May 6, 2019

Granting Wishes Cover Reveal!!

The Kingdom of Sand and Wishes box set goes on sale in only three weeks, so it's high time I reveal the cover of Granting Wishes, my Once Upon a Curse prequel novella included in the set!

If you missed my announcement for this anthology of Aladdin retellings, you can get all the details by clicking here :) Or, you can just head to Amazon to check it out!

Now, onto Granting Wishes...

Without further ado...

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💜🙌💜🙌💜


She’s about to discover a whole new world… Don't miss GRANTING WISHES, a fantasy romance from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis that reimagines the classic fairy tale of Aladdin.

“His words come back to me—magic is the law. I guess I’m making my own set of rules.”

Alanna thought rock climbing in Yosemite National Park would be the trip of a lifetime. Until an earthquake strikes and she finds herself plummeting to her death. But instead of slamming into the forest floor, Alanna drops into a secret underground cave where she’s confronted by the impossible—magic.

A mysterious man named Erick uses incredible powers to save her life, then tells her that his magical world has collided with earth, merging the two together. Alanna writes it off as crazy, until he shows her a vision of her brother being dragged down a sandy cobblestone street in chains. Crazy or not, she’ll do anything to save him.

As Alanna and Erick team up to rescue her brother from the clutches of a decrepit sorcerer king, fate intervenes in the form of a handsome prince. Alanna doesn’t know who to trust, but in this foreign land, flying solo just might get her killed…

💜💜💜

Granting Wishes will be available exclusively in the Kingdom of Sand and Wishes box set until August 2019! If you want to pre-order a copy, just head to Amazon :)

I'll be in touch with more updates soon!





Blogger Tricks

April 8, 2019

OFF THE GRID is on sale!!

Off the Grid is on sale!! WOOHOO!

I'm pitching it as Romancing the Stone meet Pride and Prejudice! Leo is a sexy latin federal agent. McKenzie is an uptight Manhattan pastry chef. When they meet, sparks fly...the angry kind! But when McKenzie gets kidnapped, Leo comes to her rescue and they begin to see each other in a new (decidedly more attractive) light.

You can grab a copy on Amazon :)

All three books in the series are free in Kindle Unlimited! More info and links are pasted below!

Also, if you go to my Facebook page, I'm hosting a $25 Amazon Gift Card giveaway.

 I hope you guys fall in love with this adventurous rom com series :)

***


One part Pride and Prejudice.
One part Romancing the Stone.
All the feels.

Agent Leo Alvarez is on his way to Hawaii when his partner calls in a favor--the mob is after a pastry chef in NYC, and he's the only one who can get to her in time. With his dreams of Mai Tais and sandy shores ruined, Leo rushes to her rescue. But when he arrives at her apartment, he's greeted by an upturned nose and an icy blue stare. This damsel in distress doesn't need saving. Good thing he's a retired marine who never backs down without a fight.

After a childhood racked by scandal, McKenzie Harper has learned to loathe surprises. So when a strange man knocks on her door, interrupting her morning routine, she has no choice but to politely shut it in his face--no matter how deeply his hazel eyes might pierce. She has places to go, pastries to bake, and promotions to secure. Or she did, until three masked men kidnap her and throw her into the back of a van... Suddenly, that white knight doesn't seem so scary.

He's a cocky Fed with a killer smile. She's an uptown beauty with a biting tongue. If they want to survive, they'll have to learn to work together--assuming they don't kill each other first.

   

Or paperbacks are available here for any non-Kindle readers :)



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Don't miss the first two books in the series :) 

They can be read before or after Off the Grid!

Hot Pursuit

He's a cop who'd never bend. She's a con who'll never break. But all's fair in love and larceny... Don't miss this laugh-out-loud, enemies-to-lovers romance that's How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days meets White Collar with a dash of The Thomas Crown Affair thrown in!

Free in Kindle Unlimited!

   


Stolen Goods

When a good girl meets a bad boy, sparks are bound to fly. But this con man is about to discover the only thing he can't steal is her heart... Catch Me If You Can meets Tangled in this funny and feel-good adventurous romance, new from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis, writing as Kay Marie.

Free in Kindle Unlimited!

   


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April 8
April 9

April 10

April 11

April 12


Hope you follow along :)


April 1, 2019

Off the Grid (To Catch a Thief Book 3) - Fourth Chapter Reveal!

