Tue
Nov 29 2016 12:15pm

Sidney Bristol Excerpt: Chase

Sidney Bristol

Chase by Sidney Bristol

For Gabriel, the FBI is just a painful memory. His new team of motorheads may work for the Feds undercover, but they’re nothing like the backstabbers and bureaucrats he left behind. Hunting drug dealers and smugglers in Miami gets him the adrenaline rush he wants and the justice he needs. All that’s missing is the seal on the badge—and Nikki, his sexy ex-partner.

Until she shows up at his garage, wearing short shorts and a look that spells trouble. Nikki has never forgotten the heartbreak Gabriel left her with last time. Even if she can’t have him, she still has to work with him. There’s a homegrown terrorist recruiting military vets to a cult of fear and deception, and they all have roots in Miami.

It will take Gabriel and all the Classic Rides crew to stop a catastrophe. But in close quarters with sparks flying, it’s only a matter of time before the old flame ignites...

Get a sneak peek at Sidney Bristol's Chase (available November 29, 2016) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

“Any word yet on Isabella or Hillary?”

“Not yet, but I had another thought there. Not a good one, but . . .” Nikki bit her lip.

“What?”

“Use me as bait.”

Gabriel stared at her. His lips thinned and his gaze had a hard quality that would have intimidated her if she wasn’t positive of her actions.

“She’s angry because I killed her brother, but she doesn’t know who I am. She knows it was someone in your car. So use me as bait to draw her out.”

“How would I do that?” His tone was cold, but she refused to fidget under his scrutiny.

“I don’t know. The car-racing network?”

“Not happening.”

She opened her mouth to protest.

“No one in this crew will back a plan like that. We’ve been down that road. Madison was kidnapped and it led to an ugly standoff. A lot of people got killed. Kathy was killed when the hit team tried to take Tori. We just have a bad history with our people being bait.”

“But those were accidents. Unintentional. If we controlled how she found out and where she came to ‘find’ me, it wouldn’t turn out like that.”

“And what if she brings Wilson’s people with her? Or her brother, Jesse? Andrew was a hothead and stupid. Hillary is high half the time. Jesse? You don’t want him involved. He’s street smart, and even the Cuban gangs here in Little Havana leave him alone. That tells me all I need to know about him.”

“Okay, okay. It was an idea. I just wanted to suggest it.”

“We discussed it. And it has nothing to do with it being you. I would be opposed to hanging any one of our own out as bait. We aren’t like that.”

She held up her hands. “I’m not arguing with you. If that’s the call you want to make, I’m good with it.”

He stared at her a moment longer before nodding. His hands unclenched and the lines around his mouth softened.

“Heard from anyone else? I’ve only spoken to Emery and Matt.” She leaned against the workbench and relaxed.

“Aiden is still incommunicado, but Emery said he got a confirmation of receipt on some texts, so he’s at least seeing them. We’re trusting that he’s just taking Madison’s security very seriously. This would be a great time for someone to try to snatch her.”

“I hadn’t thought of that. We could arrange a protective detail . . . ?”

Gabriel shook his head. “She’d shake them and go right back to Aiden.”

“Okay, so we leave them be. What about Julian, John, and the twins?”

“The twins are helping Emery. I get the feeling Roni is ready to split. Julian and John spent the day checking locations, scouting a couple sites for events that are coming up, and drove down to the Homestead track. We’re the only ones seeing any action.”

“Because we made ourselves targets.”

“True.”

“Well, we’re the best equipped to deal with this, so that’s probably a good thing.”

Gabriel laughed and slapped his thigh.

“What?” she asked.

            “You.”

“What about me?”

“Just—” He straightened and wiped the smile off his face. “If they’re going to shoot at someone, it should be us.”

“Am I wrong?” She couldn’t help chuckling at his impression. To anyone else that statement would be crazy.

“No, I just . . . nothing.” He shook his head, smiling a bit.

“What?” She pushed his shoulder. It felt good to not have to be so restrained with him. It was liberating. Sure, it could come back to bite her in the ass, but when things worked between them, it was great.

“I just like working with you again.”

She gulped as the warmth inside her rose a couple of degrees.

“I was just thinking the same thing.” She fought back a tremble at the admission. Around other agents she couldn’t admit something like that, but Gabriel was part of her.

“Where do you think we’d be now if I hadn’t left?” His question extinguished any rising desire. Oh the bitter memories.

“I . . . don’t know.”

Together still. Married. A kid on the way. Or shattered, husks of the people they once were because they couldn’t let go and they couldn’t change when they were too busy propping each other up.

“I don’t think we would have both fit in your apartment.” One side of his mouth hitched up in a devastating smile.

She had to pause to remember that apartment. She’d moved out of it years before.

“Maybe not, but it would have been cozy.” She didn’t point out that him moving in with her wouldn’t mean more than a few weeks here and there spent with her. His undercover work was often long-haul stints.

“Cozy. That’s a cute word for cramped.” His smile spread and her knees seemed to lose all ability to hold her upright.

