Authors: Geri Foster
OUT OF THE
Out Of The Shadows
By Geri Foster
Copyright 2013 by Geri Foster
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
Author contact information: [email protected]
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, events, or locales is purely coincidental.
This book dedicated to my husband, Laurence Foster. After all these years you’re still my one and only love. Thank you for your support, and for believing in me when I had doubts. You’ve shown me that dreams really do come true and love isn’t just in romance novels.
Before her next heartbeat a strong arm coiled around her ne
ck. A quick shot of adrenalin hurled her into action. She kicked and yelled while clawing viciously at the forearm across her jugular. The assailant jerked, and her back collided with a chest hard as the weapon.
With a flex of his bicep, the
attacker tensed, and Kate stretched to her toes, hoping to relieve the pressure on her throat. Another move and her air supply would be severed completely. Not willing to let that happen, Kate struck back her elbows.
Afraid she’d pass out if he
did something stupid, Kate locked her jaws, kicked backward and pushed with all her strength. A grunt slipped from her lips. Barefoot and taken by surprise, she couldn’t break free.
erratic heart tempo shook her chest as she fought. At the prospect of having only seconds to live, Kate looked around frantically to get a visual on the intruder who’d breached her security.
From the corner of her eye
she spotted, reflected in the vanity mirror, a vague outline of a tall male dressed in black. She didn’t need to look. Instincts told her a man held her hostage.
pungent smell of his testosterone, and the feel of a body designed to fight told the story. By all indications, the situation wouldn’t end well, and she wasn’t foolish enough to expect a miracle.
Deep in the shadows,
she sensed the ugly face of death sneak a peek at the situation and laugh. Ignoring defeat, her training kicked in, and a strained calm settled in place.
He hadn’t covered her mouth. That meant
he knew she slept alone and lived far enough from her neighbors that no one would hear a sound.
Tightening her jaw
, Kate inhaled deeply, tensed her muscles then slammed back against the hardened body. On the silent count of three, using all her strength, she forcefully bent forward, trying to flip the man over her shoulder.
he grunted from the effort, but achieved no results. This guy had either nailed himself to the floor, or he worked as a sumo wrestler.
Slippery sweat covered
her skin where their bodies met.
Not giving her opponent time to regroup from her
last attempt, Kate swung her foot back behind his leg, hooked his calf and kicked out.
He didn’t budge.
“Who do you work for?” she gasped, digging her nails into his leathery flesh. By God, she had the right to know who had put out the mark.
Gritting her teeth
, Kate tightened her fists and jabbed her elbows back. She landed a solid blow to his ribcage. A puff of air whizzed past her right ear. He staggered against the bathroom wall and sent a picture to the floor with a crash. Yet his confining hold remained firm.
shit,” he hissed against the side of her face. The warmth of his breath on her cheek sent a frosty warning down her spine, splashing through her body like a burst water balloon. The creepy rasp of his voice clawed at her flesh. “You want to die tonight?”
ate shook her head, flinging strands of hair away from her face. “Maybe the cards will turn in my favor.”
“Don’t count on it.”
“Oh, I’m counting on it, all right. Kicking your ass is my new goal.”
“Lots have tried.
I always like to be among the elite.”
A harsh chuckle
vibrated in his throat. “They were just lucky.”
Ha. Says the loser.”
Whoever this guy was
, he was broader than her back and a good seven inches taller than her five feet five. When he yanked her tighter, masculine heat slipped around her like a second skin.
constricted her muscles and her jaw tightened in helplessness as his chest, stomach, and thighs pressed intimately against her body. The bulge between his legs rested near the waistband of her panties.
How could th
is happen? Yes, she was an agent for the CIA, and considered good at what she did. Of course, she had enemies, but she’d made sure they couldn’t find her. Her own home had always been a safe haven.
The assailant flexed the muscle
d forearm beneath her chin to get her attention, and Kate tensed.
How long had he been in her house?
Long enough that his body had acclimated to the fact that her air conditioner had gone out and the house felt like a sauna. Even the whirling fan overhead did little to ease the discomfort.
“I’m not here to hurt
you,” said a voice hard as metal and rough as a nail file. “But if you get stupid on me, I’ll waste you without a second thought.”
Controlling her breathing,
Kate sniffed. No cologne or deodorant. No garlic or liquor on his breath. No scents, no sounds and no features. The man knew his business. He was a pro.
She licked lips dry as
burnt toast. “What do you want?”
” Hope that this might be a mistake evaporated. No mix-up or random act of violence. She
the intended target.
Sweat drenched his body
. Thick, course hair covered an arm strong enough to snap her neck before she could scream. She had to do whatever necessary to keep that from happening.
It appeared he didn’t intend to hurt her. N
ot yet anyway, but that could change at some point.
“I have a little score to settle.
The bad news is you’re the bait.”
She tightened her grip on his arm
. “I still don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“If you’re lucky
, this will be over soon.” The gun to her head, he ordered, “Move.”
Her shoulders plastered against his chest, he loosened his grip and slowly slid along the wall
. “Watch the broken glass.” His arm skimmed to her waist and he lifted her effortlessly. He stepped backwards and then lowered her feet to the bedroom carpet so quickly she hadn’t time to think. “Don’t want you cutting your feet and leaving a trail of blood.”
