“He’s fearless and ruthless. Soulless.”
As a flight attendant, Alana Bernal has had her share of suitors. She's also had more than her fair share of tragedy within her messed-up family. But what she hasn't had is love. Real, rip-your-heart-out, tear-your-clothes-off, all-consuming love.
At least that was the case until she met an American tourist, Derek Conway, a ripped ex-soldier with steely eyes and a commanding presence.
What started as a chance encounter between the two in Puerto Vallarta, a weekend full of hot sex and mindless passion, has led to something more.
Because Derek isn't the type of man to fall in love. He's not a man who sticks around.
And he's definitely not in Mexico on vacation.
Derek is a mercenary, a killer-for-hire, a man who does the ugly jobs for the highest bidder.
Unfortunately for Alana and Derek, the highest bidder has the power to destroy whatever worlds they have created for themselves.
The highest bidder can destroy everything.
This is a romantic suspense book, #2 in the Dirty Angels trilogy but can be read as a standalone novel*
The call came at 6:30 a.m. from a voice I recognized but couldn’t place. The fact that it sounded familiar was surprising, though. The turnover rate for these guys was exceedingly high. They were shuffled around to different sicarios like a game of musical chairs. Sometimes I wondered if the ones giving me the orders—the narcos just underneath the bosses—ever lasted more than a few weeks. Did they go on to have long careers doing the dirty work of the patrons? Or were they so good at getting the job done that they were employed for a long time, even promoted, just like any assistant manager at McDonald’s?
It didn’t really matter. I took these calls, I carried out the orders, and I got paid. I was at the bottom of their food chain, but as long as I wasn’t tied to just one cartel then I didn’t have to worry about long-term security. You didn’t want long-term security when working for the narcos. You wanted to stay as distant—as freelance—as possible. You wanted a way out, in case you ever had a change of heart.
That was unlikely for me. But I was still a bit of a commitment-phobe. Freedom meant everything, and in this game, freedom meant safety.
The girl next to me in bed moaned at the early intrusion, pulling the pillow over her head. She looked ridiculous considering she was completely naked on top of the sheets. Was it Sarah? Kara? I couldn’t recall. She was so drunk last night that I was amazed she even made it to my hotel room. Then again, that’s why I was in Cancun. I could pretend to be like everyone else, just another dumb tourist on the beach.
I took the phone into the bathroom and closed the door.
“Yes,” I answered, keeping my voice low.
“I have a job for you,” the man on the other line said. His English was pretty much perfect but relaxed, almost jovial. Sometimes they gave me orders in Spanish, sometimes in English. I felt like this man was trying to extend a courtesy.
“I assume I’ve worked for you before,” I said.
“For me?” the man asked. “No. For my boss? Yes. Many times. But this has nothing to do with him. Let’s just say this is coming from a whole new place.”
None of that concerned me. “Tell me about payment.”
He chuckled. “Don’t you want to hear about the job?”
“It doesn’t matter. The price does.”
“One hundred thousand dollars, U.S., all cash. Fifty now, fifty upon completion.”
That made me pause. My heart kicked up. “That’s a lot of money.”
“It’s an important job,” the man said simply.
“And what is the job?”
“It’s a woman,” he said. “In Puerto Vallarta. She should be very easy to find for someone like you.”
“I need a name and I need her photo,” I told him. Though the price was quite higher than normal, the man was ignoring the basics. It made me wonder if he had ever done this before. It made me wonder a lot of things.
“I have the first, not the second. As I said, she should be easy to find. You might even be able to Facebook her.”
I waited for him to go on.
He cleared his throat. “Her name is Alana Bernal. Twenty-six. Flight attendant for Aeroméxico. I want a bullet in her head and I want it front page news.”
Bernal was a very common name, which is probably why it sounded familiar. I wondered what she had done, if anything. Usually when I was sent to kill women, it was because they were involved with a narco and had overstayed their welcome.
They knew too much. They had loose lips in more ways than one.
I was never really given time to think about it. You weren’t with these types of things.
There were a few minor alarm bells going off in my head—the high price for someone minor, the greenness in the man’s voice—but the price won out in the end. That amount of money could get me away from this business for a long time. I saw a lengthy hiatus on my horizon, one that didn’t include fucking drunk chicks on spring break just because I was horny, a hiatus that didn’t include bouncing my way from hotel room to hotel room across Mexico, waiting for the next call.
I told the man I agreed to his terms, and we worked out the payment plan. I wouldn’t get the other half until she made the news. Considering how rare shootings were in Puerto Vallarta, I had no doubt it would happen. And I would be long gone.
I hung up the phone feeling almost elated. The promise of a new life buried that worm of uneasiness. One more job and then I’d be freer than ever.
I came out of the bathroom to see the chick sitting up in bed and looking extremely nauseous. Once she saw me though, her eyes managed to light up.
“Wow,” she said. “You’re fucking hot.”
I tried to smile, hoping she didn’t find me enticing enough to stay. “Thank you.”
“Did we have sex last night?”
I stood beside the bed and folded my arms across my chest. Her mouth opened a bit at my muscles. I still had the same physique I had back in the military, and it still got the same reactions from women. They never knew the real me—knew Derek Conway—but at least, with the way I looked, they thought they did. Just another built, tough American boy, a modern G.I. Joe.
They had no idea what I did.
They had no idea who I was.
“No,” I told her, “we didn’t have sex. You stripped and then you passed out.”
She looked surprised. “We still didn’t . . .”
I gave her a dry look. “Sex is only fun when you’re awake, babe.” I stretched my arms above my head and she stared openly at my stomach, from the waistband on my boxers to my chest. Okay, now it was time for her to go.
I told her I had stuff to do in the morning and needed her to move along. I could tell she wanted to at least take a shower, but I wasn’t about to budge.
I had a plane to catch.
Karina HalleWith her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term "Hybrid Author." Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she's a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA...whenever possible.
Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiancé and rescue pup.