Authors: Adrienne Giordano
For Kathy, who left us too soon, but continues to shelter us under her mighty wings.
I love you.
Gabe rolled sideways in the pitch black of Jo’s bedroom and smacked his hand along the nightstand. What the hell time could it be? Still dark out and his damned phone was ringing, which meant he was most likely getting called out rather than once again ushering in a sunrise with Jo—something they’d been doing on a fairly consistent basis and he had no complaints about.
He cleared his throat and snatched the phone before it woke her. “Townsend.”
“Hey. DeFiore here.”
When an undercover vice cop called at—he checked the blaring red numbers on the bedside clock—four-thirty; chances were, something was happening.
Behind him, Jo shifted. Well, she did more than shift. She scooted right up to his back and pressed that amazing rack against him, skin to skin, all warm and sexy. His mind fast-forwarded to the end of the conversation with DeFiore. Hoping for a false alarm, he’d ditch the call, roll Jo onto her back and put a smile on her face. If their most recent history proved right, she wouldn’t mind.
“You there?” DeFiore asked.
“Your guy is in some Podunk town near Charleston, South Carolina.”
Jo snuggled closer, wrapped her body around his, and something in his chest kicked. Every time she touched him, it brought an explosion of shock, then pleasure, then calm, in perfect order.
Bam, bam, bam
. He didn’t understand it and didn’t really care to.
Gabe scrubbed his hand over his face, snapped his fingers against his forehead to clear the morning cobwebs—and distract himself from his insane erection—and focused on the moonlight squeaking through the curtains.
Ignore the hot blonde behind you.
“What?” This from Jo.
“Yeah,” DeFiore said. “One of my CI’s heard it. I don’t know how solid the intel is, but this guy is usually good.”
For six weeks, with the help of investigators from Jo’s law firm, Gabe had been chasing down leads on the elusive smuggler that Jo was bent on locking up. Until now, nothing had popped.
“You know where he is?”
Behind him, Jo levered up and her bare breast connected with his arm. His little brain—the one between his legs—shot to full-scale alert. Jo did this to him, sent his mind and body to overload. Every time. He could barely be in a room with her without a raging hard-on. Which made life fucking uncomfortable considering she was the pit bull intellectual property attorney on the Clean Sweep task force and he was the ESU sergeant on the same team. Together, they’d cleared the streets of New York of more than two million dollars in knockoff designer handbags. Not to mention the other bullshit items women—and some men—had to have.
Yeah, that’s it.
He’d think about the case and not Jo’s hand sliding over his stomach and coming to rest by his hip.
“You found him?” she asked.
Gabe snapped his fingers at her. What the hell was she thinking? His boss already suspected something might be happening between them. Something they’d been trying to hide. They didn’t need DeFiore telling a bunch of cops Gabe had a woman in bed with him. The guys on his team weren’t stupid. Eventually, they’d figure out who the woman was.
Jo bit his arm. Not hard, but enough to make sure he knew she damned well didn’t like him snapping his fingers at her. Hell,
didn’t like snapping his fingers at her, but what was he supposed to do? Tell her to be quiet?
He sat up, dug out the pen and paper he knew she kept in the bedside table. “Whatcha got? I’ll check it out.”
“Town is called Leeville. Small. As in population two hundred twenty-five. My guy said Martinson’s wife has distant family there and they’re staying with them.”
Well, that sucked. But in a town of two hundred twenty-five people, it wouldn’t take long to narrow down the visitors. “I’m on it. Thanks.”
He dropped the phone and rolled back to Jo, throwing his leg over her so she’d know exactly what his little brain was thinking. “You bit me.”
“You snapped your fingers at me.”
He inched closer, tightened his leg around her and nipped her shoulder. “Because I don’t want some detective spreading word that the woman I’m sleeping with knows Martinson.” He knocked on her head. “Hello. Wouldn’t be hard for my guys to figure out who I’m in bed with.”
“Oh. Right. Didn’t think of that.” She lifted her chin, giving him access to her neck. “Martinson?”
He dotted kisses along her neck and she let out the small moan he’d grown to recognize. The screw-me-now moan. “South Carolina. At least the CI says South Carolina.”
“We can go there.”
“Sshh. Right now we have other places to go.”
Jo sat at her desk staring at the phone that refused to ring. She picked up the handset. Dial tone. Good. Maybe her cell? But that one was right next to her. She pushed the button to make sure the phone hadn’t somehow shorted out. Her screensaver flashed—an artist’s rendering of the Greek god Apollo, because she couldn’t very well put a naked picture of Gabe Townsend on there. Gabe, a.k.a. Mr. August—the hottest month on the Man Candy calendar—with that thick dark hair, olive skin and linebacker build trumped any Greek god.
The warm buzz that always followed thoughts of him settled in her core. Whether it was lust or love, she sure appreciated the gooiness of it all.
She shoved her cell phone away
Greek god or not, he needed to call her. The receptionist buzzed her desk phone.
This is it
. “Hi, Jo. I have Al from Barelli for you.”
Not Gabe. “Thank you. If Gabe Townsend calls, would you please get a number from him and I’ll call him back.” A second later, her phone rang. “Hello, Al. How are you?”
Pomeroy. How are you?”
