Deep Disclosure (A-Tac Series #4)by Dee Davis
When Tucker is assigned to protect-and secretly investigate-Alexis Markham, he expects a routine/i>/i>/i>
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After spending years in prison under deep cover, black ops agent Tucker Flynn joins A-Tac, an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college. Nothing can shake him-except a vulnerable young woman marked for death.
When Tucker is assigned to protect-and secretly investigate-Alexis Markham, he expects a routine mission. But this mysterious beauty has a past even darker than his: her father created a horrifying new biochemical weapon-and was murdered to keep it secret.
Alexis has spent the last decade racing to stay one step ahead of the shadowy operatives who will stop at nothing to possess her father's formula. She can trust no one, not even her handsome new bodyguard. But the heat that flares between them is impossible to resist. Will giving in to passion bring her the safety she's always craved, or will her love for Tucker draw him into a killer's sights?
"The bullets are flying in this fast-paced, high-octane, romantic adventure. Don't miss Deep Disclosure-it's Dee Davis at her best!"Brenda Novak, New York Times bestselling author of In Seconds
"High-stakes action and high-impact romance . . . Dee Davis leaves me breathless."Roxanne St. Claire, New York Times bestselling author
"Don't miss any book by Dee Davis."New York Times bestselling author Christina Skye
"Dee Davis is at the top of her game."Mariah Stewart, New York Times bestselling author
"This series is fast paced and action packed. You will not want to put this book down until you have read the last page."NightOwlRomance.com on Desperate Deeds
"Whew, I read this book in one sitting. For those readers who enjoy romantic suspense, this one is a keeper!"FreshFiction.com on Dark Deceptions
"4 Stars! [A] compelling, entertaining storyline, action-packed and full of mystery, suspense and an unlikely romance. Readers will not be able to put it down; this is a real page-turner."RT Book Reviews
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By Dee Davis
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2011 Dee Davis
All rights reserved.
Redlands, California—Thirteen Years Later
Tucker Flynn was turning into his father. The old man had been nothing if not predictable. So much so that Tucker and his brother had always sworn to be just the opposite. And looking at recent history, he'd have to say they'd achieved their goal in spades.
Tucker checked his watch as he stepped out of the car: exactly 10:30. Shit. It seemed he'd developed a routine. The coffee shop beckoned even as he considered hopping back into the Jeep and heading for the hills. Or at least somewhere that wasn't exactly the same as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that.
He blew out a long breath and shook his head in disgust. After years in prison in San Mateo, he'd have thought routine would be the last thing he desired. And yet here he was, newspaper in hand with a hankering for a cup of coffee and the caramel rolls Weatherbees was famous for. After holding the door for an exiting man in a Dodgers hat, Tucker walked inside and took his customary place in the corner booth, partially from habit, but also a remnant of his espionage days. It was always better to keep your back to the wall and your eyes on the room.
Not that there was anything to see, really. Redlands was a sleepy little town with little to recommend it but a university, a backdrop of mountains and orange groves, and a handful of mansions left over from the railroad-baron days. Tucker's father had been a schoolteacher. His mother ... well, bitch was the word that came to mind. She hadn't been able to deal with small-town America, even Southern California style. So she'd hit the road, leaving Tucker's dad with two little boys. He'd risen to the occasion but lost a part of himself in the process.
Maybe that's why all the routines.
Tucker nodded as the waitress brought him his coffee and roll. He never talked to any of them, but that didn't mean they didn't know who he was. There'd been a flurry of newspaper articles when he'd first come home. Native son, risen from the dead and all that. The official story was that he'd managed to escape the plane crash that killed the rest of his unit, but wound up in a hospital with no memory of what happened.
Of course the real truth—his escape from Colombia, his friend's betrayal, and Lena's death—none of that was public knowledge. Hell, the brass at Langley had buried it so damn deep Tucker doubted it would ever come to light. Which suited him just fine.
He sipped his coffee, his gaze moving slowly around the diner. The place was pretty empty, the morning crowd long gone and the lunchtime rush still an hour or so away. A couple across the way was canoodling over lattes. A businessman one booth up was lost in the financial pages. And an older man in the far corner was fidgeting with his spoon as he gazed out the window, clearly waiting for something or someone.
