She turned to face him as they stopped in front of her door. “Sure.”

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow so we don’t have to worry about leaving your car at work.”

Her brown eyes widened slightly, but she nodded. “Sounds great.”

He guessed she was surprised because up until now he’d kept his distance. Without thinking—or maybe not caring—he reached out and tucked a wayward curl behind her ear. The overwhelming need to touch her sometimes scared the shit out of him. Being close to her sometimes wasn’t enough.

Her work uniform consisted of black pants and a black tank-top. Something so simple shouldn’t be sexy, but with her long legs and lean frame anything she wore was guaranteed to drive any man with a pulse crazy.

When she sucked in a deep breath, he realized he was practically cupping her cheek. And the heated look in her dark eyes told him she wanted him as badly as he wanted her. Warmth spread throughout his abdomen. Things could get out of hand so quickly if he let them.

All he’d have to do was lean down a fraction… He dropped his hand and took a step back. “See you tomorrow.” Instantly his body mourned the loss of touching her.

If the way her mouth pulled into a thin line was any indication, she felt the same. Wordlessly she turned away from him and let herself inside her apartment. Only when he heard the lock slide into place did he leave.

Once he was back in his car, he let out a long breath. What the hell was the matter with him? He had to be all kinds of stupid to touch her like that.

Getting involved with Izzy —Isabelle Ballantine— was not an option. Not only was she so far out of his league that it was beyond laughable, she wasn’t the sort of woman a man had a fling with.

She was the forever kind of woman, and a woman like her wouldn’t settle down with a man like him. He was straight blue-collar working boy and she was class and money. It was just the way of the world.

His phone rang, jarring him out of his mental bashing. When he saw the number he frowned. It was a little after one. “Hey Ben. Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” his brother said. “Couldn’t sleep.

Figured you’d be off work by now.”

“I’m on my way home.”

“How are things with the rich girl?”

He gritted his teeth. When he’d agreed to this, he’d thought of her the same way. Not anymore.

“Her name is Izzy and don’t call her that.”

“Whoa man, chill. I was just checking in.

We’ve got two weeks until Edward decides which security company to use.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” he said as he took a left turn.

“All right, I will. We landed the temporary hospital gig and the contract for The Devlin Group in Cartagena.”

“We got the Devlin job?” Adam wasn’t surprised about the hospital job. They’d needed to beef up security after a few serious bomb threats and he’d known their bid was right on the money.

Landing The Devlin Group, however, surprised him. Marcellus Security had put in a bid to provide security for six Fortune 500 company executives and their families operating and living in Colombia for a month in a very high profile deal. Adam had been concerned their bid was too high but he’d been unwilling to cut costs to hire second-rate contract employees. All his guys were ex-military, most of them former Special Forces.

“You better believe it. I’ve already contacted the team. They’ll be ready to go. Of course Marian is already bitching about the paperwork, but I’m sure once she gets her next bonus check she’ll change her tune.” Ben’s voice was light and Adam knew his brother didn’t mind Marian’s complaining any more than he did.

Marian was their cousin and had been with them since they’d started Marcellus Security four years ago. Back then she’d worked for pennies while pulling sixty-hour-plus weeks. She could complain all she wanted because she’d earned it.

Adam sighed as he steered into his driveway.

He and Ben were partners and he hated leaving him and Marian with all the day-to-day business.

“I should be back in a few weeks. Listen, we don’t need the Forester job so if you want me to come back—”

“Forget it. Edward Ballantine might be a little strange, but we’ve got the right numbers, and if we land this gig, it’ll open the door for government jobs. That man has all the right contacts and I don’t think I need to tell you that’s where the real money is.”

Yeah, his brother didn’t need to tell him that.

The security industry was cutthroat but if they could get in with the government, it would open up contracts all over the globe.

Something he needed to remind himself of when he was around Izzy. He couldn’t let his growing feelings for her get in the way of their plan. She might be trying to gain her independence from her family but she didn’t have a clue what it was like to starve or worry about getting shot walking home from school.

He and Ben had been taking care of each other since they were kids. He was tired of working for pennies. And this job would change their future.

