****Hot New Release Tattoo By Cambria Hebert****
ABOUT CAMBRIA HEBERT:
Cambria Hebert is the author of the young adult paranormal Heven and Hell series, the new adult Death Escorts series, and the new adult Take it Off series. She loves a caramel latte, hates math and is afraid of chickens (yes, chickens).
She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.
She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and children (both human and furry) where she is plotting her next book. You can find out more about Cambria and her work by visiting http://www.cambriahebert.com
Connect With Cambria:
“Like” her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cambria-Hebert/128278117253138
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Cambria’s website: http://www.cambriahebert.com
TATTOO (a Take It Off novel)
***This is a new adult contemporary novel and contains sexual content and graphic language. It is not intended for young adult readers.***
A tattoo gets them in trouble… He will get them out.
After years of cultivating an undercover identity, Brody West is finally off the case and free to live a life of his own. All that time spent in the company of criminals and killers left him a little jaded… and with an identity crisis. He isn’t sure who he is anymore, or who he wants to be.
To give him time to think, he takes a few days off to go fishing. On his way out of town, he makes a routine stop at the bank and finds himself flirting with the girl behind the counter.
But his flirtation is cut short when criminals burst into the bank and shoot her right before his eyes.
In attempt to administer first aid, Brody reveals a tattoo on his back. A mark that will drag him and the girl into the kind of situation he was trying to get away from. But he can’t walk away because he’s the only thing capable of keeping Taylor alive and bringing down the guys who shot her—guys who are seriously dangerous.
Excerpt teaser from Tatoo:
This is 9-1-1 please state your emergency.
The voice on the other end of the line was calm and cool, no indication at all that whoever they were would be bothered by the panic that surely waited on the other end of line.
On my end of the line.
But I didn’t speak. I couldn’t. I was scared, I was shaking… and I was afraid they would hear me.
9-1-1 please state your emergency. The voice said again.
If I just sat here, if I just put the phone down where no one would see, could I be traced here? Would the operator know to send help to this address? I was using my cell phone. Could a cell phone be traced like that?
My stomach churned because I honestly didn’t know.
How stupid could I be? How could I have never taken the time to learn this? How could I be crouching here, under my counter with sweat dampening my silk shirt and prayer whispering from my lips.
“I said down on the floor, now!” An angry voice demanded.
The cries and screams of people behind me echoed through my head. The sound bounced around in my brain, refusing to fade away and threatening to take away what little bit of grip I had on my sanity.
I couldn’t just sit here.
I couldn’t just watch my life flash before my eyes. I couldn’t just let this happen.
I had to do something.
“I’m at Shaw Trust on Sunderland Avenue,” I whispered. “There is a bank robbery in progress.”
“Are you inside the bank, ma’am?” the dispatcher asked, I could hear her fingers flying over some keyboard and I prayed that meant she was sending help.
“Yes,” I whispered, clutching the phone.
One of the robbers was yelling at Brandy, one of my fellow tellers to open the safe and she was crying loudly.
“How many intruders are in the bank?”
I wasn’t sure. They charged inside in a flurry of furious movement and I ducked low, hiding myself behind my counter. “Too many,” I breathed.
“I’m dispatching several units to the scene, Ma’am.” the operator informed me.
My stomach twisted painfully as the man continued to shout at Brandy, he was threatening her now and it seemed to make her more hysterical. Anger burned up through my esophagus. Anger at the robbers, anger at the woman on the other end of the phone. How could she be so calm? Did she not hear the commotion going on in the background? Did she not know that our lives were in danger?
A shot rang out and Brandy screamed. I peeked out to see plaster from the ceiling rain down over Brandy’s head. She threw her arms up around her for protection and the man with the gun – the man who shot into the ceiling – grabbed her by the back of her head and slammed her into the safe. “Open it!” he roared.
“Ma’am, were those shots fired?” the operator asked.
“Yes,” I hissed, my voice shaky. “Please hurry.”
I could hear the people from the lobby sobbing and my thoughts went immediately to the man just on the other side of my counter. I didn’t know him but the thought of him being hurt made my stomach hurt even more.
“What the hell is this?” someone snarled above me and I quivered.
The phone was snatched away from my ear and I whimpered as a man in tattered jeans, with a wide chest and a very lethal looking gun in his hand snarled at me. He pressed the phone to his ear and I could hear the voice of the operator asking me if I was all right.
With a loud roar, he threw the phone down onto the shiny tile floor and it broke apart shattering instantly, the sound of scattering pieces was nearly as loud as the gunshot just moments before.
“We got snitch!” he yelled, reaching down. I pressed myself against the back of the counter until I felt the wood dig into the bones in my back. I slapped his hands away but really it was useless. He outweighed me by at least fifty pounds. And he had a gun. My greatest weapon at the moment were my fingernails.
His hands were rough as he grabbed my wrist, twisting the flesh covering the bone and wrenching me out of the hiding spot. I cried out as he jerked my arm around my back, pulling so forcefully that it felt as if my shoulder was dislocated from its socket.
I didn’t have time to really assess if it was or not because he jammed the nozzle of the gun into my throat. I could feel my hammering pulse thump rapidly against the cold, hard metal of the weapon.
“You call the police bitch?” he whispered in my ear. Little dots of spit sprayed the side of my head from his putrid mouth.
I didn’t say anything because my answer would only make things worse.
The heavy footfalls of someone approaching from behind made me even more nervous and I whispered another prayer in the back of my mind. We spun, and I was sandwiched between the guy threatening me with a gun and another thief staring at me with angry dark eyes.
