Page 6 of Forced Alliance

“Yes,” Connor replied, trying to piece things together, since he knew Josie would question him with a heavy-handed attitude. The newest FBI special agent to hit town did not approve of Connor’s methods. But they were stuck with each other until he could prove his merit and finally go free.

Right now, he had to get his facts straight regarding this bizarre turn of events.

The parking attendant had watched in surprise as Connor got back in his car and took off. He might have seen the whole thing, and by now the police and the FBI were probably swarming around the crime scene. The attendant could have given them Connor’s license-plate number and a description of his car, too, but Sherwood obviously would already know Connor had been on the scene. Since the FBI kept tabs on his whereabouts, he understood they’d see him as a suspect. He had to have the story straight. And he was hoping Special Agent Josie Gilbert would agree with him on that.

“She’s good, Louis. She has experience in these matters.”

Or at least he hoped she did. If Josie would think beyond her distaste at having to work with Connor, she’d realize they had Armond. The man would do anything to stay out of the limelight and keep this nasty business from his irritable wife, or he could decide he no longer wanted to talk.

“Is she ever gonna get here?”

A car pulled around the curve and waited at the gate. Since Armond had already told security to let her in the minute she arrived, the gate swung open.

Connor’s heartbeat slid into fast gear, the way it always did when he was on a big case. Or maybe tonight it was the added thrill of working with Josie Gilbert. Could he help it if he had a secret crush on her? He’d have to put all of that aside while they tidied up things. Now he had a niggling doubt regarding the newest addition to the New Orleans bureau. There was the Dallas incident that no one wanted to discuss.

“Go back inside, Mr. Armond,” he suggested. “I’ll update her and bring her to you.”

Still dazed, Louis Armond nodded and hurried past two bodyguards into the big drawing room to the left of the central hallway. Connor nodded to one of the guards and shut the doors. He needed to prep Josie Gilbert.

Now the fun part. Had she trusted Connor enough to come alone? He prayed she’d been wise enough to know they had Armond cornered and scared. He also prayed they could use this little dustup to their advantage. If so, he might be able to finally shed Louis Armond’s iron-tight grip and the halo of death that came with being in a forced alliance with a beautiful, determined female FBI agent.

That would, however, depend on how this night’s work went, and whether he and Josie would live to see another day.


Josie checked her gun and got out of the unmarked car, then took in her surroundings. The big antebellum house stood stately and quiet in the moonlight. It was beautiful, but tonight it held a sinister aura of death and destruction.

Nice digs, Mr. Armond. Sure that the original owners of this gracious old mansion would turn over in their graves at the sight of several armed guards with snarling dogs and three blacked-out luxury SUVs and the new name of Armond Gardens, she wondered exactly how much money it took to own such a showplace.

And how much of that money had been ill-gotten?

She ignored the shiver of unease that chased down her spine. She hadn’t seen anyone following her since she’d left the main road, so she needed to relax and get on with this. But she had a bad feeling, a kind of fluttering in her stomach that indicated this whole setup felt wrong. Shaking it off, she did one more visual and prepared to get on with her work.

As she approached the wraparound porch, a man stepped out of the shadows, causing her to also wonder why she’d agreed to come out here to help someone she’d only met a few days ago. She was glad she’d reported her whereabouts back to the New Orleans bureau in spite of Connor telling her to keep quiet, and that she’d warned Sherwood that things might get dicey.

“Bring him in, Gilbert. Nothing dicey about that.”

Did he mean Louis Armond or Connor Randall? Sherwood didn’t care for the charming informant. But Joseph Sherwood didn’t seem to care for anyone around him, for that matter.

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