Heather stared out the window of her office that overlooked the parking lot of Sky Rocket Productions and sighed. It’d been two weeks since she’d been arrested and unceremoniously carried off to jail. Burke said trust him. How could she trust a man who didn’t trust her? In the short time she knew Burke and Jimenez, they’d both accused her of murder, harassed her at work, and finally cuffed her in front of her brother and his lover, Bobby. So trust was hard to come by.
The ride to the police department had been quiet, mostly because she didn’t have anything to say to them. They’d done their job; she knew that. Hell, by her own standards she looked guilty. But looks could be deceiving. She didn’t kill Viv. Yes, there was a rivalry there, but it wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. The girl was just a spoiled brat. No one had ever told her no, and when Heather did so, Viv lost it. Still, that didn’t mean Heather was a killer.
Walking back over to the desk, she opened up her writing program on her laptop and pulled up her newest manuscript.
When they’d arrived at the police department, Burke had walked her through the station and passed the holding rooms. They continued past the criminals cuffed to benches and the prostitutes trying to pick up their arresting officers. It was only when they walked beyond the elevator that would’ve taken her to the actual jail cells that she had a brief moment of relief. However, Burke’s unwillingness to tell her what was going on made Heather feel utterly lost. Only after they walked her out the back door and placed her into an unmarked car did they speak.
She wasn’t being arrested.
“I told you to trust me, Heather.” Burke winked. “Let’s get you home, and we’ll explain what will happen next.”
And they did. Whoever was setting her up also wanted her dead. So their plan was to draw the real killer out. She was left dumbfounded. It was all a setup, a carefully planned ruse. One that both detectives promised would be carefully choreographed with her safety in mind. Downside, she had to go everywhere with her two shadows, Burke and Jimenez.
None of it made sense.
She was still trying to figure out what the point was as she sat there writing up the script for Dirk and Samantha. With every keystroke, she fell into the story even more, but she could never quite forget about her predicament. She knew that just outside her door sat both detectives, which did nothing to ease the tension inside her. If anything, they were the reason she felt like she did at that moment.
Ever since she’d met both men, she’d felt drawn to them. They were good looking. Both men were tall, brooding, and gorgeous. Burke was a little leaner than Jimenez. His physique was that of a swimmer. With his blond hair, hazel eyes, and full lips meant for sin, he looked more like he belonged on the beach riding waves than a detective.
Jimenez was darker—sun kissed. His dark hair, onyx eyes, and square jaw caught her attention the first time she saw him, but what drew her in were his tattoos. The man was covered in them. Since both men were living with her, she’d gotten glimpses of the designs that crisscrossed his body. They covered his left bicep and worked their way across the back of his shoulders then down to his right bicep. She wanted to lick the intricate patterns until he was moaning her name. As she watched him bend over and reach into the fridge to grab a bottle of water, her mouth watered.
You just need to get laid, Heather. That’s all. There was no way she’d ever involve herself with one of the detectives, let alone both of them. They weren’t meant for her. Besides, how stupid would she look falling for her personal bodyguards? Wasn’t there a movie made about that? Yeah, there was, and the movie didn’t have a happily ever after, either. It would be better if she kept her head down and did her work—like the manuscript she was working on. At least she could control that and give the movie a happy ending.
The light tap on her office door brought Heather out of her thoughts as Jimenez walked in. “Hey. Burke is getting lunch today. Want anything special?
“Yeah, I want to go out. I want to go to Olvera Street and eat at the cantina. Better yet, I want to go back to my normal life.” She crossed her arms over her chest and sneered at the detective. Damn it, she hated being cooped up. Heather pouted openly, ignoring the sinfully tempting smirk that played at the corner of his mouth. “Is that too much to ask?”
He sagged against her desk and bowed his head. “I wish I could do that for you, but until the killer is
caught…” His words trailed off, and she knew exactly what he was thinking.
“I’m a prisoner in my own home. Perfect,” she snapped. “Get me whatever. I’m not really hungry.”
He nodded. “We’ll get through this, Heather.” Laying his hand on her shoulder, he squeezed slightly, and she felt a jolt of electricity course through her body.
