Authors: Myra Song
An Alpha Billionaire Romance
Book One Locked in Love Series
Copyright © 2015 Now and Wren Publishing
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
“I’m walking out now,” I yell, fuming at the Chief of Police. Three hours I’ve been detained for his bureaucratic bullshit. Three hours of my time wasted. When you get paid hourly and you’re currently eating ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that becomes a big deal.
I can’t believe I used to work for this asshole.
Chief Newark is sitting in front of me, reclining so far back his shirt threatened to slip from the band of his pants. I’d worked with him in this department long enough to know that no one wanted to see the man’s torso. Oh, he wasn’t terribly unfit. But he was building the spare tire that came with more paperwork than working cases, and his hair (and lack thereof) was telling of the stress of the job.
You think cops wanna be promoted to Chief?
This jerk has our number, too. He hung a mirror behind his desk. Instead of a cork board he has this enormous mirror that he writes on with dry-erase markers. He claims it helps him map out his shit.
It’s so we can see how fucking ridiculous we look when we try and fight back.
I can see it now. My brown hair is escaping from its usual ponytail, looking more crazy-cat-lady than professional. I mean, in my job, “professional” is what you make it, but right now I just look like I haven’t seen a hairbrush in a year. My v-neck t-shirt is wrinkled, my coat even more so. Thank God for skinny jeans. They hug my fuller hips and no matter how many hours I wear them, that lycra is there to help.
My shoes are high top Converse and gray. Scuffed and comfy as hell. These are shoes you can’t say “they don’t make’m like they used to”-- because they do. This is my second pair in two decades. And I wear my shoes
What the mirror shows me, more than a bedraggled appearance, is my raging blue eyes set in a red face.
It’s red because I’m pissed
“Go ahead and walk, Martin. But the next time I catch you at a crime scene before my boys get there--”
“You’ll thank me for collecting the evidence before they trample it.”
Take that, Chief.
His grin soured and he rocked forward, sitting straight. “No, Martin. I’m going to have you arrested for tampering with evidence. Disturbing the crime scene.”
“Screw you,” I spit back. “You know how good I am! I pay attention to details. I--”
“No, I don’t.” Chief Newark cuts me off and it just reminds me again why he’s an
boss. “I know that when you were
Martin, you were one the best. Now you’re just some PI, and I don’t have time for you. I have an appointment waiting. Call us first next time, Martin. Our ties aren’t that fucking tight.”
It’s a dismissal. Chief always likes to have to last words. Too bad his words could just as easily have been mine. My ties to the department used to be tight; now they were all but unravelled. This became painfully obvious three--no wait, three and a
-- hours ago when a cop put me in cuffs and booked me at my old Raleigh station for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
My hands clench and I whirl, ready to get out before I say something that will jeopardize what little good will the Chief has with me. Before I can huff out, I run right into the exceptionally firm chest of an even more exceptionally tall man. I’m not
, but I’m not petite, either. Freaking five foot five, a buck fifty, made with curves and hellfire. That at least was my old partner, Lloyd’s, description of me.
So chest at my eye level? This dude is enormous. I kind of bounce back, my body tensed.
“Watch it, asshole,” I blurt. But the investigator in me is already taking in the make of his suit--fancy. Italian wool? His emerald-encrusted cuff links-- fancier. And he smells of cologne, but it’s subtle. Not that stupid body spray that screams “I’m a fifteen year old stuck in a man’s body!”, but real cologne. Light and barely there but with intense notes of sandalwood and pine.
Fanciest. This man is made of money. Lots and lots of money.
A thrill runs through me at the smell. It is defiantly masculine.
“I’m fairly sure you ran into me, so maybe it’s you who needs to watch where they’re going.” A deep baritone ruffles my feathers (not altogether unpleasantly) and I look up at its owner, ready to snark back.
Only my words freeze in my mouth because holy hell, the man is hot. Gorgeous, really. His eyes are blue and sharp. His patrician nose is perfect, and that includes the hint of a break in its past. He has dark--almost raven-- short, styled hair and two-day old stubble that I immediately want scratching the inside of my thighs.
His sensual mouth is pulled into a thin line. It’s obvious he’s pissed at me, his glare heavy and condescending.
Without meaning to, I take a step back and immediately hate that I did. It gives the stranger power over me. Like his enormous (and unbelievably chiseled) body and good (devastating) looks weren’t enough.
His smirk tells me he feels the power shift, too.
I frown and set my shoulders straight. “I’m a lady, motherfucker; that means I go first.”
“Yes. Quite a lady, Mrs.--?” His frown crooks at the corner, sneaking it into a smarmy grin. He’s fishing, but whether it’s for my marital status or my ire, I can’t tell. Also I don’t care.
“Miss. Miss Excuse-me-I’m-trying-to-leave, Mr.--?” I flash him a large grin and a raised eyebrow.