Happy #TeaserTuesday!

Off the Grid goes on sale in ONE WEEK!! Ah! This is not a drill people!

For the past few weeks, I've been slowly revealing the first few chapters of the book :) You can read chapter one here, chapter two here, and chapter three here. Today, we're closing out our chapter teasers with one last reveal!

Leo is fooled by McKenzie's seemingly tough exterior during their meet-ugly in chapter three, but I hope you weren't! There's a lot more going on inside her head than she lets on, and the fourth chapter dives into her backstory, explaining why she has such a hard time when she sees Leo standing outside her door...

💚Hope you enjoy! 💚

PS: If you're counting down the days until April 8th (like me!), don't forget to pre-order your copy! The ebook is available on Amazon!

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***



- 4 -

McKenzie

The last thing McKenzie saw before the platform disappeared from sight was the fiery glare burning to life in the agent’s eyes. She dropped her hand with a sigh.
That wave might have been a mistake…
A spark of guilt flickered in her gut. The agent had seemed like a nice enough guy, and he was clearly trying to do what he believed was best. It wasn’t his fault he’d been misinformed. Jo and Addy—McKenzie’s Jo and Addy—were fine. She’d spoken to them this morning. No one was kidnapped last night. No one was a criminal. They’d been their normal bubbly and entertaining selves, discussing code browns and chocolate ganache without a lick of stress in sight. Even the cops made mistakes, and McKenzie knew that better than most. Any other day maybe she would’ve tried to explain her apprehension, but not today. Her schedule was too tight. There was no time to waste, especially not for a Fed.
At least, that was what she told herself. But as McKenzie continued to stare into the impenetrable black on the other side of the train window, a memory seeped through the cracks, oozing to the forefront of her thoughts—the real reason she’d simply had to get away. She could blame work as much as she wanted, and it was probably mostly true, but there was something lurking beneath all that ambition. The agent had no way of knowing what his sudden appearance at her front door would unlock, but the little bit of guilt she might have otherwise felt was quickly smothered by the weight of her past.
“McKenzie, honey, would you get that?” her mother called from the dining room, where she sat with two other ladies discussing their upcoming charity auction.
Her father was upstairs in his study, but McKenzie was by the front door, in the middle of untying her cleats. Her mother hated when she dragged mud through the house, so she always sat on the cold stone floor of the foyer the second she got back from soccer practice to tug them off. She stood, one foot bare and the other in a half-undone cleat, and yanked open the door.
Two men in suits stood on the other side, tall and imposing.
She’d never seen them before.
“Is your father home?” one asked. His voice was deep and kind, but overly so, with the subtle hint of suggestion. No one recognized fake in another person’s tone better than a middle school girl.
McKenzie crossed her arms. “Why?”
The men shared a look. “We need to speak with him.”
“Who’s there, honey?” her mother called, a strain of annoyance in her tone. She hated to be interrupted when she had guests—there was nothing more important than maintaining her mirage of perfection.
“Two men,” McKenzie shouted back.
“Mrs. Harper?” The man who’d been talking loudened his voice. “Are you home? Could you please come to the door? We need to speak with your husband.”
“Excuse me,” her mother murmured to her friends. The words were faint, but McKenzie heard the fear laced through them. She turned in time to see her mother freeze as she stepped around the door. Her face fell. A sudden dread raced through McKenzie’s nerves, tying them into a bundle of knots.
“Mom?”
“Go upstairs,” her mother ordered, voice dark. She kept her eyes on the men.
“Mom?”
“Upstairs, now!” That time her tone was shrill. “Yolanda, take McKenzie to her room, please.”
“Yes, ma’am,” her nanny answered, appearing out of nowhere. “Come, mija.”
A loving hand pressed against the small of her back, guiding her up the stairs as her mother shouted, “Charles!”
McKenzie reached her bedroom door, but before she followed Yolanda inside, she heard her father’s study door open. The look in his eyes froze the air in her lungs. She couldn’t breathe. He lifted the corner of his lip, seemingly calm, but McKenzie knew exactly what it was—the face of a man trying and failing to be brave.
Her father walked closer and knelt before her, then put his finger beneath her chin. “It’ll be okay, Mac. I promise.”
