The Epic Romantic Suspense Bundle
The Epic Romantic Suspense Bundle
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Indulge in 7 romantic suspense novels that are full of romance, mystery, and enough suspense to keep those pages turning!
This bundle includes both the Luke Fletcher Series and the Volkov Men Series!
- Secret Identity
- Alpha Protector
- Romantic Suspense
Emilia Hudson has never been one to consider arranged marriages, especially if it meant her fifty-five year old parents would have a say, but with her dismal love life, she’s almost reconsidering.
After her latest dating disaster, Emilia writes a simple blog post that goes viral. Worse yet, people start considering her a relationship expert, and all she feels like is a fraud.
As the emails and speaking engagements start rolling in, she realizes her only option is to take the bull by the horns and run with the unexpected fame.
What she doesn’t want to do is talk about the real reason why she won’t ever fall in love again.
However, when she gets an offer she can’t refuse from a major publisher, that’s all they want her to write about, but It isn’t until she meets the man behind the proposal that she realizes why…
Intro to Devin (Chapter One)
Intro to Devin (Chapter One)
I never imagined I’d be a cop. Not while growing up, anyway. I never dreamed I’d call New York City home. Yet, both happened before I turned thirty.
In hindsight, moving across the country was a way to run far away from my past, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized there was no running from the things that made me who I was. It didn’t matter if I was in Idaho or New York. I still carried all the same burdens day in and day out, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to rid myself of them.
I’d wanted to get lost in the chaos of the city and let my problems absorb into hers.
Initially, my plan had worked.
The heartbeat of the city became my own, and I was able to fall into the city’s rhythm, pretending that this new life had nothing to do with my old one. But the deeper I became invested in the problems of New York, the more I recognized the same patterns from my old life emerging.
Between towering buildings, the seedy, harsh underbelly of the city beckoned from the shadows, lurked around every corner, and called out to anyone who’d listen.
I always seemed to be that someone.
Maybe that was why I became a police officer. I thought I’d be able to protect those who couldn’t see the ugliness of the world.
I let out a sigh and pushed through the double doors of the six-story brick precinct building I’d called home for the last four years. Uniformed officers flanked both sides of the lobby as I made my way to the stairs leading to the second floor.
Since NYPD closed the Organized Crime Control Bureau a few months back, the change sent more control to each of the boroughs. The result was a heavier focus on the uptick in gang activity and more inter-department cooperation.
The investigative powers shifted to each individual patrol borough, so now Narco, Gang, and Vice all reported into an Investigations Chief who then reported to the Chief of Detectives.
I saw the change as a way for more corruption to enter our system, but the reorganization was so new, it was too early to tell. To believe mafias weren’t as powerful as they once were could be a fatal mistake that would most definitely work on the side of the mob bosses and their never-ending thread of illegal activities.
The shrill-ringing sound of unanswered phones accompanied me down the path beside the cubicles where busy detectives left messy desks and half-eaten breakfast items on their way out the door. By the time I reached the Lieutenant’s office, my palms were sweaty and I was a ball of nerves. I really didn’t know why he’d asked me to meet him. I knocked on the half-opened door, and the Lieutenant looked up at me, his eyes connecting with mine.
“Officer Avery.” He motioned me in. “Take a seat.”
I did as instructed and sat in one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Thank you, sir.”
He nodded as if he agreed he did something to be thanked for.
“I got a call from Vice.” Lieutenant Jones’ hardened exterior was well-earned, and it certainly didn’t lessen the tension I was feeling. There were very few reasons to get called in, and generally, they weren’t good ones.
“Yes, sir.” I nodded.
He smoothed his grey mustache before moving his chair forward and eyeing me suspiciously. The closely cropped haircut and rather square jawline did little to soften his expression.
“All that press may have done you some good, or it might give you an early exit out of here.”
My pulse quickened. Over the summer, I’d gotten called in on a dive in the harbor that received a lot of press, and I turned out to be in the middle of it all, and not by choice. During the dive, I was the diver who found the murder weapon from one of the most notorious murders the city had seen in recent times. It didn’t help that CNN happened to be onsite when I came out of the water with the weapon in hand.
I wasn’t a full-time member of NYPD’s scuba team, but the last two summers, I’d been assigned there during their busy months. It took a lot to be part of that team, and it was a close-knit group, but at the end of each summer, I went back to my patrol unit.
