by Chelle Bliss & Brenda Rothert
*STANDALONE – ENEMIES TO LOVERS ROMANCE**
Agent: Kennedy Barnes
Target: Phoenix ‘Nix’ Ash
Crimes: Hacker and Heartbreaker
Mission: Get Close and Survive
After living her life in the shadows as the daughter of a congressman’s secret affair, Kennedy Barnes joins ‘Project Greenlight’ – a clandestine intelligence organization. She’s out to prove she’s more than her father’s dirty secret.
One of her first assignments is simple. Get close to Phoenix Ash, collect enough evidence to put him away for life, and get out unscathed.
Phoenix Ash is a world renowned hacker. He’s pulled off some of the biggest heists in modern history, but never leaves a trace. He knows people are after him and that every day may be his last, but when he meets Kennedy Barnes everything changes.
Lines are blurred and secrets are exposed as Phoenix and Kennedy both discover they do have a weakness – for each other.
This is a STANDALONE novel, but is interconnected with Dirty Work, which is now available.
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“Come on, Nix. Just do this favor for me once.”
Carlito’s pitiful when he begs, but it’s not enough to sway me. Even though I’ve known him for two years, I still don’t trust him. “It’s too risky.”
Carlito has been on the scene for years, well established by the time I found my way into the Loft. He’s been known to deal in stolen goods, but his area of expertise usually involves massive caches of weapons. Not just guns, the big stuff too—AKs, grenade launchers, and even anti-aircraft shit. I’ve steered clear of him whenever possible. Even criminals like me have lines we don’t like to cross, and Carlito typically straddles the imaginary boundary I laid down.
“Not for a pro like you,” he argues, and I’m becoming irritated. “It’s a simple bank transaction.” His thick Spanish accent, slicked-back brown hair, and off-white leisure suit straight out of an old-school gangster film make him stick out like a sore thumb.
“There’s no such thing as simple, Carlito. Not in our world.” I turn my drink in my hands, making patterns against the cold steel table, bored with the conversation. “It’s a mistake too many people make.”
“I never knew you were a pussy, Nix.” When he says pussy, it comes out more like puh-say.
“Think what you want. Why don’t you go ask Grim? He’s been looking for some extra cash.”
“I already did.” He licks his two middle fingers and runs them over his bushy black eyebrows and scans the room. “I think I’ll go ask Freckles. She’s always up for a challenge.”
My eyes follow his, sweeping through the crowd to find Freckles. “I thought you said it was easy.”
“For you, it would be a piece of cake, but for anyone else…” His voice trails off as he slides out of the booth. “Catch ya later, Nix. Thanks for nothin’.”
I wave him off, but I keep my eyes on him as he makes his way across the room. He’s schmoozing the crowd, shaking hands and drawing attention to himself. It’s classic Carlito. Most people here want to lie low, but not him. He wants to be known. Wants people to like him. Every time I see him walking free, I’m amazed his ass isn’t behind bars from his need to be seen.
He gives a quick nod to Icepick, a man who has a thirst for blood that’d rival any vampire, and keeps moving. Smart move. Icepick isn’t the man for his job unless it involves making someone disappear, which it doesn’t.
When he stops in front of Freckles’s table and says a few words, he glances in my direction and she turns to look at me. I wink, and she gives me a wicked smile before turning back to Carlito. Freckles and I collaborated a few times, but she has no problem with arms dealers or anything that may negatively impact anyone but her. She’s all about the mighty dollar and could give a fuck about anything else.
She’s sizing him up and twirling her shoulder-length curly hair around her index finger as he chatters on, waving his hands wildly when he speaks.
Her nickname is cute, though her skills are anything but. She’s a notorious thief, but she has genius computer skills and could help him out if he earned her trust. Motioning with her hand to the seat next to her, she gives Carlito a small smile, signaling she will at least hear his proposal.
Leaning back in the booth, I place an arm across the back and lift the glass of Louis XIII Cognac to my lips, sipping it slowly and savoring every drop. I’m still watching them when Wolf steps into my line of sight. “Been a while since I’ve seen you, buddy. Can I sit?”
I nod. Wolf’s been missing for over a month, and I assumed he was arrested and turned. Normally, I wouldn’t be suspicious if someone from the Loft disappeared, but Wolf, he was too close to me to be missing without as much as a text message. “Where ya been?”
“Here and there.” He gives me a big, toothy grin and waves over the waitress. “You know how it is.” His head bobs when he shrugs.
“I do,” I tell him because I want to believe he was just out of reach, but there’s something off about his behavior tonight.
I’ve known Wolf for three years. It’s a small chunk of time, but in our world, it’s a lifetime. People come and go, disappearing because of death or prison, and time is usually counted in weeks instead of years. The best in our industry find ways to stay under the radar, and much like me, Wolf has found a way. At least, I thought so until he vanished without a trace.
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Chelle Bliss, USA Today Bestselling author, currently lives in a small town near the Gulf of Mexico. She’s a full-time writer, time-waster extraordinaire, social media addict, and coffee fiend. She’s written over thirteen books and has three series available. She loves spending her free time with her boyfriend, 2 cats, and her hamster.
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