Home > High Octane (Texas Hotzone #2)

High Octane (Texas Hotzone #2)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones

 


1


 “SABRINA! WHERE IS SABRINA?”

 With disbelief, Sabrina Cameron stepped out of the ladies’ room of the Austin Herald to hear her name shouted in the distinctive gravelly tones of new editor-in-chief, Frank Roberts.

 Only a month before, she’d said goodbye to New York City, and her U.S. Senator father, along with a high-profile political column at a renowned newspaper. So much for thinking she’d left behind the hectic life where being hunted down in the restroom was the norm.

 “Sabrina!” came another shout, as Frank barreled around the corner and into the hallway, his tall, lanky frame in pursuit of his target—her. The man was high-strung, with a penchant for long hours filled with hectic demands, usually made by him of everyone else.

 His hard, gray eyes narrowed as he took in her appearance. Surprise flickered in his keen stare as he noted her long, brunette hair, worn loose now for the first time since her arrival, and then her unusually casual attire: a pale-blue Western shirt tucked into her black jeans.

 Lips thinning disapprovingly, he demanded, “Why are you dressed like that? Where’s the suit you had on this morning?”

 “I’m reporting from the Kyle Strawberry Festival this afternoon,” she said, looking forward to a fun night without the pressure of having anyone analyzing her political views versus those of her father. Oh, and the cowboys. She was really liking the combo of tight Wranglers with scuffed boots that the men wore like business suits here in Texas. You never knew what was under those Wranglers—a millionaire or a ranch hand—and no one seemed to care. It was refreshing. And sexy.

 “Put the other outfit back on,” Frank ordered brusquely, snapping her out of her momentary Wrangler fixation. “You’re going downtown for a press conference with the mayor.”

 “Oh, no,” Sabrina insisted, “that’s not my area. I don’t do politics. Not anymore.” Nor did she want anyone to know she ever had. So much so that she’d taken a pseudonym to ensure no one would connect her with her past. She needed her own life, her own identity, an ability to make decisions without becoming manipulated by how they might impact her father’s career.

 “I need you on this,” he said, his arms folding in front of him. “You’re going.”

 “No politics,” she repeated, shoving her fists to her hips. “That was a condition of my employment.”

 “I’ve given you a fifth-grade ‘Dare’ graduation, a 5k run, and now apparently a silly strawberry festival,” he bellowed. “Now you’re giving me this. You need to get your backside to that press conference and not in those jeans.”

 “You gave me those stories because that’s what we agreed I’d do the first six months,” she said, her voice low as she quickly made sure no one else was around before continuing. “Fluff stories that establish me as someone other than who I was back in New York. Stories that keep me off the radar. I moved across country to make a new life for myself. A press conference with the mayor is not a good enough reason for me to risk jeopardizing that.”

 “Then I guess you didn’t hear that an American soldier, one of our own, robbed a bank last night, and he was connected to a drug cartel. That’s big news. The right take on the story could get you a television mention, or maybe even an interview.”

 “I heard,” she said. “People do stupid stuff every day. It’s sad but it doesn’t require me to report on it personally. And you aren’t going to use me to get your own press. The last thing I want is a television mention that will destroy the entire reason I’m here—to get away from the pressure of the spotlight.”

 “You know that world,” he said. “You can find out what I want to know.”

 “‘That world’?” she said. “You mean politics? Yes. I do. And I wish I didn’t. Exactly why I came here and took a job with specific duties that do not include ‘that world.’” She was thirty-two, long past having every breath she took approved by her father.

 “What if I told you I have a person on the mayor’s staff who says the mayor not only knows this soldier, but he’s trying to bury this story.”

 “Why would he do that?” she asked, before she could stop herself.

 “Maybe the mayor is dirty and I know how you hate a dirty politician,” he said. “Maybe he’s even involved with the drug cartel. The possibilities are endless. That’s why I need an expert on this story. Do I have your attention now?”

 “No,” she lied. “No, you do not.” She’d come here to create a new life, not move the old one to another state. “This isn’t why you hired me. And you know my father is known to be highly ambitious and that he’s rising as a leader for his party. I don’t need to be in the middle of a scandal involving a Governor. Especially not one of the opposing party, which this one is.”

 “If anyone can get inside this story—”

 “I don’t want inside this story,” she said, cutting him off.

 “Well, I do,” he said. “And that means you do. This is investigative reporting, Sabrina. Not political-opinion commentating. It’s about facts. And no one can judge you for the truth.”

 “My job—”

 “Is to do what I tell you to do,” he said. “And mine is to report the news by using every resource possible. Strawberry festivals are beneath you. Period. The end.” His eyes sharpened, his voice firmed. “The press conference is at four o’clock. Be there.”

 She ground her teeth, fighting the part of her that yearned for more substantive reporting, the part she’d dismissed to get her life back. She liked plans. And this story didn’t fit her plan.

 “Sabrina,” he said.

 “Oh, all right, Frank,” she said. “I’ll go, but I don’t want my name attached. Have someone else write the story with my notes.”

 His lips twitched and he turned with a mumbled, “We’ll talk,” and headed toward the newsroom.

 Sabrina debated pursuit and that “talk” right now, but Jennifer Jones, the petite blonde veterinarian who was the newly established pet-advice columnist appeared in her path, rushing toward her.

 “What the heck was he shouting your name for?” She stopped in front of Sabrina. “I swear I’ll never get used to this place. I need to get back to my clinic. Barking dogs and hissing cats are so much nicer than hot tempers and demanding bellows.”

 Sabrina might have laughed at the flustered look on Jenn’s face, if not for the knots in her own stomach. “Can I go with you?”

 “Depends,” Jennifer said, smiling. “How do you feel about chickens? I hear I have someone bringing one in this afternoon.”

 “A chicken?” Sabrina asked, laughing. It had only been a month, but she already considered Jennifer a friend. The woman and her silly animal stories hit all the right notes at all the right times. “You can’t be serious.”

 “As a mama hen,” she said. “This is Texas. People take their chickens seriously. This one belongs to a high school kid in Future Farmers of America.”

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Sweet Temptation
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)
» Den of Vipers
» Angry God (All Saints High #3)
» Serpent & Dove(Serpent & Dove #1)
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Archangel's War
» ENEMIES
» Credence