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Authors: Chantel Rhondeau

Tags: #New York City, #secret agents, #love, #Romantic Suspense, #Assassins

Love & Redemption

BOOK: Love & Redemption
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Love & Redemption

Agents in Love – Book 2

Chantel Rhondeau

Electronic Edition

Copyright 2014 Chantel Rhondeau

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Cover Design: EDH Graphics

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This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to an ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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This book is a work of fiction. The characters, names, events, and places in this novel are used fictitiously or are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, or to places, businesses, or events, is entirely coincidental.

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

DEDICATION

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Author’s Note

DEDICATION

To my best friend and biggest supporter, Conra. Thank you for helping me have the courage to chase my dreams, holding me up every step of the way. Love ya!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

A special thanks goes to my nephew, Remington B. Not only is he a fantastic medic, he took time from his busy schedule to explain to me exactly what goes on in the back of an ambulance and give me ideas for what sort of medical terms and conditions I was looking at.

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I’d also like to thank my critique partners, beta readers, and proof readers, who always help make my projects shiny: Author Rachelle Ayala, Author Michele Shriver, Author Travis Casey, Author Melinda Dozier, Sara Kay, Conra M., Michelle W., Nickie M., Elaine H., Danielle L., and Jude. I couldn’t do this without your help.

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My cover was designed by the talented Erin at EDH Designs.

Chapter One

Gavin Hart held his breath, hoping the two thugs wouldn’t notice the cover missing from the ventilation duct or look up and spot him inside. No matter how good he was at body control, Gavin couldn’t shimmy through the large ductwork without alerting them to his presence. If only he’d been able to get away before they entered the room. Now he helplessly watched the scene unfolding in the room beneath him.

The blonde opera starlet held out a small black bag, fidgeting her feet as she looked at the ground. “They said you’d have money. What’s with the guns?” Her hands trembled when the skinnier of the two men snatched the bag away. Perhaps she figured, as Gavin did, that the thugs didn’t plan to pay.

A slimy grin flitted across the darker-skinned man’s face. He hefted his gun. “The boss ordered a change in plans, Sierra.” He twisted a silencer onto the end of the pistol.

“The boss?” Sierra dropped to her knees and a tear tracked down her cheek. “No. Please, don’t kill me. Just take the diamonds.”

The man’s partner shook his head, brushing sandy hair from his eyes. “You know things don’t work that way. It was only a matter of time before we caught up with you. You should have vetted your customers better.”

“He’s going ahead with the bracelets? I’d hoped to stop him.” Sierra bowed her head and clasped her hands together, murmuring what sounded like a prayer.

“That won’t save you.” The dark man took a step forward and pressed the barrel of the gun against her head. “Such a waste of talent. You could have been a top S.A.T.O. agent if you hadn’t turned your back on Paul. You knew he needed these diamonds.”

Gavin swallowed down his horror, wishing he could do something to stop the inevitable. It would be foolish to try to save her. She took a risk by selling the high-quality diamonds. Whoever Paul was, he wasn’t the only person interested in them. Several clients approached Gavin about acquiring them. He didn’t know why they were special, but it was a bigger score than he’d landed in a long time.

Below Gavin, the man pulled the trigger and his weapon made a soft sound, almost like that of a pellet gun. Sierra collapsed to the ground. Red oozed from a small wound in the front of her head, trickling down the starlet’s face. Gavin then made the mistake of looking at the back of her head. What was left of it.

Jerking involuntarily, he bit back bile rising in his throat and slid slightly on the slick ductwork. His foot hit the side of the vent shaft, sounding out a loud, metallic ring.

Shit!

He tried to lean into the shadows, but the skinny man’s head snapped up and his blue eyes locked onto Gavin’s.

“Terrance,” he murmured. “We have a problem.”

***

Shelley Daniels sat in the opera house, focusing on the performers as best she could. Though her best friend had urged her to come to the show and enjoy herself, she felt stupid being alone. After only a few seconds in the private box, Shelley pulled the curtains closed, leaving only a sliver open to watch the show. She didn’t want the people in general seating to see how pathetic she was, all by herself and dateless.

She pulled the cell phone from her purse and found her best friend’s number in the texting program.
I’m leaving at intermission, Carlie. This was a bad idea. The singing isn’t even good.

The new star, Sierra Valentine, left the stage ten minutes earlier and it didn’t look like she’d be back until the next act. No one else had an ounce of talent, and Shelley wasn’t used to being on her own without a handsome date to distract her. Carlie had urged her to be independent and stop searching for a man to fulfill her life—easy for Carlie to say, since she was engaged to a wonderful man. Going to the opera alone was a ridiculous way for Shelley to start her independent lifestyle.

Her phone beeped.
Just sip your wine and enjoy. I know you’re nervous. You can do this.

