When private investigator, Shane Stephens, is hired by the mayor of Cincinnati to track down the hacker who has been threatening him, Shane is sure this is the opportunity to launch the Merleau Detection Agency into the big time. He even convinces Rowe Ward of Ward Security to loan him one of his best IT specialists, Quinn Lake.
Shane, a man who prefers casual intimacy, is surprised by his attraction to the moody computer geek, but when Quinn suggests they have fun for the month he"s on loan, Shane happily agrees. Both men are expecting nothing more than a good time.
But the investigation takes an unexpected turn and they quickly discover they are facing more than a hacker out to ruin the mayor"s re-election chances. And as they spend more time together, they realize their relationship may be a lot more than just a good time.
With only weeks until the election, Shane and Quinn race to gather the proof they need while dodging bullets and possibly"falling in love.Books in Series:Ward Security Series by Jocelynn DrakeBooks by Author:Jocelynn Drake BooksRinda Elliott Books
"Moral wounds have this peculiarity"they may be hidden, but they never close; always painful, always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and open in the heart."
~The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
"This is a really bad fucking idea."
Shane Stephens pulled onto Terhune Alley and parked next to a section of broken chain link fence. He glanced up through the windshield at the full moon before looking at the snarled tangle of dark woods to his right and the empty baseball field to his left. A low fog crept along the ground, rolling across the turf in a smoky wave"an image that couldn"t fit the scenario any better.
"This is some Mike Hammer bullshit right here," he muttered, referring to the famous hard-boiled detective in the pulp fiction series by Mickey Spillane. Late night, mysterious contact"like he"d stepped onto the set of a movie adaptation. He squinted in the dark, trying to catch signs of movement. "Twenty hours of training and even more kissing ass to get a firearm license might pay off tonight."
Glad for the Glock he kept in an ankle holster, he stepped out of his car. Muffled traffic noises sounded from the highway on the other side of the dense thicket. Other than the occasional birdcall and barking dog, everything remained silent because with the incoming fall season, the nights had grown too cool for most insects.
He looked for the man who"d contacted him and refused to give his real name. "Call me Jacopo," he"d rasped into the phone. Shane cracked a grin and rubbed a hand over his prickly jaw. The whole cloak-and-dagger thing was silly as hell when there were plenty of public places for them to meet. This empty back road in an unfamiliar part of Cincinnati, Ohio was taking it a bit too far.
Better be worth it.
He"d had to cancel a date with a hot bodybuilder tonight. One with tattoos from the neck down. Shane had been doing his best to count them while the guy worked out at the gym and he"d looked forward to discovering the rest. He"d also hoped to coax out some of those hot, grunting noises the man made while lifting weights.
Straightening his brown suede jacket, he leaned back against his car and waited, still pissed about missing the date. He"d been pulling long hours lately and hadn"t gotten laid in weeks. But he really couldn"t complain about the work.
When he"d started The Merleau Detection Agency with his friend, Ethan, they"d had no idea the business would take off the way it had. Especially since a lot of the investigative agencies in the area came with more security options, such as bodyguards.
Neither of them had wanted to compete with the popular Ward Security in that respect. The company had managed to pull itself back up after all the crazy nightclub fires and was now the leading source for personal security in the tri-state area and beyond. He liked Rowan Ward and found him to be honest yet irreverent"pretty cool, actually. And he welcomed the business the man threw his way when his clients needed more of an accounting approach.
Meeting someone in the dark of night was new. The life of a detective wasn"t nearly as glamorous as it seemed in shows and books. He"d gone dumpster diving only once for evidence, and that hadn"t been nearly as exciting as the pulp novels made it sound. He hadn"t even had to pull his gun yet, though he was grateful for that. Most of his time was still spent sitting at a computer. But at least it wasn"t all about numbers like it had been when he"d worked as an accountant.
"You came alone""
Proud of not showing how much the voice startled him, Shane turned and narrowed his eyes into the flashlight aimed at his face. He raised his hand to try and block some of the glare. "Hey, back off. You"re blinding me."
"Sorry." Dropping the light, the man stepped forward.
Shane blinked, fighting to get his night vision back after it had been temporarily destroyed. When his eyes focused again, moonlight spilled across features younger than he"d expected. The guy was no more than a boy really, with round cheeks and innocent eyes. Maybe eighteen or nineteen, he still had areas of heavy acne on his cheeks and forehead. His thin body was hunched in, his arms crossed protectively over his chest. Light blond hair reflected brightly in the moonlight.
"I feel like I should be wearing a fedora and smoking," Shane said, waving his arm toward the field. "What"s with the film noir setup""
The kid didn"t answer for a few, long moments. His eyes kept darting around the area, searching for"something or someone. "Come on. I"ll feel better if we"re moving." He headed toward the opening in the tall fence wrapping the baseball field.