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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events
portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously.
slow heat
Copyright © 2012 by Lorie O’Clare.
Excerpt from Hot Pursuit copyright © 2012 by Lorie O’Clare.
All rights reserved.
For information address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York,
NY 10010.
ISBN: 978-0-312-53460-8
Printed in the United States of America
St. Martin’s Paperbacks edition / December 2012
St. Martin’s Paperbacks are published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth
Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
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1

Chapter One
Micah Jones studied Greg King as he stood at the entrance
of KFA, King Fugitive Apprehension. King squinted against
the sun, which was hovering just over the horizon and not
quite ready to set. King was a good boss—not that Micah
had many in his past to compare the man to. But he didn’t
act like he was better than God.
It hadn’t taken long for Micah to see just how good
King was. The rumors about his reputation were right.
King was an incredible bounty hunter and was clear when
it came to explaining how he wanted things done. Micah
was cool with cut-and-dry orders. He didn’t have a problem going out and doing as he was told. It’s what he’d done
most of his life.
This wasn’t a safe line of work. Micah didn’t flinch over
potential danger, though. The job was a lot safer than his
last, and he was still alive. At twenty-eight, Micah had lived
longer than many others in his former line of work.
King walked out of the KFA office with his wife beside
him. The man was almost six and a half feet and somewhere
around fifty years old. He didn’t bark orders. Even when he
got pissed, he growled instead of yelling.
But then, why bother raising your voice when your mere
presence in a room grabbed everyone’s attention? The man
stood a few inches taller than Micah. In the three months
Micah had been in Los Angeles, he’d grown to respect King.
He reminded Micah of his father. There were differences,

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Lorie O’Clare

but both men were careful, levelheaded, and knew what the
fuck they were doing.
King looked at Micah as he joined him in the curved
driveway where their trucks were parked. Haley King, Greg’s
wife, remained next to him looking over paperwork.
“You ready to head out?” King asked, and looked over at
Ben Mercy, their bounty-hunter-in-training. The kid wasn’t
licensed yet, and therefore got to do all the grunt work.
Mercy never complained.
“Always ready,” Micah answered, feeling pumped. Ever
since Haley had described their job today, he’d been fired up
to chase someone down.
There was a slight smirk on King’s face. “You think so?”
“Sure do,” Micah grunted, doing his best to keep a tap on
his adrenaline. He didn’t want to sound too excited about
trailing someone again. “Ready when you are.”
“Good. Got the trucks gassed up?” King asked Ben.
“Yes, sir,” Ben said, straightening to attention. Everyone
was laid-back at KFA, but Ben always acted as if he might
salute King anytime the man spoke to him. “Ran them all
through the car wash earlier this morning, too.”
King nodded and glanced at the trucks in his driveway.
“Look good,” he muttered, his tone changing and sounding
less aggressive when he spoke to the kid. “You can go with
us on this one, Mercy. Haley will explain what you’ll be
doing.”
Ben looked ready to split with pride.
“Micah, you’re in unit two. Ben, you’re in three.” King
thumbed at the two trucks parked behind his as his expression turned serious. “Okay, here is the deal,” King continued, and glanced down at paperwork Haley was showing
him. “You’ve already been shown Larry Santinos’s stats and
picture. Haley has copies of his photograph for both of you.
Pin it on your dash so his face is fresh in your head. We’re
going in under the assumption Santinos is armed and dangerous. You understand the drill, right, Jones?”
“Capture and detain, no kill,” Micah recited, and kept his
hands relaxed at his sides. He never knew how desperately

