Double Down

Double Down

by Victoria Pratt

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Overview

Double Down by Victoria Pratt

He's her kind of danger...

Small-town-girl Cassidy Jones is a fast-driving, sharp-shooting, man-loving cop with a loud laugh. She's also really good at her job-a fact that is completely irrelevant to the good ol' boys at the station. So when a local mobster is murdered, and the Chief is forced to turn to Cassidy for help, she's excited to get the opportunity to prove herself.

Sure, the only reason she's going undercover is because she's one of only two female cops on the force. Still, it beats the hell out of writing parking tickets. There's just one little problem: she's falling hard for Lorenzo, the mobster's dangerously sexy brother-and possible murder suspect.With everyone at the station assuming she'll fail, Cassidycannotact on her attraction.

But when Cassidy's instincts lead her to a shocking suspect, her reputation isn't the only thing at stake.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781682810118
Publisher: Entangled Select
Publication date: 10/25/2015
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.67(d)

Read an Excerpt

Double Down


By Victoria Pratt, Alethea Spiridon Hopson

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2015 Victoria Pratt
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63375-211-5


CHAPTER 1

I hate being on time.

Not always, but when it comes to our morning briefing, I'd rather be in my seat before the sausage parade begins. This morning, however, thanks to last night's poker extravaganza and subsequent hangover, I'm one of the last ones in. Fantastic. Don't get me wrong. It's not like I have some OCD compulsion that makes me want to be the first one in the room. It's just that this particular room full of cops likes to try to make me squirm, and trust me, that is no easy feat. I'm a fast-driving, sharp-shooting, type-A ball-buster, but sadly, my long blond hair and obvious lack of penis are viewed as an egregious insult to these good ol' boys, and they make every effort to make me feel like "a girl."

I ran a bloodshot eye over the sea of blue uniforms and bad haircuts. Yep. Last one in. But, like my mother always said, never let them see you sweat. Chin up, shoulders back. She called that "assuming the position." We always giggled about it when I was a kid, although looking back I was probably giggling because my mom was giggling. The memory still brings a smile to my face to this day, although when I'm assuming the other position, it is a little weird to be thinking of my mother. Regardless, a hint of a smile replaced my hangover grimace as I walked down the center aisle and began the slow cut through the row to my seat. I've been here a couple of months now, so the comments are beginning to subside, but there are still a few who won't quit.

Case in point — Detective Jay Coleman. "Sweet ass, Jones," he whispered as I crossed in front of him.

I've decided to treat these daily offerings as compliments, instead of the misogynistic belittlements they're intended to be. After all, I do have a nice ass. "Thanks, Princess," I chirped. "I've been working out. Nice to see those charm school lessons are paying off for you." This earned me a few snickers from the boys. I even got a sliver of a smile from the only other female cop in the station, Lisa Miller. It did not, however, endear me to Detective Coleman.

"Princess" had become Coleman's nickname, thanks to me, doubly funny since he was probably the most manly man I've ever met — sandy blond hair, green eyes, big rough working hands, and perma-stubble. On my first day, they paired me up with another new officer, who, although he does have a penis, is similarly handicapped in that he is the most beautiful person I've ever seen. He's much prettier than me. I'm not half bad, but he's ridiculous — six feet, five inches of caramel skin, thick black hair, brown eyes, and a perfect mouth. Not handsome, beautiful. To make matters worse, his name is — wait for it — Ken. Detective Coleman thought he was being clever by introducing us to the rest of the force as Barbie and Ken. But anyone who has grown up with a brother knows that two wrongs most definitely do make a right, so I retaliated in the only way I knew how — I called him Princess and insulted his manhood. Funny, nobody calls me Barbie anymore, but Princess really stuck.

Ken turned his big doe eyes to me as I sat down beside him, and I was struck, as I always am, by the obscene length of his lashes. I wouldn't say I'm jealous of his beauty, but I do think it's kind of a shame to use up so many great features on one human, especially a male one. If I had the power I'd take his hair and give it to Ross. Then I'd give his eyes to Watson, and his body to Terry. I wouldn't give shit to Coleman, though. He'd probably go out and get himself syphilis, then come back and blame it on Ken. Frankly, Ken might benefit from an imperfection or two. Ever since the great Dave debacle of 2010, I've decided never to date anyone who is prettier than me. Ken could never tempt me, anyway, no matter how unattractive he could manage to make himself. Fishing off the company pier is a monumentally bad idea. It's hard enough to be taken seriously in this cop shop without adding "badge bunny" to my list of defects.

