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The Cunning Thief (Stolen Hearts #6)
Author:Mallory Crowe

The Cunning Thief (Stolen Hearts #6)

Mallory Crowe

Tristan tried to think of a worse situation he’d been in but came up short. Nope. This looked pretty bad. “I can explain—” he started before the thug in front of him slammed his fist into Tristan’s face once again.

He winced and moved his jaw back and forth, happy that it wasn’t broken. Mother fucker. If this bruised, he was going to kill someone. He didn’t care whether his new boss had rules about that sort of shit. Heads were going to roll.

Before he could think about some other way to talk himself out of this mess, two guys came up behind him and tugged his wrists together, connecting them with a thick plastic zip tie before they started to drag him away.

The new construction was a great place for shady activities. Blackthorne Group, who he’d been sent here to investigate by his new boss, Scott Hart, had seemed kind of shady before, but now that they were dragging his trespassing ass toward a dark room and not calling the cops like a normal corporation, he was sure that Hart’s suspicions were right. Blackthorne was no legit company.

And he was sure as hell going to bring them down.

One of the guys pulled a door open and threw him inside in an ungraceful heap, grunting as he landed.

“We found your backup,” said thug number one. “No one is coming to save you now.”

He frowned at that. He didn’t have any backup. He’d come alone on a simple reconnaissance mission. And then he scanned the room and realized what was happening. He wasn’t the only prisoner here.

He was surprised it had taken him this long to see the woman curled into a ball at the other end of the little windowless room, but she seemed to be trying her hardest to be invisible.

And then the door behind him swung shut and they were in absolute darkness, making her wish come true.

It was night and the construction site had shit for lighting, so he couldn’t even tell whether there were any cracks or crevices in the room he could exploit. But first things first. He needed to get out of the zip tie. “Hey,” he whispered as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. The guys who had dumped him in here hadn’t even checked him for ID. A sign of their inexperience, which kind of made him all the more pissed that they got the jump on him.

There was no answer from the woman, and he could practically feel the fear vibrating off of her. This would require a softer touch if she was going to be of any use to him. “Everything is going to be okay. I have a bunch of guys on the outside monitoring me. They’ll be breaking in here any second to get us out of here.”

He couldn’t see her well enough to know whether she believed the lie or not, but she still wasn’t talking. Fine. He didn’t care if she didn’t help as long as she didn’t get in his way. He pulled a credit card out of the wallet and jerked his wrist to the side hard enough for the leverage to take over. From there, it was just a matter of time before the ties would break.

“Who are you?” asked the woman, finally breaking her silence.

Her voice was husky. Not really what he was expecting. Not in a bad way, though. She didn’t really sound like a dude or anything. Just really... sexy. Maybe he should be nicer to her.

“My name is John. I’m a private investigator who was sent here to look into some questionable activities. What’s your name?”

She was quiet, and for a moment he thought she’d changed her mind about talking to him. But then she finally answered, “Shae.”

Shae. Pretty name for a pretty voice. She didn’t give him a last name, but he hadn’t given her one either, so he got it. “Shae, can you tell me what you were doing here?”

“I... I was being stupid.”

“We’ve all had our stupid days.”

“One of Damask’s guys threw a brick through my window. I came here to give the brick back. It didn’t go as planned.”

Tristan snorted at the thought of this little woman storming this massive high-rise with a brick in hand. She was probably lucky she wasn’t dead. Why wasn’t she dead? Hostages served a purpose, but only in very particular circumstances. He worked the credit card harder against the ties and could feel the plastic start to give way. A few more minutes and he’d be out of here. He tried to keep her talking. “Why would Damask want to harass you?”

She seemed to wise up. “Who hired you to investigate him?”

“I pride myself on my confidentiality. What’s it to you?”

“Enemy of my enemy and all,” she murmured. “Damask seems to have everyone eating out of the palm of his hand. It’s nice to know that there’s anyone willing to stand up to him at this point.”

That was the point. Hart’s cute little mission statement. Take down the guys no one else could. Shae said that people seemed to eat out of the palm of Damask’s hand, and that was probably because the dude was rich and money tasted fan-fucking-tastic.

Though he owed Shae a thanks. Before today, they had no name to go behind the mysterious Blackthorne Group.

He heard the satisfying snap of the zip tie breaking and smiled in victory. Boom.

“What was that?” asked Shae.

“Place like this has all kinds of strange noises.” Tristan stood and started to feel around for the door.

“You’re standing. What are you doing?”

He didn’t have time to calm her down. If he wanted to get out of here, he needed to act fast. Because he was guessing that the only reason they were hostages was because the thugs didn’t have the balls to kill them right away. As soon as the boss man found out they were here, the death order would be placed and their time would be up.

He found the door handle and turned it, but the cold metal didn’t give. Well, the thugs had known well enough to lock the door. Damn it. He knocked on the door lightly and confirmed that it was hollow and not solid wood or metal. That was good. Considering the only tool he really had available was his body, that would have to do.

He remembered from being tossed in here that the door opened outward. If it was the other way around, kicking the door down would be next to impossible. Once he felt for the knob and located the closest spot to the knob where his foot wouldn’t get in its way, he stepped back just far enough. Then, driving his back heel into the ground, he threw all his momentum into the door. The door didn’t magically fall open like in the movies, but it did splinter and start to cave in. From there, Tristan kept on kicking until the hole was big enough to allow him to leave.

“What the hell?” whisper-yelled Shae at him.

“It’s been fun, babe, but my time here is up.”

“Wait! Untie me.”

“I'll be right back.” He stepped through the hole in the door.