Authors: Katie Reus
Praise for the Deadly Ops novels
“Will keep you on the edge of your seat!”
New York Times
“Both romantic and suspenseful, a fast-paced sexy book full of high stakes action.”
—Heroes and Heartbreakers
“A really good, new military romance series . . . a passionate and action-riddled read.”
—That’s What I’m Talking About
“A fast-paced high-stakes romantic thriller . . . Strong characterization and steadily mounting tension are powerful weapons in this talented author’s arsenal.”
“Nonstop action, a solid plot, good pacing, and riveting suspense.”
—RT Book Reviews
Also by Katie Reus
The Moon Shifter Novels
(A Penguin Special from Signet Eclipse)
His Untamed Desire
(A Penguin Special from Signet Eclipse)
The Deadly Ops Novels
Bound to Danger
(A Penguin Special from Signet Eclipse)
A Deadly Ops Novella
InterMix Books, New York
Published by the Berkley Publishing Group and New American Library
An imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2015 by Katie Reus.
copyright © 2015 by Katie Reus.
Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.
INTERMIX and the “IM” design are trademarks of Penguin Random House, LLC.
For more information about the Penguin Group, visit penguin.com.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-18022-2
InterMix eBook edition / April 2015
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Penguin is committed to publishing works of quality and integrity. In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences, and the words are the author’s alone.
For Kari Walker. Thank you, as always.
As usual, I owe thanks to my wonderful editor, Danielle Perez and equally wonderful agent, Jill Marsal. Thank you to the whole team at NAL for all their behind the scenes work, including Christina Brower and Jessica Brock. I’m incredibly grateful to my husband for being my sounding board and go-to guy for military and law enforcement questions. Any mistakes in the story are my own. Thank you to Kari Walker for your insight with the early version of this story. And as always, thank you to my wonderful readers. I hope you enjoy the latest addition to the Deadly Ops series.
Hannah stepped out of the elevator into the lower-level parking garage with her friend and co-worker Shaun. Technically she was Shaun’s boss, but tonight she was going to forget that because she needed a friend to go out with. Because today had been awful.
He slung an arm around her shoulders and gave her a brief squeeze as they walked across the busy parking area. “There was nothing anyone could have done differently,” he murmured.
Throat tight, she nodded. “Yeah, I know. Doesn’t make those parents’ grief any easier.” A newborn had died today after an emergency Caesarean section. No one was at fault; it was just a terrible tragedy. Hannah could still hear the mother’s screams of agony in her mind.
“No shit. I can’t even . . . Let’s go out tonight and have a few drinks. We can pick up some guys and you can show off that crazy-man radar you have.”
Despite the heaviness sitting on her chest, Hannah let out a short laugh. If there was a crazy guy in a mile radius, she’d find him. It was like she had a homing beacon for the weird. “I’ll take you up on the drink, but forget picking up any guys. I’m so over your gender.”
“You and me both, girl.” Shaun kissed the top of her head lightly. “I’ll text a couple of the crew who are off tonight and see if they want to meet up.”
“Sounds good to me.” There were six of them who got together regularly after work. Right now anything was better than going back to her empty home—for a multitude of reasons. Weeks ago Miami had been rocked to its core with a horrific terrorist attack that killed hundreds. In the aftermath her best friend, Sophie, had come up from Key West, where she lived with her husband Jack.
Jack used to work for the NSA in a capacity that Hannah sort of knew about because she’d been kidnapped a year ago and Jack and his former boss and teammates had helped save her. She’d had to sign a bunch of paperwork swearing she’d never speak of what he did or what she’d seen. Which was fine with her because thanks to them, she was alive. And if she was honest, she
to forget everything she’d been through. Being kidnapped and held in another country had been traumatic enough, no matter how levelheaded she was. Having your freedom taken from you, with the additional worry of death—and worse things—hanging over your head, was hard to forget.
Sophie and Jack had come to town because Jack had been doing contract work of sorts for the NSA, including briefly guarding a woman who’d been a witness to the terrorist attack. During that time Jack and Sophie had stayed at Hannah’s parents’ house, and in the aftermath, Hannah had met one of Jack’s former colleagues, Dax Costas.
Dax fucking Costas, whom she wanted to punch right in the face for standing her up two weeks ago after the most intense, raw sex of her life. Yes, that was a violent reaction but she didn’t care. He just brought it out of her with all his raw sex appeal and bullshit charm. She couldn’t believe she’d thought his I’m-quiet-and-brooding-and-don’t-know-how-sexy-I-am act was actually real. Gah! She never fell for that stupid charming act from men.
She couldn’t believe she’d invited him to her house. He’d been in her bed, on her sheets, in her safe haven. A place it had taken her a long damn time to feel safe in again after being kidnapped right out of her home a year ago. She’d brought him there because she’d thought he was different. He was the first man she’d let in her home, in her own bed, period. The connection between them . . . She shook her head as Shaun strode in the other direction of the garage to get to his vehicle.
She already had enough on her mind and didn’t need to add to her stress by dwelling on a man who’d turned out to be a liar.
As she slid into the driver’s seat of her new mini-SUV, her cell phone rang. Without starting the engine, she locked her doors, even though the garage was teeming with people getting off work. Ever since the kidnapping, she was hyper-vigilant. Glancing at the caller ID, she frowned. Unknown.
Could be a telemarketer even though they weren’t supposed to call her cell phone, or it could be one of her four older brothers. Screw it. If it was a telemarketer she’d just hang up. “Hello?”
