Authors: Cleo Peitsche
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Contemporary Fiction
WANTED BY A DANGEROUS MAN
All Romance eBooks Edition
Copyright, Legal Notice and Disclaimer:
WANTED BY A DANGEROUS MAN
© 2014 by Cleo Peitsche. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means without permission in writing from the author. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, events, locations and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This book is for entertainment purposes only.
This book contains mature content and is solely for adults.
Cover Photo ©2014 by Pouch Pictures
Thank you for purchasing this ebook. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I look forward to sharing more of my stories with you.
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Other Titles By Cleo
After Forever/Bisexual Billionaire Trilogy (Threesome Romance)
Office Toy Series (BDSM Gang Bang Romance)
By a Dangerous Man (BDSM Erotic Romantic Suspense)
Trapped by a Dangerous Man
Wanted by a Dangerous Man
Saved by a Dangerous Man
Take Me Hard Series (BDSM Romance)
Ride Me Hard
Love Me Hard
Use Me Hard
Take Me Hard Compilation #1
Push Me Hard
Fantasy Playland Series (BDSM)
Sleeping chez Sade
Fantasy Playland Box Set
Mistress Moi Series (Femdom)
My Three Slaves
Faye-Faye and the Sadist
Bad Boyfriend Series (Femdom Romance)
The first few days after Corbin left were a logistical nightmare. Even though I was free to hold onto his luxury SUV as long as I wanted, I wasn’t comfortable with that. Corbin was, by his own admission, a killer. There was a $2 million bounty for his capture.
And I was a bounty hunter.
Yes, he’d saved my life, but that excuse to look the other way would only work for so long.
Corbin had promised that he would arrange for my car to be delivered from its snowy culvert ditch. Another no-go area for me. I dipped into my paltry savings and found the money for a tow, gritting my teeth because the blizzard of the century had rocketed prices into the stratosphere. Unfortunately, asking friends or family for help was impossible. Not unless I wanted to explain why I’d wrecked in the middle of nowhere.
There was no easy answer for that.
Corbin had also left me a snazzy cell phone, to replace the old crappy one I’d lost in the blizzard. Except for one detail. My “lost” phone turned up in my car. The only logical conclusion was that when I collapsed in the middle of the road, my phone miraculously sprouted legs and walked back to the car.
I texted that to Corbin, replying to the message he’d left the morning he slipped away. He didn’t respond. There were so many things I wanted to say, and even more questions to ask. He’d promised that in two weeks he’d be back in town. So I floated through life, working out harder at the gym, shaving my legs every day just in case he returned earlier, and counting down the hours until I could look into his gorgeous blue-green eyes and see if our connection was real. Because here was the craziest part: I didn’t even know Corbin Lagos. Not really.
But I did.
It was completely screwed up, and I felt out of control.
So I threw his phone in the drawer of my foyer table—not that my tiny, dirt-hole apartment had a real foyer—and then I invented all sorts of reasons to be near the rickety table, like searching inside for a pen even though there were plenty of pens scattered around. It didn’t make a difference, though; his phone stayed silent.
At three weeks, after half a bottle of cheap wine, I sent Corbin a terse message that his SUV was
parked on my street. The text stalled as “undeliverable.” When I tried to pull out the number so I could contact him through my crappy flip phone, I saw that it had been logged as 000. Which made no sense because it must have been a working number at some point.
Yet the next day, the SUV vanished. It had a state-of-the-art alarm system. No way had it been stolen. But that didn’t mean Corbin was the one who reclaimed it.
When five weeks passed and Corbin didn’t come back, I realized he wasn’t going to. Every morning I checked the Most Wanted lists, and he was always in the top spot. Corbin was out there, free, and he’d chosen to ignore me. Now it was January. A new year, and my resolution was already laid out for me in glittering letters a mile high: forget Corbin Lagos.
I should have been relieved by his disappearance. No more hot sex with Corbin, no more being stunned by his delicious food or the way he could waltz, no more nightmares over the way he intrigued and frightened me.
But also, no more worrying about having to bring him in. Because I wasn’t just any bounty hunter. I was the youngest (by six minutes, thanks to my twin Rob, who was never again early after that day) member of Stroop Finders, the bounty hunting business that my father ruled like his personal fiefdom.
So I gathered up the pieces of my life and began the process of sorting through them. It was a new year, after all. I could be a new, better version of Audrey Stroop.
Dating. I’d always been more of a hookup sort of girl, but I didn’t want that anymore. Often I was working, waiting for some deadbeat to surface so I could haul his ass in and collect the bounty, which would go to my dad. No glory, and not much fun. My father made sure I didn’t get anywhere near the big prizes.
Needless to say, he’d never known that I’d tracked Corbin.
The man I was currently tracking, a rat-faced loser by the name of John Jones, owed over $100,000 in child support. He’d been arrested for missing court dates, his mother posted bail, and he skipped town, leaving her in a pretty bad—though ultimately predictable—situation.
Amazing. John’s irritatingly commonplace name meant that internet searches were useless, so I brushed my hair and went to see the unfortunate Mrs. Jones. After I spent an hour admiring her Hummel figurine collection, she gave me the address of John’s girlfriend, a mere ten minutes away. Tears in her eyes, Mrs. Jones insisted that she loved her son. I hugged her. I understood—her house was on the line.
