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Excerpt for Sharp Edges by , available in its entirety at Smashwords








Sharp Edges




Sharp Edges




Ginger Elinburg









Copyright © 2017 Ginger Elinburg



All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, transmitted in any form or by any means, or store in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the Author. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the publisher.







This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, are coincidental.

Other Works by Ginger Elinburg


Wicked

Wicked Welcome (Book 1)

Beyond Wicked (Book 2)

Wicked: Family Ties (Book 3)

Pantar (Book 4)

Damien: The Guardian (Book 5)

Dimitri: Deadly Obsession (Book 6)

Donovan: Unleashed (Book 7)



Standalone

Hunted by Death

Always Girl

Sharp Edges

Whispered Deceit

Killian's Pass

Draçon

Hunted by Death II





For my girls, always.



















Chapter One

Stepping deeper into the shadows, Tora Crisan stood with her back against the brick wall and waited for her target to exit the coffee shop. She had been trailing him for the better part of a year now and she was running out of time to collect the reward for his capture.

The wooden door swung open and he stepped out onto the sidewalk, lifting his face towards the sky and smiling. She stood up straighter and pulled the tranquillizer gun from her waist band. Holding it down by her side, she stepped onto the sidewalk and started following him as he walked towards the park.

“Spare a dollar? You got any change?”

Tora dropped to her knee and pretended to tie her bootlaces when the target stopped and turned back to face the panhandler.

“How’s it going tonight, George?”

Tora looked up from beneath her black bangs and saw George smile as he rattled his cup. “I’m doing okay, Emrick. I’m right sorry I didn’t recognize you; some thieving bastard took my glasses.”

“Took your glasses?”

“Can you believe that shit? There I was, sleeping under my favorite tree, and some sumbitch snagged them right off my face.”

Tora saw Emrick shake his head as he pulled his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans. Taking out a few bills, he stuffed them into the cup before closing his wallet and putting it back into his pocket. “Tell you what, George. I’ll make you an appointment with my eye doctor and we’ll go together and get you some new glasses. Are you okay with that?”

George was too busy staring at Tora to answer. “Who’s he?” Shaking his cup again, he walked over and stopped in front of her. “Spare a dollar, sir?”

Standing up, Tora kept her head down and let the long bangs of her wig hide her face while she dug a few bills from her front pocket. Dropping them into George’s cup, she walked past Emrick and turned into the nearest club.

Walking over to the bar, she signaled the bartender and pulled off her gloves.

“What can I get for you, sugar?”

“Crown and coke.”

“You got any id?

Reaching into the pocket inside her leather coat, she retrieved her bogus driver’s license and passed it to the blonde.

The bartender barely glanced at the id before nodding and passing it back to Tora. “C and C coming right up.”

“Actually, can you make it just a coke?”

“Sure thing.”

Pulling her cellphone from her pocket, she stared at the blinking blue dot in the upper left hand corner and considered ignoring the many messages she knew were left by River.

“Here ya go. That’ll be two-fifty.”

Standing, she pulled a five from her pants pocket and held it out. “Bring me another one in a few minutes.”

After drinking down both drinks, she swiped her phone and entered her lock code. Thirty-six missed calls; twenty-five from River and eleven from her mother. Groaning, she shook her head and stared at her phone, trying to decide which would be worse; calling her boss or calling her mother.

Choosing the sanest of the two, she hit the call back button and held the phone to her ear.

“There better be a damn good reason you’ve been ignoring my calls.”

“Good evening to you too, River. I’m fantastic, thanks for asking.”

“Cut the shit, Tora. Why have you been ignoring me?”

Tora rolled her eyes and smiled at the blonde as she sat a third glass in front of her. Picking the glass up, she rattled her ice before taking a drink.

“Your mother called me.”

Choking on her drink, Tora’s eyes watered and her chest began to burn from lack of oxygen.

“You okay there, sugar.”

Looking up at the bartender, Tora wiped her eyes and nodded. “I’m fine.” Her voice was low and throaty when she spoke. “My mother called you? How the hell did she get your number?”

“You know; she didn’t say but I’ll be sure to ask the next time she calls.”

“Did she at least tell you why she called?” Pushing a ten across the bar, Tora waved at the waitress and stood to leave.