I pulled out of my reverie. "Morning, Ken. You good?"

"Can't complain, Cassidy. Can't complain." He probably would have complained if he knew that I had just mentally dismantled his body and distributed his goodies like Santa Claus.

"How's my partner doing today?" he asked with a smile.

"Well, I lost my shirt at poker last night, then I tripped and fell into a bottle of tequila, and it all went inside me. But other than that ... it's all good."

Ken shook his head with mock disapproval. "I don't know how you do it."

"It's kinda like riding a bike," I answered. "Except there's no bike. And there's booze. And you have a better chance of getting laid."

"Did you?"

Before I could answer, I heard Captain Rye making his way into the room and down the aisle. I could tell it was the captain without looking. He had a very distinct footfall — there was a stomp-drag to his gait. Heavy, tired, graceless. Today, though, those footsteps came to an abrupt halt at my row. I looked up to see what had stopped him. Apparently I was the object of his attention. I swung a look behind me to see if I was missing something, but there was no mistaking it. His humorless eyes were fixed on me, his expression a mixture of contempt and disbelief. This was actually an interesting development. Until this very moment, I had thought he only saw me as boobs, a badge, and a ponytail, in that order. Apparently today, I was something else to Captain Rye.

Could I be in trouble? I couldn't imagine how. Ever since I had arrived, or should I say, ever since I was foisted onto the department because of equality hiring, they had used my carefully honed bad guy — nabbing skills for playground duty. At least that's what I call it. Writing citations to drunks, putting Band-Aids on kiddies, tracking down truants and prank nine-one-one callers. You know, real crime fighting. It's actually pretty hard to screw up playground duty. The litmus test for a successful day is making it through your shift without getting flashed or peed on. A couple of months ago I would have thought that getting peed on would be the worst, but I've seen some things recently that have made me rethink.

Could I be getting praise? Also doubtful. It's kind of hard to make a mark in the department when you don't get the opportunity to use your skills. So what had gotten Captain Rye's panties in a twist this morning, I wondered. I was about to find out.

"Jones, Miller, in my office."

He turned on his heel without waiting for us to follow. This was either going to be a good thing or a bad thing, but judging from my reception at the station, I was banking on the latter. Miller didn't seem fazed, though. She was the only other woman on the force. You'd think that fact would have worked as a bond between us, but sadly this was not the case. Lisa was a joyless woman with a seemingly endless supply of disdain for the human species. Physically she was quite ... impressive. My mother would call her sturdy. There was a thickness to her that can only be attained through unfortunate genetics and a lifetime of heavy weight training, but her tragic hair was the result of pure neglect – lifeless and dull, and the color of damp hay. Her eyes might be pretty if she smiled, but since I'd never borne witness to such a thing, I wasn't holding my breath.

The door to the captain's office was open, and he gestured us inside, then pointed at the door, the universal symbol for "close it" used by power trippers all over the world. Sitting behind the desk was Police Chief Thompson.

Chief Thompson was the silver fox to Captain Rye's silverback gorilla. Thompson was lean and sinewy, with bright blue eyes and close-cropped silver hair. Captain Rye, on the other hand, was meaty and sweaty, with dark gray hair, beady dark eyes, and a bulldog underbite. I guess I'd be miserable, too, if I looked like that.

Beside Chief Thompson sat a redheaded woman with a sad face and eyes red rimmed from crying. She was wearing a simple black sheath dress under a fine-knit black cardigan. I'd put her somewhere in her mid- to late forties. She looked familiar to me somehow, but I couldn't quite place her.

Captain Rye, finding himself without a seat in his own office, shuffled over to lean against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. Whatever was going on, Captain Rye was not happy about it.

"Chief, these are Officers Miller and Jones," growled Rye.

I gave the chief the customary nod. "Chief."

He took a moment to look at us both then spoke. "I trust you both heard about the murder last night."

Lisa jumped in smugly. "Of course, sir."

The chief hesitated, only for a second, but long enough to underline the fact that he did not want to be interrupted. From the corner of my eye I could see Lisa wilt a little. It's amazing how much a person's shoulders can betray them. God, would I love to play poker with her.

