Marshals: Book One
Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones has a reputation for being calm and collected under fire. These traits serve him well with his hotshot partner, Ian Doyle, the kind of guy who can start a fight in an empty room. In the past three years of their life-and-death job, they've gone from strangers to professional coworkers to devoted teammates and best friends. Miro’s cultivated blind faith in the man who has his back… faith and something more.
As a marshal and a soldier, Ian’s expected to lead. But the power and control that brings Ian success and fulfillment in the field isn't working anywhere else. Ian’s always resisted all kinds of tied down, but having no home—and no one to come home to—is slowly eating him up inside. Over time, Ian has grudgingly accepted that going anywhere without his partner simply doesn't work. Now Miro just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn't being tied down at all.
All our interactions with suspects ended the same way. I would say, hey, let’s wait for backup or a warrant. I’d mention we didn’t have probable cause, and sometimes I would even go so far as to point out we weren’t armed because it was our damn day off! Not that he ever listened. The chase was always on seconds after I spoke. The fact that he even stopped to listen to me before acting stunned most people who knew us.
“Please,” I would beg him. “Just this once.”
And then I’d get the head tip or the shrug or the grin that crinkled his pale blue eyes in half before he’d explode into action, the velocity of movement utterly breathtaking. Watching him run was a treat; I just wished I wasn’t always following him into the path of whizzing bullets, speeding cars, or flying fists. Since I’d become his partner, the number of scars on my body had doubled.
I considered it a win if I got Ian Doyle to put on a Kevlar vest before he kicked down a door or charged headfirst into the unknown. I saw the looks we got from the other marshals when we returned with bloodied suspects, recaptured felons, or secured witnesses, and over the years they had changed from respect for Ian to sympathy for me.
When I was first partnered with him, some of the other marshals were confused about it. Why was the new guy—me—being partnered with the ex-Special Forces soldier, the Green Beret? How did that make sense? I think they thought I got an unfair advantage and that getting him as a partner was like winning the lottery. I was the newest marshal, low man on the totem pole, so how did I rate Captain America?
What everyone missed was that Ian didn’t come from a police background like most of us. He came from the military and wasn’t versed in proper police procedure or adherence to the letter of the law. As the newest marshal on the team, I was the one who had the book memorized the best, so the supervisory deputy, my boss, assigned me to him. It actually made sense.
Doyle was a nightmare. And while I wasn’t a Boy Scout, in comparison to my “shoot first, ask questions later” partner, I came off as calm and rational.
After the first six months, everyone stopped looking at me with envy and switched to pity. Now, going on three years, marshals in my field office would bring me an ice pack, pass me whatever pharmaceuticals they had in their desks, and even occasionally offer advice. It was always the same.
“For crissakes, Jones, you need to talk to the boss about him.”
My boss, Supervisory Deputy Sam Kage, recently called me into his office and asked me flat out if there was any truth to the rumors he was hearing. Did I want a change of partner? The blank stare I gave him hopefully conveyed my confusion. So it was no one’s fault but my own that I was running in the slushy melting snow down the forty-seven hundred block of Ninety-Fifth Street in Oak Lawn at ten on a cold Tuesday morning in mid-January.
Arms pumping, Glock 20 in my hand, I saw Ian motion to the left, so I veered off and leaped an overturned garbage can as I headed into an alley. I should have been the one on the street; my partner was better at leaping and running up walls like a ninja. Even though I was younger than his thirty-six by five years, at six two and 185 pounds, he was in much better shape than me. While he was all lean, carved muscle with eight-pack abs and arms that made women itch to touch, I was built heavier at five eleven, with bulky muscle and wide shoulders, more bull than panther. Ian had a sleek, fluid way about him; I was all sharp angles and herky-jerky motion. We were as different as we could be, though people often commented that we had a really similar irritating way of carrying ourselves when together, an unmistakable strut. But I would have known if I was doing that, if I puffed up when I walked beside my partner. No way I swaggered and didn’t notice.
The second I emerged from the trash-strewn alley, I was hit by a 250-pound freight train of a man and smashed onto the pavement under him.
“Oh!” I heard my partner yell as my spine splintered and every gasp of air in my body was trounced out of my frame. “Nice block, M!”
The escaped convict tried to lever up off me, but Ian was there, yanking him sideways, driving him down on the sidewalk beside me with a boot on his collarbone. I would have told him not to go overboard with manhandling—I took it upon myself to caution him against all manner of infractions during the course of a normal day—but I had no air, no voice, nothing. All I could do was lie on the cold, clammy cement and wonder how many of my ribs were broken.
“Are you getting up?” Ian asked snidely as he rolled Eddie Madrid to his stomach, pulled his arms behind his back, and cuffed him quickly before moving to squat next to me. “Or are you resting?”
All I could do was stare up at him, noting that he was scowling, as usual. That scowl was permanently etched on his face, and even when he grinned, the creases above and between his eyebrows never smoothed all the way. He was tense, just a little, at all times.
“If I didn’t know you were tough, I’d be starting to worry,” he said gruffly.
The fact that neither I nor Eddie was moving should have clued him in.
