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Play Dirty by Sandra Brown - Fiction
From the master of romantic suspense and bestselling author of Friction and Ricochet comes a gripping story of passion, redemption, and love...with deadly consequences.
After five long years in federal prison, Griff Burkett is a free man. But the disgraced Cowboys quarterback can never return to the life he knew before he was caught cheating. In a place where football is practically a religion, Griff committed a cardinal sin, and no one is forgiving.
Foster Speakman, owner and CEO of SunSouth Airlines, and his wife, Laura, are a golden couple. Successful and wealthy, theirs was a charmed life before fate cruelly intervened and denied them the one thing they wanted most—a child. It's said that money can't buy everything. But it can buy a football player fresh out of prison and out of prospects.
The job Griff agrees to do for the Speakmans demands secrecy. But he soon finds himself once again in the spotlight of suspicion. An unsolved murder comes back to haunt him in the form of his nemesis, Stanley Rodarte, who has made Griff's destruction his life's mission. While safeguarding his new enterprise, Griff must also protect those around him, especially Laura Speakman, from Rodarte's ruthlessness. Griff stands to gain the highest payoff he could ever imagine, but cashing in on it will require him to forfeit his only chance for redemption...and love.
Now Griff is playing a high-stakes game, and at the final whistle, one player will be dead. The clock is ticking and Griff's future—his life—hinges on one last play.
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"That's it." Griff Burkett tossed a small duffel bag onto the backseat of the car, then got into the front passenger seat. "I didn't bring much with me. I'm sure as hell not taking souvenirs." He wanted no memorabilia from his stint in BIG -- official code name for the Federal Correctional Institute in Big Spring, Texas.
He made himself comfortable on the plush leather, adjusted the air-conditioning vent to blow straight at him, then, realizing they weren't moving, looked over at the driver.
"Oh. Right." Griff stretched the belt across his chest and latched it. Tongue in cheek, he said, "Wouldn't want to break the law."
As lawyers went, Wyatt Turner was okay. But if he possessed a sense of humor, he kept it under lock and key. He didn't crack a smile at Griff's wry remark.
"Come on, Turner, lighten up," Griff said. "This is a special day."
"Unfortunately, we're not the only ones commemorating it."
Turner drew Griff's attention to an ugly, olive green car parked in a handicapped space. Illegally it seemed, since there was no tag hanging from the rearview mirror. Griff didn't recognize the make or model of the car because it was younger than five years old. Nothing distinguished the no-frills sedan except the man sitting behind the wheel.
Griff cursed under his breath. "What's he doing here?"
"It's been all over the news that you were being released today, but I don't think he brought champagne."
"So why'd he come all this way to see little ol' me?"
"I assume he wants to pick up where the two of you left off."
The object of their conversation, Stanley Rodarte, had parked where he couldn't be missed. He had wanted Griff to see him. And Griff would have recognized him anywhere, because Stanley Rodarte was one ugly son of a bitch. His face looked like it had been hacked out of oak with a chain saw, by a carver too impatient to smooth out the rough edges. Cheekbones as sharp as knife blades cast shadows across his ruddy, pockmarked skin. His hair was the color and texture of dirty straw. Behind the lenses of his opaque sunglasses, his eyes -- yellowish, as Griff recalled -- were no doubt trained on Griff with an enmity that even five years hadn't blunted.
Griff shrugged with more indifference than he felt. "It's his time he's wasting."
Sounding like the voice of doom, Turner said, "Obviously he doesn't think so."
As they pulled closer to the other car, Griff flashed Rodarte a big grin, then raised his middle finger at him.
"Jesus, Griff." Turner accelerated toward the prison gate. "What's the matter with you?"
"He doesn't scare me."
"Well, he should. If you had a lick of sense, he would scare you shitless. Apparently he hasn't forgotten about Bandy. Steer clear of him. I mean it. Are you listening? Do not cross him."
"Am I gonna get billed for that unsolicited advice?"
"No, that advice is on the house. It's for my protection as well as yours."
Despite the blasting air conditioner, Griff lowered his window as Turner drove through the gates of the federal prison camp that had been his home for the past five years. The area in which he'd been incarcerated was classified minimum security, but it was still prison.
"No offense to the folks in Big Spring, but I don't care to ever enter the city limits again," he remarked as they left the West Texas town and headed east on Interstate 20.
The air was hot, dry, and gritty, perfumed by diesel and gasoline exhaust from the well-traveled highway, but it was free air, the first Griff had tasted in one thousand, eight hundred, and twenty-five days. He gulped it.
"Feel good to be out?" his lawyer...
Play DirtyBy: Sandra Brown