This is Book #1 in the COLD JUSTICE series.
Justice isn’t always black or white.
Former CIA assassin Alex Parker works for The Gateway Project, a clandestine government organization hell-bent on taking out serial killers and pedophiles before they enter the justice system. Alex doesn’t enjoy killing, but he’s damn good at it. He’s good at dodging the law, too—until a beautiful rookie agent has him wondering what it might be like to get caught.
FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney has spent years hunting the lowlife who abducted her identical twin sister eighteen years ago. Now, during an on-going serial killer investigation, Mallory begins to suspect there’s a vigilante operating outside the law. She has no choice but to take him down, because murder isn’t justice. Is it?
Sometimes it’s cold and dark.
When Mallory starts asking questions, The Gateway Project management starts to sweat, and orders Alex to watch her. As soon as they meet, the two begin to fall in love. But the lies and betrayals that define Alex’s life threaten to destroy them both—especially when the man who stole her sister all those years ago makes Mallory his next target, and Alex must reveal his true identity to save the woman he loves.
Available in ebook and print format on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca
The bar was in an upscale DC hotel just a block from her father’s apartment. She’d given herself permission to go out, get drunk and spend the weekend recovering, something she hadn’t done since she finished law school. It was a Friday night in November and the place was dimly lit and packed by what looked like some weird engineering convention. Mallory grabbed an empty stool at the end of the bar. She slipped out of her coat and draped it over her knees, ordered a shot of McClelland’s.
She raised her glass in a toast to her sister and knocked back the drink. She’d put on make-up and changed into a black cocktail number so they’d think she was meeting someone for dinner and be less likely to throw her out before she hit her limit. She needed something to make her forget and sitting alone in her apartment with a bottle of scotch seemed even more pathetic than surrounding herself with strangers. She had friends in the city but she didn’t want to see anyone—not tonight.
Eighteen years ago tonight, she’d gone to bed and by the time she’d woken up, her life, and that of many others, had been destroyed. Why had the bastard taken Payton and not her? Had she said or done something to put her sister at risk? Was it her fault, or just blind luck?
Mallory had been a sleepwalker—had she been gone when the kidnapper arrived?—then climbed back into bed and slept on in childish oblivion? Had she unlocked the front door? Let someone into the house? She didn’t know. Couldn’t remember. The night was blocked from her memory. All she remembered was waking up and Payton being gone. She raised her finger to the barman who gave her a nod while he dealt with another customer.
Festive lights twinkled and Michael Bublé sang “Jingle Bells.” If she’d had her weapon she’d have blasted the sound system into a thousand component parts.
She sipped the next drink and it scorched her throat. When that was finished, she switched to a white wine spritzer before the barman cut her off. She wanted to get drunk but she didn’t want to be unconscious. Not yet anyway.
In the space of one week, her nice orderly progression through the ranks of the FBI had been turned on its head. She’d been burglarized, managed to upset her mother, and she was being sent into a new job for the express purpose of spying on her colleagues and figuring out if one of them was in league with a killer and therefore a potential candidate for Death Row.
It was not a way to make friends and Mallory was sadly lacking in friends these days. Someone brushed against her as they took the stool beside her. She set her teeth and narrowed her eyes as she stared into the bubbles in her wine. If someone tried to pick her up she was going to hurt them.
“I didn’t expect to see you in DC, Special Agent Rooney.”
Blinking in surprise, she turned to see Alex Parker sitting beside her. Her heart gave a panicked little flutter. Not now. Not tonight.
But why not tonight? Everything else was messed up, why not this?
Screw it. She raised her glass in salute and took a big gulp. “My plans unexpectedly changed. Do you come here often, Mr. Parker?” There was a bitter edge to her tone. She was unaccountably glad to see him, but she didn’t want company for tonight’s meltdown. She just wanted mindless oblivion. No interested bystanders.
“Sometimes.” He shrugged. He looked different today. Still gorgeous, but not in a businessman way. A black T-shirt molded well-defined muscles and well-worn jeans hugged the rest. Her eyes traveled over him as he ordered a beer. A tattoo peeked just beneath the edge of his sleeve. He looked like the soldier he’d once been rather than the security consultant he now was. He caught her eye, expression serious. “Do you mind if I sit here?”
She shook her head though she was torn. Fact was she wanted to get to know the guy—and wanted to spend time outside of her own head for a change. But talking wasn’t nearly as satisfying as drowning her sorrows for a few hours or days.
“This doesn’t violate your no-dating rule?”
Her mouth went dry. “Sitting beside me does not violate the no-dating rule.”
His eyes darkened to charcoal. “How about talking? Would talking violate the no-dating rule?”
The wine cooled as it slid down her throat. But a warm glow spread through her stomach and her muscles started to unknot. The alcohol was finally doing its job. “Talking doesn’t violate the no-dating rule either, but I don’t have much to say right now. In fact I’m not very good company.” She may as well be honest. He seemed like a nice guy and she didn’t believe in stringing people along. Unfortunately she didn’t have any choice at work for the foreseeable future. Great. She was being pathetic and she hated pathetic. She took another gulp of wine.
“I’m not much of a talker either.” The edge of his lips curled and she felt a sexual ping down to her toes. The man had a sinful mouth. Full lips and a small cleft in his chin. And he smelled good too. Like sandalwood soap and clean male skin. “Any particular reason we’re celebrating tonight?” He tipped a beer bottle to his lips and she watched the muscles in his throat work as he swallowed.
Then it struck her.
He didn’t know.
He didn’t know about her tragic past.
Relief burst through her that someone in the universe didn’t consider her an object of pity. She finished her wine and ordered another whiskey.
“Make that two.” Alex told the barman.
They sat in silence, nursing their drinks, listening to Michael Bublé sing “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The melancholy of this time of year drifted over her like a cloud. The week before Thanksgiving marked her sister’s abduction. Christmas itself marked a big fat void in her family’s life. An empty seat at the table. Years of unopened presents.
Mallory wasn’t in the mood for shots anymore. She had a nice buzz going and a different kind of energy was invading her cells. For some reason, the stupid sentimental Christmas song reminded her she hadn’t had sex in over two years and that the guy sitting next to her was not only built, he’d actually asked her out. He wasn’t some stranger pick-up; he was one of Lucas Randall’s best friends, and Lucas didn’t tolerate assholes. She caught herself leaning closer to him because he smelled so damn good. The biceps in his arms bunched under that tattoo every time he took a drink and she felt a funny little quiver just from looking at him. Her gaze ran over the hair cut short on the nape of his neck, the wide shoulders, and taut stomach. Even his boots were sexy. She turned away, only to catch his gaze in the mirror behind the bar. He smiled wryly. He’d seen her checking him out and the heat in those gray depths told their own story.
Desire coiled deep inside. She looked down into her glass but wasn’t feeling thirsty anymore.
Her skin felt hypersensitive. Nipples beaded against the black silk of her dress making her arousal obvious. She felt his eyes on her. Felt the weight of interest. Heat flamed through her body. There was a quiver between her legs that had her squeezing her thighs together.
She licked her lips and he stopped watching her through the mirror and turned toward her instead. There was an alertness in his gaze. A gravity in the way he looked at her. The guy was incredibly sexy. Perfectly symmetrical face. Strong jaw. Bedroom eyes and that damn mouth of his. There were other ways to find oblivion...
Available in ebook and print format on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca