Read Hell on the Heart Online

Authors: Nancy Brophy

Hell on the Heart

Hell on the Heart
Nancy Brophy
Nancy Brophy (2011)

Two men. One has goodness, the other only the appearance of it. Like flip sides of a coin, one represents every girl’s dream, handsome and rich. While the other lives an isolated existence, scarred and damaged from a life lived in the trenches. Both are hunters. Both are hunted. And both want the same woman.

Czigany “Cezi” Romney is perfectly happy. Yes, she’d have liked to have graduated high school, perhaps even attended college and become a CSI rather than working for her father and Uncle as an asthmatic sidekick. But leaving Armadillo Creek would be impossible. A gypsy without family would be like a ship without a rudder - directionless, unable to function. Her family loves her, but struggle to contain their disapproval of her unorthodox behavior and worst of all, she’s still single, childless and her chances of marriage are waning quickly. Eighteen is practically over the hill. At twenty-six many doubt anyone would want her.

At thirty-four, Stillwater is a seasoned federal agent who has come up through the military and special ops. His scarred face reflects the life of man dedicated to protecting his country. Currently FBPA Agent John Stillwater and his team suspect they are dealing with a nationwide white slavery ring, but lack evidence to prove it. A murder in a nowhere town in Texas leads John to investigate with his team, who are as close as any family, but still he’s careful not pry into their lives outside of work. John is not a monk. He likes women, but chooses those who understand his rules: don’t bother settling in, you’ll be gone by the morning. But the missing women in his current case wear on his soul. His ability to initiate even a casual relationship is inhibited by how aware he has become of the dangers woman face with every guy they meet.

Cain McIntosh’s career is making him rich. In his chauffeur-driven limo, his tailored suits, his ten thousand dollar watch and his private jet, Cain visits different towns each week and finds the girl of his dreams. Or so he says as he convinces her to come home with him and meet his family. Unfortunately, the girl who agrees to go, knowing she will be the envy of her friends, is never heard from again. His perfect operation grinds to a halt by a short gypsy woman who deflates his ego and a large Fed agent’s relentless pursuit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell On The Heart

 
By
 
Nancy Brophy

 

~~~~~~~
 
Published by Nancy Brophy
At Amazon
 
~~~~~~~
 
Hell On The Heart
 
Copyright © 2011 Nancy Brophy
 
Chapter One
Armadillo Creek, Texas

With one hand gripping the slender branch, Cezi Romney stretched until only her fingers clung to the rough bark as she peered through the thick leaves of the sycamore tree to the ground far below.

Her breath tumbled out in short gasps from the quick scramble up the ladder and across the bathroom roof only to discover she had limited her options. A tree limb no more substantial than a PVC pipe extended almost to the roof line, so with a small leap, she tiptoed across the branch, muttering both swear words and protection spells each step of the way.

After stashing her purse and shoes in a lower notch of the branches, she climbed another ten or so feet skyward into a tree that did not welcome her intrusion.

Cezi concentrated on breathing deeper, slower and quieter. Nothing could be done about the deafening noise of her heart as it careened through her chest crashing into her ribs. How could she not think of herself as a fool when this scenario was the ideal fodder for an intelligence community training video.

What Not To Do starring Czigany Romney.

FBI recruits would take turns pointing out exactly where she went wrong.

Not that she was FBI or any one of the other alphabet soup groups that protected the country. Government law-enforcement agencies had stringent requirements in hiring that precluded an asthmatic, twenty-six-year-old, high school dropout whose idea of a clever hiding place was an enclosed playground.

As a nearly-licensed Private Investigator who worked for the family business, she followed cheating husbands. And wasn’t that the complete opposite of being a CSI?

So how had she ended up on a moonlit night, twenty-five feet above the ground, hiding from a man, good-looking enough to rival Hollywood’s leading men and so scary she used every ounce of self-survival instinct to protect herself?

“Oh, little thief. Come out, come out wherever you are.” The deep voice turned the singsong chant sinister.

His words annoyed her in the way a buzzing wasp would make her want to shake and squirm, but they also kept her tightly focused.

Waiting him out wasn’t working. For the past ten minutes, he’d circled, his shoes striking the concrete surrounding the wood-chip playground as he rattled the locked bathroom doors and checked the hard plastic and metal swings and slides to locate her hiding spot.

“Are you playing games?” His inflection dropped to a lower pitch, more sensual. He planned to seduce her out of hiding? “You like games? I know a lot of games we can play.”

She bet he did, but his intent was more serious than consulting a bankruptcy attorney when she could no longer afford to own Boardwalk and Park Place.

Why wouldn’t he just go away? Then she could laugh about this whole adventure and her life could return to normal. The evening hadn’t been a total loss. She’d figured out the top five rules she’d incorporate in the future, should this situation ever arise again.

Rule number five. NEVER get distracted from the job paying your salary. Following cheating spouses bored her, but she hadn’t ended up being hounded by a man who appeared to have a handle on crazy.

