Authors: Intrigue Romance
He’d have to play dead in order to remain alive
There was a live body on her morgue table. Macy Kleyn hadn’t expected to find a perfectly healthy Rowe Cusack lying inside a body bag. The man claimed to be a DEA agent who’d escaped from prison by faking his own death. But despite using a disguise, someone knew the truth. Now they wanted to keep Rowe locked up inside. For good.
Taking a civilian on the run went against Rowe’s lawman code, but leaving Macy behind could mean putting her in even greater danger. On their own, they were targets, but together they might still have a fighting chance. It’s a chance he’s willing to take in order to protect the one person he could trust—and the one woman he was falling for.
Light blue eyes stared up at her, now open when before they’d been closed
Her lips parted on a shocked gasp. Then a scream burning in her throat, she tried to utter it, but a big palm clamped tight over her mouth. His skin was rough and warm against her lips.
The man sat up, the body bag falling off his wide shoulders to pool at his lean waist, leaving his muscled chest bare but for a light dusting of golden hair and a bloodied bandage over his ribs.
Macy twisted her neck and her wrist, trying to wrestle free of his grasp. But he held on tightly, the pressure just short of being painful. Her heart pounded out a crazy rhythm as fear coursed through her veins.
She had to break loose of him and run out the open door. With his lower body still zipped in the bag, he wouldn’t be able to chase her, and maybe the elevator would be back. Or she’d take the stairs…
“You’re safe,” he murmured, his voice a deep rumble in that heavily muscled chest as he assured her, “I’m not going to hurt you.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bestselling, award-winning author Lisa Childs writes paranormal and contemporary romance for Harlequin Books. She lives on thirty acres in west Michigan with her husband, two daughters, a talkative Siamese and a long-haired Chihuahua who thinks she’s a Rottweiler. Lisa loves hearing from readers, who can contact her through her website, www.lisachilds.com, or snail mail address, P.O. Box 139, Marne, MI 49435.
Books by Lisa Childs
664—RETURN OF THE LAWMAN
834—THE SUBSTITUTE SISTER
1263—RANSOM FOR A PRINCE
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CAST OF CHARACTERS
His cover blown, the DEA agent finds the only way out of Blackwoods Penitentiary is in a body bag.
She gave up everything to help her brother out of prison, but helping Rowe Cusack may cost her more—her life and her heart.
The corrupt prison official will do anything—and kill anyone—to protect his illegal operations.
The convict put his sister in jeopardy with only the promise from a targeted DEA agent that he’d protect her.
Sheriff Griffin York—
Can the lawman be trusted or is he working for the man who made significant contributions to his recent campaign?
The Blackwoods county coroner may know where all the warden’s bodies are buried and may even be willing to help him bury a few more.
Special Agent Donald Jackson—
Rowe’s handler in the DEA may have been the one who gave up his real identity to the warden.
Macy’s one good friend in Blackwoods might just want more.
DEA Special Agents Tillman, Hernandez and O’Neil—
One of them finds the proof that Rowe is still alive and is determined that he and Macy don’t remain that way.
To Kimberly Duffy, for always being there for me.
Your friendship means the world to me!
The cell door slid open with the quick buzz of the disabled security alarm and the clang of heavy metal. Rowe Cusack swung his legs over the side of his bunk and jumped down onto the concrete floor. Had the warden reinstated his privileges?
Rowe couldn’t understand why they’d been suspended in the first place. He hadn’t started the fight in the cafeteria even though he had ended it. But the warden had punished him anyway and ignored Rowe’s demands to use the phone.
He needed to make the call that would get him the hell out of…
. His instincts tightened his guts into knots; he was pretty sure his cover had been blown.
But how? He had been going undercover for years before he had joined the Drug Enforcement Administration, and even as a rookie with the Detroit Police Department he had never been discovered.
“Hey, guard,” Rowe called out, disrupting the eerie quiet of predawn in the cell block. “What’s going on?”
