Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 372 pages
Heat Level: 4
eBook Price: $.99
Print Price: $7.99
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 372 pages
Heat Level: 4
eBook Price: $.99
Print Price: $7.99
Lyndi Crisdean is assigned one of the hardest cases in her career as a defense attorney. A serial murder case. Investigating is Alek Trevian, the lead investigator for the district attorney. A handsome and supremely dangerous man. Lyndi finds herself in over her head when she chooses desire for Alek over common sense. If they’re caught, Lyndi will lose everything she’s worked for. Circumstances beyond her control pull her toward Alek, for he turns out to be the only one who can help when threats start to mount against her.
Lyndi may be the key Alek needs to bring down a murderous cult running loose in the city. When her beach house is broken into and a man begins to stalk Lyndi, Alek can’t help but reason Lyndi may be next on the cult’s hitlist. The question is, will he discover the identity of the cult, keep her safe, and still win the case against the serial killer she’s defending, all while losing a battle against the strong, untamable desire she alone ignites within him?
A strong curl of anxiety bunched in Lyndi Crisdean’s stomach. Three days wasn’t long enough to recover from what she’d done. Yet, the choice was out of her control. Either she returned to work today, or she turned in her resignation. Taking a deep breath, she pushed the button to her law firm’s floor. Defense attorneys didn’t get the luxury of guilt.
Sweeping her long locks away from her face, she clipped the strands back with a gold chain barrette. After touching up her lipstick, making sure she looked presentable and put together, she waited for the elevator doors to open. The elderly man waiting for her once she stepped out made her freeze. What was Chris doing waiting for her?
Her ex-father-in-law warmly assessed her with intelligent blue eyes, and the wrinkles on his cheeks deepened with a smile. He held his arm out to her.
Lyndi accepted his offer of an escort without hesitation. “Good morning, Mr. Jarlin,” she said teasingly. “What brings the founding father of Jarlin and Crimms here today?”
Chris patted her hand. “Just wanted to show my support. So, are you ready to face the wolves?”
She laughed and pulled her hand free. “The wolves you hired?”
“I consider you among their ranks.”
“But yet I’m not among them.” Lyndi hid her disappointment with a smile.
He patted her shoulder and stopped before the boardroom doors. “Your time is coming, my dear. Becoming partner isn’t a choice to be made lightly, by the firm or yourself.”
One of those prove yourself moments was seconds from happening. How she handled this morning’s meeting would put a point for or against her. Since becoming partner was a goal only months away, she wouldn’t allow anything they said or did to faze her today. Chris being present to make sure she was ready to handle the other partners gave her further strength.
“You keep showing your favor and I’m going to be in trouble,” she joked.
“Can’t be avoided; you are, after all, family, and family always creates exceptions to the rules.”
Discomfort made Lyndi shift her shoulders faintly, but she met Chris’ stare as she said, “We’re no longer family.”
His gaze softened; his knuckle graced her jaw gently. “You divorced my son, not me. I had no say in the matter, so don’t punish me for his mistakes.”
That very son was one of the partners waiting behind the closed mahogany doors. The close relationship she had with Chris was one of the main reasons she decided to stay on at the firm after the divorce from Rick. Though the separation wasn’t messy, Lyndi often questioned her decision to continue working with her unfaithful ex. However, she’d worked too hard to let Rick’s asshole behavior ruin her career.
Chris released his hold on her. Taking a deep breath to quell the nerves dancing in her stomach, she opened the boardroom door. She’d take what they threw at her with grace and professionalism. Because of her first request for time off after the hardest case of her career, she had to prove she could handle a partnership under any stressful situation in her life. Relaxing her face and shoulders, she removed any trace of emotion from her body and walked inside.
Lyndi sat down, clutching the folders they’d given her at the meeting, and tried to calm her racing heart. Trying to gather her bearings, she searched for the smallest heap to place the new cases on. Stacks of papers and legal folders crowded the polished, cherry wood surface. Just enough free space allowed her overbooked desk calendar to peek through. Later, she’d sort through and prioritize the cases again.
