She stole a cop’s heart, will this thief pay the price?
Captive Hearts – Book 2 Forthcoming 2016
Stolen Hearts Excerpt:
Crystal shimmied down the drainpipe with her trophies tucked inside her backpack and computer files loaded onto her USB, hung around her neck disguised as a locket. This was too easy. Not like the Warren job where the COO kept changing the menu and supervised their catering to ensure they had followed the strict rules of kashrut. She landed on the concrete with a thump, then removed her mask. Usually she worked at night when the catering gig didn’t provide the necessary cover, but she had a date this evening.
A blind date.
Her sister’s fiancée had called earlier that day to let them know his cousin from Texas would join them for dinner and would Crystal come along? As far as Crystal was concerned, it was the closest thing she’d come to as a real date in a long time. She’d take it. Thankfully, her catering appointment with Westridge canceled yesterday.
While she enjoyed cooking, it was only a cover for her and her sister’s illegal activities. What she excelled at was computers, but having a career in that field, now, would be too suspicious. Her IT skills far exceeded a Level One Help Desk worker.
She despised working for Westridge, the man who had her mother killed and her dad thrown into jail, but catering was the easiest way into her target’s homes without suspicion. And she refused to pose as a cleaning lady and scrub their filth. Years ago, Dad found what he thought was a series of accounting errors. For his honesty trying to help Westridge correct the problem, he was thrown in jail to rot. Westridge and his company framed her dad for embezzlement and sharing confidential information with preferred suppliers to obtain favors. Now she and her sister were halfway toward exonerating him and exposing Westridge and his corporate crimes. To see the look on Joshua Westridge’s face when he was convicted would make all her and her sister’s sacrifices worth it.
Thunder boomed as she weaved through alleys, stinking of rotting food and urine. She barely made it to her car before thunder rumbled. Crystal checked the time on the dashboard, almost seven. No time to waste. Paul and his cousin, Kade, were picking up her and her sister at seven-thirty.
Her car hummed to life as she stashed her backpack behind her seat. The stolen cash, including a recently purchased blood diamond necklace, lay inside. Hopefully the money and necklace would throw off Westridge’s Sales Manager to the fact that computer information had been the real prize. And hopefully, they wouldn’t discover the truth until it was too late. For now, another piece of the puzzle to exonerate their dad and lock Westridge away lay on her chest inside her locket. She whipped into traffic and hit the wipers as fat drops of rain slapped against the windshield. Great. Ahead, a red light flickered as taxis and cars lined up behind it. She debated taking Ninth, but decided against it. Construction was still ongoing and traffic would be worse than this.
Maybe squeezing in a job before dinner wasn’t a great idea.
Captive Hearts Excerpt:
Ruby’s back hit the mat, and a gush of air burst free from her lungs.
“You’ve gone soft.” Tommy frowned down at her, his lips twisted. “Seven months of no training, just pining away, and I knock you down in seconds. You’re off your game.”
That’s not all she was off. Her fiancé Paul had recently played her. Things like that happened to other people, not her. Westridge was pending trial after she revealed their crimes of embezzlement, framing Crystal’s father, and murdering their foster parents and more—she and Crystal had left their thieving lifestyles behind, yet the Uncles and Tommy called out of the blue, insisting Ruby come in for a sparring match. So, hell yeah, she was off her game.
“I’m not pining.” Even if she had sat on the couch with ice cream or a store bought bag of cotton candy most nights. Sometimes both. It was none of Tommy’s business.
“Let’s try that again.” Tommy held out a hand to her.
Why had she agreed to this again? Oh right, to get her mind on a different focus other than Paul. She could beat Tommy if she concentrated. Plastering a pained expression on her face, she accepted his hand. When he relaxed his guard to help her up, she jerked his arm forward and kicked him in the shin. But her timing was off, and his upper body landed on top of her instead of beside her. His hands slammed on either side of her head as he caught himself. She’d known him since he was a teen working for the Uncles and saving her and her sister from Westridge when they were kids, and this wasn’t the first time she got a slight upper hand over him. He never saved her from bruises though while he trained them in Krav Maga and other martial arts.
Instead of scowling at her, like he usually did, something flashed in his eyes. Admiration? Pity? No, couldn’t be. His breath of vanilla and mint washed over her, and she couldn’t stop staring at his mouth. Had it always been full with a dimple on the side of his cheek when he smiled?
“Guess I took you by surprise that time.” She forced her gaze from his mouth to stare into his gold-flecked brown eyes. “Maybe you need to up your game?”
He stared at her and a restlessness grew inside her. What was he thinking? His gaze intense. Uncomfortable with his silent scrutiny, she pushed against his chest. Then he lowered his head and brushed his mouth across hers. Tingles spread through her. Before she could react, he pulled away and stood.
“Now who’s off?” Tommy smirked and his dimple deepened.
“What the hell was that? Are you playing dirty?” Tommy didn’t like her, not in a romantic way, he couldn’t. They’d spent years together ever since the Uncles feigned her and her sister’s death and became their guardians. After their foster parents were killed, the Uncles and Tommy were the only ones she trusted. So what was Tommy playing at?
He lifted her chin, until she meet his eyes.
“Don’t bring him into your thoughts.” His brown eyes softened. “He’s not worth it. You are so much better than that scum.”
She shrugged. So that was his intention all along. Shock me out of thinking about Paul. Knew Tommy didn’t like me. That was crazy.
Instead of saying anything else, he hauled her into a hug. Even though she’d always thought of Tommy as lean and strong as steel, she fit into his embrace. Closing her eyes, she relaxed, taking in his warmth. He was just a friend providing comfort.
Then why did her lips still tingle from his kiss? Was she so starved for male contact that she forgot good sense? She needed a date, not a rebound.
Ruby’s cell buzzed, and she eased away from Tommy, unable to look him in the eye. If she did, he’d see her flash of desire brand new to her. Was she that desperate? She rummaged through her gym bag and clicked on her phone. A missed call from her sister, Crystal. Later, when she didn’t have words and overrunning emotions crammed in her throat, she’d call her back.
At least Crystal had found love. She and Kade ran their own private detective agency. Ruby was happy for her sister, but right now, she couldn’t take her fraternal twin’s cheerfulness.
“Was that about your case?” Tommy’s rich baritone voice caressed across her back. What the hell was the matter with her? Fixated on a guy who paid her attention? She really needed to get a date.
Ruby shook her head. “Just Crystal. I’ll call her back later.” Ruby’s jury duty recently ended, and the guilty guy got off on a technicality. She rubbed her arms.
Zipping up her bag, she stood and frowned at Tommy’s closeness. Maybe she was losing her edge if she didn’t hear him approach. “Thanks for the session.”
He smirked. “Same time tomorrow?”
“If I can walk.” She grinned and hiked up her bag on her shoulder.
He jerked his head to the far window. When she started to turn to see what he looked at, he lunged at her.
“What the hel—” Her butt hit the mat and she found herself pressed under the length of his body. His shoulder length hair tickled her nose as she buried her face into the side of his neck.
A gunshot shattered the warehouse window behind her.
“What was that?” She panted. “Westridge?” Had he paid someone while in custody and put a hit out on them?
“No.” He pulled back slightly to look at her. His frown deepened, but didn’t move. “If it had been anyone he paid, they’d have used a scope and not missed. This was an amateur.”
“Great. Who have I pissed off now?” Or were the shots for Tommy? That thought sent bile into her throat.
“Don’t know. But I intend to find out.” He pushed up to stand. “Stay here.”
Like she’d obey when someone just tried to kill one of them.