“It wouldn’t have been for long.” She leaned propped her elbow on the workbench to keep herself standing.

“You moved. You told me that.”

“I did.”

“Remind me, where are you now?”

“I moved into DC not quite a year ago.”

“DC? Man.”

“Yeah. I guess I glossed over that detail. When we started this division it was decided we would be in the DC metro area. It’s different.”

“I must have missed that detail. I wasn’t exactly ready for you to just step back into my life.”

“Should I apologize?” Did he not want her here? He could not want to love her, just like she’d tried a million times to stop.

Gabriel took a step toward her and closed the distance. He cupped the left side of her face, pushing his fingers into her hair and bent his head.

“No.”

His nearness drove whatever thoughts she should be having out of her head. All the neat mental piles of information went up in a puff of smoke when all she could see was him.

“Sometimes I think about what life might have been like if we’d stuck together. If I’d pulled my head out of my ass, got some help. I wonder if we’d still be together. I like to think that we would.”

She lifted her hand and splayed it on his chest, because when he was this close, why not indulge in the feel of him? His heart beat under her palm. She heard the whisper of his confession in the back of her mind.

Oh, God. He had no idea she’d understood him earlier. It was always Gabriel taking that first step, leading her down the path. She hated her paralysis when it came to things of a romantic nature. Maybe it was something bred into her by her mother’s cold, callous approach to matrimony, or maybe it was just her. How she was wired. But she could choose to change.

“I speak Spanish,” she blurted.

Gabriel frowned a little and blinked.

Hablo español con fluidez. Aprendí cuando te fuiste.” She gulped and forced herself to look at him.

His brows drew down, making him look more confused. She saw the moment the realization hit him. It was a completely unshuttered sucker punch she saw play out in his eyes, the slack-jawed surprise. All of it.

“When?” he asked.

“I started learning about six months after you left. I’m fluent, or mostly fluent. I understand everything you say.” Okay, so learning had been useful. She’d interacted with a lot more Latino assets, and not needing an interpreter was invaluable. But she’d also learned because of him. Because she was a sap and making that effort had somehow, in her twisted inability to let go, made him closer to her.

“Everything?”

Me dijiste que me amabas mucho.”

“You heard that.” His Adam’s apple bobbed.

“I did. I just . . . it didn’t occur to me that I hadn’t told you already.”

“Okay, then.” He glanced away and she felt the atmosphere change. It was cold. As if he’d already decided what she was going to say and didn’t want to hear it.

 “I didn’t know what to say . . .” She clasped her hands together and wiggled her toes. Her insides squirmed. This was not a conversation she wanted to have, but it had to happen. “It didn’t seem like the time to have a discussion about it and . . . I didn’t know what to say. You know how I am. I have to think about things. I need to wrap my head around how to respond. I’m not good in the heat of the moment like you are.”

“It’s okay, we can just—”

“It’s not okay, Gabe. Stop cutting me off. I’m trying here.” She pressed her fingertips to her temples. The door wasn’t shut between them. There was a small chance that something good could still happen. “I hate that it’s taken four years for us to get back together. I wish I’d have come seen you sooner, but I think we needed time apart. You’ve changed. I’ve changed. But we’re still the same people we were. Leaving was the best thing you could have done for yourself, and I hated you for leaving me because . . . because I loved you and I was scared shitless without you. When you left, a piece of me was gone, and I feel like some days, the only thing that keeps me going is the job. That’s no way to live. You showed me more than that, and I still

miss you.”

What was she saying? She was circling the drain on this one, pouring out all the words, and none of them were what she needed him to know. Nikki took a deep breath and stood a little straighter. He’d told her he loved her, she could put a little of herself out there for him.

“I’ve slept in your shirt at least once a week since we broke up. I’ve never really gotten over you. I don’t think I stopped loving you. Ever. So when you said that . . . I couldn’t think. I didn’t know how to get it out. I can’t express emotion like you do. I’m just not wired that way and I know it annoys you, but I can’t help it.”

“What do you feel now?” he asked.

“Right now? Fear. I’m scared. What if telling you how I feel means . . . I don’t know. Something bad will happen? I don’t like being afraid, but if you’ve taught me anything, it’s that fear shows us what we really want.”

“What is it you want?” He was so quiet, his exterior stony and unreadable, but the undercurrent had changed.

She stared him in the eye.

Now or never, right?

“You,” Nikki replied.

***
Copyright © 2016 by Sidney Bristol.
***
Learn more about or order a copy of Chase by Sidney Bristol, available November 29, 2016:

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It can never be said that Sidney Bristol has had a “normal” life. She is a recovering roller derby queen, former missionary, and tattoo addict. She grew up in a motor‐home on the US highways (with an occasional jaunt into Canada and Mexico), traveling the rodeo circuit with her parents. Sidney has lived abroad in both Russia and Thailand, working with children and teenagers. She now lives in Texas where she splits her time between a job she loves, writing, reading and belly dancing.

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