Jake Marshall squinted behind his dark sunglasses. What was that? Even with the world’s worst hangover, he’d caught the glint of light reflecting from a distant object. Discreetly pulling out his Steiner Ranger Xtreme binoculars from his jacket pocket, he brought them up to his face, focusing their ultra-high resolution on the roof of what looked like a strip mall a full city block away from the courthouse. He moved the optical device back and forth, checking all along the flat roofline and the squat structure of an air conditioner and vent, watching intently for another glimmer. It didn’t come, but he couldn’t shake the feeling of unease that had settled in his gut. And his gut never lied.
I should have listened to it the day I met Racheal. Note to self, never override instinct again. He’d been flattered such a gorgeous woman had come on to him, acting as if she couldn’t live without a tumble in the hay. A man can’t be blamed for the direction his cock takes him in, right? But it had turned out to be a very bad decision. Worse, he’d known better. And no amount of drinking was going to stop the pain caused by her having ditched him while he was away doing his duty for his country. Coming home to surprise her and catching her in bed with some guy named Sean Shithead Kincaid—that had hurt like hell. And still did. And now here he was on leave from his military regiment in Canada, filling in for a friend on the steps of a LA courthouse.
And this job. He shook his head at the stupidity of some people. Why would the guy expose himself to a press conference when slinking away into the night would better suit the situation? The asshole had gotten off on a technicality, after all. Nothing to be proud of unless it was the fact that his rich father could afford the best lawyer in town. Gloating was not smart. Jake’s gut agreed.
The job of guarding the asshole they were presently waiting to escort to his daddy’s hideaway had fallen to him when his school chum had come down with the worst case of flu Jake had ever witnessed. He’d stepped up. Had to and wanted to. As if he could have done otherwise, when Max had taken him in when he’d turned up on his doorstep a week ago, needing a change of scenery. And not today he was filling in for Max’s own private firm, Sterling Security, as payback for all the guy had done for him, and he didn’t intend to fuck it up. Jake’s hangover made no odds, not when Max Sterling deserved Jake’s A-game.
Max’s change in direction had gone smoothly—hell, maybe he should start thinking seriously about leaving the army now. Three tours had taken it out of him. And that sent him, just like that, back to Afghanistan, back to the worst horror of his life, back to the reason for his PTSD.
* * * *
They’d landed outside the wire enclosing the compound of Joint Task Force 2, the special operations branch of the Canadian military he’d been assigned to in Afghanistan, ready to dig in and do his part, tasked with toppling the Taliban regime. Operation Scorpion. Capable of doing exactly what it implied—to both sides. Just the how and the when were beyond his control.
A remote shriek sounded as he walked toward the compound. It grew in intensity, an unstoppable freight train, hurling closer by the second. An aircraft flew directly overhead, its wake disturbing the air, then a second later, a dull thud came. The ground trembled. A small pall of smoke rose in the distance. The shriek faded.
Then another shriek ripped the air. One he could pinpoint this time, coming from a northern ridge. The shriek grew to a wail, a harpy screaming in retribution. The ground shook uncontrollably and men began running.
Lieutenant Gibson, a junior officer and squad leader, shouted, “Incoming! Get inside the wire! Run! Now!”
His words threw ice water into Jake’s face. A single word connected with his brain. Run.
Racing to the side entrance to get inside the camp, he struggled for each breath. He was not used to the lack of oxygen at the high altitude. Oh, God. What needed doing first?
Captain Krill raced into view, gesturing for him to follow. “Some kids got hit from these rounds. They’re at the front gates.”
His began moving, running after Krill, wanting to go faster still, lungs burning. He followed the captain around the corner and thirty yards away some of his fellow soldiers were opening the front gate. Crying, distraught Afghan civilians began pouring through. He kept running.
Then he saw the kids. Heard their screams. Some thrashing in agony in their parents’ arms, others lying still. He dropped his rifle, tore off his helmet and dumped his body armor in the dirt. Sprinted the last stretch.
“Grab them!” one of the soldiers screamed over the din.
A loud argument broke out, slowing them down.
“They’re insisting you take the boys first,” one of the soldiers explained, a translator who understood what Jake couldn’t.
“Take them all!” Krill ordered.
Other soldiers picked up the few left alive while Jake scooped up the nearest child, turning to follow the others to the aid station. He glanced down at the child after a few steps. A little girl, no more than five, so light in his arms he almost thought he’d imagined her. She wore a dress made of burlap, rough to the touch, and had bright emerald-green eyes, deep and filled with pain, and long raven hair plastered to her skin from tears and blood.