His familiarity with the
surroundings proved he’d been here before, and that insulted her personally and professionally.
Kate’s skin sizzled
at the closeness of their damp clothes. She stumbled and brought her bare foot in contact with the toe of his boot. Were they military or covert?
Few could manage what he’d just pulled off.
Anyone in her occupation knew the first line of defense was self-protection. Leave nothing to chance. She hadn’t.
sophisticated alarm system cost a fortune, but she’d considered the expense a wise investment, until now. Doors rigged, windows sealed, and the outer perimeter clean, clear, and unobstructed. She thought she’d created a safe environment...
er paused. His scratchy jaw scrubbed against her cheek, setting her nerves ablaze. “I’ve warned you that I don’t plan to hurt you. But, you cooperate or die.”
, she released one hand from his arm, leaned over and reached out.
Pulling her away
from the bed , a chuckle rumbled from his chest. “The first thing I did was take the gun from beneath your pillow.”
“I may not give you a reason to blow my head off,” she gritted out.
“But before this is all over, you may wish I had.”
Brody Hawke blew off Kate Stone’s threats as nothing more than talk. Okay, she was capable-he’d give her that. And the CIA considered her one of their best agents, but she was still a woman. A woman he outweighed by a good seventy-five pounds, and over whom he had eight years experience.
he bureaucratic CIA could take a flying flip and kiss his ass. Oscar Chavez and his drug cartel had his partner. People didn’t last long in Chavez’s custody, and A.J. had been there two weeks. Brody’s buddy’s chances were slim to none.
Brody had scoured beneath every rock
searching for a way to rescue his friend. Then out of the blue a source told him the drug dealer and Miss Stone had once been lovers.
The exact edge Brody needed
When the heel of his boot landed on a wooden floor, Brody knew they were in the hall and heading in the right direction.
The woman froze when his right elbow brushed the wall and the gun jammed against her temple.
e wanted her scared. Otherwise it could get ugly, and he didn’t want this to blow up in his face. After ten years of covert action, he’d never hurt a woman, but desperation edged him on to do whatever necessary to bring A.J. home.
Brody had considere
d and reconsidered a hundred different scenarios before resorting to kidnapping a federal agent. He wasn’t stupid enough to think he’d get away with this shit.
Hell fucking no.
The time would come when he’d pay for his actions, but the cost didn’t matter.
Getting A.J. back on American soil was the only thing he cared about
. When a man takes a bullet for you, there wasn’t much you let stand between you and saving his ass.
His hostage deliberately
took smaller steps. “Don’t go limp on me, Stone. You won’t like the results.”
“I already don’t like the results...or you.”
For the last six days she’d been his obsession. After he learned about her and Chavez, he wondered what her superiors would think if they knew. The things he’d found out about people thanks to good contacts continued to amaze him.
nt of body lotion and freshly washed hair slapped Brody in the face like a wet rag, but he resisted the urge to dip his nose. The exotic aroma of a woman at nighttime couldn’t tempt him. If he had to harm her, he damn sure didn’t want to remember her scent.
ds, Brody paused at the sliding glass door in the living room. He glanced left and saw the rear door still open.
Days earlier on recon, he’d memorized how many steps from the bathroom to the exit then deliberately broke
n her air conditioner hoping she’d unlocked a window, but she knew her business. So he spent ten minutes picking the high tech backdoor lock without a flashlight instead.
Talk about a challenge.
Desperate for time, Brody knew he had to get her outside, in his car, and tied up. The man inside Chavez’s camp expected them by twelve thirty. He had to be on time. Late could mean death for A.J., and he’d already been held too long.
they reached the door, a powerful elbow slammed into his sternum. With a strangled
, his lungs emptied and his knees buckled. When he bent to gasp for air, Stone pulled loose, spun out of his grasp, and sprinted out the backdoor. She vanished in the blackness like a ghost.
“Son of a bitch!
Though familiar with the
yard, Brody had left nothing to chance. Reaching in his cargo pants pocket, he pulled out his night-vision goggles. Once in place, he caught sight of Stone pole-vaulting over the eight-foot privacy fence into her neighbor’s yard.
He’d been careless to underestimate Stone and not to take care of her escape route. He had the same setup in his own yard.
Taking off at a full run, Brody catapulted over the fence, landed on all four
s then caught sight of her slipping through the gate. Wasting no time, he followed her to the street. Once there, he took off in a dead run. Brody calculated he’d have her before the first intersection.
Sweat stung hi
s eyes as he watched his prey practically fly. Damn, she ran like a guy. Her long strides, frantically pumping elbows, and high chest had her in the lead by a good margin.
hot Texas wind carried the scent of cut grass and scorching asphalt. The humid air slammed against Brody, flew through his short hair, and plastered his black T-shirt to his chest. Watching her sprint toward the main highway, Brody smiled as adrenaline surged through his body. Those bare feet would surely hamper her progress.
great breaths of air, Brody struggled to catch up. He groaned when she moved further ahead of him. With or without shoes, the woman could move.
Then he remembered she
ran marathons to keep in shape. She could run for miles.
Brody thought of A.J.
and increased his speed. She could run, but so could he. Kicking it up a notch, he ripped off his night-vision goggles and stashed them in his pocket. Driven by desperation, he gained on her every time his foot hit the pavement.