Lipstick & Danger

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Sample of Rooftop Angels

Rooftop Angels is the third in a series I wrote about the
group called Enigma. In An Unlikely Hero we meet Tessa Scott
who unwittingly gets involved with a secretly funded group of agents who work
through the universities of the United States. In Winds of Deception Tessa
finds herself involved once again because of threats a family member made
against Israel and the President of the United States. Now in Rooftop
Tessa works for the State Department and travels to Central Asia
where plans turn to chaos as she finds herself in Northern Afghanistan
protecting orphan girls from the Taliban. A Kyrgyz tribesman from the Wahkan
Valley fights at her side to save them. But his cooperation comes with a steep
price. Everything she believed in comes into question as one man from her past
searches desperately to find her before the tribesman takes her away forever.
     Her husband must have forgotten to
activate the security system again when he’d taken the kids to their evening
activities. Tessa noticed the lack of blinking lights on the master panel when
she’d entered the house through the garage. The well-lit laundry room showed no
signs of disturbance, not that you could tell with the mounds of dirty towels,
soiled football jerseys and lopsided white shirts that needed a once over with
a steam iron.
     The door swung open into the kitchen
filled with a darkness that felt like mud, heavy and annoying on the bottom of
your best shoes. Even the nightlight next to the stove offered no help. With an
awkward search for the light switch, she fumbled with her bag of groceries then
dropped her briefcase to the floor. When Tessa found the wall switch and
flipped it on, she stood with a familiar paralyzing fear she might not be
alone. Just like always, she stood still for a few seconds surveying the
called her a spook; afraid of her own shadow, of everything and everyone. A
week didn’t go by without him telling her she needed to lighten up. No matter
what, he promised to protect her. But her husband didn’t know the secrets she
the groceries placed on the island, Tessa’s eyes went to the night light laying
precariously on the edge of the counter, the globe smashed. She pulled open a
drawer and slipped a butcher knife out then dropped her hand to her side. The
open style kitchen spilled light into the dining room and family area. Timers
on table lamps missed their appointed time that should have flooded the room
with light. 
     Knowing she needed to stop and return to
the garage to wait for Robert and the kids shoved common sense aside. Tessa
didn’t want to think about her family coming home to danger. She swallowed hard
as her feet took baby steps. That’s when she noticed the time flashing on the
microwave. Could there have been a power surge? Tessa smiled, relieved that now
a logical explanation for the timers and maybe even the security system
failure. That didn’t explain the smashed night light, however.
     The heavy exhale filled the dining room as
she entered with more confidence and bent down to retrieve the timer from the
wall socket to reset it. Tessa’s body tensed as she touched the timer lying
upside down on the wood floors. She’d laid the knife down on the dining room
table only a second ago. Now her fingers fumbled nervously in search of it.
     Pulling back her shoulders, her eyes once
more searched the depths of darkness in her home. Then she saw him. He was near
the double windows. An attempt to close the shutters still left a ribbon of
light to slip through revealing his large form not more than ten feet from her.
     His silence spoke danger before he vaulted
toward her. A scream shattered the darkness as she tried to back away only to
fall against a chair that hadn’t been pushed completely under the table. She
grabbed then jerked it out in time to block the intruder’s advance as she swung
the butcher knife at his head. He blocked it with an arm that felt like solid
steel. Even though he managed to knock it from her grasp, Tessa felt the fabric
rip. The split second she needed to escape forced her toward the stairs.
      Inside her night stand rested a loaded
revolver. If she could make it there, she’d kill him. Tessa had no qualms about
protecting herself or her family. She knew the staircase even in darkness. The
knowledge gave her an edge on the danger that stalked her up the staircase. The
unnerving sound of a guttural chuckle reached her ears.
beat of her terrified heart pounded in her ears. His hand grabbed her foot,
bringing her down hard onto her knees. The intruder was taken aback when Tessa
rotated on her hip and kicked him so hard in the jaw that he fell back against
the railing. With a grunt, she scrambled up to the landing and raced to her
she entered, she nervously pushed in the lock button on the door knob. Without
waiting to see if her efforts to slam it shut were successful, she rushed to
her night stand. She yanked out the drawer as the intruder kicked open the door.
