When Britt O’Connor’s targeted by a group of mercenaries for reasons unknown, he realizes it’s time to cash in a big favor. Britt heads to World of Aquatica. He knows that’s where his ex-SEAL buddy, Price, has secretly holed up after Britt helped him flee the military police. Britt also knows that Price isn’t human, and he could use a little of the man’s paranormal abilities right about then.
Getting there is easy. Getting inside and locating Price is a bit more difficult. Still, Britt manages it, only to discover that Price isn’t the only paranormal thing at the park. Vampires and shifters are real. In fact, not only does Price vouch for him, but Britt meets Gerard, a shifter who claims he’s the other half of his soul.
When Gerard scents Britt as he’s on his way to meet with Alpha Kaiser, he immediately recognizes him as his mate and follows him. Discovering that Britt already knows about the paranormal, he declares that Britt is his mate, but Britt will need some convincing.
While Britt can accept being attracted to the shifter, after all the depravity Britt has seen, how can he trust in something as fickle as love?
“What the hell?”
Growling under his breath, Britt O’Connor stared at his readout. He started typing rapidly, his fingers flying over the keys. Britt clenched his jaw as he worked to counter the hacker trying to break into his system…and failing.
Britt knew he was an excellent hacker. Hell, after he’d left the military, he’d chosen to utilize his skills to make his livelihood. Technically, Britt was listed as an analyst for a security firm, but he took the occasional anonymous side job. Still, Britt knew it was the hubris of man to think he could be the best, and he would never fall into that trap.
There’s always someone better out there.
Whoever Britt was facing—as much as it galled him to admit—was one of those people. They were better. Before long, they would break into his heavily encrypted system.
That meant Britt had to make certain there was nothing left to find. At the same time, if he could manage it, he would implant a reverse worm. The code would allow him to backtrack to the user, allowing him to see where they were located, and perhaps, if he was lucky, he would see a signature revealing who the hacker might be.
Worth a shot.
Continuing to type with his right hand, Britt reached over and grabbed a flash drive with his left. He paused an instant to find the slot and insert it. Then, while Britt did his best to delay the hacker from entering his system, he began directing sensitive files to the drive.
Britt felt sweat bead at his temples, and his fingers began to cramp. At fifty-four years old, he was lucky he hadn’t acquired arthritis in his wrists and digits. Still, he didn’t usually have to work quite so quickly.
Finally, Britt had pulled as much sensitive information off his desktop as possible. He knew he was only a couple of moments away from being breached. After encrypting everything on the drive, he removed it from the machine. Britt activated a failsafe he’d designed but had hoped never to have to use.
In seconds, Britt’s entire hard drive was wiped clean. He grabbed his laptop and shoved it into his bag. Hurrying around the room, Britt snagged a few other necessary electronics. With a backpack on his back and his laptop bag’s strap over his shoulder, he made his way to his basement.
Britt knelt before a set of dusty-looking wooden shelves. Reaching under the bottom, he pried up a board and set it aside. He pulled out a large go bag with guns, ammunition, a couple changes of clothes, as well as money, and a couple of different IDs and passports. Britt replaced the board and used an old hand-brush hanging on the wall—left there for that reason—to kick up some dust, hiding the evidence.
With his bags in hand, Britt crossed to another wall. He picked up a can of paint off the floor, revealing a stone panel. When Britt stepped on it, a section of wall that looked like stone rotated ninety degrees, revealing a dark corridor.
Britt replaced the can of paint exactly, pulled a flashlight from his belt, and headed into the dark expanse.
If my systems have been breached, I need to know if my anonymity has been compromised, too.
In Britt’s mind, the best way to do that was to hide in the area and watch.
Not twelve hours later, Britt sat in a tiny tree stand and watched a dozen armed men creep toward his mountain home. He couldn’t see their faces since they were covered with hoods. However, the weapons they were carrying gave them away.
They were mercenaries from South America.
The softly spoken Spanish dialect spouted by their team leader was an obvious tell, too.
Britt heard him issuing orders to Bravo Team to secure the perimeter. Echo Team was supposed to guard the backdoor in case Britt fled. His own Alpha Team was getting ready to breach the front door.
The fact that the leader had referred to Britt as Escritor Fantasma—or Ghostwriter—also gave him a lead as to who might be coming after him. That was one of several handles he used when dealing with off-the-books works. Deals that were of questionable legality.
Still, if the information I provide takes down a corrupt politician, businessman, or a group of cops on the take, I don’t mind helping out.
So, who did I piss off that has the connections to find me?
Britt knew that was the multi-million-dollar question. His research had made no shortage of enemies. It also meant he had no idea who he could trust to help him figure it out.
Turning away from where the commandos were storming his home, Britt figured the obvious would be out. After all, if these guys knew where he lived, then they probably knew where he worked. They would also know who he worked with.
And I don’t want to drag any of them down due to some work I did on the side.
That left Britt on his own.
Creeping from one branch to the next, Britt stayed aware of his footwork. He’d left most of his supplies in his hidden getaway vehicle hours before. Then he’d crept to his hidden tree stand to watch and wait.
As much as the information Britt had gleaned sucked, it had paid off. He had a direction to start searching in. Britt would find a place to hole up and figure it out.
When Britt was over a mile away from the mountain retreat he’d called home for over a decade, he finally reached his hidden vehicle. He’d stashed it on an old logging road that wasn’t on a map and wasn’t easily accessible unless one knew the area. Britt had hiked everywhere around within a ten-mile radius.