“You called the cops?” he said it like it was hard to believe.
“Last time I checked robbing a bank and holding a gun on a person was a crime.” I said, knowing I shouldn’t but not being able to keep the words in. I was scared but I was also very angry.
He smacked me across the face. Hard.
His palm literally slammed into the side of my face making my entire head fly sideways and right into the gun at my neck. The hard steel was unforgiving and it jammed into my flesh, making me cry out.
That was going to leave a mark.
“Hey,” said a rough voice from off to the side. “I thought you were here for the money and not to hit women.”
Part of me wanted to thank the man behind my counter for trying to defend me, the other part of me was horrified he would be punished.
Just as I feared the man who slapped me leveled his gun at him. What was his name again? I tried to remember what it said on his ID when he showed it to me to make a withdrawal, but it was hard to think when half your face was stinging fiercely and the other half was being threatened with a bullet.
This was the worst day in the history of bad days.
“Hey! We came here for the cash!” another man behind us yelled.
I was shoved roughly forward. “Open the safe.”
I wasn’t going to open that safe.
I glanced at Brandy who was huddled against the wall crying. She didn’t appear to be physically harmed and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“I said open it!” he yanked the gun away from my neck but I couldn’t enjoy the safety because he slapped his large, sweaty palm in between my shoulder blades and thrust me forward so forcefully that I slammed into the metal door of the safe and bounced back, falling onto my ass on the floor.
A thud echoed behind me as I was pulled to my feet. He placed the gun between my shoulder blades, holding it there and directing me until I was standing right in front of the large keypad that opens the safe.
“I don’t know the combination,” I lied.“Then you better hope your physic because you got exactly ten seconds to open that vault before I shoot you.”
Well if that wasn’t motivation I don’t know what was.
On shaking knees I stepped forward, pressing a number on the pad. Then I pressed a couple more. When I hit the release button nothing happened. But I didn’t expect it too. I just wanted it to look like I was trying to open it. I wasn’t opening it.
“See,” I said, my voice trembling. “I don’t know.”
I heard the distinct sound of sirens and screeching tires and gave a sigh of relief. The cops were here!
Of course, I barely had time to celebrate because the thieves did the one thing that had the power to make me reconsider opening that safe.
Brandy was snatched off the floor and a gun was pressed to her head.
“So help me God if you don’t open that shit right now I will splatter her brains all over the wall.”
Brandy started screaming and shaking, the man looked at me intently like he couldn’t hear her pleas. His eyes were empty inside; completely devoid of any kind of feeling. It’s like he had some weird ability to shut off his emotions.
It made me wonder if he was a vampire.
I shook my head, telling myself that thinking about vampires was a sign I was cracking under pressure.
“I’ll open it,” I promised. Risking my life for the bank was one thing, but risking someone’s life for the bank was an entirely different entity.
After a few punches to the key pad the lock clicked free and my stomach twisted. Someone twisted a hand in my hair from behind and pulled, practically ripping the strands from my scalp. I was tossed onto the floor, landing in a heap next to Brandy who was still crying.
I backed up, wrapping an arm around her shoulder as three men walked into the safe, the sounds of opening duffle bags like a stab to my heart.
“Thank you,” Brandy whispered, and I turned my face up to look into her red rimmed, bloodshot brown eyes.
“No money is worth anyone’s life.” I whispered back.
The voice of who I assumed was a police officer boomed through the air, so loud that it came through the walls of the bank for all of us to hear. “The bank is surrounded. Release the hostage’s immediately.” he demanded over an intercom.
Laughter floated from out of the vault and I figured that meant they didn’t plan on letting us walk out of here. Silly me, I thought police presence would actually deter the robbers.
A large black duffle bag was tossed out of the vault, landing a few feet away. Crisp green bills were poking out of the top. Another one followed.
“Yo! Hurry up!” the guy guarding the door yelled to his friends, waiving around a rather large gun. He turned toward the vault, disregarding the people cowering on the floor.
One of the women lying behind him jumped up and made a run for it, right toward the exit. The gunman turned and fired off a shot, catching her in the leg. She fell onto the floor with a high pitched scream.
I watched in morbid fascination as a puddle of dark red formed around her.
People in the bank were sobbing openly now. Some of them were pleading for their lives.
I heard someone outside yell “shots fired!”
My eyes traveled around the room, seeking out the man whose name I couldn’t remember. Our eyes locked and for one long second it was like we were the only two people in the room. He wasn’t crying, or begging for his life. He wasn’t sweating or looking for a way to save his ass.
He was standing there, in the center of the room calm and strong like this situation wasn’t that big of a deal. He made me feel better; more in control.
Another duffle flew out of the vault and one of the men stepped out. There had to be millions of dollars in those bags. Not only would it ruin this bank, the people who did business here, but my father as well.
My new found strength made me brave.
I stepped in front of one of the bags, giving a level look to the men who intended to take it. “If you leave now you might get away.”
The man standing directly in front of me smirked and the smirk turned into a full blown smile. I realized my mistake then.
I tried to entice them with freedom; with the thought of getting away unscathed. These men didn’t care about that. If I had been thinking clearly I would have realized that from the beginning. None of them were wearing ski masks, or those plastic masks that looked like creepy clowns or animals. They weren’t even trying to hide their faces.
Men who didn’t hide their faces in a situation like this were either really desperate or really meticulous and had a fail proof plan. They planned to be long gone before anyone could recognize their faces.
I wasn’t going to stop them.
No one was.
The man standing in front of me raised his gun, pointing it right at me.
And then he pulled the trigger.
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