The man glanced in the rearview mirror as he headed toward the outskirts of town. It didn’t look like anyone had tried to follow him from Mad Dog’s. He didn’t think anyone had time to write down his license plate number.

Still, he might have to lose the truck anyway.

The small town police department of Coconut Bay was getting remarkably close to tracking him down. Maybe they were finally catching on to his clues, subtle though they were.

Contrary to what stupid psychologists and psychiatrists thought, he didn’t want to be caught.

He simply enjoyed screwing with the detectives on his trail. Soon he’d leave for a bigger city, but this is where everything would start for him. This place held a lot of memories for him so it was only fitting.

His hands fisted around the steering wheel as he tried to steady his breathing. Losing control was something he rarely did anymore.

And that tall, dark-haired bitch had interfered with his plans. He’d been watching Andrea for a month. Now all his planning had gone to shit because of that bartender. As his breathing slowed, he set the truck to cruise control. No need to tempt the fates and get pulled over for speeding. Not when he had more important things to do.

He needed to do something to take off the edge. It had been days since he’d taunted a certain detective. Time for a check in.

He pulled out one of his many throwaway phones and dialed the number. It only rang once.

“Jack here,” the man snapped.

“In a bad mood tonight, Detective?” He kept his voice intentionally low, raspy.


“Still there?”

“What do you want?”

“How’s Maria Martinez?” His last victim should still be in the hospital if he’d done his job right. It was her fault he hadn’t been able to get hard and finish what he desperately needed to take off the edge.

“What. Do. You. Want. I’m not going to ask again.” The detective’s voice was heated and angry. He rarely gave in to his anger.

Ah, he’d hit a nerve then. The Martinez bitch was friends with some of the police force. One of the reasons he’d chosen her, but not the main one.

“I’m leaving clues for you, but you’re not making progress. Maybe I should work faster.”


He figured the detective was testing his knowledge. So far his activities hadn’t hit the local papers. “You know exactly what I’m referring to.”

“Damn it, what do you want from me? I’m tired of these calls,” Detective Dennis said.

He wanted recognition for his work, but he wouldn’t beg for it. Something the smart detective should realize soon enough. “The marks on their backs mean something.” He pressed the end button then tossed the phone out onto the highway. That was the biggest clue he’d given so far.

The stupid sluts were half-breeds who deserved what they got. Now it was only a matter of time until the detectives figured out why he was choosing his victims. He smiled as he thought of their reactions.

Chapter Two

Izzy spared herself one last glance in the mirror, then rolled her eyes at her reflection. Adam would be picking her up in a couple minutes and she was worrying herself for nothing. Technically, they weren’t even going on a date. He’d asked if she wanted to get breakfast after the staff meeting.

That was it.

Of course that didn’t stop her from putting on a jersey halter-style summer dress that accentuated all her curves. Not that she had many, but she capitalized on the ones she did. She’d only known Adam a few weeks, but every time he’d seen her she was fairly sure she’d been wearing her work uniform. The plain black getup didn’t exactly scream sexy siren. It was time for him to see her in a different light.

Last night he’d looked like he wanted to kiss her. Not because of her last name, and certainly not because of who her father was. Nope. He wanted her just for her. Or at least she hoped so.

She pressed a hand to her stomach and tried to force the jitters away. It was like she was sixteen again and getting ready for her first date. Her doorbell sounded and she jumped. She quickly smoothed on lip gloss then grabbed her purse.

Almost as an afterthought, she tugged the hair band from her ponytail and left her hair down.

A second later she opened the door to find Adam standing there. She could feel heat creeping up her neck and cursed her Celtic heritage for the billionth time in her life. Simply seeing him shouldn’t get her all hot and bothered. “Good morning.”

“Morning.” He handed her a Styrofoam cup of what she hoped was coffee.

She shut the door behind her as she stepped outside and took a sip. An appreciative sigh escaped. Irish cream. Her favorite. “Mmm, thanks.”

“Did you look through the peephole before you answered?” he asked.

She glanced over her shoulder to look at him as she locked the door. “Uh…no, but I didn’t think anyone else would be here at six-forty-five in the morning.”