The vixens lead, p.1
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       The Vixen's Lead, p.1
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         Part #1 of Kit Davenport series by Tate James
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The Vixen's Lead


  Table of Contents

  Acknowledgments

  Untitled

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  THE VIXEN’S LEAD

  KIT DAVENPORT BOOK 1

  TATE JAMES

  Copyright © 2017 Katrina Fischer

  Cover design © 2017 Covers by Combs

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. If you have obtained this book via piracy, or suspect it has been duplicated illegally, please do the right thing. Advise the author and purchase your own copy. No one likes a pirate, unless he’s Jack Sparrow.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  CONTENTS

  Acknowledgments

  Untitled

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Coming In December 2017

  About the Author

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  Hey, wow! I wrote a book and you bought it! Thank you!

  I don’t know if anyone really reads acknowledgements these days, but just in case here are a few ‘thank you’s to the amazing people that helped make this dream a reality for me.

  First and foremost, since I’m writing the dedication to my favorite wine, I should thank my darling son Alaric for napping like a champ while I wrote. Thank you also to my husband, who has never read anything I have written but constantly tries to give me ‘original ideas’.

  To Heather, for making me cry and Jax for making me laugh, and both of them for making me a better writer. Thank you also to the incredibly talented Rebecca Royce for being the most incredibly supportive, encouraging and wise friend to me.

  Acknowledgments must also be made to the amazing community of authors I have met along the way (via facebook) who have given me the confidence to complete this project, and start a million more. CM Stunich, Lucy Smoke, Jaymin Eve and Eileen Kirk, as well as all the authors in RHW, and my amazing cover designer Daqri, because she’s a genius! Thank you to my beta readers, Kate, Anna, Siobhan and Irene, for not telling me my story was shit (even when it was) and to Chesca, for trolling my polls. Troll on my friend. Troll on.

  To Cat Amongst The Pigeons Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley. You, my friend, are an inspiration. Here’s to many more late nights of nonsense together

  xxx

  1

  In the background, the shadowy outline of a naked woman haunted a painting of lilies. The rich imagery held me captive. Reportedly the work was worth a few hundred thousand dollars, but I couldn’t decide if it was because of the image or the person who painted it. Maybe both. Whatever the reason, the Beverly Hills gallery had it on its walls, which meant it was without a doubt expensive.

  “Nine minutes and thirty-four seconds until security systems are back online. Stop gawking at the paintings and hurry the fuck up!”

  How the hell had Lucy known what I was doing? Our comms were audio only. Still, Lucy had a point. I left the painting and crept down the corridor on silent feet. At the end a large, open room held several ostentatious pieces of jewelry displayed in glass cases on pedestals. They were part of a colored diamond showcase in which the wealthy allowed their prized possessions to be displayed for the common folk to drool over. It was a clear night, and the full moon streamed light through the windows. The moonlight refracted against the jewels and created a rainbow of Christmas lights in the darkness.

  Pausing at the entrance to the room, I fished my phone out of the pocket in my black jeans and ran an application labeled “You Never Know,” which Lucy had designed to scan areas for hidden security features we might have missed in our mission planning. It took a minute to fully probe the room, and while waiting, I snaked a finger under the short, black wig I wore and scratched at my scalp. Using a disguise was just sensible thieving, but seriously, wigs itched something awful! Maybe next time I would try a hat. The image of myself pulling a job while wearing a top hat or a Stetson made me chuckle.

  Seconds later, my screen flashed red with an alert and surprised the hell out of me. It was the first time the app had actually caught something.

  “Are you seeing this?” It was a pointless question. She had a mirror image on her computer screen.

  “Huh. That definitely wasn’t there a week ago when I did a walk through,” she muttered, and her furious tapping at her keyboard echoed over the comms. “Okay, it’s a laser beam grid linked to a silent alarm that will trigger the security shutters on all external access points. I don’t have time to hack into it and shut it down, so...”

  I could picture her shrug and sighed. “So don’t trip the lasers, yes? Got it. Send me the map.” An intricate web of red lines appeared on my phone, overlaying the camera’s view of the room. If I watched the screen and not my feet, it would be possible to avoid the beams.

  Conscious of the ticking clock, I carefully started stepping across the floor. All seemed to go well until I got within ten feet of my intended loot. Suddenly my nose started twitching with a sneeze. “Dammit,” I hissed, then fought to hold my breath.


  “What’s going on in there, Kit?” Lucy asked, worry tight in her tone.

  I wriggled my nose a few times to shake off the itch before replying, “You know how I often get pretty awesome hay fever in Autumn...?”

