Janelle Denison

Into The Night

The first book in the Reliance Group series, 2011

To the three best writing pals a girl could ever ask for: Carly Phillips, Julie Leto, and Leslie Kelly. Thank you for your unending support, your advice and critiques, and for helping smooth out all the kinks in my plot. I couldn’t have written this book without your help!

And to my husband, Don. My own personal hero. I love you.

Chapter One

Being called to the boss’s office didn’t happen often for Nathan Fox. But when it did, there was usually a damn good reason for the summons.

Sometimes, meeting with Caleb Roux was all about discussing a security or surveillance problem they were having at The Onyx Hotel and Casino. Today, judging by Caleb’s serious demeanor and the familiar red folder sitting on the surface of his desk stamped CONFIDENTIAL, this one-on-one was all about The Reliance Group and a case Nathan was about to get briefed on.

A familiar rush of anticipation surged through Nathan. As a surveillance supervisor at The Onyx, he enjoyed his security job and outsmarting the criminal element who thought they could beat the system. But as a former undercover vice cop with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, being a part of TRG was a nice little side job that fulfilled the part of him that still loved the thrill of the chase and the adrenaline rush of a challenge.

“What do you have for me?” Nathan asked, getting right to the point.

His boss splayed his fingers on top of the folder but didn’t open it, as if he was protecting secrets he wasn’t quite ready to reveal. At the age of thirty-six, Caleb exuded a quiet confidence and intelligence, along with sharp instincts Nathan had come to respect. Most knew Caleb as the operations manager of The Onyx, but a select group of employees at the casino knew him as something else as well-the astute leader of The Reliance Group, the very discreet and covert team Caleb had organized a few years ago.

TRG consisted of an interesting mix of “specialists” who possessed unorthodox skills and took on assignments other agencies refused to touch. Depending on the job or the situation, they were hired out privately and confidentially, using whatever means were available to complete the mission.

Nathan was certain today’s case would be no different.

“As you might have guessed, I have a new assignment for you, and this one is going to require you to go undercover, which we both know is your specialty.”

After acknowledging Caleb’s statement with a nod, Nathan waited patiently for him to continue.

Leaning back in his chair, Caleb gave away nothing with his relaxed posture as he revealed the facts of the case. “I was contacted by a man named Tom Ramsey, a lieutenant colonel in the marines who recently retired. According to my initial interview, he’s had a hard time integrating back into his marriage and family after being on active duty for so many years.”

Nathan himself had spent four years in the marines, and he could relate to Ramsey’s difficulties. After spending years in war-torn countries, making the mental and emotional transition back into a normal civilian life wasn’t always easy.

“This assignment involves Ramsey’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Angela, who recently ran away from home,” Caleb went on. “Over the past two years that Tom has been home, his daughter has grown increasingly hostile and resents the fact that he hasn’t been a real part of her life since she was a baby. Now he’s taking an active role in disciplining her, and she’s rebelled big-time. She’s been caught drinking alcohol, smoking pot, and shoplifting. While she’s left home before, this time it’s been much longer than a few days.”

A runaway. Nathan felt a solid kick to his gut over that bit of information as a past he desperately wanted to forget flashed through his mind. He inhaled deeply and did his best to keep his focus on the facts pertaining to this particular case. “How long has she been missing?”

“Over three weeks,” Caleb told him as he rubbed his hand along his clean-shaven jaw. “Ramsey hired a private investigator to find her and discovered she’d made her way from their home in Arizona to Vegas. Problem is, Tom can’t get to his daughter.”

Nathan frowned. “What’s the issue? She’s a minor. A call to Metro and they’d pick her up, haul her ass back to Arizona, and hand her over to her parents where she belongs.”

“There’s a catch.” Caleb’s jaw clenched ever so slightly, but his gaze remained as direct as his personality. “According to the PI, Angela hooked up with Preston Sloane here in Las Vegas. The PI’s final report has Angela living at Sloane’s estate home in Summerlin.”

Nathan’s mind reeled, and a chill raced through his blood.

Preston Sloane . The prominent fifty-four-year-old man was rumored to have a penchant for young girls, a fact Nathan was well aware of since Sloane had been on his radar when he’d been a vice cop. During the time Nathan had worked undercover in a prostitution ring, he’d seen and heard enough about the arrogant, mega-rich financier and his sleazy appetites to verify that there was a lot of truth to the gossip surrounding the billionaire’s sybaritic lifestyle.

Sloane was a man who lured young girls into his life with irresistible promises of excitement, luxury, and expensive gifts. Once he enticed them into his debauched world of sex and narcotics, getting them hooked on drugs ensured they stayed until he grew tired of them. Or until someone younger and prettier grabbed his attention. That’s when he abandoned them to the unforgiving streets of Vegas to fend for themselves, where they were eventually snatched up by pimps looking to add to their stable of working girls.

Just as Sloane had done with Katie, the girl Nathan had sworn to protect all those years ago.

Sloane had destroyed first her innocence, then her life when he’d cast her aside to survive the only way she knew how. By the age of seventeen, she’d been picked up by a pimp and was working as a prostitute to support her drug addiction. Sloane might not have been the one to put the bullet in Katie’s head that had ultimately killed her, but Nathan held the man responsible for taking advantage of her youth and vulnerability and changing the course of what should have been a long and promising life for Katie.

Sickened by what he’d been unable to prevent, Nathan felt his stomach twist into a huge knot. The guilt sliced deep, just as it always did whenever he thought of Katie and how he’d failed to save her.

“Tom already went the police route,” Caleb continued, seemingly unaware of Nathan’s inner turmoil, but Nathan knew better. His boss was well aware of the demons that still haunted him. “They paid a visit to Sloane’s estate in Summerlin and were greeted by Preston himself, along with an invitation to search anywhere they pleased on the premises, which they did.”

“All twenty-five thousand square feet of the place?” Nathan asked, doing his best to focus on this case, and not his past.

“Supposedly, yes.” The shrewd look in Caleb’s eyes told Nathan the other man was skeptical, too.

Nathan knew Sloane’s estate sprawled over ten acres. A virtual fortress on the outside, and a palace inside, the massive domain had been built to house over a dozen guests. The entire place was surrounded by twelve-foot walls, state-of-the-art surveillance, and armed guards; it was as impenetrable as Fort Knox. To get anywhere

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