Authors: Jill Sanders
~ West Series ~
Ryan & Nikki
© 2014 Jill Sanders
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To all those men and women
who keep our streets safe.
Ryan has been an undercover narcotics cop for so long, he can’t remember what it’s like not to jump at shadows. But when a dark-haired beauty shows up claiming that she was hired by his brother to track him down, she jeopardizes his cover and puts both their lives in danger.
Now they need a quiet place to hide from a powerful Mexican drug lord, and his cousins’ farm just might be the safest place in Texas.
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Ryan jumped back as he watched a dozen dark figures flood the cemetery. He hit the ground with a groan as he was tackled from behind and his hands were yanked behind his head. He heard shouting and screaming as he felt cold metal slap around his wrists.
“You’re in a lot of trouble, son,” someone said over him. When he tried to turn his head to see who was talking, his face was shoved back into the dirt. “Don’t move until I say so.” He was quickly frisked, then pulled to his feet.
He shook the dirt from his face and looked around the old cemetery. He’d come out here to drink his problems away, but now he’d been handcuffed and his beer was spilled out on the ground.
“I didn’t do anything,” he demanded the second he stood up.
The heavy police officer laughed. “The hell you didn’t.” He took a step and got right in his face. “Where’s Roberts?”
“Who?” Ryan looked at the older man. He’d learned to respect anyone older than him. His dad had taught him that.
“Don’t play games with me, son. We know you set up a meeting tonight to meet him. So, where is he?”
“Listen, sir, you’ve got the wrong guy,” Ryan started to say, only to be yanked back a foot by the cop holding him.
“You’d best think long and hard about your answer. It could mean the difference between life in prison and life in prison.” He chuckled.
“I just came out here to drink and forget about my old man beating on me.” He nodded to the broken bottles the police officer was now crunching under his feet.
The man looked down and shook his head. “I guess we’ll have to haul you in and see if we can get some answers out of you then.”
Ryan was shoved in the back of an unmarked police car and driven out of his small town. As he watched the lights disappear, he wondered if it was destiny to always be in trouble.
Seven years later...
ikki applied another layer of red lipstick to her lips and made sure her breasts stuck out just far enough to get the attention she was hoping for. She looked across the room at her mark and took a deep breath to steady her nerves.
He was sexier than the last man she’d hunted down. Hell, he was sexier than most men she’d hunted down. If it wasn’t for his long dark hair, the rough beard he had on his face, and the flashy clothes he was wearing, he would have been just her type.
He’d been harder to find than most of the others. She’d been watching this one for almost three days and had at one point lost him. That was until she’d gotten a lead from one of her regular snitches at a local bar.
The club wasn’t her style. The music was too loud, the clothes too small, and the drugs that went in and out of the place scared most people away. She tucked her small clutch purse tighter under her arm. She knew how to protect herself.
She pasted on her best slutty smile and walked across the floor towards her man. She saw the second his eyes zeroed in on her, the moment desire flashed in his green eyes, and she knew she’d hit her mark.
“Well, hello,” she purred and waited until he asked her to sit.
He glanced around and quickly said,
“Not now, princess. Come back in ten minutes.”
Even his voice was sexier than she’d imagined. She pouted and sat down beside him anyway. “What if I don’t want to wait? There are a lot of other fish in this bar.” She giggled and swung her arm over his shoulders and started to play with his long dark hair, wrapping it around her fingers playfully.
She felt him tense, but he relaxed a little as she rubbed her breast against his shoulder. She knew how to work it, especially when so much was on the line.
“Listen, I’d love to…entertain you, but I have a meeting I’ve got to…” He stopped when three men dressed in nice suits walked across the room. They stopped in front of them and stood there, looking down at them.
“What’s this?” one of them said, looking at her.
“Ditch the ho,” the other said, sitting down right across from them.
She pouted and looked towards her mark. “Come on baby, let’s get out of here.” She started to tug on his arm, but he stopped her.
“She just sat down and now she’s leaving.” He pushed her off of him. She stood up and put her hands on her hips and looked down at him.
