First released in the MEN OF DANGER anthology, dive into this sexy short story from bestselling author Red Garnier. Available for the first time ever as a stand-alone e-book, get lost in the sinful pleasures of a good cop gone so, so bad...
Dangerous and sexy, police detective Zach Rivers isn't the only man who's obsessed with the beautiful Paige Avery-but he's willing to risk everything to be the only man she needs in her life...and her bed...in Reckless and Yours.
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
RED GARNIER loves a good book and a great romance. She is a happy wife, a cherished mother, and a full-time writer. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Legally Hot and Men of Danger.
Red Garnier loves a good book and a great romance. Nothing brings a smile to her face faster than a happily-ever-after, especially once she gets to pen down. Red is living her deepest, most cherished dream today, thanks to a bit of luck, a lot of work, and a lot of support. She is a happy wife, mother, and a full-time writer. She is the author of The Billionaire's Club, starting with "Claimed by Him."
Read an Excerpt
Reckless and Yours
By Red Garnier
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2010 Red Garnier
All rights reserved.
Phoenix, Arizona, March 4 Seven Years Later ...
Damn phone ringing.
Lying prone on the bed, Zach flung an arm out and groped around for the receiver, lifting it just in time to catch the familiar boom on the other end.
"Rivers?" Fellow PPD detective Cody Nordstrom. Friend. Pain in the ass. Gossip girl.
Rolling onto his side, phone to his ear, he glared at the clock on the nightstand. Four forty-three p.m. Sunday. Fuck it.
After the all-nighter he'd pulled—bringing in some sick shit who'd beaten his teenage daughter to death—and a one-hour shower at noon, he'd been asleep exactly four hours.
"I'm awake," he grumbled as he climbed off the bed and picked his jeans up from the floor.
"Your pigeon's home."
One thought slammed him like a torpedo. Paige.
"There's a 459R reported there. Patrol's already dispatched. Apparently she's unharmed." A dramatic sigh. "So here I sat, thinking, figuring, 'Man, this would really ruffle Zach's feathers.'"
On his feet, fully alert, Zach grabbed his Glock, his backup, and his badge, shoving them all in place. "Robbery, my ass." The house had been empty for seven years and the day she came home they decided to rob it?
"I hear you, I hear you. So then I wonder if maybe you can find something there that'll persuade the lieutenant to reopen that old case you have a hard-on for."
The judge's case. Paige's father's case. The case every cop in town knew Zach was itching to nail. He plunged his head into his T-shirt and brought the phone back up. "I will."
"Or hey. Perhaps her failing memory has returned and you'll have yourself a witness?"
Charging outside, Zach yanked his car door open, resolute. "I'm on my way."
The engine of his SUV roared to life. "Yeah."
"There's a little Las Vegas going on here. Mia's got a twenty on you getting the girl and the bad guy."
"My twenty that you only get the bad guy."
He smiled a fuck-you-too smile. "Thanks, asshole."
"Wait a sec. It's kind of dull down here. Mind if I come over and take a peek?"
"I'll meet you there." Zach flapped the cell shut, tearing the SUV onto the street.
Paige was home.
God help him, his chest felt ready to burst. Thoughts, memories, feelings, bolted through his body, working up a storm.
A storm called Paige. Avery.
By the time Zach pulled over in front of 106 Dominion Drive, his heart was thudding like a beast unleashed.
Paige was back, and apparently he wasn't the only one with his nuts in a twist about it. Someone was alarmed, panicked, determined to frighten her off, or all of the above.
The judge's old residence sat in sprawling splendor atop a flat stretch of land; six thousand square feet of Spanish Colonial, burnt-tile rooftops and arched windows. The cacti flourished along the walkway that led up to its wide front doors, and the scent of fresh paint clung to the warm spring air.
Stepping to the sidewalk, his hunter's instinct simmering inside him, Zach narrowed his eyes against the glaring afternoon sun and focused on his surroundings, sweeping the area with one sharp, calculating look.
Evidence. Damned if he wouldn't find it. He knew this house like the back of his hand. He'd driven past it mornings and nights, rain and shine. He knew every plant, every rock, every bit of grass on its lawns, he knew every window. The top west window. Her window.
