I’m a wanted jewel thief.
What’s that saying? Keep your friends close…and your husband closer.
Being married to a federal agent certainly has its perks.
1. I just love the way that man looks in a suit.
2. This way I always know what the enemy is up to.
Spending my days lifting jewels and my nights tracking the Bureau should have been a genius plan. But the closer I get to Grant Emerson, the more dangerous this feels. With two million dollars’ worth of diamonds on the line, I can’t afford to fall for my own husband.
It turns out that the only thing worse than having a mortal enemy is being married to one. Because in our game of theft and seduction, only one of us will come out on top.
Good thing a cat burglar always lands on her feet.
“You mean he literally helped the old woman across the street?” I released an unladylike cackle and sat back in the corner booth of the Whiskey Room, where I currently held court with Simon and two other agents from their department. “As in, stopped the protesters, took her arm, and escorted her through an armed militia?”
“On my honor.” The smallest of the trio—a techy guy in plastic-rimmed glasses named Nathan who I was developing a minor crush on—held up his hand. “To this day, it remains one of the most surreal feats I’ve seen performed on the job. He was like Moses parting the Red Sea. And I’ve seen some crazy stuff, so you know that’s big.”
I wanted to ask him what some of those feats might be—just out of curiosity—but although liquor had loosened this group’s collective tongue enough to share Grant’s more impressive exploits, they were still a federal-looking bunch. And, yes, people can look federal. It’s all in the shoulders. Even Nathan, who clearly spent most of his time hunched over a keyboard, looked like he could handle himself on the mats.
If their impressive statures weren’t convincing enough, you only had to listen. In all my time among the men in black, one of the things that stood out the most was the way they paused a fraction of a second before speaking, running their entire dialogue through some kind of official internal checkpoint first.
“Okay, but that doesn’t really count,” I said. I turned my brightest smile toward the man on the end—Paulie, his friends called him, though the best I could tell, his name was actually Bernard. He looked more like a Paulie, with a calm air and a Hawaiian shirt I was pretty sure wasn’t regulation uniform. “That’s the kind of story a guy’s friends are prepped ahead of time to tell his girlfriend so she gets all swoony inside. I want to know the dirty stuff. The stuff he wouldn’t want his mother to know.”
“It’s classified.” Simon, who’d been characteristically silent until that point, narrowed his eyes at me. “We couldn’t tell you even if we wanted to.”
I was fast learning that an FBI agent and his partner forged similar bonds to those between a jewel thief and her cohorts. The two men worked together, sparred together, shot at targets together, pitched themselves into life-and-death situations together. They were understandably tight. And protective.
Just as Riker and Grant had never warmed up to each other, so too did I have a hard time sharing a room with Simon without feeling the urge to squirm and check my teeth for diamonds. I had the feeling he knew as much about my life as Grant did…and had about one-tenth as much appreciation for it.
“Well, I already know he’ll abandon a girl out in the sticks of New York the second one of you idiots call.” I smiled to show there were no hard feelings. Nathan, bless his bow tie-wearing heart, blushed. “I know he’s habitually late meeting his girlfriend for dates, and I know he sometimes works for so many hours straight, he actually slurs his words.”
I tapped my chin coyly and tried to come up with more seemingly innocent facts about Grant’s professional life, but they were surprisingly difficult to conjure. Most of the things I knew about his past had been gleaned the unethical way, via Oz and Riker and a search through the deepest, darkest parts of the Internet, and I didn’t care to share the things I knew that weren’t work related.
Call me sentimental, but I wanted to keep the wooing to myself, clutched to my heart and cherished in ways that would have shamed the Penelope Blue of a few months ago. Riker and Oz knew almost nothing about the dates Grant took me on, and Jordan got the blacked-out version, but there was fodder for a hundred journal entries, complete with swirly lines and googly-eyed hearts.
So far, Grant had taken me to eighteen dinners, seven lunches, one long, romantic walk along the docks—the ones of the near-drowning wharf job, in case you were wondering—and spent an entire afternoon teaching me to shoot ducks in a carnival game at Coney Island. I was a terrible shot, a fact that had afforded him infinite amusement, and he solemnly vowed to protect me from any and all future gunfire, since I was clearly useless on my own.
He’d also returned my dad’s record in mint condition, as promised. He’d hunted down the original cover and presented it a few weeks before with a shiny red bow. I didn’t cry or anything embarrassing like that, but I came close when he put the record on and twirled me around my apartment floor, the pair of us dancing beneath tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
In short, he was perfect. Ever since that day at the antique store, he’d been attentive, interested, and not the least bit pushy. It was starting to freak me out. He didn’t push for information about my dad, he didn’t push me to stop stealing things, and he didn’t push for anything more than the occasional knee-knocking kiss before sending me on my way. It was like he was on a lengthy stakeout, and I was the building he needed to watch.
Not enter, mind you. Just watch.
I meant that as euphemistically as possible. There was no entering happening in this building at all—and the building was seriously gagging for it.
Penelope Blue series:
Stealing Mr. Right (Book 1)
Saving Mr. Perfect (Book 2)
Seeking Mr. Wrong (Book 3)
About the author:
Tamara Morgan is a contemporary romance author of humorous, heartfelt stories with flawed heroes and heroines designed to get your hackles up and make your heart melt. Her long-lived affinity for romance novels survived a B.A. degree in English Literature, after which time she discovered it was much more fun to create stories than analyze the life out of them.