When notorious drug runner Emilio Morales meets desperate bootlegger Antonia Smith, they discover contraband isn’t the only thing worth breaking the law for…
Drug runner Emilio Morales is one deal away from being the sole runner from Earth to the upper planets—until his partner attempts a double-cross. Now, Emilio’s stuck in a disabled spaceship with an unpredictable, attractive female who’s willing to help him out if he’ll assist her in retrieving her ship from an impound facility.
Antonia ‘Toni’ Smith is sick and tired of being beholden to men. The only way to guarantee freedom is to get back her bootlegging ship to run her own business again. When Emilio kills her ticket out, she’s forced to rely on him for assistance. Emilio, the most wanted and annoying man in the solar system, is a sexy-as-hell means to an end.
But every plan the duo makes falls apart and every day they spend in each other’s company increases the tension between them.
With the death toll rising and their defenses low, can Emilio and Toni get the happy ending they want, without falling for each other in the process?
About the Author
Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © Landra Graf 2019. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.
The room held the hint of lemons, tropical essence and money. That meant opportunity, and Emilio Morales lived for the next leg up, like having intercepted the invitation to his boss, Manolo, from the Coco Cartel, out of the blue two weeks prior, to meet here on Ganymede at the Chateau Phillipe.
The chateau spanned several acres, with multiple buildings trimmed in gold with tile roofs, fancy materials he’d seen available only to those on the upper planets, not this close to the asteroid belt. Fresh fruit trees in the gardens, fine furniture without holes or tears, guards at every door with automatic weapons, not wheel gun pistols or ceramics. This was what money got a person—whatever they wanted. And Emilio wanted.
Walking in a tight circle, he took in the meeting room. These kinds of fancy surroundings beat the villas and homes of the cartel leaders on Earth by a long shot. Anything was better than sleeping on those hard, wooden cots kept in some drafty room off a main Earth house.
“Do you think they’ll feed us any of that?” Emilio asked, motioning to a table behind him. It was covered in sandwiches, fruits, vegetables and a few other more traditional Earth meals, like enchiladas. The last time he’d shoved an enchilada in his mouth had been the day before his partner had offered him a job. Since then, it’d been food cubes, the occasional good meal and plenty of bootlegged booze.
The other group who had received an invitation—a pair of bald-headed men with matching spider tattoos on their hands—stood side-by-side, glancing out of the floor-to-ceiling window. Emilio recognized them as part of the Web Spinners, another drug-runner crew. They mainly worked with cartels in the Western Hemisphere of Earth, whereas Emilio had connections across the globe but did a lot of work in the Eastern Hemisphere.
The skinnier one piped up first. “Feed us? To sharks maybe—did you see that water? Besides, we’re here to talk business.”
A gong sounded somewhere, echoing through the room. A heavy-set shirtless man, positioned by a white door lined in painted gold roses, announced in a deep bass voice, “The Honorable Alfonso Grecia arrives.”
Emilio would normally have shrugged off the elaborate entrance, something he’d seen before during previous business meetings. But, this time, Grecia wasn’t doing one-on-one business. He’d opened up to competitors. As the only cartel boss who didn’t reside on Earth, choosing to live on the outskirts of the uppers, Grecia was rumored to have ties to Earth royalty from ‘before-the-nuke’. Over the years, Emilio’s admiration for the man’s amassed wealth and power, the way he commanded his organization, had grown. This was something he aspired to have for himself, the reason he’d chosen to attempt putting this deal together on his own…without his cokehead partner.
“Greetings, runners. Join me at my table.” Grecia, with his low voice and expressionless face, stood an inch taller than Emilio and wore a floor-length black tunic. He’d already moved to the large cherry-wood table set up in the center of the room and flanked by matching leather upholstered chairs. Damn things even had little rolling wheels on the bottoms, an unexpected, luxurious touch.
Emilio was the last to sit, and Grecia turned his soulless eyes on him. Emilio pushed the gut twinge away, the one that said this man ate bullshitters for breakfast and that Emilio would never get away with his plan.
“Did you have a good trip?” Grecia asked him.
“Why is your partner Manolo not here?”
“He’s not allowed on the planet anymore. A disagreement with your local law enforcement.” In truth, Manny didn’t know anything about this meeting, and nor would he. If all went well, Emilio’s mentor might remain in a coke-induced haze while this deal was brokered and executed. “I can speak for both of us.”
“Good. Good.” The kingpin’s attention moved to the Web Spinners, whom he’d ignored so far—possibly a good sign. “And welcome, Recluse. I’ve brought you both here because I have a proposition for you. My growers have developed a new product called Kiss Kiss. There’s nothing like it anywhere on Earth, and I’ve got buyers waiting on the pleasure moon, Callisto. I don’t trust easily and have recently ended my short-term arrangement with the Hermes service.”
