Long, Lean and Lethal: A Novel

Long, Lean and Lethal: A Novel

by Lorie O'Clare


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Detective Rain Huxtable works alone, and she likes it that way. But when a fourth spouse turns up dead in Lincoln, Nebraska, Rain's superiors call in help from the FBI. They've either got a serial killer or a hired murderer on their hands, and their solution is to team Rain up with Special Agent Noah Kayne—and send them undercover as a married couple.

Noah is infuriating…and infuriatingly attractive. Rain wants no part of this charade, but with four people dead under suspiciously similar circumstances in a matter of months, she has no choice but to play the part of a doting wife and investigate a close-knit group of suburban couples. It's hard enough to keep up a professional facade when the heat between her and Noah burns so dangerously. But it may be even more dangerous for Rain to let her guard down once she realizes that the couples involved are playing a very sordid—and deadly—game …

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250051677
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 09/29/2009
Pages: 380
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Lorie O'Clare is an award-winning erotic romance author of books including Tall, Dark, and Deadly; Strong, Sleek and Sinful; Play Dirty and Get Lucky. Her stories range from the wild lives of werewolves to the passionate and thrilling world of romantic suspense. An EPPIE and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award winner, she lives in Kansas with her three boys and two dogs, a Boston terrier and a beagle.

Read an Excerpt


Special Agent Noah Kayne with the FBI stood in the middle of his motel room, squinting against the bright light coming in through the open door.

"I've got a car on the way for you," Police Chief Aaron Noble told him. Although probably close to fifty, the chief looked like he was in good shape. He also looked like he wished he were anywhere but here. "As soon as it's here you can follow me to the station."

"I've already briefed myself on the case." The file proved interesting reading on the plane and while he waited for a ride to come get him, since they didn't have a rental car for him at the airport. "Three murders so far."

"So far? Is that how Bureau people are trained to think?" Chief Noble scrubbed his forehead with thick, long fingers. "Homicide connected the first two deaths several months ago. Exact same murder weapon."

Noah didn't expect anything different out of the chief. He'd yet to be sent in to aid an investigation and not found at least someone with the local law bitter that he was there. But he also knew, according to what he'd read in the brief, that there would be another murder, probably soon, if he didn't get a handle on the situation and put some shock tactics out. It was a tricky business: scare the perp too much and he'd never catch him, but let the murderer think he still controlled the situation and more people would die.

"More than just the same murder weapon." Noah glanced over at the case book that was sent to him prior to his flying out here to Lincoln, Nebraska. It sat on the table on the other side of the king-size bed that filled most of the space in the otherwise mediocre motel room that would be home to him until he cracked this case. "According to your officer's reports, the two women were shot from the side, while sitting in their cars. Our perp intended for each of them to die quickly and with no pain. It's almost execution-style, but from what I read here, these are crimes of passion. Someone hated these people enough to pull the trigger at close range, possibly during conversation, without hesitating."

"I agree that we have one murderer." The chief glanced over his shoulder at the open door and then walked over to it, glancing outside. "The females died instantly. There was hardly any blood in their cars, which meant the heart quit beating quickly."

When the chief moved, Noah walked around the bed and then over to the table. He slumped into the chair, although the last thing he felt like doing was sitting.

"Your records here show your male victim also died instantly with the same shot to his left temple. He wasn't in a car, though."

"Parking lot. He died right next to his car. The engine was cold, and we arrived within less than an hour after death. My guess was that he was heading home after work. Again though, no sign of struggle." Chief Noble closed the motel room door and joined Noah at the table. "Your car should be here in a few minutes, so go ahead and give me your take. You've read the bible." He nodded to the thick file folder in front of Noah. "The third death occurred a month ago. They've all gotten cold. Tell me what your Bureau can do to help me."

So much for picking the chief's brain. Noah knew the attack all too well, though. If solving crimes were just that, life would be a hell of a lot simpler. But there were always politics and egos. Neither impressed Noah one fucking bit.

"The Bureau," he started dryly, emphasizing the first two words, "is going to help you find your killer," and ignored the chief when he straightened, his expression jumping to the defensive. "Or more specifically, I am. You've got no witnesses, nothing at any of the crime scenes that connects any of these deaths together. But what you do have are similarities: same weapon, all shot in the left temple, quick and neat."