He passed a glaring for sale sign that jutted out of the ground. This, for one, was new. Hell, Zach actually entering the house was new.
"Well, well, well, Stalker's here. Our very own detective now."
City cops were already on the scene, well-trained officers in most capacities. Vance Dean, whom Zach had patrolled with before he'd made Homicide at the VCB, looked up from an old gold clock he was dusting for prints.
"Welcome to the party, sweetheart. Though I've yet to see the dead guy?" he added with a lift of his eyebrows.
Zach panned across the room, noting the havoc the perps had wreaked. Overturned sofas. Torn lampshades. Crystal chandeliers in tatters. Photos, dozens and dozens of broken photos, of her as a child, of her parents.
The Averys' living room looked like the anteroom of hell.
He tamped down his anger. "Forced entry?"
"On my wish list."
"Victim says everything's here. Just a B and E so far."
"Victim," Zach tersely repeated. "She all right?"
"Pale. We secured her in an area adjoining." Vance pointed down the hall. "Found nothing upstairs, but you might want to check it. Miles is on the south of the house."
Zach pulled out his Sony camcorder and began to record, taking in everything with his eyes first, then with his camera. Give me something, asshole, so we can finally meet, me and you.
Upstairs, the bedrooms were undisturbed, the master and guest bedrooms clean and luxurious. Paige's bedroom ... smelled nice. Like lavender, hell, he didn't know. Like her.
Bracing himself against the deep, dark stirrings that sultry scent caused, he moved the camcorder and tried not to think this was her room. Where she'd slept. While he'd been thinking of sleeping with her.
Hundreds of books, perfectly arranged, lined the bookshelves. A row of cosmetics occupied the left-hand side of the bathroom sink. All perfectly neat. All Paige.
When he finished recording and descended the stairs, Zach felt like someone had just set off a bomb inside his chest.
A tall, bulky blond waited on the first floor, hands in his suit pockets. Cody Nordstrom and his crimson tie. "Quite a mess you got here, Detective," he said conversationally.
He pocketed his camera. "You've seen her?"
"Introduced myself. I handed her my card." He shot him a long, dry smile. "Though I suspect she'd rather take yours."
"Where is she?"
His friend stuck his thumb past his shoulder. "Study. She's a quiet one."
And when Zach turned to the adjoining room, he saw her.
How could he not? How could he not see Paige? She was beautiful, and fragile, and she was real. So real his eyes hurt.
He took a step into the room, and another, feeling as if he were expanding under his skin like a helium balloon. He had hoped, and imagined, and if he was truthful, he might have even prayed, but still he had never expected to see her again.
But now Paige Avery was home. And she was breathing the same air he was. And her lips—dear God, just finish me off—were still the stuff of heaven. Plush and pouty, shimmering pink.
She sat on a green wing-backed chair by a floor lamp, a business card in one hand, her cell phone in the other as she busily punched in some numbers. A pretty white blouse with a lacy collar contoured her small waist and discreetly dipped between breasts he'd kissed a thousand times in his mind and a precious few for real. Her hair was a deeper shade of red than he remembered, cut attractively into bangs that fell across her forehead and curled behind her ears, and her features were sleeker, more refined. Still so lovely. So damned lovely, all of her.
His hand settled on the grip of the Glock at his hip, then he realized he did not know why he grasped it. He did it when he got an uneasy crawling up his spine, or a tingling in his stomach, and he did it now when he felt ... open. Vulnerable.
"Maybe she'll talk to you," Cody said at his side.
Zach nodded, indicating he would speak with her, and his teammate left the room. It had been years, and it had been hell, and he still dreamed of her face seven years after he'd last seen it. Had dreamed of this moment.
For two thousand and six hundred days.
Strange, all the things he'd thought he'd do—haul her into his arms and kiss her until her toes curled, promise to never let anyone hurt her, threaten to make her regret it if she ever, ever thought of leaving again—he did none of that. Just sought her eyes for something. Recognition. Remembrance. For her to look at him.
Look up, baby, look into my eyes and know who I am.
And then she turned. Her gaze was like a spear slammed straight through his heart. There was nothing on her face. No fear. No excitement. No smile of welcome. Nothing at all.
