Book Description: Claire’s flirting with trouble, and he has a name. Sniper Talon, a dangerous mobster who is a hitman by trade. She thinks by seducing him, she can get him to erase the loan her family took out for their business—one that they cannot pay back. But will he? Or is he just using her too?
Excerpt from Sniper: Blueberry Dreamsicle
She arrived at the shop and was met with a few police cars. Standing in front of the smashed store window, her jaw dropped. She gawked for a few seconds then quickly made her way inside. She didn’t see her grandparents, but she did see Finn.
“Officer Knightly.” She laid her hand on his back, and he quickly turned to her. “What happened?”
“Break in.” Finn sent her a friendly smile, in his hand a pad of paper. “But it happened early this morning, so no one was here.”
“My family’s all right?” She swallowed hard.
“Yeah.” He nodded and motioned with his eyes. “They’re in the back.”
“This is terrible.” She scanned the room. There was glass covering the floor. She fidgeted with the strap of her purse as she battled her fear.
“You’ll be all right.” Finn watched her curiously. “Insurance should cover all your losses.”
Her response was limp. “Yeah. I hope so.” She turned to him. “No coffee for you this morning, though.”
“No.” Finn laughed.
The pair stared at each other for a few seconds. She always locked up around Finn, and this time was no different. “Who do they think—”
Her phone started ringing. She checked the number. It was Sniper. Making a sour face, she ignored the call and silenced the ringer. “Umm…” She held the cell firmly in her hand as she continued, “Who do they think did this?”
“Just some kids by the looks of it. I’m sorry about all this, Claire. This is a terrible thing to walk into.”
“Yeah.” She nodded, holding back tears. “But at least everyone’s all right.”
“Well, if you need anything…” Finn wrote something down then ripped off the piece of paper and handed it to her. “Here’s my personal number. You can call me whenever you want.”
“Thanks.” She smiled. “That’s very sweet of you, Officer Knightly.”
“Finn.” His eyes locked on hers, a gentleness in them that warmed her.
She laughed nervously as she pushed a piece of hair behind her ear and playfully tapped the piece of paper on the palm of her hand. “Thanks so much for all you do, Finn. You’re my favorite cop in the whole city and a great friend.”
“Well…” She bit her lip and pushed the next words out, “If you were single…”
Her face reddened even more.
“And if I was off duty I’d definitely ask you out on a date. But that’d be inappropriate right now. I shouldn’t have even said that.” His smile faded, and he seemed slightly angry with himself. “I apologize.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” Claire giggled as she held her hand over her lips. “I’ve only been waiting for you to do that for years.”
“Really?” Finn glanced at a few officers that stood near them, and looked very nervous. “Umm…” He cleared his throat. “We should probably get back to the questions. We’ll talk about the other thing later.”
“Okay.” Her gaze wandered to the doorway when she noticed a few suited men arrive. Her heart sank. She knew those were the Talon’s men. She hoped Sniper wasn’t with them. Clenching her fist, she focused on Finn. “What do you need to know?”
“When did you leave the shop last night?”
“About eleven-thirty.” Claire motioned toward the back. “I was working on cakes.” The next words hissed from her lips as she palmed her forehead, closing her eyes. “The cakes…”
“Don’t worry about that now,” Finn interrupted. “Can you—” He quickly turned when he heard a voice.
“Claire.” Sniper walked up to the pair and stood between them, his cocky smile falling upon her. “What happened here?”
“There was a break-in last night.” Finn smiled politely at Sniper, but obviously the two shared a mutual hatred of each other. Finn’s expression hardened a little, a change in stance making him more intimidating. “You’re the owner of the building, right?”
“Yeah.” Sniper nodded. “I was in the area and saw the commotion. I was curious as to what had happened.”
“We’re not sure, yet.” Finn sighed and motioned with his head toward the officer near the register. “Officer Clemens is the investigator in charge of the case.” He frowned when Sniper waved to Clemens in a friendly manner.
Claire tried not to meet Sniper’s stare. She knew why he had come here. Instead of talking to him, she turned to Finn and took a step closer to him. “Do you have any other questions, Finn?”
Sniper glared at the handsome officer, his breath quickening when he saw the glances between the two. Though his relationship with Claire had been kept on the down low, his anger was seething and his jealousy was noticeable.
