Today, author Chandra Ryan is sharing with us a first meeting scene that didn’t quite make it in to Ink in the Blood.
Not Quite a Meet Cute
Agent Phinney stared at the woman in front of him. He thought she’d be tough, jaded and would wear the scars of her life on her skin like a road map to ruin. He’d been in the company of enough junkies to know the look. But she didn’t have any of the classic signs of addiction. If he saw her on the street, he wouldn’t even look twice at her.
He snorted at the obvious lie. Of course he’d look twice. But not because he thought she was a criminal. He’d give her a second glance in hopes of catching her attention. With her thick red hair and porcelain skin, the woman was stunning. Nothing about her appearance would’ve set off any alarms. She would’ve slipped right under his radar. But she was a criminal. He had the rap sheet to prove it.
His hand rested on a simple manila folder that held a record of every one of her arrests. And there were quite a few. “Do we have a deal, Ms. Rathe?”
“I bring you Minshouse and you give me a clean slate?”
Wary distrust battled with hope in her eyes as she stared him down. She didn’t trust him any more than he trusted her. “That’s the offer.”
“I’ve been out of that world for a very long time, agent. I might not be able to count on my old contacts.”
He laughed outright at her statement. “You don’t have to play innocent with me. I know your name. With a father like yours, you can’t be that far out.”
Her expression became so cold that he would’ve sworn the temperature in the room just dropped five degrees. “My name is Isabella, agent. I haven’t been a Rathe since my father abandoned me and my sister to the foster system.” She stood slowly and the sound of the chair scratching against the tile floor sent a shiver down his spine. “I’ll forgive the oversight since it took me some time to see that the drugs he pumps onto the streets are the only thing Dominik Rathe loves. I can’t really expect a perfect stranger to see what I didn’t. But only this once.” She leaned forward and braced her hands on the desk so she was looking down at him. “Dominik Rathe is many things. But he’s no longer my father. Got it?”
Staring up at her icy anger, he believed he did. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Good.” She pushed off the desk and stood in front of him. “I’ll do what I can to help you find Minshouse under one condition.”
“We’re already giving you a clean slate, isn’t that enough?”
“It’s kind of you to offer, and a clean slate would be nice. But you need me. I don’t need a clean slate.” She sat gracefully on the edge of the desk, her skirt hem hiking up at the movement and exposing a long length of creamy skin.
“Okay, what do you need?”
“While I’m hunting down Minshouse, you’ll build a case against my father and his right-hand man. That way, when I bring them to you, you’ll be able to put them away. For good.”
“His right-hand man? You mean—”
“My half-brother,” she corrected.
He couldn’t look away from her. Her poise and strength were breathtaking. “They’re untouchable. People have died going after them.”
“People have suffered worse fates at their hands than death, agent. And it’s time they were stopped.”
What he was about to agree to was beyond insane. But he had a feeling it was the only way to get her to work with them. And they did need her to find Minshouse. “If you bring me Alex or Dominik, I’ll have a case ready. One that will send them away for good.”
“I look forward to working with you.” She slid off the desk and held her hand out to seal the deal. As he took it, the sharp current of attraction that swept through him made him wonder if he’d just made a huge mistake.
Still, he had to say something. “Likewise.” As he watched her saunter out of his office, he began to worry that Isabella Rathe was more woman than he could handle.
Giveaway: A digital copy of Bond Betrayed (the sequel to Ink in the Blood). Leave a comment to enter. Contest ends August 11, 2013 at 11:59PM EDT.
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