Code Name: Heist (Jameson Force Security #3) by Sawyer Bennett
I am a world-class thief. Or I was, before I got pinched and landed in prison. After I served my time, I decided to get on the right side of the law, or as much as my job at Jameson Force Security allows. The lines sometimes blur, which suits me just fine. My name might be Saint, but I’m a devil to most.
My plan to go legitimate is going as anticipated, until my past and present collide in a big way. While in Paris preparing to take down a ring of highly specialized thieves, I come face-to-face with my biggest threat—and my most dangerous temptation.
Sindaria “Sin” Westin was the love of my life, until her betrayal landed me behind bars. Now I’ve got to find a way to trust her again, at least long enough to pull off this job. When it becomes clear the price for this heist will be our lives, I realize I need to do whatever it takes to keep Sin safe, even if it means trading my life for hers. Because no matter the lies I’ve told myself, Sin’s greatest theft was the day she stole my heart.
Excerpt Code Name: Heist (Jameson Force Security #3) by Sawyer Bennett
“Another round,” Cage yells to the waitress as she passes by our table.
“No, no, no,” Dozer groans, his head hanging low, pounding his fist on the table. “I’m done.”
“You can’t be done,” I laugh, clapping my hand on his shoulder and grinning at Cage who sits on the other side. “This is a rite of passage. Tradition. You’re a newbie. It’s mandatory to get drunk as part of the welcoming process.”
“Yeah?” Dozer asks, his dark eyes narrowing. “Then how come Jimmy and Malik aren’t getting drunk? They’re as new as I am.”
Jimmy Tate sits beside his wife, Anna, who is the only one of us not drinking tonight. He has his arm around her shoulder, whispering something in her ear that has her eyes sparkling. Jimmy joined Jameson about a month ago, coming straight out of an enlistment as an Army Ranger. It was a good move for them as Anna’s pregnant with their first child. She’s from western Pennsylvania originally, and she wanted to be closer to her family.
Malik Fournier sits next to Anna with Cruce on the other side. He’s talking with animated hands, telling a story to Cruce and Barrett. Jameson hired Malik a while back, but he’d only recently started. He’s a former Marine, like I am. So far, his claim to fame is that two of his brothers play professional hockey for the Carolina Cold Fury.
I look back to Dozer. “Malik and Jimmy are as new, but since they’re leaving tomorrow on a highly classified, incredibly dangerous mission, it’s probably best they’re not puking their guts up.”
Dozer nods, giving me a dazzling grin. “Fair enough. And since I am a good and loyal teammate, I’ll drink their shots.”
“That’s my boy,” Cage whoops, slapping Dozer on the back. “He’s not a quitter.”
Laughing, I take a sip of my beer. This feels good… being among my teammates for an evening out to celebrate new friends and say farewell to others. Malik and Jimmy are headed out tomorrow, along with Merritt Gables, Tank Richardson, and Sal Mezzina from the Vegas office.
I wasn’t blowing smoke up Dozer’s ass either. It’s a black-op mission. Sometimes, we are hired by our government, and the missions can be dangerous. While these men are fairly new in my life and we’re just getting to know each other, we’re now brothers of sorts, so I feel a modicum of worry for them. It’s not so secretive we haven’t been filled in on the details, but it’s delicate enough it doesn’t go any further than our company.
Jameson will work in conjunction with an international rescue team, which will go in to try to recover a few relief workers taken hostage in Syria. Our guys will work with some off-the-books teams from the United Kingdom and Australia.
I don’t pretend to understand the internal dynamics of our government, but it was somewhat of a surprise when I accepted the job with Jameson Force Security to learn we’re often hired to perform military operations instead of sending in the actual military. Something to do with budgetary constraints and political ramifications, but in essence… we’re often sent in when it’s not affordable for the military defense budget to be tapped or our government cannot be associated with a certain type of mission.
Regardless, our guys will be dropped in a hotbed of hostility to rescue hostages, despite our country’s clear policy of “we don’t negotiate with terrorists or hostage-takers”. It makes me uneasy and worried for my friends.
“Saint,” Malik calls, breaking into my thoughts. “Is it true?”
“Is what true?” I ask. This is the first opportunity we’ve had to go out with Malik and Jimmy since they joined a few weeks ago. We’d been a bit sidetracked with the Cruce and Barrett situation—saving Barrett from a maniac who was trying to kidnap her.
Malik leans forward, placing his arms on the table. His expression is one of extreme interest and excitement. “Cruce says you used to be a world-class thief before joining Jameson.”