Hermes had been an established group, with a handful of ships, and according to the latest wire reports, they’d been wiped out. Shot down by law, ships stalled in space with everyone on board dead due to exposure, top lieutenants killed in a poker game gone wrong—the list went on. It appeared Grecia ended things in a permanent fashion. Not a common practice, but accepted if the runners had been acting against their contract.
“You offer us business, but it’s not really an offer. More a demand.” This crap came from the crossed-armed Recluse in his unexpectedly high-pitched voice, and his skinny, bald companion nodded in agreement.
“What demand? I’m giving you both a chance to prove you’re fit to run my exclusive product to the upper planets. If you meet my requirements, then you get this product and all my others. Once I contract with you, my allied cartels will follow suit. You’ll control all Eastern Hemisphere running.”
Emilio did his best to school his features at Grecia’s reply. The benefits and possibilities were too numerous to even list, but the potential to retire from this shit in a matter of months versus years ranked high among them. “What are the requirements?”
Manny would have walked away already, spouting inanities and paranoid theories, whereas Emilio believed in analyzing all facts before making a decision. He hadn’t kept their entire enterprise afloat by making half-baked choices.
Grecia smiled and motioned to the man from the door. The lackey dropped a memory disk in the center of the table and up popped a visual projection. It held several images of Earth, Grecia’s product and a map. The best part was the way the projection held steady and bright, no fading or flickering, with everything being one hundred percent triggered by touch. A display table almost as good as the ones on Emilio’s ship, and a sight better than Manny’s.
The drug boss swiped through the images, all smaller versions of what they could be, and selected Earth first. “You’ll take your ship to the third planet, retrieve a shipment of my herb, Kiss Kiss, then transport the product to Callisto in six days from receipt.”
He selected a map, pulling up the proposed trajectory and fastest route. It took them past all the major hotspots, places runners usually avoided unless they were stupid or suicidal. But the fastest route rode the currents with ease, putting less pressure on a slip drive, using less fuel. Emilio respected Grecia’s presentation. It came with a plan.
“If you don’t get caught, make it past the checkpoints and no harm comes to the shipment in transit, the contract is yours.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Talent for Trouble by Landra Graf a four-star read that won’t give you trouble. It’s the first novel in the Bad boys of space books and I am anticipating the next will be just as good if not better. Toni Smith is a great character, one you will adore from the very first page. The rest of the characters are great but there was something about her that just shone out, much like a bright star in the sky’s. This was a great adventure and the seat of your pants anticipation will keep you hooked.
A Talent for Trouble (Bad Boys of Space #1) by Landra Graf was a fast pace, addicting read that had me hooked from start to finish. My first read from this author, I went in blind and just started reading. The cover and synopsis may have invited me in, but the stellar writing, intriguing plot and attention to detail, made me stay. I will say that this is a little out of my comfort zone, not so much that it's a sci-fi, but because it was a Mafia style setup, and I don't normally gravitate towards those types of books. But I'm glad I took a chance because this book was much more than a tale about a drug runner trying to make it big, no, it had a ani-hero vibe and with the added romance to spice things up, I couldn't stop flipping the pages. Overall this book, is a must read. Besides the plot and multi-layered characters, there is action, blood, double crossing and an explosive climax that will get your blood pumping. So please take my super high recommendation and my stamp of approval, that you will want to get lost in this dangerous world set in space. Happy Reading -E.A. Walsh
A Talent for Trouble (Bad Boys of Space #1) By Landra Graf Rated 5 stars I love, love, loved this story! It is full of action and suspense. As well as a relationship full of lust, snark and mutual distrust. I loved each of these characters from the first moment we met them. Toni is such a strong female lead! She kept me on my toes but never disappointed me. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty and has a loyal following. Emilio is trying to turn his life around when everything goes wrong. He is arrogant and thinks his good looks, suave personality and thinking one-step ahead can get him out of anything. When these two first meet?? It’s like hot and cold. They each have a past holding them back from a possible future. Will they be able to overcome to meet in the middle? I loved this storyline! Bootleggers, drug/gun runners and drug cartels? Spaceships, AI’s, Earth and other planets?? All of that makes this an action-packed story that I couldn’t put down. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next and how were they going to get out of the next mess. Many times I rooted for Emilio or Toni but then i was distraught Over something that happened and changed my loyalty to the opposite. There are a bunch of rag-tag dysfunctional secondary characters that I enjoyed immensely. They made the MC’s more rounded and added some fun to the story. I would love to read some more about them and possibly have them get their own stories. This is a first time author for me. I can’t wait to read more in this series and are eagerly awaiting the next one!