Rule number four. Good looks did not equal good intentions. Cain McIntosh, the man stalking below, was hands-down gorgeous and she came from a family of hunky guys. Fifteen annoying male cousins had women falling at their feet, but none could compete with this guy in the pretty-boy department. Yet, every one of them she’d trust with her life. This man made her sphincter tighten with fear.

“Come out, little thief, while you can. If I find you first, I’m going to have to punish you. Come out now, and I’ll make sure we both enjoy it.”

The truth of her mother’s words struck home. If temptation were easy to resist, who would care?

Like a melody his words floated to her. “Ah-h. So you like the chase. What happens when you get caught? Is being tied up one of your secret fantasies?”

The squeaking sound of metal scrapping against metal made her pause. The swings? How long could checking the playground equipment take? Coming here was the worst idea she’d ever had.

Rule number three. Learn self-defense. Being manhandled in public was mortifying. Worse, it made her relinquish control. In a family of dominating men, she’d learned to stand her ground in verbal spats. But this wasn’t a man who gave a rip about how well she argued. He reverted to the age-old male theory - might makes right.

“Are you touching yourself, little thief? Longing to be turned over my knee and spanked? You’re being very naughty. You want to be punished, don’t you?”

No, she didn’t.

Rule number two. Don’t be greedy. He had pissed her off when he’d grabbed her breast. So she’d lifted his wallet, cell phone and watch. She’d resorted to petty theft when she only needed his wallet.

“You know what’s going to happen when I find you?” The door handle of the bathroom rattled as though it had magically unlocked itself since he’d tried three minutes earlier.

“I’m going to spread your legs and lap up all of your sweet cream until you scream my name. You’ll like that. Coming over and over again. Being at my mercy as I torture orgasm after orgasm from you.”

Cezi clutched her knees together. His words were intended to be sexy, but they failed. She wasn’t a woman men bothered to seduce. For one thing her male cousins didn’t let anyone get close, but the real reason was she didn’t inspire men to reckless statements.

Should she just go down and give him back his stuff? He hadn’t done anything to merit her stealing from him. And he didn’t appear mad now. Just horny. She shifted her weight grabbing a thick twig for support. The snapping of the wood as the thin branch gave way echoed in the night air.

Cezi froze. Had he heard the noise over the hum of the nearby air conditioners, the scrunching sounds of tires on blacktop, or the continuous chirping of crickets. Unable to see him, she worried he stood directly under the tree peering up into the branches.

Powerful bikes roared. Harleys? Headed this way? She bit her lower lip. The engines ground to a halt nearby. Cezi leaned over, clinging to the branches to locate Cain’s position.

The crunching sound of leather-soled shoes on woodchips alerted her to his presence. Parting the leaves she searched the ground below her, finally seeing him as he strode toward the gate. Was he leaving?

Her sigh of relief was premature. Two men, looking like Hell’s Angel recruits, stepped inside the playground. Cain wasn’t going anywhere; he’d called for backup. And that brought home her number one rule. Never ignore her inner voice that told her to be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

“Heard you had a problem.”

Cain shushed them and spoke in a low tone, so she couldn’t distinguish his words. He gestured around the area and didn’t point toward the tree, which made her breath come easier. His men scanned the playground without leaving their position.

Cain’s posturing was a lie. The fact he’d called in re-enforcements upped her anxiety. Why was he so concerned about a few personal items? Granted the cash in his wallet, thirteen hundred and twelve dollars, was more money than she ever had, but had he been robbed, would he have tracked the muggers as intently? Despite the cool night air, she wiped sweat off her upper lip and her forehead.

One of the men reached around his back and handed a Cain a gun. The blued barrel glinted off the street light before disappearing into the waistband. Both newcomers snapped on headgear. Night vision goggles?

Cezi’s stomach rolled and she swallowed back the bitter taste of bile. These guys weren’t fooling around. Hell, they’d be able to tell where she was even in the trees from the heat her body gave off. She wouldn’t have to come down. They could shoot her out of the tree.

Her own idiocy trapped her. No way out, but up. And that offered little enticement other than a farther drop. She untangled her body from the branch and tentatively placed her foot on the closest climb, grateful for her tomboy childhood.

Three men armed with night goggles and weapons to bring her down and she didn’t have so much as a nail file.

The gate creaked and clanged closed again. Shifting her position, she pushed another branch aside so she could see. The younger blond man from the bar, the second best-looking guy she’d ever seen stood at the entrance - Cain’s partner in crime. Although she wasn’t quite sure what the crime was.

Prior to seeing the limo, the blond man started this mess by getting Ellie Parker drunk. Where had he been and where was Ellie? What had they done with the limo?

Cain mumbled and the blond man snarled back. “Yeah, I took care of it.”

Even from the trees she could see these men weren’t BFF. Took care of it? Took care of what?

A loud crash startled her. Her body jerked. Had one arm not been draped around a substantial branch, she’d have tumbled toward the earth. She glanced down through the tangle of branches below her.

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