Jason Banes is a thief, he doesn’t deny it. However, his life takes a sharp turn when he hooks up with Orchid, mysterious and beautiful woman who seduces him, convincing him to join her in a heist. The job is successfully completed when Orchid decides to take hostages. She shoots Jason and then executes all the hostages, leaving him to die and take the blame.
Once on trial, Jason convinces the judge to let him catch Orchid. As he’s the only one who’s seen her and is alive to tell it, the judge agrees. She releases him to Special Agent in Charge, Taylor Driscole. Taylor doesn’t like thieves and something about Jason has her back up. Instead of seeing this job as a step up, she sees it as an unimportant babysitting job. The men on her team are trying to be friendly to the young thief, but Taylor really can’t stand him. Needless to say, first impressions haven’t been favorable.
This excerpt is taken from Chapter Four. Jason is talking and having coffee with the men on the team when Taylor walks in.
“So you steal things for the excitement?” Alex asked.
“There’s a thrill when a plan comes together and you pull the perfect heist that nothing, not even sex, can equal. Not even thirty-six hours of the most amazingly orgasmic tantric sex….” He stopped abruptly as Driscole entered the room.
The men all stood as she walked in. Puzzled, she looked around until she spotted Jason. He was blushing, adjusting his pants.
“Agent Driscole,” he muttered. “Sorry.”
“Never mind.” He hoped she really hadn’t heard what he was saying.
“Nice little coffee clutch we’re having. Don’t you have a job to do?”
“Taylor, be nice,” Tim chided. “We’re having a coffee with Jason. It wouldn’t kill you to talk to the man. We’re going to be living together, we should be on polite terms, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, relax,” Greg said. “You’re too tense, Tay.”
“I suppose you think I’m uptight too?” She glared at Jason.
“No, I was simply wondering why you hate me so much. Have I offended you somehow? If so, please tell me so I can apologize.”
“You really don’t get it, do you? I became an FBI agent because I wanted to put people like you behind bars, not babysit you in your own mansion! I have better things to do, Mr. Banes.”
He was angry now. She had insulted and belittled him repeatedly and all he’d tried to do was make conversation. He’d apologized, dammit! And he hadn’t even done anything wrong!
“Like—well….” She sputtered, trying to answer that question.
“Agent Driscole, I’m a decent man when you get to know me. I’m polite, friendly and some folks even find me more than a little charming. I’m a nice bloke, me. So I steal things! I take things from rich, snooty folks who have more money than God and redistribute the wealth. I’ve never stolen from anyone who wasn’t heavily insured.”
“So, you’re trying to tell me that you’re Robin Hood, eh?”
Banes sneered. “Robin Fucking Hood? That’s who you’re comparing me to? He was a rank amateur compared to me! And he killed people. I’ve never killed anyone. Spiders in the bathroom, that’s my speed. The occasional wasp. Anyone can shoot things up and do a smash and grab. My plans are like works of art. Like symphonies and Botticelli paintings. And you’re comparing me to a man who shot the sheriff and ran around in tights. Thank you, very much, Miss Driscole!”
“You’re a thief! Where’s the artistry in that?”
“Do I insult your profession? Do I compare you to a street thug who’s only interested in shooting up the town—who feels she can do it with impunity because she’s in the FBI? Your comments to me have been less than complimentary and I want to know why.”
“I got pulled off a better job to do this,” she griped. “I’ve been removed from my other case and I don’t know why.”
“And how is working with an international task force to catch a murderous, thieving bitch less important than what you were doing? You aren’t just babysitting me, Miss Driscole. You’re protecting an important asset. I am the only man who has worked with Orchid and survived. The bitch shot me and left me for dead, then proceeded to kill six innocent people. Do you for one moment think that their lives are less important to the people who loved them? Do you think that they aren’t important to me?”
He was yelling now, mere inches from her face. Furious, he wanted to kiss her—or hit her, he wasn’t sure which. Either would have done, but neither would have been appropriate.
Driscole’s face flushed a brilliant pink. She swallowed, blinked and looked very much like she wanted to cry. Jason felt sorry for about five seconds, then his anger came back tenfold when she punched him so hard he saw stars.
Clutching his jaw with one hand, he hurled his coffee cup across the room with the other. It shattered against the wall, splattering coffee all over the room. No one made a move to clean it up. The men were watching the exchange between Jason and Taylor with mute horror.
“I’m so sorry,” Agent Driscole whispered. “Oh, Jason, I’m so terribly sorry. That was completely unprofessional.” She ran to the bathroom and got a wet washcloth for him to put on the rising bruise.
Still seeing stars, Jason shook his head slightly, trying to clear it. His ears rang, his jaw ached and the stars were starting to change colors and spin. He sat heavily on the settee, rubbing his jaw as Driscole tried to apply the cool cloth.
“Goddammit,” he grumbled. “I liked that mug.”