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Authors: Ranae Rose

Tags: #ranae rose, #contemporary erotica, #bad boy hero, #bank robbery, #erotic romance, #sexy romance, #contemporary romance

Taken Hostage

BOOK: Taken Hostage
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Taken Hostage
Ranae Rose

Taken Hostage

Ranae Rose

Smashwords edition

Copyright © 2011 Ranae Rose

Cover Design by Ranae Rose

 

This book is a work of fiction. All
characters, names and events are products of the author’s
imagination and are in no way real. Any resemblance to real events
or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

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

This ebook is licensed for your personal
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of this author.

Tiffany strode
through the bank’s double front doors and into a cloud of pungent
smoke. She held her breath and began to step more briskly, eager to
leave the offensive fumes behind. She hated it when customers stood
outside the doors and smoked. It was so inconsiderate. Resisting
the urge to let out an irritated breath, she began to descend the
short flight of brick steps. She would’ve given the offender a
piece of her mind, if only she hadn’t been a bank employee.

‘Nice day.’ A voice called to her through the
cancerous haze. She stopped in her tracks, surprised, and turned to
see who had spoken.

It was the smoker.

Whatever she had expected, he was not it. His
blue eyes were nearly the same shade as the cotton button-up shirt
she wore beneath her lightweight sweater. The color flattered him
much more than it did her, and she’d always considered blue to be
one of her better colors. His azure eyes sparkled with hints of
amusement above his high cheekbones.

‘Yeah,’ she replied. ‘It is nice.’

It was true. Early spring sunshine beamed
down on the New York countryside, which was visible in the
distance, not far beyond the outskirts of the small town she called
home. It was unseasonably warm, so much so that she was
uncomfortable beneath her sweater.

He tossed his head lightly, causing the
forelock of golden-brown hair that had fallen into his eyes to
retreat temporarily. Tiffany watched as he flicked ash onto the
step, where it blazed red-hot for a moment, and then winked
out.

‘In fact, it’d be a nice day for a drive,’ he
commented.

She followed his gaze across the parking lot,
where it rested on a cherry-red Mustang. The car shone in the sun,
as spotless and gleaming as any showroom model. With its cheerful
paint and polished chrome wheels, it seemed to beg to be driven.
She’d never owned, or even test-driven anything like it. Maybe he
was right – it would be a nice day for a drive.

Who was she kidding? She didn’t even know how
to drive a stick. She chuckled softly at the thought of driving the
Mustang. Those sorts of cars weren’t made for people like her –
women who didn’t mind that they’d never gotten above eighty miles
per hour in their automatic Escorts, and had never even meant to
drive that quickly. They were made for people like the man who
stood smoking – in every sense of the word – beside her, leaning
against the bank wall in his T-shirt, unzipped grey-green jacket
and boots with a little bit of mud crusted on the bottom.

‘Something funny?’ he asked.

Tiffany shook her head. ‘No, not really.’ It
didn’t seem a good idea to tell him that the mere thought of
driving the car he was admiring made her laugh. ‘Is it yours?’ She
gestured toward the Mustang, eager to change the subject.

‘Nah.’ He shook his head, causing that
tantalizing lock of golden-brown hair to fall into his eyes
again.

She scanned the parking lot. Which of the
vehicles belonged to him, if not the Mustang? Perhaps the dark Jeep
a few spaces down? Its tires, like his boots, were splattered with
dried mud. It looked like it belonged to someone adventurous.

She coughed, caught off guard by a shift in
the wind that sent a fresh puff of smoke directly into her
face.

‘Sorry,’ the handsome stranger said, dropping
his cigarette, which had been smoked down to little more than a
butt, and grinding it beneath his boot.

‘That’s OK.’ She looked away from his
sky-blue eyes embarrassedly, suppressing a tickling feeling in the
back of her throat. He was easy to forgive.

It was as if her coughing fit had broken the
spell of their conversation. Tiffany suddenly remembered why she’d
come outside in the first place, which was, of course, to take her
lunch break. Her heart sunk down to her toes, which were housed in
a pair of sensible not-too-high heels. She’d never seen the
handsome stranger at the bank before, not in her seven years of
employment. And she’d already let her mind conjure up a fantasy
that was hardly less embarrassing than her coughing fit – a fantasy
that began with her opening a new account for him.

Damn it
. Alicia or Cindy would get to
open his account, and when she returned from lunch, she’d have to
hear all about it. He’d be the highlight of their day. She
scowled.

He arched a finely-shaped eyebrow. ‘You OK? I
didn’t mean to make you feel sick.’

She blushed, half because of his concern, and
half because her fantasy had progressed to the point where he asked
her to join him for dinner after her shift at the bank ended. ‘I’m
fine. I just have to go.’ She clutched her purse and scuttled off
across the parking lot before she could get to the after-dinner
phase of her fantasy and embarrass herself further.

When she’d settled into the driver’s seat of
her Escort and secured her seatbelt, she searched for his
reflection in the rear-view mirror. He hadn’t moved. She watched as
he lit up another cigarette and felt mildly ashamed when she had to
repress a smile. She could hit a drive-through. Maybe, if he smoked
the whole pack, he’d still be there when she got back.

****

Miraculously, the smoking stranger
was
still there when Tiffany got back. He was leaning against the brick
wall, another lit cigarette in one hand, though he didn’t seem to
be paying much attention to it. Instead, he was staring across the
parking lot at the red mustang.

Tiffany hurriedly ran the small brush she
kept in her purse through her shoulder-length brown waves. She
didn’t want to look like crap when she came face to face with the
mystery man again, but no way was she going to dawdle and risk not
being behind the counter, ready to help him when he came in.
Tucking the brush away, she smeared a little gloss onto her lips
before stepping out of her car, wishing she’d worn mascara.