I tried to move and pain shot through my left wrist. What was interesting was that the second I winced, his light eyes darkened with concern.
“Did you break your wrist?”
As though I was responsible for my own bones getting snapped. “I didn’t break anything,” I groaned, a bit of air finally inflating my lungs, enough to give me a hoarse, crackly voice. “But I think your friend over here did.”
“Maybe we better get you to the hospital.”
“I’ll go by myself,” I groused. “You take Madrid in.”
He opened his mouth to argue.
“Just do what I say,” I ordered, annoyed that I was broken. Again. “I’ll call you if I can’t make picking up Stubbs from lockup.”
His scowl deepened as he took my good hand and hauled me to my feet. I went to move around him, but he leaned forward and his prickly dark brown stubble grazed my ear, the sensation making me jolt involuntarily.
“I’m coming with you,” he said hoarsely. “Don’t be an ass.”
I studied him, the face I knew as well as my own—maybe better after looking at it for the past three years, straight on or in profile as he drove. His gaze on the ground, suddenly flicking up, colliding with mine, startled me with its intensity. He was utterly focused; I had every drop of his attention.
I was stunned, and it must have shown on my face because the furrowed brows, the glower, were instant. “Holy shit,” I teased. “It’s a little early for spring thaw.”
“You’re a dick,” he flared, turning away.
After grabbing hold of his shoulder, I yanked hard, fisting my hand in the half trench he wore, stepping in close. “No, I’m happy––actually, really happy. Come on. Relax.”
He growled at me.
“Take me to the emergency room.” I chuckled, holding on to him.
His grunt made me smile, and when I squeezed his shoulder, I saw how pleased he seemed to be. “Let’s go.”
He heaved Madrid to his feet—which was interesting since our fugitive outweighed him by a good sixty pounds—threw him up against the car, opened the back door, and shoved him in. It took only moments, and then he was back to facing me, stepping forward into my space, so close I could feel the heat rolling off him.
“You should never question that I’m gonna go with you. That’s what partners are for.”
He never demanded things of me. Normally there was browbeating, teasing, derision—but not concern. It was strange. “Yeah, okay.”
Nodding quickly, he walked around the side of the 1969 Cadillac deVille we were currently driving. Whatever was seized during drug raids or other criminal activity was what we got. The last ride had been a 2000 Ford Mustang I was crazy about, either driving—which I scarcely ever did—or riding in. It was a sad day when it became the victim of heavy machine-gun fire. The grenade tossed through the window had been the final straw. Ian kept saying it was fixable up until that point.
The bow-chicka-bow-wow car we were in now, all whitewall tires and green metallic paint, was a little much for the US Marshals Service. But we were supposed to travel incognito, and cruising through the worst parts of Chicago, no one gave us a second look.
“Get in,” he barked.
And as usual, we were off like a rocket, no gentle merge into traffic. Ian always drove like he was fleeing a bank robbery and I had learned to simply buckle up.
“What the fuck,” Eddie Madrid yelled from the backseat, having lurched forward and then been hurled back in a whiplash maneuver. “Someone belt me in.”
I started laughing as I turned to my partner, who was swearing at the people sharing the road with them. “Even our prisoner fears for his life.”
“Fuck him,” he snarled, taking a corner like he was a stunt driver getting ready to jump out.
Eddie slammed into the partial window on the passenger side of the sedan. “Jesus Christ, man!”
I just braced for impact, hoping I’d make it to the hospital in one piece.
“LEMME GET this straight,” Ian said that afternoon as he led James “the Cleaver” Pellegrino to our car. “You’ve got a broken wrist, and you’re bitching about your shoes?”
Normally doctors didn’t cast broken bones until a few days later due to swelling. But because I had no intention of riding my desk until it mended, and because it was a clean break, the ER doctor had made an exception. He said that if the cast got too loose, I might have to return and have another put on. I didn’t care; the important thing was that I could follow Ian back out into the field.
“Yeah,” I whined, scrutinizing the plaster cast on my wrist and then, more importantly, my now scuffed-up John Varvatos cap-toe boots. Pellegrino had taken one look at me standing in the doorway when he came up from the basement, and bolted. We had been responding to an anonymous tip and found him at his cousin’s house in La Grange. To keep him from making it out the back door, I dived at him. We ended up rolling over concrete before Ian had come flying around the side of the house and landed all over the guy. “They were new last week.”
“And they were gonna be trashed by now anyway,” Ian commented. “No way around it in the snow.”
I glanced up at him. “This is why I wanted to move to Miami with Brent. Snow would be a distant memory.”
He snorted out a laugh. “That guy was so not worth moving for.”
I arched an eyebrow.
“And besides,” he said gruffly, “you weren’t gonna leave me anyway.”
“I would ditch you in a second, buddy. Don’t kid yourself.”
He scoffed. “Yeah, right.”
Apparently he knew better than to believe such an outright lie.
“You guys want me to leave you alone?” Pellegrino said snidely.
Ian threw him up against the car, and Pellegrino screamed because he landed on his chest, the same place that had recently been in contact with exposed brick.
