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Dangerous Medicine

Dangerous Medicine

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Dangerous Medicine

311 pages
4 hours
Jul 8, 2016


“He’s in a coma. Please come home. Mom and Pop need you.”

With board certification right around the corner, life couldn’t get any better for up and coming veterinary cardiologist Miranda Jacobs. Caught up in the chaos that had become her routine, she hadn’t given a second thought to the reports that thefts of the veterinary anesthetic Ketamine were on the rise…

Until a phone call from home brought her world crashing down.

Detective Jake Martinelli is racked with guilt over not recognizing the signs Matthew Jacobs had been working on his own in an attempt to bring down a local drug ring. Now his friend lay in a coma fighting for his life. Determined to bring down those responsible, Jake and the rest of his Task Force put their lives on the line to ensure the safety of the entire Jacobs family. The list of suspects is long but all leads point toward someone from Miranda’s past—one hell bent on destroying her future.

Will the sparks between Jake and Miranda bring them closer together or be the catalyst that sends an evil mastermind into a jealous rage?

“One, two Big Boss is coming for you.”

Jul 8, 2016

About the author

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Dangerous Medicine - Stephanie Ryan

Chapter 1


He didn’t know how or when, but he’d make sure these bastards paid for what they’d done. Matthew Jacobs sat in stunned silence as the press conference played out in front of him on the flat screen televisions covering the wall above his desk.

The evidence against our clients is circumstantial at best and we have every confidence these charges will be dismissed when the judge hears the full story. It’s an unfortunate tragedy that resulted in the injury to the young woman and our hearts go out to her. We ask everyone say a prayer for her speedy recovery and that her real attackers be found and brought to justice.

The Lieutenant cursed and turned off the broadcast. Once again money talks...

And the guilty walk. He growled and flung everything he’d stacked on his desk to the floor.

His friend and mentor, Detective Jake Martinelli, crouched and gathered the scattered papers without saying a word. He appeared as worn out and broken as Matthew felt. This can’t be happening.

Why do these assholes get to walk out of jail when you’ve done everything by the book? The DNA matches. My girlfriend nearly died because these animals thought it would be fun to spike her drink and screw her while she lay there unconscious and unable to defend herself.

Jake shook his head. It’s not fair, but we’re not going to stop because some high-paid mouthpiece portrays his clients as innocent bystanders. The evidence speaks for itself. They will pay for what they did. I promise.

What good are promises when the criminals can buy their way out of jail? Toss hundred dollar bills around and you can assure no one will testify against you. These rapists will go back to school as if nothing ever happened. Why do they get to do that when Jess’s life has been turned upside down?

I wish I had the answers to your questions. It’s hard enough admitting to myself I’m not shocked their lawyers were able to get them out so soon. We built a solid case and have to trust the DA can convince the judge to throw the book at all of them.

We shouldn’t have to worry about it. The evidence is anything but circumstantial but the people watching that travesty don’t know that. It makes me sick they’re playing the sympathy card and acting as if they’ve been wrongfully accused. They never should’ve been granted bail, and yet, here they are blaming the victim.

Agreed, but there is nothing we can do to change it other than continue digging. Someone will come forward with the final piece of the puzzle. Then we’ll have them back behind bars where they belong.

His hands trembled as he battled to reign in his anger and keep it from boiling over. He knew the Task Force wouldn’t give up until every single one of Jess’s rapists paid for their actions, but the knowledge offered him little comfort. The desire to beat someone—anyone—to a pulp until they hurt as much as he did threatened to overwhelm him. I can’t sit around here. If this is what it’s like to be a cop, I don’t know if I want to do it anymore. I need some time away from everything so I can think things through. School, coaching, the student-police liaison work—all of it is too much for me to handle right now.

Understandable. You’re not alone, Matt. We’ve all gone through periods of self-doubt and question whether or not it’s worth the effort to keep fighting. What will continue to push us on are the cases where we do make a difference. You’ve made an immeasurable one since you’ve started working with us. Don’t forget that.

