Zane (Allen Securities #7)

By: Madison Stevens

Security contractor Zane doesn’t have time for anything but his job, let alone women. The closest thing he allows to a relationship is the occasional one-night stand.

Even when Ellen, a woman he’s lusted after for years, calls him up out of the blue, he’s reluctant to get involved. Getting too close to a woman will just create trouble, and he lives too dangerous a life to need more headaches.

After witnessing the Russian mob killing a man, Ellen is running out of options and time. Even worse, her sister is in the clutches of her abusive boyfriend: a lackey of the Russian mobsters. The desperate woman swore years ago to give up on Zane, but he’s the only man who has a prayer of saving her.

Now Zane and Ellen have to find a way to free her sister from the mob and convince the Russians not to tie up loose ends by killing Ellen.

Their growing attraction is pulling more and more of their attention. With the deadly stakes, they’ll need to fight their lust and stay focused, as even a moment of distraction could prove fatal.

Chapter One

Ellen pulled into the casino parking lot well past midnight. Despite the late hour, bright lights lit up the entire gaudy faux-gold front. Well-dressed men and women streamed in and out. It was like some sort of wacked-out Oscar party she never wanted to attend.

She grumbled as she pulled away from the bright lights to the darker back of the building. There were far fewer lights there, and despite her feelings on the lighting situation upfront, she’d rather deal with a little gaudiness than be where she now was.

The car eased into a parking spot, and she looked around the area. No one was in sight, and Ellen wasn’t so sure that made her feel any better. At best, tonight would be unpleasant, and she didn’t even dare imagine what might happen in a worst-case scenario.

It had been a long night at the hospital. Several people had ODed on some new drug that had hit the market in recent weeks. Two patients had been admitted in bad condition, but the ER staff were able to resuscitate them.

The last patient had shaken her a bit. He wasn’t more than twenty-one and had suffered cardiac arrest. They had been able to stabilize him before she left, but it was going to be a rocky night for the next shift.

He would be lucky to make it, and even then, without serious drug counseling, he would likely be right back at it again. She hated to think that she might see him again, and they might not be able to save him.

It was exhausting. Ellen had worked so hard to get through nursing school, and she knew death was something they all had to deal with at some point. What they never talked about was the emotional toll it took seeing the same things over and over. That saving someone didn’t mean they really got better.

In the end, they were just treating the symptoms, not the problem. The city seemed like it was slowly sliding into hell.

Ellen let out a long sigh and tried to clear her head. She couldn’t solve the city’s drug or crime problems. She had to focus on the thing she could fix: her sister, Zoe.

Just thinking about her sister made her want to bang her head against the window.

Zoe had always been a handful, sneaking out at night and going to parties with friends when she thought their mom wasn’t looking. As she got older, the people she hung out with only got sketchier. Not just sketchy, dangerous.

When their mother died, something seemed to click in Zoe, and things hadn’t been the same since. Now the city wasn’t the only thing sliding into ruin.

It wasn’t all that long after the funeral that Ellen started to see the signs of addiction in Zoe. The weight loss, along with the vacant look and deep circles under her eyes. It killed Ellen seeing her little sister slip away and knowing there was nothing she could do.

Her only hope was that their brother Dean might be able to do something when he got out of the Marines, but that was still a month away. At the rate things were going, she wasn’t sure Zoe would last that long. Especially now that her new boyfriend, Billy, was involved with new dangerous people. Men that even Zoe had called thugs.

With a word like thug being tossed around, Ellen knew it was serious.

Ellen glanced over at the box of Zoe’s things her sister had asked her to bring, and she sighed. It might be late and she might be exhausted, but it was a chance to help. Maybe this time she’d be able to get through to Zoe.

She stepped out of her car and pulled the box over to her side. It really wasn’t much of anything. A few trophies from when Zoe was a kid, some photos and random things she’d collected through the years. But it was what Zoe asked her to bring.

Ellen glanced around the empty lot again and held the pepper spray on her keychain in her palm. Several years of working at the hospital at night had taught her to be better safe than sorry. It only made sense that muggers might linger around a casino where they could surprise some drunk gamblers.

She closed the door. A quick press of a button on her key fob had the doors locked with a beep.

Quickly Ellen made her way to the sidewalk and was glad when Zoe opened a side door to step outside.

“Thanks for coming,” Zoe said, beaming.

Ellen couldn’t help but smile at her. Zoe had gotten their mother’s good looks. Her shiny blond hair fell past her shoulders with a bounce that Ellen couldn’t get on her very best day. She’d always been slightly embarrassed of her own dirty blond hair that couldn’t decide if it wanted to be brown or blond.