Just Once

Just Once

by Addison Fox

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250114228
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 02/07/2017
Series: The Brooklyn Brotherhood , #2
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 425,112
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Addison Fox can't remember a time when words weren't a part of her life. In addition to being an avid reader, she loves writing novels about strong-willed and exciting heroes and heroines—individuals who are meant for each other and who deserve their happily ever after. After she makes them work for it, of course! She is the author of The Brooklyn Brotherhood series, which includes At Last and Just Once.

Addison lives in Dallas. You can find her at her home on Facebook (facebook.com/addisonfoxauthor) and Twitter (@addisonfox)


Addison Fox can't remember a time when words weren't a part of her life. In addition to being an avid reader, she loves writing novels about strong-willed and exciting heroes and heroines—individuals who are meant for each other and who deserve their happily ever after. After she makes them work for it, of course! Her books include At Last, The Billionaire's Demands, and Just Once.

Read an Excerpt

Just Once


By Addison Fox

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2017 Frances Karkosak
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-11422-8


CHAPTER 1

Landon McGee knew three things about life. It was never boring. It was always kicking you in the ass. And, in the immortal words of Robert Frost, it went on. He also knew that the elements of life that made it endlessly fascinating or shockingly hard — sometimes both — usually came up and blindsided you on a random Tuesday.

Or a Wednesday morning, to be exact.

He'd walked into the loft space he rented in DUMBO ten minutes ago to find it in disarray. He and his suitemates were sort of digital sharecroppers, sharing the cost of the rent, the overhead, and the extremely necessary T-1 line that kept their small businesses afloat. Each of them was a computer geek to the core, ensuring paperwork was in short supply while the latest in equipment and digital design tools were plentiful.

So it was odd to discover that the filing cabinets were among the few items hit.

They might have kept very little paperwork, but Landon and his associates still had some. Not everything could be fully baked into a hard drive or filed away in the cloud.

Rent paperwork, about fifty boxes of coffee pods, and an odd array of love letters their secretary-slash-office manager had been squirreling away in the front reception area now littered the floor.

He'd already done a quick check of the equipment, pissed off to find the new server he'd had delivered on Monday was nowhere to be found. Neither was its twin, which had occupied an oversized technical closet equipped with the latest in security and fire protection.

"Fuck it all."

He dragged out his phone and dialed the police, the game design that had accompanied him throughout his walk to work fading in the reality of his morning.

Landon walked the 911 operator through his discovery, well aware he wasn't going to be anyone's first priority that morning — especially once he confirmed the office was empty. With a resigned sigh, he settled into the small couch in their front reception area and opened his laptop. The game level that had haunted him all evening and on his walk to work still roiled in the back of his mind. He figured giving the creative images free rein might help soothe the wash of frustration each time he looked at the mess.


Daphne Rossi, detective third grade, found the owner of BKNY Games huddled over his computer, his concentration so intense she briefly flirted with firing off a warning shot just to get his attention. Based on the address given out by dispatch, she'd anticipated a skinny-legged, glasses-clad, official Brooklyn hipster. She was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of running shoes at the bottom of faded, cuffless jeans instead.

Really long, jean-clad legs.

"Excuse me?" When he didn't respond, she tapped her foot against his, the move jarring enough to have him scrambling to attention. That impression of height wasn't false as he stood up, about six-feet-two inches of rather solid male. Nicely toned biceps were evident beneath a black T-shirt with the BKNY logo emblazoned on it.

He blinked, a soft haze fading from his eyes as he focused on her. Thick dark lashes framed equally dark eyes and Daphne took an extra beat to collect herself. "Mr. McGee? I'm Detective Rossi."

He smoothly closed his slender, worn laptop and extended a hand. "Thank you for coming."

Daphne took his hand, the grip firm, and once again she had to admit he wasn't quite what she imagined on the walk over. His surroundings might scream creative genius, but there was something really interesting about the arc of Landon McGee's cheekbones and the lines of his stubbled jaw. When she reluctantly dropped his hand, she allowed her initial impressions to round out.

He was lean, no question, but solid. His shoulders had some breadth to them and there was muscle in the cords of his forearms. Perhaps the desk jockey had outside interests?

"Dispatch told me you had a break-in. Why don't you walk me through what's missing?"

"Not much, which is the strange part. But enough."

He pointed out the filing cabinets in the lobby before leading her into the office. Daphne followed from the small reception area into a large loft space. She hadn't spent much time in DUMBO but had met a friend at her office a few times off Water Street and had attended a gallery opening on Plymouth. Landon McGee's office was a bit farther down the block, where Water intersected Washington, and boasted the money-shot view of the Manhattan Bridge the neighborhood had become known for.