Their message had been clear. Any more personal interferences and she could kiss her partnership goodbye. They needed to know they could rely on her to perform her job under any circumstances. Due to the press coverage, they’d been willing to give her time off until the media spotlight on her — and the animal she’d represented — died down. After a bit, it had, and the media no longer cared about whom Lyndi had allowed to walk free. She just wished she felt the same way.
“My father thinks you may have too big of a heart for this career. I told him I know better,” Rick said.
Lyndi jumped, shocked out of her reverie. She hadn’t seen or heard Rick enter, too wrapped up in dismal thoughts.
“Your father is a sweet man to worry about me,” she stated, ignoring the rest of his words and the implication behind them.
Rick sighed again. The sound of his fingernails nervously scratching along his wool pants tickled in her ear. “I worry about you, too. If you’d just let me—”
Discomfort welled in the pit of her stomach, but she managed not to fidget. “That chance has come and gone; we’re nothing more than colleagues now. Unless you have something job-related to discuss with me, you need to leave.”
“The cases we gave you today, are you going to be able to handle them?”
Lyndi snapped her head in his direction and glared up at him. “I am not even going to justify that question with an answer.”
He held his hands up and gave her a crooked grin. “Glad to hear, because on this one,” he said, leaning back slightly and picking up one of the folders, “you don’t really have a choice. He requested you personally.”
Although she itched to snatch the folder from his hand, she gently slipped it free of his grasp and opened the front flap. “Blaine Ryland, indicted on the murder of Claire Owens and possibly...” Her voice died as she narrowed her eyes on the black print. “A serial killer?”
A deep chuckle drew her attention to him again as he stood. “Come on, Lyndi, you’re not nervous, are you? After all, this won’t be the first serial killer you’ve handled. All part of your illustrious career.” He rapped his knuckles against her desk and then gave a wink. “You know, the career you want us to pay close attention to.”
Before she could reply, the door opened without warning. Young and beautiful, Allison Danvers walked into Lyndi’s office as though the room belonged to her. Cheeks tinged bright pink, she flashed her deep blue eyes in Rick’s direction.
“You have an important call you’ll want to take in your office,” Allison stated, her voice calm and controlled, though Lyndi noted her fisted hands.
Allison didn’t give Rick the opportunity to respond. She turned on her black, four-inch heels and walked out the door.
Lyndi raised a brow and slowly closed the file. “You’d better follow the princess before she makes a bigger fuss. I’m sure she’ll give you an earful for being alone with me as it is.”
“I’m your boss—”
“For the time being,” she said, giving him a smile as she set the file down.
He inclined his head in compromise. “Allison doesn’t have any grounds to stand on about my being alone with you.”
Lyndi couldn’t hold back a soft chuckle. “Except I’m your ex-wife, and she’s the woman you left me for. Other than that, no, absolutely no grounds.”
At the doorway, he paused and glanced over his shoulder. “Go get a drink; you could use one.”
A sharp response rose in her throat, but she held back the retort. For once, he was right; she did need a drink. She held down the intercom button on the phone to contact her assistant. “Wes?”
“Did they give you the information on my new cases?”
After some rustling, he answered, “Yes.”
“Organize and prioritize with the others, please, and have everything ready for me by tomorrow afternoon, including the cases already stacked on my desk. Thank you.”
Before she could disconnect the call, Wes’s frantic, “Wait,” stopped her.
An audible swallow crackled over the line, and Lyndi impatiently tapped her fingers beside the phone.
“Do you know who’s investigating the Ryland case?” he asked.
Lyndi glanced at the files. “The serial killer case?”
“Yes,” Wes answered.
“Why does it matter? We deal with the investigators for the prosecution all the time. Part of the job.”
“Because, you’ve never had to worry about this particular investigator,” Wes said, his voice wavering slightly.
Lyndi sighed and glanced at the clock to her right. “I was on my way out, Wes; we can talk about this tomorrow—”
“It’s Alek Trevian,” he blurted out. “And that’s not all... Adam Reale is prosecuting.”
