Authors: Kris Norris
A Total-E-Bound Publication
©Copyright Kris Norris 2010
Cover Art by Lyn Taylor ©Copyright April 2010
Edited by Christine Riley
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2010 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank,
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers.
This story has been rated
To Kyle and Jared, my future rock stars. I can’t wait to say, “I knew you when…”
To Sydney, my brilliant little artist.
One day, your beautiful pictures will grace more than just my walls.
To my dad, Norm, who can still tell me what’s wrong with my car with only a telephone call.
To the fabulous folks at TEB.
You really are the best. Claire, an author couldn’t ask for a better publisher.
, a girl couldn’t have had a more fabulous FLE. And to the awesomely talented cover artists.
You ladies rock.
And, of course, to Chris.
Thanks for your patience on this one and for keeping me honest. As usual, your wisdom and insight helped make this book more than just a collection of words. Oh, and you really are stuck with me now.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following
mentioned in this work of fiction:
Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.
Dow Chemical Company
, Inc. Corporation
TASER International, Inc.
Daniel’s Properties, Inc.
Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries)
E.I. DuPont Company
—Seattle—Quill and Ink Bookstore
Brooklyn Matthews sat behind the table, pen poised between her fingers, brushing a stray lock of hair behind her ear. She stared at the crisp, blank page, listening to the woman ramble on about her sister and how much they loved reading her books.
“We’re your biggest fans,” the woman said in a heated rush, threading all the words together in her haste. “We’ve read all your books. I like
the best, but
, the sister I was telling you about, she thought
Badge of Honour
was better. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it too, but I still think this is your best work.” She paused to gulp down a large breath of air. “Do you have a favourite, Ms. Matthews?”
looked up from the flap of the book. She’d tuned the lady out ten minutes ago, and other than her name, hadn’t heard enough to even hazard a guess at an exceptional answer. She smiled, twirling the pen around her fingers. “Am I making the dedication out to you?” she asked. “Or did you say this was for your sister?”
The woman hesitated, giving Brooklyn a puzzled look, before flashing another exuberant smile. “For me…please. As I was saying,
is my favourite novel of yours.”
“That’s very kind of you to say,” replied Brooklyn, scribbling the same, sentimental words across the white paper. She signed her name, closing the book as she handed it back across the table.
The woman giggled with joy, clutching the treasured pages to her chest, as she rose from the seat and headed for the door. Brooklyn looked around the small store, relieved the steady stream of eager fans had dissipated. She sighed and glanced at her watch.
Only half an hour before she was scheduled to meet Gage at the lawyer’s office, and she definitely needed a breather before she’d be ready to face him.
She rose from the padded, wooden chair, fidgeting with her hair again, before heading towards the back of the store. At least, she could steal a few moments of quiet in the woman’s restroom, even if it meant listening to the steady drone of elevator music playing across the intercom.
She ducked down a small hallway, skirting a discarded bucket and mop. She turned left at the end, but stopped at the entrance, staring at the muck splattered across the floor and the large, yellow sign blocking the doorway.
Out of Service.
She stepped back, reading the black, block letters with a sigh. She backtracked to the hallway, opening the door to the men’s room. The only male employee had scampered off on a break, and she doubted the manager would care which restroom she hid in.
“Hello?” She stepped inside, ignoring the predominately male scent lingering in the air, and headed for the sink, eager to spray a handful of cool water across her face. Of all the days to have a book signing, today was by far the worst. She never would’ve agreed if her agent hadn’t conned her into it, subtly reminding her how well her books did when she mingled amidst her fans. While it was usually one of her favourite activities, her heart just wasn’t in it today. She looked down at her left hand, noticing how bare it looked. She feigned a smile, telling herself it was all for the best…Gage didn’t love her, so why make them both suffer?
She wiped a tear from her cheek, feeling others sting her eyes. She hadn’t seen Gage in the past three weeks, and it’d been over six months since they’d made love. She lowered her head, remembering their last encounter. He’d been angry, and had touched her in a way she’d never forgotten. Her heart clenched wishing the memory was one to cherish rather than forget. It marked the beginning of the end.
