From Chapter One of In Too Deep
Releasing September 20, 2012
A loud boom of thunder and the unmistakable knowledge he was no longer alone woke Hunt Brandon from a sound, and for the first time in weeks, dreamless sleep. The bedside clock read 3:00 a.m. Shit. He’d only been in bed a couple of hours.
Something clinked. Keys, maybe? Whatever it was, it wasn’t a normal sound, especially considering he lived alone…and preferred it that way. His hand slipped beneath his pillow and closed around cold steel. Reassured that he was still in control of the situation, he made sure the clip was in place. Rolling to his feet, he crouched down beside his bed and scooted toward the wall beside the door.
Soft footsteps were barely discernible but to Hunt they sounded a jackhammer pounding against concrete. His partner accused him of having ears like an elephant and, in this instance, he was more than grateful for the exceptional hearing he’d inherited from his mother.
His eyes accustomed to the darkness, he saw the brass handle turn. The door swept open without a hint of sound. Hunt waited. If his sleep was going to be interrupted, it was going to be for a hell of a lot more than just an unlawful entry collar.
Go ahead, buddy. Make your move. I can have the bracelets on you and a patrol car here in less than five minutes. And, hopefully, he’d manage a couple more hours of shuteye.
Dressed in black to fade in with the darkness, the figure moved into the room with an economy of motion. A thin beam of light swept across the top of Hunt’s dresser until it fell on his wallet and shield. Tucking the flashlight beneath one arm, the figure picked up his wallet simultaneously with the twist of Hunt’s wrist that switched on the bedside lamp.
Weapon trained on his uninvited guest, he stood. “Put the wallet down slowly and raise your hands in the air.” With reflexes born out of years of intense practice, he flexed his grip on the gun, anticipating the intruder’s next move.
The figure hesitated but the slide of the clip made compliance the only choice. With a sound of frustration his uninvited visitor dropped the leather trifold to the dresser and extended hands in the air.
Hunt reached for the handcuffs on the bedside table. “Now turn around and remove the mask. I like to look my unexpected guests in the eye.”
Fingers encased in black leather gloves caught the bottom of the black face mask and tugged it upward. A wealth of vibrant, copper-colored hair spilled across slender shoulders and, as Hunt’s mouth fell open, the intruder tossed her head back, revealing a porcelain face and eyes as green as polished emeralds.
He almost grinned. So that was why the footsteps had been minimal. Though the woman was tall and curvy, she held herself with a grace that couldn’t be anything other than natural. A gymnast maybe? Definitely athletic.
“You’re staring at me.” The voice, a husky drawl, brought his gaze to her face.
“I think I’m entitled. You broke into my home.”
“Actually, I didn’t have to break in. You should remember to lock your doors.”
He hadn’t forgotten to lock his door, but then, he hadn’t actually expected a thief, no matter how beautiful, to admit to a crime. With a grunt, he tossed the silver bracelets in her direction. “Put those on and then tell me your name.”
She snapped the handcuffs into place with an efficiency that told him she’d done it before. “Is that usually the first thing you do when someone breaks into your house? Ask a name?”
Her carefree attitude spoke volumes. This wasn’t a woman who was intimidated by a cop. And since she hadn’t bolted from his bedroom at the first glimpse of his badge, he figured she’d probably crossed paths with one or two detectives in her time.
“Considering no one’s had the balls to break in here before, that’s not a question I can answer.”
“You mean because you’re a cop? Is that supposed to deter people?”
“I don’t advertise my profession on my front door.”
She lifted one shoulder, a careless shrug designed to irritate. It almost succeeded. “It doesn’t matter. Everything about you screams cop.”
“To most criminals, yeah.”
Her full lips curved into a smile. “Is that what you think I am?”
“Lady, you broke into my home. I believe your presence supports that allegation. Now I’ll ask you again, what’s your name?”