Black Hills Desperado (Black Hills Wolves, #3)

Black Hills Desperado (Black Hills Wolves, #3) by D.L. Jackson

Chapter One

“A bank that’s never been robbed. There’s a first time for everything.”

State-of-the-art security. Armed rent-a-cops stationed on either side of the double doors. A busy street making a speedy getaway difficult. A lot of excellent reasons for Xio Davis get back in her Beemer and get out of Dodge.

None good enough to deter her from a challenge.

The two men who’d ridden with her climbed out. The bigger of the pair, Juan, rolled his shoulders before reaching into the cab for a ski mask and weapon, then passing it off to Miguel. “Catch.” He grabbed another and tossed it over the roof to her.

She caught it, slammed a full magazine home, and tucked it under her duster. With a wink, she retrieved her Day of the Dead mask from a recent celebration. “Okay, boys. Let’s break their lucky streak.”

Diego gave her the freedom to do whatever she wanted these days, as long as she kept his bed warm, and whenever she left his hacienda, she remembered to take her escorts with her. Maybe it was his way of keeping his eye on her—or on his money. Whatever the reason, she didn’t like it, so Xio kept the boys too busy to stick their noses in her personal business. Too busy to get close to the truth.

He didn’t smack her around or pass her among his friends and associates. And his men had long ago learned to respect her personal space. After one of his new hires had groped her, the man had lost a couple fingers and ended up in a body cast. Diego didn’t have to say a word or do anything to intervene. She’d policed her own problems.

Her boyfriend had grown busy with cartel business and that suited her fine. Never present, all the better. They didn’t love each other, but had an understanding. He provided for her, protected her when she needed it. She scratched his itch and spent his money.

But life had grown dull. Triggered by a botched bank robbery in El Paso, a restlessness had begun to swell inside her. Why, after all these years, she didn’t know, but it was there, a constant reminder she’d shackled her true nature in her quest to be free.

Her wolf constantly paced in her consciousness. Xio found herself unable to settle, shift, or run in the wilds as her inner beast demanded. Not because she physically couldn’t but because outside forces conspired against her. That was what happened when you lived with humans.

Wolf—dog—it didn’t matter. All made great sausage for hungry families in the villages surrounding the Sanchez ranch, and it was a risk she hadn’t taken in the ten years’ time since she’d almost ended up in a taco on some family’s dinner table.

She didn’t want to be in Mexico, and she didn’t want to be with Diego anymore, but she really didn’t have a choice or anywhere else to go. Hence, the reason she’d crossed the border for this small amusement. Perhaps she could get some of the pent-up energy out. Open a valve and vent.

Speaking of which….

Xio pulled the mask over her eyes and strode through the front doors of the bank. Her two team members flanked her.

No one seemed to notice them yet. Not very observant for a bank that claimed to have a robbery-free record. Deciding to wake them all up, she yanked an AKS-762 assault rifle—with a custom stock and barrel that catered to her size—from under her canvas duster and fired several rounds into the ceiling. Chunks of plaster rained down on the patrons in the lobby. Multiple people screamed and several of the customers hit the floor before she needed to provide them with instruction. Conversely, not everyone appeared to be a rocket scientist. Not a problem. She had great communication skills and hearing protection in her ears.

Xio fired a second time, bringing down more of the ceiling. She pointed at the floor. “On your bellies, ladies and gentlemen.” As though doing the “wave” at a sporting event, they dropped.

She strolled to the front of bank, kicked over one of the posts holding a velvet rope, and stepped over it. She’d never been patient enough to wait in line and wasn’t about to run their little maze now.

Xio removed her earplugs and tuned in with her wolf hearing, listening for anyone who might want to be a hero. Not a peep—some crying, but that was par for the course.

Not a daredevil in the bunch.

She eyed the staff on the floor. The one thing all bankers feared was a robber who jumped the teller line, and she was about to become their worst nightmare. They’d taken classes, trained for robberies, all bank staff did—and what did their security specialists warn them about? Her—joining them behind the counter, up close and personal, with a loaded weapon.

“Palms on the floor and your ankles crossed. I haven’t got all day.”

She stopped at one of the windows and without the use of her hands, jumped up on the marble countertop. At five feet two, the feat should have been impossible for a human female of her stature, but she wasn’t completely human—and impossible wasn’t in her vocabulary. In fact, that was why she’d come here, chosen this robbery-proof bank. It was a matter of honor, and a little about her ego. The branch had never been successfully robbed, and she’d decided to change that.

It was Wednesday, the day after their big shipment came in, and the third of the month, when a large majority of seniors got their Social Security checks. Prime for the picking. The setup couldn’t be any sweeter.

She cocked her head and listened for sirens in the distance. Five minutes out, if her hearing served correct. “Here’s how we are going to do this. When I tap you on the shoulder, you get up and fill the backpack with cash. No bait bills. I can tell what they are, so don’t f*ck with me.” She hopped off the counter and behind the teller line, nudging the first person there with the flash suppressor on the end of her weapon. “Move.”

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