A misunderstanding tore them apart.
Now he’s her only chance…
Blackhawk Security’s Elizabeth Dawson believes ex-government programmer Braxton Levitt betrayed her, but now he’s the only one who can keep her safe. A killer steps ahead of them is methodically hunting the pregnant analyst to access her top-level software program. But as Braxton and Liz race to stop him, their broken trust—and most intimate secrets—could end more than their lives…
Note: If you haven’t read Rules in Deceit yet, STOP! This bonus epilogue contains spoilers, so read on at your own risk.
“Where are you, you bastard?” The baby’s screams hiked his blood pressure into overdrive as Braxton Levitt fumbled through the dark. Where the hell was the damn pacifier? Karina couldn’t sleep without her binky. Navigating through his one-month old’s nursery, he rammed his shoulder into the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf against one wall. A groan worked up his throat, the baby’s cries grating against every nerve-ending he owned.
It was the middle of the night. He and Liz had been running off less than four hours of sleep a night for the past month while still trying to navigate their careers and keeping a pint-sized human alive, and his brain was about to explode. The pacifier couldn’t have walked off on its own. Hadn’t they put Karina down with it in her mouth? He headed for the closet, pulling blankets off the shelf, checking every item of clothing in the dirty clothes hamper. Nothing. Damn it. It wasn’t under the crib either. He ran one hand through his shoulder-length hair. Ear-piercing wails jolted through him. His heart wouldn’t be able to take much more of this, but he didn’t want to wake Liz. Between lack of sleep, breastfeeding, and working her cases for Blackhawk Security full-time, she needed rest more than anything else right now. He turned on the mobile above the crib. “Shhhh. It’s okay, baby. It’s okay. Daddy’s going to get you your bink. I promise.” He spun in circles, out of locations to search, including the toy bins he’d emptied onto the floor. “We just might be running to the store to do it.”
He reached into the crib to pat Karina’s tummy, but pulled away when her screams intensified. Momentum and gravity threatened to unbalance him but it was the brightly-colored xylophone with wheels under one foot that swept his feet out from under him. The entire nursery blurred in his vision a split second before he fell back into the book case he’d run into a few minutes before.
Shelves collapsed under his elbow, his head slamming back into the thin backing. Toys, books, and diapers fell around him as pain clawed up his spine. A miniature disco light threw blue, yellow, red, green and white lights across the ceiling and walls as Karina’s sobs quieted. Braxton shifted beneath the shelf that’d landed in his lap. “Ow.”
Shuffling registered from the bedroom door. His wife, dressed in sweats, an over-sized T-shirt with damp spots around the middle, and a thin robe, treaded into the room. Never once looking in his direction as she carved a path through the mess he’d made toward to crib. Brown hair frizzed around Liz’s heart-shaped face and accentuated the permanent shadows beneath her chocolate gaze. The dark outline of the gun in her hand remained at her side as she reached her free hand down toward Karina and gave their daughter the pacifier he’d spent the last thirty minutes trying to locate. Battle-ready to defend their family at three o’clock in the morning. Damn, he loved her. Liz’s yawn distorted her words as she headed back toward the door. “It was in the pantry.”
“Thank you.” Braxton’s head throbbed as he lay back in the wreckage of faux wood, books, toys, diapers and wipes, and closed his eyes. “Good night, Sprinkles.”