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Authors: Kacey Mark

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Cursed by Chemistry

BOOK: Cursed by Chemistry
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Table of Contents

Cursed by Chemistry

Publishng Page

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

About the Author

Also Available

Also Read

Thank You

Cursed by Chemistry

by

Kasey Mark

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

Cursed by Chemistry

COPYRIGHT © 2015 by Kacey Mark

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

Cover Art by
Diana Carlile

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewilderroses.com

Publishing History

First Scarlet Rose Edition, 2015

Print ISBN 978-1-5092-0412-0

Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-0413-7

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

Many thanks to

Doree Anderson, Sandy Rowland, Clancy Metzger, and Keith Hale for their undying support!

Chapter One

Oh, great. Him again.

Shauna eyed the lone, pale SUV as it sloshed through a dark puddle and jostled into the parking lot. The streetlight’s beams glanced off the golden emblem painted on the vehicle’s door.

Her heart rate sped to a gallop.

She tossed the large stone cradled in her hand. It jumped and skittered away into the shadows.

Shauna’s glossy, white rain boots clicked over wet asphalt. Caught in the open with no place to hide, she fought the panic crawling through her and the urge to increase her pace.

She could have lost something—her wallet, maybe? That’s a time sensitive issue and a perfect excuse to be there after hours. Or she could have taken a job throwing boxes on the night crew. Her contact, Samuel, would have to cover for her.

She glanced to her berry-pink trench coat. Not really dressed to pull off manual labor. Better go with the wallet story instead.

Shauna shielded her eyes from the SUV’s blinding beams as she continued on her path to the mall’s vacant loading dock. The vehicle slowed to a crawl beside her as if trolling for an explanation. The window planed down with an electric hum.

Shauna swallowed hard, lifted her chin a notch, and continued marching. She might not be able to explain it aloud, but she
did
have every right to be there. She’d been invited. So what if the invitation had come with a three-hundred dollar price tag…

“Good evening.”

Her vision narrowed on the cement staircase ahead. She hated that sharp, full of purpose, tone—like she was in trouble. She cast the agent a brief glance before returning her focus to the twin metal doors of bay 215. She tried to steady her voice. “Huh—hi.”
Yeah. Keep trying.

His voice took on a note of intrigue. Almost delight. “We’ve got to stop meeting like this.”

She slid her gaze in his direction again and managed a weak laugh. Utah might be the Shakespearian mecca for romance and destiny, but not this encounter. This seemed more like stalking.

“This is two nights in a row, and I told you before, the mall closes at eleven.”

Shauna blinked. “Isn’t mall security a little out of your jurisdiction? Detective?”

His thin lips pressed together in pause. “Agent.” His tone hardened as he matched her accusation. “Is there some reason why you’re out here? Again?”

“I’m meeting someone.”

“The someone without a name?” he quipped.

Heat crept over her face. She stopped, tossed a help-me smile to the blanketed sky, and then pivoted to the driver’s side window. She could just make out the occupant’s shadowed features in the dashboard’s glow. What was his name again? Squid-linski? With a bulbous head and a nose like that, he could certainly pass for a squid.

“Mall’s had a rash of break-ins lately. I’m not so sure you should be out here by yourself.”

Shauna tipped her head. “But I’m not by myself.” She coated her voice with sticky-sweet sarcasm. “I have you.”

She set her shoulders and headed for the bay doors again. Just fifteen feet from the paint-crusted steps.
Almost there.

The car’s engine persisted. The grit of tires on pavement followed alongside her.

“Well, that’s true…but see, here’s the problem.” His voice elevated because, apparently, Shauna had nothing better to do than listen to him all night. “I did a little checking. The mall association thinks these burglaries are an inside job.”

Shauna gripped the cold, metal railing. Her tone matched her pace as she crept up each step of the loading platform. Anxiety nipped at her ankles. “Uh-huh. Inside job. That’s great. Very interesting. Good sleuthing there. But I don’t see how that has anything to do with me. You see, I’m…
outside
.”

The vehicle eked to a stop. The detective—agent—whatever, threw open the door and stepped out. His tone elevated as he followed her up the stairs. “Bottom line, the dock is off limits to unauthorized visitors, especially after dark. Let’s see some ID.”

She stopped short of the door. “Like you don’t already know who I am.” With a sigh of indignation, Shauna rifled through her patent-leather billfold. “Seriously. This is borderline harassment.”

“It’s also borderline trespassing.”

She dealt him her driver’s license. “The FBI must not be paying you new guys enough these days if you’re moonlighting as a mall cop.” She hammered three short knocks on the metal door.

Nothing.

“Very funny.” He frowned at the plastic card. The moment of silence stretched out for what seemed like a week. “Is your friend
invisible
, Miss Tamson?”

The dopey swagger of each passing second continued, and the pressure built until Shauna had few options between dashing off like an escaped mental patient and appealing to his better nature. Neither option sounded good.

Why hadn’t Samuel answered yet? He gave strict instructions to only knock once but maybe he didn’t hear it.

“It is
Miss
, Right?” Squidlinski persisted. “You’re not married?”

“No.”
Not yet, anyway.

“Boyfriend?”

