By: Colleen Collins
Release Blast December 3rd, 2013
After nearly destroying each other’s careers, PI-intern Val LeRoy and seasoned Las Vegas P.I. Drake Morgan are forced to work together. If each had their way, they’d walk, but when threatened by a dangerous criminal who jeopardizes their lives and families, they put aside their differences to solve the case. As the hunt for the truth intensifies and their passion rivals the triple-digit temperature, Val and Drake learn why Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps….
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Excerpt: Picking up his smartphone, Drake tapped the alarm app and set it for two a.m., which would give him time to get back to the strip club, Topaz, by three. If his brother's Porsche was there, he would go inside. But if he found the Russian gangster's Yuri’s Benz at Topaz, he'd wait and follow Yuri to wherever he went next. Sooner or later, he’d find some dirt on that Russian.
The scrape of bar stool legs against the floor interrupted his thoughts.
In the mirror behind the bar, he observed a young woman taking the seat next to him. Even in this dim lighting, her hair gleamed like metal. Dye job or a wig. She wore so much eye make-up, he couldn’t tell if her eyes were brown, black or gray.
His gaze dropped to her top, two triangles of material that sheathed round, pert breasts. A flicker of heat leapt in his chest as he caught the outline of taut nipples, one straining a triangle decorated with white stars on blue, the other overworking a triangle with red-and-white stripes.
She looked like a fourth of July celebration about to pop.
“Like my top?” she asked in a southern drawl.
With Sally, he’d been rusty at interpreting female signals, but he picked up hers more clearly than if she’d banged a gong in his ear. Just the kind of wake-up call to get outside of his funk, get back to the present.
“It goes with my skirt,” she continued as though it were a two-way conversation.
He knew better than to look, but it was like telling Bambi to stay out of the forest. The skirt was thigh-high and red. Below it, shapely legs in fishnet stockings ended in a pair of black stiletto heels with some kind of symbol on the side.
“It’s a fleur de lis,” she explained, pointing down at her shoe with a frosty-pink fingernail, “for my boys, the Saints.”
Took him a moment. “The New Orleans Saints?”
“Who dat!” She grinned so wide, he saw she had a slightly crooked front tooth, which almost gave her a sweet, naïve quality.
The operative word being almost. Sweet, naïve types didn’t wear fishnet stockings, stiletto heels and small, tight triangles into dive bars.
He looked stupidly down at his phone lying on the floor.
“I’ll get it,” she said cheerfully.
But she’d already scooted off her stool, a mass of red and fleshy curves and stars and stripes…and it was all he could to sit there and stare.
She straightened slowly, a funny look on her face.
He held out his hand for the phone.
But she didn’t return it. Instead, she shifted closer, so close he could see that her eyes were brown. A rich, warm color, like melting caramel. He eased in a slow breath, caught her scent. Fresh and soapy, as though she’d just stepped out of a shower. Surprising. These girls usually poured on the perfume.
“I’m getting a pulsation,” she whispered.
Took him a moment to realize it was an incoming call. “I don’t like ringtones,” he growled. “Keep it on vibrate. Give it to me.”
“Not a call. It’s a pulsation…” She waggled her fingers in the air. “From out there.”
He paused. “Through my phone.”
She nodded. “I’m getting a message.”
Message. He glanced back down at her outfit. Was she a stripper from Topaz? Had someone, like his brother Brax who managed the place, sent her over to deliver a message to him?
“I…don’t know a Yuri...I think it’s from…your father.”
Drake felt numb, frozen. Couldn’t move, couldn’t think. Finally, something inside thawed enough for him to speak.
“Impossible,” he rasped. His heart banged so hard and fast, his chest ached.
But she was off someplace else. She swiveled slowly on her stool, her head tipped as though listening to a faraway tune.
“He says he loves you very much.” She smiled at him.
Enough! As though jolted back to life by an electric prod, he bolted upright and blew out a lungful of air.
“Give me the damn phone.” He snatched it from her hand. He didn’t need this. Not from some whacked, high-woo-woo messenger. Was this Yuri’s idea of a sick joke?
Those big brown eyes implored him. “I didn’t mean to--”
“How much what?”
“How much money did they give you to play this game?”
She opened her slick red lips to say something, but nothing came out. The way she lowered her thick black lashes, then raised them slowly made him think of a theater curtain. He wondered what show he was going to see next. She acted like some kind of psychic nut, but he got the sense she was a lot sharper than she let on.
“What you claim to have heard could not have been my father because…” He paused, swallowed back an ache he’d been fighting all day. “He’s dead.”
Colleen Collins is an award-winning author who has written several dozen novels for Harlequin and Dorchester, as well as three indie nonfiction books on private investigations and one indie mystery, The Zen Man. When not sleuthing, Colleen loves spending time with her husband, the two of them watching one of their favorite sports teams, taking walks with their two Rottweilers (named Jack Nicholson and Aretha Franklin) and herding their three cats.