The Classic Rides crew takes on top secret at top speed—and chases the same thrills between the sheets . . .
For Gabriel, the FBI is just a painful memory. His new team of motorheads may work for the Feds undercover, but they’re nothing like the backstabbers and bureaucrats he left behind. Hunting drug dealers and smugglers in Miami gets him the adrenaline rush he wants and the justice he needs. All that’s missing is the seal on the badge—and Nikki, his sexy ex-partner.
Until she shows up at his garage, wearing short shorts and a look that spells trouble. Nikki has never forgotten the heartbreak Gabriel left her with last time. Even if she can’t have him, she still has to work with him. There’s a homegrown terrorist recruiting military vets to a cult of fear and deception, and they all have roots in Miami.
It will take Gabriel and all the Classic Rides crew to stop a catastrophe. But in close quarters with sparks flying, it’s only a matter of time before the old flame ignites . . .
About the Author
It can never be said that Sidney Bristol has had a "normal" life. She is a recovering roller derby queen, former missionary, and tattoo addict. She grew up in a motor‐home on the US highways (with an occasional jaunt into Canada and Mexico), traveling the rodeo circuit with her parents. Sidney has lived abroad in both Russia and Thailand, working with children and teenagers. She now lives in Texas where she splits her time between a job she loves, writing, reading and belly dancing. Readers can find her at sidneybristol.com, on Facebook, and @Sidney_Bristol on Twitter.
Read an Excerpt
By Sidney Bristol
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Sidney Bristol
All rights reserved.
Identities were like T-shirts, easy to change out until you found one that fit.
Gabriel Ortiz had worn so many identities in his life, sometimes he wasn't sure who he was anymore. At least until he got behind the wheel of a car. It was easier to tap into the parts of himself that were Gabriel and not a made-up persona for a job. When it was just him, his car, and the road, things made sense. Lately he'd spent almost all his spare time behind the wheel of his new ride, a bad little Nissan Skyline he'd rebuilt piece by piece, but instead of feeling more whole, he was restless.
"I cannot believe how badly you smoked them." Roni Chazov, one of his fellow mechanics at Classic Rides, smacked him on the shoulder. She grinned at him, a rare thing these days, and flipped her long, red hair over her shoulder. Men fell over themselves for Roni's attention, but she'd always been one of the guys to him.
"Yeah." He nodded.
"You could at least act like you're having a good time." Roni crossed her arms over her chest and turned to face the line of cars across the street.
Hip-hop thumped from a chrome plated lowrider. Half a dozen other cars had their hoods popped while drivers and onlookers kicked tires, talked shop or bragged about their fastest time. Several of them were Gabriel's friends and coworkers, people he'd bled with. People he'd die for.
"They're watching us," Roni said, pitching her voice low.
Their crew's reputation had always been solid on the streets, but now people were scared of them. Fear didn't sit well with Gabriel. At least not while he was himself. He'd pretended to be men who thrived on that kind of attention, but not Gabriel. Not his real self. He didn't like it at all.
"What do you think they're saying?" she asked.
"Probably wondering where we hid the bodies."
"That's not funny." Roni shot him a glare.
"Hey, you asked what they were saying. I just answered." He shrugged. It wasn't an understatement. Rumors were all over Miami about what their crew had done to a couple of hit men out for the Chazov twins.
"Yeah. I miss the days when they just wanted to know what was under the hood." Roni tapped the Skyline's tire with the toe of her boot.
Gabriel nodded. They'd all known the day was coming when their undercover FBI operation would change the street game. But none of them had anticipated this. Thanks to a friend at the Miami-Dade PD keeping the details of the arrests under wraps, they'd been able to put a spin on the latest exploits to paint themselves as the new street bosses. With their biggest rivals out of the picture, Gabriel and his crew were it. Which was the biggest joke there was. They were the crime kings who didn't do crime.
"Where's your twin?" Gabriel asked.
"Where do you think?" Ice laced Roni's tone.
"Things okay between you two?"
"Okay." He shrugged.
Unlike most of his crew, Gabriel had experience with long-term, deep-cover missions. They were hell on the body and the soul. That the crew was three years into the operation without any real problems with their people was remarkable. In his book, Roni's sister shacking up with their field tech wasn't all that bad. He was even happy for them, if he could be happy about anything.
Roni leaned toward him. "I was thinking —"
Gabriel's pocket chimed, and an echoing noise emanated from Roni's pocket.
That couldn't be good.
He dug his phone out of his pocket, unlocked the screen, and tapped the message notification from — speak of the devil — their field tech, the Walking Brain, Emery. In Gabriel's peripheral vision he could see the others doing the same thing.
Alarm at Classic Rides. Security offline.
"Shit," Roni said. She glared at him. "Get driving. You're fastest."
Classic Rides was the business they all worked out of, restoring classic muscle cars, and acted as the front for their FBI gigs. They didn't keep anything at the garage except tools and cars, but thanks to current events, they had a huge bull's-eye on their backs. If someone wanted to fuck with them, the garage was a prime target.
