All Addy wanted was a new beginning and a chance at a normal life after leaving her cheating ex. She never expected her new start to include witnessing a brutal crime and being forced to relocate while the police searched for the killer. Finding herself waiting tables alone in a new town isn't exactly the start she was hoping for until the handsome stranger at table four turns her world upside down.
Crossing the Line is a standalone Romantic Suspense / Mystery novel with a guaranteed HEA and no cliffhangers.
Contains violent scenes and sexual situations. Mature readers only. Adults 18+
Release date: July 17, 2018
Print pages: 281
Content advisory: This book contains sexual situations, kidnapping, and violence intended for readers 18 years and older.
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Crossing the Line
With my hand in my jacket pocket, I rolled the syringe between my fingers, carefully slipping the cap from the needle. I’d tracked my target for the last two blocks holding back just enough to allow a buffer of people between us. Over the past week, I studied his routine until I knew his every move. It wasn’t hard with a control freak like the Ambassador.
My opportunity approached, so I closed in the space between us. The crowd split as we descended the narrow subway stairs. With everyone rushing and bumping into each other, it would take precision skill on my part. I readied the needle and as I bumped into the Ambassador, it punctured through my jacket and into the soft flab of his triceps.
He rubbed his arm and looked around but by that time I was just another face in the crowd. I slipped the cap back onto the needle and waited for the subway train to come to a stop.
“Help. Someone, call 911,” a woman cried out from behind me.
The train doors opened, and I was swept away by the crowd as we loaded the car. I cast a glance back. The Ambassador laid on the platform, clutching his chest with several people crouching around him. He wouldn’t make it until the EMS arrived—not if I’d done my job.
The subway stunk of piss and garbage but that wasn’t as bad as the pungent stench of cheap perfume that wafted from the overly made-up woman standing too close.
I held on as the train sped down the tracks. It wasn’t long before the hairs on the back of my neck prickled with that familiar feeling of being watched. I remained still as I examined my peripherals. I finally spotted a man in the back of the train watching me from over the rim of a book.
Over time, I’d developed a talent for picking out one of my kind a mile away. The hat helped shield his identity from surveillance. His loose jacket concealed weapons as did the briefcase at his side. Mid-December’s chill offered a good excuse for the leather gloves gripping the book. Never leave evidence behind, including fingerprints.
All these steps were standard practice but increased your chance of being spotted tenfold. That was why I chose to do the opposite. I went against every lesson in our how-to guide and it made me one of the best.
The car eased to a stop one station before mine. As the doors opened the eager herd of passengers filed out. The movement gave me an opening. I struggled against the crowd like wading across a raging river until I broke out onto the other side. I rested my hand on my sidepiece hidden under my jacket as I slid into the open seat next to him.
I didn’t face him. Feigning indifference, I looked across the car while keeping him in the edges of my sight.
“Nice day we’re having.” I waited to hear if he responded with today’s code phrase. Sometimes it was the only way to know who was on the right side of things in my business.
“I prefer the heat of summer.” He muttered from behind his book. Ding. Ding. We have a winner.
“Do we have a mutual friend?”
“I believe you know my cousin, Frankford.” Frankford was my point man so that got my attention. “You should call in sick today—take in a matinee instead.”
I nodded. “Any show, in particular, you’d recommend?”
As subtle as he was, I caught him scanning the car. “There are lots to choose from.” He handed me his folded newspaper. “I’m sure you’ll find one that interests you.”
As the train shifted to a stop again, the man closed his book and slipped it into his briefcase before standing. He didn’t look back as he disappeared into the crowd.
I opened the newspaper to the movie listings and immediately spotted the ink circling an old showing that started in just half an hour.
I called out of work as I rode the train another two stops before exiting. Without pause, I tossed the newspaper into an old metal trash can fire, adding extra kindling for the three homeless men huddling around it.
I walked two blocks, keeping the brisk pace of the city as to not seem too casual or too hurried. Blending in was crucial.
“One ticket for the matinee, please. Theater seven.”
“That’ll be ten bucks.” An annoyed sounding young woman with dark hair looked up at me from behind her window and smacked her gum.
Ten dollars seemed high for a matinee on this side of town, but I wasn’t in the mood to argue. I passed her a ten and she slid me a ticket through the thin opening in her plexiglass fortress.
“Uh-huh.” She muttered as I turned to the door.
I bypassed concessions and headed straight for the theater which was almost empty this time of day.
A few patrons scattered the dim rows of seats as I searched for my contact, but he was nowhere to be found. Whoever he was, he knew what I looked like. He could find me. Instincts told me to pick a seat at the back of the theater. That way I could see everyone without risking someone sneaking up behind me.
Everyone has basic compulsions. It’s why the majority of people sleep with their heads away from the door. It’s an old, primal instinct from when we needed to keep an eye out for predators. The more on edge a person was, the more likely they followed these base urges. That was why I chose instead to find a seat closer to the middle. No one suspects the guy at ease enough to plop down right in the middle of the theater.