"Those similarities aren't going to get you shit. I may not be a Bureau man, but I'm not an idiot, either."

"Well, the main focus right now is motive. Once motive is established, the rest falls into place. All three people murdered were part of a swingers' group. They were all married, with terms to their marriages most wouldn't approve of."

The chief shoved his fists into his slacks pockets. "This is your baby, Kayne. All that matters is that we find the perpetrator, preferably before anyone else dies. And they say you're the best."

"I do what I do. I'm not interested in your flattery." Noah ignored the chief's condescending glare. "Honestly, I wouldn't be here if these murders didn't match similarities in other parts of the country. Your officer already working on this case let them get cold. If I can connect your three deaths to several that occurred in Dallas, as well as Kansas City, I'll get a better idea of what I'm working with."

"All I know about those murders is what I saw in the papers and on the news. They call him the Swinging Killer." If Chief Noble found any humor in that, he didn't give indication. His expression was stone cold, serious. "How are you going to determine if they're connected?"

"I'm going to walk alongside your killer, get to know him, what makes him tick. You aren't going to hear from me, or see me, until it's time to take him down. I go undercover and stay there until the job is done."

"I see," the chief said, and pushed his chair back. Most local law enforcement liked being kept abreast of what Noah was doing when he was in their town. Chief Noble's reaction didn't surprise him.

Noah watched the chief walk over to the curtains and then mess with them until he found the long, narrow wand that opened them. Light flooded into the room when he pulled them back and also gave him and Noah a view of the large parking lot outside. He empathized with Chief Noble's frustration. Noah hated admitting he needed help. It was a fault, a character defect, but he'd been told more than once he had many.

Laurel had been very good at listing all of them toward the end.

"You know as well as I do that not even the Bureau is going to let you run loose on the street without checking in and confirming what you've got, and what you know." Chief Noble gave him a hard "don't fuck with me" kind of look.

Noah swore the chief's expression could be patented and labeled as the initial response any chief of police gave him when he explained his tactics.

"I'll go over your evidence and interview your officers," Noah began, reciting standard procedure. "And I'm sure you've got my supervisor's phone number if you've got any problems. But trust me, Chief; this is how it's got to be done. You've got three perfect murders on your hands. No clues. No motive — yet. And they aren't going to stop. I'm going to become your killer's best friend."

The chief nodded once. "There's your car and your new partner."

"Partner?" Noah caught the chief's smug look but refused to take the bait. "I work alone. Always have. It's in writing."

"Call your supervisor, and yes, I do have her number," Chief Noble said smugly. "I know your track record, Kayne, which is why I requested you. You aren't married, are you?"

"No," Noah said sharply, refusing to think about the matching rings that still sat in his top dresser drawer at his apartment in D.C. He focused instead on Brenda committing him to an arrangement that fell outside the accepted parameters without discussing it with him first. "And I'll call Brenda right now."

Brenda Thornton, who might possibly be the closest he had to family in this bitter world, knew him sometimes better than he knew himself, which pissed him off to no end. They'd discussed these murders, all happening in three different cities, and all with parallels that were uncanny. It was decided an agent would go to each town, move in, and get acquainted with the discreetly quiet group of swingers in each community.

"Feel free to call your supervisor." Chief Noble walked over to the door and opened it. When he turned and looked at Noah, the brightness outside created shadows on the chief's face that made his smug expression seem almost demonic. "And good thing you aren't married. Bigamy is a crime in this state, and you're about to meet your wife."

Noah reached for his phone, but his hand was suddenly too damp to pull it free from his waist. "What did you just say?"

"Your wife," Chief Noble reiterated. "You're going undercover and we're investigating murders among married couples in a swinging community. Only makes sense that you would need a wife."

Brenda never said shit about a fucking wife. "Like I said, I work alone."

"Not on my case you won't," the chief growled, nodding to someone outside. "Rain, there you are. It's about time you got here."

"It took longer at the car rental place than I thought it would." A lady with a soft, sultry edge to her voice, like she'd just woken up, spoke just outside the room. "I don't do minivans and it took a while to change the paperwork."

