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Dangerous Interference by BJ Wane – Sample


Sheriff Randy Janzen pulled his official Ford Explorer into the circular driveway of his longtime friend, Bryan Hirst. Cutting the engine, he took a moment to savor the scenic view of Blue Springs Lake out his windshield, recalling lazy summer days he spent swimming and fishing the six hundred plus acre waters set amidst the temperate broadleaf and mixed forest trees indigenous to southern Maine. Dark green towering pines and spruces surrounded the lake, the inland landscape opposite the craggy cliffs along the Atlantic shore just a few short miles away. Spring in his state welcomed moderate temperatures in the mid-fifties, but he felt anything but warm today.

Opening his door, he slid out of his vehicle with a sigh, reaching for the picture of the young, blond-haired, green-eyed coed off his seat. There had been more than one time in the last twelve years he’d been with the county sheriff’s department that he’d had to drag those pristine waters for a missing body or lead a group of volunteers through the woods searching for a lost hiker. Climbing the steps leading to the wraparound porch of Bryan’s Cape Cod, two-story lakefront home, he worried the impish grin and devil-may-care look on young Ashley Malloy’s face had landed her in unforeseen trouble and it was his duty to check it out. He hated that his investigation had sent him here for clues about the missing college student and prayed Bryan could give him something that would lead to a positive outcome for the young girl.

Lifting his arm to rap on the door, he paused when he heard the distinct sound of leather snapping against bare skin followed by a high-pitched cry. A wry grin teased the corners of his mouth as he pictured the scene he would be interrupting. He was well acquainted with Bryan’s home, and the pleasures he had it equipped for. Beyond the foyer he would be able to see into the great room that looked like any ordinary main living area in an upscale home. But Randy had intimate knowledge of the tucked away restraints attached to most of the furniture as well as the upstairs rooms designed for different proclivities of Bryan’s guests, such as spanking benches, dangling chains for bondage, and closets filled with toys for any kink one could imagine. In the kitchen, Bryan had cleverly placed a convenient drawer of utensils handy for spanking next to the high padded stools at the long granite-topped counter. Randy had availed himself of the assortment of bamboo spoons and rubber spatulas on more than one occasion.

With another sigh of regret, he gave the door a sharp rap then waited for the telltale sound of footsteps. Bryan’s irritated scowl changed to a smile of welcome when he opened the door and saw who had the piss-poor timing.

“Sheriff,” he drawled with a twinkle in his blue eyes, opening the door wider in invitation. “What brings you out here this afternoon?”

Stepping inside, Randy’s gaze snagged on the plump, bright red ass bent over the arm of a suede sofa, a pair of hands secured with a scarf behind the woman’s back. He recognized those soft, round thighs and brassy blond hair, not surprised to find Carlee and his friend were enjoying one of their on-again phases of their decade-long relationship. The diner owner possessed a fiery temperament Bryan had failed to tame over the years, no matter how hard he’d tried.

Turning her flushed face and dark eyes around, Carlee gave him an unabashed grin and wiggled her ass. “Hello, Sheriff.”

“Knock it off, Carlee,” Bryan snapped, but his eyes gleamed with humor.

“Sorry, both of you, but I need to ask you about this girl, Bry. Her family’s filed a missing person report with Portland PD and they contacted me this morning stating she was last seen with Kevin leaving The Well last week to presumably come up here.” He handed him the picture and watched recognition replace his frown.

“Yeah, yeah, she came out with Kev, they were on spring break.” Handing the picture back, he added, “I checked hers and several other kids’ IDs carefully, Randy. They were of age and I didn’t allow them to leave the great room. You know how strict I am when my brother brings guests to play. I’m sorry she’s gone missing, she was a sweet kid; I walked her out to her car myself and made sure she was good to drive. They didn’t have any liquor while here, but I can’t vouch for the time they spent at the bar.”

