Home > Parker (R.I.S.C. Charlie Team #5)

Parker (R.I.S.C. Charlie Team #5)
Author: Anna Blakely





Chicago, Illinois

Six years ago…


Quinn Wilder stood in the alley under the building’s narrow overhang, a curtain of rain filling her vision as it poured from the gutters above. It was late—nearly midnight—and she was at the back of the yards near Forty-Seventh Street in Chicago.

It was all she could do to keep her wild imagination from taking a dark and twisted turn.

Using her mitten-clad hands, she pulled the collar of her plush winter coat tight, bringing it to her chin in search of the slightest respite from the bone-deep chill of the night. The rhinestone belted backer boy hat offering little protection from the late winter weather.

Damn it, Justin. Where are you?

Fifteen minutes had passed since her boyfriend was supposed to meet her. Fifteen minutes of standing outside in the freezing cold, waiting for Justin to finally decide to grace her with his presence.

Of all nights to be late…

Keeping her movements subtle, Quinn slid a sideways glance to her right. Her chest grew tight, the palpitations of her heart increasing in both speed and force when she spotted a black car with tinted windows. It was parked across from the alley’s entrance, its tires snuggled up to the curb on that side of the street.

The men who’d followed her were there, sitting in the sedan’s front two seats. She couldn’t see them, but they were there.



Nausea churned as she began to second-guess her decision. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. This wasn’t how things were supposed to end.

They will, you know. Once you do this, that’ll be the end.

The urge to flee was so damn tempting, but she didn’t dare. As much as she hated everything about this plan, it was still the better option.

For her. For Justin.

This is for him, Quinn. Remember, you’re doing this for him.

She felt that truth down to her bones.

Every single decision she’d made over the course of this last year had been for Justin. The reckless abandon with which she loved him…the stupid, crazy things they’d done together…even her heartbreaking betrayal…

It had all been for him.

Blinking away the stinging moisture collecting in the corners of her eyes, Quinn shivered from the cold as she slid her frozen hand into her coat pocket and pulled out her phone. Using her teeth, she removed one of her wool mittens.

With a few trembling taps, she put the phone to her ear and waited. Justin answered on the second ring.

“Keep your panties on, sweet cheeks. I’m almost there.”

He sounded happy. Normal. As if he didn’t have a care in the world. As if he wasn’t about to commit a crime that could send them both to prison for the next twenty years.

That isn’t going to happen, Quinn. You made sure of that, remember?

Forcing the second-guesses away, she ignored the newest wave of shivers and stuttered out, “Y-you’re late.”

“No shit,” her boyfriend of eleven months quipped. “Traffic was nuts, and this weather didn’t help.”

Right on cue, a giant explosion of spider lightning appeared above them. The powerful force of nature illuminated the night sky, its deadly tendrils spreading wide beneath the clouds before dissipating into nothing.

Seconds later, the air in the lightning’s path expanded from the sudden discharge of heat, sending a loud clap of thunder rolling past.

Quinn jumped, her already heightened anxiety leaving her back teeth grinding together. “Is it bad out? I hadn’t noticed.” She did nothing to hide her sarcasm. “I mean, I’ve only been standing out in this crap for nearly twenty minutes waiting for you to show up.”

“It’s only been fifteen.” Justin appeared from around the building’s corner. “And I’m here.”

Beneath the protection of his dark gray hoodie, a flash of near-perfect teeth appeared with the twenty-six-year-old’s boyish smile. With the jeans and a faded denim jacket he always wore, Quinn thought—and not for the first time—the guy could totally be related to the famous Hemsworth brothers.

And the way his handsome face lit up when he saw her…

Sometimes he looks at me as if I’m his everything.

Quinn’s worried heart filled as Justin joined her beneath the narrow overhang, but the moment of serenity was over as quickly as it came. As she stared up into those crystal blue eyes that had stolen her young heart months before, she could almost feel the shift in her universe begin.

“Hey, babe.” Justin leaned in for a quick, chaste kiss. “You ready to do this?”

Am I?

Her gaze flittered to that black car again before bouncing back to him. Quinn swallowed her apprehension and smiled. “Yep.”

“That’s my girl.” He kissed her again.

Reaching around her, Justin unlocked the padlock on the plain metal door next to where she stood. With a quick glance at their immediate surroundings, he yanked the metal lock free, pulled the door open, and ducked inside.

Quinn risked a hidden glance to her right. The heavy downpour all but concealed the black car now, which explained how he’d missed seeing it.

Giving the invisible men inside a final look, she followed her boyfriend through the back door of what had been a small deli. But like most business in this area of the city, the local establishment hadn’t lasted.

It was there one day, and plywood boards and newspapers covered the windows the next. An unfortunate turn of events for the owners…a struck of luck for Justin. The perfect spot, he’d called it.

Perfect. Right.

Guilt assaulted her as she moved cautiously into the unlit space. Walking past the stainless-steel counters, sink, and commercial-grade stove, the two made their way through the empty kitchen and into the open space at the front of the unoccupied business.

“Wait here,” Justin ordered, not waiting to see if she’d obeyed before shifting directions.

As instructed, Quinn stayed put, watching his shadowed form move toward the blackened corner of the wide-open space to their right. Her lips parted in surprise when a light came on and the reality of the situation sank in.

The small lamp’s warm glow revealed a long table fitted with four large, curved computer monitors, two wireless keyboards, a state-of-the-art desktop, and a laptop she didn’t recognize. Resting to the side was a small, portable machine she recognized as an instant issuer credit card embosser.

Praying her acting skills were up to par, Quinn lifted a stunned gaze from the tech-filled table to him. “Justin… When did you get all of this?” The better question to ask was, “Where did you get it? You don’t have the money for this sort of set-up.”

“Correction.” His lips curved into an arrogant smirk. “I didn’t have the money.”

“But you do now?” Quinn frowned.

Like her, Justin had come from nothing. It was the first of many connections they’d made along the way, and the driving force behind his plan. Also like her, he still jumped from job-to-job. Always part-time and rarely over minimum wage.

That’s how she knew there was no way Justin had the savings to cover something like this. Not without help.

“Where did you get the equipment, Justin?” she asked again.

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)
» The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash #4)