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Authors: Lisa Marie Rice

Into the Crossfire

BOOK: Into the Crossfire
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Into the Crossfire

Lisa Marie Rice

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This book is dedicated to the men

who have always protected their loved ones.

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Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Other Books by Lisa Marie Rice

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

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Chapter 1

San Diego

June 28

Well, well. Look at that.

Sam Reston leaned his shoulder against the wall of the hallway of his office

building and simply drank in his fill.

There she was.

His own personal wet dream, standing there in the hallway between his

office and hers, desperately scrabbling through a huge, expensive-looking purse.

Everything about her was expensive, classy. Top of the line. Real high

maintenance, too. The kind of woman he stepped right around without a second

thought because he didn't have the time or the inclination, but shit, with her he'd

make an exception.

Any man would.

Nicole Pearce. The most beautiful woman in the world. Certainly the most

beautiful woman he'd ever seen, hands down.

He remembered every second of the moment he'd first laid eyes on her.

Two weeks, three days and thirty minutes ago. But who was counting?

He'd been under cover, infiltrating a gang of smugglers and thieves working

the docks. His client, a big shipping company, had found it impossible to get a

handle on the losses incurred during transhipment at the docks, which last year had

totaled almost $10 million.

The police had gotten nowhere and the company suspected that someone

somewhere was being bought off. Sam hoped it wasn't in the police department.

His brother Mike was a SWAT officer with the San Diego PD and incredibly

proud of it.

Someone had definitely dropped the ball, though. So the ship owner had

decided to go private.

Smart move.

For a hell of a lot of money, Sam had gone under cover, working the night

shift as a stevedore, spreading word around that he wasn't averse to some underthe-table money. He'd been contacted, and had quickly made his way up the

hierarchy of the Bucinski gang, finally rising to the point where they had included

him on two major hauls. He'd been wired to the teeth and had about a hundred

photographs nailing gang members, their scumbag boss, and three corrupt Port

Authority employees.

The fuckheads had not just been stealing cargo, they were involved in sex

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trafficking, too, bringing in kidnapped young girls hidden in the holds of

legitimate ships, the owners of the ships entirely unaware of their human cargo.

The whole gang was going down. The shitheads deserved the needle but

wouldn't get it. Each of them would, however, spend the next twenty to thirty

being some gangbanger's newest girlfriend, which might even be better.

So Sam had looked like a scumbag the day he first saw her. Being a

scumbag had been his job for the previous two weeks.

When San Reston did something, he did it well.

Going under cover wasn't like in the movies. You ate, dressed, acted and

even smelled the part. While under cover, he rarely washed or shaved, and wore

the same clothes for days at a time. He knew he smelled ripe and looked

dangerous. Well, hell. He was dangerous--he was murderous with rage at the

thought of fuckheads willing to rape little girls spending even one day out of jail.

He'd been up thirty-six hours straight and was just coming into the office

after another all-nighter to shower, change and grab a few z's on his very

comfortable office couch when he'd seen her.

Actually, he smelled her before he saw her. The elevator pinged, the doors

opened and some floral...thing that traveled into men's heads through the nasal

passageways and fucked with their brains reached out and walloped him.

He saw her a second later and froze. Simply froze. Later, when he'd

untangled his head from his ass, he'd been amazed. He'd been a SEAL until his

eardrum blew, and he'd been a damned good one.

SEAL training beats surprise right out of a man. You have to have good,

solid nerves just to think of trying out for BUD/S. If you were the easily surprised

type, you were weeded out fast.

Nothing took him by surprise, ever.

Except Nicole Pearce.

Sam had known that the tiny studio office across the hall had been rented

out. The building's manager had told him. To a translation agency--though Sam

had no fucking idea what that could be--run by one Nicole Pearce.

He hadn't thought more about it.

That particular morning he was more exhausted, filthy and pissed off than

usual. He smelled, too, of sweat and beer. He was in a shitty mood, ready to cut

the job short simply to get the top guys into the slammer fast. But he knew better.

With the evidence he was getting, the entire operation would go down and that

was worth a few extra days or weeks living with slime.

A second after that amazing, womanly smell chock-full of pheromones

went straight to his dick, he saw her, and his entire body seized up. He was unable

to move, unable to breathe, for a second or two.

Midnight black, glossy shoulder-length hair, enormous, uptilted eyes the

exact color of the cobalt glass sculpture he'd turned down as too expensive for his

office, eyes with lashes so long and thick they could stir up a breeze, slightly

overlarge mouth with that Angelina Jolie dent in the bottom lip, perfect straight

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little nose, creamy skin.