“Thanks and yes, I know how careful you are, but I had to check. Neither she nor her car has been seen since leaving here last week. She sent her friends a text first saying she’d be at their cabin in fifteen minutes, then another text a few minutes later stating she was heading back to Portland instead. There were five of them, so she had her own car and they had an extra one for her four friends to get home in the next day. Which means she disappeared somewhere along the way back to Portland. Her friends were pissed at her until she didn’t show up for class last Monday.”

Carlee struggled to stand, turn, and plop her butt down on the arm of the sofa, her eyes wide with worry when she gazed at the picture clutched in Randy’s hand. “I was here that night. God, what a shame. She was having a good time.”

Randy watched her closely when he asked, “And did you see her leave or notice anyone leave right after her?”

“No, I went to the restroom and when I returned she had already left.” Shrugging, she sent Bryan a wicked grin, unconcerned with her nudity in front of Randy. “I’m afraid I became rather involved after that.”

“Bend back over, sub,” Bryan growled even though a small grin turned up one corner of his mouth. Swiveling back to Randy, his grin disappeared as he too shrugged. “I’m sorry, and really hope she turns up okay, but I’m afraid that’s all I know about the girl. Kevin hasn’t heard anything from her, or maybe his friends?”

“Not a word, according to Portland PD who spoke with all of them. Well, thanks, both of you. Sorry for the unannounced visit.”

“Shit, buddy, you know you can pop in anytime. Give me a call on your next day off and we’ll dip our poles in and spend a lazy afternoon drinking beer and complaining about uncooperative women.”

A rude snort came from Carlee where she managed to get herself turned back over. Smiling, Randy tipped his hat, saying, “I’ll see myself out.”

Anger and denial churned in his gut as he buckled himself back in his seat and took another moment to gaze out his windshield. This time he wasn’t enjoying the view but recalling the look on Bryan’s face when he had first laid eyes on Ashley Malloy’s picture. The jolt of surprise and underlying tension couldn’t be disguised, even though Bryan had tried.

They’d been friends since they met at a club in Portland over ten years ago, and Randy knew Bryan well. He’d been twenty-seven when they first met and Randy had already been introduced to and indulged in alternative sex. When Bryan had informed him he owned a second home on Blue Springs Lake, so close to his small home town and the county sheriff’s department he worked for, the two of them had become close.

Which was why he suspected Bryan had lied or knew more than he had let on. Turning the key, he drove away, glancing once in his rearview mirror, hoping he was wrong. He took his job as sheriff as seriously as he valued his friendship. He hadn’t cut Bryan any slack when dealing with his much younger brother’s rebellious teenage troubles and he wouldn’t now. Subterfuge didn’t settle well with him, especially when it involved a close friend.

Chapter One

Two months later

Flipping on her blinker, Alena Malloy took a left off U.S Coastal Route 1 at the exit for Blue Springs, leaving behind the steep border of jagged rocks and cliffs along the Atlantic coast she had been traveling for a good portion of her seven-hour trek from New York. Damn Ashley for putting me through this. The eleven-year age gap between her and her younger sister had kept them from bonding as children. Their mother’s slow decline into alcoholism starting with the death of their father ten years ago had had Alena, at the age of twenty-one, reluctantly picking up the reins of her ten-year-old rebellious sister’s upbringing.

And the past ten years had been fraught with pulling her sister out of one scrape after another. There had been the drug-and-alcohol stage in her teens as well as the promiscuous stage that landed a twenty-four-year-old computer hookup in jail when Ashley had been but fifteen. Between working two jobs and attending college part-time, Alena had done her best but had had to rely on her alcohol-soaked mother when she absolutely couldn’t be there. She had hoped once Ashley had been accepted into the University of Southern Maine in Portland that she would buckle down and work at making something of herself. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Ashley had surprised Alena when she’d announced that she had earned a full scholarship to the out-of-state school, the only way she would have been able to attend.