Tucker dropped his gaze, trying to focus on the sports page. The Bulldogs had pulled out a walk-off win in the ninth. And in LA the Angels had beaten the Yankees. First game in the series. If Drake were still here, they'd probably be on their way to the stadium right now. But Drake was in New York, at Sunderland. Or maybe he was off on a mission. Hard to know for certain. Although his wife, Madeline, usually called when he left the country.
Maybe Tucker should have gone with them when they'd headed back to New York. Maybe he'd be better off working again. But that part of his life was over. Dead and buried. Pain, pointed and heavy, speared his gut. Lena. He closed his eyes, memories of her smile dancing just beyond his reach, her laughter echoing deep inside him.
Angry at his maudlin turn of thought, he took a sip of coffee, the hot, acrid beverage pulling him firmly back into the present. The older man was standing now, a smile of joy spreading across his face as a young woman strode through the doorway, arms extended.
"George," she cried, throwing herself into his arms. "It's been so long."
The two of them moved out of earshot as they walked back to his table, but even without words Tucker could feel her joy. Blonde in a way that only women in California seemed to be able to achieve, naturally or otherwise, she was tall and lithe, her body bronzed by the sun, a dimple in her left cheek making her seem even younger. Her eyes crinkled at the corners when she smiled, and her hands were in constant motion as she talked. The old man's face lit up in her presence, the years seeming to drop away.
Tucker idly wondered at their connection. Father, maybe. Although she'd called him by his first name. He rejected the notion that they were amorously connected. Neither of them seemed the May-December type. Old friends, then. That much was clear. He smiled, still watching the two of them, their hands joined together as their voices lowered and the tone of the conversation turned serious.
Tucker shook his head, wondering when his life had gotten so dull he'd started living vicariously through total strangers. Next he'd start adopting cats. He cut off a piece of the caramel roll and stuffed it into his mouth.
A burst of synthesized music signaled an incoming call, and he grabbed the cell phone, grateful for the interruption. "Flynn," he barked into the phone.
"Same here," came the answer, a thread of laughter lacing through his brother, Drake's, voice. "Thought I'd check in and see how you're doing."
"Bored out of my fucking mind," Tucker said, not making any effort to sugarcoat his words. "I'm at Weatherbees, and I think I'm turning into Dad."
"It could be worse," Drake replied. "You could be turning into our mother."
"Bite your tongue." Tucker shifted so he could better see the blonde. "Anyway, what's up? You don't usually call to chat." She was still waving her hands, but they clearly conveyed anger now. Seemed the joyous reunion had turned sour.
"Hey, can't a guy check in on his brother?" Drake asked, pulling Tucker's attention back to his conversation.
"A guy, yes. You, no. You're not the nurturing type."
"Well, I sure as hell better be," his brother mumbled. "Actually, that's why I'm calling. I've got news." There was a pause, and Tucker smiled. His brother was never at a lack for words. Except when it had to do with Madeline.
"So, what?" Tucker teased. "Your wife left you?"
"Give me a break," Drake said. "The woman adores me."
"That she does," Tucker admitted, still smiling. Madeline Reynard Flynn was the kind of woman who loved without reservation. Drake had been lucky to find her. And Tucker was happy to have played a part in it. "So what's the news?"
"Hang on," Drake said, fumbling with the phone. "There's another call. Avery. Be right back."
The line went dead as his brother took the call from his boss. Tucker felt a stab of envy. He'd sworn he wouldn't go back to the life, but that didn't mean he was immune to the pull of it. There was a rush involved with working black ops, an adrenaline surge you couldn't get anywhere else.
He leaned back, phone to his ear, waiting for his brother to return. The blonde was on her feet now, her hands cutting through the air as she argued with the old man. He was standing too, fists on the table as he tried to make her see reason. Good luck with that. Tucker recognized the set of her shoulders. She wasn't about to give in. Whatever had set her off, the old man wasn't anywhere close to assuaging her.
"Hey, Tucker, you still there?" Drake asked. "Sorry about that. Company business."
"So you off to somewhere exciting? Is that the news?" Tucker waited, half listening, as he watched the blonde. With a final snap of her head, she pivoted and stalked from the coffee shop, the old man left standing there, a look of resigned acceptance coloring his face. Whatever they'd fought about, he hadn't come out on the winning side.
