Lucky Like Us - By Jennifer Ryan

Chapter One

* * *

A WISP OF smoke rose from the barrel of his gun. The smell of gunpowder filled the air. Face raised to the night sky, eyes closed, he sucked in a deep breath and let it out slow, enjoying the moment. Adrenaline coursed through his veins with a thrill that left a tingle in his skin. His heart pounded and he felt more alive than he ever remembered feeling in his normal life.

Slowly, he lowered his head to the bloody body lying sprawled on the dirty pavement at his feet. The Silver Fox strikes again. The smile spread across his face. He loved the nickname the press had dubbed him after the police spoke of the elusive killer who had staged eight deaths. Who knew how many more? He did. He remembered every one of them in minute detail.

He kicked the dead guy in the ribs. Son of a bitch almost ruined everything, but you didn’t get to be in his position by leaving the details of a partnership to chance. They had a deal, but the idiot had gotten greedy, making him sloppy. He’d set up a meeting for tonight for a new hit, but hadn’t done the proper background investigation. His death was a direct result of his stupidity.

“You set me up with a cop!” he yelled at the corpse.

He dragged the body by the foot into the steel container, heedless of the man’s face scraping across the rough road. He dropped the guy’s leg. The loud thud echoed through the cavernous interior. He locked the door and walked through the deserted shipyard, indifferent.

Maybe he’d let his fury get the best of him, but anything, or anyone, who threatened to expose him or end his most enjoyable hobby needed to be eliminated. He had too much to lose, and he never lost.

Only one more loose end to tie up.

Chapter Two

* * *

San Francisco

Thursday, 9:11 P.M.

LITTLE DEVILS STOMPED up Sam’s spine, telling him trouble was on the way. He rolled his shoulders to erase the eerie feeling, but it didn’t work—never did. Something was wrong and he’d learned to trust his instincts. They’d saved his hide more than once.

Sam and his fellow FBI partner, Special Agent Tyler Reed, sat in their dark car watching the entrance to Ray’s Rock House. Every time someone opened the front door, the blare of music poured out into the otherwise quiet street. Sam’s contact hadn’t arrived yet, but that’s what happened when you relied on the less reputable people of society.

“I’ve got a weird vibe about this,” Sam said, breaking the silence. “Watch the front and alley entrance after I go in.”

Tyler never took his eyes off the door and the people coming and going. “I’ve got your back, but I still think we need more agents on this. What’s with you lately? Ever since your brother got married and had a family, you’ve been on edge, taking one dangerous case after another.”

Sam remembered the way his brother looked at his wife and the jealousy that had bubbled up in his gut, taking him by surprise. Jenna was everything to Jack, and being identical twins, it was easy for Sam to put himself in Jack’s shoes. All he had to do was look at Jack, Jenna, and their twin boys to see what it would be like if he found someone to share his life.

Sam had helped Jenna get rid of her abusive ex-husband, who kidnapped her a couple years ago. Before Jack had come into her life, she’d been alone, hiding from her ex, simply existing, she’d said. Very much like him.

At thirty-six, he had no kids, no wife, no home of his own, and a job where burnout could get him killed. The last woman he’d dated—a copy of all the rest—couldn’t stand the hours he worked, the way he sometimes had to dress to go undercover, the fact he disappeared at the drop of a hat for days on end. His job consumed his life, leaving nothing left for him to give to a woman daring enough to catch his attention for more than a few days.

“Sam. I’m talking to you, man.” Tyler’s voice intruded on his wandering thoughts.

Preoccupied, dangerous in his line of work, Sam focused on the here and now. “What? Sorry, I was thinking about that visit with my family. My sister-in-law gave me some advice.”

“Did she tell you to get laid and keep your mind on the job?”

Sam sent a dangerous glare Tyler’s way that