New neighbors are bad news in Samantha Harper’s experience. Especially ones as suspicious and brooding as the guy who just moved in next door. So when the dangerous but sexy stranger seems to be involved in something illegal—the aspiring cop in her takes action. If only she could stop thinking about how he looks naked...
All DEA agent Ash Cooper wants to do is lay low and survive this crap surveillance assignment. But after a run-in with his attractive neighbor, he realizes that’s going to be much harder than he planned. Keeping the woman out of trouble is hard enough, but keeping his hands off her is near impossible.
Each book in the Under Covers series is STANDALONE:
*On Her Six
*In Walked Trouble
*The Man I Want to Be
About the Author
Christina believes that laughter really is the best medicine, which is why in her writing she adds a healthy dose of hilarious hijinks with gritty suspense. She lives near Baltimore with her husband and two sons, who give her an endless supply of humorous material to write about.
When she’s not writing fun contemporary romance or quirky romantic suspense, Christina can be found devouring books in every genre, watching Chris Hemsworth on TV, playing board games with her family, working out, watching Chris Hemsworth on TV, napping, baking, watching Chris Hemsworth on TV, and shopping...for Chris Hemsworth’s latest DVD.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Maryland Romance Writers. This is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
On Her Six
An Under Covers Novel
By Christina Elle, Alycia Tornetta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Christina Elle
All rights reserved.
This was so not the way Samantha Harper wanted to start her day. Running late to work again, she had just gotten her car door open when someone came up behind her.
"Gi-give me your ma-money," a gravelly male voice stuttered. Something cold and hard dug into her lower back. "Now."
A gun. Inhaling a long gush of hot July air, she worked to slow her racing pulse and allow her training to kick in.
Keep him talking. Distract him. Buy some time to get out of the situation.
When she didn't move, he spoke again, "Di-did you h-hear me?"
"Yes, I heard you," she said.
"Then hand it over." She attempted to peer over her shoulder at the assailant, but the man pressed the gun harder into her spine, causing a slice of pain to the bone.
Wincing, she said, "I don't think that's a good idea."
"Wha-what?" the man said, surprised.
"There are less criminal ways of making a living. You don't have to do this." She'd met plenty of people at the station who had forgone crime and now lived respectable lives. "I can help you."
"Shut your m-mouth and gi-give me your goddamn m-money!"
Something in the way the guy spoke told her this wasn't a regular mugging and he wasn't a regular criminal. No, he didn't seem like the usual drug-addicted men she'd helped book at the precinct. This one was more desperate. Frantic. Confused even.
"Are you okay?" she asked, once again trying to look over her shoulder.
There was a blip of silence where she didn't think he was going to answer. The pressure against her back lessened, before he came to. "I ... I d-don't know what's wrong wi-with me." A slight tremor thrummed from where he held the gun. She caught sight of him rubbing his forehead as if suffering from a severe migraine.
She glanced up and down the vacant city street. No one outside due to the early morning hour. Only a handful of other cars parked along the curb. It was normally a quiet street. Neighbors took care of their houses, kept their hedges trimmed, and waved to one another when passing on the street. Things like muggings hardly happened in this part of the city.
The aggressive neighborhood watch group didn't hurt either.
The sun beat down. Her skin felt clammy. Her pastel yellow blouse suctioned to her skin like plastic wrap. The stifling air mixed with the adrenalin coursing through her veins made it difficult to breathe. And to think.
How was she going to get out of this? She didn't stand a chance against this guy without her weapons, which were currently locked in her Honda's trunk.
"Way to go, stupid." Next time try listening to Grandma Rose when she tells you to carry some items in your purse.
"Did you just call me st-stupid?" He growled and pressed the gun harder against her, causing her to take a small step forward. Then the gun full-out shook against her body, making it feel as if a mild earthquake was happening. "Two seconds," he grunted. "Or I'm gonna b-blow y-your brains out!"
"My back," she said without thinking.
"The gun's pointed at my back. So technically you'd blow my back out." She immediately snapped her mouth closed and gritted her teeth. Stupid, big mouth.
The gun left her lower spine and landed along the base of her head with perfect precision. No shaking this time. "Better?" the man asked.
