Homicide cop Troy Bennett had a reputation with the Chicago PD for being fearless and in control—until the night his daredevil partner is killed during a raid. From that moment on, he swears he'll never again be responsible for the loss of a loved one. To escape his demons, Troy transfers to the NYPD, bringing him up close and personal with Ruby Elliott, a beautiful, street-savvy pool hustler.
Reckless and stubbornly independent, Ruby embodies everything Troy's avoiding, but when she walks into the pub he's at with his new coworkers and blows his carefully laid plans to hell, Troy knows he has to have her—risks be damned. But there's a connection between Ruby's shadowed past and a case Troy's working involving a notorious Brooklyn felon, throwing her safety into jeopardy. Confronted with his biggest fear, will Troy push Ruby away to keep her safe or fight to keep her in his arms where she belongs?
An exciting prequel to the new Crossing the Line series!
Each book in the Crossing the Lines series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Prequel Novella: His Risk to Take
Book .5: Riskier Business
Book 1: Risking it All
Book 2: Up In Smoke
Book 3: Boiling Point
Book 4: Raw Redemption
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
His Risk To Take
A Crossing The Line Novella
By Tessa Bailey, Heather Howland, Shutterstock
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Tessa Bailey
All rights reserved.
Same bullshit, different city.
From the darkest corner of Quincy's bar, Troy Bennett took a long pull of his draft beer and watched men and women start to pair off, retreating to their own dark corners together. The bitter snow storm taking place outside had kept people inside well past their cut-off point. Loud music emanated from unseen speakers until everyone around him yelled to be heard or had given up and started dancing. Toward the back, a group of men played pool under an ancient light, their girlfriends looking on from the sidelines. He'd thought of joining the game himself, but since arriving an hour earlier, Troy had seen money discreetly exchange hands several times. Nothing new in a dive bar like this, but illegal gambling was something that, as a cop, he tended to avoid.
He took another pull of his beer and tried to focus on the debate taking place in front of him. His first week as a member of the NYPD had been long and tedious. Daniel and Brent, two officers who'd been gifted with the task of showing him the ropes, had dragged him to the bar to celebrate his survival.
"So let me get this straight, Danny boy. You've never once cried in front of a girl?"
Daniel heaved a breath toward the ceiling. "No, Brent. Why would I be crying if I'm with a girl?"
"To show her how emotionally complex you are." Brent tapped his finger against his temple. "Women go crazy for that shit."
Daniel smiled lazily in response, his attention diverted once more by the cute bartender as she passed. "When I'm with a girl, I'm a little too busy to worry about how she's gauging my emotional maturity."
In the one week since Troy's transfer from Chicago, he'd watched Daniel, the hostage negotiator, date and discard at least three different women. Brent, on the other hand, seemed more interested in blowing shit up. They were good at their jobs, and Troy considered himself fortunate Lieutenant Tyler, his former superior back in Chicago, had put in a good word for him with the NYPD Emergency Services Unit.
At the reminder of his previous home and position on the Chicago police force, Troy drained his beer and signaled the bartender for another one. He shouldn't be drinking to forget the reason he'd left Chicago, but it had become a habit of late. One he needed to get control of soon. Just not tonight.
"Weigh in on this, Troy. Do women want men who, like myself, are as deep and fathomless as the ocean?" Brent gestured to Danny with his beer. "Or pretty boy over here who hits it, quits it, and forgets it?"
Troy avoided responding right away by sipping his beer. He had a feeling his answer would inspire an entirely new debate, but he had no interest in discussing his approach to women and relationships with Daniel and Brent, who he'd known less than a week. He knew what they saw when they looked at him. Quiet, friendly guy. Passionate about his job. It's the same thing women saw, too. In the beginning.
But Prince Charming disappeared as soon as they made it to the bedroom.
He'd tried once or twice in the past to be the guy who whispered sweet nothings into a girl's ear when she came, but he'd never been able to keep up the façade. He'd rather be explaining in very explicit terms how and where he planned to take her next. It was a part of him he couldn't explain, but had learned to embrace. Finding women to embrace it with him tended to be the difficult part.
