Heath Crain scanned the streets, making sure no one was around to see him break in. It wasn't his usual protocol, and he hated resorting to this method, but this particular case called for extreme measures.
He took his time, gazing at the houses across the road from where he was standing, and then shifted his stare back to the quiet avenue. He peered from the corner of the house, making sure he was hidden from view, and waited until a lone car passed by before making his move.
Heath slid a metal pick into the lock, jiggling it a few times before it gave and the door opened. He closed the door, left the lights off, and made his way through her foyer and into her living room. The sun was just setting, and only a few rays of sunlight filtered through the curtains, but it was still enough for him to see. He spotted a chair in the corner and sat down, tightly gripping the manila file folder in his hand. He ran his fingers through his hair, frustration eating at his gut.
He had never found himself in this particular predicament. With his experience as a bounty hunter and years in the military, Heath should have been used to surprises. But nothing had prepared him for what Aaron Tames, his favorite snitch, had given him earlier in the day.
A file with information on a hit. And it wasn't a normal hit by Mafia standards: a “you owe me money, you die” hit. No. It couldn't have been that simple, because if it were, Heath would've handed the file and all the information over to the local precinct. And that would have been the end of it.
But this particular kill order was for one Cadie Franklin. The same Cadie Franklin who had changed his cousin's, Stone's, life by coming forward with evidence that helped Stone and Valerie reconcile their relationship. It hadn't mattered to her that the proof in her possession confirmed that her brother, Dexter, was one deranged man bent on destroying Stone. She came forward despite her familial ties, and Heath had to admire that.
He had read the file over and over again. Whoever ordered the hit had done their homework fairly well. The folder contained every detail of Cadie Franklin's personal life: a copy of her birth records, the fact that she was the majority stockholder in her brother's company, a job history, and recent photographs of her.
He was beyond irritated. He'd spent several hours questioning Aaron, who had stolen the pictures and file off the desk of a hit man named Grant Thomas. Aaron admitted it was a stupid, reckless move, and he had been lucky that Grant hadn't been around to witness his breaking and entering. But Heath could only praise Aaron's hastiness. Heath offered to put him up in a hotel for two weeks in Orlando, Florida. It would be nearly impossible for Grant to find Aaron under an alias, and even more difficult when Heath had used his own finances to fund the trip.
Though Heath suspected immediately that Grant wasn't the hit man's real name, he ran a background check. His suspicions were correct, though. He found nothing: no credit cards, no addresses, no work history, absolutely nothing.
And other than the folder containing the information on Cadie as well as the time and place of the supposed hit, Aaron had nothing else. Heath had paid Aaron for his time and information, then sent him on his way. And after notifying his boss--who had in turn notified the local police captain to pick up the alleged hit man--Heath had impulsively offered his and, his brother/partner's Wyatt's, services to the police to protect her, supposedly to save the precinct from having to put an officer on her. The lie was perfect in the sense that the authorities would just think he was doing them a favor. He was disgusted with the fact that he couldn't wait to see her again. He'd never fucked or fallen for anyone who was involved in a case, or even indirectly involved.
Instinctively he reached in his shirt pocket, searching for the pack of cigarettes he usually kept there. Shit!
He'd quit smoking six months ago. But it was times like this that he craved the nicotine to calm him. A huge ball of lust settled in the pit of his stomach; he didn't know if he could control it, especially when she had starred in some of the hottest erotic fantasies he'd ever imagined.
Now he had to face the woman who had been locked in his mind for the past year. And during that time, Heath had visualized making love to her in every nasty position he could think of. He often woke up with a raging hard-on that masturbation couldn't sate.
There were several things about her that he found attractive in a way that jolted him. He found himself wanting to pursue her, wanting to know every last detail about her. Her sassiness and her ability to stand up to him were arousing. The physical reaction he had to her scared him, but it intrigued him even more. He wanted to fall to his knees and lick her, starting at her toes and inching his way upward. Her mocha-colored skin was a mixture from her African American mother and white father. Her flesh beckoned him, and oh, how he wanted to take his time tasting her. Her brown curly hair fell to her shoulders, and the strands appeared so soft that he found himself wanting to bury his fingers in them as he tilted her head back for his kiss.
The sound of keys jangling knocked him out of his thoughts. Heath sat up in the chair as he heard the lock open. She was home, and he was suddenly nervous as to what her reaction to his presence would be.
Mere seconds passed before she made it to the living room and kicked off her shoes. Heath placed the folder on the table and watched as she pulled her shirt out of the waistband of her skirt. Heath leaned forward, gripped the sides of the chair, holding himself back, when all he really wanted to do was jump to his feet, back her against the wall, and fuck her. But he shook the thought away. He was here for a job and nothing else. Mixing business with pleasure often led to more problems.
