Publication Date: June 4, 2018
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Organized Crime. Erotic, Heist Romance
1. trick or deceive.
• obtain by deception.
She was named most appropriately.
Cozen Taylor has more than earned her place as one of North America’s most successful thieves. Her name is whispered amongst criminal elite as the go-to thief when someone needs a heist.
She has never failed.
A call from the Miami-based Astor family could change all that with a job that seems almost impossible to complete. The mark should be simple—a stolen family heirloom, the man who has kept it hidden for over twenty years, and six months to return the piece to its rightful owners.
Nothing is ever that easy.
Three-hundred million for a successful heist. No smart thief would turn the offer down. Cozen didn’t expect a complication like him to put a kink in her plans, though. Sargon Makri—tall, dark, gorgeous, and entirely dangerous. For her life, her heart, and for the success of the heist.
The last thing Cozen needs to be thinking about is Sargon, and how she can get him into her bed … especially when he just happens to be her mark’s bodyguard. The thrill of the job has never been more addicting to Cozen, and she will risk everything to make the heist a success.
But at what cost?
From author Bethany-Kris comes a whole new world. A North American network full of criminals battling to stay on top, and painting the streets red in war as they dabble in the game of betrayal. Malicious, cunning, forbidden, and violent—welcome to The Empires and Badlands.
COZEN MUSIC PLAYLIST
Sighing, Pearl turned back to Ace. “Now, are you going to show me what you have? Prove the thief you chose is the right one for the job?”
“She is the right one,” Ace returned, “and actually, she may be the only one.”
Pearl lifted a brow, and a jeweled finger to wave. “So you say.”
“Cozen is exactly what you need. She integrates into a mark’s life, gains their trust, and gets the job done. It may take two weeks, or it may take six months. It doesn’t matter because when she is done, she leaves quietly and without the fanfare another thief might cause with a quick heist.”
“That would be problematic for us,” Pearl said, “and so, you think this woman and her partner will be—”
“I never said Cozen has a partner. She works alone.”
For a long while, Pearl stared hard at Ace. It almost felt as though she were weighing his words, and how she felt about them.
“No partner?” she finally asked.
Ace shook his head. “She doesn’t need one.”
“And what if she fails—what is her backup?”
“She has never failed.”
Pearl rested back in the couch, and the lines of her aging face deepened with her contemplating frown. “Never?”
“Her way of working takes time, and sometimes it feels like very little is getting done, but it is always successful. If you give her a little bit of faith, I promise you will receive everything you want in return.”
“Fine, show me.”
Ace turned the tablet on, and typed in in his four-digit passcode. A few swipes across the screen, and he had the video brought up. Turning it around for Pearl to get a good view of what was happening on the screen, he waited.
Pearl watched in silence as a party was caught on camera in what had been an art gallery—the famous theft of the Van Gogh painting had basically bankrupt the place when the rich who had been using it to show off their art under the guise of possibly selling it no longer had a client list to keep them relevant.
The camera was directly on the wall that showcased the Van Gogh—a small painting no larger than twelve by eight inches, or so—and a few other pieces that any respectable art dealer would die to put on the market.
The crowd swelled once in the video.
“I’m sorry, what is happening?” Pearl asked.
“Wait for it,” Ace murmured.
The crowd swelled again, but this time when they dispersed, the painting was gone. The Van Gogh was taken.
Pearl sat back quickly. “I missed it, didn’t I?”
“No,” Ace assured, “but you’ll never see her actually doing it. This took her three months, according to the broker I talked to who approached her for this job. She integrated into the mark’s life, as she does, and then planned her heist according to his ways and rituals. I don’t have all the details of this particular heist, but as you can see, she clearly took her time to know the room, the cameras, and which way would be safe and clean for her to get it done. This is her style, and her signature. Exactly what you want.”
Ace let the video play through the end at a slightly faster speed before stopping at just the right point, saying, “There she is.”
The woman with the russet eyes glancing up at the camera as the guests finally noticed the painting was gone wore a ghost of a smile.
“They have this video, clearly,” Pearl said, hedging at something.
“They never even looked at her for this. The man who I talked to stated she stayed about two weeks after this, and then left quietly.”
Pearl tipped her head to the side. “Cozen, you said?”
Ace smirked. “You could say that.”
“Does she always use that name?”
“Depends on the situation, or the mark.”
“And you are sure …”
Ace set the tablet aside. “Pearl, I will do a lot to get a deal done, but I promise you that Cozen is the thief you need for this. Let me approach her with the job.”
“Fourth isn’t going to like this,” Pearl muttered. “He thinks he can do this quicker.”
“I’m sure he could, but Cozen will be clean. Therein lies the difference.”
The Astor queen nodded once. “Fine, approach her.”
Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.
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