She’s running out of friends—and out of time.
CIA operative Elizabeth Aiken is on her own. After a rescue operation in Venezuela goes south and her cover is blown, Elizabeth barely escapes the country with her life. Set adrift by the Agency and with a price on her head, she seeks out the only person who can help her disappear.
Unfortunately, the devastatingly attractive former operative wants nothing to do with her or the cartel-backed Venezuelan president who wants her dead. Worse still, if Elizabeth’s not careful, she’ll end up losing her heart instead of watching her back…and there’s no room for mistakes with assassins hot on her trail.
Helping her could destroy everything he’s worked for.
Former Marine-turned-CIA operative.
Current bar owner.
Shane “Viper” Quinn has spent years constructing the perfect cover, and he’s not about to sacrifice it for a woman he barely knows. Even if she is strong and beautiful and makes him long for sultry nights that could destroy his carefully crafted life.
Still, Shane is forced to fight his growing attraction to the fearsome ex-agent while keeping her in one piece. Elizabeth’s enemies are now his enemies—and they aren’t going to stop until everyone who stands against them is eliminated. Will having the deadly Viper by her side be enough to save her?
Shane stepped from the stale air of the convenience store into sunshine and early warmth of what would be an odd 80-degree May day. Pedestrians veered around him, some on their way to the el station half a block up. At 7:30 on a Tuesday morning, the streets of Chicago swelled with commuting warriors.
Hell, at this hour, even a man with his background took his life into his hands on the street.
Typically, he’d be at the bar already, prepping the kitchen for the lunch rush and checking stock on anything the cook might need. Say, the all-important cheddar cheese. Which, according to the text he’d received thirty minutes earlier, they were out of. And holy shit, how could that be? He got an order twice a week. One on Monday, one on Thursday. Yesterday had been busy, but not that busy. How the hell did they go through his entire order in less than a day?
If his biggest problem was a lack of cheese, he’d count it as a good day. Someone had probably stored the wayward cheese in the wrong spot or he hadn’t received the full order. Either way, something got fucked up.
He hooked a left at the corner and headed the last two blocks to the bar. A woman fell in next to him, impressive considering his long stride and her being at least half a foot shorter.
She stayed right with him, her gait steady.
A normal person wouldn’t think twice.
Unfortunately, he hadn’t been normal—whatever that meant—in two years and the hairs on his forearms danced. He gripped the grocery bag and slid his gaze in her direction. Long dark hair fell over her shoulders. Straight nose. Soft, rounded cheeks. Tiny freckle on the left. Her whole look made him think Iowa farm girl and he definitely didn’t know any of those.
He cleared his throat, picked up his pace, hoping she’d get the idea that she should back. The fuck. Off.
And yet . . . nuh-uh. He let out a low grunt as she triple-timed her steps to keep up. Some people didn’t take a hint. Now he’d have to let her know he wasn’t interested in anything she was selling, handing out or preaching.
He kept his eyes straight ahead. “Do I know you?”
Interesting. Sweet voice to go with the farm girl look. In his experience, those were the women to fear. The ones who’d work a man to a vulnerable spot—say naked—and then shove a .45 under his chin. Or other parts worth protecting. He cleared his throat. “Okay.”
“I need your help.”
His help? What was this now? As much as he wanted to halt and ask her just that, he wouldn’t. He’d keep moving, his mind wandering to the knife strapped to his ankle.
“Sorry,” he said. “All out of help. Have a good one.”
“I was told to expect surly.”
Surly? Sweetheart, you have no idea.
“Who told you that?”
“A friend. A mutual friend.”
Shane finally stopped, stared straight ahead at the traffic snarling the intersection. He looked down, studied her for a solid thirty seconds. The deep brown eyes that bordered on black, the fading bruise on her cheek. The scar above her perfect eyebrow. Someone had put hands on this woman. Rough hands.
As much as he hated it, not his problem. Once upon a time maybe, not now.
“I don’t have a lot of friends,” he said.
“You have a few. And one of them said you could help me. You know what I’m talking about.”