The Last Detail by Melissa Schroeder
Genre: Science Fiction, Red Hots!!!, Ménage & More
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Publication Date: 09-06-2011
Trust isn’t easy when the ones you want most are out to get you.
Ten years after she ran away from Earth, Lou Campbell is one job—just one more collar—away from earning enough credits to go home. All she has to do is lure Sam Dawson within range of her handcuffs with the promise of fast, hard sex. Easy.
Once she gets him there, keeping her own hands off him isn’t so easy.
Sam’s committed his share of sins, but he’s not guilty of selling secrets. Before he can convince the sexiest bounty hunter he’s ever seen that he’s been betrayed, all hell breaks loose. And he’s on the run with a false accusation on his hands—and a bleeding woman in his arms.
Alone in her boss’s safe house, Lou and Dawson’s simmering attraction explodes into full-blown fireworks.
When Jared Flores walks in on his best hunter and ex-lover in bed together, the surprise is mutual. Worse, the need he has long felt for both of them overrides his better judgment. After the fists fly, the sparks catch fire into a budding three-way romance.
Then Sam disappears, leaving Jared and Lou in a race against time to not only retrieve their lover, but save his life.
Copyright © 2011 Melissa Schroeder
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
The northern Arcadian wind whipped through Lou Campbell’s hair as she loaded her weapon and prepared for the unexpected. The sweet scent of gypsum blossoms tickled her nose, signifying the arrival of the second spring to the outer planet. She ignored it the best she could and concentrated on her mission, her last retrieval. Thank the Maker it wasn’t a kill.
She wanted this guy so badly she could taste it. One more job and she’d have enough credits to return home to Earth. Closing her eyes, she pushed away the joy that one thought brought. She didn’t need to lose her edge. No thinking about tomorrows, Campbell. Concentrate on today, the mission, the man.
Placing her gun in the holster on her hip, Lou surveyed her surroundings, her gaze taking in every dark corner and suspicious character. Her nerves jumped and adrenalin coursed through her. Plaiting her long tresses to keep them from being used as a weapon, she planned for the job.
The bar would be crowded, and she didn’t want trouble. She’d already added a few more weapons to her arsenal, all hidden beneath her clothing, including her stunner. Going into a situation like this with only one weapon was a rookie mistake. She knew that most of the patrons wouldn’t think twice about slitting your throat over drinks, but if they were worried one of their own was being arrested, they might turn even nastier. She’d have to come up with a diversion, a way to get Dawson out of there with little fanfare.
Stepping off the curb, she approached the bar where her informant said Dawson was likely to be. She paused, allowing for a hover bike to speed past and then continued across the old-fashioned cobblestones. Arcadia reveled living in the past. Buildings resembled Earth one hundred years earlier, their own type of polluting crude was used for energy, and they loved decadence, in any form. From drugs to sex to food, they had it all here. If there was a sin, it was probably bought and sold on the streets. The Alliance of planets was happy to allow the residents of Arcadia to pursue their wicked vices as long as they stayed put on their own planet.
She needed to scope out the place, see who was with Dawson, what weapons he carried. From the hologram she’d seen of him, he was a big one. She still felt a little guilty that once she’d found the image that she didn’t contact Jared. But she didn’t even want to chance their communication being hacked. Dawson’s bounty was definitely something that attracted a lot of attention. Since Jared ran one of the top retrieval agencies in the sector, everyone had to know he would send out agents.
Lou pushed those thoughts aside and put her mind back on business. Even though she was trained, there were a few men who could overpower her. If she wasn’t careful, Dawson could do it, and she would be stuck in this miserable quadrant for another five years once the government took away her credits. It was her damn luck that they had just passed a law to limit the number of years you could horde credits.
As she drew closer, a man opened the door for her to enter. The tinny music poured out onto the street along with a fair amount of reefer smoke. Damn. She always ended up with a horrible headache when she was in the vicinity of the drug. Arcadia was ignored by the Universal Drug Agency and was allowed free range. Sort of like their own little red-light district at the edge of hell. Other planets seemed to think if they kept it here, they wouldn’t have to worry about it seeping into their districts.
Her heartbeat jumped up a notch as she stepped over the threshold. It was always like this. Fear, anticipation and excitement all rolled into one huge ball. Taking a deep breath, she ordered her body to calm down, to gain control. Even so, her palms dampened and adrenaline flowed through her veins. Since the time she started hunting ten years earlier, she’d always had this reaction.