"You're entering into the world of middle-class suburbia. And what's wrong with a minivan? My wife loves hers." Chief Noble stepped forward and reached for the person just out of Noah's view. "Come inside first and meet your new partner," the chief coaxed.

"We've discussed this already," she snarled under her breath, and walked into the motel room. "I'll get cozy with your killer, but I'm doing it alone. And why did you want me to meet you here? This isn't suburbia, unless you think we're dealing with cheating spouses and you want to set me up as one."

Noah took advantage of the moment when she adjusted her eyes to the dimly lit room. Most tall women tended to slouch a bit, as if being tall embarrassed them. Since he stood over six feet, it was something he'd always noticed, and it bugged him.

But Rain, who probably was a good five ten, held on to every inch with pride. She didn't have an athletic or voluptuous build. Instead, curves faded into hard, flat planes that stretched until they softened and filled out into perfectly rounded hips, the kind a guy would grab on to when taking her from behind. Her faded jeans were snug, helping to round out her curves, and her plain blue sleeveless shirt hugged her slender waist, ending just before her jeans began and giving him a peek at those hard abs.

She wasn't buffed out, although she looked like she could hold her own. Her shoulders were smooth and round. Straight, thick dark hair was gathered in a clasp at her nape, showing off her long, perfectly curved neck that he stared at for a moment, focusing on that soft curve just above her collarbone. He bet she would feel like silk.

Her breasts weren't small but were not too big, either. Although he noticed the outline of a bra under her shirt, as he watched, her nipples hardened. Rain sensed his scrutinizing gaze. He'd bet damned good money she was aware of him appraising every inch of her. And his attention affected her. It affected him, too.

But when he shot his gaze to her face, her expression was hard and her focus was on the chief.

"It makes no sense whatsoever to bring the FBI in on this case. An outsider isn't going to help." Rain didn't lower her voice, focused on Chief Noble, and ignored Noah. "This is my case, Chief, and you know it. You think I'm not capable of bringing down our guy alone?"

"He's got the expertise. You've got the knowledge of this town and the community. Both of your skills are superb. These are very elite, exclusive, and private swinger groups. They don't allow just anyone into their inner circle. The best way to get to know the suspects, and hopefully our murderer, is to enter their ring as a married couple." Noble sounded like he'd rehearsed his speech for this exact moment.

"Find someone else." Rain turned to leave, still not having given Noah as much as a second glance. "I'm not entering into a swingers' group as a married woman, or a single woman for that matter. I don't understand why I can't interview them and gather what I need to make an arrest as a cop. But if you think I can't handle my own investigation without help, I'm out of here." She tried walking out the door.

Chief Noble must have been on a fairly good basis with his officer. She didn't look shocked when he took her arm, escorting her back into the motel room. "The minute our killer becomes aware that the FBI is in town on this case, they will change his or her MO. I don't have to tell you that, Rain."

"Then send FBI home," she sneered. "I can handle this."

"Noah Kayne, meet Rain Huxtable, your wife." The chief rocked up on his heels like he was witnessing two kids on their first date. For the first time since he'd arrived at the motel room to meet Noah, the chief looked very pleased with himself, like he had pissed off two for the price of one.

Noah didn't flinch at the chief's introduction, although he would rip Brenda a new one first chance he had to speak with her. Rain turned her head slowly, and then raised one eyebrow, giving him a quick once-over.

Noah didn't consider himself a Greek god. More times than he counted, he'd been told he had that bad-boy look. Whatever that meant.

It still stung a little when she said, "Right, whatever," and returned her attention to Chief Noble without as much as a blink of an eye. "Why didn't you tell me that you had some guy here before I got here?"

"This is Special Agent Noah Kayne," the chief offered, stressing Noah's title.

This time when Rain looked at him, her gaze traveled over him slower than before. He quite honestly couldn't say that he'd ever seen such soft baby blues look so incredibly defiant.

"Why didn't you tell me that you had some special-agent guy here?" She made his title sound like curse words.

"Head down to the station," the chief continued, turning toward the door. "I want a breakdown by five on how you plan on nailing our Swinging Killer."

