Authors: Jennifer Estep
We stood there, staring at each other. An invisible electric current hummed between us, firing off sparks of hot desire in every direction. I breathed in. The detective’s clean, soapy scent filled my nose, overpowering the cumin, red pepper, and other spices in the air. Donovan looked away and cleared his throat.
“You want to tell me what happened?” he asked in a low voice.
“You want to tell me why you’re here?” I countered. Donovan stared at me. “All right. I asked dispatch to let me know if there were any incidents at the Pork Pit.”
“Why? Afraid I might take to killing people in my own place of business? You must not have gotten the memo, but I’ve retired, detective.”
His black eyebrows drew together in surprise. “Retired?”
I nodded. “Retired.”
Some emotion flared in his amber eyes. It might have been relief or even hope, but it was gone before I could decipher it. “Well, good for you, I suppose.”
Praise for Jennifer Estep and
is a raw, gritty and compelling walk on the wild side, one that had me hooked from the first page. Jennifer Estep has created a fascinating heroine in the morally ambiguous Gin Blanco—I can’t wait to read the next chapter of Gin’s story.”
New York Times
bestselling author of
Blaze of Memory
This title is also available as an eBook
“Watch out world, here comes Gin Blanco. Funny, smart, and dead sexy.”
—Lilith Saintcrow, author of
“I love rooting for the bad guy—especially when she’s also the heroine.
is a sizzling combination of mystery, magic and murder. Kudos to Jennifer Estep!”
—Jackie Kessler, author of
Hotter Than Hell
“Jennifer Estep is a dark, lyrical, and fresh voice in urban fantasy. Brimming with high octane-fueled action, labyrinthine conspiracies, and characters who will steal your heart,
is an original, fast-paced, tense, and sexy read. Gin is an assassin to die for.”
—Adrian Phoenix, author of
In the Blood
“A sexy and edgy thriller that keeps you turning the pages. In
Jennifer Estep turns up the heat and suspense with Gin Blanco, an assassin whose wit is as sharp as her silverstone knives… She’ll leave no stone unturned and no enemy breathing in her quest for revenge.
leaves you dying for more.”
—Lisa Shearin, national bestselling author of the Raine Benares fantasy series
“Chick lit meets comics lit in Estep’s fresh debut… A zippy prose style helps lift this zany caper far above the usual run of paranormal romances.”
“Secret identities and superpowers take on a delightful and humorous twist in Estep’s exciting debut. Fun and sexy… Here’s hoping for more Bigtime adventures from this impressive talent.”
“Karma Girl is hilarious and, an even better trick, real. We all know these people, but who among us can say we’d seize our destiny the way brokenhearted Carmen does?
New York Times
bestselling author of
Undead and Unwelcome
“Jennifer Estep’s action-packed world of radioactive goo, alliterative aliases, and very hot-looking leather tights is outrageously entertaining. Jennifer Estep’s exciting new voice will leap into readers’ hearts in a single bound.”
—Rachel Gibson, New York Times bestselling author of True Love and Other Disasters
“A big thumbs-up.
had me laughing and cheering to the end! Engrossing, sexy, laugh-out-loud fun. I want to be a superhero!”
—Candace Havens, author of
Dragons Prefer Blondes
“A fresh, hilarious new voice.
will have you rooting for the good girls.”
bestselling author of
“Snappy and diverting.”
“Smokin’… Feverishly clever plotting fuels Estep’s over-the-top romance.”
“It’s back to Bigtime, NY, for more sexy, sizzling and offbeat adventures with those zany superheroes. Estep’s twist on the world of superheroes is kick-ass fun!”
The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as "unsold and destroyed." Neither the author or the publisher has received payment for the sale of this "stripped book."
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 by Jennifer Estep
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Manufactured in the United States of America
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ISBN 978-1-4391-5544-8 (ebook)
As always, this book is dedicated to my mom and grandma for taking such good care of me.