"No. Well, actually, maybe yes. But that's not why I called. Madeline just found out she's pregnant. I'm going to be a father."
Drake's words were slow to penetrate, but when they did, Tucker let out a whoop. "Holy shit. That makes me an uncle."
"Well, not yet. It takes time."
"Nine months, I believe," Tucker said. "Anyway, it's awesome news." Outside a motor roared to life and the blonde peeled out of the parking lot. The old man was still standing there, hands on the table, looking as if he'd lost his last hope. "How far along is she?" Tucker asked.
"Just under two months. We're actually supposed to wait until after the three- month mark to tell people. But I couldn't wait."
"A new generation of Flynns. Definitely something to celebrate." Across the room the old man sat back down and reached into his pocket. Tucker nodded as his brother talked, even though he couldn't actually see him. Despite the importance of his brother's news, something was tugging at his brain.
From force of habit he searched the diner, trying to figure out what was bugging him.
"Tucker, are you listening to me?" his brother's voice broke into his reverie and he shook his head, certain that he was overreacting. This was Redlands, for God's sake.
"I'm here. Sorry. Just got distracted for a moment." He shook his head, chagrined at himself and his voyeuristic tendencies. "You were talking about due dates."
"Yeah. I said we want to be sure you're here when the time comes. Hell, you know I want you up here permanently."
"What? And turn into a Yankees fan?" Tucker laughed, his eyes still on the old man as he struggled to find something. "Not fucking likely."
"Hey, I'm still Angels all the way. You can take a guy out of California ..."
... but you can't take California out of the guy," Tucker finished for him. It was a catchphrase their dad had always used. "Well, at least some things don't change."
The old man was reaching into his back pocket now, his hands shaking as he struggled to find whatever he was looking for. Tucker frowned and then blew out a slow breath as he finally figured out what the hell it was that had been bugging him. A backpack. Underneath the old man's table. He tried to remember if the blonde had brought it in. But, to be honest, he'd been too distracted by her honey-colored skin and golden hair to notice. From its positioning, though, he was fairly certain it didn't belong to the old man.
"Tucker, what's going on?" Drake asked, concern coloring his voice. "You're not pissed because I'm having a baby before you?"
"Yeah, right." He frowned, forcing himself to ignore his instincts and concentrate on his brother.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I mean, if Lena had ..." Drake trailed off, clearly uncomfortable.
"Lived? Yeah, well, even so, neither of us was the childrearing kind. So no worries, little brother."
"I didn't mean to—" Drake started, and then stopped.
"I know. And it's okay. Besides, I'm serious. I'm not cut out to be a father. Hell, maybe not even a husband. Especially not now. Anyway, I'll leave all that to you and Madeline, and I'll play the role of doting uncle. That I can do."
"Yeah, I shudder to think exactly what that'll mean."
"The perfect trifecta. Baseball, hot dogs, and beer." Tucker laughed as the old man finally located his phone and started to dial. Beneath him the corner of the backpack lit up, blinking red. "Fuck," Tucker said, his gaze moving to the other patrons in the diner. "Everybody get down. Now."
"Tucker?" He heard his brother's voice as he dove underneath the table, the world around him suddenly splintering into light and sound, the force of the blast tearing through brick, plaster, and plate glass.
It was over in a moment, the little restaurant suddenly eerily still, debris raining down, sounding almost like rain against the tabletop. Carefully, Tucker pushed aside the rubble and crawled out from under the table. Sirens wailed in the distance, a cloud of dust choking him as it descended with the debris. The couple across the way were bloodied, but alive, the boy's arm protectively around the girl, his eyes still wide with fear.
"You okay?" Tucker asked.
The boy opened his mouth to reply but nodded instead, words deserting him as he pulled his sobbing girlfriend closer.
The waitress emerged from behind the counter, her arm clutched to her chest, blood snaking down from her shoulder. Like the couple, her face was ashen. "Lou," she whispered, her eyes cutting to the floor. "He isn't breathing."
Tucker pushed through the rubble to where the businessman had been sitting. Lou. The man was curled in a fetal position on the floor, a piece of sheared glass bisecting his neck. Blood pooled beneath him. Tucker grabbed his wrist, feeling for a pulse, already knowing the answer. His eyes met the waitress's, and he shook his head.
"Oh God," she moaned.