"Last night," continued the chief, "Jimmy Polonco was murdered in one of his own establishments." He paused to let the information sink in, then added, "I'm sure I don't have to tell you what kind of shitstorm we're in for if we don't find the doer. Fast."

My skin was tingling. This was huge news. Jimmy Polonco was one of the most influential founding fathers of Sioux Sands. It was a new city, sprouted from nothing in the middle of nowhere, snuggled up to a huge Indian reservation on the edge of the North Dakota oil sands. When I was growing up, this was all farmland. Then, about ten years ago, Jimmy Polonco of the Chicago Polonco crime family rolled onto the reservation in a big black SUV, had a powwow with George Bloodgood, one of the tribe elders, and hatched a plan to build a casino on Indian land. Somehow he had anticipated the oil boom, but instead of speculating on oil, he threw his money into the infrastructure that would support it. It had been a very lucrative decision for him.

Three years later, Polonco Casino was born. And where there's a casino, there are strip clubs, and hotels, and restaurants. Lo and behold, before our very eyes, a city was born out of the dirt, nourished by crime, gambling, sex, and money. It had really exploded in the last few years. That's why I'm here.

When a city arrives on your doorstep, it either absorbs the small towns around it or it crushes them like grapes. My tiny hometown, population eighteen hundred, was all but crushed. It lies on the opposite side of the reservation from the casino, so it wasn't swallowed up by the city. But, having lived out in the middle of the dirt for so long, most of the people in our town decided they wanted to live closer to the action, so they picked up and moved. As the population dwindled, many of the stores and restaurants on the main street shuttered. Eventually our little town could neither justify, nor afford, having its own police force, and I was suddenly out of a job. So I did what everyone else did — I looked for one in the city.

Luckily, due to the population explosion and an inordinately large amount of crime, they were in desperate need of more police officers, and I was given a job. If they'd bothered to ask, they would have found out that I had graduated at the top of my class and that I was an excellent police officer, a better shot than anyone in the Sioux Sands Police Department. I'd bet my life on that. But they didn't ask. This was the new wild frontier, the future of oil in America, a testosterone playground where, at best, women were tolerated but never appreciated.

The chief gestured to the redheaded woman at his side. "Mr. Polonco's wife came to see me. She's worried it could be an inside job. She's afraid, and so am I, that if we don't find out who did this, every mobster in Chicago is going to descend on our city, and they won't care what kind of collateral damage they do. They'll just start whacking until they figure they've got the right guy. Mrs. Polonco has asked me to put someone in undercover to find out who killed her husband."

Lisa and I traded a look. There was an entire room full of men out there, and Captain Rye liked every single one of them better than us. Why would he bestow the honor of solving a high-profile murder case on a girl?

"I'd be happy to do it, sir," said Lisa, shooting me a dirty look. What an idiot, I thought to myself. It's not like we were a couple of kids calling dibs. At least I really hoped it wasn't.

Chief Thompson and Mrs. Polonco traded a look.

"Actually, I don't know if that'll work," he said. "I'm thinking Officer Jones might be a better fit."

He looked uncomfortable saying it. Captain Rye, on the other hand, looked angry, and Lisa looked like she'd been punched in the stomach. I'd managed to make three people very unhappy without saying a word or moving a muscle. My mother would be so proud.

I waited. When you keep your mouth shut, people tend to either volunteer information or dig their own grave. Biting my tongue around people who have control over my career was one of my best features. I could feel Lisa looking at me. I didn't give her the satisfaction of returning that look, but I could tell it wasn't a pleasant one. Her breath was coming fast and sharp, and her fingers, balled up into meaty fists at her sides, clutched the heavy wool of her trousers, as though their release might trigger a cyclone of violence directed specifically at my face. It had been a long time since someone had wanted to punch me that badly. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore.

"With all due respect, sir," she said gritting her teeth, "I have to disagree with your decision. I can handle anybody and anything, and I've been here longer than her."

She was really going for it.

"She doesn't even want this!" She jabbed a fleshy thumb in my direction. "You offered it to her and she hasn't said anything!"

The room fell silent, all eyes on Lisa. Her face was flushed to a dark pink, interrupted by little blotchy white patches, and a film of sweat covered her upper lip and forehead. All in all, not a good look. When I was sure her tantrum was over, I turned to the chief. "May I respond, sir?"