He kept running, cradling her head and shoulders in his right hand, her slight body pressed against his ribs, a thigh by his left forearm. Her tiny arm flailed about. She gasped, screaming again and again, never stopping.
“Shush, it’s okay. It’s okay, little one,” he said it over and over as he ran, each step an agony of taking too fucking long.
An image of his niece seared his brain. Cute as a button with big blue eyes and long brown curls. Dressed up in a fancy dress for Sunday School and giving him the biggest grin. Emily was about this girl’s age. Maybe a little older.
Her breathing changed. Grew ragged. Her screams lessened. Her eyes were growing dull. She stared up at him, this stranger in the uniform, and her abject terror faded.
Warmth spread down his chest. What was it? His legs operated on autopilot as he ran, his eyes fixed on hers.
She screamed one last time, the sound hoarse and weak. The warmth spread to his hip and trickled down his thighs. What was it?
He had to look. When he did, his brain shut down. Horror consumed him at the one tiny bare foot, perfectly formed and covered in brown dust, and the other a torn chunk of burnt flesh below her dimpled kneecap. A bloody stump. A white bone jutted through the ruined skin and muscle. Horror. Beyond all horrors.
He stumbled, lost his stride. The little girl let out a shaking breath, dark and raspy.
One more step. One more step.
Her neck grew slack under his arm. The warmth spread down his body.
He glanced down once more. Her fear gone, the spark of life gone. All gone.
The world around him dropped away. Muffled. Soldiers ran by in slow motion. Parents cried in the distant. Others barked orders he could no longer hear, the horror in his head masking everything else.
* * * *
Drenched in sweat, Jake raised a trembling hand to adjust his sunglasses, scanning the rooftop, his eyes staring and scratchy with pain. A flashback that intense during daylight hours had not happened to him for a while. It must have been the change of circumstances, a one-off. God, make it so. He swallowed hard, trying to calm his breathing, and the harsh sound sawed at the air. He needed to keep his mind in the present, do a good job today and maybe Max would make room for him. He’d hinted enough in the past, trying to get Jake to think seriously about things. About his future.
Yeah, it was time to do just that. Beyond time. Jake nodded. At least Max would need him for a while, considering how much the flu had set his friend back. He owed the guy that much.
* * * *
The seconds ticked by while Silk O’Connor peered through the scope of the .300 Winchester Magnum. It wasn’t her usual choice of weapon. She preferred something a little more up close and personal in her job as a PI.
“Justice for Ashley!”
It was time. The news conference was starting. She shifted from her prone position and stretched out farther on her stomach, moving her body slightly forward.
She’d held the stance for the past hour with the rifle braced on bipod legs, situated eight hundred and sixty yards from the Los Angeles Superior Court, Stanley Mosk Courthouse Grant Street entrance, with its distinctive terra cotta figures. They had been designed to represent the Foundations of the Law, the Magna Carta, English Common Law and the Declaration of Independence, but today the classically robed men of honor standing so nobly for justice might have wanted to crawl down off that façade if they knew how the concept had been bought and paid for in the courthouse beneath their feet, by an uber-corrupt rich man.
The people screaming from the sidewalk as the asshole was hustled out of the entrance were right. The shit-bag was scum. He was evil incarnate, hiding his murdering proclivities for partying and driving drunk under a handsome mug that made her want to puke. She spat out her now tasteless gum onto the flat tarred roof softened by the harsh L.A. sunshine, the air percolating with the oily fumes.
She squinted through the scope. Her vantage point, reconnoitered weeks ago, gave her an unobstructed view of the press conference. She was primed to catch the split second. Her stomach grumbled, reminding her she’d neglected to eat that day. Later. Do the job first. But even her well-trained mind could not help reliving the crime that had led to this exact juncture. The images stalked her, day and night, the ghosts demanding justice for their murder at the hands of a psychopath who’d had no qualms taking chances with another person’s life, driving drunk one time too many.
The call had come at about ten in the morning from her contact at the LAPD. She had raced to the scene of the two-vehicle crash only a few blocks away from the house in North Hollywood she’d shared with her sister—her only relative. They’d been living together since college, offering each other support over losing their parents then their beloved brother Jackson. He had paid the ultimate price of war six months earlier while gaining one more medal for his broad chest during his second, and final, tour of duty in Iraq.