The first year things had looked up and the two of them had grown closer as sisters for the first time. That short-lived reprieve had ended this past year when Ashley had taken up with yet another wild group of kids and lost her scholarship but had refused to return to New York. Instead, she had taken out student loans and continued her irresponsible, self-destructive behavior. The final straw had been when she’d called Alena to bail her out of jail after getting caught with a one-pound stash of pot in her car. As hard as it had been, Alena had finally resorted to tough love and had told her sister she would just have to get herself out of her current bind.

That had been right before spring break, two months ago, and the last time she’d spoken with Ashley. Her curses still rang in her ears from her shocking decision. But in the past ten years, she had never gone this long without talking to Ash, either to fight, lecture, or try to coax her into better behavior.

Gripping her steering wheel, Alena’s tension over the possibilities of her sister’s disappearance kept her body taut as a bow. She could no longer sit back and wait for the authorities to find some clue as to her whereabouts. Which was what had led her to take a leave of absence from her job as a forensics photographer with the NYPD and why she was traveling almost four hundred miles to the last place her sister had been seen.

“Oh, good Lord,” she muttered, looking at the towering forested pines the now two-lane road wound through. “Where did they all come from?”

As a city girl through and through, she’d grown up amid skyscraper buildings, bustling activity, and shoulder-to-shoulder people around every corner. This vast nothingness of Mother Nature was as foreign to her as any overseas country. Just as she despaired of ever getting to civilization again, she came around a bend and spotted the ‘Welcome to Blue Springs’ sign with relief, then read the population count with disbelief. Twenty-two hundred? “Are you frigging kidding me?”

Her GPS guided her to the main hubbub within a few minutes, the street sign, Main Street, drawing a reluctant smile from her, the single traffic light a sigh of incredulity. Keeping to the twenty-five MPH speed limit with gritted teeth, she found the county sheriff’s office at the end of the street right where her instructions had said it would be. She tried to quell the panic threatening her composure when she imagined spending more than a few days in this secluded town and swore when she located her kid sister she would find a way to get through to her or wash her hands of her for good.

Parking in front of the two-story brick building, she got out, stretched, and took a deep breath, her nose twitching at the fresh woodsy scent along with the sweet aroma she assumed emitted from the large barreled pots of brightly colored flowers lining the sidewalk. The Portland detective in charge of Ashley’s case informed her he had already spoken with the Blue Springs sheriff, who had done a follow-up on their report stating this was the last place Ashley was seen. According to her group of friends who also took Kevin Hirst and his two buddies up on their suggestion to spend spring break at Blue Springs Lake, Ash had last been seen by them leaving the local bar with the three guys, promising to meet them back at the cabin they had rented later that night. She hadn’t been seen since, and, as stated by the police, had left the Hirsts’ lake home alone in her car then just disappeared after telling her friends she decided to head back home without waiting for the next morning, or them. Now, that sounded like Ash, inconsiderate and irresponsible. On more than one occasion she had up and taken off for days without a word as to where she’d gone or when she’d return. Usually her short disappearances meant she’d gotten involved with a new guy and when things went sour, usually in a matter of days, she would return and pick up as if she’d never caused anyone grief.

But she had never disappeared for so long, always managing to return in time to make up her grades, sometimes barely passing, but passing nonetheless. It had been almost impossible at first to get anyone to listen to Alena after two weeks had passed due to Ash’s past, but after another week went by without word, they finally assigned her case to missing persons where it had been stalled now for the last five weeks.

Tired of getting no answers, of sleepless nights and stress-filled days wondering and waiting for news, Alena had decided to take matters into her own hands. The answers were here, somewhere in this backwoods town, with someone in this vicinity and she intended to find them, with or without help from the good ol’ boys in charge.

Entering the cool interior of the sheriff’s office, she would start here and try to play nice by letting the sheriff know her relationship with Ashley and why she was here, but she wasn’t a patient person by nature and wouldn’t be thwarted in her need to uncover the truth about her sister’s whereabouts.