Her hands searched for the holster she’d Velcro to the upper inside of the
      The sound of his heavy breathing revealed
he’d stopped at the door. She wobbled as she pivoted to turn and level the
revolver at his chest.
    “So help me I’ll use this.” The moonlight
spilled through the open windows across her weapon.
     The man was easily seen now. He appeared
to be over six foot, a detail she could remember unlike the dark ski mask that hid
any features to report later. His body looked muscular covered in black
clothing. She could hear his heavy breathing as if he were winded.  With a disturbing calmness the man appeared
to be considering her threat as he looked around the room then back at the
weapon. The moonlight touched his demonic smile that showed itself in the opening
of the ski mask.  One cautious step
forward drew an immediate reaction.
     Tessa pulled the trigger, not once but six
times. Only clicks. She looked down with horror at her weapon then to the
intruder who reached in his pants pocket and took out bullets. He extended his
hand to her as if offering a gift before letting them fall through his fingers
to the floor. Something resembling amusement escaped his throat.
     Without hesitation, Tessa hurled the gun
at his head making contact. He stumbled sideways enough for her to charge
toward the door in hopes of escape.  With
an angry howl, the man grabbed her around the waist and dragged her toward the
center of the room. He stopped several times when Tessa nearly broke free. Each
time his grip grew stronger until he shoved her against a bedpost.
     A swift kick to his shin only managed to
be rewarded with another shake as he pushed his face in hers. “Stop!” he
     Something snapped inside her brain from
autopilot to Defcon 4. This would not end well if she didn’t fight for her
life. His size told of brute strength. How would she ever escape? With her
fingers, Tessa tried to reach for his eye holes only to feel her hands captured
by the man as he pinned her between his body and the edge of the bed. Feeling
his rock hard body, the realization her strength was no match for his, washed
over her. He jerked her into his arms.
     The intruder took one hand and touched her
long hair before sliding it down her face. She cringed as his fingers, smelling
of tobacco and beer, rubbed across her trembling lips. Opening her mouth
slightly as if to speak, the man’s eyes focused on her tongue. Cocking his
head, as if preparing to hear begging or protest, he slipped a finger inside.
The unexpected crunch of her teeth sunk deep into his skin. He growled and
released her in one step. Once again, the thought of escape surged through
quivering limbs as he picked her up with a labored grunt. The bed groaned as
her back smacked against the mattress. Tears of panic threatened to blind any
hope of escape when she rolled to her knees and scrambled away.
     “Stop!” he demanded again.
     Vice grip holds with rough hands locked
around her ankles before jerking her legs flat against the covers. The bed
creaked as she felt him climb onto the bed then swing a leg over her prone
body. Before he could apply his weight, Tessa flipped over to her back causing him
to almost pause in midair. A sinister smile appeared in the mouth opening of
his ski mask.  His clothes were intact
but there was no mistake of his body wanting her or where this was headed. With
fierceness, he grabbed her face and forced her to look at him. When she closed
her eyes he shook her head.
     “Look at me,” he growled like a dog.
     Tessa did as she was told. His eyes were
black as the night which she thought matched his soul. Would she need to
remember that? He smelled of perspiration now. Maybe if she could get him to touch
something besides her, the sweat might have traces of DNA. What she did know
was that his breath reeked. The black clothes appeared mismatched and void of
any significant details. Even the smile revealed crooked teeth, a sign he’d not
been given the best of dental care. He sat up and reached down to unbutton her
     “Easy,” is all he said. When the last button
came loose, he spread the cotton fabric open and eyed her. Just as he extended
his hand to touch her neck and begin its descent down her chest, she doubled her
fist and landed a blow on his ear.
     Stunned, he shook his head and grabbed the
side of his head. The growl started again deep in his throat. He pulled back
his fist to return the favor when she swallowed her pride and held up her hands
in surrender.
     “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” she quivered.
“Please. Don’t hurt me. I’ll do whatever you want. Just don’t hurt me.”
      The man stopped as Tessa lifted her hands
up over her head to rest on the pillows, inviting him to her apparent
surrender. In slow motion he pushed himself down against her again before
taking a deep breath. Tessa had the impression he might be savoring the moment
as his eyes searched her face.