“Jerk.” She turned on her heels and walked back to the bar, pretending to be hurt. She sat down along the side of the bar where they were unable to see her and watched the four men while thinking of her next move.
Several men approached her, asking to buy her drinks. She turned them all down and sipped her water with a slice of lime.
She watched the men arguing and when they stood and walked towards the back exit, she followed. She wasn’t going to lose him again. She made her way across the crowded dance floor, bumping into several people on her way across the room.
When she stepped out into the alley with her bag in hand, she wobbled a little and purposely fell into one of the men. Looking up, she froze when she realized what was happening.
Her mark stood across from her, held up by two of the other men. Fresh blood dripped down his face, and she could see his lip and eyes were swelling.
“Hey,” she said, putting a little drunken slur in, “is this a robbery?” She leaned against the man who she’d bumped into. When she felt the gun in his inside pocket, she tried not to show her irritation. Damn, this was going to get complicated.
“Bitch.” The man pushed her away. “Is this your ho?” He pulled her arm up and away from his jacket.
Her mark shook his head and grunted when he was hit in the ribs quickly and released by the two men.
“Get rid of them,” the leader said, pushing her across the small alley into her mark’s arms. Then the man turned and walked back into the nightclub without another glance.
When the two men started walking towards them, Nikki pulled her gun from her purse and pointed it at the men.
“Freeze,” she said, holding the weapon at their chests. They both stopped, looked at the gun and, then at her. Then they both started laughing.
“Look, the lady has a little gun,” the biggest man said as they both pulled bigger guns from their inside coat pockets.
“Got anything bigger in that bag of yours?” her mark asked. When she shook her head, he whispered, “Looks like we’ll have to make a run for it.” He grabbed the gun from her fingers, released two shots in the direction of the men, then grabbed her arm in a death grip and took off running down the alley.
She tried to keep up, but the sexy heels she’d worn where slowing her down. She could hear the men gaining on them. She looked around and pulled on her arm until the man stopped yanking her down the back streets.
“Here.” She pulled him down a side alley and pushed open the door to her planned getaway route. They rushed in and he shut the door quickly. She leaned against the cold metal of the steel door and closed her eyes, listening to see if they had escaped the chase.
“How did you know this was here?” he whispered after they heard the men run past their hiding spot.
“I’ve used this place a few times.” She reached down and removed her shoes. Her feet were killing her and would most likely be swollen for the next few days. She hated wearing heels. When she looked up, she smiled. “Can I have my gun back, sweetie?”
He looked at her and shook his head no. “Not until you tell me why you’ve been following me.” He held the weapon close.
She pouted. “Don’t flatter yourself. I saw you at the bar and thought you looked like a good time.”
He shook his head. “Try a different story. I first noticed you outside my hotel three days ago.”
She looked at him blankly. Damn.
“Then at the bus stop yesterday. You were wearing a long tan coat and tall black boots.” He leaned against the wall and wiped the blood from his lip.
“I think you have me confused with someone else.” She took a step closer and watched him lift the gun up towards her.
She sighed and leaned back against the door. “I guess I just like the look of you.”
He chuckled. “Was it Carlton? Who do you work for?”
She blinked a few times and sighed. “I don’t know who Carlton is.”
“Then who hired you?” He held the gun up and took a step closer to her.
“Your brother, Reece. I was hired to find you and take you back to your brother.”
“Reece?” Ryan leaned further back on the wall and shook his head in disbelief. He remembered the last time he had seen his twin brother and pain shot through him. “Reece hired you?”
She nodded and held out her hand for the weapon. “Can I have my gun back?”
He shook his head again. “You’ve just blown three years of hard work in under five minutes.” He thought about everything that had just happened and cursed under his breath.
Because of this woman, his contacts wouldn’t trust him anymore. Not only that, they’d most likely be watching out for him and maybe even take a hit out on him. Damn, he’d have to report back to the chief. He might even have to find a place to lie low for a while, at least until they could finally find Hijo del Diablo, the man he’d spent the last three years looking for. He’d been so close. Tonight’s meeting with Dante, del Diablo’s second in command, was the last in a long line of meetings to get closer to the head of a drug ring the police had spent years trying to shut down.
