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Covert Affairs (MF)

All or Nothing

Etopia Press

Heat Rating: SENSUAL
Word Count: 57,030
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His toughest mission will be opening his heart to love.

When covert agent Trevor Reed gets a distress call about a missing girl while he's in deep cover, he's forced to make a hard choice. Does he save the hostage or stick to his mission of infiltrating the dangerous weapon smugglers. When Trevor makes a play to save the girl, he ends up wounded. Headed home to recover, he ends up back in Philadelphia, face-to-face with Theresa, his high school sweetheart. He's watched her over the years, remaining at arm's length because of the dangerous nature of his job, but he can no longer continue to love her from afar. Trevor's next assignment may be his toughest yet: admitting he never should've left her all those years ago.

Theresa Rodriguez can't believe her eyes when Trevor Reed reappears in her life, wounded and as mysterious as ever. For years, her high school sweetheart has been very secretive about the work that takes him all over the globe. No matter how he makes her feel when she's with him, she's reluctant to risk getting close to him again. Not after the last time he disappeared from her life. But she notices something different about him now, and the desire between them is flaring hotter than ever. Is she willing to risk being hurt again by the only man she's ever loved?

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Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE



Trevor Reed took a sip of his vodka before setting the glass down on the table. He was meeting with the Gregorian brothers, arms dealers who also dabbled in human trafficking, preparing to take them down hard. From the VIP booth he shared with the brothers, he could watch the club’s dance floor and the dancers moving to the pounding music. He’d much rather be having dinner tonight at one of the intimate Parisian bistros he’d come to love instead of posing as Dante Andreas, a broker with a reputation for procuring illegal weapons. The open market at Rue Cler, not far from the Eiffel Tower, was one of his favorite places. He often strolled the streets for hours, taking in the sights and dining on the food. It was a good way to unwind while making sure no one was following him. Looking over his shoulder had become an occupational hazard, but it kept him alive.

Lately, though, he found himself wondering why he kept putting his life at risk. Pretending to be a weapons dealer had taken a toll on him, and he was in danger of becoming jaded about his purpose. For several months he’d lived an indulgent life, residing in a lavish apartment, wearing five-thousand dollar suits and throwing money around to show he was a big league player who could get things done.

But for every group he’d been instrumental in taking down, another would pop back up and become the new bad guy. He’d sacrificed so much in the name of doing good, but the truth was, he’d missed out on having a normal life. His family was back home living, loving, and making plans for the future. He was alone, playing a role he didn’t enjoy, knowing his life was on the line. But most importantly, he missed Theresa, the only woman he’d ever loved. Lately he’d lain awake many nights thinking of the road not taken. She would have enjoyed the romantic allure of Paris. Paris at night was magical, and he often wished he could share it with her.

He turned his attention back to the group. He’d been undercover for months waiting to meet with the Gregorian brothers. The two arms dealers lived in excess, driving big exotic sports cars and staying in ostentatious homes, a cautionary tale of what not to do if you were trying to keep your criminal enterprise off the radar. He detested them, but he was there to do a job. Or he had been here to do a job until this new development had changed things. The spy world was abuzz with chatter about the whereabouts of Jack Stanton’s daughter, who’d been kidnapped days ago from a Paris nightclub and was being held for ransom.

It was time to get to work. He stood and fastened the button on his suit jacket.

“Dante, where are you going?” Paolo Gregorian gave him an odd look. “We have food and drink. The party’s right here.”

“I gotta take a leak. I’ll be back in a few minutes,” he replied.

“When you come back, I want to finalize the deal,” Paolo said.

“You got it.”

He blended in with the sweaty dancing crowd as soon as he left the VIP booth. He was pretty sure Anatoli, Paolo’s right-hand henchman, was following him. He knew Paolo had him watched carefully. He looked at his watch. It was almost time. Five, four, three, two, one…and just like that, the house lights went out and a pulsing multicolored strobe light began flashing. He slipped on his sunglasses that were equipped with special night vision capabilities and tried to get his bearings as clubbers donning neon necklaces thrashed about to mind-numbing music that blared from the speakers.

He moved through the crowd and saw the perfect opportunity. He approached a group of pretty girls. One of them pulled on his hand trying to get him to dance. He allowed the ladies to surround him, and as Anatoli got closer, he made a sharp turn and left Anatoli in the middle of a crowd.

Once he made it over to the door marked private, he stealthy sneaked up behind the other henchman, Hugo, and pulled out a small device and opened it to reveal a needle at the end of it. He pricked Hugo with it in the neck and within a matter of seconds Hugo slumped forward. Trevor opened the door and pulled him inside and moved him into a corner so he couldn’t immediately be seen if someone opened the door. He then liberated Hugo’s gun and continued down the hall.

