Tag Archive | It Takes a Thief

The First Day, First Paragraph

rami-ungar-first-day-first-paragraph-tagMy good pal, and fellow author, Rami Ungar came up with this idea and tagged me. The process is simple. When tagged, you publish the first paragraph of something you’re working on, follow the instructions below, and have fun with it! Thank you, Rami, for thinking of me! ~ Dellani

So if you get this tag, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Publish your own post on the first day of the month.

  2. Use the graphic above.

  3. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.

  4. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.

  5. Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.

  6. Ask your readers for feedback.

  7. Finally, tag someone to do the post next month (for example, if you do the tag on the first of August, the person you tag has to do it on the first of September), and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.

it-takes-a-thief-coverMy first paragraph is from my novel, It Takes a Thief – a romantic suspense novel available in e-book format on Amazon.

Jason Banes was a thief. Despite how much he and his lawyer might publicly deny it, it was the truth. Which was why he was standing before the judge in an ill-fitting suit, sweating. A twist of fate had brought him to this. He was an excellent thief, masterful, skilled, almost magical in his ability to divide his marks from their possessions. Regardless of his skill, he’d been caught. His palms began to perspire as the judge looked over the top of her pearl studded reading glasses. She didn’t look happy. Jason saw his world collapse as she studied him. Her scrutiny made him nervous. She looked like a velociraptor ready to attack and rip his guts out with her long, sharp claws. She blinked.

I welcome your comments below!

I tag Rachel Rueben

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It Takes a Thief – Part 70

It Takes a Thief coverHi name cleared, Jason is a free man. He has a job with the FBI and he can go completely legit.

They headed back to Jason’s house for a victory party. It was surrounded by reporters, but the FBI security men were still in place. They cleared off the reporters and photographers efficiently, offering to arrest them for trespassing if they didn’t leave.

The living room had once again been transformed, this time back into the luxurious environment it had been before the FBI took over. People bustled around the kitchen, preparing food. There were three people in the butler’s pantry pouring drinks and setting them on trays.

“Who paid for all this?” Jason asked.

“Honoria. She should be here any second,” Taylor replied with a grin. “And don’t worry, the staff are all from headquarters. No mysterious, dangerous caterers running about. They are fully vetted.”

“Did you do it personally?”

“No, but I know them all.”

“That’s good enough for me, then.” Jason smiled and cocked his head at her.

Taylor followed him down to his library. He pulled her inside, shutting the door.

“I’ve a question for you – and you can say no, but I do hope you won’t.”

“Okay….” She eyed him curiously.

“I’m a free man,” he said, taking her hands. He sat on the edge of a table, pulling her between his legs. “And I’ve got this tiny little place all to my onesies. Would you, Special Agent in Charge Taylor Driscole, agree to move in with me.”

“And share these cramped quarters?” She looked around at a room that was half again the size of the bedroom in her apartment. “You think there’s room for me?”

“We could be living in a cardboard box and I’d have room for you, my love. Will you think about it?”

“I don’t have to think about it for a second. Yes. I would love to move in with you.”

Jason’s eyes brightened. “Thank you! And I’ll be a good boy from now on. Strictly legit. I’ve got my FBI credentials to prove it.”

Taylor giggled, holding him close. She could feel his body swell with desire. If there hadn’t been so many people in the house, most of them armed, she’d have considered making love to him right there in the library.

“I trust you, Jason. More than I ever thought possible. You understand me better than anyone has ever before.”

He pulled her close, nibbling her neck, his hands roaming over the familiar, luscious curves of her body.

“And you get me too.” He laughed, tossing his hair from his face. “If someone had told me a week ago I’d not only be a free man, but in love with an FBI agent, I’d have thought him insane.”

“And if anyone had told me the same thing, I’d have clocked him.” She kissed him deeply.

“Just goes to show, love. It takes a thief to steal your heart.”

