Authors: Lauren Landish
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Military, #New Adult & College, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Landish.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, Characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The following story contains mature themes, strong language and sexual situations. It is intended for mature readers.
All characters are 18+ years of age and non-blood related, and all sexual acts are consensual.
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is the followup series of
, however you do
have to read it beforehand.
focuses on The New Generation—the children—and takes place just over two decades later.
Five unarmed guys? Come on, that's barely a warm-up.”
The daughter of a hitman, I take sh*t from
, even if it's a guy that's six-foot-five and looks like the hulk.
Only the biggest and strongest man can handle me, but little did I know he was right under my nose my entire life.
I take no prisoners. You mess with me, my family or my city, you’re going down. I’m as hard as stone, as sharp as steel.
But when it comes to my childhood friend Andrea, I might’ve just met my match. Sexy and stubborn to boot, there’s only one type of man that can handle a woman like her and do her body
love riding my motorcycle
. Mom and Dad used to talk about how, back when they were my age, cars were different. You had to actually control them yourself, and the most assistance the car would give you might be cruise control and GPS navigation. But, starting three years before I could legally get a license, all cars nationwide had to be self-driving. Now, even if I was behind the wheel of a car, the only way I could take control would be if the computer had a malfunction, and even then the secondary systems would only allow me to drive it no more than a mile before the whole damn thing shut down.
But despite the hard work of computer automotive geeks worldwide, they'd never been able to create a good system for motorcycles. The insurance was a rip-off for motorcyclists, that had been true for decades apparently. Then again, considering what I was doing, lack of insurance was the least of the concerns that could possibly cross my mind.
On my motorcycle, I was free. I felt like I was flying, or as near as I could be without leaving the ground. The wind bit at my cheeks as I twisted the throttle, my heart beating just a bit faster, a grin creeping across my face. There was nothing better than the feeling of being on my cycle.
Okay, there was one thing better, although it certainly took me damn near long enough to recognize it. "Yes, Carter?"
"Just checking in on you. You increased speed, and the scope back here wasn't telling me why."
Carter McCaffery, my partner and fiancée, was back at the Bell Tower, what we called our headquarters for our vigilante enterprise. He'd twisted his ankle the day before in the gym sparring with Riley, my brother, and we'd decided that since I was only going on an intelligence run, I could handle it by myself.
Not that I was alone, hardly the case. Using the skills and system taught to us by our fathers, the original Snowman and Red Storm, we made sure that regardless of if we were working solo or out on the streets in a team, there was always someone back at the Bell Tower to back us up, providing intelligence and communications. While so far Carter and I had never needed it, listening to some of Dad's stories, I could see why. The streets were once far worse than they were today.
"I'm fine. Just enjoying the wind. I'll be ditching the bike soon to go up top, so I figured I'd enjoy it while I could."
“All right. Just don't let your ego go writing checks your ass can't cash."
I rolled my eyes. "Come on Carter, that wasn't even the correct quote, and do you really have to do that all the time?"
“You know it's just part of me. I can't help it that I was a latchkey child."
I guffawed as I took a gentle right curve, knowing my fiancée was both right and wrong. "Carter, you grew up with your parents right there with you every day. Never mind that Aunt Tabby was there too more often than not. I don't know many CEOs of major corporations who are able to take her son to Little League practice. You and I have never been latchkey kids."
"Let me have my excuses at least. It's better than having to go to counseling stating that I just have applied far too much of my brain power to remembering fifty years of television and movies."
I pulled into my target location, one of a half dozen so-called
that we owned around the city, parking my cycle inside. "Okay, I'll let you get away with it this time. But please, just try to limit the quips to stuff we've watched
It was Carter's turn to laugh, as we both knew he'd subjected me to thousands of hours of television and movies in the twenty four years that we'd lived in the same house. I didn't pay attention to most of it though, since while Carter was absorbing everything from
, I'd been the studious one. Not that Carter was dumb by any stretch of the imagination. He had the brains and red hair of his mother, and had actually graduated college at the same time I did, even though I was a year older than him. He just had that sort of sponge-like memory that allowed him to remember just about everything he encountered after only a single short exposure.
