Tempt Me

Tempt Me, an erotic thriller...

Detective Jordan Cross has one thing on her mind—get the bastard killing kids in her small southern city; the person she thinks is also responsible for her niece’s disappearance.

Journalist Tate Walker has a similar goal—keep the people of his city informed about the serial killer, and perhaps write a Pulitzer-worthy story in the process.

When their lives careen together around the case, they pick up the battles of their pasts and carry them forward—battles of trust and mistrust, lust and love, truths and misunderstandings. Determined to keep her focus on the case, Jordan finds it difficult to resist Tate’s sexual temptations, and Tate uses every advantage to tempt her back into his bed—until those battles fall away.

Thrust into a dangerous situation, they find themselves not only fighting for their love, but their lives.

Chapter One

The first call came between the salad and main course.
By the time the second one came in, Detective Jordan Cross had excused herself from her date—the first adult evening she’d had in months—and was out the restaurant door and hailing a cab to take her across town.
Her date hadn’t taken lightly the fact that she’d chosen work over dinner with him. Well, fuck him. Work came first. He was simply a dalliance, anyway. Something to pass time.
Now she had no time for him.
During the twenty-five-minute ride to the crime scene, she’d gotten the skinny from the uniformed officer who ensured her the area was secure and had contacted dispatch to make sure a Crime Scene Unit was on its way to gather evidence.
That done, she exhaled, watched the streets of Remington, South Carolina fly by her rain-spattered window as they traveled to the seedier side of town, and waited.
Not patiently.
Wishing she had her cruiser to push through these damn red lights.
Her mind flipped through the pile of paperwork on her desk, the missing children’s reports, and every piece of protocol to follow the next several hours. Nothing could slip through the cracks.
Maybe tonight the bastard had fucked up and left some key piece of evidence behind.
She could hope.
Her fingertips drummed on her bare knees. Dammit. She’d even shaved her legs. Wasted effort. She’d anticipated a night of stress relief. But no matter, if they got a break in the case tonight, she’d be one happy woman—even without sex.
When the cab finally pulled up to the apartment building on the corner of Maple and Vine, Jordan started breathing again. Slow, even, cleansing breaths. In and out. Ready to work.
She pulled a few bills from her black clutch and tossed them at the cabby—more than enough there to pay the fare—and exited the sedan. The summer rain had halted now, shoving a cloak of humidity up against the night, and leaving a clammy chill on her skin. Goosebumps rose on her bare forearms and she rubbed them away.
She stood for a moment on the sidewalk. Looking up at the abandoned building, she perused the shadowed windows, peering beyond the broken glass. What she hoped to see, she didn’t know. The black depths gave up nothing.
Leveling her gaze between the two buildings, she spotted the officers and the scene. She straightened her too-tight, thigh-hugging dress and cursed the three-inch ‘fuck me’ pumps on her feet. Threading her way between two cruisers and a truck, she picked her way across broken pavement and a parking lot full of puddles, wishing she were in her jeans and boots.
Dammit. Why tonight of all nights?
“Yes.” She nodded at the officer standing near the victim and held out her hand. He shook it. “Thanks for keeping the scene secure.” She nodded to her left. “The evidence team is at work, I see.”
He nodded. “Finishing up. Yes. CSU arrived about twenty minutes ago.” He glanced off as the lights of another patrol car crossed the area. “Let me see to this.”
“Of course.”
Jordan steadied herself and looked past the victim. A child.
Another child.
Inside her chest, her heart raced, and she inhaled a deep, calming breath. She let the air out slowly between her lips, trying to expel some of the pent-up energy holed up behind her breastbone.
One more time. Inhale. Long exhale. Close eyes and center.
She turned her gaze downward and focused on the little girl—homing in on the abnormal twist in her leg. The broken limb was bent backwards, a shard of bone punching through tender skin—obviously an injury from the fall. A scrap of crime scene tape fluttered at her feet.
Behind her, a streetlamp flickered, reflected in the pool of water beside the small body. Jordan moved to her left, letting the light shine directly on the child. The girl’s white sundress had soaked up a good bit of muddy water, turning it a dingy brown. She wore one little pink sandal, the other sat about five feet away in a puddle.
She thought of the girl’s parents. Empathy flooded through her.
She bucked up. Keep the emotion out of it, Jordan. Do your job. Fall apart later.
Crouching now, not an easy feat in the damn heels, she stared at the body. A guy from the CSU team drifted by gathering the fluttering crime scene tape. She glanced up.
“Give me a glove,” she said.
He peered at her for a moment, unmoving.
“Just give me a goddamned glove,” she said again.
His gaze narrowed and he reached into his pocket, handed one to her, and shrugged. “We’re done here.”
“I know that.”
“Just shut the fuck up.” Jordan stretched the latex glove over her right hand and returned her attention to the little girl.
Her stomach churned and she fought back nausea. Dragging in another deep breath, her eyes fell closed for a moment. She exhaled and let the physical emotion wash over her.
Gut-punched. Dizzy. Would get through it.
She opened her eyes and settled her gaze on the child’s face. Blue eyes. Fixed in terror and staring blankly up at her like those of a china doll.
Can’t be more than four years old.
“Lexa.” She gasped the name and shuddered, then bit back the acrid taste of bile.
Lexa had blue eyes. Lexa has blue eyes.
Jordan placed two shaking fingers over the carotid artery in the little girl’s neck. Cold. No pulse. Not surprised. The child, of course, was dead. Not that it was her job to declare the death. The Medical Examiner had likely already done that.
Closure maybe. She was always searching for goddamned closure.
Standing, she centered herself and looked skyward. Three floors above in the murky night, she focused on the open window of the condemned building. A tattered brown curtain billowed out on the breeze. Her gaze fell to the girl and her tiny left fist, and a piece of rotted brown fabric clutched in her chubby fingers.
Her stomach roiled again, and she glanced toward the evidence team. Had they missed that?
The girl hadn’t fallen. She was pushed.
“Number four, right?”
Startled, Jordan turned and leveled her gaze at the uniformed officer standing next to her. Rookie? She didn’t know him. She shook her head and glanced back to the girl. “No. Three.”
“Pretty sure I heard the ME say four.”
Something jumped in her chest. Don’t tick me off, newbie. “No. My case. It’s three.”
He shrugged and backed away.
Three dead kids in the past four months. Same MO. Different part of town.
Not four. Because Lexa wasn’t dead.
She dismissed him and began walking toward the evidence team. “Hey Ramirez. Come here, dammit. Your guys missed something.” She hated fucking screw-ups. Just as she was about to give the man a piece of her mind, she heard the rookie behind her talking again.
To someone else.
She glanced back. Sonofabitch. Under her breath, she cursed, “Tate Walker. You goddamn sonofabitch.”