She never minded Al. He was one of those middle-aged corporate big shots who thought all women should fall at his feet simply because he was a corporate big shot. But she and Al had quickly gotten to a place of understanding. That understanding being that Jo would not, under any circumstances, no matter how much he flirted and peppered her with sexual innuendos, open her legs for him.
Nothing derailed a career like sex with the CEO of her firm’s third largest client. Sleeping with clients would never be part of her resume. ESU sergeants were another matter altogether.
As intellectual property attorneys went, she wanted to be the best. She
nationwide expansion of the local task force she’d convinced the mayor of New York to form. Her dream was to bust every counterfeiter of her clients’ luxury items. Was it feasible to get every knockoff purse, shoe, umbrella, watch and the litany of other accessories counterfeiters copied? Probably not, but she’d damn well try.
And being given that opportunity came with keeping her vagina off-limits to corporate big shots. Besides, she had Mr. August these days and as far as her hormones could tell, he couldn’t—wouldn’t—be beat.
I so adore that man
Jo cleared her throat—and her mind. Thoughts of Gabe continually distracted her. Made her look like a flighty female. So un-Jo-like. “I’m great, Al. I wanted to update you on the Martinson case.”
“He’s the smuggler?”
“Yes. The task force has a lead on his location. We think he’s in South Carolina.”
was loaded. “Something wrong?”
“No. It actually makes sense. Charleston is one of the largest ports in the U.S.”
Sneaky Martinson bastard. Things got too hot in New York so he moved his operation to South Carolina. Obviously, the man didn’t know just how badly she wanted him behind bars. He’d made an ass of her six weeks ago by pretending to be a curious onlooker while Gabe’s ESU team searched his house. The man stood there talking to her—
talking to her
—and she hadn’t even known it was him. Foolish on her part, but Mr. Martinson wouldn’t get that opportunity again. Being made to look like a dumb blonde turned her into a python.
One that would swallow her prey whole.
“Apparently,” she told Al, “Mr. Martinson’s wife has family in Leeville.”
“You’ll be going there?”
Not if Gabe had anything to do with it. He’d been so freaked after her run-ins with Martinson that he constantly feared for her safety. Plus, the mayor had been equally freaked and banned her from being on-scene after the ESU team took down merchants peddling their illegal counterfeit items. According to Gabe and the mayor, she should stay in her office like a good little girl. For the most part—
—she’d cooperated. “The members of the task force are still confirming his location.”
“If you need the jet, Barelli will fly you down there. I’d like to know what this guy is up to.”
Jo sat back and slapped her palm over her forehead. The Barelli jet. And Gabe didn’t want her to go. Totally unfair. This trip could be a dream come true. No crammed coach seat on the ride down and busting the smuggler she’d been chasing for months. If she could get Martinson, she’d be one step closer to a nationwide task force.
But Gabe worried about her. Insanely. She flexed the fingers of her right hand. The one recently freed from a cast after a shop owner had broken it with a pipe. Her stomach squeezed. Maybe Gabe had reason to worry, or maybe he was just a fatalist. What she knew was her emotional attachment to him was getting in the way of doing her job.
And she couldn’t have that. She’d never ask him not to do his job. Day in and day out he faced unimaginable violence. It came with being a sergeant for New York’s Emergency Services Unit, more commonly known as S.W.A.T.
“Thanks, Al. I’d appreciate that. Let me talk with my contact on the task force and I’ll get back to you.”
“Whatever you need, Jo. I want this guy shut down. You’ve already taken a million dollars’ worth of bogus Barelli merchandise off the streets. Imagine how much more he’s moving.”
Didn’t she know it? This guy was her white elephant. And she wanted to bag him—so to speak—with or without the extremely hotheaded ESU sergeant who’d been sharing her bed for the last six weeks.
After the briefing for their afternoon hit—ESU speak for taking down a location—on a crack house later that morning, Gabe marched into his boss’s shoebox of an office, nodded at Tom, who was on the phone, and took a seat in one of the crappy metal guest chairs the city deemed appropriate for lieutenants of the NYPD.
Tom finished his call while Gabe mentally arranged his approach. He wouldn’t throw Jo under the bus, but before he left this office, one sexy attorney would not be visiting South Carolina any time soon.
Not that he wanted to stunt her career. He wanted her to have whatever success she could achieve. They were similar in that sense. Ambitious. Dedicated.
. They craved professional achievement and used each milestone as a measure of their self-worth. He got it. More than she knew. It was, in fact, the thing he loved most about her.
But it wouldn’t stop him from making sure she didn’t get herself killed. In her unrelenting quest to nab this guy, Jo had lost perspective. She saw him as prey, but that prey had continually outwitted her. This asshole had locked her in a burning building she’d been lucky to escape from.
Martinson wasn’t playing. And Jo had yet to fully grasp that. In this instance, her ambition had blinded her.
Tom dropped his phone into the cradle, rocked back in his desk chair and clasped his hands behind his buzz cut blond head. “What’s the word on our rookie?”
“Aside from the fact that, if his ass wasn’t attached to him he’d forget it?”
“What’d he do?”
“No wire cutters. On that hit we did yesterday we had gunfire everywhere and were trying to get through chicken wire to breach the back door of the house. Helluva time to figure out he didn’t have wire cutters in his go-bag. I gave him mine. Told him to tie them around his neck so he didn’t lose them.”