     “See. I’ll be good. I promise. Just don’t
hurt me,” she begged in small helpless sniffs.
     The man leaned forward and captured each
of Tessa’s hands that remained over her head as his chest pressed harder
against her body.
     Tessa ran her tongue on the outside of her
lips then pretended to bite them. Desire sprang to his eyes. Although forced,
her voice became a husky whisper. “Slow. Please.” Tessa nodded as he leaned
closed to enjoy a first taste. “Yes. Like that.”
     His grip loosened as he began to feel the
firmness of Tessa’s mouth against his. Caught up in the moment he didn’t feel
Tessa raise her knees throwing him off balance or notice that her hands jerked
down, throwing him into the headboard. Tessa flipped him off her so easily he
fell off the bed into the corner of the nightstand, clipping his head on the
way to the floor.
     Tessa reached for the flashlight on the
opposite nightstand and jumped off the bed. She circled around to where the man
moaned and struggled to get to his feet. Turning on the light she stuck the
beam in his face, blinding him. He raised an arm up to block the light as he
staggered to a stand. Tessa swung the foot long flashlight at his head, but his
reflexes were still better than most. He knocked it across the floor.
     “Honey, we’re home!” Her husband Robert
and the kids had arrived back from evening activities.
     Both Tessa and the intruder froze before
looking at the door then at each other.
     Pointing at the open window she shoved
gently at his chest. “You better go.” Her voice turned matter-of-fact. The
intruder paused a little too long. “Go. Now. Before it’s too late.” She walked
to the window and held back the sheer curtain and nodded toward the opening.
     He turned and bolted toward her. Pushing
out the screen with utmost care, he took a moment to look back at her one last
time and smiled before patting her on the cheek with gentle affection.
     Tessa rushed to flip the light on. The
bullets were scattered near the door. She took her foot and pushed them under
the dresser as she lifted the gun from the floor. With a nervous jerk, she
opened her underwear drawer of the dresser and shoved the gun in the back. The
jewelry box, her father had made her on the sixteenth birthday sat perfectly on
top. Pulling the drawers out, Tessa dumped the contents across the floor.
     Tessa heard Robert at the top of the
stairs. A final look at the staging before she licked her fingers then rubbed
them under her eyes to make a trail of eyeliner. Another drop of spit placed on
her cheek and she was set to go. When she flung open the door and ran to her
husband with a breathless cry of helplessness, Tessa wondered if God might be
frowning at her. “Oh, Robert!”
     He pushed her at arm’s length noticing the
muddled appearance. “What is it?” His tone now revealed concern.
     “A burglar!” Tessa tried to catch her
breath as she felt Robert pull her back in his arms.
     “Are you hurt?” He pushed her back again
looking at her blouse.
     Tessa shook her head. “No. I was changing
in the bathroom when I heard him. I locked myself inside. When I heard you come
in I rushed out to warn you. I guess it scared him off. He went out the window.
Oh, Robert.” Tessa fell against his chest once more to touch up her face with a
quick lick on two fingers, and then streaked them under her eyes.
     “What about the alarm? Didn’t it go off?”
He watched his two boys and little daughter scamper up the stairs to stop
suddenly at seeing their shaken mother.
     “It was off when I got home. I guess you
forgot again,” Tessa lied. If God wasn’t frowning he would be now, she
     Robert looked visibly afraid. “I could
have sworn I activated that when we left. I’m so sorry, Tessa. This is my
fault.” He pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911.
     The children hugged their mother, patting
her like she did them when they were hurt.
     “The police are on their way, Tessa.” He
kissed her before walking toward the bedroom to take a look around.
     The man easily hopped over the fence into
the neighbor’s yard. He crouched for a minute to make sure no one saw him, dressed
in black, it was doubtful, but he was a cautious man. With the fake teeth
removed and shoved inside his jacket, the man proceeded to move to the backdoor
of the modern style house, so unlike the one he’d just invaded. He already knew
where the spare key was hidden. The old couple who lived here were predictable;
under the doormat, like so many other people in the neighborhood. The woman
next door had been different. It had taken him thirty minutes to find it. The
security system needed to be updated so he merely pulled the outside wires to disconnect
it. Rather than pay a few dollars more a month to get a wireless system they
were left vulnerable to someone like him.