Heath watched as Cadie moaned, stretching her body upward. That position pushed her breasts out, making them strain against her shirt. Now all they needed was a bed, and he'd be able to make love to her all night long. Hell, he'd do it standing if it meant that he'd have his cock inside her. Heath leaned to the side of the chair and flicked on the lamp.
“What the fuck?”
Her voice was full of shock, and he felt like an ass for intentionally scaring her that way. But the feeling quickly faded to astonishment. He watched, amazed, as her arms dropped, one swinging to her side, only to come forward again with a gun aimed at his face.
Heath wasn't surprised at her reaction. She was a retired cop and was trained in how to defend herself. His cock rose, swelling hard against his jeans. Oh he was one perverted fuck, getting hard at the sexy-as-hell sight she made and not giving a shit that she had a weapon pointed at him. But not all his brain went straight to his dick. He was smart enough to know that any sudden moves would most likely have her firing that gun.
Her eyes grew wide, surprise etched into her face, her gaze flicking from the top of his head to his booted feet, recognition settling in her stare as she lowered the gun, though the tension in her body still remained. “So you've resorted to stalking me now?”
Heath smiled. That wasn't the response he was expecting, but he definitely appreciated her sassiness. He raised his brow. “It caught your attention. But the word stalking
would imply that I have been harassing you, when in fact this is the first time I've seen you in a year.”
“Has it been that long?” She didn't wait for an answer. “If you wanted my attention, a phone call would have sufficed.” She chewed on her bottom lip.
He noticed her tightened muscles going lax. “I wanted to make an impression.”
Cadie flicked the safety back on the gun, removed the holster from her body, then placed it and her weapon on the table. “You've succeeded and made a lasting one by scaring the crap out of me. Let's cut to the chase. What do you want?”
“It's a bit more complicated than what I want. It has to do more with what has to be done. A lengthy explanation would be required.”
She arched her eyebrow, a smirk crossing her luscious lips. “Care to elaborate?”
“I don't think you'll like the outcome.”
“I doubt I will. But feel free to take a shot at it.”
He smiled. “At my own pace.”
“You purposely being obtuse?”
He was so turned on at this point that if she weren't in the room, he would have taken out his cock for some relief. Hell, masturbating in front of her didn't seem like a bad idea, as long as it relieved the pressure. It would sure get a reaction out of her. “Is that a compliment?”
Cadie shrugged. “You're a big boy. You can figure that one out on your own. You're obviously here for an important reason. From what I could tell when I first met you, you seem to be a focused man, but that in itself can be your downfall. Because you also appear to be the type of man that takes action first and ask questions later, hence the breaking and entering. Whether I like the reason why you're here or not won't deter you from any decisions you'd have to make or have already made. And I put heavy emphasis on already made
, since I've pegged you for the dominant type. But let me warn you ahead of time, the 'I am he-man' attitude isn't going to work with me. So get to the explaining part.”
His cock jerked against his pants as he rose to his feet. A woman who spoke her mind. He loved that about her. He saw when she dropped her gaze to glance at his erection, and he couldn't help the smile that crossed his lips. There was no way he'd be able to hide his reaction to her, and even if he could, he wouldn't. “Why did you retire so early from the force? And what made you choose to volunteer at the shelter?”
“That's a lot of questions you're asking. It's obvious you've been snooping around on me. What I'd like to know is why.”
“You going to answer my questions?”
“Not until you answer mine.”
“You're in danger.”
She laughed. “From what? In case you haven't noticed, Mr. Crain, I can take care of myself.”
“I've noticed. You left the police force with no indication as to why. From what I've read, you don't need to work. Why the career change? You're currently helping others in a domestic shelter. Isn't that correct?”
She narrowed her eyes and clenched her fists. He could tell she was becoming more annoyed. But honest to God, he wanted to know everything about her.
He admired the fact that, though her brother, Dexter, had left the majority of his company to her upon his death, Cadie volunteered at the shelter because she wanted to.
“From what you've read? What the hell is that supposed to mean?” She walked over to him, a total package of sensuality as her hips swayed. He knew she was irritated at his words, which meant she was up to something. But he was more than intrigued, and he wouldn't stop her.
She stopped inches from him, and his cock pulsed at her nearness. She reached up and grabbed his shaft, wrapped her hand as far as it would go around the fabric of his jeans, then tightened. Fuck!
He almost groaned. She'd caught him off guard, and the smirk on her lips proved she knew it. “Unless you foresee yourself never satisfying the hunger between us, you will tell me what this is about now.”