Welcome to Manhattan, 1985
Join me in celebrating the release of Book 3 in the Craving 1985 series, She Gives Love a Bad Name. Each book in the series has its own distinct vibe. This one captures that nostalgic noir feeling of a jaded, grumpy detective who finds himself saddled with a tempting cat burglar turned murder witness. Will they solve the case before the murderer finds them, or will the boiling sexual tension be the end of them both?
This is a steamy, sweary, swoonworthy retro romance!
Welcome to 1985…
I can’t believe I got caught! After ten years, you’d think I would have honed my skills as a thief. Unfortunately, I got sloppy and picked the wrong house. Instead of calling the cops, they call in a favor…with a brooding, cranky homicide detective. He offers me a choice, one I can’t refuse if I want to keep my freedom.
Detective Grant Richards
I’m too old for this shit. I should’ve told Rob to get lost when he called me about the kid he caught red-handed breaking in. I let her go, under one condition. Become my informant. I might as well sign her death certificate myself.
When she stumbles back into my life terrified and bloody, I can’t turn her away. Especially if she’s a murder witness. Now we’re stuck together, and she’s driving me insane. I may kill her before the murderer does because what I really want is off-limits.
Manhattan, NYC 1985
I’m too old for this bullshit.
Rob and Arthur are lucky we’ve been friends for as long as we have. When Rob called to say he had an issue and needed my help, it took all my effort not to tell him to drop dead.
But my conscience wouldn’t let me roll over and go back to sleep. So now I’m standing in Arthur’s sister’s apartment with an irate cat burglar fighting me.
Why didn’t he call the cops? Rob’s explanation is simple. The woman broke in, and he didn’t want the hassle of paperwork. I can’t say I blame him. I’m just irritated to have been torn from the comfort of my bed at this god-awful hour of the morning. Seems like he forgot I don’t handle petty breaking and entering bullshit. I’m strictly homicide.
“I’ll take care of her.” I hook my hand around the thief’s arm and drag her to her feet.
She tenses under my grip. Her narrow eyes take me in, like she’s looking for a soft spot on my throat to sink her teeth into.
I meet her gaze, unflinching, hoping she catches my unspoken warning—if she doesn’t behave, she’s gonna wish they had called the cops. My grip tightens as I pull her toward the door.
The reality of her situation finally reaches her stubborn brain. “Wait, don’t let him take me! Call the cops. But don’t let him take me. Please.” Panic fills her wide green eyes.
Doesn’t matter how young or pretty she is, she crossed the wrong person today. I’m in no mood to negotiate.
Her pleas do nothing to my cold, dead heart. She fucked up and she knows it.
“It’s too late, kid. You’re my problem now.”
She fights my hold, clawing at my hand on her arm. I pull her against me with a firm tug.
“Keep it up,” I whisper in her ear. “And I’ll make sure you’re locked up so tight, you’ll never see sunshine again.”
The hellcat stills immediately, pressing her lips together in irritation.
“Thanks, Richards.” Rob waves. “See you next week.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I turn to Arthur’s sister. “Good night, ma’am.”
The moment we step into the hallway, the door locks behind us. Exhaustion creeps over me. What the hell am I going to do with this stray cat who seems hell-bent on causing trouble?
She stumbles behind me as we make our way down the hall. Silence then fills the elevator as we descend to the ground floor. When we step into the May air, she tries to break away from my grip. I glance at her, amused by her futile attempt to escape.
“Please, let me go.” She bats her thick dark lashes. “I promise I’ll behave.”
I scoff. “Sure, kid, and I’m Superman.” The soft flicker of neon light filters through the street. “Come on.”
She mumbles, and I pull her alongside me down the street. When a diner comes into view, my stomach growls. A late-night diner is a perfect place for me to question this little street rat to see if she’ll be of any use.
Inside, the middle-aged waitress glances up from her station. “Morning,” she calls out. “Sit anywhere.”
I nod in thanks and take a booth at the back of the diner. The thief slides in first, and I sit next to her to block her escape.
“What can I get ya?” The waitress appears with two menus.
“Two coffees.” I glance at the breakfast selection and choose two basic dishes without consulting my unwilling companion. “Thanks.”
I give the menus back, and she disappears into the kitchen.
There’s no one else in the diner at this early morning hour, and I’m thankful for that. We must look like an odd pair to the waitress, but she doesn’t stick her nose in it. I’m sure she’s seen her fair share of crazy shit in this city. She returns with the coffee before retreating again.
I push one of the cups toward the burglar. “You got a name, kid?”
She snorts. “Why do you care?”
“Look, I’m not above dragging your ass down to the station and booking you for breaking and entering and attempted theft. But by all means, keep testing my patience.”
Her shoulders slump. She reaches for sugar and cream, dumping a ton of each into her steaming mug. I sip my black coffee, watching her closely.
She samples the drink that was once coffee and sighs. “Quinn.”
“She speaks.” I try not to focus too intently on her, but being this close makes me uncomfortable. I keep waiting for her to lunge at me with a fork or to toss the coffee in my lap before racing to the exit.
But she doesn’t move. Instead, she pushes her riotous curls away from her face and exhales sharply. Her gaze lifts from the coffee mug and settles on me.
I’ve never been swayed by a pair of pretty eyes and a flirty smile, but damn it if this little minx isn’t the definition of pure temptation. She’s all curves beneath a skin-tight black top and leggings. The light catches the red woven deep into her auburn curls. This close I can nearly count the freckles across the bridge of her nose.