Violent images tore into her, pointed shards scraping her soul bare. The crunch of the hydraulic jaws of life, the firemen struggling, grunting and groaning, to extract her blood-covered sister. She’d died reaching out to touch Silk’s arm, murmuring, ‘I’m sorry, Silk, I have to leave you now. Take care of my baby,’ her bloody white hand pressed to her pregnant belly. The white face of the other driver as he’d staggered under the influence, reeking of alcohol, and collapsed on the ground, whimpering that he was sorry.
Too little. Too late.
She pushed the harsh images aside and took careful aim through the scope. Perfect conditions. Not a trace of wind and the air quality was fairly decent today. One of the lawyers stepped up to the podium. He adjusted the microphone. Her finger froze in place on the trigger and she waited. Time to correct a wrong. This scumbag was not going to get away with murder. Not while she was alive to mete out fair justice. Even if she paid the ultimate price of her own life. She had none left, anyway.
“Ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank—”
The outside world silenced. Firing a rifle over such a long distance was a confluence of many things. Chemistry, mechanical engineering, optics, geophysics and meteorology—all taught to her by an excellent marksman, a former Marine sniper who also happened to be her own brother. She knew the exact distance she needed to aim above the target to allow for the curvature of the Earth and the pull of gravity to put the bullet exactly where she wanted it to go. This rare day of calm air would help. She’d watched the leaves at the courthouse and nothing had moved. She aimed the muzzle ten feet above the target to assist nature in curving the bullet downward to find its loathsome home.
Now, only ancient biology stood in the way. She slowed her heart rate and breathed in and out, waiting between heartbeats. The roaring in her ears ceased as her brain calmed. The vibration of her body lessened.
Ashley—this is for you.
She squeezed her forefinger gently on the trigger. She breathed out. One heartbeat. Another heartbeat. A third heartbeat. She fired.
The gun recoiled, but not before she was slammed to the ground, the bullet flying off target and going harmlessly up into the empty sky, spinning outward at nineteen hundred miles an hour, its hand-polished copper jacket flying straight and true to the exact wrong spot. The heavy sound of the shot cracked and echoed off the buildings almost a full second later. She accepted the instant repercussion in her shoulder from the stock of the rifle as a heavy body landed right on top of her, driving all the air from her lungs. The odor of sulfur instantly filled her airways and she gasped for breath, the gun hot from the recoil burning her hands.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing? Get off me!” she screamed, in instant pain. Both mental and physical. She had failed. The worst possible outcome.
“Is anything broken?” a strong male voice asked, the low timbre of the tone vibrating through her.
“Who the fuck cares!” She attempted to push him off along with the rifle she still clutched. He pulled it from her hands, checked that the safety was reengaged and laid it aside.
Instead of letting her up, he rolled her over and straddled her hips. He grasped her hands as she flailed about, striking out at him, wanting to cause him pain. Tears rolled down her cheeks. A sob escaped from her, loud, as all the terrible anguish that had built up since the accident broke free, a tidal wave of emotion born of pain and loss.
He held her steady when the tsunami flooded through her, a force far beyond her control in charge. Unavoidable. Unstoppable. It pushed her heart to release its crushing burden. The pain of the accident. Images of her sister in her coffin at the funeral. The pitifully small number of mourners to say goodbye to a young life cut so tragically short. The first clod of earth hitting the top of her casket—all the heart-bruising moments locked in her brain of the past few weeks, fucking her up. Then the images from further back came. Happier memories of her and Ashley in simpler times. Watching a movie together. Playing a favorite video game. Cooking up a feast to celebrate one of their birthdays. And her sister’s favorite—shoe shopping. All the record of her sister she would have to last a lifetime.
Her loud sobs eventually turned into soft hiccups. A catharsis born of the trauma and guilt she could no longer escape left her fighting exhaustion, yet strangely eased, some of the overwhelming tension that had driven her for weeks gone. Her other senses rushed in to fill the void. She became aware. Too aware.
She renewed her struggle to release herself from his tight grip. He held on and she stared up at eyes protected by lenses too dark to see anything through. But what she could catch sight of around the sunglasses shocked her. Thick black hair cut military style, a lantern jaw with a scruff of dark shadow, well defined cheekbones and a black T-shirt stretched tight over broad shoulders tapering to a trim waistline. And perhaps what was most unexpected, most surprising of—tribal tattoos snaking down his golden forearms. His thighs felt powerful through the thick black fabric of his jeans. A big strong man. A warrior in his prime. And his body pressed hers to the hot roof.
“Let me up! This roof’s scorching my ass.” She wasn’t as embarrassed as the occasion would normally demand. He deserved her tears, stopping her from administering justice. She owed him nothing. Nothing.
