TO THE LIMIT, Book No. 2 in THE BODYGUARDS series
West Palm Beach, Florida
Dark, she could do, Eve Garrett thought as she sat by the curb,
her motor running. The rain was another story. She didn’t
“Or wind,” she grumbled as a strong gust rocked her
little Mazda and the downpour pelted the windshield like BBs.
Why couldn’t she be curled up in her apartment, comfy and
dry and reading a good ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ mystery
novel, instead of muttering to herself out here in one?
She was a long way from her apartment. A long way from comfy.
Instead, she was wiping steam off her driver’s side window
on a night that was also damp and muggy. And she wasn’t even
a little bit at ease about parking on this smarmy back street just
off Blue Heron Boulevard in a seedy neighborhood that stank of
garbage and rot while she waited for Tiffany Clayborne to show.
She squinted into the rain. Where was that girl?
Eve cared about the little brat – God bless her – but
Tiffany had better have a damn good reason for dragging her out
in this crap or when she finally did show up, there might be serious
hair pulling involved.
And why the theatrics, Eve wondered uneasily, losing the battle
to clear a spot on her window. Why the tears and the almost incoherent
begging that Eve meet her here, no explanation provided.
“Just come, Eve. Please. Please hurry.”
With Tiff, lately, there often wasn’t an explanation. Starting
with her eighteenth birthday six months ago, Tiffany had turned
into the quintessential spoiled little rich girl, monetarily gorged,
and emotionally starved for attention.
She’d really fired up the after burners in the spoiled rich
department lately – like anyone could really compete with
Paris Hilton. But it still gave the paparazzi plenty of fodder
for sensational stories about her exploits. Eve had figured it
was a case of Tiffany’s age proclaiming she was capable of
making adult decisions, but her brain not yet come to terms with
the new reality of maturity.
Come to terms, little girl. Soon.
The steam finally got the best of her. Eve rolled down her window
thinking back to Tiffany’s eighteenth birthday party. You
had your basic cake and balloons and candles. And then, in Tiffany’s
case, you had your instant access to a multi-billion dollar trust
Eve was thinking that all that money had screwed with her head.
Well, so had Tiffany’s father but that was a whole other
“Come on, Tiff. It’s getting wet out here.”
Eve checked her watch and told herself that to an eighteen year
old, fifteen minutes did not constitute late. To a twenty-eight
year old who had to be on the job at seven the next morning, however,
fifteen minutes constituted at the beginnings of a very bad mood.
Disgusted, she flipped out her cell phone and punched in Tiffany’s
number. No answer.
“What the heck is going on?” she wondered then sharpened
her focus outside her window when she saw a flash of movement by
one of the buildings directly across the street. She leaned over
in the seat so she could get a better look and through the rain,
saw movement again.
“Tiff? Is that you?”
Whoever it was stopped when Eve yelled, hesitated for a moment,
then ducked between two buildings.
It didn’t much matter that Eve had spent seven years as
a Secret Service agent. Didn’t much matter that she’d
logged her share of stakeouts during that time. At least it didn’t
matter to her heart rate because it ratcheted up several beats
per minute as a healthy, intuitive wariness and a spike of adrenaline
had her popping open her glove box and digging for her flashlight.
She hesitated over the .38 S & W she pretty much went nowhere
without then tucked it in her waistband at the small of her back.
With a muttered oath, she stepped out into the rain.
“You’d better have a good reason for playing this
game, little girl,” she sputtered under her breath.
But even as she said it, Eve sensed, gut deep, that this wasn’t
a game. Something was wrong. She just hadn’t wanted it to
be. Tiffany was vulnerable. Prime predator bait. And what Eve had
just seen duck between the buildings looked a lot more like predator
She was completely drenched by the time she ran across the lot
and tucked in next to a dingy gray cinderblock building. The adjacent
building was an ugly mustard brown brick. The walkway between the
two was narrow and dark; the weeds growing in the dirt that had
softened to mud were the primary landscape materials.
And Tiffany was the primary reason Eve was about to put her life
on the line. She reached behind her back for her gun, flicked off
the safety and gripping the weapon in both hands, swung into the
Water gushed from the roofs, bypassing debris-clogged eves. Nothing.
She could see nothing through the deluge. And then she felt nothing.
Nothing but pain as an arm hooked around her neck and dragged her
back against a body as hard and unyielding as the building she
was suddenly slammed into.
She could barely breath, wouldn’t be on her feet if her
attacker hadn’t pinned her between him and the rough cinder
block wall. Somewhere at her feet was her gun. And somewhere in
the dark, she heard the wail of a far away police siren.
“You’re dead,” he said, his hot breath fanning
her ear as the rain poured like a waterfall around them.
The forearm crushing her throat jerked viciously. Pain knifed
through her windpipe. She gasped, sucking for a breath that wasn't
gorged with rain and pain and willed herself not to pass out.
“You’re dead,” he repeated, his voice as void
of emotion as the night was void of light. “You just don’t
know it yet.”
Exquisite, mind-searing pain ripped through her system. She felt
a scream boil up just as another jolt tore into her and her muscles
started to spasm. By the third jolt, her eyes had rolled back in
And by the time he let her fall in a boneless lump to the muddy
ground, the prospect of death was a welcome relief.