Heat flooded her cheeks and her heart hammered. For a good two seconds, she couldn’t find her voice. The best investigator for the DA and the Assistant District Attorney were working the case against her. Maybe Wes had his information wrong, at least about Alek Trevian. “How do you know that? The arrest, from what I read, occurred less than a week ago. All the evidence is from the state; how do you know who’s investigating already?”
“I’m staring at his signature on the visitors’ log to see Ryland.”
Lyndi wanted to voice a handful of other reasons the detective’s name might be on that log, but her gut told her they were all wrong. Why else would Trevian see Ryland if he wasn’t there to question him? Damn, she needed a drink worse now than before. Handling a serial killer was bad enough; having to take on the case with the best investigator in the state working against her was a nightmare. For the first time in her young career, Lyndi began to doubt her abilities to manage what fate — and the partners — had thrown her way. With nothing more to say, she thanked Wes, released the intercom button, and straightened. Deep in thought, she shrugged into her suit jacket.
She slung her purse over her shoulder and contemplated the new development. Glancing down, she caught a glimpse of the white and gold box peeking through the unzipped opening. Her heart raced with the thought of a nicotine rush. Take just one sinful puff, that’s all. One drag wouldn’t be breaking a promise to herself, would it? Nicotine and alcohol, an unbeatable combination to tackle a stressful day. Of all the issues she’d thought she would have to deal with, battling against Alek Trevian wasn’t one she’d considered. Sighing, she turned off the lights to her office and closed her door.
A handful of people remained in the quiet office, including the other partners. Only half the fluorescent lights were on, glaring off the windows to the darkening city twenty-five stories below. Lyndi used her hip to open the doors on the way to the elevator. The elevator seemed to take longer to get to her than usual, but then again, she couldn’t wait to leave. Lyndi stepped on and pushed the lobby button.
Before the elevator arrived on the first floor, her cell rang. She pulled it out, checked the ID, and almost shoved it back into her bag. Not now, she thought with a groan. Of all the times and days for her biggest mistake to call, he chose this one. Of course he did; that was his style and her luck.
After taking a deep, calming breath, she slid the phone open. “What do you want, Paul?”
“I need money,” he said so quickly she almost didn’t catch it.
She ground her teeth and fisted her hand. “I told you, I’m done giving you money; I’ve been done giving you money for years.”
“Look, you have it, I know you do, and I owe these guys… My work didn’t sell for what I thought it would, and I just need a little. Come on, give it to me. We can meet somewhere, tonight, you pick.”
“Fuck, Lyndi, please!”
The desperation in his voice forced a reminder of the last time she’d denied him. He’d keyed her car and threw a brick in the back window with a note that read: Should have given me the money, bitch. However, she hadn’t given in then, what made him think she’d do so tonight?
Stealing herself against the rant she knew to come, she said, “No, I don’t have anything to give you. I’m still paying debts you ground me into. I’ve given you enough, Paul; you’re not getting any more from me.”
Before she could hear his reply, she slid the phone closed and shoved it in her purse, swallowing against the anxiety. Thank God she was going drinking.
Thursdays weren’t normally bar nights. As she walked out into the cool night, Lyndi hoped tonight was an exception. The city glowed in warm, fall colors, even in the artificial street and building lights. A young couple walked by, hand in hand, leaning close to each other. Lyndi tried to keep the depression of loneliness from sinking in. After all, she was heading to a bar. If everything went well, she wouldn’t be alone for long.
The familiar tink of ice against glass, low conversation, and sultry music greeted Lyndi as she pushed the swinging door open. The table she preferred was open. Easing her way toward the little table in the far left corner, Lyndi pulled her purse off her shoulder.
As she reached for the chair, the fine hairs on her skin prickled, and a chill slithered up her spine. She glanced over her shoulder. The room stilled. The alluring rhythm of the song playing echoed in her mind. Sandy brown eyes locked with hers, then, in a slow, almost sly motion, the man slid his gaze down the length of her body. Lyndi didn’t blush; she couldn’t seem to do anything more than stand motionless, wondering what a man like that was doing looking at a woman like her.