I’m sorry, but I don’t see it. More dealers pop up every single day to replace the ones you put away. Not one of them has turned on their bosses and we still don’t know who’s calling all the shots. Tell me again how I’ve made a difference. His eyes locked with Jake’s and silently pleaded with him to make everything right again.

Jake and the Lieutenant stood silent and appeared conflicted as to what words to say to bring him peace.

They’re as lost as I am, but they’ll never admit it.

He tossed his backpack over his shoulder and stormed down the stairs and out of the police station. His heart couldn’t stand anymore disappointment. The look in Jess’s eyes when she woke up in the hospital haunted his every waking moment. He'd died inside every time and pledged he’d do everything in his power to bring the joy and smile to her eyes again.

I won’t stop until every last one of them is brought to their knees.

* * * *

Practice had gone longer than expected, but he’d been very happy with how the team had mastered the new plays Coach Jameson surprised them with the night before. Instead of staying on the sidelines, he’d jumped in and ran their drills with them, driving them to push through the pain and dig deeper. He’d planted himself on top of the tackle dummy and had dared all of them to knock him off. Hit after hit, he’d managed to stay upright, but his ribs had taken a beating.

Which had been his plan all along.

The physical pain dulled the mental anguish ripping him apart.

In three days, the team would face their biggest challenge of their season. They were hosting their rivals from Grand Valley State on Saturday. The game had always been for bragging rights, but this year it happened to coincide with Saginaw Valley State’s Homecoming.

Homecoming. Jess had spent hours online searching for the perfect dress and wouldn’t let him see it. Instead, she’d given him a swatch of the material and had ordered him to be sure his tux wouldn’t clash. This year would’ve been the first they’d planned to attend as an official couple. After the attack, their original plans had seemed trivial and they’d put them on hold. Her mother had disagreed. She’d suggested the formal would be the perfect medicine and the best way for Jess to get back into the swing of campus life.

His heart had shattered as the sobs racked her body. The idea of being around so many people terrified her. He’d held her for hours wishing he could protect her from her never-ending nightmare. She’d transformed from a vibrant fun-loving woman with her whole life ahead of her to a tortured soul suffering from the worst case of PTSD her therapist had ever seen. She’d made great strides in her therapy but the triggers had remained.

He slammed his fists down on his desk. His body shook as he ran through the breathing exercises Jess’s therapist had suggested to help ride out the sudden waves of bitter rage that knocked the breath out of his lungs. The doctor had told him what he’d been experiencing was common for the loved ones of victims of violence.

He’d refused the offer to start therapy for himself. He didn’t want the rage to go away. He needed it to burn out of control in order for him to keep up the pressure on those responsible for destroying Jess’s optimism and dimming the hope in her eyes.

A sharp rapping on his open door brought him out of his thoughts and back to the present.

We still on for tonight?

He nodded. Give me ten minutes and I’ll be ready to roll.

His friend, David, plopped down onto the leather couch across from the desk. Take your time. You know things don’t start jumping over there for at least another hour.

Matthew stripped off his shirt and ducked into the bathroom attached to his office. He removed the back panel from his medicine cabinet and extracted the tiny recording device and the sports tape. His work with the police department provided him access to the best IT guys around. He’d been able to learn how to set up a recording device on the fly. The undercover officers had to go in clean without any wires. All of them had to learn to be able to put together any kind of surveillance system with common household items. Luckily for him, the campus bookstore sold everything he’d needed without arousing suspicions.

He held up the tiny voice-activated recorder and admired the craftsmanship. No larger than a paperclip and yet the device was powerful enough to record conversations within fifty-feet. The eight hour built-in battery had been another selling point along with the ability to instantly upload the audio files to his account with a touch of a button.

In order to protect the recorder, he needed to conceal it on his body. He snatched the tape from the sink and returned to the office. You mind giving me a hand?