Chief Thompson gave me the nod to continue, so I turned my gaze back to Lisa. "With all due respect, Officer Miller, unless you're a freaking wizard, or you have a crystal ball up your ass, you have absolutely no idea what I want, much less what I'm capable of. As for not responding to Chief Thompson, he hasn't made me an offer yet. You didn't give him the chance. And from the look on his face, I'm guessing that this assignment isn't going to be a pleasant one. So why don't you do us all a favor, and shut the hell up?" I paused for effect, turning away from her. "Chief?"

"Um ... Thank you." It took him a moment to gather his thoughts. "You're right about the assignment. I hate to ask it of anyone, but ..." He stopped again. "Understand, you're not obligated to take the assignment."

"Just tell me what it is, sir."

"Jimmy was killed at Double Down, one of his strip joints. We want to put someone in there undercover ... as a stripper."

I didn't know whether to be flattered or offended. "And what makes you think I'm suited for that?"

He looked down at his shoes, suddenly finding something very interesting on the floor. He kicked back and forth for a second, gathering the courage to continue. "My, uh, wife said that you were ... you know, into that."

My eyes grew wide. "Excuse me?"

"She said her cousin saw you doing the, what do you call it? The stripper pole stuff?"

Now it was my turn to blush. My best friend Bobbie had bought us pole-dancing lessons for my birthday last year. Every Tuesday night we'd grab cocktails — liquid courage, we called it — then go to our pole-dancing lessons. It was an amazing workout, much harder than it looked, but you try explaining that to a fifty-year-old cop. It sounded fishy, even to me. If I'd known that the chief's wife's cousin would be watching, I would have traded them for square dancing lessons.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Double Down by Victoria Pratt, Alethea Spiridon Hopson. Copyright © 2015 Victoria Pratt. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Double Down 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
ChristineWarner More than 1 year ago
A quick paced, light-hearted mystery featuring a fast talking heroine and a sexy as sin hero. I really enjoyed Double Down, which is the debut book by Victoria Pratt. The author did a fabulous job building her characters. I loved the quick dialogue, the fast paced story, and basically everything about the book. Written in 1st person, I was sucked right into the story from the first page. I liked that Cassidy Jones was a strong main character who knew her mind, and didn’t let the fact that some of her male co-workers didn’t take her detective skills seriously. When she got the chance to prove herself—by pretending to be a stripper in order to find a murderer—the fun began. It didn’t hurt that she had a bestie that acted much like her, and when they were together their conversations were a lot of fun. They played off each other so well. Very entertaining. And then there’s Lorenzo. I can sum him up in one word. YUM! I can’t wait to see what happens to Cassidy next. Will Lorenzo be in book 2, or will she find another hottie? Will she move up in rank, tackle another case, keep her cockiness and her bestie? I guess we’ll have to stay tuned …
TheSassyBookster More than 1 year ago
This is a very entertaining and well-written mystery debut by Victoria Pratt, one I enjoyed a great deal and I am hoping for more books based on the female lead. Cassidy Jones is a very modern and liberated woman, tough and extremely confident but laid back. She works just as hard as she plays and is proud of her accomplishments as a police officer but since she started her new job, work hasn't been as much fun due to her boring assignments and especially because of the boss from hell. Things are about to change though because she has just been tasked with going undercover at a strip club to investigate the murder of a local businessman and this is her chance to show her bosses just what she's made off. What should be an easy investigation becomes complicated by another dead body, the deceased's ties to organized crime; multiple suspects, some of whom are members of law enforcement; no clear motive for the murder and Cassidy's attraction to the brother of the deceased. Cassidy's search for the killer takes her to very interesting locations including a heaven-and-hell themed sex club I absolutely enjoyed Cassidy, especially her sense of humor, and her internal monologues had me laughing so hard. Every page had something guaranteed to get a chuckle out of me. Cassidy is a refreshing change from the usual heroine with emotional baggage and I loved her relationship and history with her best friend and sidekick, Bobbie. The mystery overshadowed the romance in the book, but I enjoyed it all the same. I liked Lorenzo, but was interested in a possible connection between Cassidy and her nemesis, Detective Coleman and I hope that the author explores it if there are more books in the series. I definitely recommend DOUBLE DOWN to anyone who loves a feisty heroine with a very healthy ego and a great sense of humor, who doesn't take herself too seriously. Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Splashesintobooks1 More than 1 year ago