And to Andre for doing the same.
Thanks for always understanding when I have to disappear to do “book stuff.” Your love and support means more to me than you will ever know.
Once again, this book would not have been possible without the help of many, many people.
Thanks to Annelise Robey for her unwavering support, and to Megan McKeever and Lauren McKenna for all their editorial advice and encouragement.
Thanks to Kathy Still, who answered my questions about coal mining and more. Any mistakes are mine, not hers.
And finally, thanks to all the readers out there. Knowing that folks enjoy my books is one of the things that makes it all worthwhile.
“Freeze! Nobody move! This is a robbery!”
Wow. Three clichés in a row. Somebody was seriously lacking in the imagination department.
But the shouted threats scared someone, who squeaked out a small scream. I sighed. Screams were always bad for business. Which meant I couldn’t ignore the trouble that had just walked into my restaurant—or deal with it the quick, violent way I would have preferred. A silverstone knife through the heart is enough to stop most trouble in its tracks. Permanently.
So I pulled my gray eyes up from the paperback copy of
that I’d been reading to see what all the fuss was about.
Two twentysomething men stood in the middle of the Pork Pit, looking out of place among the restaurant’s blue and pink vinyl booths. The dynamic duo sported black trench coats that covered their thin T-shirts and flapped against their ripped, rock star jeans. Neither one wore a hat or gloves, and the fall chill had painted their ears and fingers a bright cherry red. I wondered how long they’d stood outside, gathering up the courage to come in and yell out their trite demands.
Water dripped off their boots and spread across the faded blue and pink pig tracks that covered the restaurant floor. I eyed the men’s footwear. Expensive black leather thick enough to keep out the November cold. No holes, no cracks, no missing bootlaces. These two weren’t your typical desperate junkies looking for a quick cash score.
No, they had their own money—lots of it, from the looks of their pricey shoes, vintage T-shirts, and designer jeans.
These two rich punks were robbing my barbecue restaurant just for the thrill of it.
Worst fucking decision they’d ever made.
“Freeze!” the first guy repeated, as if we all hadn’t heard him before.
He was a beefy man with spiky blond hair held up by some sort of shiny hair-care product. Probably a little giant blood in his family tree somewhere, judging from his six-foot-six frame and large hands. Despite his twentysomething years, baby fat still puffed out his face like a warm, oozing marshmallow. The guy’s brown eyes flicked around the restaurant, taking in everything from the baked beans bubbling on the stove behind me to the hissing french fryer to the battered, bloody copy of
Where the Red Fern Grows
mounted on the wall beside the cash register.
Then Beefcake turned his attention to the people inside the Pork Pit to make sure we were all following his demands. Not many folks to look at. Monday was usually a slow day, made even more so by the cold bluster of wind and rain outside. The only other people in the restaurant besides me and the would-be robbers were my dwarven cook, Sophia Deveraux, and a couple of customers—two college-age women wearing skinny jeans and tight Tshirts not unlike those the robbers sported.
The women sat shocked and frozen, eyes wide, barbecue beef sandwiches halfway to their lips. Sophia stood next to the stove, her black eyes flat and disinterested as she watched the beans bubble. She grunted once and gave them a stir with a metal spoon. Nothing much ever bothered Sophia.
The first guy raised his hand. A small knife glinted in his red, chapped fingers. A hard, thin smiled curved my lips. I liked knives.
“Chill out, Jake,” the second guy muttered. “There’s no need to scream.”
I looked at him. Where his buddy was blond and beefy, robber number two was short and bone-thin. His wispy hair stuck up due to uncontrollable cowlicks instead of an overabundance of product. The locks were a bright red that had probably earned him the nickname Carrot at some point. Carrot shoved his hands into his holey pockets, shifted on his feet, and stared at the floor, clearly wanting to be somewhere other than here. A reluctant sidekick at best. Probably tried to talk his buddy out of this nonsense. He should have tried harder.