How can you plan a future...
After a desperate struggle to sever ties with her husband, Kira Gregory is suddenly a free woman. She can start a new life without guns, drugs, dirty money, or fear. But Kira's newfound independence seems too good to be true. And it is...
When you can't outrun your past?
DEA Special Agent Dexter Brady spent months trying to get Kira's husband, Kareem Gregory, off the streets, but he has never come to terms with his growing feelings for Kira. He knows that any sort of a relationship with her is a recipe for disaster, but when danger finds Kira again, Dexter will bend every rule, face any enemy, and make any sacrifice to keep the woman he loves safe from harm...
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October 04, 2011
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Excerpt from Deadly Desires by Ann Christopher
Kareem Gregory didn't know who he wanted to punish first: his wife or his lieutenant.
The bitch. Or the snitch.
In a world full of liars and cheats, he'd relied on a handful of people, and this was the thanks he got for his faith and trust. His wife, Kira, had walked out on him, and his right?hand man, Kerry Randolph, the man--the one fucking man on earth--who'd seen the naked under?belly of Kareem's drug empire, had flipped on him.
Was that undying loyalty? No. Was that till death do us part? Hell no. That was betrayal, the worst possible crime against him. The punishments would reflect that.
"We need you to empty your pockets and put your jewelry in here, Mr. Gregory."
The voice interrupted his thoughts and cut through his rage and bewilderment, putting him squarely back in the here and now, which was the last place he wanted to be. Here was the US Marshal's office, where the DEA brought you for after?hours processing when you had the misfortune of being arrested for possession of ap?proximately two hundred and fifty kilos of coke and horse with intent to distribute. Now it was about eleven o'clock on the night that should have been the greatest of his life.
Oh, yes. Just this afternoon, he'd been acquitted at his retrial on money?laundering charges and, better than that, one of his men had hit the DEA agent responsible for Kareem's entrapment and conviction in the first place. Just this evening, he'd been hosting a little cele?bration dinner and toasting his success with the finest champagne his world?class wine cellar had to offer. Just a few short hours ago, he'd been free and clear, with his entire life ahead of him, his wife by his side and every?thing to live for.
But that was before Kerry flipped and led the feds to the drug warehouse, where they'd found about seven mil?lion dollars' worth of his shit. Before the DEA broke down his front door and raided his house. Before his beautiful wife packed her little bags and walked out. Before Special Agent Dexter Brady knocked Kareem to the polished floor of his own damn house, put his booted foot in the middle of his back, and handcuffed him like a street?level dealer.
Now here he was, once again at the mercy of these little government fuckers who didn't have the slightest idea who they were dealing with. Once again reliant upon the nonexistent skills of Jacob Radcliffe, the high?priced lawyer bitch who was standing right there, watching the proceedings with his awshucks, Howdy Doody red hair, blue eyes, and freckles, useless to prevent Kareem from spending tonight at the Justice Center with the common criminals. Once again being searched, fingerprinted, photographed from all sides and numbered like a cattle farmer's prize bull.
"Mr. Gregory?" the DEA youngster, or marshal, or whoever the fuck he was, slid the blue plastic box across the table toward him and tried again. "Your personal items?"
Kareem glared at the punk, enjoying the slow drain of color from his face and the way he tried to jerk up his chin in front of his superiors, acting all brave and shit when really he was beginning to understand the situation here.
Here was the situation.
Kareem was like a Siberian tiger. Siberian tigers didn't belong in cages. You could catch one, yeah, and throw it in a cage, and sometimes you could even keep it there for a while. The tiger might sit quietly and eat his three squares a day. But the thing about both tigers and Kareem was this: they had fangs, claws, and unholy power. They chose the right moment to strike, and then they tore their captors to shreds and ate their flesh when everyone least expected it.
Kareem channeled all of this into his silent gaze, and he stared the youngster down until finally the kid looked over his shoulder and shot Brady a What should I do now, boss? look.
Brady edged forward, ready with a smirk and a taunt. "What's wrong, Kareem? Afraid to trust us with your sparklies?"
"That's unnecessary," Radcliffe told Brady.
Wow. Two words out of his lawyer's mouth. What was that--a thousand dollars or so tacked onto Kareem's legal fees? Kareem ignored Radcliffe--he'd deal with him later--and focused some of his fury on Brady because there was plenty to go around. Brady was the DEA bloodhound who'd been sniffing after Kareem for years. Brady was the one who'd been working with Kerry and got him to flip on Kareem; he could feel it in his gut. Brady was the one who'd led the raid tonight and riffled through all of Kareem's precious belongings. Brady needed to be brought down.
Later for that.
For now, he had to show the feds that they couldn't rattle his cage, no matter how they tried. So he shrugged, ignored the slight shake in his hands, and reached up to unscrew the first of his three?carat diamond studs. Then he tossed it into the box and went to work on the other one. "I'm not worried. Who can you trust if not the United States government?" "Funny," Brady said. "Don't forget the Rolex."
Kareem unhooked the heavy clasp, slid the watch off his wrist, and dropped it into the box with a satisfying clunk. Fifty thousand dollars' worth of gold and dia?monds had a nice weight to it, and he'd miss the watch. Especially if, as was looking pretty likely, the feds seized it along with his house, his cars, and every damn thing he owned down to his dirty drawers and used toothbrush.
Ah, well. Possessions could be replaced.
Except . . .
The plain platinum band on his ring finger, the one he'd never taken off. That was priceless, even if his wife was a faithless bitch.
He wasn't a fan of plain when it came to jewelry, but Kira picked the bands, and he'd made it a habit to buy Kira whatever she wanted. At least he had. Before she walked out on him.
He grabbed the shining band, meaning to slide it off, but it didn't want to budge and he didn't really put his heart into pulling it over his knuckle. These rings bound them together, him and Kira, and when they put them on, he'd meant it to be for life. Oh, sure, there'd been other women, but he'd only ever have one wife. One partner. One Mrs. Gregory.
"That too, Kareem," Brady said. "We haven't got all day."
Kareem looked up from his hands to find Brady still watching him, but with sharper eyes that put Kareem's instincts on alert even if he wasn't sure why. He tugged the ring off and polished it between his fingers, his heart oddly tight. Kira always did that to him--trapped him between emotions like pride and exasperation, love and hate, fury and longing. Much as he wanted to hurt Kira for walking out on him, punish her, to teach her a lesson she'd never forget, to show her that he was in charge and always would be, he wanted something else more.
Why couldn't she just love him the way she once did?
"You know what this says on the inside, Brady?" he asked, holding the ring up.
Brady's eyes narrowed with clear annoyance and banked curiosity. "Do tell. Since we don't have any?thing else to do tonight but listen to your stories from memory lane."
"It says Forever and a Day. That's how long she'll be my wife." Brady's lips curled with amusement. "Looks like she didn't get the memo on that. Judging from the way she packed her bags and walked out while you yelled for her to come back. Just saying."
They watched each other, he and Brady, and the fine hairs rose all up and down Kareem's arms, probably because Brady didn't flinch or turn away. He had the unwelcome feeling that if he so much as blinked too loud, Brady, despite his Boy Scout soul, would cheerfully pump a round or twenty into him and then talk his way out of it with a judge and be home by dinner.
This animosity between them--it was as personal as Kareem's taste in condoms.
Brady was, therefore, a serious problem. Maybe the most serious one Kareem had ever faced. But he wasn't going to punk Kareem. Not tonight, or ever. So Kareem rolled his shoulders and matched Brady's unconcerned smile with one of his own.
"Kira knows it'll take more than a packed bag for me to let her go," he said.
And watched the color drain out of Brady's face.