“No ‘Mister’ for you. Just Locke. It’s what my friends call me.” His voice lowers, all raspy and dark, and my pussy gets a little moist. Inviting me to call him what his ‘friends’ do? Is he… is he
with me? A prickling sensation I know all too well starts creeping up my chest and cheeks. There isn’t time to think too much about it because--
“Martin! What part of ‘get the fuck out’ don’t you understand?”
I turn and glare at the Chief. “You’d have to actually
‘get the fuck out’ for me to understand it. See? Attention to details,
Flirting or not, I’m too pissed to linger and my invitation has definitely run out. I shove past Mr. ‘Just Locke’ and slam the door behind me. The crash of it echoes through the precinct and the hustle stops for a moment. Long enough for them to see who’s causing the fuss (me), roll their collective eyes, and then back to business.
Okay, so I might have a bit of a reputation.
I scan the room and catch a familiar, wry smile. My old partner, Dalton. Lloyd Dalton, an older, seen-it-all Detective with the heart of gold and gentle touch. That didn’t mean we clashed when we worked together. In fact, I couldn’t have asked for a better and more trusted partner. He was the only person I missed from this hell-hole.
Dalton knew the worst of me, the best of me, and he knew my dirty little secret. Well, one of them at least.
He knew that this “I’m a badass with a chip on my shoulder” routine I projected was, well, just that. A routine.
When I’d tried to be “myself” at my first job as a cop? It bit me in the ass. Big time. Nice didn’t cut it. From the “sweethearts” to the “thatta-girls,” I was stuck in peon land. All paperwork and condescension makes Elise an angry girl. It wasn’t until I upped the sass and copped an attitude that I started to gain rank and credibility.
Cop an attitude? Heh. That’s the kind of joke Dalton would make, sweet old fart that he is.
“Martin!” He calls me over and claps his big hand on my shoulder. It’s a comforting weight. One I’ve missed more than I want to dwell on. “They brought you in cuffed this time.” His eyebrows are pressed together and his tone is soft with concern.
Subconsciously I grab my wrists and give them a rub. The cuffs had been unnecessary. No one thought I was a suspect, not really. It’s just these guys took it personally when I quit. Some, like Dalton, gave me promises of help and support. Most just gave me the stink eye, thinking I had gotten too big for my panties.
Or had been pissed at me for not letting them in my panties to begin with.
Since we don’t work together anymore, I go ahead and give Dalton a quick squeeze. He jumps at it, arms circling like a bear and tugging me in tight. “Oh, Martin. You’re getting too thin.”
I could have kissed him if I didn’t like his wife, Gina, so damned much.
My weight was something I’d struggled with. In the field? I’m healthy as a horse. My mile is just shy of seven minutes, I can jump hurdles and lift weights and throw punches with the best of them. On paper, though, I was overweight, that godawful BMI number the bane of my existence.
“Eh, works been slow to take off,” I admit. “Apparently people have the same hard time believing a female private investigator can get the job done that thought a female cop couldn’t get it done, either.”
“That’s lame,” he offered, but already reaching in a drawer and grabbing a pack of crackers to offer me. I take them. I’m too hungry to refuse. “It’ll pick up soon, I know it. You just need one big gig.”
The wrapper crackled as I rip it open. “That’s not the way it works, Dalton. All my work is confidential. I could investigate the President of the United States and I couldn’t take credit for what I find. Clients value anonymity just as much as they value answers.”
He pats my head and I let him, stuffing a fake-cheese-stuffed cracker in my mouth. Sweet, merciful Dalton. Already the rage I felt for the chief was ebbing. Maybe I’d been hangry, but I refused to feel badly about it. Having me brought in had still been a dick move.
“Don’t be too mad at him,” he whispered. “I think he actually misses you.”
Crumbs fly from my mouth as I sputter. “Are you kidding me? He’s half the reason I decided to leave! Misogynist piece of--”
“Hey, hey, hey.” His hands went up, defensive. “I’m not saying you don’t have good reasons. But I think you’ve been doing this ‘tough chick’ routine for so long that you have a hard time telling when people are being nice to you.”
“Nope. All of them are assholes. Especially that guy in there--” I nod toward the Chief’s door. “Locke, I think he said. Super entitled. Was a complete jerk to me.”
Dalton’s face twists and I wonder what’s wrong until I realize he’s about to bust out laughing. “Locke?
Locke? He’s the CEO of Locked In Securities. Richest man in the Triangle. Probably the richest man on the Eastern seaboard… fuck, one of richest men in America. He can probably afford to act a little entitled.”
The Triangle-- Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Home of Research Triangle Park. Which was home to, well, all sorts of business. Many of them world-dominating and worth mucho dough.
But CEO of Locked in? That took “rich” to a new level. In a land of millionaires, he’d stand out as an easy billionaire. More money than he’d ever know what to do with. Huh. Well, that explains a lot about his attitude. Except my insides feel a little like there’s butterflies in there when I think about him. That strong chest and incredible cheekbones--
I shove the last cracker in my mouth and give Dalton’s cheek a crumbly kiss. “Thanks for the food, D. Tell Gina I said ‘hey.’”
He gives me a warm smile. “Will do. Take care, Martin. And stay out of trouble.”