Slow Heat

3

he craved having a gun back in his hand until he tried not
using it. “We haul them in so a court-appointed lawyer can
escort them into a courtroom where they are tried and convicted and more of the taxpayers’ money is spent daily.”
King grinned and Haley looked up from the papers in
her hand. She smiled up at her husband. Micah had repeated what King ranted about on a regular basis. King
wasn’t cynical, but from time to time cases were sent over
to them where everyone would be a lot better off if KFA just
took out the scumbag once they found him. Micah was all
for doing it that way.
Greg studied him with bright blue eyes. “That’s right,”
he said slowly. “We never kill them. We haul them in so
our wonderful judicial system can drag them through the
system.”
Haley was one hot MILF—although Micah would take
that thought to his grave. She handed Micah and Ben pictures of Santinos.
“We’re resetting the GPSs,” she said, picking up where
Greg left off. “One of our informants just sent word that
Santinos is heading to his club early today. He should be at
Club Paradise in about thirty minutes.”
She stepped around her husband, then headed over to the
three black Avalanches parked in a row outside the King’s
beachfront home and the KFA office. “It will only take a
second to program the GPSs, then we can head out.”
“And we stay together on the highway.” Greg King
looked pointedly at Ben. “I’m lead. No shortcuts.”
“At this time of day traffic shouldn’t be too bad,” Haley
added, then climbed into the rear of Ben’s truck.
Micah gave up trying to convince Haley he knew how to
program the GPS in their trucks. He waited patiently outside
the middle truck that he would be driving until Haley finished with Ben’s GPS and headed to Micah’s truck. Haley
was all business as she opened his driver-side door and
climbed in, then typed their destination into the small GPS
in the dash.
Greg and Haley had two sons who were around Micah’s

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Lorie O’Clare

age. King occasionally reminded Micah of his father, but
Haley wasn’t anything like the memories he had of his
mother, which were vague at best. Micah hadn’t seen his
mother since he was ten but would bet good money she
didn’t look anything like Haley. He wisely diverted his eyes
from her firm, tan legs when she hopped out of his truck a
moment later.
“Once we get there, and before you get out of your trucks,
be ready with your phones. Haley will three-way us in, then
we take our positions.” King stood outside his truck at the
lead and pointed a finger at Micah and Ben. “No one jumps
the gun on this one. This guy is big-time. We take him
down neat and easy. No one gets carried away. Do you hear
me?”
Micah gave a swift nod and climbed inside the black
Avalanche parked behind King’s. KFA had purchased two
more trucks identical to the one they already owned right
before Micah started working for them. He didn’t care about
the new-car smell, but having all the latest conveniences on
his dash worked for him.
Three black Avalanches made them a bit conspicuous.
Micah had spent almost ten years mastering how to be invisible. This wasn’t his show, though. He followed King’s lead.
The man knew what he was doing.
Micah had to admit, when the three trucks drove down
the interstate, it was a power trip. They appeared a force to
be reckoned with. And they were. Micah had done his research. Greg King’s impressive reputation wasn’t just talk.
KFA was the best bounty-hunting business in the United
States. King knew how to arrive near a scene with all three
trucks and park so no one noticed them. He also knew when
to arrive making a show so their fugitive knew that his or
her run was over.
Micah preferred his hunts more reticent. It was how he’d
been trained. King had a hell of a lot of knowledge, and Micah would learn a lot from the man. Hunting wasn’t the same
as killing, and no one would come looking for a man with
Micah’s very specific qualifications at KFA. But broadening

Slow Heat

5

his horizons would only make him more versatile once he
returned to his old life. He only had nine more months to
wait out until this life was over and his previous life was
back in full force.
Micah sat in his truck, driver’s-side door open, and
watched Greg and Haley talk to each other before she leaned
against her giant of a husband and kissed him. Greg swatted
her rear when she turned from him for the passenger side of
their truck.
There were some things Micah doubted he’d ever learn
from his boss. King had a relationship with his wife that was
something out of fairy tales. The two of them were best
friends, something Micah wouldn’t believe possible after so
many years of marriage if he weren’t witnessing it for himself.
He couldn’t remember the last time his dad had mentioned his mom. She’d been out of their lives for so long, it
was as if she’d never been part of their small family to begin
with. Maybe he’d never been part of a traditional nuclear
family like the Kings, but Micah was proud of what he, his
dad, and his uncle had accomplished. In circles not quite as
public as KFA’s, Micah’s family had at least as strong a
reputation.
“Jones,” King called out.
“What’s up?” Micah put his past out of his head and focused on King when he walked over to Micah’s truck.
“Something about Santinos’s MO bugs me.” King rested
his forearm on the top of the truck door and leaned in to talk
to Micah. “Santinos has managed Club Paradise for several
years now. The club was a dive and he turned it into a reputable, successful nightclub. The profile we’ve worked up on
Santinos doesn’t make him sound like the kind of person
who would take a dive and turn it into a gold mine. The man
is flashy. He loves his expensive clothes and fast cars. He
lives on the edge, tossing money around as if it meant nothing to him. Nothing in his MO suggests he has any type of
bookkeeping experience. Nor does it sound like he cares
about budgeting.”

