Authors: Leslie Johnson,Elle Dawson
Tags: #Military Romantic Suspense
Badass: Deadly Target (Complete)
Copyright © 2016 Leslie Johnson & Elle Dawson
Published By: Atrevida Publishing
Table of Contents
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are all made up in my mind. In other words, nothing is to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
© 2016 Leslie Johnson & Elle Dawson
Published by: Atrevida Publishing
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Don’t miss a single installment of Leslie Johnson’s captivating romance series.
Compelling and emotional saga where danger meets desire.
Meet Mia. She’s just an ordinary girl who’s working hard and getting by when a phone call changes everything. Within an hour, her carefully controlled world turns to chaos. And a man – the perfect man – becomes the only one she can turn to. And fear. And long for.
Meet Jax. Ex-Army Ranger, now CIA operative, he keeps a tight control on his actions and his heart. Because an angel holds it, and he’s been so certain he’ll never get it back. Love is in his past, he feels certain of it. Until he opens the door for her.
Thrust together by circumstances outside of their control, they must trust each other because they haven’t any other choice. And if she is who he thinks she is, will he be able to turn her in? Or will he break ever oath he’s ever made to protect her?
Welcome to Book Two, the exciting conclusion of the sexy Badass: Deadly Target series by best-selling authors Leslie Johnson and Elle Dawson. Intended for mature audience.
Although Badass: Deadly Target is a standalone series, you may enjoy reading the other Badass series first, now in complete sets:
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Deadly Target (Book 1)
Chapter 1 – Tatiana
It all comes down to this. My life.
I hang up the phone and run to my bedroom, throwing things into a bag without giving much thought to whatever comes to my hand. I need to hurry. I need to go. Now.
He’s on his way.
“Tatiana, you must go, now,” Stanislov had said only moments before, his voice demanding and rushed. “You’ve been found. There is no time. I’m sorry.”
The bastard had sat back and let me do all the work, knowing I’d been searching for those documents, had even come out of retirement after all these years to find them. Now that I have them, they will be my undoing. Because Viktor Stanislov isn’t the only person who knows I was on the trail.
had waited, watching me do his dirty work for him. And I hadn’t noticed.
But I’m on notice now. He’s planning to take those vital papers from me. It won’t be a pleasant exchange. He will kill me today. There is nothing I can do about that, not if he is half as good at killing as I used to be.
Vladivostok is far colder than my adopted home in California, so I head to the dresser and pull out the warmest clothes I can find. It has taken me ages to get used to the near constant warmth, the dryness. My childhood had been spent in the snow, nights huddled around a fire, layer upon layer of clothing heaped on at the height of the winter months. At times I still find myself stockpiling heavy woolen socks. Mia often laughs at me over that.
My heart squeezes in my chest and tears momentarily blur my eyes. My sweet girl. The light of my life. What will she think when I disappear? She’ll be devastated, and likely look for me, I know. Our bond is simply too tight for her to let me go so easily. But if all goes as planned, she will never find me.
never find me. I’ll never allow her to. I learned to cover my tracks years earlier, a skill a spy needs to be flawless at.
A skill that has failed me this time.
Somehow I’ve been tracked down. Perhaps I allowed myself to settle in too well. I’d been lazy, thoughtless, thinking retirement would wash away my past. Instead of staying on the move as I had when Mia was little and less likely to ask questions, I had rented a house and grown a garden. I’d put down roots. I told myself at the time that it was all right, that I would be safely hidden in plain sight. Now, I know the folly of my logic.
My throat tightens as I pack a framed photo of her, taken when she graduated high school, in my bag. She was so bright and young and happy, the very center of my existence. I wonder if she can ever forgive me for the lies and the deceit. I wonder, with heaviness settling in the pit of my stomach, whether my work will put her in danger. I pray it won’t, but know all too well how ruthless my enemies can be. I know, because I’ve been ruthless myself many times.
What sounds like a gunshot startles me, and I run to the window. A crowd gathers on the street. I’ve never seen so many people outside at once on a weekday morning. Gut instinct tells me something is very wrong. And I know what that wrong is. He’s creating a distraction because…
My hand shakes, the blinds trembling underneath my fingers. I drop the blinds against the window and pace the room, clenching my hands to stop the shaking. I tell myself that the stress of the past ten minutes is getting to me. There’s no reason to panic.
Pressing my fingers to my temples, I know better.
I’ve been panicky for months, in fact, because I knew my past was catching up to my present. I’d felt it but had tried to convince myself I was wrong. He’s been after me, toying with me, waiting for my search to reach its conclusion. Now, two choices stand before me. Either abandon my mission and leave the documents to fall into the wrong hands, or complete the mission and leave myself open to him. Both leave me in a lose-lose situation. No one knows that better than him.
Thinking back, I see now that I had caught glimpses of him. A man in a black suit in the middle of a park, or at the gas station. A few nights ago I noticed him at a restaurant while sitting down to have dinner with my daughter. I’d panicked, trying to tell myself I was being paranoid, old age dimming my wits. But I’d been so upset, I’d left the restaurant, horrified that he had seen me with her. I prayed he didn’t track her. I didn’t want to leave her in danger.
I curse my stupidity. Why did I accept that last assignment? I’d known the logic behind it. An older woman wouldn’t seem threatening at all. I’d thought it would be easy, in and out, then accept the cash free and clear. Cash I could give to my Mia, help her to no longer struggle, maybe leave her job as a clerk. She could go back to school and fulfill her dream of being an engineer, not working for them as an assistant. Since she already has her associate’s degree, it would only take her a couple more years.
But no, I’d apparently lost my touch. What did I do wrong? Or was I setup from the beginning? I just don’t know. And if I was set up, by whom? Viktor? No, surely not.
Other questions also spin through my head. How he’d known I’d found the documents is the most pressing. Did he also know of the document’s original location? Or that I play both teams, Russian and American? If so, that alone could get me killed.
get me killed.
I stop. Stop everything, as that realization comes front and center. I look at my suitcase, filled with things I’ll never need again and touch her picture one last time. Her beautiful face. The bright smile. The hope that sparkles in her eyes.
“I’m so sorry, Mia,” I whisper to my lovely daughter, then calmly and quickly unpack my things and shove the suitcase in the back of the closet. I’m going to die today and I don’t want Mia to learn that I’d planned to leave without a word.
It’s pointless to run.
Walking to the kitchen, I pull a tumbler from the cabinet. Now that I know the game is over, relief makes my muscles loose and relaxed. I accept the inevitable. All the running and lying and killing can stop now. Weariness washes over me like an unexpected wave. A sharp laugh bursts from my chest. I’ve been tired all along, but only noticed now, the moment I know it will be over soon.
I go to the freezer and pull the ice tray from the back, popping four cubes from their bed. Three go into my glass, while I hold the fourth in front of my eyes for a moment, before sliding it back into its small home and returning the tray to its place. I put a few packages of meat in front of it, to hide it for a little while, at least. I don’t want him to find it so easily. Maybe he won’t and Stanislov’ team will locate it once they arrive.
Lifting my glass, I take a long swallow of the vodka I’d poured so generously. The drink of my home, the one I had been raised on. One of my life’s greatest pleasures is good vodka.