Sexy but alone Helen Marx is a cop too guilty to love. Sexy but alone Marco Ambastilias is the world’s greatest opera star too guilty to sing.
When their guilt collides their bodies betray their needs in a climax worthy of theatre, worthy of love.
Widowed as a bride, police dog handler Constable Helen Marx loses herself in her work. For eight years her German shepherd, Lanza, has been at her side. When a thug leaves him gravely wounded the whole framework of her life is gone. As her dog fights for life, Marco Ambastilias, the renowned but reclusive opera star comes to her side. There is a spark and a rekindling of her own passionate sexuality.
She enters his life and that of his daughter Cressida whose drug issues have brought her into contact with deeply evil men. Helen uncovers a terrorist plot to attack the Queen at the Royal Ascot race meeting but has orders not to alert Marco and his daughter who will be attending the event. A desperate struggle against suicide attackers reveals her deception and she loses his trust and they split.
Police work sweeps her up. The supreme world terrorist leader remains at liberty, planning another outrage. Global authorities come together to set a trap.
Can she convince Marco to act as bait?
Can she overcome her guilt at loving a man again and then deceiving him?
Can she express her own sexual desires without guilt?
Could the music and eroticism of love put an end to the joyless dictatorship of terrorism?
Could a seed of joy root in her flesh?
Seduction of Guilt – when naughty goes good.
Another stand-alone story in Emma Calin’s ‘Seduction Series’, combining thrilling crime mystery with steamy suspense romance and introducing a four-legged hero that saves the day!
If you enjoy James Patterson, Catherine Coulter, Nora Roberts and Kendra Elliot you’ll love a story that combines all of their best traits in a fast-paced, pulse-pounding roller-coaster adventure full of romance, deception, danger and love.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I greatly admire our law enforcement officers and want to showcase the tough and brave female cops who protect our communities. My partner is an ex-Interpol detective and my stories feature anecdotes and real-life procedures, cases and dilemmas from his work. In this book, as with all 'Seduction Series' stories, we follow a heroine police officer as she is thrown into the heart of crime action at a time when she also gets together with the love of her life. I like to add the conflict of danger, duty and emotion and give my heroines plenty of scope to develop and demonstrate how they cope and, of course, achieve their happy ever after. I like to mix genres in my stories and try to write the sort of book I'd like to read – so these are all thriller suspense stories combined with a steamy romance. Each story features a different function within the police – in this book we have a police dog handler and her loyal K9 partner, Lanza, who plays a vital role in solving the crime and bringing the couple together.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Helen Marx , the heroine from this book, is based on a girl I knew from school who joined the army and then became a police dog handler. I wanted her to be a more mature character who had 'been around the block'. In this story she's a widow, who lost her army husband a few years ago. In her sadness, she's thrown herself into her work and her K9 partner, Lanza, a german shepherd, is the focus of her life. In the opening paragraphs of the book her beloved dog is injured and this sets the scene for action, adventure and romance that follow in the rest of the book.
Marco Ambastilias, the hunky lover in this story, is an opera singer – he's a composite of a lot of big stars I've seen interviewed over the years (I'm a big opera fan). I wrote much of this book in Naples, Italy, so it was inevitable that he would be Italian – such passion and drama! He's a real operatic hero – and will do anything for love.
Cressida Ambastilias is the wayward daughter of the star and the cause of his disappearance from the stage and he no longer sings. She's off the rails big time. She's based again on a number of young ladies I've known recently. My own daughter has had a brush with anorexia and has friends who have not been as lucky and still struggle with this awful condition.
Lanza, the german shepherd, is a general purpose police dog with explosive detection as his speciality. He's based on every lovely loyal dog you've ever known.
Emergency call to Scotland Yard.
Officer responding CO185 dog unit.
Floor the pedal, blue lights on.
First unit on scene. Assess situation. Big guy, superficial head wound bleeding, pointing toward open country.
Update Control. Assistance. Ambulance. Vehicle doors, running feet on gravel, adrenalin wiping fifteen years off her thirty-five.
A newly trodden track ran through grass and the scent was fresh. PC Helen Marx tried to keep pace with her German shepherd as he bounded ahead on the long leash. They were in open green field land, where London kept uneasy truce with nature. The first light of mid-summer dawn snapped blurred monochrome photos as she ran.
A figure broke cover two hundred yards ahead. Breathless call.
“Stop or I release the dog.”
A blur of feral hunting speed as eight-year-old Lanza stepped up once again to his duty. A flash of fire. A crack, a cry.
She slammed her fist into the suspect’s face, as Lanza held on with his last strength. There was a plea in his eye. Still he kept his jaw locked on the arm as the guy writhed and kicked. She drew her cuffs and running on instinct snapped the metal onto his wrists. He tried a vicious head-butt. She drove her foot hard into his groin. Game over.
Lanza slumped down into the long damp grass. She assessed his condition. Bright foamy blood and a sucking chest wound. In minutes he would bleed to death. Looking back toward the house she could see running figures and the blue roof lamps of other police units. She spotted the firearm and covered it with her foot. Lanza was dying and she could do nothing.