“Can I help you?” the bubble-gum popping receptionist asked as Alena let her eyes adjust to the dim interior after coming in from the bright June sun.

She knew nothing about small communities, but suspected the gossip grapevine would be short and fast. Making a quick decision, she opted to keep her identity between her and the sheriff for now. “I’d like to speak to the sheriff, please. It’s a personal matter.”

“Go straight back. Sheriff Janzen’s in his office.” After pointing down the hall with a smile, the unconcerned girl went back to filing her nails.

The fact the girl didn’t announce her visit worked in Alena’s favor. Taking the sheriff by surprise would give her the upper hand, at least starting out.

Rapping on the closed door, she waited for his call to enter before stepping inside, announcing, “Sheriff Janzen, I’m Alena Malloy, Ashley’s…” then coming to an abrupt halt when she saw not one man behind the large, window-backed desk, but also another perched on the corner. “Excuse me,” she faltered, wondering if she just blew her chance to remain anonymous to everyone but the sheriff. “I assumed you were unoccupied since I was directed to come straight back here.”

“Come in, Ms. Malloy and tell me how I can help you.”

Both men unfolded their tall frames with unhurried grace at the sight of her. The slow, deep drawl from the man behind the desk looking at her out of piercing black eyes sent a frisson of combined unease and pure, unadulterated lust zinging through her bloodstream. Or was the interested light of speculation in the cobalt blue eyes from the other man responsible for her warm, uncharacteristic response? So much for having the upper hand, she mused with rueful acceptance of her body’s unusual reaction to a pair of really, really hot guys. Squelching that reaction, she strode forward with her hand outstretched. “Sheriff, I want to know what you’ve done to find my sister, Ashley.”

She found her hand engulfed by his larger, callused palm, his grip just shy of too tight. Not liking the tingles shooting up her arm, she pulled back, but kept her eyes on his, refusing to back down under his close scrutiny and raised, inquiring black brow.

“Randy Janzen, and this is Nash Osborne. You should’ve called, Ms. Malloy. I could have saved you a trip. Have a seat.”

Alena returned the nod from the other man, struggling to figure out why his intense gaze had her tightening her thighs together against the startling pulse between them. I must be tired, she thought as she followed their lead and sank into the chair facing the desk, mustered up her composure, and then said, “I’m tired of the evasive non-answers I’ve been getting for two months now, Sheriff. Ashley was last seen here, in your town and here is where the answer to her disappearance lies. If I can’t rely on law enforcement to find it, then I’ll damn well find it on my own.”

She caught the conspiratorial look that passed between the two men before Nash surprised her with his British accent when he replied, “Not wise, luv. You need to trust everything is being done that can be to find Ashley.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, but who are you and what do you know about my sister’s case?” She sensed English wasn’t just an acquaintance of the sheriff, then became sure of it when another telltale look passed between the two men. “I don’t like being kept in the dark, gentlemen. I want answers.”

With a deep sigh that could have been regret or irritation, the sheriff rose again, saying, “Why don’t you let us treat you to a nice dinner, you can stay the night at our bed and breakfast before returning home. I promise I’ll get to the bottom of your sister’s disappearance.”

Trying to keep her cool as well as fight against her strong, annoying reaction to that deep, gravelly voice, she looked at him with a raised brow of her own, refusing to be intimidated or coddled. “Do you have anything more to go on besides her last two messages to her friends?”

“There are a few things we’re looking into.” He held up his hand, forestalling her demand to know what with that commanding gesture and the tightening of his sculpted, five o’clock-shadowed jaw. “I can’t disclose the facts of my investigation, especially those that have not been substantiated. Please. Take us up on our offer of dinner and a night in Blue Springs B & B before you return home. Even though Portland is only a few hours’ drive, you’ll enjoy a brief respite in our town despite the tragic circumstances that have brought you here.”