Then he hastened downstairs. McKenzie watched him, ignoring Yolanda’s attempts to guide her into her room until her father disappeared from view. She spun toward her nanny the instant he was gone.
“Yoyo, what’s going on?”
“It’s okay, mija,” her nanny whispered, using a soothing voice as she guided her into her room.
McKenzie raced for the bay window on the far side of her room, then dropped to the cushions and pressed her nose to the glass. She had a perfect view of the front yard. Two black cars she didn’t recognize were parked in the circular drive. On the street, there were three more cars, but they had a word she recognized written on the side—police.
Muffled voices traveled up the stairs like thunder, growing louder, quicker, an oncoming storm. Suddenly, the two men appeared below her window. Her father stood between them, his head hanging low and his wrists bound by gleaming metal. Before McKenzie could process, they shoved him into the car. Her mother ran out, screaming and yelling, chasing after the cars as they slid undeterred down the drive. McKenzie didn’t move until two arms came around her, pulling her into a warm chest.
Estara bien,” Yolanda murmured, holding her close and running a soothing hand through her hair. “Estara bien.”
It was only then she realized she was crying.
The Feds came back a few more times after that. Once to ransack the house. Once to drop her father off on bail. Once to drag him off to jail. The experience had given McKenzie a knee-jerk reaction to police officers showing up at her front door—hide.
Don’t think about that.
Not today.
Bright lights pierced her eyes, painful. McKenzie blinked, clearing her vision and her mind. They’d arrived at the next platform just in time. She gripped a pole to keep her balance as the train slowed, a gut reaction after living in this city for so long. As soon as the doors opened, she strode off. Usually, she waited until the next stop to get off, but she needed to get out of these tunnels. She needed to move. She needed the distraction.
Think about your menu.
Think about your plan.
As McKenzie shuffled with the masses, her focus returned to her food, her one constant. She reviewed the numbers—each perfect measurement, each precise minute—finding solace in their consistency. Baking, at least, would never fail her.
When she finally yanked open the door to the restaurant and stepped into the kitchen, McKenzie was ready. First things first, she pulled out her chef coat, shrugged it on, and double-checked the bun on top of her head to make sure it was still tight. Loose hairs were the death of any great dish. Then she pulled her recipes from her bag—all handwritten and color-coded by time. She had them memorized by now, but it was helpful to have the pages set out along the prep table just in case. Many of the steps had been crossed out—she’d made nearly all the decorations and doughs earlier in the week—but there was still plenty left to do.
McKenzie folded her fingers together and stretched her arms high overhead, taking a deep breath.
You can do this.
You will kill this.
These desserts are your—
The door to the kitchen swung open.
“You’re early,” McKenzie groaned, trying and failing to stifle her sigh. How many times had she asked the line chefs to give her a few hours alone to prep? “I’m supposed to have the kitchen to myself until— Oh. It’s you.”
The federal agent she’d ditched in the subway leaned against the wall with his arms folded and a single dark eyebrow raised. “It’s me.”
McKenzie frowned. “What are you doing here? Who let you in?”
“Someone who respects authority.”
Must’ve been one of the waiters. McKenzie shrugged and returned her gaze to her papers. “I thought I made myself abundantly clear before. Thank you, but no thank you.”
“So did I,” he said. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him use his foot to push off the wall. When he reached the prep area, he put his palms against the table and leaned forward, gaze so piercing McKenzie couldn’t help but look up. “When I make a promise to protect someone, I honor it. So, I’m here. And I’ll be here. Whether you want me to be or not.”
The golden highlights in his eyes flared with unspoken challenge. McKenzie was more than happy to oblige. This was her kitchen, her safe place, and she wouldn’t be intimidated here. He didn’t seem more than an inch or two taller than her, so she put her hands on the table and leaned in, meeting him at eye level. “Some people might call that harassment.”
The muscles in his arms flexed, drawing her attention. His bronze skin was contoured and hard in all the right places. “Some people might call it admirable.”
“Some people understand how to take a hint.”