She glanced up to the heavens and exhaled through her nose. "Not really."
"C'mon, lady, d-don't make me do this. Just give m-me your purse." He grabbed hold of the strap on her shoulder and started to pull.
She gripped her purse and hugged it against herself. Not that it was expensive or contained anything besides her license and credit cards. Lord knew she didn't have much money in it. It was the fact that one day she would put away dirtbags like him. And what kind of future cop would that make her if she gave in to him now? If he got away, he would just be a statistic. One of the many addicts who died on the streets without proper help.
Just like Dad ...
He pressed the gun firmly against her skull, cutting off that unpleasant memory. The dull ache increased into a slice of blinding pain, making her close her eyes.
Gritting her teeth, she prayed for Grandma Rose or one of the other members of the watch to look out their neighboring row house windows. Someone. Anyone.
Not that she'd want Grandma running out guns-a-blazin'. But she could call Martinez or Sinclair at the station. Webb was doing his rounds about this time. He could pop by.
No one came. No screaming, no sirens, nothing. Just the sounds of the city in the distance as people went about their day.
Oh God. She had to handle this thug by herself. This was really happening. And she didn't have anything at her disposal aside from her two hands.
She bit her bottom lip. If she flung her purse into the middle of the street, enticing him to chase it, it might give her enough time to distract him. She could jump on his back, maybe knock him unconscious, and try to disarm him. Or make a run for her car and get the trunk open.
The plan wasn't promising, but it was better than nothing.
Click. The gun's hammer pulled back.
This was it. It was now or never.
She prayed for courage and strength from her father and grandfather — two of the bravest cops she'd ever known.
Heart thundering in her chest, blood pounding in her ears, she fingered the smooth leather hanging near her waist. As she started to turn, a second voice spoke.
"Put your hands up and back away slowly." Deep. Ominous. No- nonsense. One did not want to mess with the man who belonged to that voice.
Her eyes widened, body stilled. The ground seemed to shift beneath her sandals, but she didn't dare move.
Where did he come from?
She didn't stand a chance against two thugs — knowing at least one was armed — so she shot her arms toward the sky.
"Not you, Blondie," the no-nonsense voice said. "Him."
Him? So the two men weren't working together? Relieved, she released the breath she'd been holding and dropped her arms.
"Do it now," the voice spoke again, even more fierce, almost a snarl.
The gun lifted from the back of her head.
She spun. As she'd been trained, she took in each man's identifying characteristics.
Not much taller than her, her attacker was nondescript at about five-seven. He had dark hair from what Sam could tell by his eyebrows and wore a gray sweatshirt with the hood covering his head.
A sweatshirt in this heat?
Shaking her head, she continued her perusal. Eye color was hard to make out given his face was angled toward the street. He appeared around twenty years old. Gangly and pasty white, his body hunched over still shaking. Stark white hands were hoisted in the air, gripping a 9mm. What could make someone his age so desperate for money?
Then she zeroed in on the mountain of a man behind him.
Quite descript indeed. Well over six-feet, piercing blue eyes, military-cut dark brown hair, and strong jawline. The black tattoo on his neck was something. It dipped below the neckline of a white T-shirt that stretched across his broad chest. She took in the full view of his pecs, which appeared to be double the size of hers. Ignoring that fact, since really, a toddler had bigger boobs than she did, Sam focused closer on the tattoo. It was tough to decipher what it was. It looked like feathers. Maybe from a bird. She'd need to see him without his shirt to determine —
Wait a minute. What the hell was she doing? She blinked to clear her thoughts away from the man's chest and dragged her gaze up to his.
Dark. Sinister. Like he thought he was the only person in the universe who mattered.
"You okay?" her rescuer asked. One eyebrow quirked, and he wore an expression that said saving her had been a huge inconvenience.
Plus, the looker of a man held a 9mm of his own, pressed against her assailant's head.
"Who are you?" she asked.CHAPTER 2
The woman wasn't wearing the pale, frightened expression Ash Cooper had expected. In fact, her eyes were strikingly clear and her skin flushed.