Alena slowly came to her feet, vibrating with conflicting emotions of anger and heightened awareness pulsing through her body. She had no clue which man had set off her sexual radar, and right now, she didn’t care. All she cared about was finding Ashley.

Leveling a frigid glare at both, she sugarcoated her tone as she answered. “FYI, Sheriff, I hail from New York and have taken an extended, much needed leave from my job as a forensic photographer with the NYPD to find my sister. I’m not leaving until I get the answers I came for.”

Pivoting, she walked out, feeling two pairs of eyes boring holes in her back.

“Oh, good Lord,” she groaned as she settled in her car and leaned her head back. How could she be so angry she could spit when all her happy places were humming to life? An even harder dilemma for her to find an answer to was which man stirred up her interest and her juices more—the buttoned-up Brit with the sexy accent or the rugged, dark sheriff—and which was responsible for her body taking over her rigid control and common sense?

She wasn’t a prude, but she also wasn’t ruled by basic urges. She didn’t need much more than just the desire for an orgasm to go to all the work of hooking up with a friend for a night or two to scratch an itch. If someone wasn’t available, nine times out of ten she could rid herself of the pesky sensation better and with more efficiency than any of her fuck buddies.

Starting her car, she forced her mind on to more pressing matters than her libido, such as finding a place to stay for the next few weeks if necessary. She may not know which man ticked off all her boxes, but she knew she wasn’t leaving without learning the whereabouts of her sister.

“Pretty woman,” Randy said, leaning his head back and popping a few sugar-coated almonds Nash had him addicted to in his mouth.

“Could put a kink in our plans.”

Looking at his temporary partner, houseguest, and new friend, he still found it surprising they got on so well given they were complete opposites in looks, dress, and nationality. It helped that the Scotland Yard detective enjoyed dominant sex and movie trivia, the only two things that made them compatible when Nash arrived in his town after following a lead in a murder case in London.

“I think we can ward off any potential problems.”

Heaving a sigh, Nash pondered a moment before shaking his head. “My brain’s been turned to mush over a red-headed, green-eyed spitfire who’s round and soft in all the right places. We’re going to have to keep an eye on her. She could jeopardize everything.”

“Then the best way to do that is to fuck her.” And Randy wouldn’t find that a hardship in the least. The twitch of Alena’s enticing ass drew both their eyes as she stomped out, her attitude akin to waving a red flag in front of not one, but two angry bulls.

“A woman like her, especially one with an agenda, wouldn’t be easy to tame.”

Rising, Randy slapped him on the back. “No, but if she pushes us we both know how to push back. She doesn’t look a thing like her sister, which works in our favor if she does make a pest of herself. Come on, let’s hit the diner, I’m starving.”

“Sex’ll do that to you.”

“I didn’t have sex.”

“Thinking about sex’ll do that to you.”

Laughing, Randy returned, “Who am I to argue with such logic?” Passing the front desk, he glared at his receptionist. “Daisy Mae, next time I have a visitor, page me before sending her back. And lose the gum,” he instructed on their way out, doubting if either order would be met. The granddaughter of his mother’s best friend, he had done the girl, her mother, and his own a favor by hiring her for the summer, something he’d regretted for the past month since she’d graduated from high school. Luckily, Daisy Mae would be heading off to college in two months, so he’d just suck it up until then to keep the peace. After all, that was his job, keeping the peace.

“We haven’t gotten far,” he said, thinking of his job as he and Nash strolled down the wood-planked sidewalk. “The only thing we have going for us in our favor is Bryan thinks I’ve told Portland PD we’re a dead end here.” Deceiving his friend didn’t sit well with him, but it just might be the only way to prove Bryan was innocent of any wrongdoing involving Ashley Malloy’s disappearance.

“Yeah, I know, mate,” Nash answered with the release of a frustrated, pent-up breath. “And while the two gatherings we’ve attended at his place since I’ve been here were fun, they didn’t turn up anything new.”

