The shoreline loomed before she was ready to stop punishing the water. But the ache in her shoulders and lungs forced surrender, and as she eased up in the waves, pushing her goggles off to look back for Joe, she realized she did feel better. The ocean was magic. She’d beaten an imaginary shark in Joe, and even though there were still real ones on land threatening to drag her down, she felt energized by the swim.

Carly glided to where she could float and relished a peace she hadn’t felt in a while. She willed it to last. Joe was right on his second point as well—there was no reason to be impatient. Between the buffeting swells and the pounding of her heart, she wondered if she should just take a few days off, get away from her current assignment in juvenile, with all the reminders of what she couldn’t be doing, and relax somewhere far away. She breathed ocean air and tasted salt while floating, the water a rolling cocoon, protecting her from life’s demands and drains.

Joe soon joined her, and together they treaded water, facing one another.

“Boy,” Joe gasped, “you swam possessed. Bet that would have been a record.”

Carly splashed her friend, the smile now not forced. “Thanks for the swim. I feel better.”

He splashed her back. “My pleasure. Just call me Doctor Joe.”

She laughed and it felt good. “Anytime you want a swimming lesson . . .” Carly turned with another splash and kicked for the shore.

“Ha,” Joe called after her. “You missed your calling. Instead of a cop, you should be a sadistic swim coach somewhere, yelling, ‘One more lap, one more lap.’”

Carly headed straight for her towel as the cool air turned her skin to gooseflesh. Joe followed.

“You need to get back into competition again,” Joe said as he reached for his towel. “Admit it, you’re half fish.”

“I’d like to, but working an afternoon shift makes it difficult.” She quickly slid into the comfort of dry sweats and wrapped her thick auburn hair in the towel. “But you’re right; the water helps my mood as much as good ole Doctor Joe does.”

The shrill chirp of a work BlackBerry cut off Joe’s rejoinder. He looked toward his bag. “Yours or mine?”

“Mine.” Carly dug the offending device out of her pocket, eyebrows knit in annoyance. The BlackBerry, or “TrackerBerry” as most officers who were issued the phones called them, rarely brought good news. The text message flashing across the small screen read, Call the watch commander ASAP, 911, 911. Her pulse quickened with a jolt. What kind of emergency?

“Look at this.” She showed Joe the message.

“Whoa, I wonder what’s up.”

Carly shrugged and hit the speed dial for the watch commander’s phone.

“Tucker.”

The name took her by surprise. Sergeant Tucker was the head of homicide. Why was he answering the watch commander line?

“Uh, Sergeant Tucker, it’s Edwards. Did you page me by accident?”

“Nope, you’re the one I wanted. We found the mayor and . . . uh, hang on.”

Carly could hear muffled voices in the background. Shock brought on by the sergeant’s comment about the mayor left her slack jawed. We found the mayor coming from the homicide sergeant was not a good thing. She’d just been thinking about the woman! Speculation about Mayor Burke’s fate had run the gamut among department personnel during the past four days. Now Carly’s stomach turned as she guessed at the reality. She repeated the sergeant’s words to Joe, who whistled low in surprise.

“You still there?” Sergeant Tucker came back on the line.

“Yes, sir.” More questions clouded her mind. Why is Sergeant Tucker calling me about the mayor’s case?