Chapter 1

"Don't move!"

The voice was distinctly masculine and had all the hair on the back of my neck standing on end as I recognized it. In answer, I raised my hands, letting him know I wasn't a threat. Not taking my word for it, he shoved me against the wall. I felt the barrel of a gun pressed against the back of my head. As if his first directive wasn't enough, he went on to add, "Move and you're dead."

Just my luck… I'd moved thousands of miles away to elude a stalker, and wouldn't you know it, but the bastard had followed me. At least I was assuming the man behind me holding the gun to my head was my latest stalker. I'd only heard a distorted version of his voice until now, but my gut was telling me that this guy was it.

One of the creep's hands started on a journey down my frame, and it was all I could do not to throw up at the feel of his hands on my body.

He leaned in, his breathing increasing as if the pervert was getting off on what he was doing to me. His mouth touched my ear as he whispered, "You've been a naughty girl. You shouldn't have left town like that. I had to change all my plans."

I bit my lip to keep from saying anything. I had no intention of giving him what he wanted.

His hand had reached my breast, and the painful nip when he pinched me told me that he wasn't happy with how this was going. Good. If he was upset, he might make a mistake, and when that happened, I needed to be ready to act.

As his hand lowered and moved between my thighs I gagged as bile rose in the back of my throat, to the point that my throat burned with it. I was going to hurl, and not even a bullet to the head was going to stop me. My head twisted, and I miraculously managed to miss throwing up on myself. The swearing from behind me told me that I'd scored a direct hit with my stalker.

In retaliation to my tossing my cookies on him, he delivered a fist to my lower back where my kidneys were.

Excruciating pain had me curling in a ball on the floor.

Although creepy stalker man tried to keep me standing up, he wasn't strong enough to keep me from falling. I felt his hand curling into my hair as he yanked my head up.

My head hurt like a son of a bitch, and all I wanted to do was scream, but I wasn't going to. No way was I giving this bastard anything. I could feel the anger radiating from him, and the animalistic snarl told me things were going to get bad. I needed to push him over the edge in order to get my chance. I just hoped I could take what he was dishing out while I waited for that to happen.

I was limp, refusing to listen to him when he demanded I stand up.

He let go of me, and there was a roar of rage before I felt the boot connecting with my mid-section. Pain radiated in every bone of my body. Again I refused to cry out.

It only enraged him even more, and when he went to kick me again, I moved. Grabbing his foot, I twisted, throwing him off balance. He fell heavily to the ground, and I was on him in seconds.

Growing up as an Army brat, I'd learned a thing or two about taking care of myself. I was able to get the bastard in a choke hold, but it was like riding a bull at the rodeo. I had some leverage, but this guy was bigger and stronger than I was. Just when I thought he was done for, he'd start fighting even harder.

When he finally went limp, I slumped onto the floor, unable to move for several seconds while I got my breath back. Struggling to stand, I went to take a step away when something grabbed my ankle.

There was a blood curdling scream, and I jumped.

My heart was racing a mile a minute as I turned to where Lula was seated, watching the late, late, late movie. It was one of the Twilight series. Giving her my best 'Burg-girl glare, I asked, "What the hell was that? You just scared ten years off my life."

Lula turned in my direction. "Well if you wouldn't read all them creepy stalker books, you wouldn't get so scared."

"Well, what about you and that scary crap movie?"

"Oh, no! You didn't just do that. Tell me you didn't just diss one of the greatest movies of all time."

Sighing, I knew if I told her how I really felt about the Twilight series, I'd never hear the end of it. Instead, I tempered it with: "I just can't get into the vampire and werewolf thing. Sorry."

Lula shrugged. "Well, I don't see what you do in them books of yours. I mean, whoever heard about a bounty hunter getting in all the scrapes that Bombshell Bounty Hunter does? I mean, some people must think she's a bit backward, if you know what I mean."

Okay, now she was just irritating me. I for one loved the zany escapades of Bombshell and her sidekick Luanne Labeau. Bombshell had some mad skills—either that, or she was the luckiest person in the western hemisphere.

I glanced down at the book I'd been reading, A Stalker in the House by Christi book was by far my favorite to date. I loved the stalker stories and how Bombshell always ended up on top. I had to admit, I'd love to be in her shoes, having two men hot for her. I knew which one of the men would be in my bed if I was her, and it wasn't the old news cop ex-boyfriend become boyfriend again. Nope. Not for me. I'd take the half Cuban hunky CEO security expert. All that hotness. Sigh…

The sound of Lula ooh, ooh, oohing had me turning back to the TV in time to see the action heating up. Rolling my eyes, I tried to get back into the story, but my mind had already taken a detour. It was time for me to go around and make sure everything was locked up for the night anyway.

