Authors: Yvonne Harriott
Copyright © 2012 Yvonne Harriott. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without prior permission by the author.
This book is a work of fiction, the names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
I want to thank my cousin, JJ for showing me around Boston and answering all my questions. A big thank you also to my family for their continuous support. I cannot forget my beta readers, and as always, Carolyn for her marketing support.
To readers, thank you for your support! I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I loved writing it.
n uneasy feeling washed over Marklynn Brooks as she pushed on the door of her sister’s apartment and it creaked open.
“Sydney? It’s Markie. Why is your door…”
The words died in her throat as she entered the unit, stepping into the tiny foyer that led into the living room of the two-bedroom apartment unit.
Markie’s gaze swept around the room and her eyes widened in horror when she saw the brown sofa. Someone had taken a knife to it, ripping out the white upholstery.
The bookshelf and the small wall unit that housed the television had been emptied of their contents. Books, music CDs and DVDs lay scattered on the floor. The glass coffee table was smashed which accounted for the broken glass strewn across the living room floor.
She closed the door, moving quietly into the living room. A scraping noise sounded from the bedroom as if someone was moving furniture and she pulled her gun from her shoulder holster and held it firm in a two-handed grip.
Sydney? Surely if she was in the apartment her sister would have answered her call. Perhaps she wasn’t able to. She could be hurt.
Fear and adrenalin rolled into one as her hands gripped the nine-millimeter, semi-automatic Glock pistol. Whenever she drew her weapon the possibility was always there that someone could get hurt or killed. It could even be her, and that heightened awareness was always with her. You would think after quitting Boston PD five years ago the feeling would go away. But all she had done was trade one circumstance for another.
Markie moved around the sofa towards the bedroom. The broken glass crunched beneath her feet. She stopped and listened, ears cocked toward the bedroom. The next sound she heard was glass shattering. She ran towards the bedroom. As she rushed into the room she saw a man wearing a black ski mask crouching on the window ledge. He looked at her over his shoulder then jumped out the window.
Markie leaped over the overturned drawers that blocked the doorway and then up onto the bare mattress to get to the window. She tucked her gun in the waist of her slacks. Grabbing the down duvet dumped in a heap on the floor, she threw it over the jagged glass of the window ledge, jumped through the window and took off after him.
It should have been a smooth landing since Sydney’s unit was on the ground floor, but it wasn’t. Pain spiked up through her right arm when she hit the dirt on hands and knees.
Kicking off her high heels, she ignored the pain, racing after the masked man like a runner bounding out of the starting block.
Markie stuck to the grass, avoiding the hot sidewalk against her bare feet, until she stepped in something soft. She leaped onto the pavement and continued the chase, racing along River Street.
The man may have gotten a head start but she figured he would bleed out and she would catch up to him by the time he reached Central Square at the end of River Street. He had gouged himself on the jagged piece of glass on the window and left a trail of blood behind like breadcrumbs.
A bullet shot from a passing pickup whizzed by her head. She dove for cover behind a parked white van with a black cross painted on the side and looked up just in time to see a pickup race by. It could have been brown or beige. She couldn’t tell. In that instant another bullet shattered the passenger window making her duck down even further. She threw her hands up just in time to shield her face from the rain of falling glass.
She heard tires screeching to a halt and when she pushed her head up over the hood of the van the man with the ski mask jumped into the pickup with no plates. Sliding down the side of the van, she waited for her breath to return to normal and her heart to stop beating like a drum.
“Are you okay?” a little old lady decked out in her Sunday best asked. She had a big old Bible in one hand. With the other she adjusted her big wide-rimmed black hat with a white feather blowing in the warm breeze.
By the time Markie pushed herself up off the grass with an unladylike grunt and shook pieces of glass from her hair, a crowd had gathered. Men in suits and ladies in pretty frilly dresses with big hats and white gloves lined the sidewalk.
Markie put her gun back in the holster and buttoned up her jacket. The sound of bullets flying had sent the congregation from the Baptist church nearby pouring out into the street. They weren’t too impressed that their church van had gotten shot up either and stood staring at her as if she was supposed to perform a miracle, to restore it back to the way it had been.
“I’m fine,” she mumbled to the hat lady. As she pushed her way through the crowd, they parted like the Red Sea and she headed back to Sydney’s place.
Markie pulled her cell phone from her pocket and called the police, reporting the shooting and the break in. Then she stood outside the apartment building staring at the hole where the window once was, wondering what could have happened to her sister.
Bending to pick up her shoes, she was about to step into them when she lifted her left foot to see what she’d stepped in and wrinkled her nose in disgust.
“Geez, can this day get any better?”