David whistled. Geez. If you’re bruised up like this now, you’re gonna be hurting tomorrow. Are you sure you don’t have a broken rib?

He nodded. It looks worse than it is. Doc wants me to wrap up tight and take it easy.

His friend handed him the loose end of the tape and circled behind him. You know the routine. Hold the front in place for a couple rounds so it doesn’t start off too loose.

Matthew turned on the device and hit the button to immediately upload the recordings. He slipped it in between the first and second rounds of the tape and lifted his arms up over his head. Cinch it up. If I can breathe you’re doing it wrong.

Don’t be a smartass. I’m not the one who let my team beat the hell out of me.

He shrugged. They’re ready for Saturday. That’s all that matters.

David secured the last of the roll on Matthew’s left side. Of course they’re ready, but if you don’t take better care of yourself, you’re not going to be on the sidelines calling plays and keeping them focused.

He moved his hand over the spot where he’d hidden the recorder and smiled. Now you sound like my mother.

Great minds think alike.

He grabbed another shirt from the half dozen he kept hanging in the closet and eased it over his head with some difficulty. I can’t complain about his binding. He did what I asked him to do. "You’re driving."

We don’t have to do this tonight. You need to rest. If anything happens to you—

Nothing’s going to happen I can’t handle. We’ve gone over this at least a hundred times. I’m not changing my mind. It has to be tonight. He grit his teeth and concentrated on placing one foot in front of the other as he followed David across the parking lot adjacent to the practice field. Thank God he doesn’t drive one of those compact cars. I don’t think I’d be able to fold myself into one even if I tried.

David seemed to sense his discomfort and slowed down with each speed bump and curve. He glanced his way several times during the ride to the residential area near the north end of the campus. You know I want to help out in any way I can, but if you walk in there with that shirt, you’re going to get kicked out before you say a word.

Justice for Jess

He swept his hand over the slogan emblazoned across his chest. He’d worn it to draw attention to the cause and keep it front and center in their minds. Keep them all talking about it and maybe it would become a reality. He nodded and pulled the zipper up to cover the t-shirt.

David patted his shoulder. Keep your cool and try to blend in. My contact will find us when he feels it’s safe.

Did he give you a clue what he wanted to talk to me about and why it had to be here of all places?

His friend shrugged. He was pretty vague. Something about being watched all the time and he didn’t feel comfortable approaching you without a crowd around. My guess is he feels bumping into you here wouldn’t raise any alarms with the people he has to answer to.

If he had any balls, he’d turn himself in and let the police handle it.

David sighed. Maybe you should take your own advice and let the police do their job. You’ve done more than your share of rattling cages. Let the professionals take over from here.

I will as soon as I have enough for them to go on.

David pulled the car to the curb and cut the engine. You said that before and here we are at it again. You’re playing with fire and if you’re not careful more people you care about are going to get hurt.

He snapped his head toward his friend. Are you their mouthpiece now?

David put his hands up. Whoa. Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just passing along what’s come through the grapevine. We’ve been friends since kindergarten and we’ve always had each other’s backs. I just think you’re getting yourself in over your head and it’s time to call in the reinforcements.

The police have to play by the rules.

And you don’t?

Let’s just say I’m going to try to level out the playing field tonight. He swung the door open and stepped out onto the sidewalk.

David followed. By confronting Candy Man?

It’s as good a place to do it as any. After I talk to your contact I’m hoping to have enough to bring that piece of shit down a peg or two.

The music pulsed through his body and strummed his already raw nerve endings. He struggled to keep his thoughts focused. He knew if he allowed his anger to get the best of him, he’d get nowhere and he’d be right back where he started at square one.

He has a lot of connections in this state. You tick him off and he could make things rough for you and your family.

He rolled his eyes. You’ve tried that with me already. I can’t back down now even if I wanted to. There’s too much at stake and my family would expect nothing less of me. When one of us is attacked, we circle the wagons and prepare for war.