The big man from the house knelt down alongside the dog.
“Do your police stuff with that idiot—looks like a bullet straight through the lung. I’ll do what I can.”
She watched as he turned the limp animal over, placed his fingers into the sucking wound and felt the neck for a pulse. He pulled out a cell phone and spoke quickly with a slight accent.
“It’s a dog. He needs fluids or he’ll bleed out. Just get here. Drive straight across the down in a four-by-four.”
Lanza was dying. She could think of nothing else. The suspect was kneeling. The bastard deserved to die for what he’d done. She was a cop, not a killer. She’d already thrown a punch in anger, but she could and would deny that.
“You’re under arrest. You don’t have to say anything….”
Other officers were everywhere. A scenes of crime guy was bagging up the gun. A detective was talking to the suspect. Lanza was dying. She knelt at his head and stroked back his ear. He flicked open an eye.
“He’s fighting,” said the big man. “Those guys heading for us will be a top team I assure you.”
She watched the bouncing headlights of an approaching Landrover.
“Vets, doctors, or what?”
“Vets, of course. The best ever. They’re neighbours.”
A man and a woman sprang from the vehicle. Within seconds they had an IV drip running.
“I’ve alerted the surgery. We’ll stabilize for a few minutes, then go for it. Can you guys do a high-speed escort?” said the man, pulling on surgical gloves.
Helen fought back her nausea and desperation.
“Sure, I guess—has he got a chance?”
“He’s still alive and he wants to live. I can say no more than that.”
She looked back to the big guy who was holding out his hand to pull her up. He spoke gently.
“What’s his name?”
He smiled slowly with a slight shake of his head.
“That’s incredible. Now, can you fix a police escort to the RSPCA animal hospital in Putney and we don’t want any speeding tickets.”
She looked around, realizing that half the top brass of the Metropolitan Police was surrounding her. How much time had passed? Her sole focus had been Lanza. The man and woman were lifting him into the Landrover. A uniformed inspector finished talking into his radio.
“Helen, jump in the back of Oscar Lima Four. They’re the blue light escort so go for it. By the way—well done. Everyone’s praying for him.”
She’d never prayed but she’d take any prayer in any faith. He could not die. She would not let him die. She’d held him as a pup. He was due to retire and she’d been considering going back to regular duty rather than train a new dog. Generally, dog handlers were family guys and she was no longer in that mould. She stayed quiet during the ride. She knew the crew didn’t want to talk about Lanza, like she was already some kind of police widow at the Christmas party alone. No one thought he was going to make it. How the hell had that big guy known who to call? Why were so many big hats at the scene of a burglary?
As they arrived at the animal hospital two further medicos in scrubs rushed out to join the team. Within seconds Lanza was gone and she was left alone in a waiting area. Was this it now? She’d not been there when her man had hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and she’d kept it together. She’d been puppy walking Lanza then and Captain James Marx was coming home with hopes of joining her in the Job. She’d held it all together then.
But now she could not. She slumped in helpless sobs like a pathetic girlie civilian. This was not the show she wanted the world to see. Cut it out, Helen. No one wants some woman bawling over an old dead dog. That’s not what they pay cops for. She took deep breaths and walked outside. The dawn had given way to morning as the city shook off its night, littered as always with the debris scattered by pitiless time. The traffic on the South Circular Road created an ocean roar of sound. And nobody cared if an old dog died. London would take it all on its shoulders and never even shrug.
“You must be exhausted.”
It was his voice—the big guy from that house. A wound on his forehead had been closed with steri-strips. In any other place, on any other day, she’d smile and bathe for as long as she could in the soul of this man. “Please….”
She sniffed and wiped away tears. His arms were open to her—for no reason.
“Please,” he repeated.
And he was holding her.
“I’m sorry. Not many folks want crying cops.”
She had to stay cool, drag out some gallows humor from the police manual of cynical self-denial.
“There was me thinking you were a woman.”
His body was powerful, his manner confident and assured of how his presence would play with others. To rest
here like this against him was unprofessional but just so liberating. She could cry a lifetime onto this nameless man.
He brought her a coffee from the machine. He hadn’t asked. She realized she hadn’t even looked at him. She didn’t want to think of anything other than Lanza. Anything else would somehow be unfaithful. It had been over an hour. She stared at the blue swing door through which she knew the yes or no would come.
“You always know if a jury will say guilty or not guilty,” she said.
“Sure. If they look the prisoner in the eye then he’s out of jail. If they keep their eyes down, he’s in trouble.”
“I believe he’ll pull through,” he said.
A jolt of anger shook her. What did he know? What right did he have to give her false hope just to cheer her up in some pathetic way. Like she needed some feel-good crutch.
She could tell he’d picked up her resentment.
“I’m sorry. I just said what was in my heart, my gut. I wasn’t thinking about how you might see my intrusion.”
He’d caught her signal, tuned in to her at once. She flicked her eyes to his and found them on her face. Large dark eyes with strength and sorrow speaking to her. This man was deep or had the shallow tricks of the actor. She sighed.
“You didn’t need some idiot to mess with your own hopes.”