River’s voice was muffled and Tora had to strain to hear him. “Something about your father being a cheating bastard and she hopes he catches the syph.”

Tora stepped outside the club and leaned against the brick wall. “Shit… I guess I should go check on her then. I’m sorry she called you, River. I’ll find out how she got your number and delete it from her recent calls.”

“Don’t worry about it besides, now I have a new way to get in contact with you when you ignore me again. You still haven’t told me why you’ve been ignoring me.”

Her sigh caught in her throat when she looked up and saw Emrick across the street, watching her through narrowed eyes. “Shit.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I’ve been made… I think. Emrick is across the street watching me and if he’s there that means he’s been there the entire time I’ve been in the…”

“In the what?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t ‘nothing’ me, Tora. You were in a bar again. weren’t you? You know I strictly forbid any of my agents from drinking on the job. I told you the last time would be the last time.” His heavy sigh caused her shoulders to sag because she knew what was coming. “Come back to the office and bring your gear.”

“River, listen, I have a perfectly good…”

“Come back to the office now or I’ll send the boys out for you.”

River hung up before she had a chance to respond and she fought the urge to slam her phone against the wall. Glaring at Emrick, who was still looking at her, she lifted her middle finger before turning and walking down the street.

“An entire fucking year of my life wasted all because he won’t listen. Should’ve just called momma and listened to her bitch for an hour.” Her words were harsh, even to her own ears, and she looked around to see if anybody had heard her. Her eyes widened when she spotted Emrick several paces back. Stopping, she turned to face him. “Can I help you?”

Emrick was slightly stunned by her boldness. “I just wanted to return the money you dropped into George’s cup.”

“Return it? Why would you return the money? Did you just steal from a blind homeless man? What a shitty thing to do. What’s next? You gonna take his shoes?”

Emrick stared at her, wide eyed and wondered if she knew who she was talking to. “I beg your pardon? You do realize you dropped two hundred dollars in his cup, right?”

“Yeah? So?”

“So, you gave a bum two hundred dollars? Who gives that kind of money to pan handlers?”

Tora cocked her head and pointed to her chest. “I do. It’s only money and he obviously needs it more than I do. So, you just take it on back to him. You should be ashamed of yourself, taking money from homeless people.” Turning on her heel, she started walking down the street, casting an angry look back over her shoulder and shaking her head. “Creep.”

He rose his voice so that she could hear him. “I just thought you may have made a mistake.” Emrick watched her walk away, hands stuffed in the pockets of her jeans and her shoulders hunched forward to hide her figure. “You’re not fooling me one bit, minx. Soon… you’ll get that meeting you’ve been wanting.” Stuffing the money back into his pocket, he walked into the nearest alley and disappeared into the darkness.

“You want to tell me why you went against my orders and sat your ass on a bar stool? You’ve seen the damage that can happen when you’re on the job and drunk. This target isn’t like the others; he’s deadly.” River leaned back in his leather chair and propped his feet on his oak desk.

“He saw me.”

“He what now?”

Tora flopped down in the chair opposite River and let out a tired sigh. “He saw me. I was following him when a bum stopped him. I pretended to tie my bootlaces but the bum spotted me and brought Emrick’s attention to me.”

River sat up and looked down at Tora’s feet. “You think he noticed that you’re wearing boots that don’t include laces?”

Rolling her eyes, she shrugged. “Hell if I know… probably. What did you mean, he’s deadly? I’ve dealt with murderers who were known to butcher their victims alive just to hear their screams. Trust me, Emrick doesn’t scare me.”

“Well, trust me when I say, you should be very scared. But it doesn’t matter now.” River folded his hands on his desk and looked across at Tora. “You know I have to let you go, right?”

“You don’t understand; I wasn’t…”

“Don’t lie to me, Tora. It won’t change anything. I need your weapon and service equipment.”

“You’re seriously not going to give me a chance to explain what happened?”

“Look, you admitted you were in a bar and the fact that Emrick saw you… well, that’s not an excuse to drink.”

“But I wasn’t.”

Holding out his hand, he waited for her to hand over her weapon.

“Fine, fuck it. I’ll just go after him on my own and collect the bounty for myself once I’ve caught him.” Slamming her weapon into his open palm, she glared at him before turning to leave.

“Don’t go after this man, Tora! He’s my target and you know I’ve been after him for years.”