David pushed the front door open. Let’s get this thing over with then.

They strolled through the door and entryway without anyone bothering to stop them and check their IDs. It appeared to him that they didn’t care who showed up to their parties anymore as long as the frat house was packed to capacity.

This would be Candy Man’s doing. He likes them young and malleable.

He scanned the room in search of familiar faces and checked them off one by one. Each he’d once considered a friend. Now they avoided him like the plague all because they didn’t want to face the truth. Each one of them could’ve protected Jess. Instead they put blinders on and pretended nothing bad ever happened.

Thought you said he’d be here tonight.

Relax, dude. We just got here. Let’s grab a beer and look around. Candy Man will show up when he shows up. He always does.

He shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie and followed his friend through the maze of dancing revelers. The sweet and pungent aroma of perfume, aftershave and sweat burned his nose. His skin crawled and his stomach rolled.

I can’t believe I’m back here.

Six months ago his life had changed forever.

Six months ago he’d kissed his girlfriend and sworn to return within the hour. He’d returned as promised to a scene straight out of his nightmares. His beautiful Jess had been beaten and raped while hundreds of people partied on the floor below.

Her attackers had drugged her and taken away her right to say no.

No one heard her screams.

No one came to her rescue.

Now he wanted them all to pay. The six who attacked her would have their time in court, but that’s not who he’d come for on this night.

Justice for Jess meant chopping off the head of the ketamine distribution ring entrenched in Saginaw. After months of questions and pouring over transcripts of suspect interrogations, he’d found the one person who had ties to all of it. One man he’d never thought would be stupid enough to be in this deep. The more he mulled over what he’d found, the more the pieces fit.

He’d kicked himself for not picking up on the connection sooner. At first, he’d thought he’d made a mistake. Each question he’d asked led to more questions until the answer flashed like a neon sign.

Candy Man had played all of us from the very beginning.

He rested his forearms against the leather padded edge of the bar and waited for his drink. His hand shook as he reached for the bowl filled with a mixture of peanuts and cashews. He popped several of the salty nuts in his mouth and closed his eyes. The last he’d eaten had been breakfast with his parents over twelve hours ago and his stomach cried uncle. He tossed another fistful of the snacks back and flagged down one of the bartenders. How’s that beer coming?

The bartender handed him a red Solo cup over flowing with beer foam. Sorry, Matt. New keg is giving me all sorts of problems. We’re still bleeding out the extra pressure. You want me to pour you a new one?

Nah. This’ll do for now.

I have more kegs out back, but I need a second pair of hands to help haul them in. We can’t leave the bar unattended and so far none of my fellow frat brothers are willing to get their hands dirty.

David caught his eye and scratched the tip of his nose.

The signal.

We can’t let you keep serving foam. Let’s grab what you need and end this travesty before there’s a riot.

The bartender tossed one of the towels at his partner’s head. Hold the fort. I’ve got the help I need for the kegs.

The other appeared to be relieved to hear the news and continued to flip and spin the tequila bottles with each shot he poured.

That should keep them entertained for a bit. Follow me.

He twisted, turned and sidestepped a path through the growing crowd. The roar of the voices, laughter, and music faded to a muffled rumble the moment the door slammed shut behind them. He inhaled the crisp night air to clear his lungs of the smoke he hadn’t paid much attention to inside. How can you stand all that noise?

The bartender pulled the soft plugs from his ears. These are a necessity living here. If I want quiet, I stay with my girlfriend.

He leaned against the house and crossed his arms over his chest. David said you had something for me.

I want to help Jess any way I can, but I’ve been scared to come forward.

Are you being threatened?

Not directly. I was in the room when those assholes bragged about what they did. I taped the whole thing on my phone including the threats they made against my family if I said anything. The guilt is killing me.

Give me the file. I’ll turn it over to the police. They won’t be able to trace it back to you.

