Eva and Jake Kelly live the high life in Manhattan, with a beautiful apartment and successful careers in fashion design and car sales, respectfully. But they get their thrills from the con. They learned a long time ago they can extort wads of cash from drunk men who are in town on business and away from their wives. But when one of their marks turns on them after they demand blackmail money, their fun days look to be over. Until Eva comes up with a plan. With the help of their friends, they rob a cruise ship en route to Miami, turn the tables on their mark and his wife, and head full on into life on the lam.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
DONNA HILL has published multiple novels and has been featured in Essence, the Daily News, USA Today, Today's Black Woman and Black Enterprise, among many others. Donna lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes full time.
Read an Excerpt
Sex was the nectar that bound them, sticky-sweet and addictive, as addictive as the thrill of the con that drew them together. It was a dangerous game they played. But danger, living on the edge, was who they were, who they’d become—by choice and by circumstance.
For ten years, all of that had been enough. Until Eva Kelly woke one morning and wanted something more, something else. That nagging need sat on the outskirts of her consciousness, nudging her into action. She’d succumbed, but she hadn’t told Jake about it. That nagged at her, too—keeping secrets from him.
A cool morning breeze from the open patio door of the hotel room blew across Eva’s naked body. Goose bumps rose to attention along her spine. She stirred in her sleep, snuggled closer to the warm, hard body next to her.
Sometime during the night, they must have kicked the covers to the floor, she thought, drifting in and out of the haze of slumber.
Oh, what a night. Her body still hummed with pleasure. Eva draped her arm across Jake’s bare waist. Her diamonds sparkled in the morning light. The slow dance pounding in her chest was her heart, which beat out this rhythm whenever she thought of Jake. A delicious shiver began in her toes and moved sinuously along every muscle of her body.
From the first time she’d spotted Jake in an Atlantic City casino, she knew that something would eventually happen between them, but it wasn’t until a year later that they actually met. It was in this very same hotel in Las Vegas that he’d put some kind of mojo on her stuff that had it talking and doing backflips whenever he was in the vicinity. The mere scent of him got her panties wet, and if he smiled … well, then it was on. That was ten years ago.
Yeah, she was whipped. No doubt about that. So what choice did she have She had to marry him, had to ensure that she got what he could give her each and every day. It wasn’t only the sex, she reminded herself. She loved Jake. Loved the way he made her feel. Loved the excitement of him that flowed through his veins instead of blood. Loved the double-dangerous life they lived. It was a rush like none other—well, almost. She snuggled deeper. Closed her eyes. Pushed the secret to the back of her mind. Let her thoughts drift.
She’d been on the prowl at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas, surfing the crowded hotel for the perfect mark. She’d worked the hotels since she was a teenager, out on her own from the age of fifteen. She was good—better than good. She could spot an easy target with her eyes closed. No, she was no whore, not a prostitute. She was a grifter, and a damned good one. Sometimes she considered herself a modern-day Robin Hood, taking from the wealthy to give to … well … herself. Eva smiled.
There was one thing about the con: one artist could spot another even deep in an African jungle. There was a look in the eyes, like that of a lion choosing its prey from among an unsuspecting herd of animals. The lion is patient, waiting for the moment when the gazelle gets separated from the group. And then bam!
They’d kept out of each other’s way that time in Atlantic City, marking off their individual territories like two dogs that piss around the perimeters of their spaces. But when they ran into each other again in Vegas, something happened. When her gaze connected with his that night, a half smile of acknowledging challenge curved the right side of his wide mouth. He raised his glass in a subtle toast and winked.
Liquid fire slid down her throat when she swallowed her own drink. Her body grew warm. She ran her tongue across her lips, and her clit struck up a beat like a tiny drum between her legs.
She lost sight of her mark. She didn’t care. Jake approached. His walk was fluid, reminiscent of Denzel Washington, a slow, slightly swaying, all-man stride that was full of power and raw sexuality. Lawdhavemercy.
Eva leaned with casual calm against the bar—to keep her weak knees from giving out on her.
Jake came up beside her. Resting his back against the bar, he looked out into the crowd. He took a swallow of his drink. “Busy night.”
“On how you want to take it.”
The scent of him drifted to her. Her pulse kicked up a notch.
“Haven’t seen you here before.” She turned to the bartender and ordered another apple martini.