He’d been told he was going to be taken to the man that night. That was the only reason he’d walked out of the back of the club with Dante and his goons in the first place. He felt his stomach roll. Damn. This wasn’t going to look good on his record.
He turned back to her. “You said my brother sent you?”
She nodded and crossed her arms over her chest. He’d only noticed that she’d been following him the first time because of her looks. She was tall with dark hair, killer blue eyes, and sexy red-hot lips. Even in the slutty outfit she wore tonight, he couldn’t help but admire how classy she looked. Upscale, he’d thought the first time he’d seen her. She hadn’t belonged in that scummy neighborhood in downtown Houston. Nor had she belonged in the loud club tonight. She belonged in a fine restaurant, wrapped in diamonds, with a glass of champagne in her hands.
“Who are you?” He took a step towards her.
She sighed and glared at him. “I’ve already told you. Your brother—”
“Your name, princess,” he interrupted.
“I don’t see as that’s any of your—”
He waved the gun. “It is while I’m holding this.” He smiled.
“Nikki?” He waited.
She sighed again. “Nikki Dawson.”
“Why would my brother hire you?”
She looked down at the gun and closed her pretty red lips. “I won’t answer any more until I have my gun back.”
He chuckled. “Then we’re in for a very long and quiet night.” He took her hand and started walking further into the dark room. “At least tell me if there’s a back door to this place.”
“Over there.” She pointed towards the side. “My car is just—”
“Good, give me the keys,” he interrupted again. They didn’t have time for stories, not now.
She yanked her hand away from him. “You may have my gun, but what makes you think I’ll give you the keys to my car?”
“Because, princess, you’ve just pissed off one of the biggest and baddest drug lords there is and if you think he’s going to let our little vanishing act get past him, you’re sorely mistaken.” He reached over and took her arm again.
“Drug lords?” A cute little line appeared between her eyebrows. “What were you doing with those kind of men?” She glanced over her shoulder towards the door, and he watched her shiver.
“I was working,” he said, opening the heavy back door a crack and glancing around. “Which car is yours?”
“The silver Honda,” she said, pointing to one of the last cars in a long row of cars parked by the curb.
“Good. Now the keys?” He held out his hand and waited. She looked up at him for a moment and then pulled the keys out of her purse. “Good. Now when I say so, we run to the car as fast as you can. Got it?”
She nodded and held her shoes and purse closer to her chest. He reached down and took her hand. When they were less than ten feet from her car, he felt the first bullet whiz by his left hear. He shoved her down as they ducked behind a car.
“Damn.” He looked around for a better route. “We’re going to have to crawl.” He looked down at her short dress and frowned at the new scratches she had on those lovely knees.
“Lead the way.” She motioned for him to move. He had to admire her guts and the fact that she wasn’t complaining about crawling on the hard ground. Or screaming because they were being shot at. He had to admit, she was a cool one.
He took her hand and started ducking behind the cars. When they finally made it to her car, he opened the door and jumped in, making sure she stayed low when she ducked in behind him.
He shoved the keys in the ignition quickly and hit the gas. When he pulled out, he nicked the car parked in front of them and heard her cuss under her breath. He watched in the rearview mirror as the men chased after them on foot and then smiled as he hit the gas and left them on the dark street.
“Sorry, princess. I hope your insurance is paid up.” He took the corner quickly and headed towards the highway, glancing in the mirror to make sure they weren’t being followed. “So, tell me where my brother is hanging his hat nowadays.”
She glared over at him and crossed her arms over her chest.
“I know you may not have thought of this, but now you have a very pissed off drug lord after you, as well.”
She turned and looked at him. “Me? I didn’t do anything?”
“Oh?” he said, smiling. “Do you think they didn’t grab the plates off this car?” He laughed. “Actually, they probably own the club we were in tonight. If you’ve been in there before, or used your credit card to buy drinks, they’ll know who you are within the next few hours.”
He could tell she was thinking about it. “What do we do? Go to the police?”