“I need to search you for weapons first. Then, if you promise not to shoot me, I’ll let you up.” His low voice spilled into the air like musical notes from deep inside his broad chest. He was so close that she couldn’t help breathing in his aroma, the fragrance of something undefinable tickling her senses. A distant memory of a similar wonderful scent buried somewhere in her past escaped and demanded attention. Sandalwood and citrus with undertones of musk.
“Yes. I promise I won’t shoot you, for heaven’s sake. Not unless you drove drunk and used your vehicle as a killing weapon—” She took as deep a breath as she could manage with the man pressing into her. He seemed to become aware of her discomfort, easing himself off a bit, though not letting her go entirely. If he would only take off the damn sunglasses. His eyes might give the game away.
The seconds ticked by.
She swallowed hard.
New thoughts crept in. Strange thoughts. Adrenaline-infused thoughts that fired in her brain, forcing it from revenge mode to survival mode in an instant—or maybe it was lust mode, created by the nearness of death staring her right smack in the face. She still couldn’t be sure she’d leave the rooftop in one piece, but something told her this man would not harm her. At least not intentionally.
Perspiration broke out, the heat of his groin as he straddled her beginning to get her full attention. Her nipples tightened. She prayed it wasn’t noticeable. Her thoughts disgusted her and excited her, all at the same time. Being held so tightly, unable to do anything about it, was making her hot. Too hot. She renewed her struggles to push him off. God, I’m no Anastasia Steele, right?
“I’m going to search you now. Nothing personal. It’s standard procedure.”
Holding her wrists tightly locked together, he roamed his free hand around her body, down her sides and under her breasts, before checking between her legs. Oh. My. God. He pressed his large hand against her crotch. Heat surged through her, so damn hot she nearly combusted from the instant wave of lust. The final straw was him pressing against her, his nostrils flaring wide as he discovered the budded nipples, her breasts sensitive and swollen.
He eased his grip and she sat up, rubbing her wrists. She pulled a tissue out of the pocket of her overalls and blew her nose, beyond embarrassed. Her terrible grief had left her open and raw. She sought for excuses to justify her insane response. Her body had been neglected for far too long and now it wanted something more, something not born of despair but created from life and lust. Well, it can damn well shut the fuck up. She had no time for its demands. Not now. Not ever.
He stood, pulled her to her feet and loomed over her, at least six foot four of hard-packed special ops-type muscle. All masculine and hardened by soldiering, and so like her brother that she swallowed hard against the memory. But at least the pain was welcome. That, she understood. The other reaction was impossible to comprehend.
“I’m Jake Marshall. Who are you?” He took off his shades, exposing his eyes, eyes the deepest shade of flinty blue. The whites around the intense color of his irises were marred by traces of redness. Hangover or drugs?
“Well, Silk O’Connor, I think we’d better hightail it before someone else figures out the position of the shooter.”
“What?” Shocked, suspicious, she hesitated. “You’re not arresting me? And what’s this ‘we’?”
“What for? The guy’s still walking upright. But just for my sake, care to share what you think you were doing?”
“Seeing justice done.” The bitter tone of her voice came as no surprise to her. These past weeks had been a fall into bitterness as she’d made her plans. Ignoring him, she unzipped the camouflage-patterned overalls, exposing black pants and a T-shirt. She stepped out of the thin, loose covering and tossed it aside. She added the latex gloves she’d been wearing to the pile, folded it up and placed it in a carryall bag she’d planned on disposing of later. She spied the spent .30 caliber casing and picked it up then pocketed it. The gun would be left. Untraceable. And she’d worn gloves.
She felt his gaze as he waited for her to finish dealing with the incriminating evidence. He remained silent, opening the roof door when she nodded that she was done. She’d braced the door earlier with a brick.
They hurried down the outside back staircase one story to the main floor, their muffled footfalls barely registering on the carpeting. No one on the staircase could be seen from the businesses inside the short, two-story strip mall unless someone happened to push through the door at the bottom of the stairs. And they wouldn’t, not when a screwdriver jamming the lock had taken care of that possibility earlier. She took a moment to remove it, adding it to her bag. She took the lead, heading to the outside door and into the narrow alley. They’d almost made the parking lot and the safety of her small car when a noise alerted them to company.
“Halt! Stop it right there! Put your hands up!” a loud voice demanded.
“Fuck!” Jake let fly the curse as he recognized one of the other security agents hired for the detail, legs spread, a gun braced in both hands. One of Max’s LA team, a guy he’d met just that morning.
