Dangerous Love(2)

By: Penny Wylder

See what I mean? A criminal, but an honorable one.

Dad’s only mistake in planning was asking Damon Tell to be his right hand man for the job. The plan was simple: Damon would go in and do the talking with the owner. Hold the gun up to his head, have him fill our bags with cash, then meet my father out front in the getaway car. Dad says he didn’t even plan on having Damon carry the gun loaded. That way, no accidents could happen.

My father’s cardinal rule no killing. We steal, we lie, we cheat, but we never murder.

Until that day. Until the morning of the heist, when everything went wrong.

According to Dad, he parked outside the bank as planned. Damon put on his mask and went into the bank to find the owner, Eric Brown. But unlike every other Saturday morning when we’d cased the place, Eric wasn’t alone.

This time, his wife and 6-year-old daughter were with him.

Dad doesn’t know exactly what happened. All he knows is that, from outside in the getaway car, he heard gunshots. He grabbed his own gun and ran inside, expecting trouble.

Inside the bank, he found Eric Brown, his wife, and his daughter, all dead. The vault had been cleared out, every last penny stolen. And Damon?

He was nowhere to be found.

Then, two weeks later, after Dad tipped off the police and started a manhunt, Damon was finally caught at the state border, trying to flee north to Canada. He was arrested, tried, easily convicted—since he confessed to everything—and thrown in here.

Now I’m here to find out the real story. To find out what happened inside that bank—why he killed that innocent family. And where he hid the money afterward. Because the police didn’t find it anywhere on him, not in the car he was driving, not in any of the motels they traced him to along his attempted escape route. Wherever he hid it, he hid it well.

My family needs that money, now more than ever. And I’m going to get it from this criminal if I have to wring it from him with my own bare hands.

But as I step into that visitation room to confront the man I’ve spent weeks dreaming about strangling, my steps falter.

Damon looks the part of mafia hit man, all right. He’s huge, at least 6’5”, with a snake tattoo curling down one arm, taking up almost the full sleeve, which I can see because he’s dressed in nothing more than a prison-issue undershirt and a loose-hanging pair of orange pants. Beneath the shirt, I catch a glimpse of his bulging muscles, a perfectly sculpted set of pecs, and biceps and shoulders to match. He wears his hair long, pulled back into a tight braided knot, and his eyes, when they meet mine, are hard and dark.

What I didn’t expect was the sudden curl of desire in the pit of my stomach. A desire that I stamp out quickly, try to ignore.

In another world, he’d be my type. Exactly my type, smoldering dark gaze and all. But when I remind myself who this man is—and what he’s done—any desire I might have felt curdles into rage.

“Damon,” I say, for the benefit of the guard still standing in the doorway behind us.

“My darling,” he replies, his smile narrow and sharp. He knows, of course, that I must be here on my father’s behalf. On behalf of the infamous Mauricio Marrón, the only man who could pull enough strings to arrange for private visitations in a max security prison. Damon might be many things, but he’s not a stupid man. He must know my father is behind this visit.

“I’m closing the door,” the guard behind me says. “Thirty minutes, that’s what you’ve bought.” He pauses, and I can practically feel that leer of his on my back once more. “Don’t care how hot your girl is, Tell, no making a mess in here. This ain’t the conjugal bin.”

“Noted,” Damon replies drily. His eyes never stray from mine.

I wait for the sound of the latch to click behind me before I begin. “Where is it?” I say, the moment the door shuts.

Damon pushes out of his chair and rises to his full height. He stands at least a full head taller than me, towering over, as his smirk widens. “Now, now. Is that any way to greet the love of your life?”

I ball my fists to stop them from shaking. Only now, only when I’m alone in this room, do I realize what a dangerous idea this was. Granted, it was my suggestion—when Dad told me about the heist, and especially about what happened to Eric and his family, I was furious. I wanted revenge. I told Dad I’d help him any way I could. When he admitted that there was something I could do—that he needed a woman to pose as Tell’s fiancée to get in here—I volunteered in a heartbeat.

Now that I’m here, though, I’m starting to think about all the ways this could go wrong. Damon is bigger than me, stronger. If he attacked, could I shout for the guards in time?

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