Debating on whether to say anything or not, I decided that I could be back before Lula even missed me. I stood and made my way through the modern home where we'd been staying for the past three weeks.

Lula and I had been saving for the past ten years so that we could go into business together. We'd met in kindergarten and become fast friends. When graduation neared, we'd both applied to Rutgers, where we had each been accepted into our relative field of study. Lula had gone onto interior decorating, and I had gone on to get a degree in business as well as a few other areas of interest.

Three weeks after graduation, the two of us had taken all of our graduation money and invested it. We'd worked hard to add money each month until finally we had enough to start up our own small business. We'd thought we'd found the perfect spot in an older part of Miami.

Unfortunately, the man that we did business with proved to be unreputable, and we'd lost everything. We were left with living in the piece of shit car that I'd bought to get us down here so we could save most of our finances for the business.

We'd been driving aimlessly when Lula had noticed this place. Of course, we didn't move in right away. Instead, we'd lived on the beach close by until we were sure there was no one around. It didn't take me long to override the security on the place and get us inside, and I was even able to make the system believe we weren't even here. It paid to have a hobby, and mine was insuring that we weren't living on the streets.

While one part of my mind had been lost in the path that had brought us to this moment, another part of me was going through the house and cataloguing that all the doors and windows were locked and the security system was armed.

Moving back to the den where I'd left Lula, I glanced outside. Stopping a moment, I stood there looking out at the ocean. How much longer would we be able to hide here? Of course, Lula wasn't calling it hiding. According to her, this home had been abandoned and we were squatters staking claim to it. Periodically over the six weeks we'd been here, we'd go out and get a job for a day or two in order to make money and replenish the groceries. I knew we'd need to do that once again within the next couple of days.

The sound of a garbage can being knocked over had me moving out of sight. The windows were darkened and no one could see inside, but still… There was a tingling on the back of my neck, and I shook my head as I thought I was letting the book I'd been reading play tricks with my mind. Hurrying back to where I'd left Lula, I came to a halt when the room was empty.

Crap!

Moving silently forward, I could feel the tension mounting. The room was in darkness except for the TV, and although it was still on, the sound was muted. There was a whisper of motion, I felt the change in the air, and the movement of the curtain was a dead-give-away. I took a step, and the sound of a gun being cocked had me frozen in place as a masculine voice said, "Move and you're dead."

I did what any sane person would do when their home had been invaded by an unknown assailant and they were told not to move. Run like hell. By now I knew every part of this house, and since I was used to making my way around without the use of light, I was able to move quickly, whereas my pursuer wasn't having as much luck. The sound of someone running into pieces of furniture strewn throughout the area followed by colorful curses made that obvious.

In the time that Lula and I had been living here, we'd had to hide on three occasions, and that's where I was headed. When I'd found it while we were exploring the house, I'd suggested that be our safe place if we were ever in danger. So far, it had worked beautifully.

Reaching the door, I paused only for an instant to put in the code that I'd re-programmed it with. The sound of the lock releasing gave me a sense of false security as I slipped inside the space. After closing the door, I turned to see Lula bopping up and down as she sat on something that was moving.

I moved closer, trying to see just what she was sitting on. Keeping my voice to a whisper, I asked, "What are you doing?"

She rolled her eyes. "I set my dildo on high and thought I'd take a ride while the boogie men are trying to get us. What the hell you think I'm doing?"

Smiling sweetly, even though I doubted she could see me in the muted light in the room, I made my voice sickeningly sweet as I replied, "From where I'm standing, it looks like you're taking advantage of some poor defenseless man…again."

She glared. "You take that back."

"Why should I?"

Her eyes widened, as if the question caught her flat-footed.

Before she had the chance to say or do anything else, whatever she was sitting on started shaking. The deep voice coming from the form told me it was indeed a man, and by now I'd gotten close enough to see that he was a big man in more ways than one. How Lula was able to keep him down just by sitting on him was a mystery to me.

The unknown man said, "How about you let me up now?"

Lula groused back, "How about if I don't. What you gonna do, big guy? From where I'm sitting, you're kinda stuck, so there."

The form stilled, and I had a bad feeling Lula shouldn't have challenged him. I was proven right when he dumped her unceremoniously on the ground and was up on his feet in seconds. I knew then that I was right about his size. The man standing before me was one of the tallest I'd ever seen off of a basketball court—maybe six and a half feet—and he had the body and muscle to match. The little light in the room shone off his bald head, and even in this lighting, I could see he was a handsome black man. He pressed a button on the watch at his wrist and said, "I'm in the safe room with the intruders, boss."

Big guy, as Lula had called him, just stood there with his arms crossed, watching us.

