Alex Rossi leads a double life, and it may cost Grace Nolan her son.
The Devlin Group: A privately-owned rogue agency unhindered by red tape and jurisdiction.
Grace Nolan walked away from the Devlin Group carrying Alex Rossi's child in her womb and his bullet in her shoulder. But a ghost from the past has kidnapped her son, Danny. The ransom--Alex Rossi. To get her son back, Grace will have to step back into the life she'd left behind and reveal her secret to Alex.
With vengeance for his mother's murder nearly at hand and a deadly substance on the loose, the last thing Alex Rossi needs is to find himself at the business end of Grace's gun. Now the clock is ticking as they race to save a child and stop a madman bent on destruction.
But Alex has a secret of his own, and it may be the ultimate betrayal.
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June 19, 2006
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Excerpt from 72 Hours by Shannon Stacey
Alex watched her jump when he opened the door, her mouth opening in a quick exclamation of surprise.
She looked the same, yet so different. Her mass of chestnut curls was pulled back in a loose clip, and she needed no makeup to enhance those big sapphire eyes.
Her body had changed. Her breasts under the lightweight sweater were a little fuller, as were her hips. No doubt the changes lingered from giving birth to her son, but they didn't stop the sudden, hot urge to feel her body under his.
If anything, his want was intensified. The lean girl was gone, and in her place was a woman with a body to make a man want to come home at night.
He stepped back, giving her room to enter and close the door. It was only then he realized she was watching him as well. In his pajamas, probably still coated with the sweat of his nightmare, he guessed he probably made an interesting picture.
Alex watched Grace stare at his body, but he didn't let it get to him. She wasn't here to play. And she looked like hell.
"To what do I owe this pleasure, Grace?" he asked. He made sure the words were slow and lazy, but the back of his neck tingled in warning.
That was fear in her eyes. The list of things that scared Grace Nolan was pretty damn short, and he sure as hell wasn't on it. So what was?
"What are you doing in Key West?" she asked. Stalling--gearing herself up for something.
Instead of moving toward her, trying to intimidate her as he'd done in the past, he stepped back. He might need some room. For what, he didn't know, but he had a feeling he was about to find out.
"Just a job," he said. "It's me, remember? The guy who doesn't know how not to work?"
"Devlin told you I was coming?"
Alex nodded, hating the lie even more when looking her in the eye. "But not why."
She took a deep breath, and he noted the slight hitch. "I need to know...I need--"
Damn. Alex rested his hand on his hip, closer to the Glock tucked at the small of his back. This woman never needed anything, especially from him. But today...something was very wrong.
He blinked. Her arm moved. He blinked again, and found himself staring straight down the barrel of her Sig .38.
"I need you to get dressed and come with me, Alex."
He spent a few seconds eyeing the barrel of the gun while he slow-breathed his pulse rate down.
What the hell was Grace into? And who was she into it with? She was supposed to be doing boring-as-hell computer support for the feds, not kidnapping people at gunpoint.
He shifted his gaze to her eyes, and he found no give there. No doubt about it. He either had to pack a bag or incapacitate her.
"I want you to untie that drawstring and let your pants fall to the floor."
"Interesting foreplay technique, sweetheart. New since last time we were together, isn't it? A little rough is one thing, but this..."
"Let the pants drop, Alex. And let the Glock go with them." She knew him well, but he knew her, too. Oh, she sounded cool enough, but he saw the flush on her neck. Saw her nipples harden under the light sweater.
And felt the hot rush of victory. Game over.
With slow, deliberate ease Alex pulled the ends of the drawstrings loose. Wait for it.
He ran his thumbs around the front of the waistband, loosening it, and the weight of the Glock drew the silk fabric low on his hips.
Grace's eyes slid down to his groin.
He dove, launching himself at her midsection. He heard the air whoosh from her lungs as he swept his arm up and sent the Sig clattering to the opposite side of the room.
He managed to slip his hand under her head before it bounced off the floor. Grace was pinned under his body, and he squeezed his thighs together just in time to block her jabbing knee.
The Glock had slipped down into the leg of the pajamas now bound uncomfortably around his thighs, but he didn't need it. Didn't want it. He'd shot her once, years ago, and she probably still hadn't forgiven him for it. He hoped never to have to do it again.
He grabbed Grace's wrists and raised them over her head, stretching her body beneath him.
"Tell me what this is about, Grace."
"Get off me," she growled.
Alex saw the muscles in her neck tighten, and barely managed to dodge what would have been a nose-breaking head butt.
"Enough, or I'll put your ass to sleep for a while."
Grace stilled. She'd known him for years--long enough to know he never made idle threats. Staring up at him with those blue eyes, she trembled under him.
"Talk to me," he said in a softer tone. He had never seen this woman desperate. But she was desperate now.
"I need you to come with me. Please don't ask me why. Please."
"I will go with you," he promised. This woman who owned a piece of his soul was on the edge, and he sure as hell wasn't going to let her go over alone. "I'll go with you, sweetheart. But you do need to tell me why. And why the gun?"
Her throat worked hard to swallow and her eyes flooded with tears. Against his own skin he felt her stomach muscles spasm.
"What the hell?" He lifted himself from her and she curled into a ball, sobs making her entire body shake. He swore viciously. "What's the matter with you?"
He stood, letting the Glock slip through his pant leg to the floor, and refastening the drawstring at his waist. Then he dragged her to her feet. "Grace, dammit, talk to me now!"
She collapsed against him, and fear pumped adrenaline through his body. He held her for a second, then grabbed her chin in his hands, forcing her to look up him.
Her teeth chattered, and her body shuddered hard. "They took my son, Alex."