     The red rotating light of a police car
pulled into the drive of the house where he’d just escaped. A smile spread
across his face remembering the blue of the woman’s eyes, the firmness of her
lips and the bite of her teeth. He stuck his wounded finger into his mouth to
suck the oozing blood. His body still stirred at remembering how she felt
beneath him. If only her husband had not come home…
     He peeked through the door panel into a
dark kitchen as he turned the key in the lock. Someone was home. Lights filled
a distant living room and the sound of the television caught his ear as he
moved with the skill of a cat burglar. They started talking with excitement as
the two figures appeared and moved to the front door. He couldn’t understand
what they were saying, but he imagined it had to do with the police car next
     The doorbell rang just as he moved toward
the refrigerator. He leaned against it, hoping whoever it was would not want to
come in. Too many unexpected surprises in one night for his liking. Not only
was he hungry but his body craved a very cold shower.
     It was the police. They asked the usual
questions; had they seen anyone, heard anything, did they lock their doors,
etc. He imagined the officer handing them a card with his information and
number in case they thought of something. The door clicked shut and the sound
of a dead bolt being thrown made him wonder if the couple might be afraid.
     The television became silent and he heard
footsteps move toward the kitchen. They spoke in soft voices until they entered
the kitchen, flipping on the lights.
     They didn’t see him at first. But both saw
him by the refrigerator at the same time. The man trembled just slightly and
the woman gasped as her hand flew to her throat. All three stood looking at
each other in silence.
     The woman stepped toward him and reached
for his ski mask. She was far from gentle as she snatched it off. After tossing
it onto the table she shook a crooked finger.  “What in goodness name have you done?” Hands
dropped to a narrow waist.
     He ran his hand across his face before
opening the freezer door. He took out a package of frozen peas and laid it
across his face where Tessa had managed to make contact.
     “Did you hurt Tessa?” she demanded in an
Irish accent that always seemed to thicken when irritated.  “And what about those babies. Were they
     “Do you have any ice cream, Martha?” He
looked back in the freezer with unconcern.
     “Answer me, Chase Hunter or I’ll flog you
here and now.”
     The old man pulled out a chair and sat
down. “You better give us a full account or she will make your life miserable,
     Pulling out the vanilla ice cream Chase
frowned as his eyes scanned the label. “Is this all you got?”  He tossed the peas back inside before
shutting the door. Martha handed him a spoon before walking to the china
cabinet to get him a bowl. Before she could complete the task he’d already
opened the container and began eating from the box.
     “I didn’t hurt her. The kids and
What’s-His-Face were gone or at least until the end of the training session.”
Chase leaned against the counter and scraped the last bite of ice cream from
the bottom of the box. He licked the spoon and met Martha’s angry eyes with
his. “She’s fine. This time she shot me.” A half-hearted chuckled slipped out
as a drip of ice cream slid down his chin.  “Samantha did a heck of a job breaking her in.
I guessed we’re done with that part of the training.” He smiled with the spoon
clenched between his teeth. “It was just getting interesting too.”
     Martha grabbed a damp dish towel and
snapped it against Chase’s leg making him yelp. “What the hell.”
     “Watch your mouth in this house, young man
or I’ll shoot you myself.”
     Chase winked at her husband. “Yes, mam.”
     The man, Francis, pointed a finger at the Enigma team leader. “I’ve seen how you look at Tessa. She’s a happily married
woman, Chase. Don’t mess that up.”
     Chase didn’t like being told what to do or
how to live his life. “I’ve gotta go. It’s getting late.” He tossed the empty
ice cream box in the trash can and laid the spoon in the sink. He leaned over
and kissed the woman on the cheek. “Care if I shower and change before I hit
the road. The police might be at the entrance to this happy little
subdivision.  I don’t want to fit any
description Tessa gave.”
both nodded and waved him away.
     When Chase left the room Francis turned to
his wife. “I don’t like where this is headed.
One More Thing:
This is just the beginning. Chase and Tessa have a history now as book three comes to life. Neither can figure out what they are going to do about their friendship. It continues to be complicated. Want to see how it all began? 
 Winds of
Deception –  http://amzn.to/1dxkHOo
An Unlikely
Hero  –   http://amzn.to/1KbFRgY

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