Even if his privileges had been reinstated, they wouldn’t allow him to make a call at this hour. He hadn’t been allowed one in over a week. No visitors either, not even a letter or an email. After just a few days of no contact, his handler, in his guise as Rowe’s attorney, should have checked in on him. Or Special Agent Jackson should have had him pulled out. Leaving him in here with no backup and no real weapon for self-protection, if his cover had been blown, was like leaving him for dead.
“You got a new roommate,” a deep voice announced, and a hulking shadow darkened the cell. “Get out of here, Petey.”
Rowe’s scrawny cell mate scrambled out of the bottom bunk and flattened his back against the wall as he squeezed through the cell door opening around the giant of a man entering it.
Rowe reached for his homemade shiv, closing his fingers around the toothbrush handle. Even in the dim glow of the night security lights, he recognized the man whom he’d given a wide berth since his incarceration. His flimsy weapon wouldn’t be much protection against the burly giant.
“What the hell do you want?” he asked the monster of a man.
“Same thing you do,” the deep voice murmured. “To get the hell out of here.”
“There’s no escape route in here.” Rowe had checked for one. He’d had some tough assignments over his six years with the DEA, but getting locked up like an animal, with animals, was his worst mission yet. From between his shoulder blades, sweat trickled down his back, and panic pressed on his chest.
He’d fought it since he was a kid, refusing to let it rule or limit his life. But maybe he should have used it as a reason to get out of taking this assignment.
“You’re my escape route,” Jedidiah Kleyn said, stepping closer. Light from the dim overhead bulb glinted off his bald head and his dark eyes. The eyes of a cold-blooded killer.
This was the last person Rowe would have wanted to learn his real identity. He shook his head in denial. “You got the wrong guy.”
The prisoner laughed; the sharp, loud noise sounded like a hammer pounding nails into Rowe’s casket. “That’s not what I hear.”
“What do you hear?” He wondered how the man heard anything; Rowe wasn’t the only prisoner who gave him a wide berth. Nobody wanted to mess with this man, and so as to not risk pissing him off, nobody talked to him.
“I hear that you ask a lot of questions.” Kleyn stepped even closer. Rowe was over six feet tall and muscular, but this guy was taller. Broader, like a brick wall of mean. “I hear that you stick your nose where it doesn’t belong.”
Rowe lifted his chin, refusing to retreat. Since he’d basically raised himself, he had learned young to never back down from a fight. He damn sure couldn’t back down in here—not even if the fight killed him. “I’ve never bothered you.”
Kleyn laughed again, like a swinging hammer. “Nobody does. They all know better.”
“So do I,” Rowe admitted. “I’ve heard stuff about you, too, even before I got transferred to Blackwoods to serve out the rest of my sentence.” A few years ago Jedidiah Kleyn’s horrendous crimes had been all over the news. So even though Rowe’s cover claimed he’d been incarcerated in another state penitentiary, he still would have heard about the killer.
Kleyn expelled a weary sigh, as if it bothered him to be the topic of discussion. “Well, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.”
“No,” Rowe agreed. “I didn’t pay all that much attention to what anyone had to say about you.”
“That’s because I have nothing to do with drugs,” Kleyn said. “And that seems to be all you want to know about.”
Rowe’s gut clenched. Damn. He had been careful, as he always was. In the three weeks he’d been locked up in the maximum-security prison, he’d done more listening than talking. And he had saved his questions, only asking a few and of people who’d seemed to think nothing of them. He’d learned years ago when and who to talk to so as to not raise any suspicions, and he hadn’t had a problem before.
What the hell had gone so wrong this time? No one could have recognized him; before the Drug Enforcement Administration had sent him undercover, his handlers had checked the inmate roster to make sure Rowe had never had contact with any of them.
“Drugs have nothing to do with why I’m not that interested in the gossip about you,” he said, trying to convince the other man. “I don’t care what people say about you because I’m just not scared of you.”
A grin slashed deep grooves in Kleyn’s face. “And here you are, with more to fear from me than anyone else in this damn hellhole.”
“Why’s that?” he asked. Except for the crimes Kleyn had committed, Rowe had had no problem with him. A different inmate had attacked him in the cafeteria. The guy had been big, but Rowe had overpowered him without much effort. He worried he wouldn’t be able to handle Kleyn as easily.