Rating: 4.5/5 What an enthralling story this proved to be! With two murders, possible mobster involvement and lots of red herrings along the way this is a superbly written crime mystery with romance, too. The daughter of a police officer, Cassidy Jones originally worked in her own home town but now works in the neighbouring city. She is given all the best jobs to do - like traffic control, playground duty. All that changes when a local strip club owner is murdered. The Chief of Police directs her to go in undercover to investigate if the killing is gangland related and to try to reveal the perpetrator. The first person she meets on going to the club is Lorenzo, the brother of the victim. Lorenzo is handsome, courteous, attractive and she's immediately smitten but her undercover role means she really has to avoid mixing business and pleasure - but she sure is tempted! The investigation brings her into contact with a wide variety of suspects, puts her firmly into the line of fire as far as the murderer is concerned and is full of danger, threats and misdirection. It is a well crafted mystery, an enthralling read and a great story I thoroughly enjoyed reading and highly recommend to anyone else who enjoys these genres. Thanks to the Author, publisher and NetGalley, too, for letting me read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Lori-Gonzo More than 1 year ago
I have to say that I completely loved Cassidy and her bad self. She was tough, funny, sarcastic and loved to have fun. Her scenes with her BFF Bobbie were priceless. They had each other's backs always and did pretty much everything. Cassidy so wanted to prove herself in the man's world in which she worked. And she did. She gave it good. Such bravado. There were so many twists to this story, some of which pointed to an obvious person and some that made you think hmmm, maybe that person. Lorenzo, in my humble opinion, was not in this book enough. I needed more of him and his handsomeness. I could not get enough of him or his innuendos with Cassidy. He was mouthwatering. Then there was Roger. He was simply a dear. And I need one of him in my life. Loved him! This book definitely kept my attention, wanting to see how Cassidy would get out of each sticky situation and what havoc she would create next. She was highly entertaining, gave me some laugh out loud moments, as well as some "you go girl" ones. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
grandmareads102 More than 1 year ago
Cassidy Jones is a police officer. She is good at her job, but no one appreciates what she does. She's given assignments that are boring and routine. Suddenly she has a chance to use her skills. They want her to infiltrate a strip club and find out who killed Jimmy Polonco who has mob connections. What a break! Or is it? She will be a stripper. Is it worth it? I liked Cassidy. She's a feisty woman who takes no prisoners. She made me laugh. When she and her childhood friend, Bobbie, get together, they shake things up. This is a fast paced, suspenseful story that combines humor and a sexy romance. Lorenzo, the victim's brother, provided Cassidy with passion and desire. He's a temptation that she can't resist. I enjoyed Double Down. Victoria Pratt did an excellent job! I was hooked. I'm looking forward to more police work by Cassidy Jones.
CarleneInspired More than 1 year ago
I need more Cassidy Jones in my life! Cassidy has been stuck doing the babysitting at the police station, she's taking care of kid's, dealing with clean up, and is the butt of every joke. She's tough though and when she's handed the job of going undercover to find a murder suspect, she uses it to her advantage. With the murderer on her mind, Cassidy starts her new undercover role, only to find herself working for the delicious Lorenzo, brother of the deceased. Focused on the task at hand, Cassidy gets herself into all sorts of trouble as she looks for all the clues she can. I loved this book! Loved it! Cassidy Jones is a hilarious character with a lot of wit and charm. I enjoyed reading from her POV, especially when she was admiring Lorenzo. For such a serious subject, Cassidy sure makes it fun. She's got a great inner monologue running at all times and the character she interacts with bring this book to life. The crime story line grabbed my attention from the very start and the romance in this one really took a backseat. I liked that the crime was more important than shacking up with boss. From mobsters to strippers and good cops to bad cops, everything you could possibly want in a romantic suspense novel is in this book. There are some great twists, even towards the very end, and I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
This was a truly fun read! Sounds crazy since it's a story filled with strip bars, murder, and the mob but the characters involved are fun and light and the humor the author writes into the story keep it very interesting. Cassidy Jones is a cop looking to move up in her career. When the opportunity to work undercover comes up, she grabs at the chance. She working as a stripper while investigating a murder that occurred at the club. She expects to find a slimy old guy as the owner, not the over the top hot Lorenzo Polonco. Since she's never been one to push her libido aside, this could be a problem! As they get closer she knows she has to find a way to solve the case and keep Lorenzo. Easier said than done! This is a great read. I highly recommend it.