Deciding on evasion as his best bet, Troy half smiled. "If I knew exactly what women wanted, do you think I'd be sitting here with you two?"
Both men laughed, and Brent changed the subject. Kind of. "On to more important topics, gentlemen. Blondes or brunettes?"
Daniel winked at the bartender. "You left out redheads."
Brent snorted into his beer. "I guess Danny's picked out tonight's lucky winner." He checked his watch. "Took you long enough. We've already been here a whole hour."
Troy caught a flash of something desolate pass over Daniel's face, but it disappeared just as quickly as he laughed at the joke made at his expense. "What about you, Troy? Any preference?"
He picked up his beer and tipped it to his lips. Not that he didn't appreciate their attempt at levity, but in his current mood, the hair color of a potential conquest was the furthest thing from his mind. Daniel and Brent knew the reason he'd been transferred from Chicago and thankfully, hadn't brought it up once during the week. But they were rapidly nearing the portion of the evening when he'd need to head home, since he knew too well that alcohol-plied cops didn't shy away from sensitive topics.
He had no desire for a heart-to-heart about the circumstances of his transfer.
Dragging his attention away from the empty-bottle-strewn bar, Troy realized both men were staring at him, waiting for an answer. What had even been the question? Oh, right. Blonde or brunette.
He set his beer down, ready to deliver some half-ass answer when she walked in. His response of "both," died on his lips, to be immediately replaced with, "Her. I prefer her."
Yoga mat slung over her shoulder, she weaved her way through the bar with casual grace, observing everything but acknowledging nothing. She wore a tightly belted trench coat and jeans, remnants of the snow storm outside on her shoulders. The coat did nothing to hide the lithe body beneath, the gentle swell of her ass that begged for a man's hands. His hands. A long, black wave of hair obscured part of her face, but she tossed it back over her shoulder as she neared him, flashing exotic green eyes in Troy's direction, as if she'd sensed his gaze following her through the bar. That single look hit him like an uppercut to the jaw.
Brent leaned back from the bar to follow his line of sight, emitting a low whistle when he saw her. Even Daniel turned to cast an interested glance over his shoulder. A slight tightening of her mouth was the only indication that she'd heard them, but she breezed past without comment on her way to the back of the bar. After a minute, he realized Daniel and Brent were watching him, amusement blanketing their features.
"I guess we have our answer. Troy's got a thing for leggy, black-haired yoga enthusiasts."
Troy ignored them both, turning instead to follow her progress. He watched in surprise as she skirted around a group of pool players with a polite smile, then signed her name in chalk on a blackboard mounted to the wall, claiming the next game. Ruby. Their attention already riveted on the newcomer, the players laughed when they saw her intention was to join their obviously competitive game. She wrinkled her nose and laughed as though she was in on their joke before sauntering back toward the bar to await her turn.
She sidled up next to Troy and signaled the redhead with a dollar bill. "Hi. Can I get some quarters, please?" When the bartender turned to make change, she spoke to Troy without looking directly at him. "So, blue eyes. Why don't you stop staring and buy me a drink? I don't want to dehydrate before you work up the nerve."
Keeping his surprise well hidden, Troy studied her. He didn't want to admit how much her straightforward approach turned him on, but it did. Bad. It also made him curious, and that irked the hell out of him. He wasn't ready to feel interest, or to care. Not yet. No, he craved a distraction. Something, or some one, in whom he could lose himself for the night. He wouldn't be required to think of anything but the way she moved, sounded, felt.
Her hand rested on the bar's edge, feminine fingers curling and uncurling into her palm as if restless to touch something. He thought of that hand sliding down the front of his jeans while he sucked on her bottom lip. Her breath would catch against his mouth, right before those graceful fingers gripped him.
All at once, the idea of taking her home became irresistible. Urgent. Unable to help himself, he leaned in closer. Too close. "Ask nicely, and I'll think about it."
She stilled, the smirk vanishing from her face. Troy could practically see the wheels turning in her head. He'd shocked her right back. Good. "Now where's the fun in that?"
"I'm not particularly in the mood for fun."
