Sarah Jessup is supposed to be taking some R & R. A former hacker, she's now legit as a member of the crack HotWires team, investigating computer crime on Uncle Sam's dime. Taking her first real vacation in years means leaving the laptop--and handcuffs--at home. Or so she thinks.
After one too many run-ins with sexy Logan Sullivan at the beach, Sarah is ready to indulge in a fling. Until she accidentally discovers he's a renegade cop on leave working a cold case--one involving an Internet sex scandal. Is Logan just using their relationship for cover? And how's he going to react when Sarah pulls out her own police badge?
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FIXATION (New Edition, Spring 2020!)
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Sarah Jessup stretched languorously under the warm rays of the mid-Atlantic sun. It was late June and the Virginia Beach hotels were already packed. The beach was swarming with early vacationers: children with red buckets, moms watching them while sitting in their low chairs planted in the gentle surf, and of course, the see-and-be-seen bikini crowd. Sarah definitely wanted to be seen.
She’d cut her previously long, curling, brown hair boy-short for the summer, which just served to accentuate the strong features of her face and the huge blue eyes that narrowed under her Jackie-O sunglasses as she perused the relaxing scene. Leaning back in her chair, her pale skin slathered in the highest SPF sun lotion she could buy, she bent one knee up, letting the flimsy material of the cover-up skirt – which really didn’t cover much up at all – float around her.
Sarah reached for more lotion, spreading it along the tender skin inside of her thigh and smiled coyly at some male passers-by who appreciated her efforts. She didn’t really want a tan, but the bathing suit she wore exposed most of her skin to the sun – barring the few scraps and strings that held the thing together – so she was careful.
Having grown up around New York City and being used to northern climates, she’d just relocated to southern Virginia last August when she took a new job as a computer crime investigator for the Norfolk Police Department. She was thrilled with her new, professional position. She never in her life imagined having such a perfect gig.
Up until she joined the unit, she’d been a computer hacker, making her living at various part-time jobs, though she did find occasional, profitable, under-the-table computer stints in Manhattan. It all paid the bills and allowed her to buy the gadgets she’d need for her trade. There’d been plenty of full-time jobs available in the city, and she could have earned a decent wage on Wall Street with her skills, but that kind of work didn’t satisfy her. Money wasn’t her motivator; getting the bad guys was.
To that end, the larger percentage of her time had been spent in her tiny Brooklyn apartment, sitting in front of her computer tracking down internet porn sites and cluing in the Feds to what she’d found. She’d always loved the irony of breaking the law – which she’d done pretty much on a daily basis in her pursuits – to uphold it.
She had no regrets about any of the lines she crossed in those days. The fact that she was a free-agent had made her information valuable to the feds. She could go where the law couldn’t – not unless they wanted Congress on their doorstep.
Being in one of the largest cities in the world, with underground connections that they could only dream of, helped. Hackers were a tight community, and she’d been part of it. While she knew people who broke the rules as a habit, most of them were quick to help take down the real bad guys. They’d been her friends. They knew what she did, though not why she did it, and they never asked. But they’d helped her. And she’d helped the FBI, in turn.
It was how she’d met Ian Chandler, the FBI hotshot who’d fielded most of her information, and who had hired her as part of the unit when he quit being a fed to run his own team in Norfolk.
Now here she sat, gainfully employed doing what she was best at, earning more than enough to pay the rent and buy plenty of electronic gadgets.
She gazed out over the hazy ocean horizon; this place wasn’t New York, that’s for sure. And though she’d spent her fair share of time on Long Island beaches, she wasn’t taking any chances on getting burned. She did enjoy the feeling of the warmth on her skin, though; the way the heat soaked into her muscles relaxing every one of them until she felt like Jello. However, underneath her Jello-like appearance, every nerve ending was on alert. She was keenly aware of everything happening around her.
She had been working pretty much constantly for six months, doing double duty between attending an accelerated program at the Norfolk policy academy, a requirement since she’d had no formal police training. She hadn’t had a day off in a long time, and she couldn’t have been happier about it. She loved her work. It’s where she functioned best. She was completely relaxed – or so anyone watching her would assume.
She smiled again when a virile twenty-something paraded by, treating her to a perusal of his perfect backside adorned in skin-tight, red, neoprene surf shorts. Hey, so he was nearly a decade younger – she could still enjoy the view. His strong, tanned legs veed slightly as he stood in front of her talking on a cell phone. She sighed and reached down, unlacing the knot at her waist, releasing the material of her skirt altogether and bending forward to fold it neatly before leaning back.
He shifted, taking a slightly different angle – the phone not quite where he needed it to have a conversation -- and her attention perked. Stretching again and letting one foot fall teasingly over the side of her chair, her toes played in the sand. She wanted to make sure she had his attention.
She had it, all right. And him.
She waved flirtatiously, though he appeared to be looking elsewhere. He froze.
In the next second, he was off like a shot and Sarah was after him. He was fast, but he wasn’t any match for her. At nearly six feet tall, she was all leg and she could move. She was also very, very motivated.