"Wow. How'd you snag this office?"

"I know the owner. Got in on a long-term lease."

She fought the twin urges to whistle and gawk and simply allowed the view to wash over her. Summer sun streamed in the large windows, and it was only when she pulled her view from the bridge that she took in the rest of the space. More couches took up a far corner, arranged for conversation and collaboration. Maybe even for sleep after a late night.

She continued her assessment, snapping impressions of the large, open space like photographs. The office's desks were more long tables than single pieces with drawers, all arrayed with computer monitors, wireless keyboards, and scattered laptops. Certainly different from a cop shop, where you took pride in the number of scars carved into your desk, and files spilled out of drawers that didn't fully close.

"What's the smile for?"

His low voice and quiet speculation pulled her from her musings, and she turned to him fully. "Cliché. We humans are full of it."

"In spades, I'm afraid. Although I don't quite get the context."

"I can see you and your coworkers here. Brooklyn technology mavens, hunched over screens and napping on those couches back there after a late night."

"Maven? That's a new one."

She ignored the subtle amusement and pressed on. "Cops nap, too. And scream and shout from behind ratty old desks that have seen more partners than a Hollywood starlet. Somehow we all manage to get things done."

"Is there a philosopher lurking beneath the dress blues?"

"Only on the formal occasions where my dress blues are required."

"Fair enough."

The moment was small — silly — yet she couldn't shake the subtle sweetness that pervaded the conversation. He wasn't what she expected, and she'd expected a lot. Tech geek. Neighborhood hipster. And victim.

Yet he seemed more resigned than upset.

"Any idea who paid you a visit last night?"

"None. I'm usually here late, but I left early last night for my brother's engagement party. None of us keep formal hours, but there's usually someone here until at least ten. Often much later."

"And yet you show up here at six?" She consulted her notebook. "According to dispatch."

"I don't sleep much."

Something small jingled at his words, but Daphne kept her features still. "No?"

"Not since I was a kid. Add on a game idea that's taking shape, and I'm sort of obsessed."

"What sort of game?"

"Zombies. Adventure. Multiple players. It's awesome."

"I'll take your word for it."

His lips curved up, the expression boyish except for the day-old stubble that lined his jaw. That was not boyish. Or easy to ignore.

"You pointed out the mess in the front. Anything else missing? The desks don't look nearly as cleaned out as I'd have expected."

"Most of my suitemates take their laptops home so they'll need to confirm if anything's missing, but the desks don't look like they were hit at all." He glanced toward the back of the office. A long galley kitchen took up half the space, positioned next to an extended wall with a thick black door. "Two servers are missing in our back room. Our locked back room."

"Locked?"

"Yep. Found it when I checked everything this morning."

"You were here alone."

He shrugged. "The office was empty, but something felt off."

"Another reason you should have called us."

"I did call you."

"You should have left the moment you saw anything out of place."

"No one was here. And seeing as how they were my servers, full of my work, I didn't want to wait."

Once again, that sense of something out of place — out of time — struck her. He wasn't exactly what he seemed, even as she couldn't identify anything that felt threatening or off.

No, it was something else. Something more. Something that said this man had seen things. Knew things. Which had her looking at her notebook again. "Do you have any enemies, Mr. McGee?"

"Landon is fine. And none that I'm aware of."

She glanced up sharply, her pen going still. "None at all?"

"That surprise you?"

"Frankly, yes."

It was Landon's turn to go still, his dark eyes wary. "Why would you think I have enemies, Detective?"

"I ran your name on the way over here. You have a well-respected, adoptive mother. A brother who played professional football. There are more than a few local stories that pop online."

"Since when did adoption become a big story?"

"When you raise three of the most upstanding citizens in the borough, people notice." Daphne pointed toward the windows and the bridge that rose up in the distance beyond. "Citizens who've done quite well for themselves in their own right. Which takes me back to my first question. Are you sure there's no one from your past who wishes you ill?"

Landon kept his features still, forcing a blank stare. He'd perfected the tactic as a kid and continued to use it to great effect. His mother called it his "still waters" look. Landon just considered it self-protection.

"Why would anyone come after me? I make games."

"Why don't you tell me about your work?"

Detective Daphne Rossi settled a hip on the long row of desks, just enough stubbornness in her chocolate gaze to confirm she wasn't going anywhere.

Landon made a show of setting his laptop down before he retrieved two of the rolling swivel chairs that lined the row of desks. Pushing one toward her, he gestured toward the seat. "Please."

She took the proffered chair and, once settled, glanced at her notebook. "Why don't we start with this place? Tell me about the people you work with."