Opening the door, she turned and smirked at him. “And yet, the agent you just fired is the only one whose ever been able to get this close to catching him.” Slamming the door closed, she stormed down the hall and entered her office. The phone on her desk was already ringing and she jerked the cord from the wall before throwing the phone across the room.

Groaning, Tora rolled over and picked up the ringing phone. “Yeah?” Her voice was raspy from sleep and she cleared her throat as she waited for a response.

“Why are you still in bed?”

“Momma? What time is it?”

“It’s six.”

Tora pulled the covers up over her head and curled into a tight ball, squeezing the phone in frustration. “That’s why I’m still in bed. Why are you calling me so damn early?”

Her mother clucked her tongue. “Language.”

“Momma, I love you, I really do, but if you don’t tell me why you’re calling me at six a.m… I’ll say a lot more than damn.”

“Wow, you’re not being rude at all, are you?”

Tora rolled over onto her back and flung her arm over her eyes. “Sorry, momma.”

“That’s better. Now, I guess you’ve forgotten what today is?”

“It’s Saturday?”

“It’s your cousin’s wedding day.”

“Ugh, mom, I told her I wasn’t going to be able to make it. I have things to do.”

“That was before you got fired from your job. You can go now.”

“Momma, I still have things to do.”

“You’re going, Tora. Now get your ass up and get ready, I’ll send a car around in an hour.”

“Language, ma’am.”

“Get up, Tora.”

Hitting the end button, Tora lay still for a few minutes wondering how mad her mom would be if she skipped town for the day. Her phone vibrated and she read the incoming text.

“Get up or I’ll come there myself.”

Sighing she sent her reply, “I’m getting up.”, and threw the covers back.

She was halfway to the bathroom when her phone vibrated again. Looking down, she read the text and groaned.

“I left your dress in your closet. See you soon.”

Turning her head towards her closet, she chewed her jaw, scared of finding out what her mother had left in there for her to wear.

Her eyes fell longingly to her dusty boots and she nodded as she walked into the bathroom, talking to herself. “I’ll wear your dress, mom, but once the main event is over, I’m changing into my jeans and boots.”

The blood on his teeth glistened black in the moonlight when he smiled down at her. “I knew you’d be satisfying, but I didn’t expect you to taste so intoxicatingly sweet.”

Her eyelids drifted downward and she struggled to keep them open. “Please…”

His nostrils flared from the spicy scent of her fear and he felt himself harden behind the zipper of his tight-fitting jeans. “Yes…” Pulling her close, he ran his tongue across the puncture wounds on her throat. He laughed low in his chest when he felt her flinch beneath his touch. “I was going to kill you, but now… now I think I’ll keep you around for a while.”

“Please… just… kill me.”

Standing up, he lifted her into his arms and cradled her body against his chest. “And give you an escape from the punishment you deserve? No. I plan on making you pay for everything you’ve done to me. For every cut you inflicted on my body. For every word of hate you’ve spoken to me. For every member of my family that you’ve killed, you will pay the price.”

Hot tears rolled from the corner of her eyes and she tried to force her arm to lift so she could wipe away the signs of her weakness. The words she intended to speak became lodged in her throat and her mouth fell open as her muscles relaxed. “But I didn’t!” Her mind kept screaming the words and she knew from the smile that spread across his handsome face that he heard her frantic thoughts.

With a single thought, he gently closed her mouth and smiled down at her before leaning forward and licking a tear from her cheek. “Oh…but you did and I’m going to enjoy making you pay.”

Laughter from the street drew his attention and he stepped further into the shadows, waiting for the two men to enter the cathedral.

“Please…” The word came out as a whispered sigh.

His ice blue eyes flashed with warning when he looked down at the woman in his arms and he slowly shook his head. Hearing the door to the cathedral slam closed, he tightened his grip on his prisoner before lifting them both into the air.

Tora came awake slowly, her hand automatically going to her throat. She hissed at the intense pain that flared to life at her gentle touch. Her hand shook and she lifted it to check for signs of blood.

“Good evening, miss. Will you be needing assistance to the powder room?”

Tora reached toward the nightstand, where she kept her pistol and her heart slammed against her ribs when her hand encountered empty air. “What th… where the hell am I?”