 THE END

To Purchase Dellani’s Books:

Ninja Tattoo http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/the-ninja-tattoo.htm

Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm

Indian Summer http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=36&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

Lone Wolf http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=67&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

It Takes a Thief – Part 69

It Takes a Thief coverOrchid is under arrest and Judge Walker has summoned them to the court. It’s a media madhouse out front, so they go in the back way. Even so, the cameras find them, following the team to the courtroom.

They walked into the courtroom in a wave of flashbulbs, camera lights and microphones. The media descended like vultures circling a particularly juicy corpse. It didn’t bother Jason, who merely waved and smiled – teeth and custom cuff links flashing as brightly as the cameras. Taylor and the FBI team did their best to keep the crowd back. Jason worked the group like a pro, but the mob scene bothered him. Taylor could see it in the set of his shoulders and the tenseness of his spine.

Finally, the media settled down when the bailiff called for all to rise.

“The Honorable Judge Honoria Walker presiding.”

Honoria strutted in, smiling. She took her seat and eyed the crowd with her hands folded in front of her.

“Normally, I don’t allow this circus in my courtroom,” she began. “But today is a special occasion. As long as you stay quiet and don’t disturb the proceedings, you can stay,” she admonished the press. “The second you get out of hand, you’re toast. Understood?”

She wasn’t satisfied until all the reporters nodded and replied, “Yes, Your Honor.”

“Good. Jason Banes, come forward.”

Jason rose, buttoning his jacket and adjusting his cuffs. Bailiff Cortland walked him up to the seat. He didn’t swear Jason in, but he did wink when the judge wasn’t looking. Folding his hands in front of him, he stepped to the side.

“Jason Banes, the charges of murder and accessory to murder have been dropped,” Judge Walker said with a smile. “And I’m glad to say that the prosecutor had the sense to re-evaluate the evidence tying you to this crime. In light of your participation on the team which captured Orchid, theft charges have also been dropped. Because of your generous contributions to the sting operation that led to her capture, you’re being awarded a key to the city.” She nodded to a man who sat nearby.

Jason recognized the mayor’s face from campaign posters. He stood as the older man approached. The mayor shook Jason’s hand and handed him a gold plated key on a plaque.

“To Jason Banes, for his heroic deeds. Your city and I thank you, Mr. Banes.” The mayor smiled and shook Jason’s hand again.

Flashbulbs flashed and they stood for a few moments, presenting a satisfactory photo opportunity for the photographers. The grin didn’t fade, nor did the twinkle in the merry blue eyes as the mayor took his place in the gallery once more.

“This is fantastic,” Jason said with a grin. “Never got a key to a city before. Thank you, sir. This is quite an honor.”

“You deserve that and a lot more,” the mayor said from his seat.

Blushing, Jason thanked him again, taking his seat. Honoria hadn’t dismissed him.

“I want to add a personal thank you,” she continued. “And there are a few more people who would like to extend their thanks.” She motioned to the gallery.

Bailiff Drover opened the gate, allowing a group of people through. Jason recognized the families of the dead hostages. He stepped down to greet them. Mrs. Prentice came up first. She put her arms around him, hugging him close.

“Thank you, darling boy, for helping my husband find rest.”

“You’re welcome,” he replied, hardly knowing how to handle the emotions that flooded him.

Each of the family members introduced themselves, thanking him and giving him gifts. Jason had never felt so welcomed in his entire life. It was almost too much.

Honoria tapped her gavel. The family members took their seats once more. She smiled at them.

“Jason, one more thing before we go. I hear you’re a bit of a security expert.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jason replied quietly. “A bit.”

Director Remington stepped forward. “I want to offer you a position with my department as a security consultant. Here are your credentials, Mr. Banes. Welcome to the FBI.”

Jason whooped, one hand shooting into the air. “Mr. Remington, you’ve made me the happiest chap in the room,” he said with a laugh. “Thank you, sir. I won’t disappoint.”

“I know that, kid. You haven’t disappointed yet.”