From that spot, it wouldn’t be as easy to keep an eye out for my mystery cohort or possible threats, so I had to rely on my other senses. The lights dimmed and the starting music echoed through the speakers as the movie started with still no sign of my mystery contact.
I sat impatiently for half an hour of that mushy foreign romance shit as my suspicions grew. I didn’t like being sent on a wild goose chase. I liked the idea that this could be a set up even less. Just as I’d made up my mind to leave, a leggy redhead in a gray pencil skirt slipped into the seat beside me.
She leaned in and kissed my cheek. “Forgive me for being late, darling. Traffic was terrible.”
I studied her in the low lights. She was sexy as hell. Definitely not an associate I’d seen before. I’d remember her if I had. “That’s alright, honey. At Least it’s a nice day we’re having.”
“Oh, you know me, I prefer the heat of summer.” So, she was one of us.
We sat in silence a few minutes until any attention from her late arrival turned back to the movie.
“We have a pest problem that needs your attention.” She spoke in a low voice.
I had to fight the urge to turn and implore her to tell me more. I kept my eyes focused on the movie in front of us. “What sort of pest?”
“A rodent.” I found it hard to believe. I needed to know more.
She rested her head on my shoulder as we silently watched the movie. A few minutes later, she turned her face to the crook of my neck. Her breath tickled my skin as she whispered in my ear. “Cornell’s gone rogue and needs to be taken out but, he’s given away some sensitive information. We need to find out what he’s told and to who.”
I knew Cornell, he wasn’t going to just hand over information. I knew what she was saying and the dread of it drained the blood from my face. Killing was one thing. Torture was another monster altogether.
I turned to face her, our lips only an inch apart. To others, we looked like two lovers catching an old romantic movie, not plotting the torture of one of our own. “That’s not in my repertoire anymore.”
“For this, it has to be.”
My teenage years as a foster kid bouncing from home to home after being taken away from my abusive asshole of a sperm donor had left me with some major anger issues. There wasn’t any better therapy for a shitty childhood than torturing some pathetic low life until he cracked.
That was until someone made a mistake. I’d spent a week torturing an operative. I brought him to within an inch of his life, but he wouldn’t crack. He kept insisting he didn’t know what I was talking about. I’d never seen anyone hold out so long. Turns out it’s easy to hold out on information when you really didn’t know anything. One bad piece of intel changed everything. He eventually died from his injuries.
The next time I went to torture someone, I couldn’t do it. The pained eyes of that beaten and broken innocent popped into my mind every time. That’s when I was reassigned. Now, they were asking me to go back to that. But could I do it?
She placed her hand in mine and squeezed. “I know it’s been a while, but we need you for this. A lot of innocent people depend on it.”
‘Innocent people’ Well played.
She ran a finger slowly down my neck putting on a great show for anyone who might be watching. Her voice was a sexy whisper. “Eleven o’clock.”
Before I had the chance to respond, she rose from her seat and inched her way down the row to the open aisle. She glanced back, nodded, and disappeared from sight.
Could I really do this? Could I walk back into the old mill turned interrogation facility? The same mill where I’d tortured that poor innocent man until even our best doctors couldn’t save him. Or maybe they hadn’t wanted to. A dead man is easier to keep quiet than a live witness.
A glance at my watch told me I had about an hour to get to the mill. I’d have enough time to go back to my house and change. I’d take a taxi back. It was much faster than the subway.
I slipped out of the theater and hailed a cab which was easy this time of day. The moment I shut the door; my phone rang.
“Hello, Mr. Wright. This is Wendy letting you know your car is back from the shop and was returned to your home. I received confirmation of its arrival just a few moments ago.”
Wendy worked for the same people I did but her position was nothing more than a secretary with a higher security clearance.
“You are very welcome. Have a nice day, Mr. Wright.”
“You too.” I ended the call and shoved my phone back into my pocket before leaning my head back on the headrest. After almost three days, I’d soon have my car back and could stop with all the public transportation.
The back-passenger side had been dented on a piece of side railing when I purposely spun out after a chase. It was a small price to pay to keep from plummeting over the edge of a ravine just moments after my target flew over.
I hated taking the subway and a cab wasn’t much better. I could have easily afforded to hire a car service, but I didn’t want to have to try to explain how a trainer at a small gym could afford such luxuries.
I had one hour before my meeting. With my car, it wouldn’t take long to get there. I took a few minutes to clear my mind out on the balcony of my fourth-floor apartment. It wasn’t anything fancy, but I’d made sure to splurge on this one feature. The view wasn’t anything spectacular. I got to look over at the side of another building across the street. But I loved to sit out there, even in the cold, and look out at the city. It was peaceful up there.
I took another drink of my beer and leaned my head back. I usually waited until night to go out there and look out at the darkened city, but I needed the solace with my trip to the mill looming.
When I went to take another drink, a window opened in an apartment across the street. That apartment had been vacant for almost two weeks. A feminine figure carried in a stack of moving boxes that covered her face. When she put them down, I finally got a decent glance at the sexy brunette. Someone new was moving into the neighborhood.
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