Her light-colored eyes glanced at the kid between them and a myriad of emotions crossed her face. Surprise. Curiosity. Interest. This chick was going to be trouble. She was perceptive. Too perceptive.
Her gaze locked on Ash, staring in a way that made him feel exposed. Naked, even. Her eyes widened, and she inhaled a quick breath of surprise. The pink on her cheeks deepened as her gaze traveled down his neck and chest. It had been too long since a woman looked at him that way.
He almost choked on a laugh. Yeah, like that was gonna happen.
Ignoring her question, he growled in a low voice and held out an impatient hand. "Give me the gun."
The thug's shoulders dropped as he released a ragged exhale.
"Nice and slow," Ash said. "That's it." He snatched the weapon and stored it in the back waistband of his cargo shorts. "Who are you? What do you want? And where'd you get the gun?"
"N-no one, man," the thug spoke, gripping the hood covering his head. "M-money. I just need m-money."
"Money, huh?" Ash laughed, thrusting his handgun against the back of the kid's skull. See how he liked it with the roles reversed. He pushed a little harder, satisfied after the kid grunted in pain. "Hell of a way to go about getting it. Ever heard of getting a job?"
Christ, it was hot. Sweat dripped from Ash's forehead and down his cheeks. The idiot in front of him shivered and clutched his midsection as if a few feet of snow lay on the ground.
Dealing with this shit was the last thing he needed right now. He'd been given strict instructions to stay hands-off on this assignment. Ash's DEA teammates were assigned to discover, track down, and take out the Vamp drug supplier by any means necessary. No clue as to who the dealer was yet, so the team was spending most of its time collecting intel on the big dealers around the area. Ash's bullshit job was to observe any unusual activity in the city and report it to his new acting team leader, Bryan Tyke. No action. One more wrong move and Ash would be demoted from field agent to trash collector. He'd already been demoted from team leader, for shit's sake.
"Just give me m-money, m-man." Tremors shook the kid's body. "Then I'll le-leave. I-I swear. I just need money. Just m-money. Plea- please, man."
"Oh my God," the woman gasped, her hand covering her mouth.
Now what? Ash tightened his grip on the gun.
She cocked her blond head, and her nose wrinkled as she leaned toward the kid. "What's wrong with you?"
Keeping the gun pointed at the attacker, Ash circled to stand next to her.
Blood red eyes with black pupils. Shit. "A vamp." A user of the drugs Ash's team was trying to stop.
Ash quickly glanced around the street. They usually didn't travel in packs, but he needed to be careful. Especially if the kid was as desperate as he appeared.
"Vamp?" Blondie asked, her eyes growing wider than the rusted hubcaps on her Honda. "As in vampire? But — but —"
Ash shook his head. "Drug user."
Vamp — more potent than heroin and a hell of a lot more addictive. The official name of the drug was a lot longer and more scientific sounding; Ash could never remember it. Vamp was the street name, because that's what addicts looked like: vampires. He cursed himself for not picking up on the kid's cues earlier. After extended use, the drug took over the body to the point that the user appeared more monster than human. Shaking. Desperate. Confused. Pasty skin with a dry, chalky texture. The whites of the eyes a deep red color as if filled with blood, pupils so dilated there wasn't any color around them. No blue, brown, or green. Just black.
"Drugs? What kind of drugs do that?" He didn't think it was possible, but her eyes grew even wider. "I don't understand. I've never heard of Vamp." If he wasn't mistaken, she sounded kinda pissed about it.
And I'm going to make damn sure no one around here ever does. He shifted his weight on his feet. "You complaining?"
She stiffened at his comment. "Well, no. I just —" He didn't like the way her eyes suddenly narrowed in his direction.
The addict's trembling spasms increased. His gaze darted around as if he couldn't control it, and he licked his chapped lips repeatedly.
Blondie leaned even closer to the guy.
Did she have no common sense? He was dangerous.
"Why do his eyes look like that?" she asked.
The Vamper's attention went everywhere — the cloudless sky, the unevenly paved street, the line of brick row houses behind Ash. He was in need of a fix soon, or it would be a short withdrawal period.