“Some people understand how to show some gratitude.”
“For what?” She scoffed. “Barging into my place of work and promising to stalk me?”
“No,” he clapped back, shaking his head. “For sacrificing my time and energy in order to keep you safe.”
“I’m not in danger!”
“Yes. You are.”
Somehow, their faces had moved closer, a little too close. McKenzie could feel the warm brush of his breath on her skin. The muscles in his square jaw were clenched. A layer of scruff covered his cheeks. His hair swept over his eyes, steeping them in shadow, so only the barest hint of glittering green was visible. She felt that stare in every part of her, as though it were a physical caress. The heat in the kitchen spiked, even though she hadn’t had a chance to turn the ovens on yet.
The ovens!
Crap!
McKenzie tore her gaze away, finding the clock on the wall. She was ten minutes behind. She needed to preheat all the ovens, and she needed to start baking, dammit! With a sigh, she slumped her shoulders and relented, if only for the sake of her rapidly disintegrating schedule.
“Fine,” she murmured, using her palms to push back off the table and break away from this Fed who had seemingly made it his life mission to babysit her. “Fine, if you’re so hell-bent on protecting me, do it. I don’t care. But I am not leaving this kitchen and there’s nothing you can do to make me. So, go stand in the corner or something, and don’t under any circumstances get in my way. Got it?”
“Got it.” He stood and stepped back, one foot behind the other, holding her gaze the entire time, until his spine hit the wall. Then he held his hands to either side and arched his brows, as though asking if that was satisfactory.
McKenzie nodded and returned to her work.
Okay, time to croquembouche.
She had a hundred profiteroles that needed to be baked, filled with cream, and stacked into a dazzling tower all in under three and a half hours while she finished five other desserts.
“Excuse me,” the agent murmured, breaking her concentration yet again. McKenzie slowly slid her gaze across the room to meet his eyes. At least he had the courtesy to appear chagrinned. “It just occurred to me that I have no idea how long I’m going to be standing here. Do you by any chance have a chair?”
Without a word, she marched over to the closet, pulled out a folding chair, and handed it to him before returning to her spot at the prep table.
Okay, now—
“Oh,” he interrupted again. And again, McKenzie pulled her gaze across the room to meet his eyes. “Do you know the Wi-Fi password?”
She closed her eyes and held them like that for a moment as she took a breath. “Give me your phone.”
He did.
She typed in the password, handed it back, then resumed her spot at the table, hesitating for a second. He didn’t say anything, so she turned around to pull her raw profiteroles and cream from the fridge. The dough was cool but no longer frozen. She’d pop them into the oven as soon as the preheat was done. McKenzie squeezed the edge of the piping bag she’d filled yesterday night, forcing a dollop of cream onto her finger to taste. The consistency was nice, thick yet smooth. The chocolate and hazelnut came through nicely.
So far, so good.
When she turned back around, Agent Alvarez was out cold. The back of his head leaned against the wall, tilting to the side. His legs were outstretched and his ankles crossed. One hand held his cell phone flat against his chest, while the other had dropped from his lap to dangle over the floor, lifeless.
My knight in shining armor.
A smile came unbidden to her lips, and McKenzie shook her head ruefully. She didn’t look away, even though she knew she should. The cut angles of his face were softer in sleep. His lips weren’t pursed, but plump and slightly opened. His chest rose and fell with deep, peaceful breaths. Her walls lowered, just an inch, as she watched him sleep so soundly, seemingly exhausted by her, or maybe by this city—it had a way of eating people alive.
Just as she was on the verge of finding him somewhat endearing, an offensive snarl erupted from his lips, like a dying lion roaring in its sleep.
What the hell?
McKenzie flinched back. The sound came again, a gravelly engine sputtering and rasping as it hung on for dear life.
You have got to be kidding me. That’s not a snore. That’s—that’s a crime against humanity. My humanity.
The agent didn’t seem to care. He snored again, louder this time.
Oh, for the love of God, McKenzie silently growled as she marched across the room and grabbed her bag. She stuffed her earbuds in, then turned her music on. Another snore pierced the air, muffled this time, but there. She slid the volume up to ten and returned to the prep table. No more, and I mean no more, distractions.