She stored away her phone in a small brown purse, and her eyes ventured down his body, skimming the T-shirt, the jeans, lingering slightly on the gun, and at last returning to meet his gaze.
He held his breath, waiting for ... just waiting. For a smile perhaps. A whisper that said all he craved to know. His name, God, let her say Zachary.
But still she stared.
And he stared.
Sucker punched by those eyes. A light, worn blue, no longer shining with innocence, but wide and lost and killing him.
"Paige." His throat closed around his words. "I need to ask you a few questions."
She sat up straighter, her eyes flaring wider, shoulders tensing. As if he were a giant mastiff without a leash, she warily watched as he pulled up a chair across from hers and lowered his body onto the seat.
A thousand questions tumbled inside him, questions from the cop and questions from the man and questions from the boy who'd loved her.
He propped his elbows on his knees, leaning forward, gentling his voice. "Where were you when this happened?"
She stared at his lips, then seemed to catch herself and went rigid. "I was out," she said, her voice a bare wisp. "Buying boxes to pack some of my mom's belongings."
"You were alone?"
He told himself he wouldn't remember, not now, dammit. But he could still taste Paige inside his mouth. He could feel the weight of those little breasts in his hands, could hear her gasps as she suckled hungrily on his tongue and he sucked on hers.
Paige Avery had come home ... and Zach was dying to come home to her.
She used to pass him with her eyes downcast in the school halls, and would not glance across the cafeteria, and when her friends talked to her she smiled and very rarely stole a glance at him. But when no one was looking, Zachary would touch her with his shoulders or his elbows or his hands or his fingers, and she would shyly touch back. And they would find a nook or a closet or a place to kiss and kiss and kiss each other's heart out. Then the twenty-four hours before Zach had her lips on his again he spent replaying Paige's gasps and how they tumbled down his throat and he would moan every night at the sheer agony of wanting her like he did.
Zachary's brows rose the moment he registered her softly spoken words.
"Your name. It's ..." She trailed off and signaled at his clothes. "You're not wearing a tag. Your colleagues call you 'Stalker'?"
He watched her carefully as he told her. "Rivers. Zachary Rivers."
She cocked her head and regarded him. Her hands began to wring on her lap. "We've met before?"
"You could say that." Fuck.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck.
He had wondered, assumed, she would remember some about him. He'd imagined she would lie in her bed like he did in his, and ... well, shit. Clearly, she didn't. She did not remember Zachary Rivers. At all.
He numbed himself against the wrenching in his stomach and barely remembered to tape their interview. He felt like the biggest fool. Biggest fucking fool that ever lived.
She had not only forgotten the crime scene, as he'd read about, as was usual in the case of trauma-induced amnesia. She had forgotten everything. Everything Zach could not forget. Not their fights, not their kisses, their secrets, or the dozen times they'd been close to making love.
Clenching his jaw, he drew out his tape recorder and set it on his thigh. Get the job done and fucking stop with this bullshit—Detective.
"Taking it from the top again," he said.
She smiled. It was a weak smile, and it made his gut twist with longing.
"How do we know each other? We were friends?"
She seemed baffled by this. Zach thought it best not to elaborate and simply nodded. But no. She had not been his friend. She had been Paige Avery and he had been in love with her.
Desperately in love.
Who had loved him back with every ounce of her heart and soul.
They'd been more than friends, more than lovers, more than a secret.
Aware of the other officers' tomblike silence in the adjoining room, Zach pushed to his feet and abruptly cleared his throat. "Tell me more."
"Detective." By the way she dropped her voice to a whisper, they could've been alone somewhere. Necking. "I just got here," she said. "To the city, I mean." He could hear the rest of her unspoken thoughts. Why would anyone do this to me? Why aren't you out there catching this bastard?
He stared into her eyes, still not believing he had them this close.
"I know, Paige. And I'm sorry about your mother. I heard."
Her eyes shimmered, and her voice cracked around the edges. "I'm sorry, too."
"So, Stalker. We found your bird, didn't we?"
He stiffened at the voice from the doorway. Miles Perrini had a twisted sense of humor. Okay when you were having beers but definitely not okay here.
"Get to work, Miles," Zach said softly.
But Miles called out, "Hey, Vance, we found Stalker's birdy. Come have a look."