The implication the theft was an inside job was unsettling, but he was hard-pressed to ignore her logic. Other than shared space, he and his office mates came and went at all hours, their individual areas relatively unsecured from each other. Even with that reality, he struggled to believe one of his officemates did this.

"I share this space with about five other businesses. That number's been as low as three and as high as eight, but there are six of us now. The office is congenial and we get along. I also shot all of my fellow leads texts to let them know what was going on after I called this in."

"You didn't call them?"

"You every work with tech folks? Most aren't morning people. The ones who have replied promised to be in soon, but no one's bothered to call."

"No one cares? You all share this office. Different businesses without locked-down technology."

He knew it didn't appear as such to an outsider, but the hardware on the desks was the least of his investment. His time, effort, and energy were worth far more than the relatively few thousands he'd invested in equipment. "That's not what we're going for here. It's a collaborative atmosphere."

Her gaze grew sharp at that one. "Collaborative and competitive."

"How long have you had your detective's bars?"

"I'm not sure why —"

"Indulge me. How long?"

Landon didn't miss the slight grimace, or the subtle pride that tilted her chin before she said, "A little over a year."

"Did you compete with others?"

"Of course."

"Yet you still work together? Have each other's back?"

"Of course we do, but —"

"Technology is competitive, but I pick the people I surround myself with carefully. Sure, we've had a few assholes in here. Or people whose asshole factor rose when they got a bit of success. But on the whole, everyone's decent."

"I'll need to question them as well."

"You should. I'm the one who got here first and called this in. It's entirely possible they're missing items as well. We'll know once everyone starts trickling in."

Quiet descended once more. Landon suspected his diversion tactics wouldn't last much longer — the very attractive detective looked too smart for that — but he did admire how she took notes and seemed intent on doing a thorough job. While his corner of the world had cleaned up considerably since he was a kid, there was still plenty of crime in Brooklyn. Robberies were, sadly, still a dime a dozen.

"I'm going to take another quick walk around. Get a few impressions before this place is filled with people."

She got up before he could even acknowledge her comments and began a careful perusal of the office perimeter before moving on to the individual desk spaces. Landon stayed where he was, pleased not to have the focus on him for a few minutes.

Even more pleased he could watch the striking detective in action.

She was on the taller side of average — he'd give her around five seven — and she was solid in that attractive way of athletic women. She was fit, but he'd wager a week's delay on his zombies that the woman knew how to enjoy a cheeseburger and fries, too.

The pride he'd sensed before, when he'd asked her about her detective's bars, pervaded her movements as well. She knew her job, and she was thorough — traits that didn't always go hand in hand. Yet competence seemed to settle over her, a mantle he suspected she needed to pull on all too often in the male-dominated field of police work.

Landon knew his was an antiquated perception. His years spent interacting with the police and public services were well past, but somehow he sensed things hadn't changed all that dramatically in the past two decades. Add on the dark, smoky eyes, long, curly hair, and amazing ass, and Detective Daphne Rossi probably had her work cut out for her.

Her review of the office at an end, the detective came back to their grouped chairs and took hers once more. "I'll talk to your suitemates, but it looks like your server room bore the brunt of this attack."

"I was afraid of that."

"Which brings us right back to where we started. Who would want to harm your business, Mr. McGee? If my suspicions are right, those servers are the nerve centers of your business."

While losing the servers was a hard blow, it wasn't a full destruction of his business. "I keep active work there as well as backup copies in the cloud. I'd never take a chance on storing all my work in one place. Other than whatever I've worked on between now and last night, the code is secure and intact in the cloud."

"But there's a full copy of everything in play."

"Meaning?"

"If someone stole your servers, then they have access to your work? To the code and the effort that's gone into the development?"

"Yes."

"It is possible your mother is involved?"

Even though she'd prepped him for it with her earlier questions, the shock wave of anger and embarrassment still caught him by the throat and squeezed, sending reflexive shivers straight down to his toes. Summoning every ounce of calm he possessed, Landon pushed it into his response. "My mother's been focused on running her campaign for Brooklyn borough president. Add on the fact that she barely knows how to use the sweet little MacBook I got her last year for Christmas, and I hardly think she's out hunting for code to sell on the dark web."

"I was referring to your biological mother."

"Then you'd need to ask her yourself. I haven't seen nor heard from her since she walked out of my life twenty-three years ago, still riding the aftereffects of a speedball."

CHAPTER 2

Daphne let the sounds of the squad room fade into the background as she transferred her notes into her antiquated — yet functioning — computer. She'd give her right arm for the sweet little MacBook McGee had referenced, but she was stuck with her functional piece of shit, circa 2006.