There were multiple doors down the passageway. Maybe he should’ve asked Hugo to point him in the right direction before he knocked him out. He glanced at his watch again. Paolo had to be questioning where he was by now. He opened each door cautiously and kept his finger near the trigger. He kept moving until he reached the fifth door. He opened it and saw a terrified young woman. She matched the description of the missing young woman. She was sitting on a dirty mattress, her mouth was gagged, and she was handcuffed to the bed frame. She had on a black dress and looked like she’d been crying.

He carefully pulled the gag out of her mouth. “Shannon Stanton?”

“Yes.” She shrank away as far as the handcuffs would let her, the tears leaving tracks on her cheeks.

“My name is Trevor.” He held up his hands. “I’m going to get you out of here. We need to leave quickly because I’m pretty sure your captors know what I’m up to by now. Do you think you can walk?”

“Yes.”

“Is there anyone else here with you?”

“No. There were some girls here before, but they took them away. They were going to take me too, but I said my dad was rich and would pay a mint to get me back safely.” She sniffed.

“That was good thinking. It bought you some time.” He picked the handcuff lock, freeing her. Then he checked the mag in his stolen gun but hoped he didn’t have to use it. “I need you to stay behind me. Keep your hand on my back.”

Trevor opened the door and peeked down the corridor. He could take his chances and navigate the unknown maze of the building’s empty side, or he could go for a bolder move.

“Shannon, you ready?”

She nodded, trembling.

He stopped. She wasn’t ready. He put his hands on her arms to calm her. “Listen to me. I know you’re scared, but we’re going to make it out of this. I know you can do this. You’re a country girl. You’re a topnotch equestrian, and you like shooting crossbows. Anybody who can wrangle a horse and come in second place in a national archery competition can make it out of a club filled with scumbags wearing sparkly suits and too much cologne.”

She looked like she was considering his words, then she straightened up a bit.

“I’m ready,” she said again, but this time with the confidence that Trevor believed.

“Good. Hand on my back at all times, and you have my word I’ll get you out of here.”

Trevor opened the door again and proceeded down the corridor with Shannon close behind. He winded stealthily back through the labyrinth of a hallway and hoped he wouldn’t encounter anyone else. But he had no such luck. As soon as a guy in a gray turtle neck turned the corner and spotted them, the guy drew a gun and opened fire. Trevor shot back, catching the thug in the knee and the shoulder.

He ran back down the hall with Shannon on his heels until he reached the original door and opened it. The club was still dark, which was good. He needed to get out of there, but he knew if Paolo’s people saw him, they’d be liable to open fire in the crowded venue. He moved along the wall with Shannon behind him until he reached the fire alarm. He pulled it and the alarm began to blare. People began to scatter for the exits. He grabbed Shannon’s hand and blended in with a crowd of people headed for one of the side doors.

As soon as they were through the door and a few feet away from the club, he activated the GPS signal on his phone, signaling he was ready to be picked up. They hurried down the street, leaving the club and the confused crowds behind. They finally stopped at a corner that was dimly lit and had no traffic. A few minutes later, a van came racing down the street, but slowed down as the side door opened. As soon as it was safe, he hoisted her toward the van. Someone took Shannon’s hand and helped pull her inside as Trevor jumped in right behind her. The van picked up speed again and made a left turn at the end of the block.

Trevor grimaced and glanced at the man who’d helped Shannon inside the van. “Rick, that was cutting it pretty close. Did you stop for a scone?”

“You know me. I always have to make a dramatic entrance.” Rick went back to his conversation on the cell phone. “Target acquired. Have the bird fueled and ready to go.”

“Would you mind driving a little faster?” Trevor yelled up to the driver.

The driver glanced back at him. “This van is already defying the speed of light. But I’ll try.”

“What’s wrong?” Rick asked.

Trevor held up a bloody hand. “I’ve been hit.”

“Oh my gosh!” Shannon shrieked.

“It’s OK, Shannon. I think it’s just a flesh wound. It just stings like hell.” Trevor took a closer look. He could see the bullet wound in his side and the spreading stain of his blood.

“Hang on, buddy.” Rick disconnected his first call and started dialing on his cell phone. “Yeah, we’re going to need medical assistance on the bird. No, it’s not the woman. It’s one of ours.”

“You’re not going to take it out yourself?” Trevor winced as he let out a dry laugh.

“You know my fake medical license was revoked years ago.” Rick looked at his wound. “We’ve been through too much for you to check out on me now.”

It wasn’t the first time he’d been shot while on an assignment, but it was the first time he’d forgotten to mail the Fantasy Locales Travel package to Theresa. An image of her floated into his mind. She’d been as stunning as ever the last time he’d seen her, back when he went home to Philadelphia. He’d have someone retrieve the package from his apartment and send it to her. Theresa. Thinking of her sent him to happy places in his mind. Places where he didn’t leave behind the ones he loved in favor of global intrigue. As he closed his eyes, it was her perfect face he saw and her beautiful voice he remembered. Her voice…saying his name…