Honoria banged her gavel once more and Cortland called for all to rise. Before she left, Jason took her hand, kissing it.

“Thank you, Honoria,” he whispered. “How I wish I had a mum like you.”

Honoria folded him in her arms, kissing his cheek. “I’d be proud to call you my son,” she replied softly. “And I’ve always room in my heart for one more.”

She left, wiping her eyes. Jason watched her walk through the door to her chambers and a single tear trickled down his cheek.

© Dellani Oakes

Ninja Tattoo http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/the-ninja-tattoo.htm

Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm

Indian Summer http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=36&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

Lone Wolf http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=67&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

It Takes a Thief – Part 68

It Takes a Thief coverWith Orchid in custody, the team can relax. She’s now someone else’s problem. Jason breathes a sigh of great relief when she’s arrested. Jason tells them that she uses her cologne and lipstick to drug unsuspecting men. He also says he now feels as if he’s been on a four day drunk.

Taylor supported him, leading him to the nearest emergency vehicle. “And you know that because?”

Jason chuckled. “Have you a phone handy?”

“Yes, why?”

“I feel the overwhelming urge to call my son,” he replied.

Taylor’s eyes filled with tears and she fished her phone out of her bag. “Of course.”

Nodding his thanks, Jason dialed. Rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger, he spoke softly into the phone. Taylor walked a few steps away to give him privacy.

“Hi, Jane. It’s Jason. I know it’s late…. It’s been a hell of a week, love. And I wouldn’t normally ask. But may I speak to Jeff?”

That was the last Taylor heard. The team surrounded her, all talking at once, congratulating one another.

Orchid was strapped and cuffed to a gurney. She was loaded into an ambulance and two female agents got in with the female attendant. They went straight to the secure wing of the downtown hospital, where Orchid would be incarcerated until they could take her to jail.
Remington took it upon himself to see to her security detail personally.

Jason concluded his call and Taylor walked back over to him. He sat with his head on his hand, trying his best not to cry. She put her arm around him, kissing his cheek.

“All better?”

He smiled up at her, tears in his dark eyes. “Yeah, amazingly enough. Jane invited me for a visit. I told her I had to clear up a few details before I could get away.”

Taylor nodded, putting her head on his shoulder, snuggling closer. A commotion a few feet away, got their attention. Someone struggled with the officer, talking loudly. It took a moment to hear words, but the voice was unmistakable.

“Judge Walker?” Jason stood with Taylor at his side.

“There’s my boy!” Honoria rushed forward, Kyle Tourney in her wake. “Are you all right?” She examined him carefully.

Jason chuckled, her ministrations tickled. “Yes, ma’am. I’m fine. We got the nasty, wicked witch.”

“So I hear. Pity she’s not dead,” she replied. “I’m so glad you’re all right. You scared a year off my life going off with her like that.”

“Couldn’t have her kidnap the woman I love, could I?” He hugged Taylor.

“You’d be no kind of gentleman if you did.” She hugged him. “Court, tomorrow at eleven. All of you be there.”

“What? I thought I was a free man.”

“I want this official,” Honoria said with a grin. “Eleven. Dress well, there will be press.” She kissed his cheek, patting his face before leaving.

“Speaking of dressing well,” Jason said with a groan. “Look at this mess. Luigi will kill me.”

His beautiful suit was covered in dirt and blood. The elbows and knees were grubby, the nape of the material scuffed from the pavement. His shirt was blood stained and sweaty.

“You’re not hurt, are you?” Taylor asked, suddenly concerned. She hadn’t noticed all the blood before.

“Don’t think so.” Jason said, feeling himself. “Give me an exam, Agent Driscole.”

“That’s Special Agent in Charge Driscole.”

“Of course it is.” He held her close, kissing her.

It took some time, but they were finally able to head back to Jason’s house for the night. The mission might be over, but none of them felt like going anywhere else. Besides, they all had to be in court the following day. It made more sense to be all in once place.