  Lucy groaned like I was doing this to deliberately test her nerves, but I wasn’t trying to tease her. I might actually sneeze.

  “I think it’s gone,” I said, relaxing minutely and raised my foot for the next step. Of course, Murphy’s Law prevailed, and the second I shifted my weight, the urge to sneeze returned full force. I clamped my mouth and nose shut, but I lost my balance even as I tried to swallow my sneeze. My leg rocked into one of the laser beams.

  “Shit!”

  “Fucking hell, Kit! You have thirty seconds until you are trapped. Get the hell out, now!” Lucy yelled in my earpiece.

  Already screwed, I lunged the remaining distance to the display case. The current tenant was a ring with an obnoxiously large, canary yellow diamond surrounded by smaller chartreuse colored diamonds, all inset in a band with pink sapphires. The overall effect was a bit sickening, but who was I to tell the wealthy how bad their tastes were? I often wondered how many of them deliberately wasted their money on tasteless items with obscene price tags simply because they could.

  Aware of the ticking clock, I whipped my arm back and smashed my gloved fist straight through the toughened glass. It shattered under the force I exerted. After snatching up the ugly bauble, I dropped a little plastic fox—my signature calling card—in its place.

  “Kit, quit dicking around and get out!” Lucy screeched over the line at me. “Twenty-two seconds remaining, don’t you dare get caught, or I swear to God I won’t let you live this down!”

  Satisfied at having grabbed my target, I raced out of the room and down the corridor, not hesitating before crashing straight through a tall picture window and plummeting thirty-odd feet onto the rooftop of the next building. I tried to break my fall by rolling as I hit. Instead, landed awkwardly on my left shoulder. It popped out of its socket. Hissing with pain, I glanced up at the gallery just in time to see the steel shutters slam closed on all the windows simultaneously.

  “Kit,” Lucy snapped, barely masking the tension in her voice. “Give me an update; are you clear?”

  The evil little devil on my shoulder wanted me to mess with her, but my conscience prevailed. “All clear,” I said, then added with a laugh. “Plenty of time to spare; not sure why you were so worried!”

  “Any injuries?” A growl underscored her words.

  “Nope, I’m totally fine. I mean, if you don’t include my shoulder, which is for sure dislocated, then all I have are a few scratches from the glass and a tiny bit of swelling in my knuckles. I got the God-awful ring, though!” I was rather proud of completing the job we had come there for.

  “That was too close this time, Kit,” Lucy admonished me. “You’re bloody lucky you heal so fast, but it’s still going to hurt like a bitch getting that shoulder back into place. Get sorted then drop the ring to the courier, and call me if anything goes wrong. Otherwise, I’ll see you when you get back. Stay out of trouble.”

  My best friend occasionally cursed like an Australian ever since she developed a Heath Ledger movie crush. “You know, most people would say ‘good luck.’ You say ‘stay out of trouble.’ Should I be offended?” Teasing her was fun, even if my track record wasn’t the cleanest. In my defense, I always got myself out of trouble without too much hassle. Lucy didn’t dignify me with a verbal response and left the dial tone as she hung up to serve as her answer.

  Tucking my earpiece into a zippered pocket of my leather jacket, I headed over to the A/C unit on the far side of the roof. Using it to leverage my shoulder back into place, I kept my cursing to a minimum. It slid back in with a sickening pop, and the relief had me wavering on my feet. After catching my breath, I brushed some glass out of my wig then swung over the fire escape and descended to the street below. Stripping off my gloves, I blended into the crowd. Even though it was autumn, it was still nowhere near cold enough to be wearing gloves unless committing a crime. I nervously checked the time on my watch. I had a very long drive ahead of me to get back to school and still needed to drop the stolen ring off with our middleman.

  2

  Almost an entire day of driving later, I pulled up to the towering, ivy-covered gates of the Cascade Falls Academy, or CFA as it was affectionately known. I yawned heavily and cracked my neck a few times. After clicking the gate opener tucked into my sun visor, I waited for the gates to swing inward so I could crawl up the long driveway to the student parking lot.

  My little gray Prius stuck out like a sore thumb in a lot full of Range Rovers, BMWs, and Mercedes. Having spent most of my life in abject poverty in an illegally full foster home, I’d never found spending my adopted father’s wealth comfortable. The only reason I allowed him to buy me the car at all was that CFA was in the middle of Nowheresville, Washington. I needed transport to make speedy getaways from my moonlit mischief-making. Not to mention it was the most perfectly unassuming vehicle for an internationally wanted thief to be driving. The best part, though, were the heated seats. A blessing in the winter.