The contents of her stomach churned with unease. “Geez, don’t they brief you people anymore? Read your freakin’ paperwork.”

The feds had been lurking in the shadows of her life long enough for at least one lead agent to retire. Never thought she’d miss Special Agent Oaks. She even sent him flowers on his big day. The guy was old. Slow. She could outrun that one.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“Yes. I have a boyfriend,” she exclaimed.

His gaze lowered to her mouth, where she had apparently been trying to gnaw her way free. “You paused there. Are you lying to me?” He tipped his head. “Do you know where liars go?”

Shauna stuffed both hands into her trench coat. She jerked them out again the moment her hand touched yet another stone seeking woolen refuge in her pocket. “I’m not lying. And since when do people get taken to jail for lying?”

“I didn’t say I’d take you in. Is that what you want?” His crooked grin widened. “There’s got to be a reason why you keep coming back here.” His heavy-lidded gaze took its time invading every curve and crevice from her mouth to knee-high boots. “Dressed like that. During my shift.”

She didn’t respond.

“Shauna.” He drew out her name as if urging her to admit to…whatever the hell he was trying to get at. He tucked both thumbs in his belt and widened his stance, her card anchored tight between his pudgy first and middle finger. “You can’t give me any other valid excuse for being here.”

“What’s wrong with the way I dress?” she asked, hoping to steer him off subject.

His Muppet-worthy unibrow peaked with feigned innocence. “Not a darn thing.”

“It’s perfectly modest.”

“A little too modest.”

She blinked. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

The agent leaned back. “Well, for a girl in your line of work…you must be pretty high priced to dress that way.”

Shawna’s mouth flapped open in offense.

He shrugged. “Give me another reason why you’re here. Who you meeting with?”

Did he just label her a prostitute? “I work at a
make-up counter
. Clinique, actually.” She couldn’t help the pissed-off superiority that laced into her tone. Sixteen months of cosmetology school and for what? To be labeled a streetwalker? Don’t think so.

“Clinique? Like here at the mall?”

Shauna clamped her lips between her teeth. Did she really want this federal creeper to know where she worked?

His lips curved into a victorious smile. “Uh-huh. Then why use the back door—and why would your so-called boyfriend let you wander around this late without him?”

“You know, your badge isn’t a stalking license. Why don’t you save the harassment for traditional business hours?”

The agent didn’t move.

Shauna pushed out a sigh of irritation. “My boyfriend’s busy. And besides, he doesn’t own me. He likes that I’m independent.” She cast a wistful smile heavenward in an attempt to blow off her little white lie. In reality, no way in hell would she tell Richard where she’d gone. Or why she was here.

West Valley wasn’t the safest place after dark. It wasn’t that big either, and with a name as prominent as Tenerelli, she couldn’t utter it aloud without people making the connection. Word might get back to him, and he would freak. Out.

“Look. I appreciate your mission to serve and protect the lamp posts out here,” she nodded to the pole above door 215, “and that one’s out by the way.”

“What—”

She stole another quick rap on the door when the agent looked to the marred light pole and the pixie sprinkle of broken glass below it. The light’s shell held one gaping cavity where a bulb had been, and another light that buzzed and flickered in self-defense.

Lucky he hadn’t shown up earlier. Then he’d have a vandalism charge on her too.

“See. You have a stone-throwing, light-buster person to catch, and I need to be on my way.” She searched the door for some kind of knob or lever to grant her access, but a thin metal plate was welded where the doorknob should’ve been. The one way through the door was from the inside.

The agent menaced over her. “That light was fine an hour ago.”

Shauna dipped her gaze to evade him. “Wow, and I was only joking about the mall cop job. You really are working here?”

He angled his head low, denying any escape. “There are easier ways to get my attention, you know.”

“I don’t want your attention—”

The muggy heat of his arm pressed against her shoulder when he braced one hand on the door. “Now you have it.”

Yippee. Frustration itched up her sides. Another setback. She’d have to bail, contact Samuel, and hope to try again in a few hours.

Dammit, that was going to cost another three hundred. She didn’t have it. But she couldn’t just give up. Her whole future depended on this.

“Putting yourself in
yet another
compromising position.” He angled his head. “Tell me. What happens when you do that, Ms. Tamson?”

“Look, I’m real sorry I blew your cover and all. I don’t want any trouble. So I’ll just leave—”

“Sparks? Fireworks?”

“I don’t believe in that magic shit.” She held out her hand. “My license, please?”

“What license?” he countered.

She stared.

“You really shouldn’t be driving without one by the way. Do you need a ride somewhere?” he asked.

Shauna edged away from him and toward the tin can, compact car she’d stowed across the street. “I’ll walk, thanks.” His boss would be getting a call in the morning. By the time she finished with him, he’d be downgraded to dogcatcher.

He stepped in front of her. His gaze pinned on the large button of her trench coat that fastened just below her breasts. “A little troublemaker like you shouldn’t be out wandering the streets. Let me take you home.”

“Again, thanks but no thanks.”

“Are you…resisting?” he asked.

She arched a sardonic brow. “Are you…using cheesy, porn-cop talk on me?”

BOOK: Cursed by Chemistry
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