Rain followed the chief out the motel room door, leaving Noah to grab his key card and bring up the rear.

"We're already in the process of interviewing," Rain told the chief. "I've got reports that I've put on your desk that have statements from friends of our victims who were interviewed when they came into the station. I've read the reports. There are some good leads in there. You don't think I can break this case on my own?"

Chief Noble reached his squad car and looked over the hood, squinting against the bright afternoon sun. "Your partner might have ideas. Brainstorm together and let me know what you come up with."

It seemed he ducked into his car quickly and took off just as fast.

Maybe the chief ran from his detective because she might have too abrasive a personality and he wasn't in the mood to deal with it. If Noah were a compassionate man, which he wasn't, he might feel sorry for the detective when she stood there for a moment, watching the squad car leave the parking lot. He didn't care that the tall, sexy detective felt betrayed. Hell, he'd been given the shaft, too.

"Where's my rental?" he asked, keeping it civil. For now, they were stuck together and there was work to be done.

She had one hell of a fine-looking ass. "It's the green Taurus. But it's not your rental; it's my rental."

She kept walking, offering a view that won over searching the parking lot for his car. When he finally did glance up, Rain held keys in her hand and paused at the driver's-side door of what he guessed was a brand-new Taurus.

Noah stopped next to her and held his hand out for the keys.

Rain looked at his hand and her disdain didn't leave her face when she lifted long, thick lashes and graced him with her baby blues. "I'm driving. Get in on the other side."

"I always drive."

"Not with me you don't."

Noah knew a test when he saw one. Rain probably challenged anyone who crossed her path. If he'd known he was going to have the sexy Amazon cop tossed in his lap he would have researched her. But sometimes there was something to be said about first contact and initial reactions.

"Detective, you can give me the keys or I'll take them from you. But if we're going to be partners you might as well get accustomed to shotgun."

She rolled her eyes, looking disgusted, and turned to slide the key into the keyhole.

Noah wrapped his fingers around her arm and Rain spun around, a long strand of dark hair flying free from its confines and drifting over her face. Her eyes turned a stormy, turbulent shade of blue and her parted lips were a soft red, full and moist.

"Just try and manhandle me, Bureau man, and I swear to God you'll regret it," she hissed, willingly showing off her quick temper. Her sudden quick breath and the fiery flush that spread over her cheeks proved one thing: sparring with him got her off.


Excerpted from "Long, Lean and Lethal"
by .
Copyright © 2009 Lorie O'Clare.
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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Long, Lean and Lethal 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The fourth dead spouse leads the Lincoln, Nebraska police department to conclude a serial killer is one the loose although they have not ruled out a paid killer. Still either way they feel out of their league so the brass asks the FBI to help. The Feds send Agent Noah Kayne to assist in apprehending the psychopath. The plan is to use Lincoln PD homicide detective Rain Huxtable as Kayne's swinging spouse to draw out the predator. Rain loathes the role she is expected to play as she prefers being alone. However, once in the part, she does not have to act as Noah's kisses heats her loins ands he feels the same way. Still the pair understands the mission is to infiltrate the swingers club in which four members are dead. This Great Plains police procedural romance is an engaging tale as the lead cops fall in love while masquerading as a loving couple. The sequel to TALL, DARK, AND DEADLY (starring South Dakota) is a fun tale as the pair put on a show; however, the personal relationship never fully gels outside the mission. Still fans will enjoy the escapades of two enchanting law enforcement officials finding love while on a deadly case together. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I read the back of the book, I thought I was in for an exciting read. This book was a let down. I've never read this author before and not inclined to read her again. The story and plot had great potential, but after almost 365 pages, I still don't know what was the killers motivation. I would have loved to know why the killer killed. It would have made the story more interesting instead I'm left unsatisfied and unfulfilled.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alpha male and FBI partnered with a strong willed detective. An unusual homicide puts them as an undercover married couple. What more can you ask for. Great mystery romance read.
Fleur1 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! 
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The story line was great and the two leads had fabulous chemistry. My only complaint would be, finding the murderer could've wrapped up a little quicker toward the end (say 50 pages quicker). Other than that: fantastic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have just started reading her books, but I have to say I am really glad I started to read them. I really loved this book
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