She hated that she recognized him so easily. The deep quality of his voice did strange things to her insides. She swallowed hard.
“Hello?” he said.
Damn it, she needed to get it together. “Who is this?” She didn’t want to admit that she recognized him from two words.
A long pause. “Dax.” It sounded like he said the word through gritted teeth.
“The only Dax I know was supposed to meet me for a date two weeks ago but never showed.” Or called. How freaking humiliating.
“Hannah, I’m more sorry about that than you know. I got called away for work and—”
“Did they not have phones where you were going?”
“Not . . . exactly.”
“What the hell does that mean? Not exactly? Unless you were in the Amazon rain forest with no satellite reception, I find it hard to believe you couldn’t have taken two seconds to call, or even freaking text me.” She wished she could act cool and unaffected, but her voice vibrated with fury.
“I didn’t have the means to call you. I can’t tell you more than that, but I’m back in town and I want to see you again. Please let me make it up to you.” The pleading note in his voice tugged at her, and she almost caved.
But she had some pride left, even if the man’s voice got her hotter than anyone else ever had. She snorted. “No, thank you. The sex was great, Dax, but I’m not interested anymore.” Feeling like a bitch and not caring, she hung up.
Her face burned as she remembered just how raw things had been between them. They’d had sex all over her house. They’d spent four days and nights together, wrapped up in each other, coming up for air only long enough to eat and sleep. She’d even called in sick to work two days in a row, something she’d never done, not in the decade she’d worked at the hospital. She’d never thought sex could be that good, that real. Swallowing hard, she fought the heavy feeling pressing against her chest. Combined with everything today, hearing Dax’s voice brought her low.
She’d thought she wanted to hear from him, but now that she had, it just hurt. He couldn’t even come up with a decent excuse.
“I didn’t have the means to call you.”
Mentally shaking herself, she started the engine and looked in the rearview mirror to see Shaun’s car pull up behind her. She wasn’t going to sit here in the parking garage and continue to feel sorry for herself. Because that’s not what Youngs did. Not according to her mother.
Youngs didn’t feel sorry for themselves and they didn’t mope. Life was too short.
* * *
From the safety of his BMW with tinted windows, he watched Hannah Young pull out of her parking space, seemingly in a hurry to leave work. He’d hoped to catch her alone, but the garage was too busy right now. He wasn’t out of place at all, but he couldn’t have made a move against her without someone noticing. And following her from the hospital wasn’t an option. Traffic in Miami was too thick this time of day.
Something told him she’d notice if he tailed her. Hannah was far too smart for her own good. She’d seen something she shouldn’t have, and unfortunately he needed to eliminate her.
It wasn’t something he relished doing, but it came down to his life or hers. And he would always choose himself. He’d been forced to kill one woman this week, and Hannah was the only person who could connect them. He’d gotten careless, had let his cock dictate his actions at work, and Hannah had seen him in a compromising situation.
She probably wouldn’t even think twice about it now. But when it came to light that the woman he’d been linked with had been murdered, Hannah would remember, maybe even mention it to a co-worker. Or even the police.
So he needed her out of the way before the body was discovered. He should have two days to do that, if his calculations were right. The bitch he’d killed wasn’t supposed to come into work for two days and she lived alone. He’d turned her air conditioner to freezing and left her in a tub full of ice. Not a long-term solution, but it would work for now to cover up the stench when she started decomposing. She didn’t have any pets, so there wouldn’t be any whining animals bothering the neighbors either. If she hadn’t lived on the fifth floor of her condo building, he’d have found a way to dispose of the body, but he couldn’t risk getting caught carrying her down to his vehicle.
That gave him enough time to get rid of Hannah. He hadn’t decided yet if he was going to make it look like an accident or a mugging gone wrong. Maybe a home invasion gone wrong. First he needed to find out where she lived.
He knew how to do it, but the idea annoyed him. He’d have to get access to the HR records at the hospital, which wouldn’t be too hard, but he didn’t want a computer trail linking him to her information. He needed to look at her records anonymously.
He’d fucked a woman in the HR department a couple of times, but he’d quickly grown tired of her. In her forties, she had a tight body, but she was getting too old for him. He liked his women in their twenties, fit and just this side of stupid. He’d already been married twice to know-it-alls. His current wife wasn’t that bright, but she also wasn’t stupid.
Or her lawyer wasn’t. She had him in an airtight pre-nuptial agreement, which is why he wouldn’t divorce her. That and she gave great head. Gave it anytime he asked, too. He pounded his fist against the center console.
Damn it, he needed to get rid of Hannah Young as soon as possible. With her out there, carrying knowledge that could damage him professionally, personally—link him to a murder—he just had to kill her. There was no other option.
It was exactly why he’d had to kill Corrine. She’d pushed him into a corner, threatening to tell his wife about their affair and expose him to the board. He was already on probation because of a sexual harassment suit, which was just a stupid misunderstanding. He couldn’t afford to lose his job. Not when he paid so much in alimony to his former wives. Not to mention he couldn’t afford to divorce his third wife, and killing her would cause too much suspicion.
Turning off his idling engine, he slid his key into the pants pocket of his scrubs and got out of his car. Even though he hated the idea of killing this woman, he was going to do it. Anything to keep his reputation and stay out of jail. First he’d have to come up with a sob story about how he and his wife were on the rocks again. It had worked the first time; hopefully it would again.