They finally got to bed around 4:00. Setting the alarm for their morning wake up, Taylor undressed. Standing naked in front of him, her eyes held a challenge.

“Oi, love. You do know how to make a man happy.”

“I owe you a physical,” she replied, undoing his tie.

“That you do. Join me in the shower?”

They had a long, hot, satisfying shower. Taylor noted that there was nothing wrong with Jason. Everything was just as it should be. They fell into bed, happy and satisfied. Lights out, they snuggled together and fell asleep.

In what felt like no time at all, the alarm rang and it became a morning rush of showers, dressing and coffee. The team piled into the SUVs and headed toward the courthouse. They arrived about fifteen minutes early, going in by the back entrance. The front of the courthouse was surrounded by vans from every TV station in the city. Reporters stood with the courthouse to their backs, talking excitedly into their microphones.

“Fiasco,” Tim muttered. “What’s that judge doing now?” He frowned, buttoning his jacket, as he got out of the van.

Jason smiled. “Making it possible for me to hold my head up in public,” he replied. He kissed Taylor’s cheek. “Let’s do this.”

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani’s Books:

Ninja Tattoo http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/the-ninja-tattoo.htm

Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm

Indian Summer http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=36&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

Lone Wolf http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=67&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

It Takes a Thief – Part 67

It Takes a Thief coverJason takes out Orchid’s waiter. She takes Taylor hostage, but Jason exchanges himself for her. It’s not simply a magnanimous gesture on his part, mostly he wants to be front line when Orchid gets what’s coming to her.

Jason nodded, his face blank. Taylor saw the change in him immediately. She could also see him fighting it. Orchid had been able to work her magic before because he had nothing to hold onto. Now, he had her and she wasn’t going to let him down.

“Jason, I’m here,” she assured him. “I’ve got your back.”

“Isn’t that adorable? The little whore is trying to protect you.”

Jason smiled, his eyes vague. “Adorable.” He caressed Orchid’s breast as they walked to the far doors.

Part of Jason knew she was trying to ensnare him again and part of him didn’t care. The aware, paranoid part of him fought the mesmerized self. It felt like he had a cat fight inside him, both sides clawing and scratching wildly. Doing his best to keep his composure, he walked away from the woman he loved. Her voice gave him something to latch onto and he held that connection with Taylor as hard as he could.
Orchid backed out of the room and he walked with her, feeling her up as he went. He found the holster for another weapon strapped to her thigh. It was strangely warm, taking its heat from her magnificent body.

“Miss me, baby?” she asked as the left the auditorium.

“Yeah.” Like herpes.“I missed you, baby.”

“Are you leading me into a trap?” she snarled, jerking hard on his arm.

“Never. I want to get you somewhere quiet and do nasty things to you.”

Her laugh chilled him. Orchid bit his ear, hard. It was all he needed to clear his head.

“Sure, baby. Once more for old time’s sake. Shame to kill you, you have such a magnificent cock.”

They walked more quickly now. Jason had familiarized himself with the building’s layout earlier that day. Obviously, Orchid had too. She led him unerringly to the staff entrance, down a long, narrow hallway. It was dimly lit, but he could see different doors feeding off it. They were dark.

His ear piece was strangely silent. He suspected that the team had gone to a different channel so Orchid couldn’t listen in if she found it. An emptiness replaced the cat fight. He was alone – again. Sighing deeply, he walked resignedly to the door. He didn’t even protest when Orchid shoved him toward it.

“I’m here, Jason.” Taylor’s voice filled his ear. “We can see you on the heat sensor. When you hit the back door, step forward and drop. Clear your throat if you copy.”

Jason grunted slightly, clearing his throat.

“Jason, we’re here, buddy. Just a few more steps.” Tim spoke confidently.

The other team members piped up, including the women, all letting him know they were there after all. Filled with a new confidence, Jason walked with Orchid to the back door. She shoved him in front of her and he let her, knowing what he had to do.

“Nothing fancy, buddy. No heroics,” Greg said calmly. “I got her in my sights. Give me one more step, then drop.”

