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Authors: Tara Janzen

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Thieves In The Night

BOOK: Thieves In The Night
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THIEVES IN THE NIGHT

 

Tara Janzen

 

 

 

 

For Sandy & Lance with love

 

 

 

 

First published by Bantam/Loveswept, 1987

Copyright Glenna McReynolds, 1987

EBook Copyright Tara Janzen, 2012

EBook Published by Tara Janzen, 2012

 

Cover Design by
Hot Damn Designs
, 2012

EBook Format by
A Thirsty Mind
, 2012

 

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the author.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Dear Reader,

 

Welcome to the Tara Janzen line of classic romances! 
New York Times
Bestselling author, Tara Janzen, is the creator of the lightning-fast paced and super sexy CRAZY HOT and CRAZY COOL Steele Street series of romantic suspense novels.  But before she fell in love with the hot cars, bad boys, big guns, and wild women of Steele Street, she wrote steamy romances for the Loveswept line under the name Glenna McReynolds.  All thirteen of these much-loved classic romances are now available as eBooks.

 

Writing as both Glenna McReynolds and Tara Janzen, this national bestselling author has won numerous awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America, and nine 4 ½ TOP PICKS from 
Romantic Times
magazine.  Two of her books are on the
Romantic Times
ALL-TIME FAVORITES list – RIVER OF EDEN, and SHAMELESS.  LOOSE AND EASY, a Steele Street novel, is one of Amazon’s TOP TEN ROMANCES for 2008.

 

She is also the author of an epic medieval fantasy trilogy, THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE, DREAM STONE, and PRINCE OF TIME.

 

Titles

 

Classic Romances

 

Scout’s Honor

Thieves In The Night

Stevie Lee

Dateline: Kydd and Rios

Blue Dalton

Outlaw Carson

Moonlight and Shadows

A Piece of Heaven

Shameless

The Courting Cowboy

Avenging Angel

The Dragon and the Dove

Dragon’s Eden

 

Medieval Fantasy Trilogy

“A stunning epic of romantic fantasy.” 
Affaire de Coeur
, five-star review

 

The Chalice and the Blade

Dream Stone

Prince of Time

 

River of Eden

“One of THE most breathtaking and phenomenal adventure tales to come along in years!” Jill Smith
Romantic Times
4 ½ Gold Review

 

Steele Street Series
“Edgy, sexy, and fast.  Leaves you breathless!” Jayne Ann Krentz,
New York Times
bestselling author //// “Bad boys are hot, and they don’t come any hotter than the Steele Street gang.”
Romantic Times

 

Crazy Hot

Crazy Cool

Crazy Wild

Crazy Kisses

Crazy Love

Crazy Sweet

On the Loose

Cutting Loose

Loose and Easy

Breaking Loose

Loose Ends

 

SEAL of My Dreams
Anthology

All proceeds from the sale of SEAL Of My Dreams are pledged to Veterans Research Corporation, a non-profit foundation supporting veterans medical research.

 

Panama Jack
, by Tara Janzen

 

For more information about Tara Janzen, her writing and her books please visit her on her website
www.tarajanzen.com
; on Facebook
http://on.fb.me/tcBKCq
; and Twitter @tara_janzen
http://twitter.com/#!/tara_janzen
.

 

One

 

Her skis glided through the heavy snow, fast and smooth, as she swooshed her way to the crest of the hill. Chantal Cochard stopped on the rise and listened through the silence, every sense in tune with the gathering storm rolling in over the mountains and the darting flight of chickadees looking for shelter. Fresh flakes drifted down from the broken sky, melting on her exercise-pinkened cheeks and disappearing against her pure-white one-piece snowsuit. Her cross-country skis were white. Her boots were white. The hood covering her mane of long blond hair was white. She was invisible against the mountain.

Chantal glanced behind her, to the west and the fading gray sun hanging low in the cradle of the Rocky Mountains. The wilderness stretched around her for miles, valley after valley of frozen solitude. With a quick movement she pushed back her right-hand mitten and checked her watch. Four o’clock, and so far so good.

Kicking off again she made a telemark down the hill, the movements swift and sure as she bent first one knee and then the other. Her skis slashed a zigzag across the pristine slope. The forest came up to meet her, and within minutes she was deep in the trees. Lengthening shadows laced their way along the snow beneath the ponderosa pines and naked aspen trees, and Chantal slowed her pace. She stopped every few minutes to memorize the view behind her, looking for landmarks and tucking them in the back of her mind. A lichen-covered boulder silhouetted on a rise, the scythelike curve of a bent pine against the sky. This was her escape route, and she would be traveling it in darkness—after her job was finished.

A troubled frown reflected the intensity of her concentration, lending a firm set to the delicate features of her face, darkening the crystalline blue of her eyes. This was the last time she’d play this game, she told herself. She had said the same thing ten years before, but this time she meant it. She would get in, heist the necklace, and be curled up in front of her own fireplace in time to watch the sun rise over the Rockies. This one’s for you, Poppa, and for Paul, she thought, and then it’s over.

