To Catch A Cupid: Thomas (MacKenzie Family)

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

 

 

Dear Readers,

 

I hope you all enjoyed reading the conclusion of Dane’s story in
A Christmas Wish
.
Now it’s time to move on to Thomas. If you haven’t read the beginning of Thomas and Cat’s story, stop reading and click
HERE
to start at the beginning. If you’re up to date on things, then I hope you enjoy TO CATCH A CUPID.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the MacKenzie lovers out there who keep asking for more of this special family. I’ve loved every second of revisiting the brothers. Thomas and Cat’s story takes place ten years into their marriage, and while they love each other and have made a family together, it hasn’t always been easy. TO CATCH A CUPID gives you a glimpse into what happens after the happily-ever-after. I hope you enjoy!

 

Love always,

 

Liliana

 

 

 

The soft click of the grappling hook hitting the roof was like music to her ears.

Cat MacKenzie grinned as
she tested her weight against the rope and then hooked it to her belt. She flexed her gloved hands and took a deep breath, glancing around once more to make sure no one had seen her. An occasional car passed on Main Street, but the risk of being caught wasn’t a deterrent. Just the opposite, in fact. It made her blood sing.

Traffic was minimal on a
Saturday afternoon in Surrender, Montana. Most people stayed home or drove into the city on the weekends since all the businesses except Lucy’s Diner and Duffey’s Bar and Grill were closed. Small town living didn’t lend itself to much excitement.

S
he hoisted herself up so her feet rested against the building and began to climb. She wore black jeans, a black sweatshirt, and her Vibram-soled boots. A black ski cap was pulled over her flame red hair and thin black gloves covered her hands. Her muscles burned and beads of sweat dotted her temples despite the freezing temperatures. Since her retirement, she’d kept her body in rigorous shape. A girl never knew when she might need to scale a building.

February was still considered the middle of winter in Montana
, and deep snow banks lined the buildings. At least she’d have a soft place to land if she plummeted to the ground. The sound of a car door slamming some distance away had her scurrying the rest of the way to the top of the two-story building and heaving herself over the edge. She stayed low and listened to make sure she was in the clear before she finally allowed herself to take a breath.

Cat
curled up the rope and looped it to her utility belt. Leaving the same way she’d entered and announcing to the world that someone had broken into the building wasn’t the plan. And she
always
had a plan.

She
stayed low and made her way to one of the skylights that had been newly installed with the renovation. Skylights were one of the easiest ways to break into a place. They were rarely attached to secondary alarms and the locks were flimsy at best.

The mini drill was Velcroed to the back of her belt and it took her little time at all to remove the screws at two corners of the skylight. It was
a brand new skylight too, so she didn’t even have to jimmy it open.

“Piece of cake.”

She lifted one side of the skylight and looked into the office below. The desk was positioned just below her. Perfect.

“Out of practice, my ass.”

She slid through the opening and hung onto the edge for a few seconds before dropping softly onto the desk. A computer was the only thing on its surface. It was too big and bulky for her to want anything to do with, but a common thief would probably try to make off with it. She’d never been common. Any time she did a job, she had one item on her list and she never strayed from her plan. That was what separated the amateurs from the professionals.

The skylight dropped back into place as soon as she let go of the edge and it made more noise than she would’ve liked.
A minute was all she had to get downstairs and disarm the security system, so she moved to the door and opened it softly.

The building creaked and settled around her. She held her breath, her hear
t thumping in her chest and blood rushing in her ears, and she slipped out of the empty office and into the hallway. The surge of adrenaline was almost as good as sex.

Smells
of fresh paint and the carpet glue made her eyes burn, though it dissipated as she made her way down the wrought iron stairway. The renovations had most recently been done to the second level.

A
few pieces of crystal and mid-priced sculptures sat out on pedestals and in niches, and there were a couple of decent paintings, but the overall haul for the entire contents was only a few thousand at best. No, it wasn’t any of those things that interested her. It was the nice big safe in the plush corner office.

The seconds ticked down in her mind as she made her way
to the tiny security box on the wall closest to the front door. It was a newer model, one she hadn’t bypassed before, and the thought of being caught made her hands tremble a little as she pulled out wires and started disabling the system.

She had more to lose now than she ever had before. Getting caught wasn’t an option.
The thought of what the parents at the PTA meetings might think of her skills, or her boys being whispered about by gossiping busybodies broke her concentration.

“Come on, MacKenzie,” she whispered so the words were only a breath of sound.

Maybe she was a little out of practice, but this kind of work was just like riding a bike. Focus. Concentration. And nerves of steel.

Cat
only felt a little guilty for keeping the secret from her husband. But Thomas worried about her, and she’d promised herself that she never wanted to see that look of fear on his face again like he got whenever she left for a job. Sometimes lies by omission were a necessary evil.

A bead of
sweat snaked down her spine and the screen blinked green with only a couple of seconds to spare. That had been way too close. It never would have taken that long back in her prime.

From her
intel, she knew the safe was in the large corner office that belonged to the president of the company, and it was kept behind a better than average copy of Monet’s Water Lilies, however clichéd it may be.

Breaking into the safe
was going to be the tricky part. She didn’t doubt her ability to get it open, but on the lower floor there were security bars on all the windows. There was only one way in and one way out of the room. She hated the feeling of being trapped, but there was no way around it.

Her footsteps were silent as she made her way down another long hallway
. The door to the office was locked, but she was inside within half a second with the help of a straightened paperclip.

The room
looked just as she remembered from her visit during regular office hours a couple of weeks before. Cat left the door cracked so she could hear if anyone approached and she moved behind the desk. The painting opened on well-oiled hinges and she stared at a black safe with an electronic keypad.

“God bless computers, every one,” she murmured under her breath.