Everyone goes silent, all eyes on me. We’re a new team, and we’re still figuring each other out. Kynan hasn’t told anyone my background, but I’m not embarrassed by it. However, Cruce knows because I filled him in one night after too many beers.
Chuckling, I nod—affirming the rumor he’d heard. “And before that, I was in the Marine Corps, same as you.”
Malik whistles low in appreciation. “No, shit? Man, that is way too cool. I bet you have some amazing stories.”
“Most would land me in prison,” I say slyly. “Which is why I’ll never share them.”
“I get it,” Malik replies, holding his hands up.
The waitress appears with a tray loaded with shots of tequila, lime wedges, and a saltshaker. As she unloads everything, Cage points at me. “Give that man the bill. He’s apparently loaded.”
Oh, such a young pup who doesn’t have a clue as to the reasons people do horrible things.
Yes… I spent many years stealing. High-end robberies for insanely expensive items and I traveled the world doing it.
It’s wrong. It’s against the law, unethical, and even against my own moral codes.
But I had my reasons, and I make no apologies. Besides, I paid the ultimate price for my time as a thief… and I’m not talking about the time I spent in prison.
Although I did go to jail for my crimes, it was nothing compared to what I lost.
Shaking my head, I pull my wallet out and hand the waitress a hundred-dollar bill, telling her to keep the change.
Then I tell Cage, “I gave away a good chunk of the money I made, but still—I did all right for myself.”
“You fucking gave it away?” Jimmy appears astonished. “Like a modern-day Robin Hood?”
I don’t answer at first, not minding all the eyes pinned on me. I’ve suddenly become the most interesting man in the world to my new friends. Picking up the saltshaker, I lick the area under my thumb before sprinkling salt there.
After I pass the shaker to Barrett, who sits to my right, she mimics my actions and hands it to the next person. I hoist my shot of tequila up while everyone readies their own shots. “I’m no Robin Hood, who was noble to a fault. As a thief, I was selfish. My work suited my own needs. But yeah… I gave most of it away.”
“But why?” Malik asks, and I cut my eyes to Cruce. Besides Kynan, he’s the only one who knows my entire story.
His expression reassures me that no one at this table would judge me for my past.
But I don’t feel like getting into it tonight. Not at a table full of near drunks. I’m sure I’ll share one day—maybe in a more intimate setting. One on one, probably.
If people are genuinely interested.
Tonight, though, it will be my secret.
I scan the long bar behind Cruce, crowded with Pittsburgh’s movers and shakers. Three months ago, Kynan opened a new headquarters for Jameson Force Security here in Pittsburgh. This bar isn’t anywhere near our office building, which he’d placed squarely in the worst section of town to keep people away. We’re in an upscale bar with established professionals, many in the banking or medical industry, which has replaced steel as the city’s best-known commodity. Young millennials celebrate the end of a workday by ignoring each other and concentrating on their phones.
And right there… a beautiful woman enjoys a drink.
I lick the salt from my hand before tipping my tequila down my throat. Picking up the lime wedge before me, I bite into it, savoring the juice a moment before discarding it.
Letting my gaze roam over my friends, I stand slowly and button my suit jacket. Unlike everyone else’s casual clothes, I’m wearing a designer business suit.
What can I say? I like to dress nice.
“Sorry, ladies.” I smile at Anna and Barrett before scanning the fellows. “And gents… but we’ll save the reason I became a thief for another time. I see something that looks a whole lot more fun than you people.”
I cut my eyes to the woman. She’s around my age—which is thirty-six—maybe even a bit older. In a designer dress with an expensive handbag, she wears expensive jewelry but no wedding ring. I’m betting she’ll smell of high-end perfume.
All heads at our table swing the direction in which I’m looking.
Dozer murmurs, “Very nice.”
Cage barks out a laugh. “No way. She’s so out of your league.”
“She is wearing a nice haul of jewelry,” Cruce points out, and I can’t help but snicker.
Shaking my head, I wink. “Her jewels are safe from me… but other parts of her aren’t.”
“Dayum,” Dozer intones, one eyebrow shooting up. “Boy has some moves.”
Jimmy playfully covers his wife’s ears, then raises his voice, “Don’t listen to this filth, honey.”
She bats his hands away, laughing, then playfully says, “I’ll lay twenty on the table that Saint scores.”
“Baby,” Jimmy exclaims with faux shock she’d dare wager on a man’s sex life. But then he grins and pulls his wallet out. “Twenty on him striking out.”
They call out bets left and right, but I ignore them. I shoot Anna a gracious wink to show my appreciation for her confidence in me, then move around the table toward the lonely looking, but incredibly beautiful, woman at the bar.