Roni jogged toward her new V10 Viper while Gabriel pulled the door open to his Skyline and dropped into the driver's seat. The onlooking pedestrians scattered, jumping onto the sidewalk as Gabriel peeled out in a plume of exhaust and squealing tires. He glanced in his rearview mirror. The closest headlights were over a car length away. Aiden's, if he had to guess. Their fearless leader was the owner and had wrapped up his life's savings in the garage.
The fastest route to Classic Rides this time of night was via I-95, but he had to get to the interstate first. Gabriel ignored a red traffic light, barreling through before the oncoming traffic had even let off their accelerators. Another car turned onto the old two-lane street ahead of him, blocking him. He jerked the Skyline into the left lane, stomped on the accelerator, and shifted. The car lurched forward, the engine barely even working. Yet. There was a discernable lack of vibration as the car coasted over the road as if the tires never really touched the asphalt. This really was the fastest car he'd ever had.
And right now, he needed every second it could buy him.
Being part of the crew at Classic Rides had given him a purpose when he had nothing. After his world crumbled and everything he thought he had walked out the door, the crew had put him back together. They'd given him a mission. Something to live for. The garage might just be a building, but it was more to him. It was his new home, and he wasn't about to let anyone destroy that.
"Come on, come on," he chanted.
He coasted through another intersection, weaving between cars, and passed under the overpass, cutting off a sedan as he changed lanes, ignoring the angry blare of the horn. The speakers began to ring and Emery's name flashed across the display mounted into the dash.
Gabriel pressed a button on his steering wheel, activating the call.
"Talk to me."
"Someone just used CJ's codes to access the garage, but it can't be CJ. He's still in DC. You're the closest. I have no eyes on the facility. Someone had to have taken the security out at the power source — or something else. Fuck. I don't know." Normally Emery was quiet and rather mild mannered. That was a well-constructed front. Right now, Emery cursed and growled with the best of them, and for good reason. They'd lost their direct FBI handler, CJ, after the death of his wife in the line of action. Every one of them suspected someone higher up at the FBI to be setting them up to take a fall. Who knew who was at the garage right now? What were they trying to do?
"I should go in hot, you mean?" Gabriel maneuvered around the slower traffic, making liberal use of the shoulder. There were only two exits to go. He couldn't see Aiden in his rearview mirror. He pushed the car faster, his focus narrowing to the vehicles around him and the way the Skyline handled.
"Yes, but hold up a second and wait for backup. We don't know what's in there yet, and I want them alive."
He could hear the frustration in Emery's voice. Classic Rides had remained as secure a location as they could make it. No doubt Emery would take it personally should the facility ever be breached. Like now.
"No can do, Brain."
He flipped on his blinker as he coasted over the white line, cutting off a red van. The shop was a few streets over from the highway, still a couple lights to go.
"That's not a good idea. Wait for backup."
Emery's voice drifted into the background. Gabriel pulled the hand brake and let the Skyline whip around at a ninety-degree angle. Cars honked and their tires screeched as drivers swerved to avoid him. He gunned the engine and shot forward, the familiar storefronts a blur as he focused on the retro sign of Classic Rides ahead with the purple and indigo night sky behind it. Palm trees waved in a stronger-than-normal breeze.
A single bay door was open and all the lights were on. The parking lot was empty save the cars for sale lined up along the perimeter. Hell, the gate and chain were down, too, almost as if someone had opened the garage for business. It wasn't exactly a covert setup.
Gabriel steered the Skyline into the parking lot and shifted hard into park. He grabbed his primary weapon out of the center console while keeping his gaze on the open doors. His 1967 Pontiac GTO was inside. If whoever thought of hitting them tonight touched the car, he was likely to ignore the directive to take any and all adversaries alive.
He got out of the Skyline and crept toward the closed bay door, keeping his eyes on the storefront windows.
In the distance he could hear the rumble and whine of engines. The others would be here any moment. The smart thing to do would be to wait, but this garage, these people, they were his safe haven. His family. When it came to those things, he'd face down a dozen thugs for them.
He took a deep breath and peered around the open door, into the first bay.
Four cars sat ready for the morning. A tune-up, an oil change, Gabriel's ride, and a complete restore job. All the familiar smells filled the air: oil, rubber, and lemon-scented cleaner. Nothing was out of place, except the woman with dark hair wearing a suit standing with her back to him. She appeared to be looking at something on the workbench surface.
Suits meant Feds. And right now he didn't have any love for them.
He took another step, gun trained on the woman.
"Turn around," he barked.
The woman straightened, and for a moment neither moved. Did she have a partner? Someone hiding as her backup? There were easily a dozen places in the garage to take cover. They'd designed it that way for exactly this reason.
She pivoted to face him, and everything froze. He didn't breathe or blink. The world could have stopped moving for all he cared.
The hair was different and he'd never seen her in drab black before, but the face was still the same. Or similar. She'd always smiled when he'd seen her, but that was before. Now her lips were compressed in a tight line. Pity, she was rather stunning when she smiled.
"Gabriel." She licked her lower lip and he couldn't help but focus on that one action. "I ... wasn't expecting anyone to be here this late."