The woman remained silent as she walked across the room and opened the top drawer of the dresser and removed a pair of bright red lace panties and a matching bra. “Would you prefer to wear jeans or a maxi dress?”

“I would prefer if you answered my question. Where am I?” Shielding her eyes from the fading sunlight shining through the curtains, she pushed herself into a sitting position and looked around the room.

Turning slowly to face the bed, the woman smiled at her. “Why… you’re at home, miss. Your husband told me you….”

Tora held up her hand to stop the woman’s words. “Hold up, I don’t have a husband.”

Clucking her tongue, the woman walked towards the bed. “Poor dear, you must have hit your head harder than your husband thought. He warned me that you’d be a little confused but, for you not to even remember him…”

Tora jerked back to avoid the woman’s touch and pressed herself against the headboard. “I haven’t forgotten anything. I’m not married, never been married. Who are you? How long have I been here?”

Stepping to the foot of the bed, the woman laid the undergarments down and turned toward the closet. The interior lit up as soon as she slid the glass doors open. “My name is Margret Paxton but you may call me Maggie.”

Both women jumped when they heard a sigh from the corner of the room.

“Good evening, love. I trust you slept well. Do you need a pill for your headache?”

Tora lifted a hand to her aching head and look toward the corner suspiciously. “How do you know I have a headache?”

“It’s almost a sure thing, love. That was a pretty nasty fall you took when the horse threw you two days ago.”

“I wasn’t on a horse two days ago. You attacked me and…” Her face drained of color and she swallowed repeatedly to hide her sudden fear.

Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, Tora stood up and had to quickly grab the headboard to keep from falling. Her breath caught in her throat and she looked up at the man who was suddenly holding her around her waist.

“Easy, love. We don’t want you falling and hurting yourself again. Maggie?”

“Yes, Mister Maddox?”

“Have you had the chance to get her bath ready?”

“Yes, sir. I started the water as soon as you informed me that Mrs. Maddox was awake. Would you like for me to help her, sir?”

Sweeping Tora up into his arms, he shook his head and strode from the room. “Just bring her things, would you?”

“Yes, sir.”

Tora tried not to breathe in the masculine scent that exuded from the man’s body as he held her tightly against his chest. “I’m perfectly capable of walking on my own.”

“I could tell that by the way you almost ate the floor in there.”

“Who are you?”

His ice blue eyes collided with her spring green eyes. “I’m your husband… Emrick.”

Tora felt her blood run cold and she looked up at the man who claimed to be her husband. She tried to wiggle out of his arms but he tightened his hold and continued down the hall. “Be still, love, I don’t want to drop you.”

“Stop calling me that! And I’m not your wife. I would know if I were married. Put me down.”

“I will, just as soon as we reach the bathroom.”

Tora’s eyes widened when Emrick stepped into the bathroom. The room was huge and the white marble tub was built into the floor. Hearing running water, she craned her neck until she spotted a waterfall. The outer walls of the bathroom were made of clear glass and offered a view of the woods and the setting sun easing behind the mountains beyond. “I can’t bathe in here. What if someone is hiding out there watching us?”

His laughter caused his chest to vibrate against her side. “Trust me, there’s no one out there.”

“You can’t be sure of that.”

Sitting her on her feet, he made sure she was steady before letting her go and stepping back. “I can be sure but, even if someone was out there, they couldn’t see inside because the glass is one way.”

Tora turned in a slow circle and took in the beauty of the bathroom. “How did you create that waterfall? It looks so realistic.”

“I didn’t create it, I built the bathroom around it and the excess water flows beneath the house and follows its natural course.”

Tora thought about his words for a minute, her hand absently pressing against her neck. “Aren’t you at all concerned about contaminating the wildlife’s water supply with soap?”

“We don’t bathe in the waterfall. It’s there purely for decorative purposes. Besides, it’s protected by the glass.”

Her eyes were narrowed and full of concern when she turned to face him. “You’ve never worried that someone can see you?”

His blood heated and he turned to leave. “I’ve never had a reason to. Maggie will help you with whatever you may need.” Reaching the door, he wrapped his hand around the handle and looked back at her. “I’ll see you downstairs in a little bit.”

“I’ll probably just go back to my… my room.”

His smile held a trace of bitterness and his words were slightly harsh. “That wasn’t a question, Tora. I’ll see you downstairs when you’ve finished.”