"Deal. Just remember I'm going to hold you to that."
Inside, I found the last of the gear that I wanted to take with me that night. Because the Bell Tower was also the residence of two very public figures within the city — new Mayor Patrick McCaffery and his wife, Tabby McCaffery, who was the CEO of MJT Holdings — along with a ton of other secrets that made the Pentagon look like a Boy Scout troop, we tried to minimize the amount of illegal things kept there. When we went on patrol, we minimized what we wore that would identify us to the outside world.
I opened the vault that I wanted, which contained light weaponry along with surveillance gear. "So what sidearm would you say I should take with me?"
"You know I love the phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range," Carter joked with a laugh.
"Just what you see, pal," I decided to return, catching the reference. "But seriously, what would you say?"
"I'd go with the selective flechette pistol," Carter said. "You're not looking at taking anyone down, but it gives you the option if you need to."
Carter had a good point. I looked over the nearly two dozen weapons on the wall, and picked out the flechette gun. It looked a lot like the Glock that Dad had carried when he was
, but with a thicker upper receiver. This was needed to carry the two different types of ammunition, which were slightly different in caliber. From the lower barrel I could fire lightweight stun rounds that would incapacitate anyone who wasn't wearing body armor or wasn't on some sort of drug. From the upper barrel I could fire heavier rounds that could penetrate up to an inch of concrete. You can guess what they'd do to a human being.
"All right, let's go with that," I replied, slipping it into the holster on my left ribs. I preferred the cross body draw, always had. "Then let's see, double check me here. Multi-spectrum camera, digital recorder, parabolic mike, short range sensors and standard personal load."
"Go over the personal load, just in case," Carter said, all business. It was one of the ways that I first came to know that he loved me. He never, ever allowed me to be flippant or careless about my personal protective gear. "Check me off."
"All right. Standard suit. Verify, muscular enhancers active, light armor," I said, reading the small display on the inside of my left wrist. How Mom, Dad and Uncle Patrick ever did what they did without the aids of technology that I had amazed me. Talk about guts. "Night vision in my cowl is good. Coms is good. Everything’s good, so let’s get this done and you can give me a total physical examination when I get home.”
"Don't tempt me. Now stay safe out there."
I grinned, it wasn't often that I was able to get one over on Carter. Attaching my gear to the hard points on my suit, I headed up to the roof of the base.
I was near the Playground, Uncle Pat's old neighborhood. I’d seen pictures of what the Playground looked like before, and it was nothing like what I saw below me. Sure, the Playground was still one of the poorest sections of the city, but as I looked down from the rooftop, I saw people out on the streets, and none of them looked like prostitutes or drug dealers.
Hopping rooftop to rooftop, I made my way east, where there had actually been some gang activity in the past few months. Despite twenty-five years of effort, Dad and Uncle Patrick hadn't been able to completely eliminate street crime in the city, either through their night-time or Patrick's day-time political activities.
I landed on top of an apartment building, noting that it was one of the new line of public housing units that MJT financed for the city. I looked down into the alley that ran behind. There were five men down there, all but one of them looking under the age of eighteen. I turned on my mike, catching one of them finishing up a comment to the others.
"So what did you do?"
"What could I do?
" the eldest looking of them said. "
Her stepmom had just walked in, I had my dick in her, there was no way in hell I was stopping. I just looked over at stepmom, she had a pretty tight body for thirty-seven, and asked if she wanted to join in. How the fuck was I supposed to know that she was down with that sort of freaky shit?
I shook my head, thinking this was a conversation that Barbara should listen to. She was the total freak in our generation, and probably would have enjoyed it. As for me, I just accepted that my soon-to-be sister-in-law had a much more voracious sexual appetite than I did. I just let the conversation continue, keeping my attention on them at least long enough to get past the stories of sexual conquest. Soon enough, one of them said something that caught my attention.