He strode forward to intercept the man. “Sticks, right? I’m Jake. We’re on the same side today, buddy. I’ve got this.”
The man lowered his gun, but his expression remained wary. “Why isn’t she in handcuffs?”
“She’s a witness. The shooter got away. I’m taking her into my protective custody until we nail the bastard.” He prayed she understood the precariousness of the situation. But damn it, now he’d lied, he was also involved. A fucking accomplice. What had made him do it? It was unlike him. But something about the desperate woman had brought out his protective instincts. And she had felt amazingly good beneath him. He had to wonder, was she as turned on as he had been? She’d fought him at first, letting out her grief in her tears. But then her nipples had budded on her full breasts, nearly driving him to distraction, and her flowery fragrance underlaid by womanly musk was a complete turn-on. If the situation had been less worrisome, he would have had her right on that hot roof. Burning flesh and all.
“Go up to the roof, check it out. The gun’s still there.”
“You left it?”
Think fast. “Yeah, I was in a hurry to get this young lady to safety.”
“What were you doing up there, miss?” the agent asked, frowning.
Jake turned to Silk. He looked her up and down, noticing the faint traces of tears still evident on her face. And what a lovely face she had. Huge chocolate-brown eyes with a sprinkling of gold highlights that matched the golden strands in her light brown hair pulled haphazardly into a messy bun.
Thank God she’s a quick study.
“Okay.” Sticks spoke into his radio on his collar, updating the men on the ground.
Jake put his arm protectively around Silk, directing her to his vehicle. It was time to move. His mind was racing a million miles a second, making plans for how to extricate them from this situation.
“But my vehicle is that way,” she protested as he opened the passenger door of his stealth-gray GMC 1500 Sierra truck. The woman was tiny and the lack of running boards meant she’d have to jump to make it if he didn’t help.
“I’m getting you out of here fast as I can. Leave it. It might incriminate you.”
“No, it won’t,” she said as he took the bag from her hands, boosting her up onto the seat, his hands automatically cupping her fine ass in the process. She slapped them away and gave him a look that distinctly said hands off. He picked up her discarded bag and tossed it into the back seat of the crew cab-style truck.
“Because I really do work at the florist shop in the building.”
“Really.” The woman surprised him further, inching up in his estimation. What an enormous amount of planning must have gone into this near coup.
“Don’t move,” he warned, buckling her into the seat, managing to brush against her breasts in the process. This time she only blushed. But his groin thickened again, as if his brain had been disabled and was now reconnected directly to his cock. Note to self—be careful.
He hurried around to the driver’s door, yanked it open and climbed in beside her. She hadn’t tried to escape, which was something. But he caught her looking longingly at a small red car parked across directly from his truck, her hand clutching the door handle as if she were going to make a run for it. Her vehicle.
“You can probably come back later and retrieve it. Best we have a talk first. Get our stories straight.” He pressed his lips together as he started the motor, the GMC springing to life under his touch, his gut roiling. “Because this—” He shook his head, glancing over at her as she sat rigidly in the seat, chewing on her thumbnail. “This is going to cause a shit-storm. You can count on that, baby doll.”
He placed the vehicle in gear and drove out of the parking lot and onto the side street leading away from the courthouse. In a matter of seconds, he was heading west on 2nd Street. They’d be back at Max’s house in Redondo Beach in forty minutes if traffic kept moving.
“Who do you work for?” she asked as he paid careful attention to his surroundings, watching for signs of pursuit.
“Just filling in for a friend. Security detail. You could say I’m on probation, though, I imagine my chances of ever working for them again are slim to none.”
“I’m sorry about that. We could just go back and you can turn me in. You owe me nothing.” She looked on the verge of another crying jag, her eyes still pink around the edges from earlier. It didn’t diminish her natural beauty. She was exquisite, pretty and delicate and he could no more have turned her in than he could his own mother. He understood her reasons, though, they didn’t make it right. Now, it was his job to somehow extricate them from this mess. And what a fucking mess.
“It was your sister who was hit by the drunk sonofabitch?”
“Yeah. And his rich daddy’s lawyer got him off on a fucking technicality. Well, that and a whole lot of bribes, I would imagine. The system sucks if you’re poor.”
He nodded. Her last sentence splashed pure vitriol. “Yeah, that sucks. But why go so far? Aren’t you just digging your own grave here?”
He checked his rear-view mirror constantly. So far, they weren’t being pursued, though that could change in a heartbeat. A police cruiser approached in the opposite lane, coming toward them, siren blazing, then raced past them. He breathed a sigh of relief.
