From Chapter 1:
Relief flooded over Mace Walker as he twisted the key in the lock, gave the front door a shove, and stepped over the threshold. Finally home. About time.
Time to heal.
The foyer was dark, but he didn’t need to hit the light switch. Even being gone for as long as he had been, he still knew the house well enough. He made his way to the stairs and set down his bags. Those two small duffels didn’t hold much evidence of his life for the past couple of years. Just some toiletries and a few basic items of clothes.
As he straightened, the foyer lit up, blinding him for a second. He blinked as a young voice rang out from the top of the steps.
“Hold it right there! Put your arms up and back away from the stairs.”
What the fuck?
Mace had expected to see his sister bounding down the stairway of his two-story colonial, excited after not seeing her brother for the past two years. Actually more like one year, eleven months, and fifteen days. Not that he was counting. But instead he stared up into the deadly eye of a Glock. And from his viewpoint it looked like a model 23, a .40 caliber. A compact, but still a decent sized, gun in a very small, very uneasy hand. Instantly, the hairs on the back of his neck rose.
Damn. He'd dealt with crime bosses and their flunkies -- from drug to porno rings -- and had managed to survive. Now he was going to be killed by some measly punk he surprised while burglarizing his house? The cruel irony made him want to laugh.
Instead, he did as he was instructed. With caution he raised his hands above his head before stepping back toward the middle of the foyer. He avoided standing directly under the light, trying to get a better view of the top of the steps. But he didn’t have much success; the upstairs hallway and the upper section of the stairway were hidden in shadows.
If he played his cards right, this little situation would be under his control in no time at all. He just had to keep the kid calm and make the skinny punk believe that he was the one in command. From experience Mace knew the Glock didn't have a conventional safety. All the kid had to do was pull the trigger and pull it again and again until all the rounds in the clip emptied into Mace’s body. And from what he could see in the limited light, the kid's fingers were twitching from nervousness.
Not a good sign.
Where had a young punk gotten an expensive handgun like that? It certainly hadn’t been in the house. And if it had been it would have been locked up in the gun safe.
If only he could see the boy's face. He needed to see the eyes. Mace couldn't even begin to predict what the kid would do without seeing his eyes.
“Don't you dare move or I'll blow your face off!” The kids’ voice raised an octave, making him sound more and more like… a girl.
Tension ran through Mace’s body as the boy started down the steps. At first he could see bare toes, then one slim calf, then another. His eyes flicked to the gun, then returned to the shapely naked thighs that couldn't belong to a kid – no way. Especially not a boy. Those smooth legs definitely belonged to a woman. And he couldn't wait to see the rest of her. So far, the view almost made it worth being held at gunpoint.
He was disappointed when an oversized t-shirt – shit, was that Marmaduke on it? -- blocked his view of creamy flesh. His arms were tired, his leg throbbed painfully, and his patience was wearing thin. But he still wasn't going to move, since he had no idea who this woman was descending the stairs. His curiosity piqued when she stepped down into the light, which highlighted her long, curly red hair and made her wide, green – glaring -- eyes sparkle and snap.
A twitch shot through his lower stomach and landed in his groin. Fear or pain didn’t make him suck in his breath. It was her unrestricted breasts bobbing under the cotton shirt with each step she took. Her nipples stood out like two beacons under the worn cotton. Jesus.
He had to clear his throat twice before he could ask her, “Are you robbing this house, dressed like that?”