“Make that two.” He grinned at her, watched her from beneath half-shuttered lids. “Now we have two things in common.”
“Martinis and what else”
“I want to take you to bed and you want to go.” His hip brushed against hers.
Her pelvis throbbed, needed to press against him. Her gaze drifted up and down his long, lean frame. He was cloaked in all black, devastating. This familiar stranger spewed danger from every pore. His nut-brown complexion, smooth and taut, showed only one blemish: a small scar above his right brow. His chin was square, cheekbones angular to showcase deep-set dark brown eyes beneath a slightly hooded brow. A perfect face, handsome—almost too perfect. She liked the way he held his body, easy and relaxed, comfortable in his own skin. Confident.
“I bet you say that to all the girls.” She picked up her second drink and took a long sip.
“Only the ones that appeal to me.” He turned sideways to face her profile, then ran a finger along the line of her jaw. He let out a slow breath. “Jake Kelly.”
She looked at him. Her insides danced like butterflies let loose. “Eva Davis.”
He plucked the drink from her hand and set it down on the counter. He moved so close that she could feel his body heat and the erection that thrummed against her hip. Her eyes remained fixed on his mouth as it moved. He could have been saying anything. Something important. She couldn’t be sure and didn’t care, so long as she got to taste him.
His features blurred. The faint smell of the martini drifted beneath her nostrils. The taste of it lingered on his tongue when he slipped it into her partially opened mouth. Just for an instant. So brief, she wasn’t sure if the kiss actually happened.
Her lids fluttered open as he came into view.
“I knew it.” His voice was husky, intimate.
On a breath she asked him what he knew.
“That you would be sweet.” He took her hand. “I’m ready if you are.”
He could be Jake the Ripper, she thought absently as she entered his suite that night. He locked the door behind them. But she didn’t give a damn as long as she got a little bit of Jake Kelly—then she could die a happy woman.
That night in his room, they didn’t just have break-your-back sex, they rewrote the book—leaving them dazed, wary of this thing that erupted between them, and wanting more. Jake did things to her pussy that should have been illegal. It yelped and meowed for hours then purred in satisfaction. Management knocked on the door several times following calls from guests concerned that someone was being hurt.
Jake stirred in his sleep. Eva’s memories of that first night faded as she glanced over at her husband and smiled. Ten years as partners, five years as man and wife. They’d certainly had their adventures, she mused, and began to gently stroke his shaft. Even at half-mast, it was lethal. She licked her lips as she felt it grow in her grasp.
Jake moaned, opened his eyes. “What man wouldn’t want to be awakened with those expert fingers around him”
His voice was coated with the veil of sleep, thick and still raspy.
Eva leaned closer. Her strokes grew faster. Jake gripped the sheet in his fists. His breath hissed from between his teeth.
“Happy anniversary, baby,” she whispered before finishing him off in the deep recesses of her hot mouth.
* * *
Jake lay sprawled atop the rumpled bed with his hands tucked behind his head. He watched his wife as she moved around the suite, talking about their plans for the day. He loved watching her. He loved everything about her.
Eva was the kind of woman he never thought he’d get. When he saw her that night in Vegas, he knew it was meant to be. Something inside him shifted into overdrive. He hadn’t stopped seeing her in his dreams from that evening in Atlantic City. He’d let her get away the first time, but not again. Screw the con, he’d thought. In the reflection of her eyes, he saw himself as a horny teenager walking toward her, sure that she’d tell him to get lost, not this dance or any other. But when she opened her legs and let him inside—heaven help him, he was done.
All his life growing up in the belly of urban New York City, he’d drifted in and out of relationships, never staying long enough for anyone to uncover what he really did in his spare time or who he really was beneath the facade. Eva was different. She was a kindred spirit. She understood the art of the game and was ready to play. He’d let her into his life and into his world—at least most of it.
To outsiders, they were simply Mr. and Mrs. Jake Kelly, a young buppie couple living the good life on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Their three-bedroom town house was like every other in the well-to-do neighborhood. They even had a dog to fill out the picture of domestic bliss. Every day Eva went to work at Sebastian’s as a senior clothing designer. Jake used his gift of glib and his looks to sell luxury cars. But their real passion was the con. As a team, they’d mastered it. They were unstoppable and had amassed a hefty sum of money from unsuspecting businessmen—the marks were Eva’s specialty.
