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Authors: Rhea Rhodan

Tags: #romance, #drama, #seattle, #contemporary, #dance, #gymnastics, #sensual, #psychic, #mf, #knitting, #exmilitary, #prodigy, #musa publishing, #gender disguise, #psychic prodigy

Finding Grace

BOOK: Finding Grace
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Finding Grace

Rhea Rhodan


An Imprint of

Musa Publishing

Finding Grace

By Rhea Rhodan

Copyright © Rhea Rhodan, 2012

Smashwords Edition


All Rights Reserved. Except as
permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of
1976
, no part of this publication may be
reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior
written permission of the publisher.


This e-Book is a work of fiction. While
references may be made to actual places or events, the names,
characters, incidents, and locations within are from the author’s
imagination and are not a resemblance to actual living or dead
persons, businesses, or events. Any similarity is coincidental.

Musa Publishing
633 Edgewood Ave
Lancaster, OH 43130

www.MusaPublishing.com


Published by Musa Publishing, June 2012


This e-Book is licensed to the original
purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is
illegal and a violation of International Copyright Law, subject to
criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines and/or
imprisonment. No part of this e-Book can be reproduced or sold by
any person or business without the express permission of the
publisher.

ISBN: 978-1-61937-161-3

Published in the United States of America

Editor: Louise Blaydon

Cover Design: Kelly Shorten

Interior Book Design: Coreen Montagna

Warning

This e-book contains adult language and scenes. This
story is meant only for adults as defined by the laws of the
country where you made your purchase. Store your e-books carefully
where they cannot be accessed by younger readers.

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Chapter One

“Someone’s going to die.”

Dagger was already late. He didn’t have time for
this shit. Especially not this pint-sized, purple-haired shit. The
voice was surprisingly rough coming from the small frame, and the
way the kid moved didn’t quite…well, there were a lot of
those
in the catering business. Thank God he’d finished
getting dressed.

He’d thought the employee coat room would be a safe
place to make a quick change, what with the party being well
underway and all. Why would a server be in here now? They should
all be busy.

Wait, that raw voice had been responsible for some
damn creative cussing he’d heard a minute ago through the
not-so-thin door. If he’d heard it, everyone else in the place must
have, too. It had followed the loud crash that could have only
meant the brutal end of a lot of glass. Someone had barked
something after that, but the only word that made it through the
door to Dagger’s ears was “fired.”

Okay. So, not just short and queer in at least one
way, but foul-mouthed and currently unemployed, too. Dagger shook
his head.

“What do you mean, ‘someone’s going to die’? Is that
supposed to be a threat?” Not that Dagger could blame the kid. He
took a step closer anyway. “And why tell me?”

The little purple head cocked to the side. “You
might be able to stop it. You’re security, right?”

If Dagger had been expecting an answer, that wasn’t
it.

“Actually, I’m a
guest
,” he said through
gritted teeth.

He and his partner had been invited to the charity
ball by a prospective client. The CEO was only in town for the
night. He’d refused to give Blackridge his business until he’d met
both of them. So here was Dagger, squeezed into the biggest tux the
rental place had buried in the back, making his best attempt to be
presentable so they could land the account. The kid wasn’t buying
it and he doubted anyone else would, either. He knew who he was, or
who he’d been, anyway. The way he looked on the outside wasn’t the
half of it.

The kid thrust up his chin about a foot and half
below Dagger’s and glared at him through large, dark-tinted
glasses. Brave little shit, anyway.

“Yeah, right. And I’m Paul-fucking-Bunyan. You fit
in with these mothball penguins like Babe The Blue Ox in a goddamn
china shop. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt, okay? Look for a
green van. I gotta go.” He pulled a wool cap over his ears,
shrugged on an oversized ratty jacket and ducked past Dagger’s
grab, fast. Damned fast.

Dagger hesitated a moment before following. Yes, he
was late. But no, he really didn’t want to be here. And what if the
tip was solid and he ignored it? There was that, after all.

When he stepped out the back door, he could see the
kid stomping sneakered feet under the streetlight at the bus stop
in the falling snow. That thin jacket didn’t look like it was going
to make it through the winter, and now the kid was out of a job.
The pang of empathy he felt caught him off guard. It had been a
long time, but he still remembered what it felt like to be cold and
broke, if not queer and undersized.

A green van rounded the corner just as he was about
to step back inside and face the party. When he looked back at the
streetlight, the kid was disappearing into a bus.

“Damn,” he muttered under his breath and stepped
into the shadows, watching while it pulled into the parking lot and
cruised slowly through.

His eyes roamed the rows of late-model, high-priced
German cars and a few even pricier imports, then back to the green
panel van. That didn’t mean the piece-of-shit on wheels didn’t
stick out here as bad as he did, tux or no.