“This is police brutality.”
“Lucky we’re not the police,” Ian reminded him, smacking him on the back of the head before his light blue gaze landed on me. “And why do you wear your good stuff to work? I’ve never understood that.”
“Because,” I answered, gesturing at him, “Dockers and a button-down and an ugly tie is not what I wanna be seen in every day.”
“Well, that’s great, but you ruin a ton of shit and then bitch about it.”
“Hiking boots do not scream fashion.”
“Yeah, but your John-whatever boots are fucked up already, and mine are still good.”
“They look like shit,” I assured him.
“But still functional,” he teased, and the rakish curl of his lip did flip-floppy things to my stomach.
It was bad. So very, very bad. Ian Doyle was my totally straight best friend and partner. I had no right to even be noticing how the half trench coat molded to his shoulders; the roping veins in his forearms; or the way he touched me when he talked to me, sat beside me, or got anywhere in my general vicinity. How he was always in my personal space, as though I had none, was not something he was even aware of, so truthfully, it wasn’t right for me to notice. But trying to pretend I didn’t was eating me up alive. It was the real reason I should have asked for a change of partner, because I dreamed of being in bed with my current one.
“No snarky comeback?”
I coughed. “No.”
He squinted. “How come?”
“You have a point, I guess. I shouldn’t wear shoes to work that’ll get ruined.”
“I can get you a new pair,” the Cleaver offered quickly before Ian could form a reply. “Please.”
Ian smacked him on the back of the head again, opened the car door, pushed my seat forward, and shoved Pellegrino in.
“You’re such an asshole, Doyle!” Pellegrino yelled before Ian slammed the door shut.
“Don’t bruise him,” I cautioned like I always did.
“Why the fuck not?”
“And for the record,” Ian huffed, rounding on me. “You do not go into buildings alone. What did we say about that after Felix Ledesma?”
I mumbled something because my iPhone had buzzed with a text and I was reading.
“I hear you.”
“Look at me.”
My head snapped up. “Yeah, fine, okay, shut up.”
“No, not fine. Not okay. Every fuckin’ time you take off your shirt and I see the scar right above your heart, I—”
“I know,” I soothed, leaning close to bump his shoulder with mine.
“Oh,” I said, noticing the time. “You need to dump me and the Cleaver off so you can make your date with Emma.”
The way his whole face tightened was not a good sign, but far be it from me to tell him that his girlfriend, though wonderful, was not for him. It would have been so much easier if she was toxic and I hated her. The truth was, she was sort of perfect. Just not for him.
“What’re you gonna do?”
“When?” I was confused. “I’ll process our prisoner so you can be on time for once.”
He looked uncomfortable. “And then what?”
“Oh, I’m supposed to be playing pool tonight with some guys from my gym.”
His face lit up.
“No.” I snickered. “Bad. Your girlfriend does not want to play pool with strangers.”
His glare was ridiculously hot. “How do you know?”
“That’s not a date, Ian.”
“Well, you shouldn’t go either.”
I wondered vaguely if he had any idea how petulant he sounded. “I broke my left wrist, not the right. I can hold a cue just fine.”
“You should go home and go to bed,” Ian said, glowering as he walked around the car to the driver’s door.
“No, man, I gotta work through the pain,” I teased before I got in.
“What’re you talking about?” he asked irritably after he slammed his door and turned to me. “You broke your fuckin’ wrist.”
“But isn’t that your mantra or some shit? The Green Beret code and all? Screw the pain?”
“Playing pool isn’t work. You don’t hafta do it.”
Throat clearing from the back seat. “You know, you guys could just leave me here,” the Cleaver suggested cheerfully. “Then nobody has to do paperwork at all, and maybe you guys could double date.”
Ian twisted around in his seat. “I have a better idea. Why don’t you shut the fuck up before I get you back out of this car, take off the cuffs, and make you run away so I can shoot you.”
“Maybe you’ll miss.”
“I’ll take that deal. What’re you carrying, a nine millimeter?”
“Again, not cops. Marshals,” Ian explained. “You ever get shot with a forty caliber?”
I couldn’t contain my chuckle at how contrite the Cleaver appeared.
“Maybe I’ll just stay put.”
“And shut up,” Ian barked.
He turned around and gripped the steering wheel, and I realized how tense he was.
“Shooting people is bad,” I stressed playfully, poking Ian’s bicep.
I got a derisive sound back, but that quickly, he seemed better, the edge gone.
“Move this crate. I need to get this guy processed fast, because I really have to change.”
“At least your shoes, huh?” Ian teased, the tip of his head and the eyebrow waggle really annoying.
I did my best to ignore him.
I want to dive right in and read it again, immediately!
Read the full review at
This book is classic Mary Calmes, from the characters that are easily lovable down to the quick and witty banter.
The book is fast-paced and action-packed.
It was like watching all episodes of one season of a TV series back to back in one day.
All Kinds of Tied Down was a great read and one I plan of re-reading again soon.
I desperately hope this will continue into a series because I’d love to see more of Ian and Miro and the situations they land themselves in!
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