‘Cuffed’, an excerpt…


I wanted to lick every inch of Violet D’Allegra’s long legs. From my vantage point across the restaurant, I watched her cross those legs once, twice, three times. And each time I fought a dark urge to drop before her in supplication.

This was the fifth night in a row I’d tracked her here, and it always started like this: she’d arrive before her mark, find a table, and order a glass of chilled white wine she’d never drink. She’d take out her phone and scroll through, ignoring the stares from other men in the room. Her fingers would trail along her collarbone, the edges of her dress, drawing the eyes of her many admirers.

It had an effect, one that I was about to see succeed in person. Her mark had arrived. Jack Peterson was easily fifteen years her senior and one of the wealthiest venture capitalists in San Francisco.

Well done, Violet.

I watched him look for her, his gaze finally landing on the table far in the back. I saw the hunger in his eyes.

She had it too. They just never saw it.

I noticed every subtle movement of her body. She knew he was here, though to a casual observer she looked distracted, even bored, with her phone. With one hand she tossed her long, black hair over her shoulder, exposing her beautifully bare throat. She crossed her legs, again, and I swallowed a growl. Under the table I could see her fiddling with a gold ring – the only sign at all that she was nervous.

Jack made his way over, and as casually as I could I moved further down the bar, bringing my beer with me.

“Everything okay, sir?” the bartender asked.

I ignored him, too focused. I couldn’t hear what Jack said, but he must have said her name because she looked up, tilted her head, then let a wide, smoky smile light up her face.

I first thought it was the smile that got them. It was the kind of smile a naked woman might give you as she stretched out on your bed with her hands above her head. It was a smile that promised. A smile that delivered.

Like all predators, Violet knew how to snare her prey. The smile was the beginning. Standing up was the ending.

She’d worn The Dress. Black, tight as sin, with a slit damn near up to her hips. Violet D’Allegra had the body of a 1950’s pin-up model, and that dress should have been illegal. The spike heels she wore showed her mark she was sexy, and spontaneous.

The dress, her heels – they were her weapons, wielded carefully.

He was a goner.

Jack was easier than most, and he folded like a paper napkin.

I drank a second beer and watched their date. If I angled myself just right, I could see her face, watch her expressions. She laughed at everything he said, letting her fingers trace her collarbone, the strap of her dress sliding down her left shoulder. At one point she reached forward and grabbed his arm, then pulled back, blushing.

The perception of innocence was important to Violet.

My phone vibrated with a text message that I ignored. I knew who it was.

If she succeeded tonight–and the signs were good–he’d fuck her soon. I used to feel pity for them, even a self-righteous anger.  Now, I seethed with twisted jealousy.

But it really wasn’t a good idea to fuck the woman you were also desperately trying to arrest.

My phone vibrated six more times, enough that I knew I’d be in deep shit if I didn’t pick up soon. I left Violet and Jack and stepped outside into the breezy San Francisco night.

“What?” I snapped.

“That wouldn’t be the tone of voice I’d take with my boss, but we all make our choices, I guess.”

I leaned against the wall and rubbed my forehead. “I’m sorry, sir. Having a rough day.”

“Will, we’re all having rough days. Especially since I have two pompous millionaires halfway up my ass, demanding answers. Which, interestingly enough, is why I’m calling you.”

I’d been tracking her for two months now, from San Diego, up the coast of California and now San Francisco. To her marks, she was Violet D’Allegra. In the office, we called her Man Eater (and sometimes much worse). Real name: unknown.

Her deal was seduction, blackmail and theft, or so we thought. So far, all we had was the testimony from two men–one from San Diego, one from L.A.–who claimed Ms. D’Allegra had taken them for one hell of a ride.

Violet had done her research carefully, seducing powerful, wealthy men in loveless, but politically important, marriages. Her marks cried ‘blackmail’, but when we pushed them further on it they locked up fast. They wanted something to be done without their own involvement. But without further evidence, they looked like two idiots who’d gifted large sums of money to a mistress, then regretted it.

Even after she’d ruined their lives, Violet controlled their silence. I wasn’t sure how.

The only reason I’d been put on Violet’s tail was because my Sergeant was eyeing an open Sheriff’s seat in San Diego and both of her victims held some political sway.

So I was on babysitting duty, a bullshit assignment that I was positive was punishment from my Sergeant for reasons unknown. I had the highest rate of closed cases in the district; had received medals and was well-respected on our squad. Last year I’d closed a high-profile murder case that was in every L.A. newspaper.

But I’d also gotten drunk at our holiday party and flirted with the Sergeant’s wife, a sexy little submissive who liked me more than she wanted to admit.

Which is probably why I’d spent the last eight weeks of my life living in a car filled with fast food wrappers, operating on no sleep, and being slowly tortured by a Man Eater.

“I think she’s just landed her next one, sir. I’m pretty positive of it.”

I’d watched enough of her dinners to know. They almost always fucked her at the end of the night, that was a given, but it didn’t necessarily go further than that.

Violet was careful. Something would spook her, and she’d be gone in a flash. From what I could tell, they needed to be easily manipulated. They needed to become obsessed with her. They needed marriages that were crucial to their political career but a weakness for cheating.

“Who?” he asked.

I looked around, made sure no one could hear. “Jack Peterson. Venture capitalist in the Bay Area. Plus, his wife is the Mayor’s sister.”

“Political aspirations?”

“That’s the rumor,” I said. “His uncle was a Senator and his brother has been sniffing around some County seats.”

He was silent for a moment. “You need to close this case soon, Will.”

We’d had this conversation once a week for the past three weeks.

“This is junior Detective work. Watch her, catch her, bring her in. It shouldn’t be taking you so long.”

“There’s no crime against sleeping with guys you meet at a bar. And that’s all it looks like for now. I’ve got nothing.” Which I’d convinced myself was true. “I need to stay on her for longer, sir.”

From the corner of my eye I watched Violet and Jack stand up and walk towards the door.

“I’ve got to go,” I said crisply. “They’re moving.” I hung up before he could respond, a mistake I’d most likely pay for later. I watched Violet walk past tables, Jack’s hand on the small of her back. I felt my palms itch. She usually taxied to the restaurant, which meant they’d be taking his car.

My car was parked behind the valet station so I could follow them easily. I was so distracted watching her I didn’t move fast enough when they stepped outside. I was closer to Violet than I’d ever been, just a few feet away. I busied myself on my phone, pretending to talk to a girlfriend.

“I know, sweetheart,” I mumbled into the empty receiver. “I miss you too.” I looked down and laughed softly, then said, “I’m on my way home. Can’t you wait a little longer?”

I watched their feet, the way Jack kept moving closer and closer to her. She was like a bright star, drawing him closer, into her orbit. I knew the feeling.

I nodded, pretending to listen to my imaginary girlfriend, then hung up the phone. I glanced up to find Violet staring at me.

It was only for a second, just a quick glance over her shoulder before sliding into the low body of Jack’s car. Her bright blue eyes blazed right through me, and then it was gone. The door closed and they pulled away.

I cursed, strode to my car, and prepared to tail them. My cock was hard, and aching, had been the entire night. I cursed again, cursed those long legs and the sweet mystery between them; that hair I wanted to wrap around my fingers and yank; that throat I would mark with my teeth.

I cursed her entire game and tried to convince myself that I hated being twisted up in it.



(on Goodreads: https://t.co/WZYA149AIB)


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