If it had been an old safe with a combination lock, the skill and time it would’ve taken her to open it would’ve been longer, but it still wouldn’t have kept her out. There wasn’t much that could keep a good thief from getting what she—or he—wanted.

Cat
opened the wiring box and then attached the handheld device that would decipher the combination. The owner had only programmed a four-digit code. Another mistake on his part. Probably a birthdate or the last four digits of his social security number if he was like ninety-eight percent of the rest of the world.

The safe door opened with a quiet click and she stood back as she swung it open wide.

“Gotcha,” she breathed, her smile satisfied.

“Not bad, MacKenzie. Less than ten minutes from start to finish.”

Cat whirled around, her heart pounding in her chest, and she scowled at the site of her brother-in-law leaning against the doorframe.


Jesus, Cooper.”

He grinned but didn’t move from his post at the door. His looks hadn’t changed much over the past ten years—
the hair at his temples had turned silver and the laugh lines around his eyes had deepened some—but he had MacKenzie blood, which meant he’d always be handsome, no matter how old he got. What
had
changed about Cooper was his feelings toward her. They hadn’t always seen eye to eye on her… former profession. 

“Snuck up on you, didn’t I? You didn’t even hear me coming.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I heard you. You’ve got the subtlety of an elephant in an antique shop.” She’d never admit that he’d gotten one over on her. Either she’d gotten sloppy or he’d gotten much better. She was leaning toward the latter.

“So what do you think about the security?”

“It’s crap. Which you already knew. So why did you have me do this little experiment?”

“The owner didn’t believe me when I told him it was crap. He thinks my position as sheriff makes me look at the worst in things.”

“Of course you look at the worst in things. That’s your job.”

“So I told him. 
The man’s an idiot, but I’m sworn to protect and serve, so I couldn’t tell him so to his face. I told him I’d get someone from MacKenzie Security to give an unbiased opinion and he agreed.”

“I don’t work for MacKenzie Security,” she said automatically. “I’m just a contractor.”

“Hmm.” Cooper raised his eyebrows but he didn’t contradict her. “Eventually you’re going to have to tell my brother what you’re doing on the side. He’s going to figure it out. And then you’ll really be in trouble.”

“I’ll tell him,” she scowled, shutting the safe with a decisive click and replacing the painting. “But I’ll tell him in my own time.
I’ve only done a couple of jobs for Declan. Hardly anything to write home about. And I do plan on telling Thomas. I just have to make him understand that Declan would never send me on any jobs where I’d be in danger. The problem is I don’t know if he’ll believe me.”


You’re scared. It’s not like he didn’t know who you were when he married you.”

“I know,” she hedged. “It’s just that things
are different now. I’ve changed.”

“What you have to ask yourself is if you changed for him.
Or for you. Thomas has always loved you just as you are. Tell him the truth. He’ll understand.”

Cat
sighed and followed Cooper to the back door of the building. She’d parked behind some trees just outside of town and had walked the rest of the way in so no would see her and accidentally mention to Thomas she’d been in town today. People in Surrender had trouble keeping secrets, no matter how small.

“I don’t know if he will understand, Coop.
I’m not the only one who’s changed.”

She’d seen the way Thomas had looked at her recently. Like he wasn’t sure he was still married to the same woman. They treated each other as polite strangers instead of going head to head as they once had.

She’d resigned her job with the FBI after working for them since she’d been barely more than a teenager. Mostly to make amends for the sins of her father and uncle, who didn’t care who they hurt when they stole things as long as they got their share of the cut.  Working for the FBI had satisfied her need for the rush, utilized her God given talents, and made her feel like she was helping in the process.

She’d loved recovering lost and stolen artifacts and returning them to where they rightfully belonged. But the element of danger had been there, and Thomas
had known that she could come back home with another gunshot wound like the first time they’d met. Or worse, she might not come back at all. So she’d resigned her position and hadn’t looked back. At least not much.

She’d thought the change would make things easier between them.
But if anything, it had driven a wedge between them, as if they no longer knew what they should say to each other. She didn’t know what was wrong—only that something was. There was a small part of her that feared he was falling out of love with her.

“He’s just more serious than the rest of us,” Coop said, squeezing her shoulder. “He’s always liked to be able to understand every problem and wrap his head around the reasons.
It’s just part of his nature. But when you drove through our fence that day with a bullet in your leg, you tossed all of that logic right out the window.”

She snorted out a laugh and realized Cooper had said just the right thing.
“He does like to plan things to death.”


You’ll work it out. Hey, I thought you two were going out of town this weekend. Isn’t it your anniversary?”

“I was all packed and ready to go, but the flu had other plans for Thomas. He’s done nothing but see
patients non-stop since yesterday morning. We’ll get around to celebrating eventually.”

At least she hoped they would. Sh
e missed the feel of her husband’s hands on her, and she realized it had been almost a month since they’d made love. What had happened to them? They’d once been insatiable. And she felt the raw tingle of lust thrumming just under her skin. Maybe part of it was leftover adrenaline. But most of it was because she missed Thomas’s touch.

She glanced at the waterproof watch on her wrist and saw it was late enough that all
his patients should be gone by now. Maybe they could still salvage part of their weekend getaway. Or maybe she’d seduce him before they could make it to the car. The kids were already staying with Thomas’s brother, Dane, for the weekend. Maybe she and Thomas just needed the house to themselves and nothing but a big soft bed.

Cat
hmmed
in satisfaction at the idea of seducing her husband as she followed Cooper to the parking lot. He opened the passenger side of his police Bronco and her lips twitched at the thought of willingly getting into a cop car. The times had most definitely changed, but one thing was still the same—she still had the hots for her husband. She couldn’t wait to get home.

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