While she thought herself somewhat attractive, the man she stared at was wickedly delicious, beyond good-looking. She figured if she stared any longer, she might diffuse into a puddle. Those eyes and that sinfully curved mouth held her in rapt attention. The glass he’d been holding found a place on the bar, and his tall, lithe frame rose from the stool. Lyndi gasped. He was walking her way!
Black hair framed his face and hung down just past his collar. Her fingers twitched at her side, gripping her purse tighter. What she wouldn’t give to find out if his hair was as soft as it looked under the pale lighting. With a quick shake of her head, she snapped out of her reverie. Coming here had been a mistake. Sin, like the man walking toward her, didn’t need another invitation to her front door.
Before she could change her mind, she turned away from him and headed toward the entrance. The door to freedom seemed much farther than she remembered. She reached out; her fingers touched smooth wood. A cool, fresh breeze brushed the flushed skin of her face, beckoning her. She didn’t make the night wait. She burst out onto the sidewalk, sucking in air to calm her raging pulse. What was wrong with her? For whatever reason, though, something about that man had told her to run and not look back.
Hair flitted across her face, and she pushed the stray locks away. Home was only fifteen minutes from here. Shouldering her purse once again, she turned and started in the direction of her apartment building.
“Miss.” A deep, smooth voice sounded from behind her.
Lyndi froze. Did she really want to look? Biting her lower lip, she glanced over her shoulder. Mr. Wickedly Handsome’s lips twitched in what she figured must have been his equivalent of a smile.
“Do we know each other?” she asked, turning to face him.
“Are you alone tonight?”
“Listen... I don’t know you, and I’m not going to answer that question, so have a good evening.”
When she tried to turn away, his hand caressed her upper arm. Gentle and confusing, the touch left her too mystified to protest when he stepped closer. Leaning down, he whispered against her mouth, “Trust me when I say, you know me.”
His warm breath brushed across her lips, sending a wave of heat to the pit of her stomach. Every muscle in her body wanted to move closer, wanted the distraction she knew that mouth could offer. But despite her earlier thoughts, losing herself in a man wasn’t something she could afford right now.
Steeling herself against the tingle of desire he created, Lyndi lifted her gaze to his shadowed eyes. “You’re wrong and must have mistaken me for someone else.”
A small smile curled along his lips; his fingers grazed along her jaw. Her breath caught in her throat, and she swallowed the whimper forming in her throat. “I know exactly who you are, Ms. Crisdean. You are unmistakable.”
“Let me kiss you,” he whispered, his mouth hovering over hers.
Her heart pounded in her chest. Sweat broke out over her palms. “Why?” she asked softly, her eyes searching his. “You’re sort of scaring me... how do you know who I am?”
He leaned closer. Wisps of black hair tickled her at her temples as the wind blew his locks toward her. “Our world is a small one. As for why I want to kiss you... well, I just do, so let me.”
She opened her mouth, to protest… to accept, and her mind reeled with his nearness and the absurdity of his command. However, the action turned out to be her mistake, for he took full advantage, his tongue sliding along hers, taking possession before she could catch a breath. Sweet rum, mixed with the syrupy flavor of coke, teased her mouth. His taste intoxicated her deeper than any alcoholic drink, made her crave more. Of their own accord, her hands fisted in the lapels of his leather jacket. The fabric squeaked in her grasp.
The hand gripping her arm tightened. His mouth slanted over hers, drawing her further into the haze rapidly filling her mind. Then he pulled away, steadying her as she teetered on the brink of an invisible cliff. Blinking in confusion, she made to step back, but he held fast. Those lips twitched again; sandy brown eyes twinkled. When she didn’t waver anymore, he released her with a wink.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Ms. Crisdean.”
Before she could respond, he turned and walked away.
Elaina Lee has been writing ever since a teacher brought to her attention books didn’t write themselves! Her imagination hasn’t stopped since and hopefully never will. She lives in the southern United States, where she raises her two boys, two goats, and provides lots of moral support and love to her soldier husband. Learn more about Elaina at www.elainalee.com.