Forced Alliance(2)

By: Lenora Worth



Connor Randall. Reformed con man now trying to save his own skin. Good-looking in a classic way with dark curly hair and rich blue eyes, he was comfortable in any situation and in any setting. The man moved so smoothly inside criminal circles it was hard to tell if he truly had turned toward the good side of the law. He had several aliases—Connor Simpson, Connor Clarence, Connor Butler. He could get in and out of the country like Houdini popping out of a water tank.

But he also knew how to escape just like Houdini.

Was he working with Armond to pull a fast one on her?

Okay, Josie, think. He’s watched all the time. We can track him. No way he’d try to escape. No way he’d purposely be involved in a shooting. He’d go back to jail. Forever.

But he’d gone in without a wire or any trackers.

“Are you telling me the truth or—”

“I’m not playing you, Agent Gilbert. I need your help. And soon.”

Josie held the phone between her left shoulder blade and her chin while she maneuvered her car out of the parking space. “Tell me everything. Now.”

“Someone shot Louis Armond’s mistress right in front of the opera house. I saw the whole thing and so did he, but...it came from the roof of a nearby building. A sniper with a silencer. Now he could be in danger. We need to hide him.”

Josie almost laughed out loud. Hide Louis Armond? That was like trying to hide the statue of General Stonewall Jackson centered in the Square. Near impossible.

But if someone was onto them...

She’d read the file, knew the history. These two men both had a lot of enemies.

Randall’s cover had almost been blown last year during the Benoit art heist involving Princess Lara Kincade but he’d managed to smooth that over enough to get back on the notorious Mafia lord’s good side and work toward either turning him or bringing him to justice. He’d been seen out and about with Armond all over New Orleans. But Connor Randall wasn’t the kind to sit around waiting. If the deal was off, they could both be on the run.

And this was a very big deal. Josie swallowed the bile of failure and glared at her phone. Please, dear Lord, give me the strength and wisdom to get it right this time.

Then she asked, “Are you kidding me?”

“Why would I kid about a thing like that? The man is in shock and he’s pretty sure he’s next. He even thinks the hit might have been meant for him.” He went silent then added, “And if you can’t do your job, I might be right there with him, since he’s practically blackmailing me into helping him.”

Josie wanted to say good riddance, but even though she’d been hardened by witnessing the worst kind of crimes imaginable, she hadn’t resorted to letting people get killed on purpose. She’d become an agent after her father had been carted off to jail when she was a teenager. Her father, a con man who’d fooled everyone, even his own family, had masked his crimes behind the persona of a successful financial adviser and businessman.

No wonder she didn’t trust Connor Randall.

She’d made up for the sins of her father by helping to bring in a couple of other most-wanted criminals. But then things had taken a bad turn. She didn’t like being glued at the hip to a man who represented everything she hated, but maybe that was the price she had to pay right now.

Since that art heist had also involved the infamous Mafia lord, everyone at the New Orleans division of the FBI had been on the alert. Connor Randall had been there that night in the dank, dark wine cellar of an old mansion in the Quarter. And he had shot and killed Frederick Cordello, the man who’d wanted the princess dead so he could take the priceless Benoit paintings he’d believed she had.

Ironically, Louis Armond, allegedly a millionaire con man himself who mostly dealt in fake designer purses and shoes and illegal sales of priceless art, had proof that the paintings belonged to him. But after the ensuing publicity and scandal behind the whole affair, Armond had decided to take the high road to stoke some of the heat. He’d sent the paintings off on a museum art tour and then he’d become a very important witness for the FBI. A reluctant secret witness who had yet to give them anything of significance.

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