It made me wonder how long my mom would hold out if it were me or Rob versus her life savings. Since remarrying, my mom had changed, turning into a modern-day hippie. She might consider it her civic duty to turn us in, or she might get rebellious. Good thing she’d never be in that position.
Outside John’s girlfriend’s house, I devoured a bag of peanut butter filled pretzels. When the last bits of salt were gone, I wedged the empty bag next to the passenger seat, then flipped down the visor and checked my smile in the mirror. Because it wouldn’t do to apprehend someone with peanut butter in my teeth.
As usual in the winter, my dark curls begged for serious moisture. Rob shampooed with bar soap, never touched conditioner, and yet his straight, thick red hair was perpetually glossy. So unfair.
Eventually the front door opened, and I inched down behind my steering wheel.
The girlfriend was all dolled up, including crimson lipstick and curved fake nails. Her puffy, faux cheetah coat looked like a fire hazard. With a big, puppet nose and orangey-blonde hair, she wasn’t the most attractive woman in the world, but she seemed happy, especially considering who she was likely going to meet.
She teetered to her car and screeched out of the driveway with nary a glance in the rear-view mirror. I fastened my seatbelt and, after a few moments, followed. Jones could have come to her, but of course he didn’t. It was never easy.
I tailed her for an hour. Finally she pulled into a strip mall and hurried into a seafood restaurant. I groaned. The stench of fried clams made me queasy.
All this for a five-figure portion of the bond, of which I’d see exactly my paycheck, barely four figures every two weeks. It had been an excellent deal when I started in high school, but now I was working eighty hours a week. When Rob and I turned eighteen, Dad made us sign a seven-year non-compete contract, so I was stuck for another year. Did we ever see a raise? Or a bonus for work well done? Absolutely not. Count on family to have your back.
Bracing myself against the fishy smell, I hurried toward the restaurant. I sensed a man approaching at the same time.
“Uh-oh,” he said as we both reached for the handle. Something in his tone of voice alerted me that he wasn’t referring to the little social awkwardness of who-goes-first and who-holds-the-door. He was familiar. Late thirties or early forties, full head of sandy brown hair, slightly hawkish face, intelligent brown eyes. Not bad looking.
I tilted my head, trying to place him. He wasn’t someone I’d previously apprehended; I didn’t have that nervous fluttering in my stomach that meant I might have to summon my “let’s be calm” voice.
“You don’t recognize me, do you, Audrey?”
. And he even knew my name. “You got me.”
“Heigh. Henry Heigh.” I paused. “Uh-oh.”
“I’ve been tracking Jones for, oh, fifteen days,” Henry said.
Etiquette dictated that I yield to Henry. He’d been in the business longer. He was a freelancer and therefore personally stood to benefit more from taking Jones in. And I’d been looking for Jones ten days, part time. “Surprised we didn’t run into each other,” I said, keeping the accusation from my voice.
Henry smiled. “I’m invisible when I want to be.”
“Did you see me?”
He shrugged one shoulder, and I took that as a “yes.” Or maybe Henry was being slippery. Either way, I didn’t much care. If my dad wanted me to go to the mat over a capture, he should have instituted a bonus system.
Henry leaned one arm on the door, almost like he was chatting me up. “How’s your brother? Haven’t seen his red head at the pool hall lately.”
“The same.” Always late, always disorganized, always surrounded by fawning women who thought his job meant he was tough. I didn’t know anything about Henry’s life, so I couldn’t return the question.
“And your dad? It’s been months since we met for beers.”
“Great. Though he’s going to be pissed that the bondsman hired two companies.” I flashed a polite smile and rubbed my arms, hoping Henry would get the hint and remember that it was January and damned cold outside. “You wanna split Jones?” It was a long shot.
Henry looked at me for a moment longer than strictly necessary. “I have a better idea. Let’s split him… and then I take you to dinner.” The smile that illuminated his face was downright sexy, making me wonder about the stereotype of older men and their experienced, knowing hands.
A knee-jerk polite excuse was about to roll off my tongue, but I paused. Henry wasn’t my type. Perhaps a bit too old, actually. But telling my dad that I had met him on a job might finally convince him to stop making me work every single weekend. And maybe Henry was simply being polite, wasn’t actually hitting on me.
“Unless your boyfriend would object?” Henry asked as he leaned closer, his voice dropping an octave.
Well, that settled that. If I said yes, this was a date. And maybe I’d get lucky… maybe Henry Heigh was my soulmate. “No boyfriend. And sure.”
He opened the door. “After you.”
When I got home, the first thing I did was go to the drawer.
A few months earlier I’d read a news article about willpower. Apparently, it’s finite. If you spend all day trying not to eat that chocolate cupcake with the moist cake and seductively glistening frosting, when you get home, you’ll reach for the chips without even realizing what you’re doing. After a long week on the job, I was plumb out of willpower. Didn’t even argue with myself as I turned the phone on.
Nothing. I dug out the charger and plugged it in, telling myself that having a second, charged phone might come in handy even as I admitted that while I’d had plenty of time to recover from my weekend with Corbin, I couldn’t get the man off my mind. Sometimes, if I concentrated, I could almost feel his breath whispering against my neck, and smell his spicy aftershave and the musk of his sex-dampened skin.