Authors: Madison Stevens
Tags: #romantic suspense
Kace (Allen Securities #2)
Jessica Tamm is just trying to get ahead in life and escape the cloud of her father’s criminal past. Though, it’d probably help if she hadn’t taken a job managing a club owned by the head of the local Irish mob. As far as she’s concerned, her own discomfort is a minor price to pay to earn the money she needs for her sister’s education. Unfortunately, the Russians interested in taking over local organized crime don’t seem to care that her job has nothing to do with the criminal world of her boss.
Monitoring the Russian and Irish mobs is just another step in the promotion ladder for cop Kace Allen, or at least that's what he keeps telling himself. Babysitting a mob boss club isn't what he’d call a fun time, but the scenery, particularly the sexy manager, is nice. Too bad he can't trust the daughter of a criminal who works for a criminal. He’s sworn to uphold the law, and no one, not even a beautiful woman, has made him question that before.
When the temperature rises between the Russian and Irish factions and Jessica’s caught in the middle, Kace starts to see the lines between good and bad, law-abiding and criminal, are a lot blurrier than he ever realized.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents depicted in this work are of the author’s imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, locations, or events is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
Copyright 2013 Madison Stevens
No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without the prior written permission of the author.
The club still thundered with the heavy beat of techno music. Things had been hopping all night, and Jessica was glad to have ushered the last customers out the door. The steady strum of the music usually didn’t bother her much, but tonight was another story.
She sat at the desk in the tiny office in the back of Cortex. Leaning back in her high-back chair, she scanned the room, not really focusing on anything specific. A few pictures littered the walls, mostly from the renovation of the place and the first dollar made. None really caught her eye. She stopped on the couch. The dark brown leather couch felt like butter and called to her.
Jessica shook her head. The last thing she needed to do was crash out on the couch. It certainly wasn’t going to help the growing problem in front of her. She looked back down to the spreadsheet she’d just printed out. Staring at the computer wasn’t helping things, but she thought maybe printing it off and staring at it would.
She was startled when Alyssa popped into the room.
“Dale and I are all finished out front,” Alyssa said, gesturing over her shoulder to the bar area. Jessica couldn’t help but smile every time she saw the little blonde waitress. Her short, pale blonde hair curled in such a way that she resembled a cherub or fairy.
“Okay,” Jessica said. “Have a good night.”
Alyssa frowned slightly as she looked at Jessica. “Are you sure you don’t want us to stay until you finish?”
Jessica shook her head. “Nope, this is going to take a bit more. You all get out of here while you can, and thanks again to both of you for covering so many hours. I just don’t get why we can’t seem to keep people.” Jessica sighed. “Just make sure the door locks behind you.”
Alyssa stepped out. A moment later, the music fell silent.
Jessica listened as their footsteps receded, and the clack of the door rang through the now empty main room.
She looked back down at the paperwork and sighed. Things weren’t lining up right again. She had run the numbers for the last week, and they just didn’t make sense. Even accounting for free booze and the occasional “nice tits” discount, the numbers still weren’t adding up. The amount of alcohol they were selling versus what remained didn’t match, and the money in the account didn’t match what they had taken in. It wasn’t off by a lot but enough there was reason to be concerned. What truly baffled her was how they were doing it. Aside from her, most people didn’t have the opportunity.
She picked up the phone and hesitated. Making the call wasn’t a question, but she still dreaded it. No one wanted to tell a mob boss someone was stealing from them. More importantly, she needed this job.
“Finn,” he said on the second ring.
“Just checking in,” she said.
“Still seeing discrepancies?” His voice was calm over the line, but she could sense the cold menace sweeping through. Finn was not a man to mess with, especially when it came to money.
“Yeah,” she said. “I just can’t figure it out. Maybe my math skills aren’t as good as I thought, but regardless, things are off.”
Finn sighed over the receiver. “No, it’s not you. I’ve run over it as well. For now I’m going to start placing the funds in a different account, but keep this one open. Maybe I can get Reed to put one of his men on it. After all, he does owe me one.”
Jessica’s thoughts went to her very pregnant friend Olivia and her baby daddy Reed. After the lengths Finn went to for them, Reed did owe him a debt. However, she hoped they wouldn’t need to call in that favor.
“Relax,” Finn said, drawing her out of her thoughts. “I’m just going to see if they can trace it.”
She sighed. Several months of working for him, and it seemed like he knew her better than she knew herself sometimes. Of course, he closely watched people. In her time with him, she had rarely seen him be wrong about a person.
Well except in this case.
“I’m just certain it will lead back to her,” he said. “You know I don’t trust Alyssa. She just smells like trouble.”
“Except for the fact she’s on time, does her job, is well liked and cute as a button.” She leaned back in her chair to stare out into the front area.
“Cute as a button is often what gets men killed,” he said dryly.
“I think she’s great, and everything in me says this isn’t her. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you want to fire her, do it yourself.”
“That’s almost worse,” he mumbled.
