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Wicked Intentions (Wicked Games #3)
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In the Caribbean for his best friend’s wedding, ex special-ops officer Ryan McLean meets a beautiful woman in the hotel bar. Their connection is immediate and intense, and they spend a passionate night together with pleasure as their only goal.
But when Ryan wakes the following morning to discover the beautiful woman vanished–along with millions worth of jewels from the safe of the Saudi prince staying next door–he realizes he was duped. He becomes determined to find the mystery woman and bring her to justice…if only he could forget how explosive their chemistry was.
A notorious thief known as the Dragonfly, Mariana has only more more job to do until she can retire, but the sexy-as-hell Marine she spent one sultry tropical night with is hot on her heels at every turn. She has to outwit him to stay out of jail, but fighting their magnetic attraction soon becomes a game neither one of them can resist.
When Mariana’s last job goes dangerously wrong and she needs Ryan’s help to survive, he has to decide if their game of cat and mouse is only a game, or if he can trust this beautiful thief with something no woman has ever stolen: his heart.
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When sizing up a potential mark, a thief of any intelligence must answer one crucial question before committing to the job.
Is the risk worth the reward?
I know it sounds simple enough. Believe me, it’s anything but.
Take my current situation, as an example. After weeks of painstaking planning and an airplane flight halfway around the world, I’m tucked into a comfortable chair at a table in an outdoor bar at a luxury resort in St. Croix, sipping a strawberry daiquiri and pretending to flip through a travel magazine while actually performing covert reconnaissance through the mirrored lenses of my sunglasses. My target—or mark, in criminal parlance—is sitting on the edge of the infinity pool several meters away, laughing loudly, blond head thrown back, straight white teeth glinting in the tropical sun.
Americans. Always the boisterous laughs and good dental work. I envy everything about them.
This particular one has the muscular, golden good looks of a Hemsworth. At first glance, he could be mistaken for an actor or model, maybe one of those self-obsessed Instagram pseudocelebrities shilling soft drinks and designer clothing to a legion of teenage fans. But on closer inspection, interesting details emerge.
The Marine Corps tattoo on his right shoulder. The hawklike awareness in his blue eyes. The trio of shiny round divots marring the taut skin of his stomach.
I’ve seen enough bullet scars to recognize them. That he survived three shots to the gut makes him intriguing. In my experience, most people die after one.
Golden Boy sits on the edge of the pool, legs dangling in the crystalline water, chatting and laughing with the most unlikely of companions. A redhead with a constellation of tattoos on her slender limbs has her arms linked around the waist of a beast of a man with linebacker shoulders, close-cropped black hair, and a megawatt smile. A two-hundred-pound African-American woman in a neon-yellow bikini and matching turban—both of which she somehow elegantly pulls off—canoodles with a pale man half her size in a black speedo who has a wild thatch of hair and insane-asylum-escapee eyes.
Strangest of all is the teenage girl with the rat on her head.
She treads water in the pool a short distance away from her companions. With her mop of curly brown hair and distinctly Latin facial features and skin tone, she doesn’t look related to any of the adults. The fat black-and-white rat, contentedly perched atop her hair as if it’s a permanent fixture, seems to be enjoying the conversation as much as the warm afternoon sun.
After a few moments, the girl swims to the edge of the pool and pulls herself up with her skinny arms to sit beside Golden Boy, her back turned to me.
I wince when I see the scar.
Ragged and lurid pink, it traces a vicious path from between her narrow shoulder blades to the small of her back. It’s too irregular to be a surgical scar. An accident, perhaps? Whatever its origin, it’s recent. No more than a few months by my best guess.
Dios mio, poor baby.
I suspect that out of all of her companions, the two of us have the most in common.
“Another daiquiri, ma’am?” A smiling waiter in white shorts and flip-flops bends over me.
“No, thank you.”
The waiter nods and walks away.
On paper, this job is straightforward. Gain access to the room of honeymooning Saudi Prince Khalid, relieve his new bride of her wedding present—a one-hundred-carat ruby necklace with a flawless twenty-carat stone as its centerpiece—and escape with my head intact.
In reality, there are a few substantial kinks.
One, Prince Khalid travels with a cadre of heavily armed bodyguards.
Two, the necklace won’t be sitting out on the coffee table, waiting to be swiped. Cracking a safe is inevitable. And safecracking takes time, especially if done quietly.
Three, there’s only one road to and from this exclusive resort, which will quickly be shut down if the necklace is discovered missing, thereby blocking my exit unless I can arrange to escape via scuba gear into the Caribbean Sea. Which I won’t, because I can’t swim.
And last but not least, there’s Golden Boy.
Who is staying in the room directly beneath Prince Khalid’s suite.
Who, if properly handled, could invite me up for a nightcap, thereby providing access to Prince Khalid’s suite via the balcony. It involves a climb up a drainpipe and a series of low walls, but I can’t hack the front door keycard reader as I normally would because Khalid’s door is guarded by men with semiautomatic weapons, so the only other way in is through the balcony. And the only way to get there is from the balcony of the room below.
Unfortunately, Golden Boy must have had his hotel room broken into in the past, because in addition to the keycard reader, he’s installed a portable door lock with an alarm that will sound if the door’s opened. And if he’s gone to the trouble to do that, the probability that there are other security devices inside is high. Which means my best bet to safely access his room is by “befriending” the man himself.