She cleaned up but not before practically removing a layer of skin from the sole of her foot. Then she put her feet back in her shoes…but the smell still lingered.
Markie couldn’t worry about the smell. She thought about the mess in Sydney’s apartment as she made her way to the building. Worry creased her brows. Sydney had just breezed into town a week ago after a month hiatus from God knows where.
How much trouble can one get into in a week? Then again, it was Sydney she was talking about. What was it last year? It was the get-rich-quick scheme that almost caused their grandmother to lose her house. Markie had to bail Syd out. How did her younger sister show her gratitude…by pulling a disappearing act. She showed up three months later as if nothing happened. It was about time Syd—
The black Navigator parked behind her green 4Runner caught Markie’s attention. She crossed the street to have a better look at the vehicle, but with the tinted windows it was too dark to see inside. She wasn’t sure why she was drawn to the vehicle. All she knew was that it hadn’t been there when she’d parked earlier and it was parked right across from Syd’s building.
It probably meant nothing, but the way the day was shaping up she made a mental note of the license plate number just in case and headed inside the apartment building.
Sydney’s apartment door was open. Markie had closed it. She was sure of it. Stepping inside, she closed the door, this time locking it. Then she heard it…a muffled sound. Someone was in the bedroom, again.
What is this? Grand Central Terminal?
Her heartbeat accelerated as she pulled her gun from the shoulder holster.
Was it too much to ask for hell not to break loose before noon?
This was supposed to be a day of rest for crying out loud.
This time, whoever it was prowling around was not getting away. She made her way to the bedroom, avoiding the broken glass.
Markie was almost at the bedroom door when a man emerged. He brushed his hands against his black slacks as he stared at her with dark intense eyes that gave nothing away. His blue shirt was unbuttoned at the neck and she saw the scars on his neck that almost blended into his nut-brown complexion.
His presence filled the doorway. If he was surprised to see her he didn’t show it.
“Can I help you?” She asked, pointing the gun towards the center of his chest.
• • •
Dalton Beck stared at the woman he just about ran into when he exited the bedroom and at the gun pointed at him.
Her question of, “
Can I help you?”
wasn’t that of someone asking if assistance was required. It was the, Can I help you, in the ‘
go ahead, make my day’ in the Clint Eastwood kind of way
Beck’s eyes shifted from her face to the gun aimed dead centre at his chest. There was no doubt in his mind that she knew how to use the weapon. And was probably itching to with the mess the apartment was in.
“I’m looking for Victoria Kelly.” He met her eyes again.
“Victoria Kelly?” Her eyes widened, but that was as far as it seemed she was going to go conversation wise.
“Yes. We had lunch plans and when she didn’t show up I came here. When I arrived I saw the mess and entered to see if she was okay.”
The lie tumbled out of Beck’s mouth before he had given it a second thought and he knew immediately that she wasn’t buying what he was peddling. He should have given it more thought before showing up at Victoria’s apartment, but after she’d called him about the pictures that was it.
Giving into irrational behavior was foreign to him, but then when you’re in danger of losing everything you’ve worked for, you do what you have to do. That was why he was there…to save his company.
The apartment looked like a tornado had ripped through it and Victoria was gone. His intention was to confront Victoria, not to play dodge the bullet with the woman looking at him as if he’d turned the place upside down.
“Who are you?” Beck asked, not feeling so comfortable under her chilling glare with the gun still aimed at his chest.
She didn’t call him on the lie, just stood there staring at him as if she was trying to decide whether to put a bullet in him or not. Her heels all but put her at about eye level with him and he was six three.
Beck had to concentrate on holding her dark brown gaze as his eyes shifted from the gun to her white silk blouse. A button had escaped its hole, showing a hint of a white lace bra.
Her skin was a beautiful bronze, full lips glossed in red, and he couldn’t help but stare.
“Is the black Navigator parked across the street yours?” She sounded more annoyed than anything else. Obviously assessing him as not being a threat, she pointed the gun at the floor.
“Is the green Toyota 4Runner yours?”
Answering a question with a question was not the way to go. Her eyes narrowed followed by a sharp intake of breath…clearly irritated. Was it wise to tick off a woman with a gun? Well, he figured if she was going to call the police on him she would have done so already. The question that went unasked was why hadn’t she?
“Who are you?” She fired off the same question he had asked.
“Look, we can stand here all afternoon and play twenty questions if you like. As I mentioned, I had a lunch appointment with Victoria. She didn’t show up at the restaurant so I came here.”
The look she gave him started from his head all the way down to his wingtip shoes and back up again. Then she pinned him with a cold stare.
“Well,” she tilted her head to one side. “I guess
double booked. We had lunch plans as well. Can I tell her you dropped by, Mr…?”