"That's too bad." She accepted a handful of quarters from the bartender with a nod. "I'm a regular laugh riot."
He flicked a glance over her shoulder at the pool table. "If you're looking for fun, you won't find it there, either. I think you might be a little out of your league."
"You think so?" Amusement flashed across her face. "Care to make it interesting?"
"Bet on you to win?" Troy shook his head. "I don't gamble."
Ruby crossed her arms and leaned against the bar, facing him. "You don't gamble, and you're not in the mood for fun. Maybe I picked the wrong guy to buy me a drink. Should I ask one of your friends instead?"
Over his dead body. They weren't getting within two feet of her. "I wouldn't advise it."
"Then I'd advise you to be a little nicer."
"Now where's the fun in that?"
At having her words thrown back at her, Ruby tossed back her head and laughed. Heat flooded Troy at the sight of her long, elegant neck exposed in the soft bar light. Her lips parted to release a slow, throaty sound that he immediately wanted to hear again. "I'll tell you what ..." She raised an expectant eyebrow.
"Troy Bennett." She repeated his name, and the muscles in his belly tightened. He had a sudden vision of her moving beneath him in the dark. Eyes closed, head thrown back as she screamed his name. "My turn is up. If I win my game, you buy me a drink. Is that fair?"
Leaning back in his chair, he nodded. "And if you lose?"
She didn't answer, merely sent him a wink and sauntered toward the pool table. After exchanging a few quick words with her opponent, who looked to be humoring her, Ruby took off her coat and threw it over a chair. Troy watched dumbfounded as she shook her yoga mat and two unconnected ends of a pool stick fell out. As she screwed the two ends together, she blew him a kiss.CHAPTER 2
Ruby leaned against the wall, chalking her stick, waiting for the dickhead wearing artfully ripped jeans to break. Feeling eyes on her, she looked up and met Troy's gaze where he sat with his friends at the bar. To his credit, he hadn't turned to them the second she'd walked away to dissolve into a dude-giggle-fest over their decidedly odd encounter. Instead, he sat there watching her, all steamy and intense-like, as if he didn't want to let her out of his sight. It kind of rattled her. She liked it.
As a lifelong gambler, she'd put money on him being new in town. He hadn't quite developed that polite, polished disinterest New Yorkers tended to have. His dark brown hair hadn't been cut in a while, his clothes were a touch too casual for a Friday night. A little rough around the edges, Troy stood out.
And he'd actually refused to buy her a drink. First time for everything. She mentally shrugged, pushing his presence out of her head and focusing on the game.
Although Denim Dickhead had pretended to be shocked by her offer to play for money, he'd ponied up in the end. Twenty bucks a ball. Not bad, considering it had been a slow night. Finally, he leaned across the green felt and broke. Ruby smiled as the colorful balls rolled into various positions, none of them ending up in a pocket. She began to circle the table.
All right, here we go. Mama needs a new pair of shoes. I'm taking stripes. Sink that eleven hanging over the pocket and use the rail to knock out the nine ball where it's wedged against the six. That'll leave open the twelve, fourteen, and fifteen. Once I drop the fifteen, using a little English to bring me to the other end of the table, I'll sink the nine and the thirteen into the same corner pocket, gently tapping the eight off the rail in the process so I don't get stuck later having to bank it. Knock in the ten, then I'm wide open to finish it off. I'm 160 dollars richer, and he's still a dick in ripped jeans.
Ruby leaned over the table and got to work. She tried not to let the whispers from the guy's girlfriend unnerve her as she followed her plan, methodically and precisely. It had always been her Achilles's heel. Girls her own age whispering about her. Commenting on her clothes. Wondering what kind of a girl shows up to a bar alone, late on a Friday, and proceeds to hand their boyfriend an ass-whipping on the pool table. This kind of girl. The kind who doesn't know any other way to put food on the table.
As she lined up her shot on the ten ball, she looked up at Troy and felt a little of her concentration slip. He didn't have an ounce of amusement on his face, like his two friends did. More than anything, he looked fascinated, like she was a puzzle he wanted to figure out.
She didn't need figuring out.
