She’s this assassin’s toughest assignment ever…
Socialite Trista Patterson has turned her back on her life of privilege and dedicated herself to helping others. Her mission to protect the world’s children often takes her into the bleak and violent underbelly of third world countries. When a kidnapping attempt goes wrong, Trista quickly finds herself running for her life…and married to a man she just met…as she’s placed at the top of the Cartel’s most wanted list.
Some days no good deed goes unpunished.
Dane O’Brien has spent his life in the shadows. Once a lethal assassin he grew tired of losing his soul with every hit, trading his gun and missions for a conference table and office politics as an undercover operative for the CIA. But when visiting his humanitarian sister turns deadly, Dane finds himself swearing to protect her beautiful and passionate friend Trista no matter the cost…even if it means stepping back into the world he swore never to return to. Although falling for the tough-hearted Trista is easy, keeping her alive is hard.
“Trista?” he called out through the trees.
“I’m Jenny’s brother. It’s safe.”
He called to her several more times and then started back to his car to gather supplies to hike a mile or two farther to try to find more evidence of her presence. The swish of a branch behind him caught his attention. Whoever was hiding had emerged.
Relief turned to caution as Trista walked out of the jungle with a layer of mud covering her and a handgun aimed at his head.
She didn’t speak. Her eyes remained focused on him, and her legs seemed poised to take off at the slightest threat.
“Are you hurt?” he asked.
Hovering in the area between the road and the forest, she shook her head. “You’re Jenny’s brother?”
Her voice sounded stronger than her faltering body appeared. Some of the mud that covered her looked more like blood that had dried on her shirtsleeves and part of her pants.
“Yes. I’m Dane O’Brien.”
“What’s Jenny’s middle name?” Her eyebrows furrowed as they had in the pictures.
“She doesn’t have one.”
She took a tentative step forward. She observed Dane’s movements and fixed her eyes on his like a panther ready to pounce. “What’s her favorite drink?”
“Chocolate milkshakes. Or a margarita if the bar carries fresh limes.”
The tension in her face melted away. She pointed the gun to the ground and walked over to him. His arms opened automatically—after all, the woman had been through hell. She probably needed a hug or a shoulder to cry on.
She crossed her arms over her chest, the gun dangling from her hand. Her breathing pattern switched from a heavy sigh to a shivery exhale. He put his arms down and observed her.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded. “I’ll survive.”
“Let me rephrase. Do you need medical attention?”
“Where are the men who took you from the village?”
“You killed them?”
She nodded. Her gaze dropped to the ground. Most people never recovered from such a nightmare. Yet she’d not only lived through the ordeal, she emerged from the jungle healthy and armed.
He’d placed the odds against her, but now that he saw her in person, he’d have changed his bet. He approached her with caution. Her finger rested just outside the trigger, in a position a skilled shooter would feel comfortable with.
She peered up at him. “I’m glad you’re here. I didn’t know how I’d get down from the mountain. Is Jenny all right?”
“Worried about you.”
“What about Natalia?”
“I don’t know anything about her, except she’s probably alive thanks to you. Did they hurt you?” He placed a calming hand on her shoulder and slipped the gun out of her hand.
“No.” She eyed the weapon, but didn’t reach for it. Not that she’d be capable of taking it back from him.
“I’ve been listening to the group’s radio all night. They’re coming back. For me.” A tear rolled down her cheek. She ignored it and looked toward the hut. “I didn’t mean to kill them.”
“Kill or be killed.” He urged her toward the Land Cruiser with a soft hand still on her shoulder, trying to ease the wretched emotions that would brand her view of the world forever—the same emotions that tortured his soul every night. “You survived a kidnapping by two moronic men. Don’t feel guilty.”
“You’d have killed them?”
More than killed them. That’s why he hid away in an office now. If anyone had threatened to rape a young girl in his presence, he would have flayed their skin and stuffed it down their throats before ripping their hearts out. “I wouldn’t have been as merciful as you.”
A Bostonian by birth, Veronica Forand regrettably lost her Boston accent while moving from state to state and country to country. Cleveland probably had the most profound effect on her ability to pronounce the “r” in the word “park.” She does try to return now and then to visit family and eat long neck clams and lobster. Summers on Cape Cod are also high on the priority list. Her experience in crime involves time as a court appointed attorney. Eventually, she switched fields to where bigger crimes take place, corporate tax. The allure of spending mornings in her pajamas homeschooling her children and writing fascinating fiction inspired her to change careers again. Now that the kids are out of the house (in school), she writes romantic thrillers by day and is the perfect wife and mother at night. Her experience in romance is limited to one man. Luckily, he’s still finding ways to charm her by taking her on vacations to the south of France, Fiji, and the Green Mountains when time is short. Avid travelers, they love to roam with their kids across continents in pursuit of skiing, scuba diving, and the perfect piece of chocolate. She’s lived in London, Paris, Geneva, Washington D.C., and the accent destroying city of Cleveland. She currently resides near Philadelphia.