She stifled a sob, biting her bottom lip for strength, when something cold brushed against her back. She looked in the mirror just as the blade pierced her shirt, sinking into her flesh until the hilt locked against her skin. Her chest constricted as her throat clamped around a scream. She locked her fingers around the porcelain rim as an arm reached around her chest, pulling her backwards. She slammed into a man’s chest, feeling the knife twist in his grip.
“Did you think you could escape me, Sarah?” he slurred, brushing the side of his woollen mask against her neck. “Did you really think I wouldn’t find you?” He slid his hand under her shirt, cupping her breast as he gazed at her reflection, inhaling deeply. “What an intoxicating scent,” he mused, plumping her flesh, rubbing his erection against the cleft of her buttocks. “You smell good enough to eat, precious.”
stared at the mirror, her body frozen, as the pain buckled her knees, leaving her sagging in his arms, the shaft of the knife holding her up. He was a full head taller than she was, with large shoulders and strong arms. He was covered in black, from the ski mask on his face to the sweater and pants hugging his body. They were tight, clinging to every inch of his muscular frame. She looked into his eyes, watching the brown colour turn black with desire. And though she couldn’t see his mouth, she knew he was smiling.
“This is only the beginning, Sarah. And if you survive, you’ll prove you’re worthy of my love.” He pulled the knife free laughing as she fell to the floor. “Don’t disappoint me, Sarah. I’ll be waiting.”
* * * *
Special Agent Gage Matthews sat in the wide, leather chair, tapping his fingers on the polished, oak table. He’d been waiting for nearly an hour, and the three cups of coffee he’d pilfered were pushing his already frayed nerves to the limit.
She was late.
He growled. Why he’d agreed to meet her today was a mystery. He should’ve known better than to believe she’d be able to drag herself away from her precious fans for something as insignificant as the end of their ten-year marriage. But he’d shown up anyway, papers clenched between his fingers, his ring hidden on the gold chain around his neck. He’d even arrived a few minutes early, hoping to keep their meeting to a minimum, no longer able to bear being in the same room with her. Not with the way she looked at him, like he was a stranger instead of her husband.
“Damn it!” he cursed, crumpling the Styrofoam cup in his hand.
He looked at his watch again. If she didn’t show up soon, he’d have to leave and prolong the torture for yet another week. He stared down at the papers stacked between his hands. He’d never thought it’d come to this. While he wasn’t above righting a wrong, marrying Brooklyn hadn’t been wrong.
He cursed again, pounding his fist on the table when the door cracked open. He turned, expecting his soon to be ex-wife to come bounding into the room, her long, brown hair flowing behind her. No doubt she’d be dressed in her favourite beige pants and purple, cotton shirt that clung to her body just enough to hint at the lean physique hiding beneath it. He knew every inch of that body. The feel of her breasts in his hands, so soft and smooth he could spend hours touching them, caressing them with his lips. Suckling her nipples into his mouth, feeling them tighten into hard buds. She liked it when he nipped at them, then laved them gently with his tongue, bringing her to the edge between pleasure and pain. She would arch into him. Spear her fingers through his hair. Beg him to stop, but then moan in desperation when he moved away.
He’d laugh and tweak them between his fingers as he roved down her body. Her stomach was tight and strong, but with enough softness she felt totally feminine against his hard body. She had two scars above her hips.
One from an emergency appendectomy five years ago, when he’d almost lost her.
The other was a long, jagged mark, compliments of a car accident when she was ten. She’d lost her parents in that accident and had been raised by her grandparents. Both marks were sensitive, and he enjoyed watching her squirm when he licked them, teasing her into a fiery need. She’d beg him to stop, to move lower.
God, how he loved moving lower.
Her skin was bare, every inch waxed clean. He could still see her silky lips quivering beneath his tongue. They would swell with arousal, opening slightly to reveal the delicate folds inside. She’d gasp when he’d slip his tongue through her narrow slit, circling her clit, lapping the slick cream into his mouth. She tasted sweet, like honey and peaches, and he never got tired of licking her.
Damn, just thinking about it made his cock tighten painfully inside his pants. He hadn’t had sex in over six months, and the need for release was only getting stronger. But it wouldn’t be with Brooklyn, and the reality of that was slowly driving him insane. He set his jaw, ignoring the throbbing in his groin as he watched the gap widen.