"Go ahead and order me a Maker's on the rocks. I'll be there in a second," she called to him and had the pleasure of watching his mouth tilt up at the sides. God, but the man was drop-dead, crazy-as-hell sexy. She'd dropped into Quincy's on a whim, never having stumbled across much competition there before, but felt lucky now that she had. If Troy turned out to be half as interesting as she suspected, she might even let him kiss her before she hopped on the R train back to Brooklyn.
As Troy turned to signal the bartender, she leaned back over the table and sunk the remaining two balls. When she finished, her opponent stood next to his girlfriend, looking, well ... hustled. And not the least bit happy about it. Ruby tamped down a flare of apprehension when he pushed away his consoling girlfriend with a muttered obscenity and strode toward her purposefully.
"You're not getting a dime of my money," he said inches from her face. "I don't pay cheaters."
Ruby held her ground, even smiled pleasantly. "I didn't realize winning equaled cheating. It's no one's fault but your own for assuming I couldn't play because I have boobs."
His cheek twitched in warning. "You know what you need? A good—"
"Stiff drink?" Troy spoke up behind Ruby, handing her a rocks glass of bourbon over her shoulder. "That's what you were going to say. Right?" His words were smoothly good-natured, but she could hear the underlying steel in his tone as he addressed Angry Denim. The guy looked like he wanted to keep arguing, but when Troy silently edged around to stand in front of her, he thought better of it. Splitting a furious look between her and Troy, he tossed a wad of money on the table and walked away. Ruby slipped it quickly into her back pocket without looking at Troy.
She unscrewed her cue and replaced it inside the yoga mat, then hopped up onto one of the bar stools surrounding the pool table. Troy leaned against the high, round table, close enough that her knee brushed his stomach.
His discerning gaze swept her. "Hell of a show you put on. How much did you make?"
Ruby sipped her drink, deciding to ignore the edge in his voice. For now. "Enough to buy groceries for the week. Pay my phone bill."
"What happens when you run into someone who doesn't appreciate being hustled and no one is there to step in?"
She set her drink down. "I appreciate your concern, but I know how to take care of myself."
"Yeah? It looked like it," he said wryly. "Who taught you how to do that?"
She pursed her lips. "You know, this is getting a little deep for a first date."
"You call this a date?"
Something her father always used to say popped into her head. God hates a coward, Ruby. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and met his stare head-on. "Since you bought me an alcoholic beverage and I'm planning on kissing you, then yes. I'd say this qualifies as a date."
His gaze dropped to her mouth, and she couldn't stop herself from biting her bottom lip. If the music wasn't so loud, she knew she would have heard him groan. "Sorry. I can't kiss you."
Heat suffusing her face, Ruby pushed her chair back and stood. "No kissing, no fun, no gambling. I'm starting to forget why I found you interesting."
Excerpted from His Risk To Take by Tessa Bailey, Heather Howland, Shutterstock. Copyright © 2013 Tessa Bailey. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As with all the books in the Brazen line - this was excellent. If you like the Alpha male and super hot sex - this is for you! I adore this line and every single title is an auto-buy for me!
This was a cute read with quite a solid plot and character development considering how short it was (only 100 pages). The guy was the typical alpha male, which I usually like, except that he was too possesive and a little freaky at times. Other than that, it was Ok. Good weekend read.
## OK, so WOW. This book was spectacular. Albeit a tad short with 115 pages, I loved it from beginning to end. The heroine was fabulous. Beautiful, strong, capable and sassy. Absolute perfection. And the hero? Holy moly, he was hotness personified. Sure, he was a demanding alpha, but in the best way. Not in the "roll my eyes, this guy's an ass*ole" way. Their chemistry was intoxicating and the sex scenes were scrumptious. Tessa Bailey is two for two in my opinion. If you haven't read her first book "Protecting what's his", make sure you buy it today. It's a fun and sexy read!