***

Thanks for reading!

Off the Grid goes on sale in only one week, so this is the final teaser! If you want to find out how McKenzie and Leo's love story unfolds, I hope you'll pre-order a copy :)



March 26, 2019

Off the Grid (To Catch a Thief Book 3) - Third Chapter Reveal!

Happy #TeaserTuesday!

Off the Grid goes on sale in just TWO weeks, which means it's time to reveal exactly how the first meeting between our hero and heroine goes! Spoiler (for my fellow housewives fans)...


😂😂

I adore hate-to-love, enemies-to-lovers, misunderstanding sort of romances, and McKenzie and Leo definitely fall into this category. I hope you enjoy their "meet-ugly" :)

PS: You can read the first chapter here if you missed it! Or the second chapter here!

And if you're counting down the days until April 8th (like me!), don't forget to pre-order your copy! The ebook is available on Amazon!

***



***



- 3 -

Leo

Leo stared at the closed door with his mouth agape. When she’d first opened it, he’d been struck dumb by her sheer beauty. Reading stats on a screen—blonde, five-foot-nine, blue eyes, slim—and seeing them in person were two very different things. Her features were striking, and they’d slapped him good. But the second she opened her mouth, that smooth skin gained sharp edges, and now he suffered from a very different problem—verbal whiplash. It wasn’t that he was used to having women fall at his feet—okay, it was partially that he was used to having women fall at his feet—but the abrupt dismissal stung.
It’s the jeans, he reasoned as he lifted his arm to knock again. Normally when he was on the job, he wore a suit, which automatically gave him an air of authority. The plain clothes were working against him. Leo straightened his shoulders and plastered a suave smile across his lips before he gently rapped his knuckles against the wood a second time.
“Miss Harper, please open the door. My name is—”
“I’m sorry,” she cut him off. “I’m not interested.”
He ground his teeth. Leo wasn’t used to people getting under his skin. He knew how to keep his cool. He was the smooth, good cop to Nate’s grumpy stickler. Be charming. You catch more bees with honey. Don’t get annoyed.
“My name is Leo Alvarez.” He finished his previous thought, making his voice a touch louder. “I’m a special agent with the FBI, and I was sent here for your protection.”
Let’s see what you think of that. He stared at the door, expectant.
Nothing.
Oh, come on! he grumbled silently. This girl was something else.
Leo glanced around the hall, taking note of the marble trim around the doorways, the smooth tile along the floor, the gilded sconces. There’d been a doorman, this was the Upper East Side, and Central Park was less than a football field away. This was a posh building, in a posh neighborhood, with a posh occupant. If there was one thing he’d learned about rich people in his limited time spent with them, it was that they didn’t have time for anyone deemed lesser. Right now, to her, he had the sense he was just an unnamed Hispanic guy in a hallway where he didn’t belong. Out of place and unworthy. The very thought made his blood boil.
Typical. Fucking typical.
Leo pounded—ahem, knocked—on the door again.
I could be on my way to Hawaii right now. I could be getting drunk for the first time in months with my free business-class booze. I could be tearing up to a sappy drama in the privacy of my overly large, expensive seat with my team none the wiser. I could be—
“If you don’t leave, I’m calling the cops.”
I am the cops, he wanted to snarl, but he took a deep breath and pulled out his badge instead, then held it up to the peephole indignantly. “There are half a dozen NYPD in the foyer of the building. I’m sure one of them would be happy to assist you.”
The door swung open.
That crystalline gaze flicked from his face, to the badge in his hand, back to his face. Her lips pursed and she closed the door behind her, presenting him with her back as she clicked the lock into place. She jiggled the knob three times, as though out of a force of habit, before brushing by him on her way toward the elevator.
“Miss Harper,” he said again, tone a little sharper than intended.
“You have the wrong person.”
“Are you McKenzie Harper?”
She continued marching down the hall. The rubber soles of her loafers squeaked against the tile floor. The gold bands around her wrist jingled with each step. Her lips, however, were silent.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said and chased after, not used to so much hostility from someone he was trying to protect. A suspect, sure, they gave attitude for days. But everyone else usually treated the Feds with awe and respect. With a little common freaking decency.
Not McKenzie Harper.
She lifted her hand with the elegance of a ballet dancer and pressed the button down. Then, and only then, did she finally grace him with her attention and release a heavy sigh. “Is this about my father?”