Keeping her head down, she refused to look at him or acknowledge the snap of awareness that passed through them. Silently he slipped out of her office, closing the door behind him. Heather’s shoulders drooped. The anger that festered within wasn’t toward the detectives. It was toward the person responsible for Viv’s death.
Taking a deep breath, she let it out slowly and refocused on the task at hand, Dirk and Samantha’s script. They were the newest couple for Sky Rocket Productions. Heather loved Samantha’s spunk and Dirk’s calm, even demeanor. She hadn’t expected the explosion of dominance and power he’d exuded on screen. The man was definitely something else. For a moment, she almost wanted to be Samantha. If everything worked out, by the end of the month, they’d be rolling in work.
And if the killer is never caught?
No, she couldn’t think that way. Whoever the murderer was, they’d mess up. They’d get cocky and show themselves. In the meantime she needed to work. Heather needed to concentrate on the things she could control right now. Returning to her writing program, she dug in. She wanted something grungy and hardcore. Perhaps it was her mood, or it was what she saw with Dirk, but whatever it was, she saw leather and dark rooms.
The story came fast and hard for her. Each scene ramped up to the next. Each built onto another until she was at the final scene. She’d need a second guy for it. She knew one man who’d fit the bill. Carson. He was tall, muscular, and drop-dead sexy. Heather moaned and squirmed in her seat. This would be their hit for the year; she could feel it.
“I know we’re not there, but I went by the cantina like you told Jimenez,” Burke said, pushing the bowl of food under her nose. She’d been so wrapped up in the story she hadn’t heard him come in.
“Uh, thanks. Leave me a spoon, and I’ll dig in, in a moment,” she answered, not looking up from the computer.
“Look, I get it. You hate our guts, but that doesn’t mean you get to neglect yourself too.” He didn’t make an attempt to move.
Heather pushed back from her desk. “Hate is a very strong word, Detective Burke.” She stared up at him. “It’s not that I hate you. I’m right in the middle of writing a scene. I’m halfway through it. All I need is ten minutes, dad, and I’ll eat.” She shooed him. “Now, leave me alone so I can work.”
“Can I read it when you’re done?”
“What?” she asked dumbfounded. Was he serious? Searching his face for any signs of deception, she blinked and swallowed roughly
“Can I read what you wrote when it’s done?” The corner of his lips turned up in a grin.
“Are you serious?” She eyed him warily.
“Yes. We’ve watched you work for the last two weeks, and well, we’re curious.” He pulled up the chair next to her and brought out his own plate of food from the paper bag he’d been holding.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Heather moved back toward her computer. Lifting the bowl of food that smelled like heaven, she pushed it aside, ignoring the growl of her stomach, and got back to work.
Burke laughed. The sound was rich and deep and tickled her senses, leaving a trail of goose flesh down her arms. “Are you afraid it might embarrass us?” He wiggled his brows. “Give us a chance. We might surprise you.”
“Really?” She gave him a droll stare.
“Really,” he purred. His gaze smoldered with untold debauchery and decadence that could be had at his hand.
“Okay, fine.” Heather shook her head, trying to clear away the spike of desire that coursed through her. “You guys can see the script when I’m done with it.” Pulling the bowl back in front of her, she took a bite of the rice and fish combo and scowled when Burke laughed. “So, I couldn’t wait.”
“Enjoy your lunch, Heather. I’ll be outside with Jimenez.” Picking up his own food, he walked out, leaving her alone to her thoughts.
* * * * *
“So?” Jimenez glanced up at Burke as he ate some of the rice off his plate.
“She’s going to let us look at it.” Burke sat down next to him and pulled the tin cover off of his number one combination plate. “I’ve got to tell you, she seemed a little skeptical about letting us see it.”
“It’ll be okay. Once we take a peek at it, we’ll know the best way to approach her. Before this case is closed, we’ll have her in our bed.” Jimenez had always been the optimistic one between them. No matter what happened, he’d always see the upside of it, even if it wasn’t that great.
“You hope. She’s skittish as fuck. I don’t blame her either,” Burke answered before biting into his taco. “Hell, I was convinced for about an hour that she was the killer, but it was too…”
“Perfect?” Jimenez answered for him.