Voices approaching the swing doors. He took her hand. He didn’t ask.
A bespectacled man in green scrubs pushed through with his shoulder, cleaning his hands with practised professionalism. Another day, the usual routine. He looked up and smiled. And held her eyes.
“Hi, I’m Simon Leonard. He’s with us, but weak. He’s breathing on two lungs. These next few hours are critical.”
“Can I see him?” she asked.
“Not for a while. The last thing we want is infection.” He turned to the intimate stranger at her side who was still squeezing her hand. “Marco, what the hell happened?”
“A burglar I suppose. We struggled and he ran onto the down-land. I phoned police. I saw what happened with the dog and called the best vet in the world.”
“Ha! The best vet living next door. You were lucky I’d just come home from an emergency. If I’d been in bed….”
As the two men talked she was alone to take in the news. Chains inside her snapped.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Words and tears tumbled from her helter-skelter.
“You need to rest yourself. I imagine you’ve worked all night,” said the vet in a kind voice.
“What time is it?”
“It’s nine-thirty on a sunny summer day in London town.”
She’d lost track of everything. There would be arrest reports and the usual paper chase of official forms. She’d abandoned her police vehicle at the scene. And this guy was still holding her hand. No, she was squeezing his hand. She’d lost the plot. She stepped away and finally took the time to study him. He was about six feet, big-chested and strong. His hair was dark, wavy, and long onto his collar. At a guess he was forty-three years old. There was an olive tint to his skin and a passionate sensuality to his wide mouth and expressive lips. Then there were those eyes, those dark eyes staring back with brazen self-confidence. He knew what they could do to a woman. A woman like Helen Marx. Now this was a novel feeling. Metropolitan Police Constable CO 185 was someone else and that was a role she knew how to play.
“I’ve let everything slide. I’ve got to be somewhere doing something. I’ve just got to focus. I’ve had no other thoughts but Lanza.”
He kept his kind gaze on her as he spoke in his rich voice.
“Someone somewhere must be thinking about you and where you are?”
She nodded slowly as she thought. A man like this couldn’t be interested in her so her response wouldn’t matter. All the same he was knocking at a tender door and if ever she were to open it to man like this.…
“Yeah, sure but they’re used to it.”
“You guys are something else. I can’t imagine how much I’d worry if my partner were a cop.”
“It’s just a job.”
“Lanza took a bullet that could just as easily have been for you.”
He was right. His words took her mind back to what had happened.
“Or you for that matter. The detectives must be needing to get a witness statement from you.”
“I told them I’d be there once I’d checked up on you and Lanza.”
“Did anyone want you sooner—like immediately? Like they’ve got an armed criminal locked up and they need to crack on. Maybe you shouldn’t be wasting time with me?”
“People only argue if you give them choices. I told them you and your dog were my priorities.”
She smiled. This was the kind of man who just assumed he would do what he thought best and no one would stop him. What the hell was he in the world? She was curious but didn’t want to show it. As a professional it concerned her that he would be holding up the show on her account.
“So now you’re free to help the police get that piece of shit locked up for a few years. But, thanks for—”
“Caring,” he interrupted.
What was he on? Caring and all that stuff was for civilians.
“Caring is good stuff,” she said.
He raised an eyebrow. He’d picked up on her flatness. He was an emotional weathervane.
“Yes, caring is good to give but not always so easy to take. I chose caring because I do.”
She wanted him to go. Hard-working officers would be needing his statement and she had to admit, she didn’t want to get used to having him on her case. What sort of man was this? He’d been so calm in giving first aid to Lanza, as if blood and trauma was no surprise.
“Thanks for the what you did at the scene. Had you seen that sort of stuff before?”
“Only once in the back streets of Naples, but then it was men.”
His expression was so open and kind, but this wasn’t the time to go deeper.
“I don’t really know your name—Marco, I think. Please, I’m good, and I want you to help the police and the population of London rather than care about me.”
“Yes, Helen, it’s Marco Ambastilias. I’ll do what you want and you’re right. I’ll be following up on Lanza.” He turned to walk away then spun back. “And you.”
She waited. How odd she must have looked with her dishevelled hair and crumpled uniform. Her sergeant had come and she’d done her reports. He’d offered some leave and she’d taken it, after all what’s the use of a dog cop without a dog? She’d started to doze.
“You can come through for a few minutes.”
She looked up into the kind face of a veterinary nurse who was gently pressing her shoulder. She followed through the swing doors, into a world of antiseptic smells and machines like in any hospital. Lanza was in an oxygen tent.
“He’ll stay sedated for a while yet. His respiration levels are a bit low, but climbing. We can’t risk him struggling with oxygen by tube because his sternum is severely damaged and will require further surgery and plating.”
“Once he’s a bit stronger. Mr Leonard is a top specialist and he’s confident.”
She watched the rise and fall of Lanza’s chest. His eyes were closed and his body so still.
Helen bent down and got as close as she could to his head.
“Good boy,” she whispered.
A paw twitched, a tail gave one thump on the white-sheeted table.
“He knows you’re here,” said the nurse.
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