by K. Nilsson
(The Blue Trilogy, #2)
Publication date: October 2020
@Archaeolibrary, @XpressoTours, @kimber_nilsson,
She was a distraction. He was a mistake.
Now they’re in each others’ way. Rookie investigator Devyn Foster knows the pain of losing family. It’s what drives her to do what she does – finding the missing and the lost and returning them to their families. Her latest assignment is no different, finding the computer a whiz who disappeared while working on a mysterious project. Even though his case has gone cold, she won’t let his elderly parents suffer. She will find him and return him back to them. But that was before the one-night stand that changed everything… Private Investigator Max Carson has never let anything—or anyone—stop him from getting the job done. So when he’s hired to track down a software program that could change the world, that’s exactly what he’s going to do… until he finds himself in a dead heat with a woman who’s just as determined as he is to get the job done on her own terms. Now Max has to deal with two problems: how to get Devyn out of the way… and out of his heart.
After Devyn told me about being chased home, I needed to see she was unharmed and determine if someone exposed her cover.
Heading south on the coastal highway, I wove my way through traffic to the flat I got for her. The building was a monstrous high rise overlooking the marina. The car park was multi-level and I had a key card to enter.
Swapping out her registered license plates for the dealer plates was a brilliant idea. She didn't want a hire car when she changed flats for the job. Parking next to her, I checked the MINI Cooper's tire wells for tracking devices and found none.
The lift was steps away and I took it to the top floor. I knocked three times—it was our code. There was movement behind the peephole. Good girl. She waved me inside with an empty wineglass. Devyn coiled her curls into a messy bun and held it in place with a chopstick.
The little spy gave me a brief hug and locked the door behind me. "Can I get you something?"
"The usual," I replied.
Padding to the kitchen, Devyn put her goblet in the sink and got a bottle of water for me. I twisted off the top and took a few swallows. "So, you had a James Bond chase scene."
"No. There were no missile-equipped motorcycles or bullet spraying helicopters. But I wish I had a Lotus," she cracked.
She had circles under her eyes.
"Did you recognize anyone inside it?"
Devyn shook her head. "Not with the blackout windows."
"When did you notice the automobile?"
"Soon after I left headquarters."
"Did you recognize the car?"
"No. It was my second day."
Did someone suspect she was a mole, or was it random?
"Do you think it a stalker?"
She hesitated for a heartbeat, "I don't know, maybe?"
"Did you spot anyone familiar?"
The little spy fell silent, then she shook her head.
She just lied to me.
I sat next to her on the couch.
The laptop was open on the coffee table and the glasses were on the floor. I picked them up.
"Oh, you used these. May I?"
She gave me a quick nod. I sent the images to my cell phone.
While I sorted through the files, my trainee fidgeted.
The clips began with her orientation class. I had questions about the people she met, some of whom she liked.
I pointed to a man with a plaid shirt and gelled hair. "Who is this? You two are rather friendly."
The corners of her mouth tilted. "That's Sam. His office is next door. He's a brilliant guy, but also a space cadet."
Her running commentary amused me. The videos included an attractive redhead, a convincing hologram, and people around a conference table.
The day's clips captured her trip through security. One man was familiar. I pointed to the suited shark in the images. "Who is he?"
"Oh, him? He's a security guy," she replied.
I replayed the clip, then noticed the collection of photos she had of him. Devyn's cheeks reddened. It was a romantic attraction—the connection was mutual. It would be better if I didn't comment on it. I could do something about the situation without my protégé's knowledge.
Despite the temptation, Devyn proved her worth to Leslie while capturing screen images of the computer and a preview of the servers' contents.
I moved away from the photos. "One last question about the chase. Did you get the license number?"
Devyn sat up straight, reached for her briefcase, and removed a note from the side pocket.
"I forgot all about this," she said, sheepishly handing it to me.
The note mentioned the make of the automobile and included a plate number. The writing wasn't hers.
"Well—I darted into a carport…"
When she finished, I wanted to throttle her.
Devyn yawned. "It's been a long day."
"Tomorrow, I'll run down the plate. I'm glad you're okay."
I reminded her to engage the deadbolt and secure the jammer.
I walked through the door, closing it behind me.
"Always the mother hen," she chided.
I didn't leave until I heard her turn the bolt and flip the latch.
Mother hen? Me?
When I arrived home, I inspected the images, the workplace, her co-worker, and—The Praetorian, a guarded man with a dangerous persona. The way he watched Devyn was worrisome. Heat burned in his eyes when he stared at her. Devyn was not unaffected. He would point his cock elsewhere and leave my beautiful, contrary, protégé, alone.
I looked up a contact number I hadn't used in years. The person would get my message across to the mercenary.
"Hello," said the voice on the other end of the phone.
"There's an overgrown wolf-pup stalking my ward. I believe he's yours. Call him off."
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K. Nilsson's love of reading began with the Bobbsey twins. When she ran across some Italian True Romance novellas stashed in the attic, the musty serials hooked her on adult fiction. Though black and white photos were dramatic enough to know what the stories were about, she taught herself to read in Italian and translated them to her friends. She's an unapologetic reviewer of books, restaurants, and vacation destinations. An amateur photographer, K. loves taking editorial photos and documenting her travels. Her personal philosophy, sleeping is a waste of time.