Author: J.L. Drake
Publisher: Limitless Publishing LLC
Cover Design: Deranged Doctor Designs
Photo: Allen Spiers
Model: Chase Ketron
Rain pelted my face as I pushed through the roar of the storm.
Deep in the belly of Mexico, my team and I were on the hunt. One of the cartel’s mules flipped and wanted a ticket to freedom. The information they held could be our game-changer.
Returning home to a civilian lifestyle was always an adjustment, even if it was temporary. However, a chance encounter with Catalina Mandas made that transition a little bit easier. She was sweet, sexy, feisty, and saw me for who I was. She completely captivated me.
But Catalina warned me that we could never be together, that her past and mine could never coexist. Secrets were standing in our way, but I wasn’t willing to let her go that easily.
Back on a mission, and possibly one of the biggest rescues Blackstone has ever pulled off, I collided with one of my biggest nightmares.
And now, two things will be tested…
Trust and freedom.
The music was loud, and the place was packed. It definitely wasn’t my comfort zone, but the guys wanted to blow off some steam after the last trip. So here I was, towering over most everyone, in a dance bar. I stood in the corner and watched people’s faces for any sign of aggression or for any sudden movement that could possibly mean a fight would follow. I had an urge to manhandle someone, and that wasn’t good. Maybe I’d just been spending too much time with Trigger. In his world, the law was just a word and not something to follow.
Oh, that reminds me.
“Cole.” I signaled for him to follow me. I led him outside to the poorly lit patio where a bouncer checked kids’ IDs.
“What’s up?” He downed a bottle of water and tossed it into a can.
“I just spent some time with Trigger.” I saw and understood Cole’s discomfort with the topic. He knew Trigger and I had a past, and he made the effort to respect that. It was important to me to keep my friendship with him. Cole knew Trigger and I were a lot more alike than most realized.
“How’s he doing?”
“Good. I know he carries his uncle’s death on his shoulders, but he’ll bounce back.”
“Mm,” Cole grunted. None of us were shy on the topic of death.
“He gave me this.” I handed him the scrap of paper. “It’s the location of Salvador’s summer house.” Cole smiled wryly at my description. Thesummer house was where Salvador kept his drugs and where his crew cut and bagged it for distribution.
“How legit is this?” He pulled out his phone.
“If Trigger gave it to me, it’s legit.”
Cole nodded his agreement and held his phone to his ear. “Tell him thanks.” He hit my arm and headed down the road for some privacy. “Frank, I’ve got something for you.”
I sagged against the cool bricks and closed my eyes, needing a moment to shake off Luna’s death. Now the hunt for her sister was that much larger. Poor Martina was a mess when we’d left her at the safe house.
Fuck the cartel!
My phone vibrated in my pocket, and I thought about ignoring it. It wasn’t until the fourth buzz that I gave in.
“Hi, Banner.” My mother greeted me with my childhood nickname. “Are you still coming by tomorrow? You never answered my text.”
Damn! I rubbed my head and tried to slip back into this life. It was hard to go from scaling cliffs and scoping out a kill to doing laundry and attending your sister’s birthday party.
“Sorry, Mom.” I turned my back to the bar door. I had completely forgotten about my sister’s birthday. “Yeah, I’ll be there. Four, right?”
“Okay, good.” She paused. “What’s wrong?”
“Just a hard week.”
“Well, you come by and let your mama take care of you.”
I grinned like a child. No matter how old I got, she still loved to care for me.
“Are the rest of the boys coming?”
“Mark mentioned about leaving a day early, but I think he just wants to find an excuse to get out of his son’s friend’s birthday party.”
“Well, you tell Marky he’s more than welcome. We always have extra food.”
“I will.” I chuckled. I knew all I had to do was mention a barbecue and Mark would be game. “Love you.”
“Love you more, Banner. Night.”
I slipped my phone back in my pocket and began to head inside when I heard someone softly curse behind me. I turned slowly to find a girl on her phone. The lighting was poor where she was standing, so I couldn’t get a good look at her face, but her long, lean legs under her black skin-tight dress did catch my attention. Her sexy curves had me moving closer.
“You need to call me back, Javier.” Her Hispanic accent was there, but you could tell she had spent a lot of time learning English. “And I want the camera back that you stole!” She brushed at her hair like she was upset. “You just…I need to know where you are.” She dropped her arm and swung around but jumped as she saw me.
“Sorry.” I raised my hands to show I wasn’t a threat. I’d learned through time that even when I was trying to be kind, people saw me as scary. “Didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”
Her shoulders sagged as she sighed. “It’s fine,” she said, trying to be nice. “Just a shitty night.”
“I hear ya on that one.”
Her gaze shot up to mine, and I saw the fire that smoldered behind her hazel eyes. She squinted and seemed to really look at me for the first time. For whatever reason, she reined herself back, and the embers faded from those eyes. I found myself wanting to fan the flames so I could see it again, but I left the thought alone.
“Rough night with your mom?” She snickered.
I couldn’t help but laugh at that. She must have spotted me when she left the bar.
“You always listen to other people’s phone calls?”
“I could say the same about you,” she shot back. “You were in my spot.”
“Spot?” I stepped a little closer, feeling like it was all right to do so, before I leaned my weight into the pole and hunkered down.
She tucked her phone into her tiny purse and folded her arms like she was chilly. “Yes. It’s one of the only well-lit spots around this dive of a bar. The place creeps me out.”
I nodded. She was right. The place did cast a lot of shadows.
“So, imagine my surprise when I go to step outside and see you,” she dragged her finger in the air, gesturing up the length of me, “in my spot chatting away to your mother.” She couldn’t help but smirk again.
The look on her face told me she was intrigued by me, and I kind of enjoyed that.
“Well, you’re in the one percent that didn’t turn away screaming.”
“You exaggerate, but why would I scream?” She seemed genuinely curious.
I held out my arms so she could get a good look. “What do you see when you look at me?”
She paused as she took me in. “I don’t know you.”
“I know, but first impressions matter, so tell me what you see.”
“Okay.” She stepped a little closer, which drew her into the light. My stomach twisted when I took in her slim body, long dark-brown hair that curled to the bottom of her back, slender legs, and a face that made my world tilt for just a moment.
“Stand,” she commanded like she took it seriously.
When she’s not writing, she loves to spend time with her family, travelling or just enjoying a night at home. One thing you might notice in her books is her love for the four seasons. Growing up on the east coast of Canada the change in the seasons is in her blood and is often mentioned in her writing.
An avid reader of James Patterson, J.L. Drake has often found herself inspired by his many stories of mystery and intrigue.
She hopes you will enjoy her stories as much as she has enjoyed writing them.