Jewelry designer Mary Keefe has been robbed–of a million dollars in diamonds belonging to her grandfather–by her own boyfriend, Conrad. Besides recovering the jewels, she’s got to conceive a baby within 5 days, to save her family’s legacy. Her friends have a plan, a singles cruise so Mary can find a sperm donor with the best qualities. The first mate could be the right choice–he rates a five on the Donor List. Then there’s John Wang, her neighbor in the adjoining room. Attraction sizzles between them and they’ve become friends, but he doesn’t act interested. Could be, she’s not his type.
For John Kajiyama, posing as Wang, Mary Keefe is just his type. She’s beautiful, funny and sweet…but is she innocent? Diamonds are missing and he must recover them for the insurance company. How far will he go to maintain his cover in this investigation?
The bag of uncut diamonds fell from the safe and poured into Mary Keefe’s palm. She gaped in wonder. A million dollars’ worth of Canada’s finest, freshly mined from Whip Lake near Yellowknife. Slivers of ice appeared in the sharp edges, indicating what lay beneath the cool surface. She ran her finger and thumb over one of the chalky exteriors, anticipating what brilliant masterpiece she could create, devising a cut plan while envisioning a beautiful engagement ring.
“Mary, I’m taking off,” Lisa said from the doorway leading into the sales room. “Dental appointment, remember?”
Mary sat at her desk and glanced at her part-time sales associate. Lisa’s bejeweled hand perched on her slender hip, and in the bright lights of the cutting room, all of her sparklers came out to play. Mary had fashioned at least two of the baubles. Unable to resist, she tore her attention away from her co-worker and focused on the rough natural diamonds. “Oh. Okay, Lisa, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Do you want me to put the closed sign on the door and lock it?” Her tone held resignation. A silvery blond eyebrow lifted. “Andre wouldn’t mind having a bit of freedom from guard duty.” Mary laughed, fingering the soon-to-be resplendent stones. She must return them to their velvet nest. “You knew I’d be fascinated with the goods.”
Lisa chuckled and glanced at her watch. “Sorry, it’s too late to cancel the appointment.”
“No, don’t worry. I’ll put these away and sketch designs between waiting on customers in the lobby.”
Mary nodded to the door. “Yes. Please, go.”
Lisa took a step. “Good night. I’ll see you after you return from your trip.” She strode to the exit, her wide handbag flapping against her narrow side.
Mary sorted through nature’s mysterious stones one more time. At the click of the door, she stashed the rocks inside their dark blue bag.
The shuffle of feet drew her attention from the sack’s drawstring. Lisa must have forgotten something. Instead of her assistant, a tall thin man completely covered in black from his ski mask to leather shoes, swayed inside the room.
Her heart beating as fast as the second hands on the clock collection at the south side of the jewelry store, Mary moved around the desk, intending to stuff the pouch into the safe and slam the door. “Who are you?”
The intruder didn’t deter her. However, the metal safe seemed farther away than it had appeared a moment ago. She crept forward, keeping the dark opening in sight. “My assistant will be back in a second.”
An arm came out of nowhere and wrapped under her breasts, preventing her upper body from moving. Despite her breaths expelling fast and in short bursts, she hurled the stones and threw her head back, connecting with the chin of her attacker.
“Shit!” a man snapped. A familiar voice. Please, it couldn’t be him.
The bag hit the rim of the safe with a thunk. As with all things earthly, the jewels fell.
She screamed loud enough surely her grandfather, in his office two stories up, would hear the vocal alarm. Where was Andre? God, she hoped he was okay. One huge hand completely covered her mouth and the other twisted her arm. Deep breaths brought scents, a mixture of plant fertilizer and pungent Axe cologne into her nostrils. Beneath the soft wool, she bit her lips, trying to keep them from trembling.
“Go!” he shouted, releasing her mouth. He reached for the dark blue bag of a million dollars’ worth of jewels resting on the cream and gray tiled floor. His partner shuffled out into the lobby, and soon breaking glass rippled through the silence. Smoke billowed into the office. Damn, her new glass display cases, destroyed. Surely her grandfather heard the explosion and would come running.
Her teeth clung to her attacker’s wrist as he bent, until his hand flipped and covered her nose and mouth, forcing her to relax. He stood straight, easing the tension of the hold. Velvet rubbed against her stomach where the blouse had come free from her slacks. They had made love once, on this very floor. An image of him placing a few minor gemstones on her belly and moving them around with his tongue flooded her mind. She resented the intrusion of a romantic tryst now that Conrad Peabody’s true character had been exposed.
His gloved fingers continued to press against her mouth, jamming her teeth into the soft tissue. She finally got relief from the force when he moved his hand and used his teeth to pull off the glove. He stuffed the leather into his pocket, then transferred the bag of gems to his unencumbered hand. His breathing increased, pushing his chest against her back, as his fingers worked open the yellow binding of the casing.
Mary drew a sharp breath. There it was–the mole shaped like molar tooth–at the apex of his right thumb and index finger, confirming the identity of her attacker and thief—a dishonest, unfaithful, and untrustworthy lover. Conrad’s sigh was followed by a sickly sweet scent, which tossed her into darkness.
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Diamonds used to be this girl’s best friend.