Another mile through the forest and then the multi-peaked roof of the Sandhurst mansion flickered into view through the pines. The gray shake shingles blended with the thickening clouds, smudging the lines between roof and sky. Negotiations for the million-dollar property had hinged on those shingles, Chantal mused. Using every ounce of her diplomacy, she had convinced the previous owner to replace part of the roof rather than lose his only qualified buyer in a year. Tonight she was going to scale those imperial heights to repay a debt long overdue. There was no other way.

She moved in close enough to have a clear line of sight of the long gravel drive and noted with satisfaction the bevy of Porsches, Mercedes, and four-wheel drives clustered along it. Intermittent notes of music caught the soft night breeze and drifted toward her side of the mountain. The après-ski party was in full swing; the outside security system would be turned off—at least on the ground floor.

Chantal released her mountaineering bindings and settled in under a shelter of pine boughs. The storm front tumbled in over Independence Pass, dropping its frozen moisture in waves of heavy silence. And she waited, every move she’d make in the next four hours clicking through her mind. The storm passed, and by the time night had truly fallen, a full moon had risen to fill the landscape with shadows.

She slipped off her white pack and pulled a smaller, black one out. Adrenaline pulsed through her, warming her body and honing her senses. Her heart pounded and her throat got dry, and not for the first time she was tempted to turn around, to let the family’s honor, or dishonor, die without her intervention. For the past ten years she had lived an exemplary life, subduing every rebellious urge, not daring to risk ruining everything again. But tonight she had to go against those years of careful training. There was more than honor at stake here, and what others had stolen from her family she was determined to return—one necklace of a hundred diamonds and a single perfect emerald.

She fingered the zipper of her pack, telling herself again and again that this was the only way. There would be no turning back. Tonight a debt would be paid in full and her life would be her own.

In minutes she was dressed completely in black, the turtleneck and form-fitting wool pants she had worn underneath her white down suit hiding her in the night. The white fur-lined hood was replaced with a black knit hat, and she carefully checked to make sure all her hair was covered. For her last piece of camouflage she exchanged her white boots for a pair of soft black leather sneakers. Then she pulled off her mittens and smeared blackface over her cheeks. She dabbed some on her chin and made one quick swipe across her forehead.

Her thin black gloves were looped over her belt, and she murmured a silent prayer as she slipped them on. Then, with only a quick glance to make sure her skis were well hidden, she slung the smaller pack onto her back and loped through the trees toward the south side of the house.

* * *

 

Jaz Peterson wedged his foot between two hunks of the natural stone wall of the north side of the Sandhurst mansion and heaved himself over the edge of the roof. All in all it had been an easy, free climb, even with eight pounds of rappelling gear bandoliered across his chest. The tricky part was going to be hanging in front of the eastern window of the library and cutting an opening in it. In truth, his biggest worry was getting caught in the act. If he pulled off the heist he was safe; he knew Sandhurst would never report the crime. Stealing classified documents to sell to the global opposition wasn’t something Sandhurst—or anyone else in his position—would call the police about, no matter how ticked off he was.

When the Air Force had finally realized they couldn’t put Sandhurst away yet, they had decided to do the next best thing—stop him. That was where Jaz came in. A call here, a flight there, and one Jasper Peterson, retired Air Force Intelligence, now a private investigator, found himself inching along a frozen roof in the mountains around Aspen, Colorado, instead of soaking up the sun in Mexico. There was no justice.

One little screw-up and you owed your life to those military types, he thought. Easy for them to ruin his life instead of sacrificing one of their own. Either way, this should square him with General Moore. And not for the first time Jaz wondered if a dishonorable discharge would have been so hard to live with. Certainly none of his clients gave a damn about his military record.

What clients? he thought with a snort. Thank heavens the fishing was free and the weather was warm in Mexico. He hoped the general reimbursed him for his time, or it was going to be another lean season lying on the beach in Cozumel. Maybe, and it was a hesitant maybe, it was time to abandon the expatriate game and come home.

Then again, maybe not. The general had mentioned payment in a roundabout way. What had he said? Something like, “I’ll make it worth your while, Jasper.”

In retrospect, that didn’t sound all that promising. He and the general definitely had different ideas on what made things worthwhile.

Jaz anchored the climbing rope to a strategically placed chimney that was right where his information had told him it would be. But before he hooked his harness on, he stretched flat out on his stomach and edged his body partway over the roof, using his strength and an innate sense of balance to keep from falling off. The library window was dark. It was also a sheer expanse of plate glass from floor to ceiling, the whole house hanging over a seventy-foot drop into darkness. Jaz swore under his breath and eased himself back onto the roof. He’d expected the cliff, but the window was all wrong. Dangerously wrong. What in the hell was he supposed to do with one huge window? Whatever the general offered, he was asking for double. No, he was insisting.

* * *

 

Chantal worked herself up to the roof, her short stature making the overhang the biggest obstacle she had to overcome besides a serious dose of misgivings. Taking a deep breath, she curled her fingers around the drainpipe and swung her legs out from the wall and over the edge. The instant her foot landed, she pressed it against a shingle and pulled the rest of her body onto the roof. In the span of a heartbeat, like a cat, she was on the balls of her feet. With instinctive surefootedness and keeping a low profile, she pattered over the peaks and valleys of the roof, knowing exactly where she wanted to go.

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