First Monday: Game of Shadows

This month’s First Monday snippet is from my current work in progress, tentatively called Game of Shadows. It’s a New Adult romance with a heavy dash of suspense; the heroine, Cass, is an assassin when she’s not in class, partying, or hanging out with her best friend and roommate. Her most recent job goes sideways, and she finds herself helping her target, Nick, escape when a car full of men open fire on the crowded restaurant they’re cutting through.

In the lead up to this scene, Nick broke into Cass’s apartment to convince her the gunmen would be looking for her, too, and that she has to help him figure out who wants him dead.

“Cass!”

    “Mmphrgh.”

    “Cassidy!” I crack open an eye. Denise is bouncing on her toes, something she does when she’s nervous. “Get up!”

    I roll onto my back. “Is there coffee?”

    “The most beautiful man in the world is standing at our coffee maker. Who is he?” she whispers.

    “Gnnrgh.” I flip back onto my stomach. Somehow I’d forgotten Nick had spent the rest of the night on my bedroom floor, and now I have to lie. First thing in the morning. “He’s from my mom’s law firm,” I mumble. “Someone’s threatened the entire defense team for some inmate. He’s taking me to my parents for a few days.” Sitting up, I scrub my hands over my face and push my hair behind my ears. “Do you think you could stay with Charlie? I don’t want you to stay here until this is over with.”

    Her mouth trembles open, face paling. “Is it…is it bad?”

    “It’s a precaution.” Nick walks into the room holding a mug. The scent of coffee hits my nose, and I stumble out of bed and around Denise, making a beeline for the mug. His mouth curves in a wicked grin, but he hands over the coffee. I stifle a moan at the first scalding sip. “It’s doubtful anything will come of the threat. Your building is secure, but we’re trying to cover every angle, and it’s possible for someone to get into the building.”

    Denise squeaks. I swallow more coffee and hand the cup back to him. “We have time for me to shower and stuff?”

“If you’re quick about it.” He takes the coffee and leaves me alone with my roommate.

Her skin is so pale now it’s practically translucent. “Hey. Like he said, it’s a precaution. I’ll be perfectly fine.” Thank god this has happened once before; it was when I was in high school, but Denise obviously remembers. “Nothing happened the last time, and nothing’s going to happen this time, right? But I’d feel a hell of a lot better if you’d stay with Charlie.”

She bobs her head up and down. “Okay,” she squeaks, then clears her throat. “Okay. Um. I’ll call him in a little bit.” The mattress makes a soft whoomp when her ass hits it. “Geez, Cass. Your mom’s okay?”

    Guilt settles in my stomach as I sit next to her. “She says she is. And Dad’s looking after her. Everything will be fine.”

    It takes another ten minutes, but she manages to make her way out of my bedroom without falling over. I hurry to the kitchen to grab more coffee, ignoring Nick, who’s leaning against the counter, oh-so-casual.

    “You have ten minutes.”

    Ten minutes my ass. I pour a cup of coffee for myself and start hunting for a clean bowl. “You want?” I hold up the box of cereal.

    He plucks the box from my hand. “You wanted a shower.”

    “First I want breakfast.”

    There’s a game of tug of war waiting, weighted heavily in his favor, since all he has to do is hold the box above his head. When he does, I put the bowl away and open the refrigerator for the bread.

    He tries to take that, too, but I’m ready for him. I pull his thumb back and ram my elbow into his stomach, cradling the loaf of bread to me when he releases it. I pop four slices in the toaster. “We rush off, it’s only going to scare Denise more, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to let you do that.” I keep my voice low and stare at the toaster, willing it to show me a way out of this situation.

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