It seemed like a long time later but in actuality was probably more like a minute or two before there was sound from just outside the door. I recognized it as someone trying to input the code and get the door opened. The swearing when the door refused to budge told me that they'd put in the wrong code. I smiled, knowing that Lula and I were the only ones that knew that number, and at least for the time being, we were safe in here. Of course, we had the Jolly Green Giant in here with us, but I guess we couldn't have everything our own way.

More beeps followed by more swearing told me our friend on the other side was running out of chances. At best, he had two more tries, and I was feeling confident he wouldn't be getting that door open anytime soon.

One thing about being overly confident…there came a point when everyone met their match. For me, the door creaked open and my time was up. The man who strode into the room with us was the most handsome man I'd seen. He was sex personified, and he made every part of me sit up and take notice. His dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and his Latin American looks gave him the coloring of a Latino with the more American looks of his white ancestors. He was nearly half a foot taller than me and outweighed me by a good seventy-five pounds. His body was muscled, but not to the point that weight-lifters or Mr. Americas went to.

He held a Glock in his hands aimed at my head, and his eyes were narrowed as he kept me in his sights. His voice was as sexy as his looks. "Who are you, and what the hell are you doing in my house?"

Lula took exception to his question. "What you talking about, this being your house? You ain't been around for a long time. According to the neighbors, it's been nearly a year since you come here the last time. See, that means this is our house. We claimed it under that ignorant domain thingamajiggy."

The twitch of the bald guy's lips told me the ignorant thingamajiggy probably got him.

His boss had his blank face on and was showing nothing. He motioned with the gun for us to move back into the other part of the house, and seeing that we were at a slight disadvantage, I didn't see where we had a choice.

I led the way back to the den, and once the others were in the room, boss man spoke up. "Take a seat."

Seeing no reason not to be comfortable, I took the chair that I'd come to look on as mine. It was a black leather recliner, and the leather was so soft your body just melted into the chair. I moaned at the sensual pleasure just sitting in the chair gave me.

Lula snorted. "I think you got a thing for that chair. That's why you never let me sit there, ain't it?"

I glared in her direction and mumbled, "I don't have a thing for the chair. It's just comfortable is all."

The leader smirked in my direction. My body heated as his gaze went slowly over my form from head to toe and then back again.

My hands clenched into fists. As hot as this guy was, I didn't like his attitude. I figured I would see how he liked having someone look him over in the same manner he was using. Letting my gaze run over him just as slowly from head to toe, I stilled as I reached where his pants were tented out, my breathing quickening as I felt myself burning up with some kind of fever. The movement he made as he shifted slightly to ease the tightness brought me back to what I was supposed to be doing, and I quickly returned my gaze to his face. I could feel the heat from my face at his knowing look.

I ran my hand through my hair, stopping at the back of my neck so that I could rub at the electrical current running through my body at that particular spot. Pulling my feet up beside me on the seat, I tried to give the appearance of being relaxed. Lifting my chin in the air, I looked in the direction of the two men and asked, "So, what are you doing in our home?"

For a moment, the shorter of the two men looked like he'd been momentarily stunned by my question. He recovered quickly and rubbed the stubble on his jaw for a moment before turning to the other man. "Maybe Jericho was right and we should just turn them over to the police."

The giant nodded. "Want me to give Rafe a call?"

Lula's eyes bugged out at the mention of the police. "You can't do that!" She tuned to me, her hands were waving up and down in front of her on either side of her body. "They can't do that, can they? You know I can't do cops. They give me the runs. Oh, geez, I gotta go, now!"

Glaring at the two men, I stood and moved over to where she was seated on the sofa. I handed her the brown paper bag from the nightstand and instructed her, "Breathe. They won't call the cops. They're just trying to bully us. Now just calm down and let me handle this, okay?"

Lula was desperately trying to breathe into the paper sack in an effort to stop her panic. She nodded emphatically and rushed from the room.

Baldy went to follow her, so I stuck my foot out and tripped him, causing him to go down to the floor.

The cocking of a gun had me freezing in place as my hands rose to show I was no threat.

The leader leaned down and whispered menacingly, "That wasn't a smart move, Babe."

I swallowed hard and then turned to meet his gaze. "She's my friend. You don't understand… She can't handle this type of intimidation. We both know you aren't going to call the cops. If you were, they'd already be here. Now, let's all just sit down and we can talk this out."

His eyes narrowed on me for several seconds. I continued to stand there looking at him, refusing to back down. Suddenly, he gave a slight nod of his head. "All right. We'll do this your way. Have a seat."

I moved back over toward the recliner, but a hand on my arm stopped me. "You sit on the sofa. The chair is mine."

I looked wistfully at the chair before giving a sigh and doing as he had suggested.