Jason took another tentative step and stumbled, falling to one knee. Orchid found herself exposed. Screaming, she trained her weapon on him, ready to fire. Her shoulder exploded in a mass of blood and bone splinters. She whirled away from him, flailing as she fell. Her gun clattered to the ground. Jason swept it up, holding it in his left hand, aiming at her head.

“Don’t!” Taylor yelled. “She’s down. Don’t do it.”

“Back away,” Tim said. “Just back off.”

They were surrounded by men in SWAT uniforms. Jason let the weapon hang from his fingers as the officers approached him.

Orchid lay in a growing pool of blood, cursing loudly. A medic approached.

“She’s strapped,” he cautioned. “Left thigh. May be more. She’s a crazy bitch. Knock her out.”

Orchid’s curses turned more creative as she groped at her weapon. The medic was quicker. A hypodermic appeared in his hand and he stabbed it into her vein without a swipe of alcohol. Orchid’s curses died on her lips as she went unconscious.

Jason approached, standing over her. He handed the weapon to the nearest SWAT officer. Sneering, he gazed at the downed beauty and spit on her. Spinning on his heel, he strode away, looking for Taylor.

She stood a few feet away, weapon in hand, an FBI issue vest strapped over her evening gown. Still in her four inch heels, silver swirling around her, she was the most beautiful sight Jason had ever seen. Rushing toward her, he swept her into his arms, kissing her deeply.

“You did it!” she said when he gave her a moment to get her breath back. “You did it, Jason. You’re a hero!”

“Why didn’t Greg kill her?”

“She turned,” Greg said over the ear piece. “Had the bitch in my sights!”

“At least the families can see her brought to justice,” Taylor said. “That’s important, isn’t it?”

Jason nodded, not sure that it was. “Watch her, you lot,” he called to the SWAT team. “Don’t for a second underestimate her.” He turned to Taylor. “It’s her cologne and lipstick. The combination drags a man under. Tell someone.” He grabbed at his head. “God, I feel like I’ve been on a four day drunk.”

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani’s Books:

Ninja Tattoo http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/the-ninja-tattoo.htm

Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm

Indian Summer http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=36&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

Lone Wolf http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=67&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

It Takes a Thief – Part 66

It Takes a Thief coverJason knows that Orchid isn’t finished, but her next move isn’t quite what he anticipated. A uniformed waiter approaches him just as Orchid makes her second walk down the runway.

“Make a move and you’re toast. You’re going to develop a bad case of nausea and I’m going to take you to the bathroom. Move it.”

Jason pretended to gag, putting his right hand over his mouth. As he lurched forward, he grabbed the gun in his side, yanking it toward him as he jerked it around, disarming the waiter. His right elbow struck sharply on the back of the man’s head, knocking him out. As the waiter slumped over the table, Orchid got to the end of the runway.

With a disarming smile, she pulled a gun from the folds of her gown and fired, not at Jason, but at Taylor. Having anticipated something like that, Jason flung himself in front of Taylor, taking the brunt of the bullet. His momentum and the impact, propelled them several feet before landing on the floor.

Taylor struggled under his weight. The room erupted in pandemonium. Greg and Eva jumped onto the catwalk, pursuing Orchid as she ran backstage. The security officers, led by Tim, raced to cut her off before she could get away.

Screaming hysterically, she ran first one way, then the other, managing to avoid capture. Wealthy patrons rushed wildly in every direction, making it hard to draw a bead on Orchid without hitting one of them.

Taylor extracted herself from Jason’s unconscious body, leaving that worry for another time. Cathleen and Linore checked him while June followed Taylor. Flanking Orchid, they joined the chase, shoving people out of their way as they pursued her, guns drawn, on her ever narrowing flight for freedom.

Finally cornered, Orchid stopped running. Taylor moved in cautiously to cuff her, first moving to disarm her. She was inches away when Orchid grabbed her, pulling her close as a hostage shield.

