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Stilettos and Handcuffs
by Giselle Carmichael

Category: Romance
Description: Police Detective Taylor Warner is on the trail of four masked men responsible for a string of bank robberies, but it's the handsome FBI agent working beside her that keeps her awake at night. His masculine good looks appeal to her like no man before, but will her love of being a cop prevent her from having the happily ever after she desires? Special Agent Stone Patrick wants only one woman, but in order to possess her, he'll have to get past her defense of masculine suits and sensible shoes to reveal the passionate woman that she tries to hide from the world. And with a string of robberies yet to be solved, he'll have his hands full. But as the case progresses and the trail heats up, so does the bedroom. Detective Warner is a woman determined to get her man and to do so; she'll fulfill his greatest fantasy in Stilettos and Handcuffs.
eBook Publisher: Parker Publishing, Inc./Noire Fever, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: December 2009


15 Reader Ratings:
Great Good OK Poor
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [366 KB]
Words: 83788
Reading time: 239-335 min.

"Eden, will you hurry up. The one day sale is going to be over before we get there at the pace you're moving," Taylor Warner complained, waiting on the sidewalk outside Trust American Bank of Hilton. It was Wednesday and she and Eden had taken the day off, Eden for a doctor's appointment and she to be her sister's chauffer for the day.

"I'm doing the best I can. You try carrying another person around and see how fast you move," Eden snapped.

"Hey, I had nothing to do with that. You and Chase should have taken your asses to sleep." Taylor laughed, catching her sister rolling her eyes.

"What makes you think we created this child at night?"

"Ewww, too much information. The last thing I need is an image of you and Chase doing it. Just reassure me my little niece or nephew wasn't conceived on your kitchen island."

Eden pulled up short. "How did you know about the island?" Her cheeks were rosy with embarrassment.

Taylor giggled. "You're kidding right?" She cut a glance in her sister's direction. "Eden, who places a table cloth on a kitchen island unless they've been doing the nasty on it?"

"You really are crude," Eden fired back. "You need to find a better group of friends besides the Neanderthals down at the precinct. You're becoming just as vulgar as they are," Eden complained.

"Oh, please, I wasn't the one getting freaky in the kitchen. Talk about serving it up."

Eden laughed so hard she had to hold the bottom of her stomach. "Be quiet. I'm already embarrassed enough. God, I thought no one noticed. Does Mom know?"

"I don't know for sure, but I swear that woman is a mind reader," Taylor remarked, matching her steps to her sister's. She looked at Eden with admiration. At seven months pregnant, Eden Mathews didn't do anything fast. She was big and round and dressed in a pretty plum colored coat with boots. Her naturally long auburn hair had grown a few inches more and shined with healthiness. And her Hershey Kiss-brown skin, the same hue as her own was simply radiant. She was by far the most beautiful pregnant woman Taylor had ever seen. She pulled the bank door open and waited for Eden to waddle through. Although she teased her sister about her pregnancy, she was envious of her happiness. Oh, she knew things hadn't been easy for Eden and Chase. An African American schoolteacher and a white mayoral candidate had really stirred the political, as well as social waters of Hilton, Georgia, but through it all their love never wavered.

She wanted what Eden had, but was afraid it wasn't in the cards for her. Being a police detective didn't fit into most men's idea of the perfect wife; however, being a police detective was who she was. She followed her sister into the warmth of the bank and groaned. The branch office area was crowded and the teller lines were as long as the drive-thru outside. "Why don't we come back?"

Eden shook her head. "Stop being so impatient. I want to place these papers back in the safety deposit box. It won't take long. Mr. Mason told me I would be able to get right in."

Taylor sure hoped so. Their schedule was full today. They were headed to Pampered Babies for the finishing touches to the nursery. From there they were meeting Skye, the youngest at the jewelry store to select a birthday present for their mother, followed by lunch and shopping at her favorite boutique, Allure. She followed her sister absently back into the office area of the bank, taking a seat in the waiting area. She watched as Mr. Mason, the impeccably dressed, thirty something, branch manager spotted Eden and came rushing forward with an outstretched hand. His dark face was lit with an eager smile. No doubt that kind of service came with being the Mayor's wife.

Her thoughts drifted to handsome FBI Agent, Stone Patrick, while she waited. She wondered where he was and if he thought of her. They had agreed to stop fighting their attraction after Eden and Chase's wedding months ago, but before they could make good on their agreement, he was assigned to a case which took him to places unknown. She had heard through the law enforcement grapevine he was back or headed back to the Atlanta Bureau office. She had hoped to hear from him, but hadn't, and didn't know what to make of it. Perhaps, absence didn't make the heart grow fonder. She chewed on her thumbnail deep in thought.

"I bet I know who you're thinking about," Eden said, meeting Taylor's surprised gaze as she came to stand beside her. "I heard a rumor that a particular agent was back in town."

Taylor was caught red-handed and blushed. She was surprised to see her sister back so soon, but didn't miss what she had said. She sprang from her seat. "Did Chase speak to Stone?"