"Get them out of here," Tucker said, motioning to the couple. "The rest of the building could come down at any minute. It's not safe."
The woman hesitated, her eyes still locked on the dead man.
"There's nothing else you can do for him," Tucker told her, his voice gentle. "You need to go. Now."
She acquiesced, and with the help of the boy, the three of them climbed over the broken tables out onto the street.
"Tucker?" Drake's frantic voice echoed amidst the rubble and Tucker realized he was still holding his cell phone.
"Are you okay?" Drake asked.
"I'm fine," Tucker answered, his eyes on the spot where the old man had been sitting. There was nothing left but rubble. The booth was gone. Incinerated.
"What the hell happened?"
"Bomb." Tucker said, his mind going to the moment before the explosion—the backpack, the old man, and his cell phone.
"Someone just blew the fuck out of Weatherbees."
Alexis Markham stopped pacing long enough to glance out the hotel window. Clouds were gathering on the horizon, a storm descending from the mountains. On any other day she'd have stopped to drink in the beauty. She'd always loved the mountains. But these days, more than ever, they only reminded her of everything she'd lost.
And George was trying to take it all away. Again. He was the only family she had left. They might not share blood, but their bond was still a strong one. George had been there during the worst time of her life. He was the one who'd quite literally saved her—from the horror, the pain, and eventually even herself. He'd been her touchstone. Her anchor. Even when he was in prison, they'd found ways to stay in touch. But now—
She clenched her fists, turning her back on the mountains. Now he wanted nothing more to do with her. His words echoed in her head. "We can't do this anymore. You've got to build a new life. One without me in it." She'd argued, fought back, pleaded even, but George had been resolute. So she'd walked out on him. It was modus operandi, even after all this time. Disappear first. Question later.
She crossed her arms over her chest as the canned laughter coming from the TV mocked her. Some sappy family show. Seemed appropriate. She sank down on the bed, fighting against tears. She hadn't cried in years. Hell, she hadn't even known she still could. Most of her heart had died with her family. Her mom and dad. Her brother. And now George wanted to destroy the only part that was left.
Angrily, she wiped away the tears. Maybe he was right. Maybe there was no place left in her life for him. After all, she'd made a place for herself in the world. A shadowy one, to be certain. But without George, her ties to the past were gone.
No one was looking for her, and, thanks to George, no one even knew she existed. Lexie Baker had died in an explosion with the rest of her family. Alexis Markham had taken her place. Thirteen years was a long time to carry such a burden. Maybe it was time to let it go. She frowned, sucking in a breath. There'd been something more to what George had been trying to tell her. He hadn't just wanted to sever ties; he'd wanted her to create a new identity.
And considering how carefully they'd laid the groundwork for her current existence, that didn't make sense. Unless someone else knew who she was. Suddenly nervous, she carefully checked out the room, and then, satisfied that she was safe, at least for the moment, she reached for her cell.
Excerpted from Deep Disclosure by Dee Davis. Copyright © 2011 Dee Davis. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Meet the Author
Bestselling author Dee Davis worked in association management before turning her hand to writing. Her highly acclaimed first novel, Everything in Its Time, was published in July 2000. Since then, among others, she's won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold, and Prism awards, and been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt Medallion Award, and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards. When not sitting at the computer writing, she spends her time exploring Manhattan with her husband, daughter, and Cardigan Welsh corgi.
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Living your life hiding in plain sight was stressful and draining for Alexis Markham but she had it perfected after all these years. She had been running from someone, who lurked somewhere, trying to get back something she has, and yet knows nothing about. Alexis only knows one fact everyone in her life that she has ever cared about is dead over this unknown item she does not have. When she survives yet another attempt on her life, her salvation comes to her rescue in the form of Tucker Flynn. Alexis wants to believe he is on her side but everything she has been taught tells her to keep her guard up and her few possessions close. Tucker's story makes sense when he says the words to her but Alexis has his stats run, and even though everything checks out still she is not sure. She believes he is too good to be true because white knights do not just show up and save you, do they. Alexis question's how a man can have a connection to her that knows how to shoot, hot-wire a car and keeps her one-step ahead of the force that is behind the intent to kill Alexis. All these things are true enough because Tucker is part of an elite organization known as A-Tac a secret, fringe group of the government and he knows all about black ops and trying to stay alive just like Alexis. Tucker and A-Tac have the capabilities to make anything appear to be something it is not and once Tucker gets close to Alexis he discovers he wants to stay there for more than professional reasons. She is not weak or frail but completely battered and worn down by the life she is forced to lead. Tucker is determined to be her salvation and in perhaps she can help him out as well. Alexis knows better than to get comfortable or to relax because that is when another bomb will go off or a body show up bleeding to death on her floor. She wants to trust Tucker, but can she truly, after all these years think someone may have answers to her questions when the seeds of doubt and the hint of lies are planted. Alexis runs and tries to escape from this nightmare but again Tucker turns out to be the answer to her prayers and maybe she will believe in fate. This horror runs very high up and the secrets that come out of the darkness finally make Alexis choose whom she will believe. I have loved this series from the first book and felt from that point forward that there could never be enough books in this series. I am grateful that this series continues and with each book, Dee Davis shows how great a scary mind can work!