“Drop your weapons or I’ll shoot her.”

“Don’t do it,” Taylor ordered. “Take her out!”

The gun pressed into her side, then moved to her neck, pressing hard against the carotid artery. Taylor could feel her pulse thumping against the muzzle as Orchid pressed it harder.

“I said drop them!”

“Don’t listen to her!”

Jason’s voice rose clearly from his position on the floor. Orchid’s finger tightened on the trigger.

“Orchid, if you kill her, you’ve got nothing. You won’t make it out of here alive.”

“Then I guess I’d better take your girlfriend with me. Don’t think I can’t tell. You can’t take your eyes off her! What’s so special about her?”

“For one thing, she’s not a murderous psychopathic whore. You hurt her and I’ll shoot you myself.”

Orchid’s grip shifted on the butt of the gun. Jason was afraid to shoot. If her finger jerked even the slightest, Taylor was dead. He twirled his weapon on his finger, holding it away from his body. Tim, who was nearest, took it from him.

“Don’t do it, Jason,” he cautioned.

“Take me,” Jason demanded.

Orchid’s eyes flashed dangerously. Her upper lip twitched in a snarl. “Really. You’d give yourself up for this piece of white trash?”

Jason bit back any comments he might have. He could see Taylor stiffen and saw the defiance in her eyes. It was a risky play, but he wanted to get Orchid out of the building where there were no innocent people. He also couldn’t stand to see Taylor in her grasp. He knew the FBI agent was fully capable of taking the raging psychotic down, but he felt compelled to handle this himself.

Taylor sensed this was important to Jason. As much as she wanted to take the crazy woman out, he needed this opportunity. Inclining her chin to the team, she glanced at Jason.

Twitching his cuffs in place, Jason lightly brushed the place where they had implanted his chip. Nodding slightly at Taylor, he advanced on Orchid. Her weapon trained on him. Her hold on Taylor slackened slightly. Taylor’s fingers flickered at the team.

“You’re not serious.” It was Remington’s voice over their secure channel.

“If we get her outside, the sniper can pick her off,” Bitsy muttered.

“And if she gets away?”

“She won’t,” Greg assured him. “Jason’s chipped.”

“And if she kills him and takes off? Did anyone consider that?”
There was silence as a reply.

“I forbid this. Exchange yourself if you want, but make damn sure we can take her down outside.”

“Civilians?” Bitsy asked.

“I have men on crowd control. Take her out the back,” he ordered Jason.

Jason didn’t acknowledge Remington’s order. He continued moving toward Orchid with a show of confidence that he didn’t feel. Taylor slipped away, rushing to Tim’s side. He put her behind him with the hand not holding the gun. She slipped Jason’s weapon from his waistband.

“Well, honey, it looks like I win,” Orchid said with a smile. Her lips descended on Jason’s. “Welcome back, baby.” She kissed him, using his body to shield hers.

Jason couldn’t help himself. His arms circled her and his body reacted to her closeness. Her cologne wrapped him in a mesmerizing cloud. He had a moment of revelation. This was how she’d drugged him. He sensed the danger, but couldn’t control himself.

“Let’s go, baby,” she whispered.

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani’s Books:

Ninja Tattoo http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/the-ninja-tattoo.htm

Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm

Indian Summer http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=36&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

Lone Wolf http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=67&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

It Takes a Thief – Part 65

It Takes a Thief coverJason thinks he has disabled the bomb, but still insists that they approach the accomplice and take his phone, because he is certain that is the detonator. Greg does a little bit of acting and pickpocketing, and successfully takes the other man’s phone.

Grabbing the other man’s elbow, he steered him for the bathroom. Tim met them at the door, following them in. They waited for a couple other men to leave, locking the door behind them.

“I gotta find that phone! I really gotta!”