"Oh, no you don't," Eden said with a chuckle. "Am I right? Were you thinking about Stone?"

"Okay, I was thinking about the man," Taylor admitted honestly. She adjusted the shoulder strap of her purse. "I've missed him. We had agreed to give dating a try when he was pulled away on assignment, but I haven't heard from him. Not a word."

"Well cheer up because the handsome agent is back in town."

"He is? When? Why I haven't I heard from him?" Taylor looped her arm through Eden's and headed toward the door. Rounding the column separating the office space from the banking area, the women were met by distressed screams followed by running bodies and four masked men waving guns. Taylor's hand instantly went to her hip feeling air. She quickly remembered her weapon was secured inside her handbag. Locating each armed man, noting their position, it became clear she was outnumbered. A man in a black mask was at the front door. The robber wearing a blue mask hurried behind the teller counter. Another robber in a red mask ran toward Mr. Mason, and the one sporting a white headed toward the vault. She looked for the lone security guard sitting in the corner and seeing him eyeing his weapon, willed him not to do it.

"Touch that weapon and you die old man," Black by the door, growled with lethal intent at the guard. To make his point, he turned his weapon in the man's direction.

"Oh, my God!" Eden wailed, clutching Taylor's arm.

"Do what they say and don't draw attention to yourself," Taylor whispered, shoving her sister behind her.

"What are you doing?" Eden whispered back.

"Protecting you and that baby." Taylor ran a hand over the side of her purse, cursing her desire to be one of the girls today. Any other time she would have her weapon in easy reach, but in this case, with so many suspects, her weapon would be ineffective.

"Everybody against the wall," Black ordered in a menacing tone causing wails of fear to be unleashed. Husbands and wives huddled together. Mothers attempted to protect their children by placing their bodies in front of them. Others tried to hide behind the person in front of them. The tellers were waved from behind the counter to stand with the terror filled customers along the wall.

Taylor watched intently as the men systematically cleared the teller drawers of money, then rushed into the office area divesting those desk drawers that held cash of their loot, while Black returned to the door counting off the minutes. The red masked man in the office area practically dragged Mr. Mason from behind his desk, pushing him toward the rear of the bank in the direction of the vault.

"You have thirty seconds to get that vault open," Black warned from the front door. He looked in the direction of the huddled customers. "Blue," he called to the tall lanky man who had emptied the teller drawers. "Grab that woman."

Panicked filled voices filled the air as the customers drew closer together.

"Which one?" Blue replied, looking at the frighten faces.

"The one hiding in the purple coat."

Taylor clutched Eden's hand praying there was someone else wearing a purple coat. As the man in the blue mask grew near, she felt Eden's grip tighten with fear. She caressed her purse once more trying to figure out a way to get her weapon without drawing attention or endangering anyone.

"You, come here," Blue ordered, pointing to Eden.

"No. I'll go," Taylor spoke up. She knew what would happen if these men searched and found her weapon, but protecting her sister was worth the risk.

The man at the door called out two minutes as he charged across the room, pointing the barrel of his gun at Taylor. "Open your mouth again and I'll place a bullet between your eyes." He leveled Taylor with a steely gray stare letting her know he meant business. "Now you in the purple coat; get up here," he demanded through clenched teeth.

"It's okay," Eden whispered as she squeezed by Taylor's tense body. She glanced at the man in the blue mask that came forward, and was unprepared for the rough tug to her arm. She toppled awkwardly to the floor.

"My God, Eden!" Taylor cried, bending to reach for her sister. "Are you alright?" Taylor stilled as she suddenly felt the barrel of a gun shoved against the base of her skull, followed by a hard push.

"Lady if you make another move, a bullet is going into that thick skull of yours," Black grated out in bone chilling fashion.

"I'm alright!" Eden said quickly, pushing to her feet. She turned pleading eyes to the masked man. "Please."

Black withdrew his weapon, but glared menacingly at the sisters. He glanced at his watch. "One more problem from you two and I'll drop you both where you stand." He motioned with his head to blue mask to take Eden. She was marched to the center of the room.

Taylor visually checked Eden to make sure she was alright. She stood tall, not showing any sign of pain or discomfort. The only visible emotion etched into her sister's face was fear.

"Now, if that vault door isn't opened in thirty seconds, my friend here is going to shoot that lady right in the belly."

Taylor gasped helplessly in horror as Blue placed the nose of his handgun to Eden's swollen stomach. Heated anger boiled in the pit of her own stomach as she tried to think of something to do. She after all was the police, but every scenario she ran through her mind ended badly. She was instead forced to witness her sister being used as a prop in this real life crime drama. She flexed her fingers which were cramped and aching with the need to reach for her weapon. The need to fight and defend almost overpowered her rational thinking. The pleading look from Eden to do something was tearing her heart out. How could she watch the sister she had protected as a child in the clutches of thugs?

"No!" Eden wept, clutching her stomach protectively. Her eyes locked with her sister's.