“What?” The word blurted out before Leo could stop it. Her father? What does he have to do with anything? He made a mental note to look into that later, but cleared the question from his mind. “No. As I was trying to explain before, my name is Agent Leo Alvarez and I work in the Organized Crime Division of the FBI. We have reason to believe you’ve become a person of interest to some very dangerous people, and I’ve been assigned to your protection for the next few days, until the threat has passed.”
She blinked twice, expression still as stone, and then shook her head curtly. “No, I’m sorry. You must have the wrong person.”
Leo sighed, but the sound was covered as the elevator dinged. She stepped on, then turned, extending her hand. For a moment, Leo thought her tune had changed a bit and that maybe, just maybe, she was going to hold the door for him. But no, her fingers turned to the side and pressed a button he couldn’t see five times in quick succession. The elevator door started sliding closed.
For God’s sake, he silently growled and jumped forward, catching the metal as it passed the halfway mark. He forced his way inside. McKenzie lifted her hand to her shoulder and clutched her purse strap, using her elbow to clamp the leather bag against her side. Leo had seen the move plenty of times before. Relax, lady. I’m not going to rob you.
She kept her eyes glued to the little screen above the door as the fingers of her other hand went to her bracelets and rubbed them in a way that seemed habitual. Her lips moved. It took him a moment to realized she was quietly murmuring the floor numbers as they made their descent.
“Miss Harper,” Leo said again, softening his tone, trying a new tactic. “I know this must be a lot for you to take in. You must be overwhelmed—I know I would be. But you are the person I’m looking for, and you need to listen to me. Do you know a woman by the name Jolene Carter?”
McKenzie’s head turned sharply and her acute gaze latched onto his, alight for the first time with a flicker of interest. “Jo?”
“Jo, whom I believe you know only as an at-home baker, is in reality an internationally renowned hacker and art thief—”
“Wait—Jo?” McKenzie interrupted.
“Jo.”
“My Jo?”
“Your Jo.”
“Is a…criminal?”
Was,” Leo corrected. “She’s reformed. Two weeks ago she handed herself over to the FBI in exchange for an immunity deal, and she’s been helping us ever since. Are you aware of the situation that’s been in the news recently? The mafia roundups? And a man named Thaddeus Ryder who is on the run from police?”
“I…” She trailed off, blinking slowly, then shook her head. “I watch the news every morning after I run. I know exactly what you’re talking about, but Jo? She bakes cookies. And she’s a slob. And she was talking to me about code browns an hour and a half ago. There’s no way your Jo is my Jo. I’m sorry, there’s just not.”
“They’re the same person,” Leo cut in, ignoring that code-brown comment—because, what? Finally, this stubborn woman was having a normal reaction, one he knew how to handle with a relentless assault of facts, until denial was no longer possible. Sparing a second, he glanced up. They were four floors from the lobby.
“Jo was partners with Thad Ryder, and when she turned herself in, he went on the lam. The Feds are looking for him, but so is the Russian mob, because if we catch him first and manage to talk him into a deal, Ryder will provide invaluable eyewitness testimony we can use against the mafia in court. Which is what brings me here, to you. Roughly an hour and a half ago, Jo informed the bureau that someone had been hacking into her private files. We believe it was the Russians, looking for communication between Jo and Ryder. Instead, they found her communications with you and your other friend, Addison. We believe they suspected that Ryder was planning to use you or your friend as a way to get to Jo, and they wanted to cut him off at the source. Local police in Riverbend, South Carolina, received a call early this morning, a missing person’s report, filed on behalf of your friend Addison. No one has seen her since eight o’clock last night, and the bakery where she worked has been ransacked. At this point in time, it’s unknown if she was taken by Ryder or by the Russians, but we have reason to believe someone may be coming for you next.”
The elevator dinged and the door slid open.
McKenzie jolted and jerked her head to the side, darting her gaze toward the cops waiting idly in the lobby. Leo was impressed by her awareness. He recognized the look in her eyes—it was the same one he’d seen on any number of the agents he’d worked with over the years. She was in shock, and yet, her mind was shrewd, calmly assessing the situation, cataloguing every detail of what she saw.
Leo didn’t like it.
He didn’t like it at all.
Hysteria was much easier to deal with, as surprising as that might sound. When a person was falling apart, all they wanted was someone who could hold them together. Leo knew how to deal with that. How to wrap his arm around a victim and subtly guide them to a patrol car. How to hand them a glass of water and get them to open up. How to become their savior. People who could compartmentalize were difficult. They didn’t automatically listen. Instead, for better or worse, they questioned.
Worse, he thought with a sigh. Definitely worse.