The van moved back onto the street and Dagger turned
to go back to the party again, fighting his disappointment at the
loss of a reprieve. Then he stopped. It wouldn’t hurt to wait five
more minutes, just to make sure the van didn’t come back. He really
kind of had to, didn’t he? Just in case the kid wasn’t some whack
job trying to get someone in trouble or something. He moved inside
the door, leaving it open a crack, and checked his watch.

Five minutes and there it was again, cruising even
slower this time, positively skulking. He pulled out his phone and
called Farley, his next-in-command at Blackridge, told him to bring
whoever was in town and available ASAP.

By the time he’d clicked off, the van had driven out
of the lot and was sitting at the stoplight. The back plate was
visible, but the number was obscured. It could have been due to the
gray slush spattering up from the street, but Dagger didn’t think
so.

He waited and watched through the slit in the door
until his men pulled up. He filled them in, deployed them to
observation points and checked his watch again.

And grimaced. Paul wasn’t going to like this, not at
all.

* * * *

Paul had brought Katherine to the ball, probably
hoping his wife’s beauty and sophistication would counter Dagger’s
utter lack of both. In crowds where respect came from fear, being
the ugliest, most dangerous-looking man in the room was an asset.
At a fancy ball? Not so much.

Dagger spotted his partner holding his wife’s
elegant hand, talking to the CEO and some hangers-on. He was making
a good impression on the man, Dagger could tell—even though his
friend wasn’t much better suited to this kind of party than he was.
Paul Weston had been a sniper in special ops with the Marines
before starting Blackridge Security with Dagger a couple of years
ago. No amount of fancy clothes or a classy wife could completely
civilize a man like that. And a man like Dagger—well, he couldn’t
even fool a queer kid with purple hair.

He tried a smile on his face and let it slide off,
the unused muscles making him more uncomfortable than the way the
other guests were staring at him. With practiced indifference, he
watched the polished businessman recoil at first glance, then eye
him with wary tenseness when Paul introduced him.

“A pleasure to meet you, sir. Please forgive my
tardiness. Be assured that it’s no reflection on your importance to
Blackridge.” Dagger tilted his body in a short bow, extended his
hand and reminded himself not to squeeze too hard before turning to
Paul’s wife. “You look lovely this evening, Katherine. That dress
is stunning on you. Would you be so kind as to entertain this
esteemed gentleman while I have a word with Paul?”

The man let go of a breath he’d been holding when
Dagger released his hand and walked away. He couldn’t tell if the
guy was happier to be rid of him or to discover that he could talk
like a civilized human being.

He walked Paul to a quiet corner.

“Jesus, you laid that on thick,” Paul grumbled.
“What’s up? Tell me it’s more important than this account. You know
this is our only chance to talk to the guy here in Seattle. And I
don’t like the way he looks at Katherine.”

Paul hadn’t taken his eyes off the man talking to
his wife.

“You don’t like the way any man looks at her. She’s
got you wrapped around her pretty little finger and tied up in
fancy knots.” Dagger managed to chuckle without really smiling.

“You know, Dagger, it could happen to you.”

“Yeah, right,” he grunted. “Look at me, Paul. Never
gonna happen. Sweet and pretty don’t do me and I’m sure not falling
for the ones that will. Look, I know this isn’t our gig tonight,
but we’ve got trouble anyway.”

Paul glanced quickly around the room and Dagger knew
he was taking in the high-end guests and low-rent security before
he said, “What kind of trouble? Plenty of pretty baubles and cash,
that’s for sure, but I can’t see a full-on robbery.”

“I dunno, Paul. I got a tip and a bad feeling along
with it. Besides, I wouldn’t trust these rent-a-cops to stop rain
with an umbrella.”

Paul scanned the room again and smirked. “Got that
right. You call for reinforcements?”

“Already here. That’s where I’ve been.”

“You mean I’ve been standing around all this time
schmoozing
while you’ve been off enjoying yourself? I’m
going to get you for this, Dagger.” Paul sighed. “Yeah, so, what
are we looking at?”

Dagger explained his strange encounter with the
purple-haired kid and the green van.

It felt good to know his partner trusted him,
trusted his instincts. But he felt even better when Paul pulled out
his phone and Dagger heard who he was calling.

“Lieutenant Rigby still in? Yes, please…Paul Weston.
Thank you, I’ll hold. Luke? Paul. Say, I’m at The Plaza for the
Tierney Foundation charity ball…client…Yes, I am. It is
not
funny. Katherine said I look handsome, never mentioned anything
about a monkey. Say, Luke, I’ve got reason to believe there’s going
to be some kind of trouble down here. Could you spare a couple of
squads?…Yeah, a few of our own are already here, but it’s not our
show…Huh?…Katherine had lunch with her last week…How the hell
should I know how she looked?…I don’t want to hear anything about
it, Luke. Just call the woman, send flowers, whatever. Can I count
on those squads?…Thanks.”

BOOK: Finding Grace
11.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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