“Irish.” The word tumbles from my lips, and I cringe.
“What?” She gapes at me.
“Your name. It’s Irish.” I lean back and cover the slip with a shrug of indifference.
“Yeah. So?” She cocks her head and narrows her eyes. “The red hair, green eyes, and freckles didn’t give it away?”
“Calm down, smart-ass.” I sip my coffee and redirect my attention when the waitress appears with our breakfast.
Quinn licks her lips at the plate coming to rest in front of her.
“Dig in.” I grab my fork and take a bite, ignoring the way my heart aches.
We eat in silence. She’s done before I even make a dent in my eggs. I arch a brow as she mops her plate with a slice of toast and licks her fingers.
Her gaze meets mine. “What?”
Her tongue curls around her index finger, and a thousand wicked thoughts fly through my mind. I slam a lid on them before they can take root.
“You were hungry.” I pull my attention from her face and resume my meal.
“Yeah. I don’t exactly have money to indulge in a fine meal at such a quality establishment.” Heavy sarcasm laces her words.
“Is that why you’re breaking into people’s apartments and robbing them blind?”
“Look, I fucked up, okay? You gonna take me in? Or keep rubbing it in my face?”
I finish my last few bites and wash them down with coffee. She crosses her arms and glowers expectantly in my direction. When I lean back, I give her my full attention. Those luminous eyes blink at me, full of irritation and hate.
“Do you want me to take you in?” I wipe my mouth and toss the napkin aside. “I mean, it’s up to you, kid.”
“First of all, stop calling me ‘kid.’ I’m twenty-six.” Her scowl deepens as she folds her arms across her ample chest, drawing my attention there for a split second. “And secondly, I don’t appreciate you fucking with me—either you’re gonna take me in or you’re gonna let me go. Pick one.”
“Why are you in such a hurry?” I smirk. “Got better places to be?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“You got someone waiting for you?”
Her cheeks flame, turning a delicate shade of rose pink. “No.”
“Someone to fence the loot you were supposed to snatch tonight.”
“Fuck you.” Indignant, she shoves me. It’s a feeble attempt, and I can tell I’ve struck a nerve.
“If I were interested in that, I would’ve taken it behind the diner.”
“Asshole.” Her eyes spark with fury. “Like I’d let you touch me.”
“Come off it, kid. You were ready to throw yourself at me at the slightest chance I would let you go.”
“Damn you,” she mutters under her breath.
“I might not be old enough to be your father, but I’m not interested in taking advantage of women or desperate thieves.” I pin her with a no-nonsense stare.
“I’m not getting off with a warning, am I?”
“No.” I shake my head, and a slow smile spreads across my lips. “But I’m willing to offer an arrangement that might benefit both of us.”
She arches her delicate brow. “I’m listening.”
“There’s been a string of murders lately. They look like break-ins gone wrong, but I think there’s something more.” I cock my head and study her expression as she takes in the information.
“What’s that got to do with me? I don’t know anything about that shit.”
“Yeah, but you’ve got connections.” My hand flexes against my thigh.
“I won’t be a rat. I’ve seen what they do to people who snitch to the cops.”
“I don’t want low-level scum. I’m homicide. I don’t give two shits about petty theft.” What I do is different. It consumes me, and I’m running out of patience.
“I’ve been chasing this fucker all over Manhattan, and I got nothing.”
“What do you expect me to do?” She eyes me with distrust.
“Keep an eye open for anything suspicious. If you hear something—anything—contact me at the Twenty-Fourth Precinct.” I pull out my wallet and drop a few bills on the table. “If I’m not at work, come to the Black Penny in Hell’s Kitchen. The bartender’s a friend.”
Her eyes widen when I hand her a twenty. She tucks it into her bra, giving me a glimpse of pale bare skin beneath her black top. “The Black Penny. Hell’s Kitchen.”
“Right.” I stand, and she follows suit.
When I step out into the night, she comes beside me. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because stopping this bastard is more important than locking you up.” I glance down at her. The twilight fog swirls around us, and a curl slides across her cheek. I clench my fists after I nearly reach out to brush it away. She’s not your responsibility. She’s nothing. Leave her alone. Walk away.
“Thanks for breakfast.” Quinn offers a half smile, but I can see the skepticism in her eyes. Like she’s waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under her.
“Stay out of trouble, would you?” I pull a pack of cigarettes out of my pocket. “If you get caught, I won’t be able to bail your ass out.”
Quinn rolls her eyes and tosses her hair over her shoulder. “I got sloppy tonight. Won’t happen again.”
I light the cigarette and take a drag. “I’d tell you to give it up, but I know you won’t listen.”
“You asked me to be your snitch.” She puts her hand on her hip. “I can’t give it up and be your informant.”
“Point taken. Just keep your head down, kid.”
Quinn glowers at me, then snatches the cigarette from my hand. She tosses it to the ground and grinds it beneath her boot. “Thanks, dad.”
I shake my head. This woman will be the death of me. I can feel it. “Get out of here before I change my mind.” I shove my hands in my pockets and start down the sidewalk.
“Wait,” she calls.
I stop and turn, meeting her green gaze.
“What’s your name?”
“They don’t issue a first name or what?” She inclines her head with a teasing grin.
“You gotta earn the right to use that name.” I wink. “See ya around, kid.”
The sound of her swearing follows me down the street. I doubt anything will come of this fiasco, but I need all the help I can get. There’s a serial killer loose in Manhattan, and I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel to catch the bastard.