But over the past few months, she’d begun to lose her edge, her fire. Jake was worried.
“Jake I don’t know how much longer I can do this,” she’d said about three weeks earlier.
They were in a hotel in Detroit. A convention of CPAs was being hosted there. Eva and Jake were looking over the pictures they were planning to send to the mark’s wife.
Jake put aside the Polaroids of Eva in bed with the mark. He looked up at her standing over him. He leaned back in the gilded chair, folded his hands. “Why We’re making more money now than ever.”
“It’s not about the money.” She paced in front of him. He tried to keep his eyes on her face and not on her long bare legs.
“Then what is it”
She exhaled a breath of frustration, came toward him, and sat down. “I want to settle down, Jake. I want to have a regular life like regular people.”
Jake would have laughed, but he could see she was dead serious. “There’s nothing regular about us. This”—he waved his hands across the dozen photos spread across the table—“is what we do, baby. It’s who we are.”
Eva tossed her champagne-colored hair away from her face. “It’s not who I want to be anymore. We’ve been in the game long enough. It’s time to get out while we still can.”
“Woman, has Rita been in your ear again”
“Goodtime” Rita Harris was Eva’s first cousin, daughter of Eva’s deceased mother’s sister, who was also long gone. Rita was a dead ringer for Eva. Those two were thicker than Thelma and Louise. Rita was the party girl of the duo. She’d done time for petty theft, but her specialty was forgery. Her skill was nothing short of genius. He had to give her props. Nonetheless, Rita was the last person that Eva should be listening to, but Rita was about the only person Eva considered a confidante.
“Rita hasn’t said a word to me.” She rolled her eyes. “If anything, she’d want me to stay in the game so I can keep buying her those designer gifts that she loves.”
Jake smiled. That was true. Goodtime Rita loved jewelry and clothes almost as much as she loved crafting the perfect identity papers.
“All right, so it wasn’t Rita.” He looked her over, searching for some hint in her body language, but it was uncharacteristically rigid. He got up from the table, came around, and stood in front of her. The heat from her body warmed his veins like good brandy. He stepped close enough to hear the sharp intake of her breath.
“Baby,” he crooned.
“Damn, I love when you say my name like you need it.” He pulled her to her feet and pressed his face against her neck, dragged in a breath. “Love the sound of my name coming from your mouth as much as I like breathing you in.”
Her hand crept like vines along his thighs, stroked them up and down. “Jake.”
A low rumble against her neck was his only audible response. Jake eased her back against the table, knocked the pictures to the floor with a sweep of his hand.
Hunger whipped its tongue through them with long hot strokes.
Jake pushed up her short skirt, nearly ripping it in his haste, moved her panties aside, and put two fingers deep into her wet well. The liquid flowed over them.
Eva moaned. Her back arched. She raised her hips and spread her legs wider, opening to him.
They did it right there on top of the table. A scene right out of The Postman Only Rings Twice à la Jack Nicholson.
Yeah, he remembered that night in Detroit like it was yesterday. Good to the last drop.
“… So what do you think, baby”
Jake blinked, focused on Eva. “Whatever you want to do is cool with me.”
She put her right hand on her hip and cocked her head to the side. “You didn’t hear a damned word I said.” She puckered her lips and waited for him to lie.
He flashed white teeth. “How do you expect me to concentrate with you prancing around here naked”
Eva arched a brow, took a harder stance.
Jake held up his hands in defeat. “All right, all right. What did you say”
“I was telling you it would be great if we went sightseeing today.”
His face screwed up into a series of wrinkles. “Do we have to”
Eva refused to laugh at the whining tone. “Yes, we have to. It’s our anniversary, and I want to have some fun.”
Jake had other plans. The hotel was packed with a convention of bank executives, and he knew they could score big. “I’ll go sightseeing on one condition.”
Suspicion clouded her eyes. “What”
He smiled, and she melted against her will, like ice cream left out too long. “Jake…”
“Just this last job.” He got up and approached her. He put his hands on either side of her waist, his thumbs stroking the undersides of her heavy breasts. “I swear, baby. Just this last time.” A hot kiss on her throat, her chin, her lips. Once, twice, longer.
She murmured yes against his mouth.
His fingers teased her nipples to hard pebbles, and it was off to the races.
Copyright © 2006 by Donna Hill