Their conversation had ended rather abruptly after she'd started tugging lines about his biological mother, and then several of his suitemates had arrived in quick succession. All had appeared relatively harmless, the clichéd expectations she'd had of Landon McGee reflected all the way down to the ankles of their skinny jeans and back on up to their Warby Parkers. It had only made Landon stand out more, the thick, tousled hair, well-worn Levis, and black T-shirt a sexy, appealing combination.

Too sexy, if she were honest with herself. The man had a subtle appeal that sort of sneaked up on you. And the moment you looked twice to make sure he was as attractive as your first impression, you sunk a few more feet in the hormone stew.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Just Once by Addison Fox. Copyright © 2017 Frances Karkosak. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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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Just Once 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anlenhart1 More than 1 year ago
Just Once is the second book in the Bronx series of Landon and Daphne. Landon has overcome difficult childhood with the help of his 2 adopted brothers and his loving mom. Landon has become a successful tech entrepreneur, unfortunately his shared office space is broken into and a server is stolen. He meets Daphne when she is assigned to investigate the burglary. When an obvious suspect isn't found, Daphne agrees investigate further, if Landon will agree to be her pretend boyfriend. As each learns about the other, both Landon ad Daphne become a large part of the others life. If your a fan of quality stories with complex characters this is the book for for you. I was given a free copy for a honest review.
beckyb0416 More than 1 year ago
Another winner in the series of the Bronx brothers Nick, Landon and Fender and their adopted mother Louisa. Ms Fox has cornered the market on just how to perfectly pull on the heartstrings so that the reader is able to experience exactly what the characters are experiencing. After the first book in the series where Nick and Emma's find their HEA, the story returns to bring Landon and Daphne together. The superb writing captures perfectly the sufferings of a little boy, Landon, at the neglect by his drugged out mother, and how, after being adopted along with two other boys, Nick and Fender, through a foundation of love and nurturing by their adopted mother Louisa, Landon finds his own happiness and love in Detective Daphne Rossi. Even though this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone because the backstory is layered throughout the book in such a way to bring in Nick and Emma's story, without detractions, or creating any confusion. There is the perfect amount of humor, romance, tension and a robbery mystery to whet the appetite of just about any reader. You'll find yourself immersed in Daphne's solving of the robbery, as well becoming evolved with the attraction between she and Landon. Hopefully the next book will bring Fender and Harlow together, and we'll find out if Daphne is promoted into the Terrorist Taskforce. The one thing I wish this story could have tied up before its ending. This book was provided by the Publisher and Netgalley, I am voluntarily providing my honest review.
pwall55 More than 1 year ago
Just Once by Addison Fox is more about the main character’s family dynamics than it about a blossoming romance between them. Landon and Daphne come from two very dissimilar backgrounds. It is these past and present families that affect much of the interaction between them, more so than the robbery itself that takes place in the beginning. I liked Landon and Daphne but could see how they had issues that needed to be dealt with before they would make a go at a lasting relationship. It is a sweet journey for these two even in the mist of family drama all around and influences them. All of this takes priority over the robbery though it is solved. This is my first book to read written by Addison Fox but enough back-story is given so that it reads well as a stand-alone. I would read more by this author. An ARC of the book was given to me by the publisher through Net Galley.
etoile1996 More than 1 year ago
book 2 of the brooklyn brotherhood series pairs cop daphne rossi with tech wizard landon mcgee. landon at his cooperative office space. daphne believes that the theft has all the markings of a personal attack. and there are several people who could be targeting landon. one is gloria reynolds who has a longstanding grudge against landon's adoptive mother. the other is landon's biological mother, amber, who left landon behind when her addictions proved to be too much. after a break-in that targets only landon doesn't really want daphne to go poking around in his past. he's pretty sure the break-in can be laid at gloria's door, and the last thing he wants is to reconnect with the woman who neglected him for years and then abandoned him. like the first book in the series, park heights, the brooklyn neighborhood these characters live in serves as a whole other character, and everyone has an opinion about the relationship and what the two characters need to do to make sure it lasts. and as much as i liked the two leads, part of me didn't love the way that daphne pushed herself into landon's relationship with his biological mother and how much pressure was put on him to deal with all those feelings. and listen, maybe those were issues and feelings he needed to deal with, it just felt like no one was respecting his timetable, and that didn't feel right. given his upbringing, he had a lot of deep personal trauma, it just felt like the way daphne pushed him, and then the way her mother pushed him was wrong, even if it all turned out all right. though this is a standalone, and you don't need to have read the first book in the series to understand what is happening, having read the first book, at last, does give you a greater understanding for the relationships in just once. **just once will publish on february 7, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press (swerve) in exchange for your honest review.