Sampler: The Innocents by C.A. Asbrey

Review: “This is a book full of action and intrigue, and the dialog, customs, and events that are spirited and authentic.”

Pinkerton Detective Abigail MacKay is a master of disguises—and of new crime-solving technology! But she’ll have to move fast to stay a step ahead of Nat Quinn and Jake Conroy.

Nat and Jake are the ringleaders of The Innocents, a western gang that specializes in holding up trains carrying payrolls—and Nat is pretty savvy when it comes to using the new sciences of 1868 in committing his crimes.

Charismatic Nat and handsome Jake are on the run, and they’ve always gotten away before—before Abi. But when Abi is caught by another band of outlaws during the chase, there’s no other choice for Nat and Jake but to save her life. Abi owes them, and she agrees to help them bring in the murderer of a family friend.

The web of criminal activity grows more entangled with each passing day, but Nat, Jake, and Abi are united in their efforts to find the murderer.

Once that happens, all bets are off, and Abi will be turning Nat and Jake over to the law. But can she do it? She finds herself falling for Nat, but is that growing attraction real?

Or is he just using her to learn more about the Pinkertons’ methods? Abi always gets her man—but she may have met her match in her “best enemies”—THE INNOCENTS.

C.A. Asbrey

Sampler: The Innocents

Abigail slipped into the room without a sound. Sash windows without a jamming mechanism were stupidly easy to open, and she would never have them in her home when she had one. Her existence was even more nomadic than The Innocents at the moment, and they didn’t have any consistent base the law knew of.

She moved like a cat, creeping on her toes, carrying a bull’s eye lantern with shutters so she could focus the light where needed or shut it out if required. These were called dark lights and were an essential tool for the average night-time thief, but they were just as useful to the law. She stopped at the large mahogany desk and placed the dark light on the top before she rummaged through the desk, the top drawer catching against the brass lock. She held her breath. The information she wanted was most likely to be in the desk.

Abigail stood upright to remove her picklock from her hair and froze as a hand clamped over her mouth and a strong arm snaked around her body.

“Abi,” Nat’s voice hissed in her ear. “I’m disappointed in you. You’re supposed to be an example to us criminal types.” He released her mouth but continued to hold her against him as he whispered; his rich, dark-brown voice drifting through her senses as her stomach did a little flip. “You’ve got criminal tendencies. Someone should take you in hand. Want me to do it? I’d be real gentle this time.”

She stiffened and shrugged him off swirling round to face the wide smile caught the low beams from the dark light. “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for the paperwork for David. What are you doing here?”

“The same.”

He shook his head. “Why didn’t you tell me? We could have come together, made an evening of it. I’d have brought flowers and maybe some wine—”

“Can we get on with the job at hand?” Her brows knitted together. “Do you think it’s in the safe?”

“Could be. I haven’t had time to look. This is what I meant about sharing information. There’s no need for both of us to be here. We’re duplicating work.”

“You didn’t tell me either, Mr. Quinn.”

“Because you were supposed to be checking into the hotel to talk to townspeople,” his eyes glinted in the darkness. “You never said a word about coming here.”

“Can we discuss this later? There are more pressing matters to deal with, don’t you think?”

“Oh, yes. We’ll discuss this. You and I need another talk.”

“Is that how you intimidate your gang members, Mr. Quinn? It may not have occurred to you, throwing me out of your gang is no punishment.”

“You have so little imagination. Imagine more.” He folded his arms and leaned closer. His breath hit her face as he murmured in a rich velvet baritone. “I dare you.”

Her breathing quickened before she shook herself back to business. “You smell of apples. Don’t leave the cores lying about. We can get evidence from them.”

He sighed. “Do you ever let yourself just be a woman?”

“Not when I’m breaking and entering.” She cast out a hand toward the desk. “You do the safe and I’ll do the drawers.”

The lights in his eyes switched from devilment to intrigue. “Three of them are locked.” She crooked an eyebrow at him. “I’ll manage.”

A huge grin spread over his face. “Oh, Abi. I knew you were something special when I met you. How about you do the safe and I’ll do the drawers?”

Uncertainty flickered over her face. “I’ll do the drawers.”

He nodded, a secret smile playing around his lips. Another limit had been established, to be stored away in his encyclopedic mind. This could be useful in the future. He turned as she pulled open the top drawer and dragged out a ledger. “That was quick.”

“Was it?” She replied with a lick of innocence in her voice. She flicked through the thick vellum pages.

“This is it.” She hissed. “Mr. and Mrs. Mellor, Boston.”

“Mellor? She told me the name was Hislop.” “And Mr. Andrew Burton. He made a donation of a hundred and fifty dollars.” Abigail pursed her lips. “That’s one expensive orphan. I can’t read the address.”

“No problem,” he ripped the page from the book and it into his shirt. “We got all the time in the world now.”

“You can’t do that. It’s theft.”

“Yeah? You stand here after breaking in and try to lecture me?” he grasped her hand and pulled her towards the window. “Out you go. We’ll discuss this back at the cabin.”

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