Matt Blood's brother Cliff has arrived on Earth and is working with Bailey's Bail Bonding. Unfortunately, Matt's out of town on a case when the feds show up to investigate a bond depositor scam, and Blood's boss has been implicated. Cliff is on his own finding the real culprit while trying to run interference with sexy Deputy US Marshal Falen Scott. But Marshal Scott has his own secrets -- along with a fiery attraction that Cliff seems to share.
"The exceptionally enjoyable short story plot is packed with plenty of action, a mystery and some very interesting characters. Falen and Cliff’s shared intimacies along with their investigative skills make them an invincible team."
"Declan Sands takes the action to a new high with an excellent mystery to ponder and hot sexy men to appreciate."
"I fell in love with Cliff and Falen right off the bat... a really good time reading this one."
-- 4 Kisses from Michele, Top Two Bottom Reviews
Blood-Hound 2: Forked
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2012 Declan Sands
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The offices of Bailey's Bail Bonding were located across the street from the courthouse, in a once-beautiful brownstone that had seen better days. Blood parked his shiny red Solara at a meter and took the time to drop a quarter into the slot. No way was he risking having his pretty car towed.
Brent Bailey wasn't worth it.
He climbed the three flights of stairs to the bonds office on the top floor and pulled open the freshly painted door. When he entered the offices he took note of the recent changes. Bailey was updating the office. Every day for the week Cliff had been there, the office had been just a little bit different each time he walked through the door. The alterations had transformed the place from early garage sale chic to almost stylish.
He caught his boot on the fake Oriental rug and sidestepped a potted plant, murmuring, "This place is a damn obstacle course."
Cliff heard voices in Brent's office and headed that way. Stopping outside the partially closed door, he took note of his boss's slightly breathy tone and frowned. He'd quickly learned that the snake man's delivery became increasingly hissy the more stressed he became.
"Yesssss! I told you that before, Marshal Scott. This is the first I've heard of it. Jake Franks and I haven't been partners for a really long time. I have no idea where he is."
Blood knocked on the door and pushed it open. "Mr. Bailey?"
Brent looked up, his cold, light brown eyes showing relief. True to his alien form, Brent Bailey was a long, skinny man with pale skin and a shock of spiky black hair. The hair was even spikier than usual at the moment, looking like he'd been running his fingers through it nervously. "Blood. Come in. This is Deputy Marshal Falen Scott."
The man standing before Bailey's desk was tall, well over six feet, and had thick auburn hair that he'd combed into strict obedience, with a part down one side. Only the tiny, rebellious wave over his ears gave away the true nature of the strands he'd wrestled into respectability.
He had deep-set, sexy green eyes, a firm, square jaw, and lips that looked as if they were in a permanent pout. Glancing down his aristocratic nose, the man eyed Cliff as if he were a particularly unattractive weed in his favorite flower garden.
Blood closed the distance between them and offered the marshal his hand. "Cliff Blood. Nice to meet you."
Scott inclined his head, reaching for the offering with an imperceptible grimace.
Despite the cold greeting, the marshal gave Cliff's hand a squeeze, his vibrant green gaze assessing as he said, "So you're the bounty hunter?"
Cliff figured the man thought he was addressing Matt, but he went with it. "And you must be the marshal."
Scott held his gaze for a long moment and then smiled, just a slight uptick in the corners of his sexy mouth. He dipped his head so briefly Cliff thought he might have imagined it. "I've heard about you," Scott finally said.
"Actually, I'm guessing you've heard of my brother, Matt. I just recently joined Bailey's."
The Marshal's green eyes widened slightly and he smiled again. This time the smile seemed to hold a secret.
Bailey apparently decided it was time to pull their attention back to him. "Marshal Scott is under the mistaken impression that I'm ripping people off for their bond collateral."
"What are you basing this suspicion on?" Cliff asked him.
"His signature on the powers of attorney for five people who subsequently lost their homes and vehicles, and in one case a 401k."
Cliff was shocked speechless. He studiously avoided looking at Brent. "You have his signature?"
Scott opened his mouth to respond.
"No. They don't. They just think they do," Bailey said.
Cliff slanted Brent a look. "Can you give me more detail?"
Bailey dropped into the chair behind his desk and rubbed his face, which had turned a strange green-gray and had developed scaly undertones.
Cliff widened his eyes as the snake man's eyes started to change, but Deputy Marshal Scott wasn't looking at Brent. He was still staring at Cliff. Unfortunately, Cliff was starting to have trouble breathing under the intense perusal. Was he imagining the heat in that gaze?
"You remember I told you about Jake Franks?" Bailey asked. Blood frowned. "Your partner?"
"Ex!" Brent glanced at the marshal. "He's my ex-partner. I haven't seen or talked to him in months."
"He got you started in the business, right?"
Marshal Scott finally slid his intense gaze back toward Bailey as Cliff asked the question. Cliff expelled a soft breath in relief.
"Yes, years ago. But I figured out he couldn't be trusted and I left. Went out on my own."
"What does he have to do with this?"
Marshal Scott's intense gaze skimmed back toward Cliff. "He's running a bail bonds scam. And Mr. Bailey is working with him."
"What makes you think Brent is working with this guy? You heard him... Franks is crooked."
"He bilked me out of thousands of dollars in skip fees," Brent agreed. "I would never work with him again."
Marshal Scott held Cliff's gaze as he responded. "I can't imagine your motivations, Mr. Bailey. All I know is that I have your signature on the powers of attorney for these people." He finally looked at Brent. "Five families destroyed, Mr. Bailey. Five. All they were trying to do was help loved ones, and you and Franks took advantage of them, robbing them blind. It's reprehensible..." Scott's glare slid to Cliff as if he found the employee of the reprehensible one reprehensible too. "I have a handwriting expert examining the signature as we speak, Mr. Bailey. When I get the results back, coupled with the positive identification I expect to get from the victims, I'm sure I'll be taking you into custody. In the meantime, don't leave town." He inclined his head toward Cliff. "Mr. Blood. I'll be seeing you."
Cliff wasn't sure if it was meant as a threat or the promise of a date. He and Brent watched the tall, sexy marshal stroll out of the office and close the outer door quietly behind him.