"Nikki?" He lowered his gun, frowning. Lights slashed across the garage as one and then another car turned into the parking lot. He stalked toward her, needing to know it was really his Nikki before the others arrived and all hell broke loose.
* * *
Nikki swallowed and held her ground as six feet of rock-her-world man barreled down on her. The garage was supposed to be closed. She should have had hours — all night even — to get acquainted with this case, her new team. Working with him.
She'd known from the moment this assignment landed on her desk that nothing about it would be easy. The director in charge of this operation wanted her to control Gabriel, and through him this team he'd joined. How the hell was she supposed to do that? She hadn't been able to control him when she'd been his handler and it was her job. The best she could do was give him his orders and nudge him a bit in the right direction, make a suggestion or two. No one controlled Gabriel, least of all her.
His sinful, dark chocolate eyes stabbed her heart. There was no warmth there. No friendliness. She didn't doubt for a second if she made the wrong move, he'd shoot her. His hair was longer, a bit unruly, but she kind of liked it. It suited him better than the close-cropped stubble had. The lines around his mouth were the worst. Frown lines. His smile had unnerved her in the beginning, but that was probably her good sense, knowing that inevitably, he'd charm her out of her panties. The rest of him, well, if memory served her well, it was rock hard, lined with scars, and yet, he'd always held her with such tender care. As if the cruelty of what he had to do, of who he had to be, got all used up and left only the gentler side of him for her.
She had to say something.
They were staring at each other.
This was entirely ridiculous.
They'd broken up. Or really, she'd dumped him after — after the nightmare.
"I realize —"
"Stop." His voice reverberated through the garage, making it sound louder than it really was.
She tensed, which was better than jumping out of her skin. He'd stopped less than a foot away from her. Oh God, was he going to touch her? She could survive this, hell, maybe she could even succeed, but not if he touched her. There was too much history between them to not dredge it all back up once the feel of his hands was involved.
"What are you doing here?" he whispered. While his voice was soft, his features were hard. The only time she'd seen him look this way was in the beginning. When he'd been close to breaking. Yeah, he wanted to see her again about as much as she wanted to be there.
"Gabriel?" a man yelled.
"In here," he called without looking away from her.
More of the team? Shit. This was not her night.
Feet thudded against the concrete outside. Several people running their way at once.
"What are you doing here?" he asked her once more, voice pitched low for her ears only.
She opened her mouth to reply.
"What the — who the fuck is that?" A big, dark-haired man with a gun in his hand was followed by a red-haired woman and a man with lighter-colored hair, somewhere between brown and blond.
Julian, one of the Chazov twins, and Aiden. Her memory supplied the names from their files while her focus remained on Gabriel.
This was a mistake. She should have stayed in DC. Things were going well for her, but she just had to get out in the trenches and get her hands dirty on this case. It wasn't enough to stay in the field office and work it from afar.
"Nikki?" Julian's bloodshot eyes worried her as much as his file had. She'd only worked with Julian on that one job toward the end with Gabriel. Looking at the case file and getting up to date, it was safe to say they'd both been busy.
"Stand down," Gabriel barked to the newcomers.
A man in cowboy boots and a Stetson, of all things, brought up the rear, ushering in a heavily tattooed woman who crossed to the man who'd entered first. The cowboy pressed the button to close the bay doors. Six people stared at her, and there wasn't a friendly one in the bunch.
This was such a bad idea.
"I — Are we free to talk?" she asked Gabriel.
His gaze narrowed.
"I'd say yes, but you took the security offline and —" A phone ding from several pockets made him pause long enough to glance at his cell. "Security's back up. Talk."
"I ... I'm sorry. I used the code CJ gave me to get to his files." She gestured toward the office.
"What code did you use?" Aiden asked.
She took a deep breath and recited the six-digit code CJ had made her memorize.
"What the fuck are you doing in my garage?" Aiden was almost yelling now.
"Boss," Gabriel barked.
Aiden glanced toward him, none of the anger dissipating.
Gabriel turned and strode away from her, toward an electric purple muscle car. He was both beautiful and deadly when he moved. There was a fluidness to his movements and an understated strength that made it easy for people to dismiss him as just another average Joe. Boy, were they wrong.
She cleared her throat, tore her gaze from him, and slowly took stock of those present. She'd hoped to do this tomorrow, after she'd prepared herself a bit more, but now was as good as ever. They were missing the other twin as well as the field tech, but she'd read the notes on them. Besides, a tech so highly recommended as Emery Martin, she was willing to bet he was listening to them right now.
"I'm Special Agent Nikki Gage —"
"Gage?" Aiden leaned forward, arms crossed.
"Yes." She held her head up a little more. Damn it. She'd have liked to get through the high-level overview before they cracked this nut.
"Any relation to Danny Gage?"
"My father is the deputy director of the FBI, if that's what you're asking."
"This is rich." Aiden wrapped one arm around the woman sticking close to his side while glaring at Nikki. "Madison, would you mind getting some coffee going?"
"I can do that." The tattooed woman glanced from Nikki to Aiden, and the look was not friendly. Awesome. More people who didn't like her. She was making friends today.
Excerpted from Chase by Sidney Bristol. Copyright © 2016 Sidney Bristol. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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