“You cook?” He seemed surprised.
She shoved her glasses up on her nose, and hooked her hair back over her ear. “My grandmother grew up on a farm outside Dallas. She was a fantastic cook. She raised me, so yes, I like to cook.” She smiled. “I’m really good at it.”
A low groan slipped from Jax’s throat. “What if we stop at the store and pick up whatever you need?”
She laughed. “We don’t have to do that. I keep a lot of stuff in the pantry. I can make pasta or something. Do you like Italian?”
She smiled. “I’ll make a salad to go with it and we’ll be fine.”
Except that when Mindy unlocked her front door and Jax shoved it open, thoughts of supper shot right out the window. The entire apartment looked as if an earthquake or a tornado had totaled the place.
“Oh, my God!”
Jax’s HK.45 slid easily out of its holster. “Stay here.” He started forward, the gun gripped in both hands, panning the living room for any sign the intruders might still be there.
“Oh, God, Muffin!” Mindy bolted forward, but Jax’s arm shot out, blocking her way.
“I said stay here!” He softened his tone as she shrank back from him. “Let me check things out first, make sure it’s safe, okay? I’ll be right back.”
Her color returned and she nodded. He made a sweep of the apartment, checking the bathrooms, under the bed, the closets, but whoever had been there was gone.
The apartment was in complete disarray, sofa and chairs overturned, drawers left open, the books on the shelves knocked onto the floor. The place was a mess, but it wasn’t vandalized. The apartment had been methodically and thoroughly searched.
He found Muffin beneath an overturned chair next to the kitchen table, holstered his weapon, knelt, and extended a hand. “It’s all right, girl. You’re okay.”
The cat meowed and crept slowly toward him. Jax stroked a hand over her fur, then scooped her against his chest. When he looked up, Mindy was standing in the kitchen doorway.
Unlike his teammates, clearly she wasn’t afraid to disobey his orders. He almost smiled.
“She’s okay.” He handed her the cat, which she cuddled against her full breasts. He had never been jealous of a cat before. He sighed. There was a first time for everything.
Her hand shook as she stroked the cat. “She’s all I really care about.” She sniffed and dragged in a shaky breath, but didn’t cry. “The rest is just stuff.”
Her positive attitude was one of the things he liked best about her. “That’s exactly right.”
“Do you. . . do you think the break-in is just a coincidence? Teenagers, maybe, who did this for fun?”
The front door had been jimmied open, probably with a crow bar. “I don’t believe in coincidence,” he said, “and teenagers might vandalize your place for some warped idea of fun, but this place was searched. Whoever did it was looking for something.”
“Should we call the police?”
It was definitely a crime scene. And probably linked to the abduction attempt. They needed to phone Lieutenant Gunderson. Maybe the CSIs could come up with some prints or something. He’d get to it, but he preferred to stay one step ahead.
“First I want you to take a look around, see what’s missing. Try to touch things as little as possible.”
She nodded, started walking around the apartment, surveying the damage. Things were moved and overturned, the medicine chest emptied into the bathroom sink, the kitchen canisters dumped out on the counter. The desk in her bedroom had been thoroughly searched.
She sighed as she walked back into the living room. “Good thing I had my laptop with me.”
She glanced at the destruction in the apartment. “They made a terrible mess, but they didn’t go out of their way to smash things or just destroy things for no reason. Most of it can be put back the way it was.”
“They were definitely searching for something.”
“Some of my flash drives are missing. That’s the only thing I noticed. The only information on them was my personal Quickbooks accounts, my tax records, stuff like that. I had photos on one of the drives, but they’re also on my laptop so I didn’t really lose them.”
“What about the trust account info?”
“The backup for my mom’s checking account was on one of the drives, but it’s just her monthly bills and personal expenses. There’s nothing about the trust fund, no mention of how much is in it, and nothing that would give them any way to access the money. That was always handled by Mr. Handley.”
“Must have been hoping to find something they could use.”
She glanced around and her shoulders sagged. “I guess.”
Jax mentally ran through possibilities, didn’t immediately come up with an anything. “Call the bank and put a hold on your checking accounts, just in case. I’ll call Gunderson. As soon as the cops take our statements, we’ll head over to my place, spend the night there.” He’d call Chase and Hawk as soon as he got home. Maybe they could come up with a workable theory.
Mindy surveyed the mess around her. “What about my apartment?”
“We’ll come back in the morning, feed Muffin and clean the place up.”
“I always go see my mother on Sunday mornings.”
“Not a problem, we’ll make it work. Go ahead and make that call, then go pack an overnight bag.”
She pulled out her cell and phoned the bank as she picked her way through the debris to her bedroom.
Jax sighed. As soon as they were finished with the police, he was taking Mindy home with him. He had fanaticized about Mindy Stewart spending the night in his bed.
He’d never dreamed if that night actually came, he’d be sleeping on the sofa in the living room.
(C) KAT MARTING, HQN BOOK, 2019
Maximum Security 1.5
Don’t miss this scorching novella, part of what Publishers Weekly is calling Kat Martin’s “tantalizing” new Maximum Security series!
Private detective Jaxon Ryker swore to himself he would keep his hands off Mindy Stewart. No matter how much Jax might secretly wish otherwise, his colleague at The Max is strictly off-limits. But when Mindy is the victim of an attempted kidnapping, everything changes. With both of them thrust into danger, Jax swears to protect her. As they work together in search of answers, it becomes clear Mindy’s life is on the line, so a trap is set–with Mindy as bait. Jax and Mindy have to put aside their overwhelming attraction, but if they live through this, all bets are off. . .
Romance Suspense [HQN Books, On Sale: August 12, 2019, e-Book, ISBN: 9781488058714 / eISBN: 9781488058714]
About Kat Martin
For New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin, a career in real estate led her down the road to romance.
Through real estate, Kat found her own perfect match–her husband, Western author Larry Jay Martin.
“We were on opposing sides of a transaction–I represented the seller and he represented the buyer,” Kat recalls.
A short time after the two became acquainted, Larry asked her to read an unpublished manuscript of an historical western he’d written. Kat fell in love with both the book and the author!
“It was quite a romantic story,” she admits. “I’d still like to see it get published.” Then, after doing some editing for her future husband, she thought she’d try her own hand at writing.
Kat moved on to become the bestselling author of over fifty historical and contemporary romance novels. To date, 15 million copies of her books are in print, and she’s been published around the globe, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, England, Estonia, Lithuania, South Africa, Italy, Poland, Thailand, Portugal, Turkey, The Slovak Republic, Spain, Argentina, Estonia, Czech Republic and Greece.
When she’s not writing, Kat also enjoys skiing and traveling, particularly to Europe. Currently, she’s busy writing her next book.