“Is there anyone who would want to harm your grandparents?” Finn continued.
“Not that I can think of.” Trying to keep her eyes on the officer, Claire attempted to keep her voice steady.
“Okay.” Finn nodded and sent her a reassuring smile. “Well, if you think of anything else, just give me a call, okay?”
Claire nodded, her lips pressed tightly together as she tried not to cry. “Okay.” She crossed her arms over her chest tightly and regarded up at him with sad eyes. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” Finn lightly tapped her shoulder, watching a few people walk into the store. “Take care, Claire.” He briefly glanced at Sniper, who was now sending him a sneer disguised as a cocky grin. Finn didn’t return it and moved to talk to some others.
As soon as Finn was gone, Claire spun and went to the back. She wanted to get as far away from Sniper as she could. She didn’t even want to breathe the same air as that monster right now, let alone talk to him anymore. But when she heard footsteps behind her, she didn’t have to guess who it was. She already knew. She didn’t acknowledge them and continued walking.
When she saw the damaged cakes, she palmed her forehead and let out a tired sigh. She briefly glanced at Sniper when he stood next to her. Whispering, she kept her eyes on the mess, “What are you doing here?”
“Coming to see you.” His voice was soft, but playful. They were alone back here, the door leading to the main room closed.
“I worked all night on that.” She motioned toward what was left of the cake on the table. “Hours.”
“Then working instead of coming to see me last night wasn’t worth it, was it?”
“Is that why you did this?” She turned to him sharply, her eyes sparkling with tears.
“Don’t look at me like that. You should be thanking me.” Wrapping his arms around her waist, he hissed in her ear. “With the insurance money, your family can pay off what they owe on interest and have enough to get new equipment.”
Her breath quickened as he held her, her eyes staring straight ahead.
“That’s pretty generous of me, don’t you think?” He kissed her cheek and pulled away. “I have to go.” He glanced around the room, a sour expression on his face, before turning back at her. “I’m going to Caine for the weekend.” He joked. “Gonna hit some slots.”
Claire knew what was in Caine. The Talons owned some casinos in there. Sniper wasn’t going to gamble, he was going there to take care of business, most likely do a few hits for his grandfather.
“Meeting with another one of your lovers?” she snipped, crossing her arms over her chest as she glared. “I heard you have a few there.”
“No.” He grinned as he took in her angry expression. “This is business…” He leaned close to her ear. “Not pleasure.” Reaching around her, he slipped something into her purse. He whispered, “And I’m your only flavor, too, aren’t I, Claire? Red velvet, right?” He kissed her neck as he removed his hand and caressed her hips.
“I like chocolate,” she said softly as she hunched her shoulders inward, shying away from his advances. “After last night, I never want to eat red velvet again.”
“Aww….come on, you know that’s not true. It’s still your favorite. And I know what you like my little cupcake….” Drawing a deep breath, he pulled away a final time. “But I’ll get to that when I get back. Be a good girl while I’m gone.” Making a fake gun with his fingers, he pretended to shoot her. “Try any of that blueberry dreamsicle out there and our reunion will be anything but sweet.” He kissed the air between them playfully.
She watched him leave with a scowl. And then, she was alone. Her gaze took in the mess, but instead of lingering on it, she went to the next room. She glanced at the office. Her grandfather was sitting inside shifting through papers. It was messier than usual, papers strewn all over the desk and scattered all over the floor. Her grandfather seemed to be cleaning up the mess.
“Hey,” Claire said limply. She leaned against the doorframe.
“Hey.” Mickey sent her a smile. He seemed to be in a better mood than he should be. “Come here a minute.” He motioned for her to shut the door.
“Grandpa.” She approached quickly and stood near the desk. “What happened? I was worried sick. Why didn’t you let me stay with you last night?”
“I’m fine.” He glanced at the door and lowered his voice. “I thought this was the end, but when I found out how much the insurance would give, I see this is a God send.”
“Yeah.” She tried to smile, but it was strained.
“We’ll be in the black again.” Mickey sighed as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. “We’ll buy what we need for now, and the rest we’ll use to pay back the Talons.”
She crossed her arms over her chest and didn’t answer.