Only to be cut off by Kynan McGrath.
I pull up hard, a bit astonished to see him. He’d declined our invitation to go out for drinks, saying he had important calls to handle. Bebe Grimshaw—our resident hacker—hadn’t come either, but her son Aaron wasn’t feeling well. She’d wanted to head home to check on him.
“Got a minute?” Kynan asks.
“Yeah… sure,” I say, momentarily forgetting the woman at the bar.
He moves through the crowd, heading toward the exit. I glance at the table, finding my teammates watching. They hadn’t failed to see Kynan come in. The huge, blond Brit is hard to miss, even in this crowd.
I follow Kynan out onto the sidewalk. It’s the first week of June—not quite summer—and the evening temperatures are amazing. It can’t be more than sixty degrees out, which is a pleasant change to the body heat inside the bar.
The streets aren’t crowded, so Kynan moves a few feet down from the doorway, turning to face me before leaning against the building. “Had an interesting call tonight. Jack Powers of Allied Insurance Services.”
This piques my interest. “Specializes in insuring famous artworks.”
“He called on behalf of several insurers. Seems there’s been a rash of high-end hits over the past two years. They’re pooling their resources to try to bring this ring down.”
“What makes them think it’s an organized ring?” I ask. Most jobs are independently done on a small scale.
“There are some patterns,” Kynan says with a shrug. “Rare techniques being used.”
This makes sense. A lot of thieves have distinct calling cards. Enhanced skills they’ve become known for.
My specific forte was in advanced technology tactics to bypass digital security systems. Others are great at hot-wiring expensive collector cars.
“He wants to hire us to infiltrate a well-known crew operating out of Europe. They suspect this crew is putting together a huge heist—that these prior hits were practice for a much larger payday.”
“You don’t just infiltrate a heist ring,” I say blandly. “You have to have connections.”
“The name William Mears mean anything to you?” Kynan asks.
I blink in surprise. “Yeah. British. Did some jobs with him. He’s one of the best.”
“Well, he’s apparently the suspected crew leader. Working out of Paris.”
I have to think for a moment, but it only takes half that time for a chill to shoot up my spine. “Wait a minute… does Powers know I work for you? What makes him think you have anyone here at Jameson who could have a leg in with this ring?”
Kynan nods. “They’ve apparently had eyes on you since you got out of prison. They knew you worked here.”
Jesus… insurers of precious artworks and jewelry have watched me since I got out of prison? I never thought they’d go so far as to protect their assets in that way.
I’m flattered—at least a little.
But then another thought strikes. “If the insurance industry has kept tabs on me, what makes you think the bad guys haven’t done the same? It’s entirely possible Mears knows I work for you.”
Kynan shrugs. “Maybe. Maybe not. But I suspect if you went to him, asked to get on his crew, and he declines, then he probably knows you work for me.”
“They kill people for less than that,” I say pointedly.
“Which is why it’s up to you if you want to take this job,” Kynan says. “I told Jack I’d lay it out to you, but it was your decision since you’d be going in alone with no backup and you’d be putting your neck on the line. They want to know who the mastermind is and how they bankroll the operation. I don’t imagine they care about Mears. They want the guy who hired him and his crew, and they want to know what’s coming down the pike. Bottom line is to put them out of business.”
I have no love lost for the people who are still in the business of stealing pricey stuff, but I have nothing against them either. Live and let live is my motto.
But it could also be an important job for Jameson. I don’t have the skills Malik and Jimmy have. I’m not going to run off to a Middle Eastern country to save hostages.
This is my chance to be useful to the man who hired me straight out of prison.
“When would I leave?” I ask.
“Tomorrow,” he says. “They’re anxious for you to start.”
“I need all the up-to-date information on Mears,” I say. “What he’s been doing the last few years and such.”
He’s going to be my in, so I have to know what he’s been up to. I need him to want me on his crew.
Kynan pushes away from the building. “I’ll have the information by morning. And Bebe will have a new alias for you to travel under. She’s working on the documents now.”
I nod. “I’ll make arrangements to fly out tomorrow.”
Smiling, Kynan sticks his hand out. “Good luck.”
“Thanks,” I reply, feeling surprisingly good about this job. I fucking love Paris. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ve spent a bit of time there over the years. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a lady inside who many of your employees don’t think I have a snowball’s chance in hell with. I need to go prove them wrong.”
Tipping his head back, Kynan lets out a deep laugh before motioning toward the door. “By all means… go do your thing.”