It Takes a Thief (Excerpt)

“How did you find me? Did you follow me here?”

“I have my ways.” She drummed her fingertips against the leather of her purse.

“So you broke in here, and you’re all by yourself?”

She nodded.

“That’s not very smart, little girl.” His posture was stiff and coiled to spring, despite the bravado in his voice. “I could hurt you.”

She swept him with an appraising gaze. He had a bit of muscle in his arms. He was willowy, but not wiry, strong and no doubt fast and flexible. He could probably fight. He could probably fight other people just like him.

She wasn’t like him.

“No, you couldn’t.”

He furrowed his brow. Then he glanced at the table next to the bed, which had a drawer in it. She had no doubt there was a gun in that drawer.

“You seem like a rather fashionable, modern gentleman.” She unfolded her arms from around the purse. “I’m sure you could get a nice price for this bag.” She opened it.

“Oh, I could.” He sounded like he was trying to be threatening, but failed. “It’s Fendi. I know a guy. He specializes in stuff like that. I could probably get a good five hundred for it. He could sell it for more.”

She delved inside and pulled her wallet out. “So, how come you haven’t gotten it to your ‘guy’ yet?” She held up the wallet. “You could probably get a couple hundred for this, too.”

His eyes glittered. His face was much harder than at the café, even when he revealed his true self. And yet, he was still handsome, sexy even. A dangerous man, at least by his standards. The idea was provocative, a ghost of what he’d stirred in her earlier.

She opened her wallet. “But, you haven’t even gone through it yet because you’re not very good at this. If you were a skilled thief, you would have taken this directly to your fence instead of bringing it home. Which means, either you’re feeling guilty, or you’re new at this. Or both.”

“I’m good at what I do lady, make no mistake about that.”

“Well then, whatever it is you do.” She pulled the bills out of their pocket—four hundreds, a fifty, a sheaf of twenties—and held them up. “It’s not this.”

He flicked his gaze to the money. A hint of desperation as his pupils dilated.

She stood, purse clutched in her other hand and held the money out to him. “You can have it. It’s all you really want.”

He stared at the money, then at her. The visible tension in his shoulders and neck told her he very much wanted to step forward and take it.

“How the hell did you find me, and how the hell did you get in here?” His voice dropped low, almost to a whisper. For a second, she caught a glimpse of the man at the café, vulnerable and cute.

“It’s a long story.” She continued holding the money out.

He didn’t move to take it, though he did look at it again with that quiet longing.

Enough of this.

She walked over to him swiftly and stuffed it down the front of his pants. He gasped, and his eyes popped wide. Up close, he was even more beguiling. His eyes were clear gray, his lashes delicate and long, golden like his trail. He smelled like the cologne that hung in the air.

She stepped back and shouldered her purse. Maybe she’d give it to Lexi since she liked it so much.

“I’m gonna go now. Whatever in your life has led you to these choices, I suggest you reconsider your options. Perhaps another career would be better for you, and safer.”

He touched the money bulge in the front of his jeans and gaped at her. It was too bad, really. She would have had such fun discovering what kind of lover he was. She still believed him to be thorough and skilled, unlike his thievery.

She stepped around him to the window. He turned and stared dumbly at her, arms dangling at his sides. Then he gasped as she slung one leg out the window. She touched the ledge with her foot and was about to slip out. Maybe, in a few days, he’d think he dreamed it all.

“What are you doing?” His voice rose. “You’ll kill yourself. You can’t go out like that!”

“Don’t worry about me. I got this.” She ducked out the window.

She wasn’t fast enough. He reached out and gripped her wrist.

As he did, a terrible sensation swept through her, one she knew all too well. A whisper unlike any other spoke directly and powerfully to the very core of her being.

In that instant, all the thrill of flirtation, anything he’d awakened in her, and even the hope of settling back into her nice, comfortable boredom was painfully and irrevocably dashed.

“Don’t,” he said. “My God, you’re gonna fall.”

She gazed transfixed at his long fingers wrapped around her wrist, at his shiny, neat nails with their hint of golden glow. She sagged on the windowsill.

“Oh no,” the words barely escaped her lips. I’m going to have to kill you now.