Authors: Jamie Craig
By Jamie Craig
Washington, D.C., 2085
Remy Capra lives on the outskirts of society, her gang her only family. When that family is destroyed by a cop who cares more about causing pain than justice, Remy seeks revenge by stealing a mysterious coin, the Silver Maiden, from him. Suddenly Remy is transported into the past—and right into the path of Nathan Pierce.
Los Angeles, 2010
After a terrible betrayal left him injured and reluctant to trust, Nathan quit the police force and shut himself off from the world. He now hunts down criminals on his own…until Remy drops into his life. Nathan can’t resist the urge to protect the sexy stranger, nor deny their incredible sexual chemistry.
Remy and Nathan’s relationship is threatened from all sides—and times—when their enemies team up to get the coin. Now that fate has brought Remy and Nathan together,
can stand in their way.
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Executive Editor, Carina Press
We would like to thank our editor, Alissa, and all the great people at Carina for giving the Silver Maiden series another shot. We’d also like to thank all the fabulous readers who have been waiting so patiently to read the rest of the series. This story is finally going to be told in its entirety! And a special thank you to our new readers. We hope you enjoy reading this as much we enjoyed writing it.
Sweat rolled down Nathan Pierce’s neck and he gripped the gun with slick palms. He walked lightly, but each step against the solid iron grate beneath his feet echoed in the abandoned warehouse. The air didn’t move. It clung to his body, heavy and stagnant, layered over a coating of fine dust covering his exposed skin.
Nathan sensed Tian in the building. Somewhere ahead or above, the other man crept around the stacked boxes. Tightening his grip on the gun, Nathan strained to hear, every bit the predator. In the distance, a siren howled to life. Nearby, a dog barked in response.
As he neared the end of the narrow corridor, he slowed down. Tian could be waiting behind the sharp corner, gun drawn. After three failed attempts to bring the man in, Nathan had a healthy respect for him. This time, however, Tian would come out in cuffs or a black plastic bag; Nathan didn’t have a preference.
He slid against the wall and around the corner, his finger poised on the trigger. An empty hallway greeted him. Taking a deep breath, he scanned the dark length of the corridor. Tiny, filthy windows lined the top of the wall, but they allowed only the faintest hint of dirty, orange light. He saw a flight of stairs at the edge of the hall, and a door in the middle, but otherwise, the concrete walls stretched on without a break.
Nathan moved quickly to the door, testing the unlocked handle before releasing it. Dark paper blocked the narrow rectangular window, obscuring his view of the room. He pressed his ear against the door and listened for movement, but he heard nothing except the steady pounding of his own heart.
He eased back, raising his gun in a ready position, and prepared to kick the door open. A mere second before he moved, a window shattered overhead, sending a cascade of glass to his feet. Nathan looked up in time to see something the size of his fist fly through the hole to land on the floor.
Nathan approached cautiously, forgetting about the door behind him. The object’s shape took form as he closed the distance, his narrowed eyes picking out each small detail.
Kicking the grenade down the hall, he ran back to throw the door open. He dived into the room without hesitation, slamming the door shut behind him. The explosion shook the building and, behind the thick walls and steel door, a fresh wave of heat rolled down the hall.
Staying low, Nathan scurried behind a large desk. He peeked over the edge to scan the layout of the large and cluttered room. Dust billowed around him with each movement, irritating his nose and clogging his throat. He pulled his shirt over the lower half of his face, stifling the urge to sneeze. The room reeked of abandonment and sweat. His own and somebody else’s.
“Nathan,” Tian called in a singsong voice. “Did you like my little present?”
“You can add attempted murder to your list of charges,” Nathan responded.
“Attempted murder? Did you take that shit personal? I was just playing around.” His mocking words echoed off the walls.
He risked looking over the desk again, trying to find the source of Tian’s voice, but there were too many places to hide.
“Is Cesar waiting outside?” Nathan asked. “It’s going to be a big night for me.”
“You think I let you follow me because I wanted to be caught?”
Nathan pulled the knife from his boot and began creeping to the right. “Why did you let me follow you, then? To blow me up with a grenade?”
“Look, I’ve got shit to do. The cops don’t care about me anymore, why are you all over my ass?”
His voice was closer now, but Nathan couldn’t risk taking the shot and exposing himself.
“Your ass is worth a lot of money,” Nathan pointed out, thinking of his empty bank account. “Somebody still cares about it.” Specifically, a bondsman in West Hollywood.
The slight sound of plastic scraping against concrete caught Nathan’s attention. He froze, his eyes searching the area. Light from a passing helicopter flashed through the dirty windows, offering a glimpse of Tian’s white shirt and black hair. He was only twenty feet away, crouched behind a desk and an overturned table, still facing the door.
Nathan smiled grimly. In a single motion, he straightened, flicked his wrist, and released the knife. It buried itself in Tian’s right arm. Screaming in pain, he whirled around to face Nathan, gun drawn.
“Put it down,” Nathan warned. “I’ve got this pointed at your head and I’m tired of fucking around.”
Tian opened his mouth, but Nathan would never know what the other man intended to say. A series of minor explosions, like shots from an automatic weapon, went off just inches from his ear. Nathan spun around, prepared to shoot Tian’s accomplice, but he saw no one. The small rapid blasts continued. His skull vibrated from the pressure of the sound and his ears throbbed.
Bombs. Must be bombs, Nathan thought as he ran for cover.
Tian seized the opportunity and took off, clutching his stained arm.
“Stop!” Nathan fired after Tian, but his shots went wild. “Stop!”
A burst of blinding violet light sent Nathan reeling back, stumbling over the debris. Recovering his balance, he looked up, expecting to see the helicopter, but the light didn’t come from the high windows. It pulsed from the ceiling, from the walls, from the floor, its beat matching the rhythm of his pounding heart. He tried to look away, protecting his eyes from the final explosion, cupping his ears to shield against the thunderous noise.
The air crackled with electricity. With the light flaring to an ice blue, one last reverberation shattered the windows, sending Nathan diving to safety. Glass shards showered down in a lacerating rain. As abruptly as it had arrived, the sudden brilliance vanished, leaving the warehouse in darkness.
The ensuing silence was almost as painful as the explosions had been. The discomforting quiet was broken when a soft groan echoed from the murk, followed by a muffled, “Fuck.”
Nathan stiffened. The curse didn’t come from Tian or Cesar. That was a woman’s voice.
He blinked several times, chasing the black dots from his eyes, before focusing on the almost shapeless form on the floor. He raised the gun, leveling it at her head as he approached. “Who are you?” he demanded. “A friend of Tian’s? Are you armed?”
She didn’t respond.
He stopped within ten feet of her and pulled back the hammer on the gun. “Put your hands up where I can see them.”
Slowly, the shadows shifted like oil on brackish water, something metallic catching a sliver of light to glint in the darkness. A pale cheek became visible as the woman lifted her head, but her hands remained out of sight. “This has gotta be Hell.” Her voice was a husky alto, sharp with annoyance. “Is this supposed to be my punishment? You torture me for all eternity with bad movie clichés?”
“What the fuck?” He circled her without looking away, keeping a safe distance as he approached the open door. A quick glance down the hall proved Tian had high-tailed it out of there.
“Fuck.” Nathan turned back to the strange woman, sudden fury overriding any confusion or shock at her mysterious appearance. He marched over, grabbed her arm, and hauled her to her feet. “Who are you? Did you help him plan this?”
Her eyes widened, as if he’d surprised her by being tangible, but it lasted only a moment before she twisted in his grasp, her back pressing into his chest. A sharp elbow slammed into his diaphragm, followed by her booted heel stomping on his toe. In the fraction of a second Nathan loosened his grip, the woman wrenched free and bolted for the freedom of the open door.
“I don’t think so,” Nathan muttered, running after her despite the red pain blossoming in his chest. Tian might have escaped, but this woman wouldn’t be so fortunate. He’d be damned before he let another one escape tonight. He grasped her shoulder, using his momentum and weight to slam her into the wall.
Though she tried to wrench away, Nathan grabbed her wrist and yanked it behind her back. “Who are you?”
The only sound she made was a muttered curse of discomfort. He pulled her arm tighter until her rapid breathing choked off in a pained cry.
“Remy,” she growled. “You want to know my cup size, too, asshole?”
Nathan didn’t know the name, and he knew all the names surrounding Tian. He’d keep his guard up in case she was lying, but she seemed as confused as he was. “Maybe later,” he said, and relaxed the pressure on her arm.
Something warm and sticky coated his stomach. Holstering his gun, he groped between their bodies, searching for the source of what had to be blood. He hadn’t felt any shrapnel hit him, but with the chaos, anything was possible.
No holes in him. That left her.
Without releasing her, Nathan pulled up the back of her shirt. It felt like it was made of tissue paper, like he could rip it right from her body if he wasn’t careful. Curious, he gave it a light tug, but it didn’t tear. He lost all interest in the odd material when he saw the deep cut stretching across the small of her back. Black blood glistened in the dingy light. He brushed his fingers across her skin, pulling back quickly as she hissed.
