When Sloan Booker’s father dies tragically, he has no other option but to give up his job as an FBI agent and take over his family’s vehicle restoration business in Oahu, Hawaii. Giving up his badge is difficult but having Homeland Security and his old boss request the use of his house in a stakeout, spying on his Muslim neighbors who they suspect are terrorists, is just too damn much for a man already frazzled. It makes no difference that they’ve offered him a partner to be in charge of the surveillance… until he meets the gorgeous divorcee.
Special Agent Alia Hawkins might look more like a model than a cop but looks can be deceiving. Not only does she rescue street kids, fights their battles and transports them to safe homes, but since she lived many years in Pakistan and speaks their language, she’s a sought after agent. So far, she’s kept her personal life and job separate. But when Alia’s slimy ex-husband threatens to steal her eight-year-old son, she has no choice but to bring him along on her latest undercover assignment – living with a hotshot, sexy as hell agent as his long lost stepsister. Her life suddenly takes some drastic swerves and she wonders if things will ever slow down.
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Alia scoured the dark parking lot behind the Ilikia Hotel looking for the boy. Palm trees and plumeria decorated the area, but there was no sign of a kid in trouble.
Ruby had sworn he’d be here, and woken from a dead sleep at three a.m. to jump in her jeans and then drive like a maniac to get to him in time, Alia hadn’t stopped to ask a lot of questions.
Now she called Ruby using her hands-free in the car. “He’s not here. Did he call you back?”
“His name is Justin, and no, I haven’t heard from him. He said he’d gotten away from his player; that the guy had roughed him up. He hid out at the Ilikia and another dude came on to him. Scared stupid, he called me, told me he was behind the dumpster.”
“Okay, I’ll check it out.”
Alia pulled the car over, got out and headed in that direction. As she approached, she saw a man bending over something wedged in between two dumpsters. “Listen, kid, I don’t want to hurt you. Come out and I’ll buy you something to eat. We’ll talk. You can stay in my room so you’ll have a place to sleep.”
“Leave me alone. I’m not going anywhere with you.” The boy’s voice cracked, his tone going from soprano to bass in one sentence
“Hey, is that the way to act with someone who just wants to help? I’m being nice, but I can—”
“Be a lying prick who wants to get you alone and do nasty things to you. He knows, don’t you, Justin?” Alia stood waiting, hoping her insults would piss off the scumbag enough he’d come at her. Then she could kick the shit out of the perverted prick.
Tall, with a kangaroo pouch of sloppy fat in front, the guy shot to his feet as if she’d shoved a stick up his ass. “What the fuck! Who the hell are you?”
“I’m Justin’s friend. And I have a real aversion to pedophiles. Actually, I like to arrest the scum, book ‘em and hope they never get another moment of freedom to do those icky things they like to do.”
The troll looked her up and down and foolishly decided it was no contest. His fist punched air as she dropped in defense and drove her own up into his groin area. Rolling to the side and then to her feet in the nimble way she’d been trained, she tackled the bent-over screamer and pushed him into the steel side of the dumpster. Then she left her fist imprinted on his balls yet again. About this time, Justin slid out of his hidey-hole to level a kick into the guy’s ribs for his personal parting shot.
“Enough, kid. Let’s go. He’ll have some healing to do. Hope it ruins the bastard’s Hawaiian holiday.”
She ran back to her SUV, and Justin followed. Once in the car, she checked him out. The kid was scrawny with a feminine delicacy many young girls would get surgery to have. His features were ethereal: lovely eyes that looked to be a pale color in the car’s dimness, and thick blond hair that hung to his scrawny shoulders curled in ringlets. Justin might have been born a boy, but no doubt he’d pull in top dollar for any pimp who played him right.
“I’m taking you to a safe home, okay? You called Ruby, and that’s the way this works. They’ll help you. If you want a new start, they’ll make it happen.”
Slouched in the corner, tears pouring, the youngster sniffed. He looked at her, those big eyes begging not to be judged, and she reached over, her hand open and waiting. Though hardened to some degree by what she’d seen in the past, she still cared about these kids she saved or she’d have stopped taking the calls.
His hand grasped hers and clung. “Thank you for what you did back there. Even if you are a cop.”
“I’m actually a federal agent and it was my pleasure. Truly!” She tightened her hand around his and shook it. “I lie… not. It was my pleasure.” She grinned and waited, taking her eyes from the road for a second.
His fingers squeezed hers tight. “You have no idea what it meant to me seeing you there tonight. No one’s ever saved me before.”
“Hey, Justin. When you kids call Ruby, either I, or someone like me, will come. It’s as simple as that.”