly I finished back with Ty and Zane in #9 (Crash & Burn). I basically read the books from the Sidewinder series interspersed in the Cut & Run series by the date they were published.
The story for Nick O'Flaherty and Kelly Abbot continues. This is the 2nd book in the Sidewinder series. In this book Kelly joins Nick in Boston for a couple weeks. Ends up in the middle of an investigation. The key witness cannot remember anything. Not even his name. Nick feels bad, since he wanted to spend quality time with Kelly. The key witness in his case feels more comfortable around him, so his partner asks him to talk to him. Their weekend of privacy is ruined and Nick insists Kelly help out so he can be with him as well. Kelly does not really care as long as they are together. He is a former military partner and friend who is now Nick's boyfriend. They are trying to see where the relationship goes as they look toward the future. Nick and their witness "JD", for (John Doe) since he does not have a name, get really into finding the clues that can get his history and that of the case. Kelly helps where he can and is just glad to have some of Nick's time. Can they admit to their feelings and plan for the future? Will the case take over and be too much? Kelly and Nick must choose to make each other the most important people in their lives in order to make it work. Such an endearing story. This book is full of funny quips, tender moments, and serious history! Not for the faint of heart, but well worth it if you enjoy the character that began in the Cut & Run series!
Reviewed by Marissa Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book To start off with, Cross & Crown is the second book in this series (which crosses over with Roux’s Cut & Run series) but you don’t need to have read the first book. Cross & Crown, while referring to events and characters in both series, stands neatly on its own. I absolutely loved the characters, both the leads and the secondaries. Nick and Kelly are perfect together but I feel I have to go back to see how that relationship developed. I love me a good geek and Nick fills that need with his seemingly endless knowledge of American history. The fact that he’s also a former Marine and has several scars and tattoos doesn’t hurt either. There’s something special about a tough-guy nerd. Kelly was a little harder to pigeonhole. Another former Marine, he seemed the more romantic of the two. He’s supportive of Nick and Nick’s career but at the same time he’s a realist who knows that Nick can’t be pushed into anything and he’ll wait for Nick to make his own decisions. I loved that Kelly believes wholeheartedly and unfalteringly in Nick. Having started with book two, I plan on going back to read Shock & Awe, the first Nick and Kelly book. I also need to pick up the Cut & Run series as I have fallen in love with Roux’s writing. Aside from the wonderful character development, the storyline and descriptive text exceeded my expectations. I particularly loved the re-enactment scene and got chills when JD found himself between Nick and Julian. Favorite Word: Nerdgasm
I thought this book was much better than the first book in this spinoff series by Ms. Roux. We have much more going on that just the romance between Nick and Kelly. Kelly has come to Boston for some R&R with Nick. Nick has him consult with him on a case. Julian Cross get involved, remember him from Armed & Dangerous?? This story had the fell of a Dan Brown novel with hidden conspiracies and treasure. Add Julian Cross and you know you have trouble. It seems that Nick and Kelly can get into as Ty and Zane. I can't wait for the next book in this series and the Cut & Run series (which is the last one *sobs*) I know I’ve seen many people who don’t like the Nick and Kelly storyline, but I like them. They are no Ty and Zane, but not everyone can be that good. I still like this pair too. I do recommend that you are caught up with the Cut & Run series before reading this story, or there will be a few things you might be lost on from Ball & Chain.
5 stars = I freaking LOVED this book There seems to be quite a bit of jump in time between Shock & Awe and Cross & Crown – perhaps a book or two from the Cut & Run series – but again, Ms. Roux provides enough information via the characters’ thoughts and conversations that I didn’t feel as though I was missing parts of the story. We learn quickly that although Nick and Kelly are pursuing a relationship, they are doing so long distance and in this installment, Kelly has come to visit Nick in Boston. At Kelly’s insistence, Nick did not take vacation time for Kelly’s visit and, as luck would have it, a major case lands on Nick’s desk the morning of Kelly’s arrival. As I have not read the Cut & Run series, my familiarity with the characters is based strictly upon Shock & Awe¬, so I was unaware that Nick was a police detective, but his effectiveness was apparent when his boss agreed to let him hire an outside consultant for the case, thus enabling Kelly to work with him and assist in the investigation. What follows is an action-packed, history-rich treasure hunt as Nick and Kelly try to help an amnesiac regain his memory, find a murderer, rescue a kidnap victim, avoid being killed, and decide what to do about their relationship. All while trying to spend some quality time together for the physical aspects of their relationship … those men weren’t the only ones in need of a cold shower. While I enjoyed Shock & Awe, the novella served as an introduction to Nick and Kelly, their newly formed relationship, and the Sidewinder series. As such, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Cross & Crown when I picked it up, but I was not the least bit disappointed in the story. Ms. Roux has created such rich characters in Nick and Kelly and I cannot wait until the next book in the series to see how their relationship continues to develop and where they go from here. I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
I was not a big fan of Nick when I thought he was a threat to Ty & Zane’s (Cut & Run series) relationship but since he has hooked up with Kelly in this spin off I have come to really like him. He is comfortable in his own skin finally and things are going well with Kelly even if it is a long distance relationship. In Cross & Crown Nick and Kelly run into Julian Cross (Warriors Cross) as he is on the tail of the same crooks as Nick but for more personal reasons. This is a romp through history and Boston. I am really becoming a fan of this series. Ty & Zane are still my favorites but Nick & Kelly are right behind. Snappy dialogue and sweet sweaty sex make this a fun read.
Loved this new adventure with enough twists and turns to keep your mind in the game, and enough love to hold your heart!
Another fantastic addition to the Sidewinder Series.