“You’re hurt. How did this happen?”
The contact made her squirm, her spine bowing away as if to get as far from him as possible. “Felt like a knife,” she admitted. “I didn’t bother to stop and ask for details. I was a little busy running for my life.”
Nathan examined the wound. It did look like a knife injury. He imagined the assailant, slashing at her…as she what? Where had she come from? Who was chasing her? How did she end up in the middle of a third-story room of an abandoned warehouse? Maybe she was right and this was Hell. Maybe he hadn’t moved fast enough when the grenade came through the window.
Regardless, she would lose too much blood if they stood around talking about it all night.
“If somebody’s chasing you, I think you should get out of here. I know a back way out.”
She snorted. “That’s all well and good except, you know, when you’ve got your face shoved into a wall and your arm twisted behind you.”
“Well, I hope you’ll forgive my caution around strange women who fall out of thin air and hit like a man three times their size. I’m going to let go and step back. You don’t run, and I won’t slam you into another wall. Deal?”
Her mouth opened as if to argue, and then snapped shut. Instead, she gave him a curt nod in agreement.
Keeping one hand ready to grab his gun, Nathan did as he said he would, waiting to see if she would be true to her word. Remy immediately pulled her arm to the front of her body, stretching the muscles in her back in the opposite direction to loosen the constraint he’d forced upon them.
“Is that what happened?” she asked. When he didn’t answer right away, she glanced back, her face shadowed with unanswered questions. “I fell out of thin air?”
Nathan shrugged. “All I know is, one minute I was here ready to take Tian down, the next, he’s flown the coop, and you’re bleeding all over the floor. Might as well been out of thin air.” He narrowed his eyes. “You mean you don’t know what happened? How you got here?”
“I don’t even know where here is.” As she swung her gaze around the warehouse, her features passed in and out of the stray light filtering through the shattered windows. He caught sight of her full, sensual mouth and dark eyes glittering with intelligence before the gloom swallowed her up again. “I’m going out on a limb to say I’m not in D.C. anymore, Toto.”
“No. Los Angeles. Culver City, technically.” He moved to take her elbow, but she stepped back, shifting to a defensive position. Nathan put up his hands, trying to flash a soothing, I’m-just-here-to-help smile. “Sorry. There’s a lot of debris in the hallway. There’s a flight of stairs to the right. We’re going to go up to the next floor, then take the back stairs out.”
Her eyes jumped between him and the doorway. With a feral grace, Remy edged along the wall toward the exit, only turning her back to him once she stepped into the corridor. Even then, frequent glances over her shoulder betrayed her anxiety.
“You’ve got the trump hand.” She kicked an empty box out of her way. “I don’t even know your name.”
He watched Remy as she walked. She held herself straight, hiding any signs of weakness, but he knew she was in pain. She moved a little too stiffly, a little too hesitantly.
“Here.” He fished the pen light out of his jacket pocket and handed it to her.
Their fingers brushed against each other as she took the light from him, her skin surprisingly cool in the swelter of the warehouse. “Thanks.”
The added illumination sped their steps through the hall and up to the next level. As they began to descend the back stairwell out of the building, though, Nathan noticed how she never let go of the handrail, even when they rounded the corner to head back down to the second floor. She was fighting to stay upright, but refusing to ask for help. A flicker of respect began to glow in his gut.
He closed the distance between them, but didn’t make any move to touch her. She looked like she was ready to jump out of her skin, and Nathan wasn’t interested in catching her fist with his nose. Halfway down the stairs, he detected a slight trembling in her legs, and her foot slipped only two steps later. Nathan reacted without thinking, wrapping his arm around her chest and pulling her back against him.
She tensed, ready to fight.
“Calm down. I’m not going to hurt you.”
The beam from the penlight wavered along the far concrete wall. “So says the guy who had the hardware aimed at me a few minutes ago.” Remy matched his subdued tone. “Give me one good reason to believe you.”
Nathan tightened his grip. “Because if I wanted you dead, I would have shot when I had my gun on you. But I didn’t. Now you’re bleeding, confused, possibly insane, and in a strange place. Do you want my help?”
“No,” came the automatic response. She sighed and sagged against him. When she spoke again, the resignation in her voice prompted him to wonder why she found it so difficult to accept aid. “But I’ll take it anyway.”
“Please,” he muttered, half carrying her down the remaining stairs. “Stop with the gratitude. You’re making me blush.”
When they stepped out of the building, Nathan took a deep breath, relieved to find air not reeking of mildew and dry dust. The back of his throat burned, and at that moment, he would kill for a tall, cold pint of beer.