Nothing Xio Davis does is right. When she abandons her pack, riding out of town on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle, she finds she’s bitten off more than she can chew. First, it’s small-time crimes, then bank robbery. As Xio sinks into the criminal underworld, the FBI catches up with her. Now, she’s got one way out: snitch.
When Xio turns state's evidence against a Mexican drug lord, Agent Marcus Cazador steps up to take her home, giving up his career, his place in the El Paso pack, and all he knows to protect her.
Xio claims she’s not the same wolf who left ten years before, but can she convince Marcus she’s changed her wicked ways? Or will the Black Hills be the end of the road on her long journey to redemption?
“A bank that’s never been robbed. There’s a first time for everything.”
State-of-the-art security. Armed rent-a-cops stationed on either side of the double doors. A busy street making a speedy getaway difficult. A lot of excellent reasons for Xio Davis get back in her Beemer and get out of Dodge.
None good enough to deter her from a challenge.
The two men who’d ridden with her climbed out. The bigger of the pair, Juan, rolled his shoulders before reaching into the cab for a ski mask and weapon, then passing it off to Miguel. “Catch.” He grabbed another and tossed it over the roof to her.
She caught it, slammed a full magazine home, and tucked it under her duster. With a wink, she retrieved her Day of the Dead mask from a recent celebration. “Okay, boys. Let’s break their lucky streak.”
Diego gave her the freedom to do whatever she wanted these days, as long as she kept his bed warm, and whenever she left his hacienda, she remembered to take her escorts with her. Maybe it was his way of keeping his eye on her—or on his money. Whatever the reason, she didn’t like it, so Xio kept the boys too busy to stick their noses in her personal business. Too busy to get close to the truth.
He didn’t smack her around or pass her among his friends and associates. And his men had long ago learned to respect her personal space. After one of his new hires had groped her, the man had lost a couple fingers and ended up in a body cast. Diego didn’t have to say a word or do anything to intervene. She’d policed her own problems.
Her boyfriend had grown busy with cartel business and that suited her fine. Never present, all the better. They didn’t love each other, but had an understanding. He provided for her, protected her when she needed it. She scratched his itch and spent his money.
But life had grown dull. Triggered by a botched bank robbery in El Paso, a restlessness had begun to swell inside her. Why, after all these years, she didn’t know, but it was there, a constant reminder she’d shackled her true nature in her quest to be free.
Her wolf constantly paced in her consciousness. Xio found herself unable to settle, shift, or run in the wilds as her inner beast demanded. Not because she physically couldn’t but because outside forces conspired against her. That was what happened when you lived with humans.
Wolf—dog—it didn’t matter. All made great sausage for hungry families in the villages surrounding the Sanchez ranch, and it was a risk she hadn’t taken in the ten years’ time since she’d almost ended up in a taco on some family’s dinner table.
She didn’t want to be in Mexico, and she didn’t want to be with Diego anymore, but she really didn’t have a choice or anywhere else to go. Hence, the reason she’d crossed the border for this small amusement. Perhaps she could get some of the pent-up energy out. Open a valve and vent.
Speaking of which….
Xio pulled the mask over her eyes and strode through the front doors of the bank. Her two team members flanked her.
No one seemed to notice them yet. Not very observant for a bank that claimed to have a robbery-free record. Deciding to wake them all up, she yanked an AKS-762 assault rifle—with a custom stock and barrel that catered to her size—from under her canvas duster and fired several rounds into the ceiling. Chunks of plaster rained down on the patrons in the lobby. Multiple people screamed and several of the customers hit the floor before she needed to provide them with instruction. Conversely, not everyone appeared to be a rocket scientist. Not a problem. She had great communication skills and hearing protection in her ears.
Xio fired a second time, bringing down more of the ceiling. She pointed at the floor. “On your bellies, ladies and gentlemen.” As though doing the “wave” at a sporting event, they dropped.
She strolled to the front of bank, kicked over one of the posts holding a velvet rope, and stepped over it. She’d never been patient enough to wait in line and wasn’t about to run their little maze now. Xio removed her earplugs and tuned in with her wolf hearing, listening for anyone who might want to be a hero. Not a peep—some crying, but that was par for the course.
Not a daredevil in the bunch.
She eyed the staff on the floor. The one thing all bankers feared was a robber who jumped the teller line, and she was about to become their worst nightmare. They’d taken classes, trained for robberies, all bank staff did—and what did their security specialists warn them about? Her—joining them behind the counter, up close and personal, with a loaded weapon.
“Palms on the floor and your ankles crossed. I haven’t got all day.”
She stopped at one of the windows and without the use of her hands, jumped up on the marble countertop. At five feet two, the feat should have been impossible for a human female of her stature, but she wasn’t completely human—and impossible wasn’t in her vocabulary. In fact, that was why she’d come here, chosen this robbery-proof bank. It was a matter of honor, and a little about her ego. The branch had never been successfully robbed, and she’d decided to change that.
It was Wednesday, the day after their big shipment came in, and the third of the month, when a large majority of seniors got their Social Security checks. Prime for the picking. The setup couldn’t be any sweeter.
She cocked her head and listened for sirens in the distance. Five minutes out, if her hearing served correct. “Here’s how we are going to do this. When I tap you on the shoulder, you get up and fill the backpack with cash. No bait bills. I can tell what they are, so don’t fuck with me.” She hopped off the counter and behind the teller line, nudging the first person there with the flash suppressor on the end of her weapon. “Move.”