“No, but his place is where we’ll find something, if there’s something to find. Neither Bryan nor Kevin have shed any light on her disappearance, nor are they likely to. Hell, Nash, you know I don’t think either of them knows anything else.”

The unexpected arrival of Ashley’s sister added to Randy’s frustration over the stalled case and was a complication they didn’t need. When Nash had contacted him about a cold case from last summer involving a dead college girl in London about the time Kevin and his two constant friends, Brad and Joel, had been on a European tour, he’d wanted to discount the coincidence to his case, but he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t check out every angle.

“Maybe they don’t, but I’m not a fan of coincidence even if stranger shit has happened.”

“Afternoon, Mavis,” Randy called out to the mercantile owner as they passed her filling bins with fresh produce.

“Sheriff, Nash. Off to the diner, are you?”

“Of course. Have you ever known me to miss the chicken fried steak Sunday special?” Randy returned with a rueful smile.

“Can’t say that I have, Sheriff. You two stop in for a sundae afterwards, my treat,” the plump older woman offered, her ice cream counter a popular draw in the summer months.

“It’s a date, ma’am.” After they were out of her earshot, Nash added under his breath, “I’ve gotten downright country since landing in this place.”

Slapping him on the back again, Randy laughed outright at his disgruntled tone. “I told you we’d grow on you.”

After comparing their two cases and not liking the similarities or who those comparisons suggested they focus their attention on, they both agreed to keep Nash’s Scotland Yard employment a secret along with their dual investigation into Ashley’s disappearance. Randy had attended Bryan’s parties on occasion over the years so his continued acceptance of the invitations seemed natural. Thus far, Bryan and the rest of the townsfolk believed his introduction of Nash as an old college buddy.

An hour later Carlee had just taken their empty plates away and left them with a beer and the tab when Alena Malloy entered. As luck would have it, the only available seat was the small booth next to theirs and Randy couldn’t help but grin at her obvious ploy to pretend she didn’t see them. Settling back, they exchanged a silent look of communication and kept quiet. Carlee, bless her heart, could pull a secret from a priest if she was curious enough, which she usually was.

“Welcome,” Carlee greeted Alena, setting a plastic menu down in front of her with a beaming smile Alena found hard pressed to ignore. Amusement over the restaurant’s simple name, Diner, still tickled her as she noted the classic throwback fifties décor of checkered tablecloths and Elvis paraphernalia adorning the walls. Thinking of her favorite sushi bar and its posh, upscale atmosphere, she knew she would have passed this place by without a blink if there had been any other option.

“Thank you. I’m in a hurry, so would you mind just recommending something?”

“Can’t go wrong with the special, hon; then again, I own the place so I’m honor bound to say things like that. You visiting, vacationing, or just passing through?”

Alena couldn’t prevent the grin tugging at her lips. “Vacationing, and I’ll take the special.”

“You got it. Staying at the B & B or rentin’ a cabin? Got some pretty nice places along the lake.”

Now she was tempted to ask the woman with the friendly brown eyes to mind her own business, but if she intended to get answers without revealing who she was or the real reason for her stay, she knew she’d have to play nice. Conscious of the sheriff and his friend seated behind her, she wished she could see their faces when she replied, “Neither, I rented a boat. I thought it’d be fun to stay on the lake, right in the middle of everything.” That is if I don’t go stark, raving mad first, she thought as she imagined trying to sleep with all that quiet going on around her. She missed her apartment and the constant noise and activity of the city already.

“Just mind where you moor or you’ll get a hefty fine. Be right out with your salad and tea.”

Alena waited a moment, then breathed a sigh of relief when the men spoke quietly behind her but remained in their booth, tempering her irritation at seeing them. Carlee seemed like the perfect person to glean information from, but not with those two sitting so close.

Thankful the two men remained seated, she wondered just how close their relationship was and hoped they weren’t a couple. That would be a crime against all heterosexual women and if her desperation to find her sister became too intense, she knew she wouldn’t be above using sex to find the answers she’d been looking for.