Jessica snickered. It had never really bothered her that Finn had some business that wasn’t always on the up and up. She did her thing and he did his. As long as he wasn’t crossing the line between illegal and immoral, she was fine, but she couldn’t help but laugh at his reaction to Alyssa.
The man could run the ruthless business, but one little woman could bring him down. She rolled her eyes. Someone was in denial.
“Fine,” he quipped. “But if this even hints at heading her direction, she’s gone.”
“If it’s her, I’ll be the first to toss her on her ass,” she said.
“So let’s see where this gets us and go from there.”
Jessica whirled in her chair and looked at the metal shelves behind her.
“What about the liquor?” she asked.
He signed, and she could hear the tension in his voice. Finn might not be voicing it, but this was getting to him. The Russians were only a step away since the incident a few months back when he pulled a favor for Olivia and her brother. Things had been quiet thus far, but that couldn’t last much longer.
Jessica couldn’t have a father like hers and not pick some things up along the way. Something was brewing in the streets. There had been a rise in petty theft and things of that nature. Now it was just a question of if the local criminals were getting ready for war or stocking up until this blew over. She had a feeling it was the latter, and if that were the case, it didn’t bode well for her boss.
“For the amount of time this has been going on, it has to be whoever is stealing the money,” he said. “At this point, I don’t think there’s much we can do besides wait.”
“What about surveillance?” she asked.
“Nothing has come up on the nightly watch-through,” he said.
“What about the back room?”
The line went silent for a moment. “We don’t record back there.”
A chill slipped down her spine at the implications. She knew that when they were closed on Sundays, Finn would often come in with some of his crew. Jessica didn’t ask questions, but she figured that anything that he didn’t want recorded was likely something she didn’t want to know about.
“Right,” she said awkwardly.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing,” he said. “I’ll handle the rest. Dale needs to be taught his part in the family business. If he can’t instill enough fear for people not to steal from right under his nose, then I’m going to have to find another position for my cousin.”
Jessica nodded. “Got it.”
If he wanted to handle this, she should really just hand over things, but the idea was hard to accept. This felt like a slap in her face, doing all of this right under her nose. It just boiled her blood.
“Now get out of there and get some rest,” Finn said.
She smiled. “Will do. You do the same.”
“Oh well, you know me. No rest for the wicked,” he said. She could hear the smile in his voice.
She grinned as she hung up. He really was devilish.
She popped off a text to her sister to pick her up and finished closing the club.
* * *
Kace shifted in his seat uncomfortably. It was getting harder and harder to sit in the unmarked squad car night after night. Why the Russians hadn’t made a move was just baffling to him. He had never known them to be one to wait, but this war with Finn was bubbling up to something else, something bad. The only thing he could hope was that the fuckers didn’t take the whole damn place with them.
He took a draw off his now chilled coffee.
What the hell was taking her so long? Normally, the last of the employees left, and fifteen minutes later, her sister would swing by to pick her up.
He swiped a hand down his stubbled face and yawned. After glancing at the clock, he groaned. Nearly a quarter to three. He’d be paying for this tomorrow.
It didn’t help that he really wanted no part of this case. Finn might have helped Olivia and Reed, but that didn’t clear all the other shit he had done. As far as Kace was concerned, Jessica Tamm wasn’t any different. He father was certainly proof enough of that.
Ando Tamm had been in and out of prison over the years and was currently serving a stint for aggravated assault. Not that it really seemed to make much difference to Jessica and her sister. According to her file, they had lived with their grandmother until she passed away. Everything seemed to be going well until she took the job with Finn.
There was no way someone with her background took a job with someone like Finn without a willingness to bend the law, if not flat out break it.
Kace ground his teeth at the thought. It really shouldn’t bother him as much as it did, but he couldn’t stop himself.
He jumped when someone knocked on his passenger window and peered into the darkness. Smoky gray eyes stared in at him.
Jessica nearly giggled when he popped the lock, and she slid into the front seat. He had been just sitting out there watching for the past few weeks, and it was unnerving. Having his dark gaze on her as she was leaving always left her somewhat hot and incredibly pissed off.
She glanced over at him. He was in plain clothes, a t-shirt and jeans that looked comfortably worn and slightly wrinkled from his hours in the car. Part of her would feel bad for him if he didn’t look at her like she was about to rob him blind. She supposed he was just lucky that the evenings were still cool. Sitting out here in the summer would be unbearable. Although the idea of him drenched in sweat wasn’t such a bad idea. She clenched her legs together at the thought.
"So how long are you planning on keeping an eye on us?" she asked.
"Until the threat of the Russians is no longer is a worry for the community,” he said, his tone matter of fact.
She laughed. “Well, I think you are in for a long wait then.”
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “That’s what we’re afraid of.”
She turned to look at him, propping her leg up on the seat. The skirt she wore road up a little, and she smirked when his eyes were drawn to the exposed skin. They quietly stared at one another. She could feel the heat rise in the car as his intense gaze pierced through a few of her layers.