Gage stood up, running his fingers through his hair as Jack Reynolds walked into the room, his sombre expression more evident than usual. “Jack. Where the hell is she? I’ve been sitting in here for an hour. While I realise my job isn’t as glamorous as hers, it’s still important.” He shifted his feet, shoving his hands into his pockets before he felt the need to strangle something…or someone.
“Gage, I need you to sit down for a moment.”
“Oh God, don’t tell me she isn’t coming? Damn it, this is the second time she’s bailed on me. You’d think she’d at least have the sense to show up since she’s the one who wants the divorce. What happened this time? Her fans barricade her inside the bookstore?”
Jack sighed, patting Gage gently on the shoulder. “Just do me a favour and sit down.”
Gage tensed, easing back into the soft leather. “What’s going on? Where’s Brooklyn?”
Jack pulled his lips into a thin line, slowly exhaling. “It seems there was an incident at the bookstore.”
The hair on Gage’s neck prickled. “What type of incident?”
“I’m sorry. I wish there was an easy way to tell you this.” He paused, looking around the room as if searching for someone to take his place. “I’m afraid Brooklyn was attacked. Someone stabbed her in the back while she was in the restroom. Luckily, her agent saw a man dressed in black running out the back and thought enough to investigate. She called nine-one-one, and they’ve taken Brooklyn to Harborview.”
Gage stared at Jack unable to speak. The temperature in the room had suddenly risen, and he was finding it hard to breathe. He turned back to the stack of papers, the word,
shimmering in the harsh, florescent light. He forced himself to swallow. “There must be some kind of mistake,” he rasped, wanting to stand up, but not sure if his legs would hold him. He looked back at Jack. “She was at a book signing. She goes to them all the time.”
Jack pulled out the chair beside him and sat down. “There’s no mistake. Emma called me personally. Said she’d tried your cell a dozen times, but kept getting your voice mail.”
“I turned it off,” he mumbled. “I didn’t want anything to interrupt the meeting…drag it out longer than necessary.” Gage watched Jack nod. “How is she?”
“All Emma said was that she’d lost a lot of blood.”
“But she’s okay, right?”
“I’m sure they’re doing all they can…”
Jack’s voice faded as Gage pushed to his feet and headed for the door, ignoring the strange ringing in his ears. He thought the man mumbled something about stopping by the hospital later, but it was lost in the sound of Gage’s blood pounding through his veins. He headed for the elevators, cursing when the damn doors just stood there, refusing to let him inside and made for the stairs. Though he wouldn’t put it past Emma to exaggerate Brooklyn’s condition, there was something about the way Jack had looked at him that had sent a cold shiver down his spine.
He pulled out his cell as he descended the steps, trying to still the sudden trembling in his hands and dialled Emma’s number. She answered on the second ring.
Her voice was thick and shaky, and the mere sound of it sent his adrenaline into overdrive. “Emma,
“Jesus, Gage, I’ve been trying to reach you for over an hour!” she shrieked, her voice a full pitch higher than usual. “Where are you?”
“I’m on my way to the hospital. What happened?”
Emma sobbed, pushing the words out in a heated rush. “I’m not sure. I saw…and then I found…”
Gage cursed as the woman fell into hysterics, crying into the phone. He took a deep breath, trying to still the fear now tight in his chest. “Emma, try to relax. We can talk about that later. Just tell me how Brooklyn is.”
“I don’t know yet. The doctors haven’t told me anything. They took her up to surgery a little while ago.” She paused. “Oh God, there was so much blood.”
Gage clenched his jaw, throwing open the door to the parking lot as he listened to Emma sob in his ear. He took the lot at a full sprint, clicking his truck door open as he juggled the phone to his other hand. “I’ll be there soon,” he mumbled.
“We’re on the second floor.”
Gage snapped the lid shut, tossing the cell on the console as he slipped inside and revved the engine. It was a thirty-minute drive, but he could make it in just over fifteen. He spun out of the space, ignoring how the scenery passed in a hazy blur. Everything would be all right. Brooklyn would be fine, and he’d spend the rest of his life hating the only woman he knew he’d ever love.
* * * *
Gage swept into the second floor waiting room. He spotted Emma from the doorway, and headed straight for her. “Where is she?”