The drug was constructed so users lasted a matter of hours between fixes. Without another taste of the drug, their organs started to fail. Talk about dependency. At this stage, vamps were uncontrollable and unstable, willing to do anything — even kill — to get their next hit. Ash couldn't think about what would have happened to the woman if he hadn't shown up when he did.
Whatever made the drug so addictive — the DEA was still trying to figure it out — made the body crave it so bad that, after one direct taste, it couldn't live without it. Like air in the lungs and food in the stomach, the body physically couldn't function without Vamp in its system. There had yet to be any medicinal assistance to wean users off the drug.
Once a Vamp addict, always a Vamp addict. Until death.
Blondie took a step back and inched toward her car.
He leaned into the addict's face, using his height as intimidation, and bared his teeth. "Where'd you get it?"
When the kid hesitated, Ash hardened his stare and all but shouted. "Where?"
"Clu-club Hell. 27th St-street!" he barely got out as a wave of violent spasms took over his body. "C'mon, m-ma-man!"
The addict didn't seem to know what he was begging for — money, another hit, or to be put out of his misery.
Now the dilemma: try to apprehend and get more information out of him in front of the woman? He wanted to laugh. Right. That would go over well. She'd be all up in his business while he interrogated the addict. It wasn't worth risking it just to torment the fool. And if the kid remained silent, he'd be dead in a matter of an hour or two anyway. "Damn it," Ash said under his breath. He lowered his weapon and reached in his back pocket, pulling out two fifties. He tossed them into the street. "Get the hell out of here. And don't come back."
"Wait, what?" Blondie surprised him by saying. She took two commanding steps forward. "You're letting him go?"
The vamp leaped forward to retrieve the cash.
"Yeah," he said. Blondie was saved. The addict was retreating. Mission accomplished. Ash could get back to his boring-ass surveillance assignment in peace.
Ash started to turn toward his row house —
"Oh, no, you don't." Blondie leaped forward and caught the kid by his hood. She yanked his head free of the cover, making him scream in more pain.
Squeezing his eyes shut, he clawed at the air around him. "What are you doing? Get the fuck off me!" The addict yanked at his dark, shaggy hair as if he would take pleasure in pulling every strand out by the root.
Ash found it pretty damn interesting the kid didn't stutter when the sun's sharp rays stabbed his eyes.
Since the addict was only a hint bigger than Blondie — he was scrawny, really, and incapacitated by the sun; plus she had the element of surprise — she easily snapped his arms behind him.
She shoved the kid toward the back of her car and popped open her trunk.
What the fuc —
Ash's mouth actually dropped open when she pulled out a pair of handcuffs. What the hell was she doing with those in her car? Who was this chick?
Probably out of mercy for her ears, she flipped the man's hood over his head. "Oh, hush." She latched one of the thug's wrists and then the other. "I'm taking you in. It just so happens I'm on my way to the police station right now."
Ash continued to gape, a ridiculous thing for someone with his skill and training. This woman was beyond anything he'd ever seen. Anyone else would have run in the other direction. Not her. She faced danger head-on. Seemed to welcome it. Panic and exhilaration overcame him as he watched her. His pulse quickened, but all he could do was stand there and blink like an ass.
"I'll need you to make a statement." Her long slender neck turned to face him as she shoved the kid into the passenger side of her gold POS car. "Once I get Dracula here settled into the backseat, the front's all yours." When he didn't respond, her eyebrows rose in question with a look of, Yo, dumbshit. Anybody home?
"What?" His mind recapped. Handcuffs. Police station. Statement.
No way. He grabbed the woman around her upper arm, causing her to jump. "No cops." That's the last thing he needed. If he went to the precinct or any cops came around here, his cover would be screwed for sure. Not only his cover, but the entire investigation. The DEA had discovered enough dirty BPD cops that they had to be on guard. No telling who was clean or who could be trusted within BPD. This was strictly DEA territory now. All it would take was one leak to alert the dealer that the team was onto him and he'd go underground. They couldn't allow that. They were too close to nailing the son of a bitch.
Excerpted from On Her Six by Christina Elle, Alycia Tornetta. Copyright © 2016 Christina Elle. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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