“I’m not sure I’m following you, sir.”
“Lieutenant Davis will be here shortly to fill you in. You caught her eye, and she would like us to temporarily assign you to Vice to work a case with her.” He let out a deep breath, but his expression didn’t change. “I don’t have to allow it if you don’t want me to.”
A shot of adrenaline pulsed through me at the chance to work Vice, but I also understood what Jones was telling me. If I screwed up, there was nothing and no one to protect me. I’d be out of a job. The safe thing would be to stay where I was and turn down the opportunity.
“I think the experience would be invaluable.”
He grunted and nodded. “I was afraid you’d say that.”
But I swore I saw a hint of a smile under his pursed lips and mustache.
His eyes flicked over my shoulder and I knew she must be here.
“Is now a good time?” The silkiness of her voice surprised me.
“I just filled her in.”
I stood and turned around to see Lieutenant Davis. A navy-blue pantsuit skimmed over her lean body, and her dark hair fell past her shoulders. She reached her hand out to mine and gave me a strong handshake.
“Good to meet you, Officer Avery.” She gave a seemingly friendly smile, but I felt absolutely no warmth.
“Pleasure is mine.” I nodded and sat back down as she took a seat in the empty chair next to me.
“You received your degree in Sociology with a Criminology minor from Idaho State University and interned with the Bannock County Sheriff’s Department before coming to New York,” she recited, and I nodded in agreement. “Where you’ve had an exemplary career—”
“Albeit a short one,” Lieutenant Jones added.
Davis quickly dismissed his comment and continued.
“As a member of the scuba team, you strayed from your assigned search area and found the murder weapon. You discovered the weapon in a section that a detective had already cleared.” She finally took a breath.
I didn’t like the implication, the pitting of one detective against another. We were all here to do a good job, and sometimes it took more than one set of eyes on a scene.
“That is correct.”
“And why did you go where you’d already been told it had been cleared?”
I really didn’t like her insinuation.
“Exactly.” She pointed at me and nodded while my eyes skated to Jones, who looked about as annoyed as I felt. “I have a case where I think your expertise would be a perfect fit.”
Being that it was late January, I couldn’t imagine my expertise had to do with diving.
“How so?” Lieutenant Jones questioned.
Davis shook her head and looked at me. “Would you be willing to go undercover? The assignment could last as long as six months.”
“Six months?” Jones questioned in a near-groan.
She continued to ignore him. “It would require all contact to be cut off with friends, family, associates, and the department for the duration of the assignment.”
A nervous energy filled the room. Both Lieutenant Jones and I knew that wouldn’t be too difficult for me, considering my background. The way Davis studied me told me she also knew that wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice.
“Would that be something doable?” she asked.
“That would be fine.” I kept my voice steady and the edge of excitement out of each syllable. “When would I begin the assignment?”
I glanced at Lieutenant Jones, who still looked annoyed, but not about my being offered an opportunity—more about who was doing the offering. I knew I wouldn’t be given any details unless I accepted, and I was a curious person by nature.
“You can go back to your apartment to grab what you need, but you can’t bring anything identifiable with you. Grab shoes, clothes, toiletries, but nothing with your name or address on it. We’ll have your new identification waiting for you in your temporary housing.”
“Who will look after my apartment if I accept?” I asked.
“The department will take care of everything until you return. It will be just as you left it.” She stood up from the chair and reached over the desk to shake the Lieutenant’s hand before I had a chance to ask anything else. Her eyes flashed back to mine. “If you’re interested, come with me. We’ll discuss the details in the conference room.”
I nodded, stood up, and slid one last glance toward Jones. He caught it.
“Good luck.” He smiled and shook my hand, and I wondered what in the world I’d just agreed to. “Stay safe out there.”
I wandered out of his office almost in a daze as I spotted her rapidly walking into the conference room across from the cubicles. Two men were sitting around the table, and it looked as if a presentation was about to begin.
I drew in a deep breath and looked back at Lieutenant Jones, who was already on the phone. He gestured for me to keep walking, which I did.
I made my way past the maze of cubicles until I landed in front of the conference room, where they were quickly closing the blinds along the glass wall and motioning for me to come inside.
A man with light blond hair stood and greeted me. He was probably my age or a little deeper into his thirties. He seemed kinder than Davis. . . or maybe he was a better actor.