Greg took in details of the man for the first time. Only slightly over five feet tall, he was a drab, geeky looking guy with thinning hair and thickening glasses. He was pale and slightly stoop shouldered. He twitched his head from time to time. Greg spotted an ear piece similar to what he wore himself, but not quite as sophisticated. This one could receive but not transmit. Excellent.

“I’m telling you, I don’t have your phone!” Greg yelled, hitting the door to the stall. “Would you back the fuck off!”

“C—could you check your pockets just to be sure? I know I had it….”

Greg did a pat down of his pockets managing to avoid finding the phone. “Told you I didn’t have the damn thing! What’re you trying to pull?”

“Listen, buddy. I’ll give you a hundred dollars if you find my phone.” The look in his eyes was fear mingled with desperation.

“Lemme buy you a drink,” Greg said. He put his arm around the other man’s shoulders. “Come on…..”

He tried to lead the man into the lobby. For such a little man, he could sure put the brakes on. He wouldn’t move.

“No. No. I need my phone. If you don’t give it to me, I’m going to call security.”

“I am security,” Tim said. “You say this guy stole your phone?”

“He had mine,” Greg said, holding it out. “He came up to me and said I had his. He handed me mine. Prolly dropped it in here. One of those other guys prolly has it.”

“Quit fucking with him,” Jason said crisply. “Take him out—now. The show is starting. No doubt Orchid’s livid that we’re not all dying horribly.”

Tim clipped the accomplice behind the ear and he fell into Greg’s arms. They supported him, carrying him from the bathroom pretending he was drunk. They took him out to one of the catering trucks and lifted him in. Since it was really an FBI truck, he would be contained.

“Found the gas,” Bitsy said. “Jesus, this bitch was serious!”

“Cyanide?” Jason speculated.

“How did you guess?”

“Because if I were a homicidal maniac, that’s what I’d do. But you’ve got the transmitting phone, yeah?”

“Yup.”

“Thank God. Here we go….”

The lights dimmed in the main room and the MC walked out on stage. He gave a little speech about the reasons for the benefit and how all these people had donated their time to put it together—blah, blah, blah….

Jason was nearly beside himself with worry. Orchid had to have realized by now that her plan to gas them had failed. She wasn’t going to go out there and pick clean the dead.

“What should I do with this phone, boss?” Greg asked, making sound like he was asking Bitsy.

Jason answered. “Lock it up. Don’t try to turn it off or disable it. Just lock it in a safe place so it can’t be fucked with.”

“Yes, sir.”

There was a locking cabinet on the truck. Greg placed the phone in it and Tim locked the box before pocketing the key.

The fashion show was in full swing by the time that Greg got back to the table. He sat between Jason and Eva. Taylor was on Jason’s left, pretending to watch the show with great enthusiasm. She was playing her part to the hilt.

The MC announced the next model. “Orchid is wearing….”

Jason stopped listening as soon as he saw her face. There was the visage of his would-be killer. There was the woman who threatened to castrate him with a bullet, but chose to end his life instead. He shifted in his seat as soon as he saw her, straightening his tie. She walked toward him, chin lowered, hips forward, her best catwalk strut bringing her ever closer to him. Her jade green eyes met his chocolate brown ones with a shock of recognition. Glaring at him, she stopped at the end, posing to show the dress she wore.

Jason couldn’t suppress a shiver of desire. He remembered well how silky her skin was, how soft her lips, her wetness around him, her smell—a mixture of perfume and lust. Even with Taylor next to him, he couldn’t shake the desire—the need—for her.

What the hell did she do to me?

She went off to change her clothing. When she came back on a few minutes later, she looked calm and collected. Fear shimmied up Jason’s spine. She was about halfway down the runway when a uniformed waiter came to their table as if to give someone a message. He leaned over Jason’s shoulder from behind and to his right. The muzzle of a gun pressed into Jason’s side.

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani’s Books:

Ninja Tattoo http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/the-ninja-tattoo.htm

Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm

Indian Summer http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=36&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7

Lone Wolf http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=67&osCsid=8dc4fd3d95717ca205d5a157f3b827a7