“I…I wasn’t thinking about after. Only making sure it didn’t happen to anyone else—ever again.”
“You know it doesn’t work that way, right? Each person chooses their own path, and nothing you can do can change that outcome for anyone else. I think humans are fucked by their DNA. A terrible propensity to forget what’s right at convenient times and a built-in violent nature. Survival of the fittest.” Something about this woman was calling to him. Made him want to understand. Perhaps that would be an impossible feat, but he had to try.
“Maybe not. But at least one asshole would not be hurting anyone else. I could have taken him out of the equation if you hadn’t stopped me.” Her look accused him.
“No? What about you? You’d have been arrested and placed in the system. Charged with attempted murder. And, by your own admission, unless you’re rich, you don’t get to call the shots. You’d rot in jail. Did you want it to go down like that? Would that honor your sister’s life?” The thought of this woman locked up, possibly making it all the way to death row, filled him with dismay.
“What does it matter? It’s too late now.”
“Surely, there must be another way?” He offered the promise without thinking.
“How? I just missed my one shot at it.” Despite the words, her tone held less bitterness than it had, he thought. Hoped. Maybe he could help her see reason.
“You need to give this up. Get on with your life. Find some way forward and honor your sister in another way.”
She was quiet now. He glanced over. Her eyes were so expressive he could see the wheels turning.
“So, you work in the florist shop. Good. That helps. Anyone else see you go up there with the rifle? Were you scheduled to work today?”
“Yes, but my shift doesn’t begin until later. I work afternoons. And I don’t think anyone saw me. I was careful and came in the back way. Most people never go up to the roof. It’s too hot. I just tell them I like to tan.”
“Okay, good. Are you a good shot? Have you been trained?”
“Yeah, my brother gave me lessons.”
“Lately?” He turned onto the freeway, scanning the area.
“No.” Her one-word answer spoke volumes.
“Okay, is your experience with weapons well-known where you work?”
“No, I never talk about it.” She turned and locked eyes with him for a split second. “Why are you doing this? Jeopardizing your job?”
He grunted. “The hell if I know.”
She frowned, then reached out a slim hand and touched his biceps, sending electricity racing through his system. “Thank you. Most people would have just turned me in without a second thought.”
“You’re welcome. Bring me up to speed here. Anything else you know about this Jason Kastrati character they released today, and his father? Any other dirt I can use to explain what you attempted to do? I know what the man did was bad—a terrible tragedy—but is there more? Did you research his family? Kastrati—it’s familiar. Albanian, I believe.” It niggled at his brain. It was connected to something he’d filed away during a briefing.
“No, I know very little about the family, except his father has too much money. Armend Kastrati. Doesn’t appear to work for a living. Money most likely handed to him. I’m sorry, I was so focused on finding the opportunity to do what I attempted today that it was an oversight.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. Soon as we get back to where I’m staying, I got a guy we can call.”
“Where you’re staying?” She glanced at him, as if testing his judgment.
“Safest spot for you right now. At least until I can get a better reading on all this. It was unfortunate you were seen by Sticks in the parking garage,” he added as she gave him another inquisitive glance. “He’s a new guy I’m working with.” And probably for the last time, too, damn it. The job with Max’s agency had been right up his alley. Perfect for his skill set, and now it had all gone to shit with his little U-turn today. No time for regrets. “Otherwise, we might have gotten away scot-free.”
She snorted. “Scot-free. Yeah.”
“Sorry. I wasn’t thinking.” Guilt lanced through him. The woman had recently lost her sister.
“Do you have any other siblings? Family?”
“No. Ashley was my last tie to this earth.”
“Oh, God, Silk. I’m so sorry. That’s—hell, I don’t even know what to say.”
She shrugged, though, he caught the slight tremble of her lips she tried to hide by turning away. And such pretty pink lips. What would it be like to kiss them? Was all of her as exquisite as her face? A part of him just couldn’t equate what she’d been doing up on that rooftop with how she looked right now. It just didn’t fit. Not at all.
He forced his mind away from the conundrum and back to business with some difficulty. No matter how bad the world treated a person, they couldn’t go off half-cocked and kill people. He was fighting, after all, to uphold honor, dignity and human rights. But then, he’d never been in a situation similar to Silk’s. Death, yes. He’d faced it down on occasion. Hell, he was a soldier. But someone choosing to go out and deliberately taking chances with another person’s innocent life by driving incapacitated—never.