Page 50 of Forced Alliance

Connor caught her again, and this time he didn’t let her go. “Josie...”

She gave a little moan and then their lips were together, exploring and experimenting. Around them, the smell of burned wood and melted metal permeated the air. But here, with her in his arms, Connor smelled what was left of the clean scent of her hair and the faint hint of her spicy shower gel and shampoo.

After a minute or two, he lifted his head and held his forehead to hers. “Why is it, Agent Gilbert, that being in tight spots with you seems to bring out all my romantic notions?”

Josie’s eyes burned an amber-gold. “I...I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Maybe the danger. Is that intoxicating for you?”

“No, but you are,” he said, his hand moving down her soft, sooty cheek. “You do things to me, Josie. When that idiot Lou had that gun to your head, I...I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to hurt him in slow, torturous ways.”

“Guns are scary that way.”

“But you were as cool as a Popsicle.”

“A Popsicle? Seriously?”

“Icy and bright and...I don’t know. I don’t know how to describe it.”

She held her free hand on his shoulder. “I was anything but cool, trust me. But I had to think of how to get us all out of there alive.”

“Do you think Lou would have killed us?”

“In a heartbeat.”

“I lost a few heartbeats when he had his hands on you.”

“And here I thought you were the cool customer.”

“I used to be,” he admitted. “But that was before I had a change of heart. And that was before I met you.”

“I need you to stay cool, Connor,” she said. “I need you to keep thinking with that ruthlessness you’ve always had. If you go soft on me now, we could both wind up dead.”

“I’m not going soft,” he replied, his heart beating with a new strength. “Except when I kiss you.”

He kissed her again. But a ping of a shoe hitting concrete in the back of the garage brought them apart. Taking Josie by the hand, he pulled her behind a collapsed wall.

“I don’t think we’re alone anymore.”

Josie nodded, then looked around for an escape. “Here we go again. Will this night ever be over?”



Connor put a finger to his lips.

Josie drew her gun, but held her breath. Who could be snooping around now? The FBI and the ATF had posted guards all over the property and the sheriff’s department had patrol cars roaming the roads and woods. Everyone wanted a piece of the Armond case, so all of the local agencies were cooperating on this one.

Connor lifted his head a notch so he could see between two burned-out, wet beams. He held up one finger.

Josie tried to speak. “One man?”

“Yes.” He squinted again, then turned to her. “It’s Sherwood.”

“My SAC?”

Connor’s right eyebrow twitched. “Can we trust him, Josie?”

“Of course.” But even as she said it, she had to wonder. No, that was crazy. Sherwood was a staunch family man who’d dedicated his life to the FBI, and he’d been trying to pin something on Louis Armond long before she arrived on the scene. The man had spent most of his career trying to bring down the Mafia lord.

“We need to alert him that we’re here,” she whispered.

“Are you sure?”

That little trickle of doubt dripped down her spine. “We can’t hide from the man. We’re checking the scene of the fire.”

Connor’s brow furrowed. “Whatever you say, but I’ll be watching him. In my mind, everyone is a suspect.”

“Yeah, well, in the eyes of the law, we’re all innocent until proven guilty.”

“Who’s there?”

Josie heard Sherwood’s gruff call. Too late to change her mind now. “It’s me, sir. Gilbert. Connor Randall is with me.”

“Come on out where I can see you.”

Josie motioned to Connor, then proceeded with her gun down. When she came around the collapsed wall, Sherwood was standing with his gun drawn.


He lowered the gun and let out a breath of relief. “Thought I was a goner for a minute there.” Keeping his weapon aimed down, he stepped over old tires and an overturned toolbox. “You two still hanging around?”

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