The Elite Crimes Unit works behind the scenes of Interpol—and employs some of the world’s most talented criminal minds. Because as everyone knows, it takes a thief to catch a thief—or to seduce one . . .
The old farmhouse in the French countryside is a refuge for former jewel thief Josephine Deveraux. Admittedly, there aren’t many men in the vicinity, but she has her cat to cuddle up with. It’s a far cry from her former life, constantly running from the law, and she’s enjoying her peace . . . until the intruder in the three-piece suit tackles her. He wants her back in the game, helping with a heist—and he’s not above making threats to get his way.
Little does Josephine know that notorious—and notoriously charming—thief, Xavier Lambert, is after the very same 180-carat prize she’s being blackmailed to steal. To his chagrin, he’s doing it not as a free agent, but as a member of the Elite Crimes Unit—the team he was forced to join when his brilliant career came to a sudden end. And little does Xavier know that his comeback is about to include a stranger’s kiss, a stinging slap, and a hunt for missing treasure—along with the infuriatingly sexy woman who’s outfoxing him . . .
Two days later, Josephine took a cab back to Jean-Hugues’s place. She’d set up in the Paris safe house and had contacted Dmitri. It would take a week to relocate her to Berlin. She didn’t look forward to that—she didn’t speak German and the city was dismal—but it wasn’t permanent. A quick layover that would provide much-needed misdirection. All that mattered was getting out of France and going under.
How Lincoln had managed to keep tabs on her was incredible. She’d been careful. Since moving to France with her mother when she was eight, she’d never been issued a driver’s license or ID card. No internet presence, not even a credit card. The only phones she used were pre-paid burners. Of course, she should have expected Lincoln would not let her leave so easily. He’d been infatuated with her. So quickly. It had freaked the hell out of her. She’d refused his marriage proposal after dating only four weeks. She wasn’t the marrying type. Domesticity gave her the hives. Sharing her life with a man sounded so evasive. Since giving up thievery, she liked to keep her head down and her ass out of trouble. And Lincoln wanting her to step back onto the scene now was not keeping her head down.
She directed the cabbie to turn off the headlights so they didn’t shine through her neighbor’s bedroom window, then told him she’d be right out. She headed up the walkway, then stopped.
The front door was open. Instinctively, Josephine’s hand went to the gun she’d tucked in the back of her leather pants. While she didn’t like guns, sometimes they were necessary. She pulled out the small pistol she favored and held it pointed down near her thigh. She stepped over the cracked stone threshold.
A groan sounded from the living room. She hurried in to find the old man sitting on the wood floor before the smoldering fireplace. Blood dribbled from his forehead and had stained his upper lip. He smiled up at her, but then winced.
“Jean-Hugues, what happened? When did this happen?” It must have been Lincoln. Had to be. Had she passed him on the road coming here?
“They were here not too long ago. I am so sorry, Josephine.
They took Chloe.”
Heart dropping, she bent before Jean-Hugues and touched his forehead. He’d been punched, and probably cut with a ring. Not a deep cut, but it must hurt terribly.
“A man with dark hair asked for you. I told him I didn’t know where you were. He had two thugs with him. Why did they take the cat?” he asked, spreading his hands. “I don’t understand.”
It was a means to force her to do the job. Lincoln was a ruthless bastard.
Hurting an old man to get to her was beyond cruel.
“I’m sorry, Jean-Hugues. Let me get that first-aid kit out of your bathroom and we’ll take care of you.”
“No, I am fine. Just a cut and maybe a few bruised ribs.”
“They beat you?” She stood and pressed the gun grip against her temple. “That bastard.”
“Why do you have a gun, Josephine? Who were those men?” Josephine clenched her jaw. “My past.”
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Michele Hauf has been writing romance, action-adventure and fantasy stories for over twenty years. Her first published novel was Dark Rapture (Zebra). France, musketeers, vampires and faeries populate her stories. And if she followed the adage “write what you know,” all her stories would have snow in them. Fortunately, she steps beyond her comfort zone and writes about countries she has never visited and of creatures she has never seen.
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