Today I am so pleased to welcome Layla Reyne to Joyfully Jay. Layla has come to share an exclusive first look at her upcoming release, Imperial Stout. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
One drunken, ill-advised kiss was going to ruin this entire fucking operation.
Because Nic was two seconds away from charging out of the surveillance van and telling the man he’d kissed to stand the fuck down. Nic’s reputation as the calm, cool prosecutor would be shattered. Never mind that doing so would likely kill any chance of a second kiss. A second one would be even more ill-advised than the first. Didn’t mean he wanted it any less.
He also didn’t want Agent Cameron Byrne to die.
And if Nic’s reputation went up in flames to save the Assistant Special Agent in Charge, then so be it. It was all going to hell these days anyway. Botching a takedown of one of the most wanted heist crews in operation would be icing on the cake.
But at least Cam would be alive.
Inside the surveillance van, Nic ripped off his suit coat, rolled up his shirtsleeves, and had his hand over his sidearm, ready to draw and move, when static crackled from the speakers in the wall of monitors.
Cam’s Boston brogue followed. “Alpha team on the move.”
“Copy that, ASAC,” replied Agent Lauren Hall, who was running Comm from inside the van with him. “Beta, Charlie, report.”
“Beta team in position.”
“Charlie team in position.”
Beta team was on the roof of the luxury apartment building, right above the target penthouse, while Charlie team was a floor below. Cam and his assault team, kitted out in tactical gear, were moving up the interior stairwell, the camera attached to Cam’s helmet giving Nic and Lauren a bird’s-eye view of their ascent.
Nic should be with them, should be leading them. An ex-SEAL, he had the training, even if he had spent the past fifteen years in a courtroom. Not to mention this was his case—a joint task force between his US Attorney’s office and the FBI’s San Francisco field office. But Cam had pulled rank and sidelined him.
“Enough, Dominic!” Cam had shouted sometime around the tenth or so round of their argument over who would take lead. “I catch the criminals; you lock `em up. End of fucking story.” Technically, Cam had been right.
Didn’t make Nic’s suddenly parched mouth any easier to tolerate right now.
“Alpha team in position,” Cam reported, voice quieter as they stood by the stairwell door outside the penthouse apartment.
“Alpha, Comm,” Beta radioed. “Movement to the south.”
“Hostiles?” Cam barked back.
Nic scanned the monitors. Where the fuck had they come from? The entire two-block radius around the building had been cordoned off and all the surrounding Financial District buildings cleared. Relatively painlessly at the ass-crack-of-dawn on a Saturday morning, this area of downtown San Francisco predominately offices. Had the feds missed something or someone on their checks?
Typing fast and furious, Lauren tapped into a security feed on the opposite side of the apartment building. One of the wall monitors flickered, changing its vantage point. She glanced up from her laptop, relaying, “Two masked individuals carrying assault rifles.”
The dryness crept down Nic’s throat, memories of heat and sand and blood at the edge of his consciousness. Always associated with combat, always there when he was worried, and right now, with new armed players on the scene, his worry for Cam and the teams was magnified.
“Approaching south stairwell,” Lauren said. “Ninety seconds until they reach your position, Alpha.”
“Part of the crew?” Cam said.
Nic swallowed, forcing saliva into his mouth, uttering a single word. “No.”
He’d investigated this crew for over a year. He knew every detail of every member—height, build, weapon of choice, how they moved—and these two were no one he’d studied. “Third-party rip-off,” he surmised.
“Charlie team, move to intercept,” Cam ordered. “Alpha team moving on primary. Priority one, victim rescue. Two, secure the target. Three, apprehend suspects.”
The target was a portable voice-activated safe containing priceless Serbian artifacts for a museum exhibit next weekend: millions in jewels, historical texts and sheet music, and textiles that had been rescued from war-torn Kosovo two decades ago. The victims were a Serbian dignitary and his wife whose voices were required to open said safe. They’d only just arrived in town last night, the artifacts and their safe not yet moved to the museum’s secure cage.
“Suspect Monroe is not to be harmed,” Nic reminded him. Abigail Monroe was their confidential informant inside the crew.
“Roger that,” Cam replied. “On my count…”
Cam got as far as “two” before a hail of gunfire erupted.
It’s a good thing assistant US attorney Dominic Price co-owns a brewery. He could use a cold one. Nic’s star witness has just been kidnapped, his joint operation with the FBI is in jeopardy, his father’s shady past is catching up with him and the hot new special agent in San Francisco is the kind of distraction best handled with a stiff drink.
Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne has his own ideas about how to handle Nic, but his skills are currently needed elsewhere. The by-the-book FBI agent goes deep undercover as a member of an infamous heist crew in order to save Nic’s witness, break up the crew and close the case before anyone else gets hurt. Nic in particular.
Things heat up when Cam falls for Nic, and the witness falls for Cam. As the crew’s suspicions grow, Cam must decide how far he’s willing to go—and how far into his own dark past he’s willing to dive—to get everyone out alive.
Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. She was a 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.