Romantic Suspense and Thriller

NEW RELEASE - Hot Pursuit 1 By Jennifer Zane

Monday, September 15, 2014

She paused as if considering my words. “So, what? I’m the hit man Moretti hired to off his son-in-law? Is that how you say it? Yeah, I’m a real professional.” My brows went up at her sarcasm. “Caught with the body in the trunk. Really dumb of me.”

“Or smart enough to come up with a story about the whole car rental swap.” I spun my finger around in the air. “Word gets around. I have to admit, I fell for it.”

She took a deep breath, let it out. Dropped her hands to her sides. “Earlier tonight, at the reception, did you mean it when you offered to help me?”

“A friend of Moretti’s is a friend of mine.” I wasn’t playing nice. Why should I? No one in Moretti’s organization would be considered nice. I felt like a fucking fool once. What was it with women? First Nadine, now Anna. I thought I’d learned my lesson. A woman was never what she seemed. Never sweet and innocent and wanting the simplicity of a man loving and protecting her. The whole picket fence romance movie. Boy, had I been wrong. At least I hadn’t gotten in too deep by marrying this one. I hadn’t even kissed her.
Then why the hell did her duplicity feel like a jagged sliver beneath my skin?

“You don’t believe me. Wow.” She shook her head. “You’re one to talk. What’s your real title, your real job? Thug? Murderer? Because you can’t just be a bar manager. I’ve heard the term wet work before. I guess in your case it doesn’t just refer to pouring drinks.”

She thought I was a hit man? She was a piece of work.

“You were a lot different a few hours ago at the reception when you made me promise to come to you if I had a problem.”

“Yeah, well, we’re not what we seem, are we?”

She looked at me for long seconds. Just staring. I figured I’d get tears or anger or even a slap across the face for my shitty attitude. What I didn’t expect was acceptance.

“Whatever. You’re going to believe what you want.” She gave a negligent shrug.

“Nothing I say is going to sway you.”

I picked up a paperclip, unbent one of the wires. “It seems you’ve been in this situation before.”

“Yeah, you’d be surprised.”

Something flickered in her eyes, but I couldn’t read it. Even if I had, I wouldn’t believe what I saw. She was a damn fine actress. Should I be the one to tell Peters and the others they’d been duped or let them figure it out on their own?

“I didn’t come here to make you believe me,” she continued. “I came for your help. You offered earlier, so here I am. There’s a woman who needs rescuing from a bad man and I can’t do it by myself.”

“You’ve got the karate moves to rescue someone. You don’t need anyone else, let alone me.” I tossed the straightened clip back on the desk. Grabbed another. I saw her jaw clench. I wasn’t making it easy for her. Like I really cared.

“He’s a bad man. He’s done it before. I’ve got proof.”

“Moretti’s a bad man. He’s done it before. You’re the proof.” I let that sink in for a minute.

“Moretti’s not going to let me leave Scorch and go off to New York to save some damsel in distress, sweetheart. It’s not like we’re in the kind of business that has vacation time and a 401k. Besides, why should either of us help you?”

Her hands clenched at her sides and I saw anger flare in her dark eyes. “Because he owes me.”

I laughed. “Owes you?”

“Yes, owes me. The police are completely distracted by a dumb woman who got the wrong car at a valet stand and got stuck with a corpse. They’re not paying attention to who really killed Bobby Lane. They don’t really even care. I take it Bobby wasn’t a very nice guy. I wouldn’t know since I’ve only seen him dead.”

Anna had a dry sense of humor. She’d seemed so vulnerable and soft at the reception. The woman in front of me now was completely different, all fiery spunk and attitude. She was still soft in all the right places—my gaze roved over her body, completely hidden beneath my jacket. But I couldn’t help remembering her earlier, her curves hidden beneath, yet accentuated by the slim bodice of her blue dress. The way she’d looked, surprised by the connection between us. How her eyes had softened when I touched her waist. The way she’d been soothed by my words after her panic attack. So which was the real Anna? Was it even possible to figure out? Hell, was it worth the energy to do so?

“The person who did shoot him got someone to take the heat for him,” she continued.

“Me. They couldn’t have asked for anyone better. I mean, look at me!”

She was the perfect dupe; a woman in from out of state for a wedding, pretty, educated, a spotless record not even tarnished by a parking ticket. Who’d have considered her for popping Bobby? The police didn’t. I hadn’t either.

“The murderer is completely off the hook and Moretti looks like the grieving father-in-law,” she added. “He owes me, and I want him to pay up. With you.” She pointed her finger at me.

“I’ve never been propositioned quite this way before,” I murmured, tossing the next unbent paper clip on the desk. “The door’s locked. You can have your way with me right here. An orgasm would do you good. You’re too tense.”

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