Richard Blackbourne: Owner of an elite jewelry store. He assists the police, behind the scenes, when they need his considerable computer skills. Now someone wants him dead.
Kel: Small-time P.I. He also works incognito for the police, going undercover to gain information on criminals, then passing it on to one of three detectives who use his services. At the moment, he’s trying to learn the identity of the man behind a gang of B&E specialists.
Their paths cross when Kel learns of, and foils, an attempt on Richard's life by two members of the gang. The question becomes, why would their unknown leader want Richard eliminated?
Can they stay alive long enough find the answer while also trying to deal with their growing, but unspoken, attraction to each other?
In that instant, Kel knew what they had planned, and that the second man wasn't going to come back around to join his cohort. Kel pulled his phone from his pocket with one hand. With the other, he yanked his gun from its holster as he raced to the side of the house. His fingers flew over the keys, punching in Richard's number, praying he'd answer.
"Get the hell out of the house, now!" he ordered when Richard picked up. Then, aiming the gun at the would-be bomber, he hollered, "Drop it or you're dead."
* * * *
Richard heard Kel's words, both to him and to some unknown person, but it took him a moment to comprehend what they meant. Then he was rushing from the bedroom, heading for the stairs. He was halfway down when an explosion ripped through the basement at almost the same moment that shots rang out. He leapt down the last few steps, and was out the front door seconds later.
He pulled to a stop when he was off the porch, turning to see flames billowing from a basement window to his left. That meant, he thought, the shots had come from the other side of the house. He dashed around the corner in time to see a man fleeing toward the alley, a second man a few feet behind him. He reached the back corner of the house in time to hear a car start up and see one of the men dive into the back seat before it took off.
"God damned, mother-fucking, son-of-a-bitch," the remaining man spat out, pounding his fist against his thigh.
"You're going to have a lovely bruise if you keep that up," Richard remarked with a brief flare of levity before the smell of smoke sobered him.
"Yeah, well ..." Kel had his phone to his ear by then. "There's been an explosion," he said to what Richard knew had to be a 911 dispatcher. "No, everyone got out of the house but it's on fire, at least the basement is and it's not going out by itself. Yeah, that would be a good idea, and the cops, too." He looked at Richard with something akin to relief in his expression. Covering the phone, he said, "I was afraid you wouldn't answer."
"I usually do when I get a call in the middle of the night. They always mean something's wrong." He scanned Kel from head to foot and didn't see any blood. Not that he would have, he realized, given that the only light came from a streetlight in front of the house. "Were you hit?"
"Nope, but I did wing the bastard. Not badly enough to stop him from escaping with his partner."
Richard nodded. "I take it you knew something was going to happen or you wouldn't be here."
"Yeah, but I was figuring they'd break in, not try to blow you up, again."
"Seems like they have a fetish for dynamite, or TNT I guess." Richard gripped his hands together when he realized they were shaking. In fact, his whole body was now that the adrenaline had worn off.
Sirens and flashing lights announced the arrival of the fire department. By then the left side of the ground floor was in flames, too. The firefighters set to work and sooner than he expected they had the fire under control.
A familiar voice asked from behind him, "What's with you and explosions?"
He turned, shrugging. "I wish I knew, Eldon."
"I might suggest you figure out who wants you blown to pieces before they succeed." Detective Eldon North eyed his naked chest, then grinned briefly. "Good thing you wear sleep pants."
"Yeah, well. What are you doing here? Don't you ever sleep?"
Eldon snorted. "I try to, but ... I was on my way home from a domestic where the man stabbed his wife to death, when the call came in so here I am." He glanced at Kel in question, about to say something when Kel shook his head, gesturing to the fire personnel and the neighbors who had appeared to watch the goings-on.
"What am I missing here?" Richard asked quietly.
Before either man could answer, one of the firefighters approached, holding a hand-grenade in his hand. "We found this on the ground under a bush beside one of the basement windows. I'll give it to the arson investigator when he arrives, but I thought you'd like to know, detective. We're pretty certain another one was what caused the explosion and fire on the other side of the house."
"Thanks." Eldon glanced at Richard, shaking his head. "Why are they trying to blow you up instead of shooting you?"
"If I knew that, I'd be closer to knowing who wants me dead. Do you know?" he asked Kel. By then he'd decided there was more to the man than met the eye, as it were. The warnings, the fact he was here, now, said as much. That he appeared to know Eldon also said he was, presumably, on the side of the angels, whatever that might mean in the grand scheme of things.