You don’t get it. This is more than a rape case. The dudes who supplied the ketamine are in this up to their eyeballs. They’re not about to let these six take down their empire.

What are you saying?

Not one of their families has the bank to afford the retainer of one of those lawyers let alone the entire team of them we saw on TV today. The big bosses want it all to go away so they can go back to business as usual.

Why foot the bill for their defense? Seems easier to let them swing then be held hostage by a couple of punk ass kids.

This is different. Jess wasn’t a random victim. They chose her because of you. Candy Man has it out for you and the six of them decided to get in his good graces by hurting you.

Bile rose and hit the back of his throat. He retched and swallowed the acidic saliva back into his stomach. Candy Man ordered them to hurt her?

The bartender shook his head. No, but someone’s been spreading around a lot of cash to keep them out of jail. They boasted about not having to come back to school again since their future is all but guaranteed in the organization now. That’s when the thinly veiled warnings got tossed around. They know everything about my family, their routines, where they work, their favorite restaurants. No matter where I go now, I’m always looking over my shoulder.

We should get back with the kegs before you’re missed. Have you seen Candy Man yet tonight?

He’s holding court in the game room. I’d stay away from there if I were you. He’s in a foul mood.

Each hoisted a keg over their shoulders and meandered their way back to the bar. His ribs screamed for mercy but, once again, he welcomed the pain. I’ll take you up on that fresh brew now. Those damn things are heavy!

The other bartender brought the drink and thanked him for his trouble.

He tipped his glass in mock salute and turned to survey the crowd. He recognized several more faces. Many had denied ever going to the Phi Kappa Theta parties. Not one of them has the balls to look me in the eye.

Good. They should feel guilty.

He kept his eyes on the doorway leading to the game room as he shuffled across the makeshift dance floor. He gulped down another third of the cold, bitter brew. Cheap beer. No wonder the kegs are full of foam.

The sea of people parted before him creating an unobstructed path. He steeled his spine, downed the rest of the beer and reached for the door knob.

Looking for me?

He spun on his heels and came face to face with the man he hated with every fiber of his being. You could say that.

The other man laughed. Which is it? Yes or no? I don’t have all night. Two cheerleaders are waiting for me upstairs—

I know it’s you.

The smile left Candy Man’s face and he cocked his head to the side. Care to elaborate?

You supply the dealers with Special K. His swayed and his vision swam.

Looks like you’ve had one too many there, Hero. Maybe we should call you a cab.

I have proof... The room spun and his head throbbed. He stumbled and the other caught him before he hit the floor.

Come on. Let’s get you upstairs so you can sleep this off.

No! Don’t let them take you there!

Three other frat boys helped carry him up the steps. In his mind his body struggled, but in reality he crumpled like dead weight.

Jesus! I didn’t think he was this big.

Didn’t you ever see him play ball? He could plow through any defensive line.

Cut the crap. Get him out of sight until I can figure out what to do with him.

Every voice and sound seemed to be muffled as if under water. He shook his head in an attempt to clear the fog from his brain. An explosion of color and light blinded him. Fear and adrenaline surged through his veins. I’ve got to get out of here!

He bellowed as he catapulted from the bed and out the door. He slammed into the walls as he careened down the hall toward the stairs. Sheer will and determination kept him moving as the first convulsions seized his body.

Matt! Stop!

He turned toward the voice and lost his footing. His bad knee buckled and he toppled head first down the stairs.

Jess...I’m sorry.

* * * *

Chapter 2


Get the crash cart now! Miranda Jacobs hopped on top of the gurney and pushed against the chest of the Newfoundland that had been rushed through the doors of her service in full cardiac arrest. She locked her elbows and compressed the heart as fast as she could as the emergency team jumped into action.

Catheter is in and fluids wide open.

Trach tube is in.

She watched as the chest rose and fell with the flow of the oxygen from the ventilator and she altered her rhythm enough to coordinate with the

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