She had just taken the last bite of her salad when Carlee returned with a plate full of chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and gravy that surprised her with the mouthwatering aroma, the steaming meal looking as good as it smelled. “Thank you. This looks delicious.”

“It is,” Carlee returned with confidence. “Save room for pie and let me know if you need anything else. I’ve lived here all my life, if you want some activity tips.”

“I might once I’m settled. Thanks.”

She almost groaned aloud at the first bite, closing her eyes to savor the taste before her enjoyment took a nosedive at hearing a now familiar deep voice that sent her pulse to racing.

“I think she likes it, Nash,” Randy drawled as he slid into her booth opposite her, Nash joining him.

“Either that or she’s aroused. Do you look like that when you’re aroused, luv?”

Snapping her eyes open, this time she did groan aloud when her body responded to one or both of them again with the same fervor as a few hours ago, proving her initial reaction wasn’t a fluke. Damn it. “This could be construed as harassment, guys,” she told them before ignoring their smirks and going back to her dinner.

“So, a boat, huh? Wonder why a city girl would want to rough it on a boat when she could have the comforts of a first-class B & B?” Randy mused aloud.

“From what I’ve seen, there’s nothing first class in this hick town,” she retorted before ignoring them and returning her attention to her meal. She didn’t like the way their identical, probing looks sent a wave of heat through her any more than she liked them interrupting her dinner. She took her food seriously, as her rounded hips and thighs attested to.

“Then you should go back home,” the friendly Brit said, his tone cooler than she had heard from him before.

Her annoyance escalating to anger, she attempted for payback by giving them a bone to chew on using her sweetest tone. “Didn’t I say? I’ve decided to spend my extended leave expanding my photography skills to include pretty, scenic views.” Releasing an exaggerated sigh, she added, “Photographing nothing but dead bodies and bloody crime scenes tends to wear a person down, you know?”

The sheriff accepted her new reason for hanging around with a skeptical lift of one coal black brow, his obsidian eyes cool and mocking. English’s blue eyes were just as mocking, only warmer.

“Tread carefully, Ms. Malloy,” Randy warned, his voice laced with warning that sent a shiver up her spine. “I won’t tolerate you interfering with my investigation even if I sympathize with your impatience for answers and your worry over your sister.”

As the sheriff nudged Nash, the two slid out of the booth, the sheriff walking away without another word, Nash standing there a moment looking down at her from his six foot plus height before stating with quiet emphasis, “There are things in play here you don’t know about, Alena. Be good and don’t make waves in waters you’re not familiar with. We’ll find your sister.”

“We? Are you a cop, English? I thought you were just a visiting friend.”

When he braced his hands flat on the table and leaned down into her face, Alena resisted the urge to cringe back in her seat, not out of fear, but straightforward lust that shot directly to her core from his heated gaze. Oh, good Lord.

“I am just a visiting friend. Remember that and don’t hint otherwise or the sheriff won’t be the only one meting out repercussions if you step over the line.”

Oh, God, Alena moaned to herself, fisting her shaking hands under the table as she watched their loose-limbed stroll out the door. As a pair, they were lethal to both her libido and her plans. There had to be something seriously wrong with her. Finding both men equally attractive, their tall, well-built bodies lust inspiring, wasn’t anything to be concerned about, it just proved she was a healthy, red-blooded woman. But the rapid thumping of her heart, her sweaty palms, and the spasm she experienced between her legs when both men had threatened consequences if she didn’t stand down wasn’t normal, was it? She’d never been into dominating men, preferring to call the shots when it came to sex. Being in control made it much easier when she was ready to walk away without entanglements.

She didn’t like her attraction to them, and certainly didn’t care for the flare of excitement their threats sent prickling along her skin. But if she needed to, she’d use sex and any other means at her disposal to find her sister. Then she’d wring Ashley’s neck herself for the trouble and worry this latest stunt had caused her.

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