Home > The Sapphire Heist (Jewel #2)(2)

The Sapphire Heist (Jewel #2)(2)
Author: Lauren Blakely

Soon, it would be Eli’s turn.

And if the tip he and Steph had garnered last night about the location of the gems was right—inside the frames on the art in the gallery office—Eli’s opportunity to pay the piper was coming due any minute. Made sense that the rocks would be stuffed inside frames. You could store a lot of stones in that sort of clever hiding spot. Come to think of it, the frames he’d seen in the halls at Eli’s Sapphire nightclub had an unusual look to them, too. Strangely heavy for such light, contemporary art. One more possible option to pursue.

Jake lowered his shades, placed his palms on the windowsill, and stared across the street. From the second story of the church, he had a bird’s-eye view of the gallery. Well, it was really courtesy of the binoculars built into the awesome sunglasses he wore today that he was able to keep watch on the back door, then the front, then the alley along the side of Isla’s Island Gallery. The most useful sunglasses ever, they provided a close-up look into what was many feet away. He enjoyed the little gadgets of the job, like his lock-picking kit and the sunglasses with the built-in zoom.

With its bright white walls and steel framework, the gallery exuded class and style. The proprietor was catering to the wealthiest clientele on the island, even if it was located amid souvenir shops, bars, and tour operators. As Jake scanned the swank location, he took mental note of the number of employees visible in the gallery—three, including one at the reception desk—as well as the activity of the establishment.


A green Honda pulled up outside the gallery, and a tall guy with graying hair emerged, glanced at the gallery doorway, then popped into a souvenir shop down the block. A thick, burly man in a suit strolled by next, ducking into the gallery for five minutes or so, chatting with Isla the whole time. A woman in a flowy red dress walked in next.

When the woman left the gallery, she blew a kiss to Isla, who held open the door. The woman breezed down the street with a brochure in hand. Jake checked his watch. One more hour ’til showtime. This morning in Steph’s hotel room, they’d checked out every angle of Isla’s Island Gallery with Google street view as they’d prepped, but it was wise to obtain an actual visual with one’s own eyes.

Though the visual he wanted in his line of sight again was Steph Anderson.

Beautiful, blonde, athletic, clever, witty, pain-in-the-ass-and-he-loved-it Steph Anderson. The woman who swam with turtles, who loved her family, and who kissed with passion and fell apart in his arms.

As he stared across the street, he adjusted his shorts. Just the memory of her up against the wall, then beneath him, then straddling him, sent bolts of lust through his groin. Last night with her blew his mind and torched all the pathways in his body. She gave herself to him in all the ways that he wanted, and he couldn’t wait to have his hands on her again.

But he also wanted the rest of those damn diamonds that he was sure were inside that gallery.

Wanted them badly. His fingers itched to touch them.

He patted his pocket, running his thumb along the outline of a little something he’d taken from Steph’s hotel this morning. He chuckled silently at the memory of lifting this sweet object. It had been so easy—taking candy from a baby, for sure.

He only hoped snagging Eli’s diamonds would be as smooth. Once he had his hands on all those blue-tinted beauties, he’d be good to go. He could get the hell out of Dodge and head on home to Key Largo. See his sister, see his nephew, have a brew with his buddy Dan. Maybe even fish off the dock near his house.

But out of nowhere, a pang lurched in his heart as he pictured boarding a plane and leaving this island. He scratched his head. What was that all about? He was ready to be done with this job today, thank you very much.

Except if he finished it, he’d have to say good-bye to Steph.

No reason for him to be missing her.

They were only having a tropical affair, a little island tryst. Besides, neither one had time for anything more than the here and now. Once he was gone, he’d need to zero in on whatever was coming his way next. Not linger on the woman he wouldn’t see again. Get her out of his mind.

But as he ran a hand absently over his chin, it occurred to him that maybe this odd feeling inside him wasn’t so unusual, considering Steph was sweet, feisty, smart, game for adventure, and had a vulnerability in her that latched onto his heart. They had a damn good time together—he made her laugh, and she did the same for him.

His lips curved up in a grin as he thought of her. He shrugged happily to himself. Fine, if the job lasted a few more days, that wasn’t so bad. He’d been lucky so far. Getting involved with her had only helped him on this case. She’d been a great partner, and they were that much closer to cracking it because of her. He rapped his knuckles soundlessly against the windowsill—knocking wood that his lucky streak would continue. He could see spending time with her, chartering a fishing boat for an afternoon maybe, casting away far from shore, lolling about on the open sea. Naturally, the fantasy boat trip would include screwing on the deck of the boat. Many, many times. The image of her legs wrapped around his hips as he took her under the sun burned into his brain.

Hell, he’d stay extra on the island to make that happen. He’d definitely extend his trip for that sort of quality time.

The clacking of shoes echoed in his ears and snapped him out of his daydream. Glancing briefly behind him, he caught sight of a man in slacks and a dark short-sleeve shirt adorned with a name tag bearing the name of the church. The man looked at Jake and flashed a brief smile.

“If there is anything you need, let me know,” he said with a bow.

“Of course. Beautiful church you have,” Jake said.

“Do you need help getting down the stairs?”

Jake furrowed his brow. Why on earth would he need help down the steps? Did he look feeble? As he scrunched up his nose, it hit him why the man had asked. Jake was wearing dark glasses indoors. The man thought he was blind.

He laughed quietly and shook his head. “I’m all good,” he said. With sunglasses still covering his eyes, he headed down the steps, figuring it was best not to linger, even in a place where everyone was welcoming.

As he weaved past the table of pineapple and coconut candles, he reached into his pocket, grabbed his wallet, and opened it. He fished around for some bills—time to up his donation. This church had been good to him. He left a few on the donation plate, then pushed on the bright white door.

A blast of warm air blanketed him.

His phone rang. Taylor Swift. Grabbing the phone from his pocket, he turned in the opposite direction of the gallery, threading his way through late-morning tourists, shopping and strolling along the street, as he answered his little sister’s call. He braced himself for more bad news about her grades.

“Hey, Kylie. Are you a physics wiz now? Running experiments left and right in the school’s science lab?”

His sister moaned.


“Not yet. I have to take summer school first,” she said.

“For physics?”

“The school said even with a tutor, I won’t have the science requirements to finish unless I take summer classes. I need the tutor and summer school.”

“Then we’ll get you into summer school,” he said, keeping his tone upbeat for her sake, even though summer school meant more bills. Law school tuition would be coming due soon for Brandt, and now he had more classes to pony up for. But getting Kylie and Brandt through school was his mission, and he was glad he could support his family, even if it meant busting his ass and working all the time. It also meant he’d need to find another gig quickly once this one wrapped up. If it wrapped up. “How’s the tutor? Is he helping?”

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