I’m not done giving away free chapters. Having released the prologue and chapter one, enjoy chapter two of my new book, the fast-paced suspense thriller The Trojan Conspiracy!
Three people dead. One a federal agent.
Erin Kinsley watched the television intently. Anxiously. No one was returning her calls. No one had told her what had happened, who had died.
She should have been there, leading the charge. Instead, she was home with her leg bound in a cast. Left out of the loop, unable to assist in the field. It was a terrible feeling. “One federal agent killed” was all the news had to say. The ominous words repeated over and over in her mind.
But if something had happened to Ryan, John would have called. Whitmore would have called. Someone would have called by now.
She hobbled into the kitchen. The leg no longer hurt, but for a woman as active as she was, and who needed to be active to do her job, it was a daily reminder that she still had over a month to go before she’d be back to full speed. She hunted criminals for a living, but she had been sidelined by an old man who hadn’t seen her crossing the street. She’d been lucky, but right now she felt no such way. Delegated to desk duty until she was fully recovered, she felt the walls closing in around her.
Most days she would relish the rare opportunity to hang around her house on a Saturday afternoon, but with her boyfriend, another FBI agent, off leading a massive manhunt, she felt completely out of the loop. Even though she was receiving periodic updates, the silence in between was deafening.
She jumped as the front door swung open and Ryan Harper appeared. His intense gaze went right to her and he smiled, but she could see the frustration in his eyes. She knew him too well to be tricked by his outward calmness.
“Hey,” he said in as upbeat tone as he could manage. He looked tired as hell. He’d barely slept in days, and the adrenaline from the phone tip that came in earlier was apparently wearing off. His normally handsome, chiseled face was worn, the muscles in his cheeks sagging from fatigue. He had a bandage over one eyebrow.
“I didn’t expect to see you anytime soon,” she greeted him warmly as he embraced her. She didn’t want him to see that she’d been fearing the worst. He held her for a second, then pecked her on the lips. She smiled, her eyes concerned. “What happened to you?”
“Dodged a bullet, hit a countertop,” he said matter-of-factly like he always did. He wasn’t one to sugarcoat, except when she asked how she looked in certain dresses. “You heard about Russell?”
“No,” she gasped, picturing the agent in her mind. Fortyish, an infectious laugh. She hadn’t known him well, but they were all family. When one died, they all felt it.
“It was so sudden. We didn’t even have a chance to react. Two civilians died, too. Total cluster.”
“What happened out there?” she looked into his brown eyes. They’d found that the sooner they talked about things, no matter how horrible or disturbing, the faster they could get on with their lives. Ryan summarized what had happened, and described Morgan— a man in his mid-forties, slightly stocky but athletic, strong and agile. Graying brown hair, a weathered yet unremarkable face, except for his piercing gray eyes.
“He nearly killed me,” Ryan said. “He could’ve killed many more if he had chosen to. Didn’t waste a single bullet.”
“So what are you doing home?”
“We’ve got cops looking everywhere, but he isn’t going to be easy to find. John’s talking with Morgan’s girlfriend. Whitmore sent me home to take a shower, change clothes… see you, of course.” He smiled his first genuine smile of the day, and it was enough to distract them from their subject.
“Got any need for a crippled woman?” she asked.
“No, you’re pretty useless,” he joked.
She smacked him on the arm. He laughed, grabbing her wrist.
“I might get lonely in the shower,” he glanced down the hallway toward the bedroom.
“Well, that’s too bad, because I can’t get my cast wet.”
“Hmm,” he purred, pulling her close to him once more. She smiled suggestively and let him kiss her on the lips. “What are we going to do with you?” His arms coiled around her, and she felt the pull of his body as he guided her into the living room. She let him lead her to the couch, where he lost all balance and toppled onto the cushions, taking her with him. “Sorry I didn’t call sooner.”
“I’m a tough woman, Agent Harper,” she said, running her fingers through his sandy blond hair. “Tougher than you.”
“You’re the one with the broken leg,” he rolled both of them onto their sides. Erin tensed, thinking she was going to go right over the edge of the couch, but he held onto her, keeping her close. “Did I tell you how beautiful you look today?”
Erin rolled her eyes, accepting the compliment even though she knew she didn’t look her finest, with her faded tank top and gray shorts, and uncontrolled raven hair pulled back into a loose ponytail.
“Weren’t you going to take a shower?” she reminded him.
“The shower can wait,” he said, his fingers sliding under the hem of her shirt. Erin closed her eyes, sensing his lips on her neck, softly brushing the surface between her ear and collar bone. She let out a quick breath, and he squeezed her tighter. She arched her head back as his mouth moved under the base of her chin, and she dug her fingernails into his back.
His cell phone rang.
Erin kept her eyes closed as she felt his hands withdraw, his embrace loosen. She could hear Ryan trying to find his cell phone in his jacket, and then the beep as he activated it.
“I have to go,” he said after twenty seconds on the phone.
“They find him?”
“No, not yet,” he climbed off the couch. Erin remained where she was.
Ryan bent over and kissed her on the cheek, and then said, “I’ll see you later today. I love you.”
“Love you, too,” she said, eyes still closed. She listened to Ryan leave the house. She smiled, looking forward to later today.
Little did she know that she wouldn’t see Ryan again that day, or the next, or the day after that.
Christopher Morgan reclined in his car seat and sighed as he measured his pulse. He needed to be relaxed for what was to come. The next 24 hours were crucial. Everything needed to be executed perfectly. Every cop and fed in the city were looking for him. If he stayed nearby, he was a dead man. Even if he ran, they would most likely find him. His greatest asset had been his secrecy, his invisibility. No one knew him. No one had even heard of him. Now he was in a shit storm with no way out.
His only ally was his latest client, but how much could he rely on him? Even if it was his own foolishness that had cost him everything, Morgan couldn’t trust the man. The guy only had two options: protect him, or kill him. He knew very little about his client, but he knew enough to be dangerous. Too dangerous to be kept alive.
But the client had asked him to continue with his new assignment. For the time being, that provided him a way to survive to see another day.
He laughed at the thought. Here he was, the federal government raining down on him, and he was sitting outside a woman’s house in the suburbs.
Morgan looked across the street to see the front door of the beige house open and a man who looked all too familiar emerge. Morgan ground his teeth, his index finger tapping on the pistol laying on the passenger seat. He wanted to kill the man so badly he could taste it. But it wasn’t the time or the place. He’d only get protection if he delivered the woman to the cabin, and shooting a federal agent dead on a suburban street was not the best way to ensure that would happen.
Christopher Morgan watched as Ryan Harper climbed into his car and drove away, leaving the beige house unguarded but certainly not empty. Slipping the pistol into his jacket pocket, Morgan climbed out of his car and crossed the street.