Reviewed by Alice D. for Readers Favorite Alexis Markham has operated under an alias for the past six years. She lives an untraceable life in New Orleans thanks to the protection of longtime family friend George. Years ago, Alexis' father, Rudolph Baker, worked for the Department of Defense. He was assigned to develop a biotoxin bomb and was threatening to go public about its deadly consequences when he, Alexis' mother, and her older brother were killed. Alexis, or Lexie, back then, was saved only because she was not home. Fast forward to the present, and Alexis is in danger, however well she has hidden her past. Alain DuBois and his host of "bad guys" think she has her father's formula for that deadly Omega bomb. Tucker Flynn, well-connected super sleuth, is assigned to guard Alexis; and it's good that Tucker has friends in government espionage, for everywhere he and Alexis go, houses they stay in are blown up and people's lives endangered. Deep Disclosure is well written and has good action. The plot proceeds logically with the twists and turns that make romantic spy novels so popular. The intrigue that makes this genre good is first rate here, and characters are well developed. Alexis, for instance, has weaknesses that make her appealing and her character believable. That she keeps her old pink and purple backpack filled with a few childhood keepsakes in a safe deposit box is a great literary device. That the Omega formula is in a copy of her mother's favorite book adds to Deep Disclosure's appeal. That her father is the "bad guy" makes the book's conclusion weak. If he, Alexis mother and her brother were killed, why was his body never found? A missing body makes accepting his guilt easier and the book's conclusion more acceptable.
I loved the whole A-Tac Series. I love being able to finish one and got right to the next one. Very good.
Great book, love the action and the series.
Alexis Markham has spent the last decade running from her father's secret. Once a scientist for the government, her father developed a biological weapon. Then his team was killed, and he took his family into hiding. Alexis was the only one who survived when the government found them. And now, it seems they've found her again. Tucker Flynn is in charge of protecting and secretly investigating her as a member of A-Tac (an elite CIA unit masquerading as Ivy league college faculty). He has his own past he's trying to overcome. But they quickly ascertain that nothing is as it seems. Can Alexis let down her guard to finally let someone help her? I've read all the books in this series, and loved them. Davis' fast-pace and emotional conflict make for an enjoyable read. Just when you think you've got this figured out, she throws you another curve. Though I liked the previous books, Tucker has got to be my favorite hero of them all. Set mostly in New Orleans, Davis sets the scene like a pro, drawing you into the Cajun south with a flourish. The array of secondary characters adds to the story nicely. If you've followed the books, this won't disappoint.
great book on a rainy day. Follow the characters through good and rough times. Good read.
I would recommended this book!!!! The book is one of my favorites. I couldn't put it down with all the romance, suspense, and action. It has a few twists for the protagonists and it makes falling in love with the characters that much harder.
This is the 5th book in the A-Tac series. I am not sure how Ms. Davis can top this one. The book has it all. Bad guys coming from each direction, even so far as to kill each other, you have a formula that everyone wants, but no one knows where it is. There is an amazing love story that seems so fragile yet so meant to be. Then you have all of the A-Tac players back and helping keep justice, still reeling from their own betrayal. When I first started reading, I was SURE I knew who done it, but I was completely wrong. I was also SURE I knew what the key was to the formula, and again....wrong. I love when I find out along with the team, makes the book more enjoyable to me. I really can't wait for Hannah and Harrison's book, coming April 2012.