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Lorie O’Clare

“Maybe he doesn’t.”
“I think the man might have a partner.”
“Someone under the radar?” Micah was intrigued. A hunt
always proved more challenging when the prey was a bit
more elusive than usual.
“What I’m thinking.”
King’s bright blue eyes pinned Micah with a hard look.
King knew telling Micah his thoughts would intrigue and
grab his interest. Micah waited out the moment, holding the
older man’s gaze. He’d learned shortly after joining the KFA
team that King was really good at reading people, often pinning their qualities and faults down after talking to them for
only a few minutes. What impressed Micah more than anything was how the man could also nail a person without even
knowing him. It was a trait Micah would love to possess.
“I’m thinking he doesn’t have a concept of what it takes
to build a business like Club Paradise, and someone else is
handing him an allowance to serve as their front man.”
“Then nailing Santinos won’t end the money laundering.
But is that our problem?”
King sighed. He let go of the top of Micah’s car door and
straightened, cracking his knuckles as he turned and stared
toward his truck idling in front of Micah’s.
“The bounty is on Santinos,” King said slowly. “We’ll get
him and turn him over to the authorities. That’s our job. On
our way over, I’m going to put a call into the detective on
this case. I know the guy. We go back,” he added, giving no
indication if he missed the twenty years he’d been a cop for
LAPD. Once he retired from the force, he had opened up
KFA. King spoke matter-of-factly as he continued. “This is
simply a hunch. So when we’re there, here is what I want
you to do. After our phones are patched together, I’ll position everyone around the building. There is a back door to
the club, and at this hour, I’m told it’s often propped open
while the cooks are in the kitchen preparing food for the
evening. I want you to head in there and find the office. Find
out what they’re doing in that office. If I’m right, whoever is
back there will be handling the club’s real set of books.”

Slow Heat

7

King was always right when it came to profiling. It was
uncanny.
“So while you are getting our man, you’re sending me in
to help out the cops?”
Greg King stared at him a moment, his gaze shifting as
he appeared to be determining something about Micah.
“Yup,” he said finally, and pushed away from the truck. “I
wouldn’t be surprised if Santinos is hardwired. Marketing
gurus often like to keep close tabs on their covers. He might
tip off whoever is in the office when we take him down.”
“I can handle it.”
“I wouldn’t have assigned this part of the job to you if I
thought you couldn’t.” It was as close to a compliment as
King would ever give.
Micah watched his boss return to his truck, climb in, and
start it. In that short time, the sun had quit procrastinating
and finally dipped below the horizon. Evening shades of
pinks and oranges streaked across the sky, making for one
hell of a sunset. Micah glanced at the clock on his dash and
put the truck in drive, pulling out of the circular drive of the
Kings’ home and office, then looked in his rearview mirror
when Ben pulled out behind him.
Three months wasn’t long at all for a bounty hunter. Micah had helped chase down plenty of criminals skipping out
on their bail. There had only been a couple of cases that got
interesting like this one. Greg and Haley had been profiling
this case for a while. Micah had overheard them discussing
it, and now he understood why. The information they’d been
given on Santinos hadn’t added up for them. It was the irony
of all ironies that King chose Micah to help out the cops.
Micah never once imagined working like this. Not only
was he bringing in men and women who tried bailing on
court dates or skipping out on their bonds, but now he was
going even farther and searching for a person that the law
hadn’t found yet. He’d hunted down more people than he
could count in his previous life who were guilty of crimes
but not yet convicted. Micah had never brought them in;
he’d killed them.

8

Lorie O’Clare

That was Micah Mulligan, though, and for now that man
was buried so far under the radar, not even Greg King would
find him. Micah pulled into traffic as he stayed a car length
behind his boss. It felt good to be given a loose rein on this
one. He wouldn’t let it go to his head, though. Get cocky and
take a bullet. Guaranteed.
Micah reached under his shirt for the silver pendant he
always wore. The flat coin-shaped pendant had an engraving
of Saint Michael on it. His father had given it to him when
he was a boy after Micah had killed his first deer.
“Saint Michael protects hunters. You’re part of an elite,
proud group of men now,” Micah’s father had told him. Micah had stood tall and proud. That day he had felt like a
man, just like his father and uncle. “That doesn’t make you
invincible. Remember that every time you aim your rifle,
son.”
Micah thought about his old man and his uncle, hunters
in the purest sense. Micah had learned how to hold a shotgun, aim, and fire when he’d barely been taller than the gun
was long. Hauling home large game had been a thrill through
his teenage years. By the time he’d hit his early twenties,
there wasn’t a creature on God’s earth Micah couldn’t take
down with a single shot.
Except for one.
When his father and uncle moved just outside Pontoria,
Minnesota, a town in the northern part of the state, and
beautiful country, Micah had been seventeen. With his
mother long gone, and the old man and uncle all he had in
the world, he trudged along begrudgingly. Their reason for
leaving Evansville, Indiana, the only home he’d remembered up to that point, hadn’t been clear to Micah at the
time. He had seen Pontoria and the many lakes and wilderness around the town as boredom personified. It wasn’t until
he was much older that he learned the truth behind the Mulligan brothers’ relocation.
Except now, for the following year, he wasn’t a Mulligan.
He was a Jones.
The pendant warmed between his fingers as Micah si-