The guys were such assholes. Couldn't stop laughing over Zach's "little dove who got away ..."
"You mean the little dove who got away?" he heard Vance's approaching voice ask.
Zach swore under his breath, and to her, he murmured, "Excuse me."
They were ribbing him.
The two patrol officers who had appeared soon after she'd made the 911 call were ribbing the detective.
Paige stared at the domed ceiling, pretending to be engrossed in the wood beams as the officers walked around. The house's oppressive ambience was shattered with their laughter.
They kept whispering things. Saying, "Damn, that's got to hurt, man."
Paige settled deeper into the leather chair and forced her gaze out the window. Neighbors peeked over the top of the police car.
And she desperately wished she'd stayed in Seattle. At her studio. With her cat, who'd been grudgingly checked into a pet motel and must not be enjoying it at all. She should, she thought for the twentieth time, have let the Realtor handle everything. Hired help to settle the estate. But ahh, no. She'd wanted to come back to ... to what?
See pictures? Try to remember what for seven years she had not? Finally know the place Mom had pretended did not exist on the map?
A neighbor made a questioning gesture from the sidewalk, and having no idea if she'd once met this worried-looking old man or not, Paige gave a little wave that hopefully transmitted the message: it's all fine, you can go back to your life now and leave me to mine.
The old man ducked his head formally and went around a parked black Cherokee. The detective's black Cherokee: there was no doubt in her mind it was his.
Now that the shock was fading, now that the anger was tightly on a leash, and Paige was gradually returning to her senses, she began to register this darkly attractive officer. Really register him. God, she could not stop stealing glances. He was tall, muscled; a suppressed strength and authority radiated off his athletic body.
She'd never seen such a virile thing in her life.
He was dressed in jeans and a solid crewneck T-shirt. A gun rested at his hip as he bent over a broken chair and pointed something out to the other officer. He spoke in low, hushed tones, and his voice made her stomach sink in her body, then fly up to her throat.
When his lazy, dreamy smile spread over something the other said, it hit Paige like a blow, left her struggling for air and staring so stupidly at him that his smile faded the second he straightened and noticed. His expression transformed, became serious, his eyes intent. He seemed to be done with his search and plunged a hand through his hair as he strode forward.
He had a face from her dreams. Hard boned and square, with a direct stare that trapped you. His eyes were amazing, green as a Colorado forest, candid, thick lashed. His body was lean and sinewy, the kind that moved with the grace and coiled strength of an animal of prey. His hair reached his collar, the color a dark sable, just a shade under black.
Paige couldn't breathe. She could not tear her eyes away, stop staring, stop ogling him. God, this was so not the moment.
Time seemed to come to a standstill when he halted within arm's length of her. The two officers weaving around the living room lifted their heads to catch Paige's reaction as he spoke. "With your permission, I'd like you to accompany me upstairs."
Paige frowned, wondering why a muffled laugh followed that cough.
"Please ignore them."
His voice was deep and rich, like something rumbling out from a bottomless, magical well. Hearing it appeased her, but at the same time, made her core ache and tighten. Her legs, and remarkably the rest of her, felt unsteady as she rose to her feet.
He stepped back to let her pass, then noiselessly followed her up the stairs.
She could feel his eyes on her nape. His body close to hers. Felt aware of his every step in the wake of hers. Up the landing ... down the hall ...
Why was her heart pounding like this? Because she feared what he'd find or because she feared the directions her thoughts were taking?
"I don't like this house all that much," she said shakily as she entered her bedroom.
When he passed, his arm brushed her shoulder, triggering a tense, fiery frisson down her spine.
"You never did."
He delivered the remark with no inflection as he surveyed her mirrored nightstands, and Paige couldn't conceal her startled, "Oh."
He walked past her vanity, his presence a shock of testosterone in such a girly room. The white comforter, the lacy pillows, the canopy, all seemed to fade into the background, flimsy and insubstantial compared to the primal magnetic force, the realness, of him.
Facing her, he crossed his arms and assumed a wide-legged stance that made her feel utterly small. "Were you in this room previously today?"
Excerpted from Reckless and Yours by Red Garnier. Copyright © 2010 Red Garnier. 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.
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