Of course Carlie would say that. The eternal optimist. Even hunted by assassins for six years and later betrayed by the only two people she trusted, Carlie still saw the good in every situation.

My wine isn’t here yet,
Shelley responded.
I thought you said Nick took care of everything.

LOL. It will be there at intermission. Relax. See you in a week. Enjoy yourself in New York. You can always call me tomorrow before I go in for surgery.

Shelley shook her head. She should be home with her friend, holding Carlie’s hand while she worried about going in for plastic surgery in the morning. Even though she had lied to Carlie for the first year they knew each other, their friendship had grown strong in the past few months. Though Carlie knew Shelley’s name was actually Felicia, Carlie told her to be whoever she wished—she wasn’t bound by her past.

Since her past as Felicia didn’t hold much she was proud of, Shelley thought it would be nice to start over as someone new. The old her would have found a man by now to take to a hotel room and have wild sex, not caring about anything else. She wanted to change that. The new her should be home with Carlie, helping her through this rough time. But Carlie would never go for that.

She decided to try one last time.
I could catch a red-eye and be there by morning.

A noise sounded behind her as Shelley’s phone alerted her to an incoming message. “Leave the wine by the door,” she said without looking over her shoulder.

That’s a big NO. I’m baking and I’m fine. Let yourself have some fun. Talk to you later.

“I don’t have wine,” said a deep voice behind her, “and I need your help.”

Shelley whirled around with a gasp. Though the lights were low in the private box, she could make out the features of a man standing in the doorway quite well. His brown hair feathered away from his forehead and a well-tailored suit hugged his lean body. He appeared to be in his early thirties or so, the same age as Shelley.

“What are you doing in here?” she demanded.

“I thought this box was empty, but I don’t have a choice now. I’m out of time.” The stranger stepped into the box and closed the door. He crossed the short distance between them and took the chair next to her, leaning further into the shadows. “Look, I don’t want to put you in danger,” he said, “but I’m in trouble.”

“Obviously.” Shelley clutched her purse, now glad Nick had made arrangements for her to keep her gun even though New York City had strict rules against them. “What kind of trouble?”

The man swallowed audibly and looked at the doorway behind them. “Just pretend I’m your boyfriend and we’re enjoying the show together when some men come looking for me. I’ve been here the entire time, okay?”

“Not okay.” Shelley tucked a strand of long black hair behind her ear and raised an eyebrow. “Who are you running from?”

He shook his head. “It’s better if you don’t know.”

Slipping her hand into her purse, Shelley pulled out the gun and pointed it at the stranger. “I really think it’s better that I do.”

“Holy shit!” He raised his hands. “For a town with so many gun laws, you all certainly pack a lot of heat.”

She lowered the gun slightly. “You saw someone else with a gun?”

“Two men.” He nodded. “They killed that girl, Sierra, and caught me watching them. I wanted to help her, but I don’t have a gun and—”

“Sierra Valentine, the star of this show?”

He closed his eyes and his face paled. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

A muffled yell came from the box beside them and a woman’s voice exclaimed, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“They’re almost here,” the stranger said softly. “If you don’t help me, they’ll kill me.”

Shelley put her finger to her lips, cautioning him to be quiet while she struggled to hear what happened in the box next to them. Voices rumbled on the other side of the wall, but she couldn’t decipher the words. The sound died down, and Shelley had to make a decision. They’d be here next. Did she trust this strange man and believe his story, or turn him in? He might actually be the person who killed Sierra if she was, in fact, dead. Maybe it was police officers looking for him, and he planned to escape.

The door to her box opened, and Shelley made her decision. She leaned into the man, wrapping her arm around him and hiding her gun in the shadows along his side. She pitched her voice higher than normal. “I can’t wait for the wine, Fred. It makes me wild, and I’m about to get wild in here with you.” She pressed her mouth against his and ‘Fred’s’ arms circled her hesitantly, though he returned the kiss.

Footfalls thudded onto the thin carpet when two men entered the space, and Shelley continued kissing the stranger. It was hard to appreciate the feel of his lips in the thrill of the moment since her heart pounded fast with fear, but not impossible. ‘Fred’ ran his tongue across her top lip and a twinge of excitement arched through her. Trying to remind herself she’d sworn off men for a while, she ignored how good he smelled and how long it had been since she’d enjoyed a man’s company.

After a moment, she pulled away. “Looks like the wine’s here, lover.” She turned her attention to the doorway, though kept her face hidden mostly from view. “Set that by the door and leave. We’re busy.”

“We don’t have wine,” replied a gruff voice. “We’re looking for someone.”

The stranger’s hand spasmed against the back of Shelley’s dress, and her heart did a little spasm of its own. She knew that voice. If the men saw her clearly, she was in as much trouble as her new friend.

BOOK: Love & Redemption
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