Tora’s heart hammered against her ribs and she fought to catch her breath. Once the door was closed, and she was sure he was gone, she turned pleading eyes upon Maggie. “Please… you have to help me. He’s not my husband, he’s a dangerous criminal. And I don’t live here. I live in an apartment in the city.”

Maggie added scented oils to the hot water and swirled them around with the tips of her fingers. “Do you need help undressing, Mrs. Maddox?”

“Stop calling me Mrs. Maddox! I’ve told you, I’m not married to him.”

Maggie’s hips swayed seductively as she strode toward Tora, her fingers working to unbutton her blouse. “My orders are to make sure you bathe and to give you a massage to help you relax.”

Tora took a step away from the approaching woman, holding her hands out to stop her from getting any closer. “Why are you getting undressed then?”

Cocking her head to the side, Maggie smiled and wiggled out of her peach colored thong. “I’m getting in the bath with you. How else am I supposed to massage you?”

“I… I don’t need a massage. You can go now.” Tora’s back pressed against the cold glass wall and Maggie stepped in close and lifted her hands towards the buttons on Tora’s pajama top. Grabbing her wrist’s, Tora tried to push her hands away. “I don’t need help.”

Pressing in closer, Maggie held Tora’s gaze and, one by one, began releasing buttons. “When Mister Maddox gives you orders, it’s best to follow them instead of fighting me.” Her eyes dropped to Tora’s breast as she pulled the shirt open and down her arms. “Now… do you need help to finish undressing?”

Tora swallowed against the dryness in her throat. “Nnn… no. I can finish by myself.”

Breathing deeply through her nose, Maggie stepped back and crossed her arms over her full breast. Her eyes following Tora’s movements and she nodded in approval when Tora finally stood naked before her. “You’ll need to shave.”

Looking down at her legs, Tora shook her head. “They don’t need shaved today.”

Walking towards the steaming bath, Maggie laughed. “I’m not talking about your legs, sweetie.”

Tora’s hands flew to cover her pubic hairs and she looked at Maggie with horrified eyes. “I’m not shaving… that.”

Maggie’s smile was predatory. “If you don’t, I will.” She didn’t miss the flare of Tora’s nostrils or the quick shudder that shook her shoulders. “Come… get in the water.”

Tora chewed her jaw and hesitated briefly. “Do you have to be in there with me?”

Pushing up from the bottom of the deep tub, Maggie floated on the surface of the water. “I’m only following orders, as you should be doing.” When Tora still hesitated, Maggie stood back on her feet and looked at her with bored eyes. “It’s either me in here with you or Mister Maddox gets in with you. Your choice. And since you seem so sure that the two of you aren’t married, I’d think you’d prefer having me in here.”

Straightening her shoulders, Tora held her head high and walked over to stand on the edge of the sunken tub. She waited until Maggie was underwater before crouching down and sliding into the steaming bath. Her muscles instantly relaxed and she closed her eyes, sighing in pleasure as the heat seemed to invade her body. Her eyes snapped open and she tried to scoot away from Maggie’s hands as they wrapped around her waist. “What are you doing?”

“I’m trying to turn you around so I can begin your massage.”

Tora held her eyes for a second before nodding and turning to face the opposite direction. At Maggie’s nudging, she walked over to the edge of the tub and held on as Maggie began to gently massage her shoulders. Her head drooped forward and she lay it against her folded arms. “How long have you worked for Emrick?”

“He hired me two days ago.” Her hands dropped lower and she felt Tora stiffen. “Just relax. There you go, how’s that feel?”

Tora nodded and smiled a sleepy smile. “It feels good. You really know what you’re doing. Did you go to school to be a masseuse?”

Her breath was hot against Tora’s neck. “No.” Her fingers trailed lower and she gently nipped the back of Tora’s neck. “How’s that feel.”

Tora’s mind swirled and she struggled to open her eyes. “What are you doing?”

“I’m helping you relax.” Her fingers brushed against Tora’s curls and she smiled in satisfaction when Tora spread her legs wider. “Hmmm… that worked better than I hoped.” Using her body to keep Tora from slipping beneath the water, she turned her around and lifted her body up until she was floating on the surface. “Do you want to shave her or shall I do it?”


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