“This is good thing, bug.” He tapped her forearm, his smile growing when she turned to him. “A very good thing. So, don’t look so sad. Cakes are just cakes. We can make more.”
“Yeah.” Claire nodded, gazing at the floor. “I guess.”
“And…..stay away from the Talon’s goons.” Mickey began sorting through his pages again, and separated them into the piles he had started on the desk. “I don’t want you messed up with those boys. Mandie told me Tommy picks you up after work a lot. What’s that about?”
“Tommy?” Claire made a sour face. Her sister had squealed on her, but luckily, they weren’t onto her relationship with Sniper.
“Yeah.” He glared at her. “I said stay away from those guys, and you’re dating one.”
“Yeah.” His eyes narrowed on a paper, his conversation with her seeming secondary to his task. “Mandie said you were.”
“I’m not dating him.”
“I may be old, but I’m not stupid. So, whatever it is you’re doing with them, stop it. Now. I don’t want you messed up with those boys.”
“Yes, you will.”
“Did you see Sniper?”
“Sniper?” Mickey regarded her strangely. “What?”
“He stopped by a few minutes ago.” She motioned to the front of the store. “He was talking to the officers.”
“Damn it.” Mickey closed his eyes for a few seconds then shook his head slowly. “What’s that snake coming around here for? He never makes house calls.”
“He did today.” She sighed as she thought about their recent encounter. He still touched her as if he owned her. She didn’t want that. She wanted him to leave her alone, so she could be with Finn. Blocking it out, she changed the subject. “He seemed to be in a good mood.”
“Hmm…” He exhaled noisily, and picked up some more papers from the floor. “Let’s hope so. He’s not a good guy to piss off. If he’s nosing around, we’re in trouble. What’d he want?”
“To know what happened.” She fidgeted with her purse, her eyes narrowing on her open zipper, a small, white envelope tucked inside.
“Let’s hope it was just casual. I’d rather never have to speak to that guy again.”
“Yeah…” She frowned. “Me, either.”
“You were polite and kissed his ass, I hope.” He was going through the receipts in the drawer near him, seeming to be searching for something. He found it, his eyes ticking to hers briefly.
“Of course.” Claire smiled cheekily, but her voice was upbeat. “I was very polite.”
“Good.” He set down his stack of papers and took off his reading glasses.
“You need any help?” She bobbed her head in the direction of the desk. She was holding tightly to the strap of her purse, the charms hanging on the end of the zipper jangling a bit.
“I’m fine.” He waved her away. “There’s nothing you can do right now. The police aren’t done with their investigation.”
“So, I guess I have the day off, huh?”
“The morning. Once they’re done, we’re going to start cleaning up. So, be back here at noon.” He motioned to the clock. “And Knightly’s here taking statements.” He sent her a grin as he picked up a stack of papers. “Why don’t you go talk to him? Finally get all this silliness between you two out of the way and ask him out.”
“Grandpa,” Claire said with annoyance. She hated being teased about Finn, something everyone seemed to do at the bakery. “He’s working.”
“So? You flirt when him all the time when you’re supposed to be working.” He slammed a few papers on top of a stack. He stuck his glasses back on, but still squinted a bit to read the words on the page. “And the boy likes you. I can tell. Damn near had a heart attack when I talked to him about it the other day.”
“What?” Flabbergasted, Claire walked closer to her grandfather. She whispered harshly as she bent down and gathered some loose papers. “You said something to him?”
“Yeah.” He snatched the fresh stack of papers from her hands. “You were in back making cakes all week and he asked every damn day where you were. So, I told him to just ask you out already.”
“That’s all you said?” Regarding him suspiciously, Claire straightened and watched him sort through the last of the papers. She began fidgeting with the charms on her purse.
“And that I’m tired of him distracting you all the time and listening to you go on about him. I said…” He took a stack of papers and stood. He opened the file cabinet and stuck them in their correct place. “’Be a man and ask her out already.’ And that’s all I said.”
“Why do I not believe that?” Glaring, Claire narrowed her gaze.
He shot her a devilish grin. The man was balding, but his eyebrows were still bushy and a dark brown. “Go ask Knightly. He’ll tell you about what else I said about you.” He shooed her, motioning to the door. “Now, go. I’ll see you at noon.”
“Okay.” She nodded then went to the door. When she was alone, she took out the envelope.