I wanted to share with you today an excerpt from my second book, Dead Reckoning. Enjoy! --CJ
Seven Years Ago
Mykael tried not to react to the icy shiver of his words echoing along her spine.
“How do you know?”
“Where?” Peter glanced at the only entrance to their shelter.
“There. He’ll wait for me to come out.”
She knew he saw the terror in her eyes when he looked back, saw him try to take back the words.
“Maybe I’m wrong, Maria.”
“You aren’t wrong.”
“We don’t know it’s him.”
“Of course he’s there, you know he’s there. I can feel him, Peter!”
The man she loved more than life could only shrug. He didn’t know why his team branded him a traitor, but he did know they had. A traitor had only one option.
“I’ll go out the window, you try and talk to him. If you can get him to answer you, I can find him—“
Peter stopped her. “You won’t find him.” She shook her head, refusing to believe what he was ultimately telling her. “I will.”
“No one finds Ice. Ever. Not until he’s ready to be found.” “I’m going to try.” She faced him across the room, this man who had become her world. Her lover, her husband, the father of their unborn son.
“He’s got to listen—to understand—“
Mykael.” The whisper said everything he wouldn’t. He loved her. He didn’t understand why it had come to this, only that it had. When he walked out the door, he would die.
“Peter, please,” she whispered back. “At least, try. For me.”
She went to him then, pulling his head down for a kiss, a quick imprint of his lips on hers, his hand on her cheek, his very being on her heart for all eternity.
“For you,” he agreed.
She wanted to sob. “Maybe he’ll want to explain why I’m suddenly the enemy.” She let him lift her to the room’s only window, away from the door, and she tumbled out onto her feet, facing him.
“You won’t have long,” he warned.
“I won’t need long,” she promised. “Don’t rush.”
“He’ll see you in ten feet. I won’t let him take you.”
“He won’t have a chance. I love you, Peter.”
“I love you, Maria.”
For a second more, his eyes were fixed on hers, then he turned, catching up his rifle, heading for the door, while she shut him out of her heart and became what he’d taught her to be. A trained assassin. She got a tighter grip on her own rifle, stifling an urge to dust the hillside with preemptive gunfire.
“Ice! I didn’t set them up. I wouldn’t betray the team. You know that.”
Peter’s voice echoed in the small canyon.
Outside the miserable hut they’d called home for the past four months, her husband continued his bargain with the devil. “I’m puttin’ it down, Ice.” She heard the clatter of his rifle on the rocks, but wouldn’t look. The man about to die was Blade. An agent of the government’s elite Black Fire team. He just happened to be her husband. Her friend. Her partner. The father of the child that would come in three month’s time.
“Take me in, buddy. Let’s have a trial.”
She heard his knife clatter atop the gun, knew he was defenseless. The rugged mountainside ringing their valley held only evil and death. Now she could feel Ice as well. Feel his determination and knew the futility of Peter’s attempt at a conversation. A single gunshot rang out. That fast, her life was over. Ice. Her unblinking gaze roamed the mountainside.
Side to side, higher and higher with each scan. There, 500 feet away, he stood in the shadows in a gilley suit. She lifted her rifle to sight, found him gone, sprayed the area anyway. She was at the spot in less than a minute, verifying no signs of life anywhere, no trace of the man. No sound in the forest, no footsteps to follow. Ice was gone. She’d never met him, but she knew his rep–knew his work. Ice, the only name she had for her lover’s killer. But Mykael knew the man who had the answers she’d need. Only one man knew the names of all the team members.
She would find him. He would help her. Whether he wanted to or not. Ice would die. Not today. But he would die.