Welcome back readers! Today we’ll be looking at the second story in the Dangerous Passions box set written by… who was it again? Oh right, me! This is something a little different from my usual writing, so I hope you enjoy my undercover mafia thriller, In Too Deep!
Angel is experienced in a lot of things… but love isn’t one of them.
Angel has been deep undercover in the mob for too many years. Love is the last thing on her mind. Until Frank walks into her life once again. She almost fell in love with him four years ago, but had to betray him to the mob to protect her cover. He barely got away with his life, and now he hates her.
Too bad they’ve been partnered to work together. As man and wife.
Dangerous Passions eBook box set releases March 3rd for the special price of $0.99! Preorder today!!
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He had to get out. Now. The thought sizzled through Frank’s brain like a current of electricity, while across the crowded ballroom the subject of his turmoil calmly played her game. Stunning in her shimmering blue gown, she glittered like a precious gem in this setting of the rich and elite.
Emotions clashed and careened wildly within him. Was that really Angel? The woman he had once loved. The woman he had hated for four long years. He couldn’t be sure.
He had never wanted to see her again and yet now he couldn’t stop staring at this woman who looked so much like her. His mind screamed retreat while his burning emotions demanded confrontation. Frozen by his doubt, he forced himself to linger until he could determine her identity.
A waiter hovered by a circle of guests offering hor d’oeuvres, cutting off Frank’s view of the woman. The room swam back into focus, and he damned the Bureau for forcing him to spend his first night in New York at this glitzy, shallow party. But they’d given him no choice. Somewhere in this room his new partner waited to meet him. If the woman really was Angel…. He hooked his index finger in the collar of his white, pleated shirt and tugged. He didn’t even want to think about the disaster that would cause.
All about him people tossed chips around and laughed, careless of how much they lost. The theme was Monte Carlo, the aim to raise money for cancer. Frank chose to observe. Gambling went along with his job—along with the requisite losses.
The waiter moved, and he gazed again at the woman in the blue dress.
At least once, he’d lost more than he could afford.
His gaze followed the curves outlined by the iridescent blue gown. So far, he’d only seen her from the side. She stood at the roulette table. Her dark hair, sleekly pulled to the back of her head with a gold clip, shone in the soft light. Could Angel have tamed her riotous curls into a smooth coil like that? Probably not. His eyes narrowed. The graceful curve of her neck looked the same.
As she turned around and leaned over the table to scoop up the chips she’d just won, laughing, revealing the deep crevice in the dip of her neckline, his pulse lurched. Surely the woman didn’t realize how much flesh she exposed. Every man near her did, however. Because, just like Angel, she had a generous amount of cleavage to expose.
It couldn’t be Angel. The last time he’d seen her had been in Hawaii.
Hawaii. Four years ago. He’d gone to the island on a case, following the notorious drug lord Domenic Cavaglione. Frank’s department had known something big was planned when Cavaglione headed there for an extended vacation. Frank and his partner had been dispatched to keep an eye on the suspect’s activities. Cavaglione had spent the first few weeks attending a few closed meetings, but basically biding his time.
Frank and his partner had cycled shifts watching their target and Frank used the dead time to work on his tan and enjoy the sights. He’d soon found a sight worth watching in the beach front cabin three down from his. Angel Tortina.
He remembered the first time he’d seen her. With her long curls swirling around her shoulders, she’d been wearing a bright crimson bikini that made his heart pump triple time. Her legs were long and shapely and she was generously curved in all the right places. With a figure most women would die for, she still maintained an air of sweet innocence that attracted him far more than mere physical attributes, though he couldn’t deny that her body enticed him. After all, he was a normal, healthy male.
He’d made a point of meeting her and for three weeks they’d spent time together, enjoying each other’s company, getting to know each other. She’d been just an interesting diversion—until he realized he was falling in love with her.
Sweet Angel. His body had ached for her. So many times he had come close to sweeping her up and carrying her back to one of their cabins to make passionate love, but her delicate, hesitant kisses told him she was…inexperienced. If he’d had more time, if he hadn’t been on a job… He’d wanted to be the one to show her the ways of love.
Then he’d found out who she was—and who she worked for. Cavaglione!
Even then, smitten as he was, he’d actually believed Angel could never be involved in illegal activities, that somehow she had been unaware of her boss’ shady dealings. Frank didn’t want to remember what had happened after that. He’d been a fool! He’d never made such a grave mistake in his life. He was lucky it hadn’t been a fatal mistake, not only for himself but for his partner, too.
A burst of laughter nearby dragged Frank back to the present. He grabbed his drink and gulped it down, trying to drown the bitter taste of self-disgust.
* * *
Angel knew she was being watched. A person couldn’t get very far in her business without developing a special sense about these things. She glanced around and saw a scowling man thump his drink on the table, then glare into the liquid depths. Had it been him? She continued scanning the room. She knew that prickly feeling.
She stacked her chips in four neat piles. One white, two red, and one short pile of blue. She picked up a red one and tossed it onto the square marked fifteen. Fifteen? That had been her cabin number in Hawaii. She frowned. Why would that come back to her now after so many years?
Again, she felt the prickle and glanced up, unconsciously fixing on the same man she’d noticed earlier. His expression neutral now, he stared at someone two tables over, yet Angel was sure she’d seen his focus shift slightly when she’d locked her gaze onto him.
His features were obscured by the dim light. Staring intently, she could make out an angular jaw, dark, wavy hair cut short on the sides and longer on the top, and eyebrows that angled up and away from his straight nose. He reminded her of the one man she’d do anything to forget.
But of course this wasn’t Frank. As far as she knew, he was still in California. This man just resembled Frank. She stared down at her hands and realized she was flipping a chip over and over between her fingers. The croupier declared final bets before starting the wheel.
Frank represented an episode in her life she’d rather not think about. He had fallen in love with her and he’d gotten hurt. Well, damn it, that wasn’t her fault. Fool. You should have stayed away from him as soon as you started to fall for him.
Glancing at the ball spinning round the wheel, she sipped her wine spritzer. Right now she had enough to cope with in her job without worrying about a ghost from her past. Her current task was at a standstill and her boss planned to bring someone else on to work with her. She had a very bad feeling about that.
The clink of the ball into its final destination triggered a groan from the man next to her.
“Fifteen. You won again.” The woman beside Angel nudged her.
Angel focused on the new pile of chips the croupier pushed toward her and started to sort and stack them neatly onto her piles. She glanced in the direction of the scowling man and this time their gazes clashed.
Good Lord, it was Frank! She knocked down two of her piles as her hand flew to her chest.
He started to get up. Panic flared within her. He was coming to confront her! No, not here! He couldn’t!
After what she’d done to him, how he’d looked at her with murderous intent the last time she’d seen him, she realized he could. And would.
Her heart pounded against the wall of her chest as she stepped back from the table, trying to ignore her roiling stomach. She’d scanned the ballroom for all the exits earlier, a precaution she always took.
“Ma’am. Don’t forget your chips.”
Her attention flickered away from Frank’s intent gaze for a fraction of a second and she glanced at the croupier.
“I…uh… Take them as a donation.” She waved her hands distractedly.
He smiled and swept them away from her into the house pot. “That’s very generous, ma’am. Have a good evening.”
She glanced back toward Frank, expecting him to be closing the distance between them. But he was no where to be seen. She glanced around and saw a broad, tuxedo-covered back disappear out a side exit.