Some desires are too dangerous to embrace.
As the owner of a flourishing Latin American crafts boutique, Karina Strauss should be basking in her success. Instead she's worried about her troubled sister, the girlfriend--and prisoner--of drug lord Carlos Moreno. Kari wants no part of that life, but when she helps a friend cross into the United States illegally, two men on opposite sides of the law take notice: Moreno and Adam Cortez, the handsome border protection officer who lets Kari off the hook. It's not just Kari's tantalizing flash of skin that catches Adam's attention--her drug cartel connections bring back the demons of his past.
Moreno demands that Kari smuggle a package for him in exchange for her sister's freedom. Adam also gets dangerously close, tempting her to surrender and fulfill her wildest desires. As Kari prepares for the drug run, dark secrets, violent criminals, and deadly consequences lurk around every corner. But concern for her sister drives Kari toward a terrifying act, despite Adam's warnings, despite her overwhelming fears--and despite the odds against coming out alive.
From the Paperback edition.
There were twenty-four lanes on the Tijuana side, a massive snarl of traffic that found order in the last hundred yards. Before the inspection booths were visible, the dividing lines were ignored. The more aggressive drivers made their own lanes, squeezing into narrow spaces and zigzagging across the chaos. Everyone else lurched forward in semiregular intervals while street vendors navigated the shifting aisles, selling everything from chicle and cold drinks to silver jewelry and colorful hammocks. Some of the peddlers were children whose shoulders barely cleared the hoods of the cars.
Kari let out a slow breath, removing her sweaty hands from the steering wheel. She'd turned off the air-conditioning and rolled down the windows in hopes that her van wouldn't overheat. At just past noon, the summer sun was blazing. Her left shoulder, exposed by her sleeveless cotton top, felt burned.
As the crush of vehicles evened into single rows, Kari became aware of impatient drivers angling toward the right. Her lane seemed more backed up than the others--not a good sign. Some of the inspectors were very thorough, checking the contents of each and every car. Normally she appreciated their diligence.
Today she was desperate for lax security.
She put on her signal and tried to merge into the next lane, with no luck. A woman in a midsized sedan stole the spot, her radio blaring Juan Gabriel.
The space in front of Kari cleared and she was forced to move ahead in the same lane. Now there were only a few cars between her and the inspection booth. She met her startled reflection in the rearview mirror, swallowing dryly. Her heart slammed in her chest, beating too hard, too fast.
Stay calm, she told herself. Act cool.
The officer stationed at the booth ahead didn't appear lax in any way. His dark blue uniform fit well. He had short black hair and a stern face. She couldn't see his eyes behind the lenses of his authoritative sunglasses, but she'd bet they were brown.
Kari watched the officer walk around a dusty Oldsmobile, gesturing for the owner to open the trunk. His short-sleeved shirt stretched across his back as he leaned forward to glance into the trunk's recesses. He looked strong, broad-shouldered, bronze-skinned. There was nothing unusual about him, other than an eye-pleasing physique, but she sensed that he was sharp and precise.
Sweat trickled between her breasts.
Too nervous to sit still, she unfastened the top buttons on her blouse, searching around the front seats of the van for a tissue to blot her perspiration.
The line crawled forward again. Damn!
She used the hem of her skirt to wipe her chest and left the buttons undone. Maybe she could entice the inspector to look down her shirt rather than inside her vehicle. Tapping the gas pedal, she eased the van closer.
She'd been waiting in traffic for over an hour and the final moments were the most intense. Blood pounded in her ears, her temple, her throat. She took a small sip of water and fiddled with the radio, trying to disguise her fear. Her pulse was racing, her hands trembling. She didn't dare glance back into the cargo space.
At last, it was her turn. She pulled up to the inspection booth, which was underneath a shaded structure, and prayed for a wave-through.
"U.S.," she murmured, handing him her passport. Most of the stamps marked her visits to Mexico. Others were from the Czech Republic, where she'd been born. She watched him handle her paperwork, fixating on the almost indiscernible grain of stubble along his jaw, the smoothness of his taut brown...