‘The hot guy’, as Tiffany had come to think
of him, nodded at her as she neared the steps. Her heart skipped a
beat when he reached out to open the door for her. She smiled at
him as she stepped through it, and he responded with a
heart-melting half-smile of his own. Her heart skipped another beat
and sped up dramatically as she forced herself to look away, to
return to the counter.

‘Oh, good, you’re back,’ Alicia greeted
Tiffany as she stepped behind the counter.

‘You’re free to go to lunch,’ Tiffany said,
plunking her purse down beneath her little section of
counter-space. ‘Are you going to try out that new Mexican place
today?’ She herself had planned to, but in her eagerness to see the
hot guy again, she’d opted for a drive through.

Alicia didn’t answer.

‘Alicia?’ Tiffany looked up to see her
staring wide-eyed across the counter.

‘Cindy,’ Alicia hissed under her breath,

look
.’

Cindy turned in the direction Alicia was
staring, and Tiffany did too. Even before she laid eyes on him, a
fluttering in the pit of her stomach told her who’d just entered
the bank.

She was right. The handsome stranger had
finally abandoned his cigarettes and entered the building. He stood
in the lobby, back-lit by the light that streamed through the
window panes. It highlighted the natural golden tones in his
hair.

‘Oooh,’ Cindy crooned. ‘Who’s
he
?’

‘I’ve never seen him before,’ Alicia said.
‘He must be a new customer.’ Her voice had climbed several octaves
with excitement.

They burst into whispered speculations about
his marital status and whether or not he was a local. Perhaps he’d
just moved into town, Alicia suggested. Cindy burst into a fit of
anticipatory giggles. They both ignored Tiffany.

Their behavior was not out of the ordinary.
After all, Tiffany was Tiffany; practical, down-to-earth Tiffany,
who didn’t drive sports cars or date ridiculously handsome men.
Heck, she rarely dated, period. Alicia and Cindy both knew she
wasn’t one who could be counted on to share their wild enthusiasm
and suppositions on an occasion such as this. Normally, anyway.
Tiffany smiled in smug satisfaction as they craned their necks in
an effort to get a look at the man’s left hand, which he’d buried
deep in his jacket pocket. Tiffany had already checked – he wore no
ring.

As if on cue, he stepped forward. He withdrew
his left hand from his pocket, and something glinted in the
window-light.

Definitely not a ring.

Cindy screamed. Several customers cried out
in alarm and dropped to the floor. Alicia cursed.

Tiffany’s mouth went suddenly dry, and her
freshly-glossed lips cracked apart as her jaw dropped. The man
strode forward purposefully, with the gun raised and pointed
directly at her.

He didn’t stop until he stood directly across
the counter from Tiffany, just as he would have done to open a new
account. The gun’s dark barrel seemed cavernous, even more magnetic
than his gaze. Tiffany stared into it, unable to look away while
her mouth worked desperately, trying to force out a protest, or a
plea for mercy.

He reached into one of his jacket’s cargo
pockets with his right hand and pulled out something white. ‘Fill
it with cash,’ he said, dropping it on the counter. Her hands
trembled as she reached down and picked up the pillow case. ‘Fill
it!’ he demanded again, his voice suddenly fierce. There was no
trace of the smile he’d flashed her just a few minutes ago.

‘D-d-do it, Tiffany,’ a voice instructed
feebly from somewhere behind the counter, down near the floor. She
didn’t have to look to know it was Mark, the branch manager, who
had spoken. By a stroke of ill-luck, he’d ventured out of his
office and behind the counter to speak to Alicia just before the
gunman had entered. A sudden ray of hope struck Tiffany. Where was
Cathy, the loan officer? Maybe somewhere else in the building,
calling the police?

But no – she was at lunch. Of course she was.
Cathy took lunch at noon, just as Tiffany herself did. Only she had
come back early hoping to catch another glimpse of the man who now
held her at gunpoint. Her knees wobbled alarmingly, but she gripped
the counter and forced herself to stand up straight. If she looked
like she was going to run, he might shoot.

Hands trembling, she opened her register and
began to stuff the pillowcase with cash as quickly as she could.
She seemed to notice everything at once, even as panic bubbled
inside her. The pillowcase, for instance – a faint musky scent was
rising from it. Could it be the scent of the man who held her at
gunpoint – could this be an actual pillowcase from his bed? The
thought left her feeling strangely giddy, a sensation that didn’t
go over well with her tight knot of a stomach.

The gunman followed her with his weapon as
she moved over to Alicia’s register, and then Cindy’s, stripping
each of them of their contents. When they were all empty, he barked
an order at Mark, who opened the vault for Tiffany, sweating and
murmuring under his breath as he punched in the code. Once inside,
the gunman stood behind Tiffany, watching as she bent over to seize
stacks of bills. She was awkwardly conscious of the fact that she
was jutting her ass at him, and that he stood only a couple of feet
away, as she hefted money into the bag. Close enough to reach out
and touch her. Or to shoot her point-blank.

‘That’s enough!’ he snapped when the
pillowcase was almost full.

She stopped and stood silently, trembling as
she clutched the neck of the heavy sack and inhaled the mixed
scents of her attacker’s pillowcase and fresh currency.

He didn’t take it from her. Instead, he
seized her in a tight but rough embrace, holding her from behind
with one arm around her neck and the other pressing the gun to her
temple. She churned out a silent prayer for mercy.
Please don’t
let him shoot me, please don’t let him shoot me.

BOOK: Taken Hostage
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