She knew a lot of Jared’s workers got off on it. They loved the thrill, lived for the kick of adrenaline that came with each job. She hated it as much as she hated the work. But it was a means to an end, and this last detail allowed her to have some sort of pride in what she did. That had not always been the case.
The usual unsavory characters crowded the bar. Even in the dim light she could make out the life forms at the tables. Every cutthroat on this side of the quadrant was probably present. Her stomach roiled when she smelled the stench of the smoke mixed with the smell of sour alcohol. She eased onto a free barstool that was against the wall.
“What’s your poison, doll?”
She glanced out of the corner of her eye and then dropped her gaze. Barely visible over the counter, the bartender studied her with some interest, not enough to bother her though. He was a male Eredite, an android. Shorter than the typical human male, he also sported pink eyes. They were used in all sorts of jobs like bartending since they hadn’t been approved for more intricate work. They weren’t overly bright, but they were known as hard workers.
“I’ll take a geyser water.”
He nodded, filled a glass, and set it on the bar in front of her. “Seven credits.”
She held out her credit reader, allowed him scan it, and then tucked it away again. He hobbled off and she returned her full attention to the room. Her eyes had finally adjusted to the smoke and the dim lighting.
The band, she noted, was a hodgepodge of creatures, some identifiable, some completely unknown to her. That wasn’t abnormal for Arcadia. One good thing about a dive like this, she knew most customers kept to themselves. Almost everyone had something or someone to hide from, and drawing attention to themselves wasn’t in their best interests. The only interchanges were the waitresses or the occasional whore. Keeping a low profile and getting Dawson out under his own will would make her life easier. No one would note him leaving with a woman for the night. Handcuffing him in front of everyone could lead to interference.
Her gaze traveled over the crowd. Miscreants. There probably wasn’t a decent creature in attendance—including herself. She continued to study the gathering until her attention snagged on a corner booth.
Slouched against the seat, a man sat appearing as not to have a care in the world. But his eyes, stone cold gray, examined the room with the same wariness she felt. His dark hair was cut short and two days worth of stubble littered his jaw. The clothes he wore resembled her own—dark, fitted, nothing pretty. His shirt stretched over muscles, outlining the contours, emphasizing his broad shoulders and muscular chest. Her pulse jumped.
“That one’s trouble, doll.”
She slid the bartender a look but said nothing as she resumed watching her prey. He sat with two females, human, one white, one Asian, both whores from the looks of them. Inwardly, she cringed. Women were always unpredictable, especially in situations like this. They may only be bought for the night, but it wouldn’t matter. And if they hadn’t been paid, it could be deadly. Whores always liked to get paid. She should know.
When she finally looked at his face again, their gazes locked. For just a second, maybe two, she forgot to breathe. Heat tingled down her spine and, dammit, her nipples hardened. Even as far away as she was, she could see the challenge in his gaze, his demeanor. Without breaking eye contact, she grabbed her glass and took a long sip. He broke first to watch her hand place the glass back on the bar. When he looked at her again, his lips curved slightly. Heat flared within her, her hormones bouncing to attention.
Even with the surge of arousal pumping through her, she felt the rise of adrenaline, the surge of sickening excitement. She touched her weapon in its holster and then slid from the bar stool to move in for the kill.
Sam Dawson watched the blonde as she approached his table and tried not to show his reaction. Reid and Denton were here for cover, but he didn’t think either contract agent would be happy if they knew he was sporting a boner hard enough to lift the table. He didn’t want it going in a report. And these two would do it just to mess with him.
Not that there would be a report. For some reason, he seemed to have lost his contact at Zenich Industries, the security firm he worked for. No one had picked up his transmissions for the last week. Considering his assignment had been flagged as covert with an immediate suspense, Sam thought it more than a little worrisome he hadn’t heard from them.
Shifting his weight from one hip to another, he winced when his pants drew tight over his crotch. His dick throbbed against the fabric.
Shit. He didn’t need to get itchy over a mean-looking woman. She looked like she was packing enough heat to take down half the bar. With a body like that, and the weapon she was carrying, she had to be trouble. Sam should know better. Women like her could get an agent killed.
Damn if that didn’t interest him even more.
Wow! Melissa really knows how to weave a tale. Whatever two (2) lucky winners gets a copy of the treasure will be really lucky. The cover is smokin’ hot and the warning is enough to turn up the heat during a blizzard to keep you warm.
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Of course this is an overnight contest; therefore, you have until 6:00 PM (CST) on Wednesday evening to leave a response in the comments section. The lucky winner will be selected using the True Random Number Generator from RANDOM.ORG.