"Yo man, Mr. Clean really wants us to hit up the pharmacy?"
," the eldest replied. "
He says to me that our job is to hit every pharmacy we can in the Playground. He says other crews will be taking care of the rest of the city."
"Why, man? My Grandma gets her pills from the place down the street.
The eldest shrugged. "
Mr. Clean ain't telling me, but from what I'm hearing from others, there's a new player coming into town. They've got a new product that is supposed to really turn things on their head."
" one of the young ones asked. "
And this new dude, they're ready for Crimson Justice?
I had a small smile, imagining Carter's glower at the mention of his
name. He loved his reputation, and for him to not be the one to bust up this little group probably was driving him nuts.
That's what I'm thinking, but I think the one to watch for is Blizzard
," the eldest said. "
Not that it matters. You know who I'm ready for? Ice Princess. My body's more than ready for that honey.
There was a chorus of hoots and hollers, with one of the youngsters doing the classic hourglass silhouette routine with his hands. I don't wear the skin-tight suit because I'm trying to show off my body. I'm just the product of Mom's curvy nature and Dad's height, so I get to carry big boobs on my tall frame. It was the constant working out and physical activity that kept my waist slim. The skin-tight suit was there because that was what was needed for the muscular enhancements and body armor to work. As for if it distracted the bad guys, well, I'd use every advantage I could get.
"Sounds like maybe you should make an appearance," Carter said in my ear, eagerness in his voice. "You think you can take them?
Five unarmed guys? Come on, that's barely a warm-up," I replied. "But just to be sure, I'll have the pistol ready when I hit. Okay, honey?"
“Fine," Carter said. “Go have all the fun.”
I hopped off the lip of the building, just far enough that I could make sure I was going to miss anything sticking out going down. My boots are armored like the rest of my body, so I wasn't worried about someone's clothesline or something stupid like that, but hitting an air conditioner unit would totally suck. I hit lightly, my pistol already trained on the oldest of the boys. "Someone said they were ready for me?"
"Speak of an angel, and she shall appear," one of the boys said. Up close, I could see they were young, younger than I thought. "Damn."
"The four of you who are probably still in junior high school, I'm giving you a chance to go home. If I see you again, I'm not going to be so lenient."
"What about me?" the oldest said, getting to his feet. I had to give him credit for guts. While I hadn't had to kill anyone, that didn't mean my family hadn't. "What's your plan on that?"
"That depends on you," I said softly. "I'd prefer to let you walk into the police station by yourself after you tell me what you know."
"Or you get arrested in the hospital," I said simply. "Your choice."
I was happy that three of the boys immediately took off running down the alley away from me. Hopefully I'd scared them enough to stay away from the life of crime. Still, one of them stuck with his mentor. From appearance, he could be a younger brother, and he stepped away from the building toward me. I leveled my pistol at him. "Don't do it, kid."
"Why not? Everyone knows you're the nice one. Worst you're going to do to me is shoot me in the leg," the kid replied. He dropped his hands and charged, still fifteen feet away. For most people with a gun, that would have been close enough to not get a shot off. For me however, it was easy. My first shot caught him in the shoulder, spinning him around while not piercing the skin. My second shot caught him right where I wanted in the lower back. To him, he'd swear I'd just broken his back, when in reality I’d merely paralyzed him for the next five minutes with my special ammo.
His older brother used the chance to close with me, his right fist catching me in the jaw at the same instant my eyes went back to him. My cowl is armored, but the protection around that area is minimal. I can't turn my head or talk otherwise. So yeah, it hurt.
But hurt was all it did. Bringing my hands up, I caught his next punch, a looping overhand left and spun, sending him into the building back first. He hit hard, driving the wind out of him and dropping him to his hands and knees. I walked over and stepped on his outstretched fingers, not grinding too hard. Not yet.
"Now tell me about this Mr. Clean."