Taylor was beside herself. She tried with her eyes to reassure Eden all would be alright. She held her breath when Mr. Mason punched in a series of numbers and the sound of the vault being unlocked reverberated in the forced quietness. A relieved breath left her body. Red and White rushed inside the vault. She could hear one of them yell to only take the small bills up front.

"Four minutes," Black called out looking at his watch. He glanced out the front door. "Come on. Let's go."

Blue dragged Eden by the collar toward the glass doors. Shoving her over to Black, he checked outside then slipped out the door.

Taylor hated these men. She wanted them locked behind bars. She looked back toward the vault with relief as the other masked men came running out with a heavy looking duffle bags. She didn't see the branch manager and feared the worst. Turning her attention back to Black who still held a weapon on her sister, she watched as he waved both men out the door, and then with a violent push to Eden's back, he too disappeared out the glass doors.

"Guard, lock that door," Taylor ordered as she raced to catch an off balanced Eden. "I've got you." Taylor wrapped her arms around Eden and held on tight. Her heart was in her throat she was so frightened. "Are you alright?" she managed to say, fighting back tears.

"Yeah," Eden responded with a nervous voice. She shook like a leaf from head to toe.

Taylor quickly assisted Eden into a nearby chair. She removed her weapon and cell phone while instructing everyone to remain calm. Phoning 9-1-1, she provided her badge number and reported the robbery. Before ending the call, she requested an ambulance, not sure of Eden or Mr. Mason's condition. She disconnected and told one of the tellers to go check on the branch manager in the vault.

"If you're a cop why didn't you do something?" a thirty something woman screamed at Taylor. The woman's eyes were large and overly bright with terror.

"What would you have her do against four men?" an older man answered on Taylor's behalf.

"I want out of here. Why is that door locked?" another woman questioned.

Taylor took a calming breath, pushing her personal fears aside. She reminded herself she was dealing with civilians who didn't understand the elements of law enforcement. "That door is going to remain locked until the police arrive. If those men can't make a clean getaway they'll be back for hostages and we don't want that to happen."

The woman's young face registered her understanding. It was obvious she hadn't considered the possibility of the armed men coming back.

Mr. Mason appeared holding the back of his head with the teller from the rear of the building. It was then Taylor knew he had been knocked unconscious before the men left the vault. She waved him to a chair beside Eden. She took in her sister's flushed cheeks growing concerned. Glancing around the room, she spotted the water dispenser and rushed over filling two paper cups.

"Here, drink this," she told Eden, then passed the branch manager a cup. Her head came up at the sound of sirens. "Help's here," she told the stressed out customers. She signaled for the guard to unlock the doors as she saw the patrol cars pull up. Fishing out her badge, she flashed it as the uniform police officers rushed inside. The paramedics followed and quickly went about examining Eden and Mr. Mason. Taylor provided the uniform officers with the details of the robbery, making sure to give the approximate height and weight of each suspect. She looked back at Eden happy to see her color returning to normal.

Taylor suddenly felt the weight of all that had transpired that morning crash down upon her. She quickly took several deep breaths to steady her nerves. It wouldn't due for her fellow officers to see her falling apart. She ran a shaky hand through her hair, dropping it quickly to hide the tremors. When the paramedics placed Eden on a stretcher and proceeded to carry her out, Taylor pushed her fear aside to be there for her sister. They cleared the glass double doors of the bank just as Chase came running across the parking lot.

"How is she Taylor?" Mayor Chase Mathews, her brother-in-law asked her. His frightened blue eyes roamed over his wife's face. He placed his large hand gently on their unborn child.

"She fell, but doesn't think she or they baby are injured," Taylor quickly informed him. "The paramedics are taking her to the hospital to be checked out."

"I'm fine." Eden reached for her husband's hand. "I just want to go home."

Chase shook his head no. "After a physician checks you out first." He turned to Taylor giving her a hug. "Thank you for keeping Eden safe. When the police told me you were with her I knew she was in good hands." He pressed a kiss to her cheek then turned back to his wife.

Taylor leaned down, hugging her sister. "I'll see you at the hospital." She stood back folding her arms across her chest while Eden was loaded into the rear of the ambulance. She checked her watch and noted that an hour had past. Biting down on her lower lip, she fought back tears as the ambulance pulled away with sirens wailing. She turned around and headed for her car feeling like a fraud. What would Chase think when Eden told him the truth about what happened inside the bank? She hadn't protected her sister. She had stood by as Eden was dragged off and used to make a point. She sagged against the side of the car consumed with guilt. How would she face her mother and father, not to mention her brother and sister, Victor and Skye? She balled her right hand into a tight fist and pummeled the hood of her car in anger and frustration.

Her family was so excited at the prospect of a Warner-Mathews baby. Her mother had been preparing a room in the family's home just for those occasions when the baby would be spending the night. Her father was already discussing a career in law for his grandson or granddaughter, thinking of the legacy he would leave behind. As for her brother and sister, they like her were simply thrilled at the new addition. Taylor struck the hood once more. If something happened to that child it would be all her fault. She would have failed not only her sister, but her niece or nephew as well.

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