  I unfolded myself from the driver’s seat and took a minute to stretch my cramped muscles out before unloading my suitcase from the trunk and hauling it through the main dorm to my room. The school itself was a beautiful thing, modeled entirely on the King’s College of London, all red brick exteriors with creeping ivy and the inside decked out with polished wood as far as the eye could see. My room was the same one I had lived in for five years, after my adopted father, Jonathan, had first enrolled me here as a gawky thirteen year old.

  He must have given the school a serious donation because not only had I kept the same room all this time, but I also enjoyed the luxury of no roommate. He’d told me at the time that privacy would make me feel safer, but I suspect he’d been feeling a healthy dose of guilt at sending me off to boarding school only a scarce six months after adopting me. Not that I blamed him; he was a very important man and the father/daughter routine didn’t work well for either of us. Eventually we settled on more of a friendship, or at the very least a loving uncle type relationship. He had circumvented the red tape of the adoption process by providing “evidence” that we were related. His unique position of authority afforded him little leniencies like that, but it was because of his position that I knew I was safe in his care.

  Looking longingly at my bed, I debated whether Lucy could wait until after I napped. If I kept her waiting, she’d likely punish me with something awful, like a glass of cold water splashed in my face or a foghorn in my ear. Both of which she’d done in the past. As much as I loved to wind her up, I wanted to see her as we had only managed to catch up via phone all of summer break. Lucifer Jones was the closest thing I had to family. We grew up in the same foster home together, so I’d been over the moon when Jonathan set her up a scholarship to join me at CFA a few years ago.

  Leaving my suitcase to be unpacked later, I forced my tired feet to climb the stairs to Lucy’s room on the third floor.

  Since it was always good to keep my skills sharp, I pulled a couple of bobby pins out of my hair. After picking the lock on Lucy’s bedroom door, I burst in without warning. Lucy’s shriek as she toppled off the chair she’d been standing on, stacking books on the top shelf above her desk, proved a reward all its own.

  Laughing, I didn’t avoid the book Lucy flung at me as she screamed. “Jesus fucking Christ, Kit! I could have really hurt myself, you bloody psycho bitch! Not everyone has your nifty healing trick, you know!” I quickly tugged her bedroom door shut just in case anyone overheard her talking about my somewhat, for lack of a better word, magical ability.

  Since I’d turned eleven, I had been able to heal myself from any injury. The catch was that I couldn’t make it happen at will. It only seemed to work when I was experiencing a rush of emotion like fear or excitement, which was available in spades on our thieving job
s.

  Unluckily, if I got the same rush with no injuries to heal, I would often find myself going into almost an adrenaline overload unless I could burn it off by exhausting myself. In addition to my “nifty healing trick” as Lucy referred to it, I also had some seriously unusual strength and speed.

  As far as I could tell, while my talents weren’t superhuman, they were far disproportionate to my size and stature. At the time that they had manifested, I’d been a scrawny, malnourished beanpole of a kid, and I packed a punch like a full-grown man. Even now, as a five foot eight girl with just a normal, healthy muscle tone, my strength was equivalent to a serious bodybuilder or martial artist.

  Maybe more.

  I can’t remember the last time I tested the range of my strength, so it was just a guess. As for my speed, again it wasn’t something I tested often for fear of attracting unwanted attention, but I’m definitely a lot quicker than the average eighteen-year-old. My extra abilities had been a major contributing factor in the degree of difficulty we were able to pull off while thieving.

  She attempted a glower, but it came off as adorable on her pixie-like face. She’d changed her hair again over summer break. It was now a bright turquoise blue and cropped very close to her head. She’d even added an eyebrow and nose ring in yet another attempt to look tougher than her 5 foot nothing frame suggested.

  “Oh, shush. You missed me and you know it,” I teased, the usual rush of love for my pseudo-sister flooding me. She grumbled a bit under her breath as I flopped on her bed and pulled a pillow over my face.

  “All right, let’s hear it.” She recovered her composure swiftly, getting down to business while also yanking the pillow off my face. “Did everything go okay with the drop off to Marius? Also, I assume you had no troubles on the drive back, as you’re here in plenty of time for school tomorrow and seem to be in one piece... that I can see...”

  “You say that as though I’m reckless.” I was somewhat offended by her lack of faith in me, and she raised an eyebrow. “But you are correct; no dramas at all on the drive, if you don’t count extreme fatigue from driving nineteen hours straight with nothing better than gas station snacks in my belly.”

 
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