Keep your lover close and your enemy closer…
After giving in to a fiery night of passion, island adventurer Steph Anderson and bounty hunter Jake Harlowe are back to square one. With millions in stolen jewels at stake, it’s hard for Steph not to question her new partner’s true motives—no matter how sexy he might be. Jake is hungry for more of Steph, but he can sense her growing mistrust, which only fuels his own doubts. Worse, there’s undeniable evidence that someone else is now after the jewels—and that they are both in real danger.
Fighting against their magnetic attraction is a distraction these two can’t afford. In order to survive, they’ll have to pull off one more heist—and trust each other with something even more precious than jewels: their hearts.
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A fan circled lazily overhead, stirring the gauzy white curtains that hung by the sliding glass doors. He grabbed her hand, pulled her to the open deck. The sun was still high in the sky and his room had a stunning view of the endless blue water. He also had a clear view of how to resolve this turmoil still roiling in his chest.
He had to try to talk to her about some of the harder topics. If not, this would be Rosalinda and the Medici job all over again.
“Just look,” he said, gesturing to the vast sea.
She gazed toward the water. “It’s gorgeous.”
“It is. And I’m showing you to make a point.”
“Over the view?” She parked her hands on the railing.
He turned to her and met her eyes. “Yes. I’m showing you this because it’s beautiful. Because you love the water. Because you are an outdoor girl through and through. Because I know these things about you,” he said, taking her hands and clasping them in his. He squeezed. “I know already that the water calms you. I know the sunshine is like some kind of magic to you. And I know you love your mother with a fierceness that can move mountains. You’re like this warrior princess who’d go to battle for her, and even though I’ve never met her, I can picture her. I imagine she is the gentlest, kindest person in the world who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and you fight for her. Not because she’s the kind of woman who won’t fight for herself, but rather because she chooses not to. Am I right?”
Steph drew in a deep breath and nodded. A warm breeze blew by, stirring up the ends of her pretty blonde hair. “Yes. You’re right.” Her voice was soft.
As the waves lapped the shore in the distance, and boaters skipped over the blue waters, he grasped her arms. “But what do you know about me?”
She opened her lips but didn’t speak.
“Steph,” he said, fixing her with a sharp gaze, and then asked again, needing to set her straight, desperate to avoid another on-the-job mistake. “What do you know about me?”
“That you like ice cream?” She said it like a question, her expression confused.
He nodded, a sliver of a smile appearing briefly. “That’s a good start. What else?”
“That you like to tell jokes?” she asked, squinting as the sun shone brightly overhead.
“That you’re motivated by your family,” she said with more confidence now in her tone.
“Good. Keep going.”
“That you do what you do because of them. To take care of your little sister and brother, and your big sister’s kid.”
“And that you hate when bastards get away with anything.”
He tapped his finger to his nose. Bingo. “Know what else?”
A knot of discomfort clogged his throat. He pushed past it, speaking plainly, honestly. “I went out with a woman who nearly cost me a job. Who tried to steal the artifact we’d teamed up to find,” he said, the memory blasting through him of how foolish he’d felt when Rosalinda stole it from him. “I trusted her. I thought she cared about me. She only cared about the prize.”
“I don’t even want the prize,” Steph said, raising her chin, meeting his gaze. “I’m not after money. I’m after the truth.”
“But it seemed this morning that you were playing me,” he said, his tone turning rougher. “That when you saw me at the café, you were all sexy snuggly because you thought I’d run. And outside the gallery, you were pretending to get cozy when you put your hands in my shorts, but you were only searching for stones even after I told you there weren’t any.”
“I was,” she said through gritted teeth. Her expression was one of frustration and embarrassment.
“Don’t fuck with my feelings. You know I want you. You know I like you. Just don’t fuck with me,” he said, yanking her close to him.
“I’m not. I won’t. I’m sorry,” she said, her tone full of contrition.
That knot unwound, and he nodded. “So tell me the truth. Do I seem like the type of guy who’d screw you over?”
THE SAPPHIRE HEIST Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28253785-the-sapphire-heist
Lauren Blakely Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6860216.Lauren_Blakely
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