With tears in her eyes, the teller staggered to her feet, blubbering something about children at home. Over the last ten years, Xio had heard every story imaginable, and the young woman’s tale did little to change what she planned to do. No, she’d never killed anyone, nor did she intend to start today, but they didn’t know that.
“Save the speech and stuff the bag.” She shoved the backpack into the blonde’s hands. “Now.”
The young woman pulled the drawer open and grabbed handfuls of cash, leaving the bait bill in the till as instructed. Xio didn’t need to see the special ultraviolet ink on it to know what it was. Her wolf could smell that it had been handled a multitude of times by the same person. Once the teller finished, Xio shoved her back to the floor and nudged the next. “Your turn.”
All followed instruction, until she reached the last person, a man. Something about him raised her hackles. She should have listened to the warning, but there were still two minutes left and she’d yet to empty the commercial drawer, where they kept the big money. Greed won over instinct, and Xio toed him with her combat boot. “Up, big boy.”
And wasn’t that understatement of the year? As he stood, she realized he had to be at least six feet four, dwarfing her tiny frame. He didn’t look like your typical banker, at least not any she’d dealt with in the past, and he sure as hell didn’t smell like a banker.
He looked her in the eyes, holding her gaze for a few seconds, making her trigger-finger itch. She wore a mask from a recent Day of the Dead celebration and had salted her words with a Spanish accent, so unless he could pick out her eyes in a lineup, he wouldn’t be able to identify her.
Regardless, she found his action brazen, considering she’d already fired several rounds, though not enough he’d think her magazine empty. None of the others so much as looked at her. This one had the balls to take a mental snapshot that would help a sketch artist. The last thing she needed. There was also one other thing missing. Fear.
The feeling prodding her before roared to life. Cop. Ah, that’s the reason his scent had seemed so familiar. Double shit. Not only was he a cop, but they’d crossed paths before. This was the man, or should she say wolf, who had been on her trail for months, since her gang had slipped up in El Paso. Lord knew she’d tried to ditch him. Once a wolf got a scent of his prey, he didn’t back down. Things had just gone from bad to worse. She wasn’t sure what pack he was from. More than likely the El Paso Cazador in Southern Texas. Wolves didn’t tend to stray too far from their territories, not higher-ranking pack members, anyway. Something told her he was up there in the group, a Beta, if not an Alpha. The stench of authority clung to him.
Wolf or not, one thing was for certain. He wasn’t here to administer pack law. Suddenly nervous—something that never happened to her—Xio stepped back to put space between them.
She’d walked them into a trap, and if what she saw in the man’s eyes was correct, a carefully orchestrated one. Her only advantage was that she still had a loaded assault rifle. “We need to leave. Now,” she called out to her crew, who were supposed to be watching the customers in the lobby.
No sound. No confirmation they’d heard her. Not good. She couldn’t smell them, but that didn’t mean anything. They could be near an air-conditioning vent or fresh-air exchange. Wouldn’t be the first time it’d happened. She chanced a glance back to see what they were doing, and saw no sign of them. Shit! They’d either bailed, left her to take the fall, or they’d already been apprehended while she’d been preoccupied with cleaning out the teller stations.
As she turned to address the cop, her weapon was wrenched away and the butt caught her in the jaw. Xio dropped like a bag of rocks. Her wolf wasn’t helping her out of this one. That was what she got for letting her ego get involved.
“Good morning, Miss Davis. Let me introduce myself. I’m Special Agent Marcus Cazador of the FBI. Didn’t anyone ever tell you banks are most often robbed within the first few minutes of opening? We figured you’d be here, after the invitation we’d extended. Safest bank in Texas. I can see you liked the billboard at the port of entry. You and I have a lot to talk about, but business first.”
He’d used her real name, one she hadn’t heard in ten years. It sounded strange coming from his mouth, but also right, as though he’d been born to say it. Not good. This man was dangerous in so many ways. “Bite me.”
Check out my other work at: http://www.authordljackson.com
For other books in the series: http://www.decadentpublishing.com
******************************For the Hunting Party*********************************
It's a hunting party. Be sure to check my calendar on my blog at Backward Momentum
On one of the posts in January before the 23rd, I will be offering up an ARC, or advanced reader's e-copy of my soon to be released title, Black Hills Desperado. On a couple other posts, I will offer prizes of a signed copy of Slipping the Past and a signed tee with one of my Decadent backlist titles on the front.
I'm only giving out one ARC e-copy of Black Hills Desperado before release, and entry time will be limited. You will have until midnight of the post to comment and leave your name and email on the specially designated post. If you have already pre-ordered and do not want the ARC copy, I will offer a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate instead. This is book 3 in the Black Hills Wolves series from Decadent Publishing. Good luck, my wolfish readers!
D. L. Jackson is an award-winning author of urban fantasy, science fiction, military romance and erotic romance. She loves to incorporate crazy plot twists, comedy and the unexpected into her worlds. As a U.S. Army veteran, she naturally adores men in uniform and feels the world could always use more. She does her part by incorporating as many sexy soldiers in her novels as she can. When she isn't writing or running the roads, you can often find her online chatting with her peers and readers. Grab a cup of iced coffee, pull up your virtual chair and say hi. She loves emails and blog visits from her readers. www.authordljackson.comCountdown widget:
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