It's almost here, y'all! Criminals Need Love Too will be LIVE everywhere books are sold on 12/1. But in the meantime, I thought I'd drop Chapter 1 here. Do with that info what you will. :)
Who’s the easiest mark in any room? That’s easy. It’s the one who looks desperate.
Desperation makes a man—or woman…but mostly a man—vulnerable to manipulation. And the dude she was looking at right now?
Desperate. As. Fuck.
Tenley Taylor eyed her mark like a starving woman eyed a four-course dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant. He was better than she ever could’ve hoped for.
He was about her age, in his mid-30s, and tall. Probably six-two or six-three if she hadn’t missed her guess. Muscle-y, too. Not like a bodybuilder, but lean and rangy with the kind of hard strength that came from manual labor, not from being a gym rat.
His clothes were…sad. The black T-shirt he was wearing looked like it had waged war with a bottle of bleach and lost. It was also tight across his chest, as if he’d once had a much smaller frame than he did now, but he’d never bothered to buy new clothes.
His jeans were no better. They were at least a decade out of style and faded with age. So were his tennis shoes.
Nice butt, though.
Which was so not relevant.
Tenley shifted her focus to his hair. It was thick, dark, lustrous, shaggy, and curled over his ears a little. Way overdue for a cut.
He wasn’t looking in her direction as he leaned against his car (a Honda that looked like he’d have to fold himself in two to fit in the driver’s seat), talking on a burner phone. Like most men, he had absolutely zero situational awareness. A woman totally would’ve noticed someone sizing her up the way she was sizing this man up.
He was, of course, oblivious.
Whitehall wasn’t a huge town, but it was large enough that there were at least twenty or thirty people on Main Street right now window shopping—men, women, and children—while this guy was parallel parked in a highly desirable spot in front of the Chinese restaurant. He didn’t seem to notice any of them.
In his defense, he was in the middle of what seemed to be a very contentious conversation.
The way he was gesturing and shoving his hand through his hair told her he was arguing with someone and losing. Big time.
And given the way he held himself—tensed, ready for a fight—coupled with the unkempt appearance and outdated clothes, she’d bet anything he was fresh out of prison.
She’d probably even bet her pocketful of stolen diamonds on it. That’s how sure she was.
All in all, this man was the very picture of a perfect mark.
She needed a quick ride out of town that wouldn’t leave a paper trail, and Mr. Desperate Jailbird over there was her ticket to freedom. Hell, if he was freshly released, she could probably get this guy to smuggle her across the border if she wanted. Easy, peasy, lemon squeeze--
That’s when he turned around.
Her new mark was hot. Brutally hot. Kind of pornographic in his hotness, really.
That could be a problem.
Being attracted to a mark—even just liking them too much—was the fastest way to ruin a good con and get yourself busted. And this guy had distraction written all over his knife-edged cheekbones, pouty, kissable lips, flawless olive complexion, and pale blue eyes.
She sighed. Maybe he wasn’t so perfect after all.
A screeching alarm two streets over made her change her mind with a quickness. Damn it. She figured she’d have at least an hour before Jerry figured out she’d emptied the safe. She’d been working for the jerk for the past two weeks under a false identity as she cased his business, and he hadn’t seemed to notice anything other than her ass the whole time. But today, of course, the stupid fucker decided to be observant.
Waiting for a less attractive mark was out of the question. It was time to get the hell out of Dodge.
Tenley took a deep breath, straightened to her full height (which was, sadly, only about 5’2”, because it was just her unfortunate luck that attitude didn’t manifest physically) and moved toward Mr. Cheekbones like a hungry lion stalking a hapless gazelle on the Serengeti.
She pretended to be looking through her bag and let out a “shocked” gasp when her shoulder connected with his arm, knocking the burner phone right out of his hand. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t—”
Whatever she was going to say next was cut off (quite literally) when his muscle-y forearm wrapped around her throat. He yanked her back against his chest and hissed in her ear, “Get in the car. Now. And don’t make a fucking sound.”
This was going to be even easier than she thought.
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