All or Nothing(7)

By: Catherine Mann

Like the way he’d tugged the pin from her hair.

Her mind had been so full of images of them together, and she’d actually admitted how much she still wanted him. Yet, he’d turned her down even though it was clear from his eyes, from his touch—from his arousal—how much he wanted her, too. She knew his body as well as her own, but God, would she ever understand the man?

She tossed her purse on the bed and her cell phone slid out. She snatched it up only to find the screen showed three missed calls from the same number.

Guilt soured in her stomach, and how twisted was that? She wasn’t actually dating Anthony Collins. She’d been careful to keep things in the “friend” realm since she’d begun Hospice care for his aged great-uncle who’d recently passed away from end stage lung cancer.

She’d seen a lot of death in her job, and it was never easy. But knowing she’d helped ease a person’s final days, had helped their families as well, she could never go back to filling her time with buying furniture and planning meals. She didn’t even want to return to working in an E.R.

She’d found her niche for her nursing degree.

While there were others who could cover her rounds at work, she wanted to resume the life she’d started building for herself in Miami. And to do that, she needed closure for her marriage.

She thumbed the voice mail feature and listened...

“Jayne, just checking in...” Anthony’s familiar voice piped through with the sound of her French bulldog, Mimi, barking in the background since he’d agreed to dog sit for her. “How did your flight go? Call me when you get a chance.”

Beep. Next message.

“I’m getting worried about you. Hope you’re not stranded from a layover, at the mercy of overpriced airport food.”

Beep. Next call from Anthony, he hung up without speaking.

She should phone him back. Should. But she couldn’t listen to his voice, not with desire for Conrad still so hot and fresh in her veins. She took the coward’s way out and opted for a text message instead.

Made it 2 Monte Carlo safely. Thanks 4 worrying. 2 tired to talk. Will call later. Give Mimi an extra treat from me.

More of that remorse still churning, she hit Send and turned off the power. Big-time coward. She pitched her phone back in her purse. The clink as her cell hit metal reminded her of the ring Conrad had slipped back inside. She’d won a battle by delivering the divorce papers, and she could think of plenty of charities that would benefit from a donation if—when—she sold the ring.

She may not have gotten to place her bet, but she’d won tonight. Right?

Wrong. She sagged onto the edge of the bed and stared at her monogrammed carry-on bag. Good thing she’d packed her ereader, because there wasn’t a chance in hell she would be sleeping.

* * *

Parked on the glassed-in portion of his balcony, Conrad thumbed through the Zhutov document on his tablet computer.

Monte Carlo rarely slept at night anyhow, the perfect setting for a chronic insomniac like himself. Beyond the windows, yachts bobbed in the bay, lights glowing. No doubt the casino below him was still in full swing, but he’d soundproofed his quarters.

The divorce papers lay beside him on the twisted iron breakfast table. He’d already reviewed them and found them every bit as frustrating as when his lawyer had relayed the details. And yes, he knew the contents even though he’d led Jayne to believe otherwise.

She was insistent on walking away with next to nothing, just as she’d done the day she’d left. He’d already drawn up an addendum that created a trust for her, and she could do whatever the hell she wanted with the money. But he’d vowed in front of God and his peers to protect this woman for life, and he would follow through on that promise even beyond their divorce.

He hadn’t made that commitment lightly.

Frustration simmered inside him, threatening his focus as he read the Zhutov report from Salvatore. He’d given up his marriage for cases like this, so he’d damn well better succeed or he would have lost Jayne for nothing.

The world was better off with that bastard behind bars. Zhutov had masterminded one of the largest counterfeiting organizations in Eurasia. He’d used that influence to shift the balance of power between countries by manipulating the strength of a country’s currency. At a time when many regions were struggling for financial survival, the least dip in economics could be devastating.

And from all appearances, Zhutov had played his tricks out of an amoral need for power and a desire to advance his son’s political aspirations by any means possible.

Helping Interpol stop crooks like that was more than a job. It was a road to redemption after what Conrad had done in high school. He’d committed a crime not all that different from Zhutov’s and gotten off with a slap on the wrist. At the time he’d manipulated the stock market, he’d deluded himself into thinking he was some sort of dispenser of cosmic justice, stealing from the evil rich to give to the more deserving.