Slow Heat

9

lently mumbled words to Saint Michael and rubbed it one
last time before slipping it back under his shirt. His grandfather had been the strongest influence when it came to prayer.
Micah’s dad went through the motions. Micah wasn’t sure
why he always wore the pendant or said silent prayers. There
was no harm in it. If he let go of the traditions his father and
grandfather always followed, something bad might happen.
Although what had already happened was bad enough.
Micah focused on King’s taillights ahead of him as twilight slowly drifted into night. Maybe there was a Mulligan
curse. His father, uncle, and Micah had made the best of the
curse, or gift, they were born with. For a number of years
the three of them handpicked the jobs they took, and made a
lot of money as agents hired to kill—assassins. Within a few
years the Mulligan reputation grew to the point where they’d
moved into some incredibly elite circles. None of them had
hesitated when the U.S. government started paying attention
to their success record. Maybe they should have. But the
money was incredible. The jobs were more than satisfying.
The power was addictive.
Micah still firmly believed they’d been set up. They
hadn’t learned that their target was CIA until after Micah
had put a bullet through his heart. His last kill had brought
an end to the life they’d led for seven years. Micah’s dad and
uncle quickly devised a plan. Mulligans didn’t go to jail.
That same night they learned that Micah’s target had been
CIA—and that now the elusive branch was inquiring into
his death—Micah, his father, and uncle had packed their
bags and left their home, each of them going in a different
direction. For a full year they wouldn’t contact one another.
None of them knew where the other two went. Three months
of that year had passed. Three months now that he’d been
Micah Jones instead of Micah Mulligan.
He signaled to turn when King’s blinker began flashing.
Their exit was up ahead. He prayed his father and uncle had
found new lives that allowed them to satisfy the hunter in
them. In nine months Micah would find the man who’d
hired him to kill Sylvester Neice. That man would regret the

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Lorie O’Clare

day he ever hired Mulligan’s Stew, the code name used
when contacting the Mulligans. Once their world was safe
for them again, Micah would track down his father and uncle. Micah wasn’t the young son in need of protection by his
father and uncle any longer. He was the grown man, in his
prime, a hunter no one would ever be able to hunt down and
kill. His father and uncle were getting older. Micah would
see to their protection.
Micah followed King’s truck, with Ben behind him. The
three trucks slowed as they took the exit and reached the
intersection that the street Club Paradise was on. Five minutes later they were pulling into a shopping center across the
street from the club. Their trucks were conspicuous, but in the
large parking lot with a four-lane, busy street between them
and the club, their presence wouldn’t be as easily detected.
Micah glanced at the digital clock on his dash at the same
time his GPS announced he’d arrived at his destination.
He’d been so lost in thought all the way here, it was the first
time he’d heard the soft female voice speak.
“Good to know,” he muttered and parked alongside King.
They had an hour before the club opened, plenty of time to
nail Santinos.
King hopped out of his truck as Micah and Ben got out of
their trucks. Haley hurried around to join them looking as if
she’d just hung up her phone.
“Okay, Micah,” she said, sounding out of breath. She
didn’t continue but instead looked at her husband. “We’ve
only got about half an hour. You were right. The minute we
explained our theory, they wanted in on the action.”
Greg gave his wife a knowing look and nod. “Not surprising. Anyone else isn’t our bounty, though. We have to let
them in. All we get is Santinos.” He looked at Micah and
Ben. “Which means we need to hustle.”
They took a few minutes to secure bulletproof vests over
their shirts and check safeties on their guns. King was inspecting his Glock and slid it into the holster at his waist
when he approached Micah again.

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