Fuck-me shoes.

Incredible hourglass figure poured into a demure blue suit that exactly

matched the color of her eyes and hugged curves guaranteed to make any male

within a one-mile radius salivate.

She sure had the two moving guys salivating, as she directed them carrying

in a heavy teak desk and a tiny antique sofa. They were doing her bidding like two

puppy dogs hoping for a bone.

She turned to look at him directly, at the ping of the elevator, and Christ, all

he could do was stare at the dazzler with the deep blue eyes.

Eyes that watched him warily.

Sam was exhausted, but a man would have to be dead not to have all his

hormones wake up at the sight of the most beautiful woman on earth. And, hell,

his hormones weren't the only thing to wake up.

Instant boner, right there in the upscale hallway of the very expensive

building he'd chosen as headquarters of his new company.

Shit.

Thank God he had on his tightest jeans because she was already looking

alarmed at the sight of him. Who could blame her? He'd put a lot of care into

looking like a scumbag, walking like a scumbag, thinking like a scumbag, even

smelling like one.

And he was enraged down to the bone at the sex trafficking he'd

discovered. That was something that was hard to switch off.

A woman like this would have antenna way out there where men were

concerned. She'd be able to read men like other women read fashion magazines. It

was a fact of her life. She was stunning, with the kind of natural good looks that

would carry her through from childhood to old age as a beauty. So she'd grown up

with the background buzz of hot male attention and she'd have learned to filter out

the bad ones, the dangerous ones pretty quick.

He wasn't bad but he was dangerous and he carried that with him, like a

shroud. He'd had a brutal childhood and had learned street fighting before he could

read. By adulthood, he was really good with his fists, with a knife, hell--with a

rock. Uncle Sam had taken what he was by nature, refined it, armed him up and

spent over a million dollars turning him into a killing machine.

He'd made his living as a soldier leading hard men, and now as a civilian he

made his living being tougher than most.

He'd come straight into the office after working the night shift on the docks,

then sharing a beer with the man who'd recruited him for Bucinski, Kyle Connelly.

Sam had nursed one beer to Connelly's ten, and laughed while the pusbag told him

about the perks of the job. Extra money, all the drugs you could snort or shoot up

and sex. Sam had had to listen while Connelly bragged about handcuffing a

twelve-year-old Vietnamese girl to a steel post and raping her. Sam had even had

to commiserate with the fucker, whining because he'd been sore afterward, after

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popping the girl's cherry.

Listening to this, laughing, slapping him on the back in sympathy, had been

one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do in his hard life. His hands had literally

itched to draw out the garrote wire in his belt and rip the fucker's head right off.

So he'd been fighting mad when the doors had opened and--whoa. The

world's most beautiful woman, right there in front of him.

He'd actually had to rub his eyes, sure that what was right before him had to

be some kind of vision, maybe some kind of compensation for the horrible night.

Her eyes had widened when she'd seen him. He knew what she was

seeing--a very large, very strong, hugely pissed-off man, dressed like a bum and

smelling like one, too.

Well, he couldn't shave, wash and change his clothes right then and there

and there was nothing he could do to kill those deadly pissed-off vibes so he'd

merely walked down the corridor and entered his office.

Her huge cobalt blue eyes had followed him warily every step of the way.

She'd actually stepped back as he approached, which pissed him off even more.

Goddamn it, the last thing he'd ever do was hurt a woman.

Though, in fairness, she couldn't possibly know that. Probably every cell in

her single urban female body was screaming danger. He knew she was single

because though he saw she had some fancy rings on those pretty hands of hers,

none of them were on her left-hand ring finger.

She absolutely had to be single because Sam couldn't even remotely

imagine a man married or even engaged to a looker like that who wouldn't put a

rock the size of her head on her finger, to warn other men off her. And what

husband or fiance wouldn't be around to help his woman move into her new

office?

She couldn't know that his rage wasn't in any way directed at her, of course,

but at the system. He wanted to nail the gang right now and send them all into the

slammer five minutes later, special treatment reserved for one Kyle Connelly,

child rapist.

But what you want and what you can have are very different things. No one

knew that more than he did. So he'd had to stay under cover, sick at heart,

wondering if some other little girls were being raped while he put together enough

evidence to put the fuckers away. And to do that he had to stay in Scum-land for

another couple of weeks.

So every time Nicole Pearce saw him, he'd been tired and grim and dirty,

inside and out. Dealing with the scum of the earth was filthy work.

BOOK: Into the Crossfire
12.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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