“I believe it’s in your best interest to please come with us.” Leo tried to pounce before all her mental capabilities returned, but the second he spoke, he already knew it was too late. Those icy eyes turned toward him, cool and calculating. He pressed on. “We’d like to escort you to a safe location—a hotel room we have secured for the next few days. The bureau will pay for all of your expenses, room service included.” That wasn’t exactly true. Nate was the one who would be hefting the bill, at least until he got formal approval from the boss, but she didn’t need to know that. “Think of it as a vacation.”
The word stung rolling through his lips. A vacation. Black sand beaches and crashing waves flashed before his eyes as he blinked—there and gone, exactly like his moment of victory.
“I can’t,” McKenzie said, turning toward the front door of her building and hastily stepping away. “Thank you very much for your concern, but I’ll be fine. I don’t have time to be kidnapped today. I don’t have time for a vacation. I don’t have time, period. I have to go.”
“That’s not really how this works.” Leo chased after her, shaking his head. “They’re not going to call you to pencil in a time for your abduction. They’ll just grab you.”
“Again, thank you for the offer, but I have the most important presentation of my life in a few hours, and I can’t waste another minute talking to you.” She had a way of making the words thank you sound more like F-U as they passed through her lips. Leo rolled his eyes. Frigging New Yorkers. “I’m sure this is all just a big mistake. Goodbye.”
Good Lord, this woman was exasperating, and she’d almost reached the door.
That’s it, Leo thought, no more Mr. Nice Cop. This is for your own good. He reached out and grabbed her hand, stopping her where she stood. “I’m sorry, Miss Harper, but it wasn’t a request. You’re coming with me.”
She froze, going still in a way that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, as though she were a predator hiding in the bush one second before launching into attack.
He winced. I shouldn’t have grabbed her.
“Excuse me?”
Leo dropped her arm in the same second she yanked it free. He gulped as she turned to glance over her shoulder. Death himself would have had a less menacing stare.
“Am I being arrested?”
“No.”
“Am I being detained?”
His shoulders writhed. “No, but—”
“Then, like I said, thank you, but no thank you.”
Leo glanced around, quickly making eye contact with some of the NYPD watching this interaction go down, hoping someone might step in. They were the best cops in the world, but they stayed quiet. Because he was in their jurisdiction, stepping on their toes in their turf where he didn’t belong. He was a Fed, and the Feds never got very warm welcomes from the local authorities. Before he could think of anything to say, McKenzie shoved the front door of her building open and strode out onto the busy street.
Thanks, guys.
He ran after her.
“Miss Harper!”
She didn’t slow.
“Miss Harper!”
She disappeared around the bend.
“McKenzie!”
Not even a pause.
Goddamn, she’s fast.
Leo kept his eyes glued on her platinum-blonde bun as he chased her across Eighty-Sixth Street and down a set of stairs to the underground subway platform. Clearly a native, McKenzie didn’t miss a beat as she scanned her MetroCard and slid through the turnstile, never glancing back. The screech of a slowing train echoed across the cavernous tunnel, loud enough to make Leo wince as he ran thigh-first into the locked turnstile, no card in hand. He cursed—at his luck and at the bruise he’d no doubt have later.
The first car slid into view.
McKenzie took a step forward.
Leo put his palm on top of the scanner, shifting his weight. Now or never.
He jumped, vaulting over the bars and onto the platform as the doors to the train rolled open. McKenzie followed the herd inside and turned, eyes widening in surprise as she made eye contact with him.
“Miss—”
“Not so fast,” a deep voice growled and a hand clamped around his forearm, jerking him painfully back. Cold steel circled his wrist, then cinched into place with a resounding clink. “I saw you jump.”
Now, this is a first. Leo sighed. He hadn’t seen the cop standing watch on the platform. His gaze had been too locked on the target, but it wasn’t his fault. He was used to working as a pair, and Nate usually handled the surroundings.
“Let me go. I’m a Fed.”
“Oh, like I haven’t heard that one before.”
“No.” Leo used his other hand to grab his badge and shoved it into the cop’s face indignantly. Three times in one day—that’s got to be a record or something. First the flight attendant. Then McKenzie. Now this. I’m never going out in casual clothes again. I’ll sleep in my damn suits if I have to. “I really am a Fed, and I have to get on that train.”
The cop’s jaw dropped and he let go.
Leo turned.
But it was too late. The doors slid closed. McKenzie lifted her palm, offering a small wave as the train lurched into motion and sped away.


***

Thanks for reading!

The fourth chapter will be posted next week, so stay tuned :) There's a lot more going on in McKenzie's head than she lets Leo see, so don't be fooled by her tough exterior the way he was...

For now, you can check out Off the Grid on Amazon for more info!