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The higher the risk, the harder the fall.
Four years ago, Angela Reardon was brutally attacked, and she still bears the physical scars and traumatic memories. While she’s worked hard to overcome her fears and build a successful business, she’s still haunted by her inability to identify her assailant. Now Angela only wants to be left alone-until a shadowy stranger reignites her desire to be loved. But their time together may be brief…because someone wants her dead.
CIA Assassin Jake Stone’s targets deserved to die. Until now. Until he falls in love with the innocent woman he’s been hired to kill. Jake can’t fight his attraction to Angela, and he knows that someone else will be sent to finish the job. So can he save Angela and redeem himself by uncovering who wants her killed? When the trail leads him into the carnal underbelly of L.A., the truth is more shocking than even he could ever imagine.
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On the small patio table beside the chaise lounge sat an empty Jack Daniel’s bottle. When Jake had opened the bottle after returning from Angela’s condo, he’d vowed to drink it all or die trying. Now, eleven hours later, he almost wished for the latter.
He cursed the moon bathing him in a soft glow. The landscaping and pool lights were turned off because he wanted to drink and grieve in complete darkness. Anyone in his right mind would guess he was grieving for Angela Reardon. He wasn’t.
Jake Stone was grieving for himself.
He raised his glass, toasted the silence, and tossed back the final swallow of whiskey. Then he hurled the empty bottle over the edge, shattering it against something far below. His harsh laugh reverberated off the boulder-strewn hillsides.
His blurred vision landed on the photograph lying on the table beside him. The identification photo had arrived immediately after he’d accepted the contract fifteen weeks ago. Her blond hair was shorter, and Jake had never seen her wear the red dress that draped the curves of her body so enticingly. But Angela’s amazing eyes and inviting lips smiled back at him. His mouth moved with the memory of those warm, soft lips against his.
Pushing his head back into the cushion, he closed his eyes and wished that the liquor could erase his memories. But there was no chance of that. He was too well-trained—and too hardened a drinker—for the alcohol to wipe clean the slate of his mind.
He grimaced. That was only one of his skills. Many others were unspeakable.
As a Navy SEAL, he had been trained to kill efficiently. In fact, he’d done it so well the CIA had recruited him. Under their tutelage, Jake honed the skill of killing stealthily. He carried out political assassinations and sanctions. He taught himself how to murder cunningly. All of his later hits had been successfully disguised as suicides. When he got tired of politics muddling up his missions, he’d resigned.
After months of pleading, the Agency had convinced him to return as a contract assassin. The independence appealed to Jake. Instead of being ordered to carry out a hit, he could decide which contracts to accept. But even with the greater control, he burned out again after a year. He feared that killing was slowly, irreparably, destroying his soul. Although he’d quit with a welcome sense of relief, he still firmly believed that all his targets had deserved their fate.
The hours he’d spent researching and investigating Angela hadn’t uncovered a single shred of evidence supporting the Contractor’s claim that she’d stolen and sold State Department secrets, resulting in an operative’s death.
Something was wrong. Someone was lying.
Whoever wanted Angela Reardon dead was the immoral, evil asshole who deserved to die. Not Angela.
Silently, he vowed to ferret out who and why. And then he would execute the bastard.
Jake laughed mirthlessly.
He had killed for patriotism and for money.
This time, he would kill for redemption.