Book: Two Man Station
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Publication Date: January 22. 2018
Gio Valeri is a big city police officer who’s been transferred to the small outback town of Richmond with his professional reputation in tatters. His transfer is a punishment, and Gio just wants to keep his head down and survive the next two years. No more mistakes. No more complications.
Except Gio isn’t counting on Jason Quinn.
Jason Quinn, officer in charge of Richmond Station, is a single dad struggling with balancing the demands of shift work with the challenges of raising his son. The last thing he needs is a new senior constable with a history of destroying other people’s careers. But like it or not, Jason has to work with Gio.
In a remote two man station hours away from the next town, Gio and Jason have to learn to trust and rely on each another. Close quarters and a growing attraction mean that the lines between professional and personal are blurring. And even in Richmond, being a copper can be dangerous enough without risking their hearts as well.
The dusty ribbon of the Flinders Highway stretched west from the Coast, frayed edges crumbling into the red dirt that clumped in the wheel arches of Gio’s Mazda 3, and packed hard as clay into the tread of the tyres. The drive from the Gold Coast took two days. Gio had started out on Monday, and overnighted in a cheap hotel in Emerald, sharing the shower stall with a dead cockroach before falling asleep with the TV blaring. Tuesday had been more of the same: another ten hour stretch behind the wheel, the dull ache of homesickness tugging at him with every kilometre that clicked over on the odo.
Gio stopped every hour or so to stretch, to pace for a while, to break the hypnotic power of the never-ending highway. He’d never seen country like this before. Never been this far west. Slow, lazy flies buzzed around him, drowsy with heat.
The drive was red dirt, chips in the windscreen that caught the blazing sunlight, and mirages that shimmered on the dips in the road. The car shuddered whenever a road train roared past in the other lane.
Gio reached his destination just after four on Tuesday afternoon.
At the edge of Richmond, the road branched. The highway continued left, bypassing the centre of town. The road curved right and swelled into a main street. Gio drove past a bank, a supermarket, two pubs, and the RSL. There wasn’t a single building over two storeys high, as though the weight of the endless blue sky had squashed everything flat. No clusters of steel and glass towers, their floor-to-ceiling windows facing the beach and reflecting the thin stretch of sand and the breakers that rolled in endlessly from the ocean. This—the dust, the heat, the small town, and the empty sky—was a different planet.
Gio turned left at the tiny hospital, following a sign, and found the police station a block back from the main road. A riotous crimson bougainvillea bush half obscured the sign out front of the low-set cement building.
Gio pulled over and turned the ignition off. He tapped his fingers against the steering wheel, drawing a deep breath as the heat bled into the car. He’d been running from his nerves since leaving the Gold Coast, and now that he’d finally stopped, they’d caught up with him.
He could still remember his first day in the job. Four years ago now, Southport station. It was a big station, always busy no matter the time of day or night. Gio had been so nervous he hadn’t trusted himself to eat breakfast before starting his shift. Better getting light-headed than throwing up, right? Caffeine and adrenaline had carried him through to lunch.
Gio was nauseated now as well, his stomach roiling. He sat for a moment longer, until the heat became unbearable, and then opened the car door to let the breeze in. His hand shook as he unclipped his seat belt, and he drew another deep breath of hot dry air before getting out of the car. The sun burned his shadow onto the cracked cement path as he walked towards the front entrance of the station. The doors rolled wide when he reached them, and a chill blast of air-conditioning ushered him inside.
The small foyer was empty. There was nobody behind the counter. The grill was pulled down.
Gio pressed the buzzer and heard it sound somewhere out the back. Moments later, the door behind the counter opened, and a woman appeared. She was short, round, and middle-aged, and she wore her grey hair in a pixie cut.
She peered at Gio over the half-moon glasses perched on her nose. “Can I help you?”
“Hi.” He slid his badge under the grill. “Gio Valeri.”
The woman’s expression faltered for a moment. The smile that followed seemed forced. “I’ll get Sergeant Quinn.”
“Thank you.” Gio pulled his badge back and shoved it into his pocket again. He studied the posters on the noticeboard. Domestic Violence. Child Safety. Drugs. The usual stuff.
“Jason?” the woman called as she headed into the back rooms of the station. “The new guy’s here.”
The door behind the counter ed closed, muffling any response.
Gio had no doubt that his reputation had preceded him here. And he didn’t kid himself that it was a good thing. He fixed his gaze on the curling edges of a Police Recruiting poster, and on a thin crack in the paint job on the wall underneath it.
It wasn’t the worst thing she could have called him.
Gio had told himself all the way from the Gold Coast that he was a good copper, and that none of the shit that had happened on the Coast mattered out here. Which was total bullshit, just like Gio’s reputation.
Gio straightened up when he heard the of a lock disengaging. A moment later the door to the foyer swung open and the sergeant stepped through. Gio moved forward and stuck his hand out, his heartbeat quickening.
Sergeant Quinn had a firm handshake. “Giovanni?”
“Gio,” Gio corrected.
“Jason,” Sergeant Quinn said. He was in his mid to late thirties, maybe. He was an inch or so taller than Gio, and in good shape. Tanned too. The faint lines at the corners of his blue-grey eyes deepened when he smiled. He had light-brown hair, the tips sun-bleached. He was younger than Gio had expected. Hotter too, but Gio was careful not to let his appreciation of that particular trait show in his expression as he shook the sergeant’s hand. The sergeant gestured at the middle-aged woman. “And this is Sandra.”
Gio looked past him to where the woman stood in the doorway. She twisted her chequered lanyard around her finger. Her ID card jiggled against her bosom.
“Come on through,” Sergeant Quinn said. “I’ll give you a tour of the place.”
There wasn’t much to the Richmond Police Station. A holding cell, a narrow storeroom, and an even narrower armoury. The small dayroom contained two desks. One was empty and, presumably, Gio’s. The other one was occupied by a kid wearing a faded maroon Richmond State School polo shirt, with his homework spread out around him. The kid was skinny, like a half-grown pup. He couldn’t have been more than nine or ten.
“Finished your homework, mate?” Sergeant Quinn asked him.
The kid smiled at him around the pencil shoved in his mouth. He had tousled light-brown hair, eyes the colour of storm clouds, and a spray of freckles across his nose. A mini version of Sergeant Quinn. “Yep!”
“Sure you have,” the sergeant said wryly, like a man who’d heard that lie a million times before. He glanced back at Gio. “This is my son, Taylor. Taylor, this is Gio, Dan’s replacement.”
“Hi,” Gio said.
Taylor’s smile grew into a wide grin. He ducked his head and the pencil dropped out of his mouth. It rolled off the desk and onto the floor, and Taylor scrambled to retrieve it.
The tour continued.
“My office,” Sergeant Quinn said, gesturing to a door. “And the kitchen and showers and toilet are down the hall.” He dug into the pocket of his blue cargo pants and pulled out a clump of keys. He flipped through them. “Station, armoury, cell, property room, your locker, the safe, and . . .” He turned the last one over. “Your house.”
He dropped the keys into Gio’s palm.
Gio closed his fingers around them tightly. The teeth dug into his flesh. He cleared his throat to find his voice. “Thanks, Sarge.”
He really was stuck here, wasn’t he?
About the Author
Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.
Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
Connect with Lisa:
- Website: lisahenryonline.com
- Blog: lisahenryonline.blogspot.com
- Twitter: @lisahenryonline
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/LisaHenry
To celebrate the release of Two Man Station, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit and a package of Australian goodies! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 27, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!