Ex-cop and now accomplished thief, Tasha Knowles has a lot of secrets. In the world they live in, it’s smart to hide the truth. When she meets Wylie Smith she knows one thing for certain. He’s trouble. She doesn’t need it or him.
Wylie doesn’t want to get involved with Tasha. She’s exactly like him. Strong, equal forces together can be devastating. But there’s something about that woman that keeps him wanting more.
Tasha pushed open the door of the house. She was tired right down to her bones. All she wanted to do was sleep. While a brothel was not the most conducive place to do that, Hilda, the current fly-by-night owner, owed her a favor, and a back room in a quiet corner re-paid that for a couple of weeks. Afterwards, Tasha would find somewhere else. She had grown up in
, the area now
being called the OC. She knew people. There was always some place she could
rest for a bit. Fortitude
She stripped off her clothes, tossing them on the faded burgundy carpet as she went. The only thing she took with her was her gun. It was the most reliable friend she had. The shower in the small bathroom was worse than useless with its vague trickle of water but it was better than nothing. She placed the gun on the old enameled sink and turned on the shower taps before stepping under the lukewarm water. She wanted to try and wash away the streets and the man from her.
Tasha placed her hands on the old, crazed cream tiles and pushed her back and ass back against the reluctant stream from the shower head. The man? That had been different. The kiss? Real different. The hands on her breasts? It had scared the crap out of her. The last man who put his hands on her and discovered she had only one breast had called her a freak but said he would ‘still fuck her because she had a hole to fill.’ She had pulled her gun on him and told him to go ‘fuck himself.’ Even though she would swear blind it hadn’t, it wounded Tasha deeply. While she knew bodies were just parts and she expected no one to have perfect ones, Tasha didn’t want to feel that sort of rejection again.
Tasha lifted her head when she heard the door to her room open. She had very good hearing. It was one of the things she knew could save her life. Tasha turned around and stepped out of the shower. She left the water running so whoever was out in her room would think she was oblivious to their being there. She reached for a small, threadbare towel that covered the basics and wrapped it around her body. Her gun was the next thing she grabbed. She hadn’t shot a man since she was in service but she would if she had to. Tasha stepped through the door, gun drawn and looked at the man standing beside the bed. “Oh for fuck sake. What is it with you?”
“Are you following me?” He asked with a crooked grin.
“Yeah right like I have nothing else to do with my time. And, might I add the bleeding obvious, that you’re in my home.” Such as it was.
He looked around him and then back at her, denim blue eyes alive with interest, “Okay then. I’ll admit it. I’m following you.”
She looked from his still bloody face to his torn shirt. “Why?”
“’Been thinking about you.”
Tasha narrowed her eyes. “Why?”
“You interest me,” he responded sitting down on the bed.
“Why?” she repeated, knowing there was so much more to what was going on.
He raised his eyebrow. “Are you always so suspicious?”
“As suspicious as you are.” That’s what kept them both alive.
The man grinned at that. “Touché. But the thing is I fancy you.”
Tasha snorted and looked at him like he was mad. “You don’t know me.” And one moment of chocolate sweet kisses did not make an acquaintanceship. “How did you get in here?”
“The madam on the door can be bought for very little money.”
Yeah, that sounded like Hilda. Time to find a new place to live. Tasha blew out a sigh. “Okay, I’m going to give this to you straight. I don’t pick up strangers to have sex with.”
“When we kissed did it feel like we were strangers?”
No. It hadn’t. It felt right, which in itself had been scary. “I don’t do sex.” Craving it was one thing. Rejection was another. She wasn’t into pain.
“Is it because you lost a breast?”
Tasha staggered under the simplicity of his words and the look of caring in his eyes. No man had ever come right out and acknowledged it. “Er—”
“When did it happen?”
“Does it matter?” It wouldn’t change anything. She wasn’t whole and she didn’t want to be embarrassed by any man’s disgust.
“Yeah. Tell me.”
She looked at him in wonder. “Who are you?”
“Wylie Smith. And you are?”
He was calm, battered and acting like they were at the tea party. It was surreal and strangely disarming. Normally she would have been ready to do battle with anyone who invaded her home. But this man? He was different. Why? I dunno. “Tasha Knowles.”
“Drop the towel, Tasha Knowles.”