“Yeah. It was completely staged, even the scene. I don’t get why someone would go through all that trouble when they knew it wouldn’t carry any weight.”
“My thought, it’s someone close to both the victim and Heather. I think they believe deep down they did her a favor. Staging it like they did was a presentation and a nod to Heather. This person has to know the industry Heather and Viv were in.” They went over the case again and again. The list of suspects was short. The list of those with the motivation to cause problems was even shorter. The one constant they came back to was the assistant who wasn’t really an assistant.
“We need to talk to Nathan again. See if we can jog his memory of the day he was drugged,” Burke said, crumpling his used napkin up and throwing it onto his plate. “If we can get even a general description of her, we might have something.”
“We’d have to be careful about it. We can’t alert the suspect that we’re on to them. They’ll fucking rabbit on us in an instant,” Jimenez said, finishing up his meal.
“We’ll call in an extra team, have them park down the block from her house, and watch while her brother and his partner are there. Once they’re inside, we can ask our questions. This has to work.” Burke picked up their trash and threw it away. “I’m going to go check out the lot and talk with Bobby. He’s on stage five today with Nathan. Keep our girl safe.”
“Don’t worry, I got this.”
Nodding to his partner, Burke headed out. Making the rounds of the lot was becoming second nature for him. He knew what stages were occupied and when. He’d even watched a scene or two on his lunch breaks. The movies Heather made there were high-end and very tasteful. The girls were beautiful; the guys were the same. Not that he was into dudes—he was strictly a pussy man—but Heather had good taste. Which brought up another problem for Burke and Jimenez—with all the beautiful people roaming around the company, why wasn’t Heather off the market?
Heather was beautiful, intelligent, and successful. She was quiet, and perhaps a little surly, but right now she had a reason to be that way. He was almost positive when she wasn’t under this kind of scrutiny she was outgoing. He also bet her smile would warm even the coldest of hearts. One of the men here should have picked her up by now.
Walking out into the mid-afternoon sun, Burke squinted against the glaring rays bouncing off the windshields of the cars in the parking lot. The new attendant, Wayne, was off in the distance turning away a reporter while another guard was letting one of the workers in. They worked efficiently, and when the woman finally walked away from Wayne, he went back into their guard shack. After making his circuit around the parking lot and checking in with the guards, Burke went back inside and headed down to stage five.
He couldn’t imagine how Nathan was taking all of this. He’d been a mess when they’d called him to let him know Heather wasn’t being arrested and it was all a show. He could still see the horror and trepidation in his eyes when they released her into his custody. He reassured them all was well, and they all seemed to settle a little bit. However, they were skeptical as hell about the twenty-four-seven protection Heather would be under, and consequently he didn’t blame them.
“Anybody home?” He wrapped his knuckles against the side of the vanity where Bobby sat and extended his hand.
Bobby looked up from his script then placed it on the table before reaching out his hand to shake Burke’s. “Hey, man. What can I do for you?”
“Jimenez and I have a plan. Can we talk for a bit?” Burke asked, taking the chair next to him. “Or are you going back to work on stage in a minute?”
Bobby held up his hand. “Before we go any further, am I going to like this little plan you’ve concocted?”
“Maybe…” If Burke was honest, probably not. Anything that had to do with Nathan, Bobby hated with a passion, but this might work. If Nathan told them what they needed to know, they’d be one step closer to finding their suspect.
“Maybe?” Bobby snorted. “What are you planning this time?”
“We want you and Nathan to come to Heather’s place for dinner.” Burke took a deep breath. “That’s not all.”
“I kind of figured. Go on.” He turned in his chair, facing Burke. His arms were folded over his broad chest.
“While you’re there, we want to question Nathan about the girl who brought him coffee. If, and this is a big if, we can get some type of description, we might be able to identify our suspect or maybe someone who works for them.” Burke braced for the onslaught he knew would come. Bobby had fought them tooth and nail over anything that concerned his partner or Heather.
“What?” Burke blinked.
“We’ll do it. I’m tired of this person controlling all of our lives. It’s time to take back some of it.” Bobby smirked. “When do you want us there?”
“Tomorrow, six o’clock.”