This had a decent storyline, good characters and the epitome of opposites attracting. It was smokin' in the sex area and Troy was hot as... Ruby is a great character and an awesome hustler. I really loved her. The book had a little too much predictability for me, and something else that I'm not quite able to pinpoint. This is one of the best endings that I've read in a while. I was surprised when the book ended because there were so many more pages left of the book. Much to my surprise (and disappointment) the remaining pages consisted of multiple chapters from book 1 - that I had already read. I would like to know what (if anything) happened to Bowen and how (or if) his friendship with Ruby was impacted. That would have at least wrapped up my curiousity.
Yet another homerun for Tessa Bailey. This second installment of the Line of Duty series didn't disappoint. It has Tessa's unique blend of suspense, humor, strong female lead and her signature dirty talking alpha hero. I thought this was the perfect novella to bridge the first book to the next full length book in the series. A setting change from Chicago to New York and the sequel bait characters were introduced in this book. This is a great book to read in one sitting and a great book to try if you're not familiar with Tessa Bailey and don't mind reading a series out of order. You'll still be able to pick up on everything if you do start with His Risk to Take. Again, great job Tessa!
His Risk to Take is a sexy quick read with pool hustler heroine and a cop hero. This book is a lot of fun with strong female lead and hero who is a wonderful man who turns dominating in the bedroom. This dynamic really works well in the story along with the well developed back story of the heroine. I would have liked the book to be a tad bit longer and have a really luscious epilogue to really enhance it. If you are looking for a fast, fun, and hot read, this is a good one! If you like romances with bad-girls, gambling, grief, groveling, hero-in-pursuit, police, pool, possessive heros,and smartass heriones, you will find it here. I was given this book for my honest review
Unfortunately I read Riskier Business before this one but then was so happy when I realized this book was the first one to introduce Troy and Ruby. Gave me more understanding into the characters. I loved their chemistry. A hustler and a cop what could be more interesting. Their sex was unbelievable. Off the charts good. She was so stubborn just like Troy. They make the perfect couple. Don't think he would be happy with anyone else. She challenges him. Although she was a hustler she sees herself differently in the future. She is trying to have a better life than what she had. She also has Troy to keep her on the right side of the law now. Glad the story picks up in Riskier Business. Can never get tired of Troy and Ruby.
This was a surprisingly fun read. I went into this thinking it would be a sexy romantic suspense novel and it was. It was also charmingly sweet and erotic. I loved this story.
3.5 stars--HIS RISK TO TAKE is the second installment and novella in Tessa Bailey’s adult, contemporary Line of Duty erotic romance series. This is police officer Troy Bennett and pool hustler Ruby Elliott’s storyline. Told from third person point of view HIS RISK TO TAKE follows Troy as he begins a seduction of a beautiful but strong willed woman he met on a recent night out with the boys. Ruby is everything Troy wants and everything he shouldn’t touch- a woman with a reputation and a history of illegal gambling with connections to underworld crime. Not only has Ruby grown up on the road but she has also grown up on the hustle. What ensues is Troy’s building relationship with a woman who will be caught in the middle of the NYPD’s latest take down. The relationship between Troy and Ruby is hot and steamy. Troy is a man who likes control in the bedroom; he likes to talk dirty during sex; and he isn’t afraid to experiment with whatever he finds nearby. Ruby is caught off guard when her attraction to Troy forces her to choose sides between family and love. Ruby is a stubborn and feisty woman whose choices will place everyone at risk and in this, she will cause more problems for Troy than she could possibly imagine-a little bit of Ruby goes a long way for everyone involved. The secondary and supporting characters include Troy’s fellow officers and the crime family connections to Ruby and her dad. We are introduced to Ruby's BFF Bowen Driscol-a man whose connection to Ruby is protective and close. HIS RISK TO TAKE is a fast paced, predictable novella with a hot, sexy cop and a difficult female lead. There were moments of anguish when Ruby continued to defy police orders and Troy’s need to protect-in this Ruby is a difficult character to like. Interfering in a police investigation led to some contentious issues with the man that she was growing to love.
110 pages and the book sucked
This is a very good book.
While there were a few memorable scenes, it was not very good. The characters seemed shallow and the writing was weak. This is the first and last for me from this author.
This is a new author for me but definitnely will keep reading what she puts out
Like all the books in this series