“That’s Ellis with the FBI,” she informed me before pointing at the other guy, who looked to be in his late forties with salt and pepper hair. “And that’s Rodriguez from the ATF. You won’t see them after today.” She sat at the head of the table, and I sat in an empty chair next to her as Ellis turned out the lights and closed the door as Rodriguez turned on the projector. The screen filled up with four extremely good-looking men.
“These are the Volkov brothers.” There was a tremor of excitement weaving through her words. “They run the V Mafia. Their cover is Wolf Industries.”
Ellis slid a file across the table.
“You name it, they’ve done it,” she continued, but I already knew all about the V Mafia. They control the streets of New York while writing checks to cover their tracks and pave the way for their activities.
Any time one of us got close to something they were involved with, we were suddenly off the case, and it was handed over to, I assume, the people I’m sitting in front of.
Yet, they remained on the streets.
I kept my eyes on the frozen images of the four men. They were all attractive with dark hair, striking blue eyes, and bodies that rivaled most movie stars, but I knew what they were capable of. I reached for the folder and opened it to see a photo of a restaurant on the top sheet.
“That’s Meta. One of the hottest bars in town. The Volkovs just opened it. The place has a regular clientele of assholes running through it day in and day out. We’ve tried to get three different operatives in there.” She stopped talking.
I looked up at her.
“And that’s where you come in.” Her thin eyebrow rose.
“What do you mean?” I asked, sitting back in the chair.
“Management seems to go for a certain look,” she began. “And you fit it.”
My heart fell with the realization that I was only tapped because of my hair color.
“Don’t get your feelings hurt. You’re an excellent officer. I wouldn’t send someone in who wasn’t. I also know you worked your way through college as a server.”
“How do you know I won’t be recognized?” I asked, flipping to the next page.
“You were in a dry suit and goggles when the press last featured you,” she said wryly. “Don’t let your fame go to your head.”
I bristled at how she spoke to me, but I knew better than to say anything.
“We’ve got word that in the next six months, the Volkovs are expecting three large shipments into the port.”
“Of what?” I asked.
Davis traded a glance with Rodriguez. “Weapons, mainly. We’re not sure what else.”
“One already came through and we missed it. We need to know how they’re getting it through the Port Authority.” She smiled and flipped to the next slide with an image of one of the younger brothers, if I were to guess.
“This is Devin Volkov. Devin does a lot of the dirty work. . . or at least he used to until his brothers began worrying about him screwing up,” she continued. “Devin began his own side business. The brothers don’t know about it. That misstep offers us—you—the perfect opportunity to sneak into his world. If we can learn about what he’s up to, it might offer us the leverage we need to bring the brothers down.”
Rodriguez slid a piece of paper over to me. “This is your resume.”
I looked over the sheet. My name was no longer Lara Avery. I was now Avery Hill, with lengthy experience as a hostess and waitress at several upscale eateries.
“We can’t be sure that you’ll be hired, but if you are, we need your full commitment. You won’t be allowed to reach out to the department in any way for any reason. It’s far too dangerous. Your studio apartment will be wired. Any written correspondence we ask you to place on your desk before shredding it. We will be able to scan the image from one of our cameras. Anything you feel needs to be communicated verbally can be said in the privacy of your apartment and we will pick it up. If you’re ever in your apartment with someone and your life is in danger, we need you to say, ‘I wish I could go back to Idaho’. We will be there in less than two minutes.”
“How do you know it will only take two minutes?” I asked.
“Because we’re stationed on the floor above you,” she answered, and a sick feeling settled deep into my bones.
The idea of being watched at all hours of the day and night was unsettling.
“These are dangerous men, Officer Avery. The sooner we gain some leverage, the sooner we can get the Volkovs off the streets. You will save countless lives. The Volkovs don’t play by any rules they don’t create, and they have absolutely no problem getting rid of people who get in their way.” Her cool eyes stayed on mine as she watched me formulate questions I’d never get answers to. “We ask that you do what it takes to get the answers we need.”
“You can’t be sure I’ll be hired.”
“The guy in charge of hiring at Meta has a type. We overlooked it before but not this time,” she assured me.
“If you don’t get in, it wasn’t meant to be,” Rodriguez added.
Lieutenant Davis flipped to another slide, and my world melded into theirs as I learned about the Volkovs and why they needed to be stopped.