“Leigh's pages explode with a hot mixture of erotic pleasures.” Romantic Times BOOKreviews
“An evocative and captivating read.” Romance Junkies on Hidden Agendas
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From New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh comes the third book in her super-sexy, high octane romantic suspense series featuring Navy SEALs.
“Leigh's pages explode with a hot mixture of erotic pleasures.” Romantic Times BOOKreviews
“An evocative and captivating read.” Romance Junkies on Hidden Agendas
Six months later Palm Beach, Aruba
He was rogue.
Could there be any other explanation for the dark, avenging force that swept through the night?
The Chameleon scrambled through the warehouse, ducking behind crates and using the heavy support posts of the building to deflect the bullets raining around her.
The small team of highly trained Fuentes soldiers tore into the warehouse where the small cell of terrorists were waiting for the go-ahead that Ian was arriving for a scheduled weapons buy. They were there to kill him. But it was Ian who was killing instead.
She hadn't managed to learn how they had received that information, or from where the leak had originated. Her work within the cell had gleaned her nothing but a certainty that the determination to assassinate Ian Fuentes was escalating.
The assassins had been on the island less than twenty-four hours. The final two had arrived just hours before with the details of the strike they were to make against the heir to the Fuentes cartel.
None of them had known for certain that they were striking against Ian until some hours before. Even the Chameleon hadn't been certain of the plan until the French assassins in charge had arrived, their eyes cold, hard, and outlined the operation.
They had no sooner given the final order than death had swept through the night.
She flinched as a bullet tore across the beam several inches above her crouched form. Ducking and rolling, her weapon ready, she pushed herself deeper into the shadows as she lifted her weapon and aimed at one of the few remaining lights shining overhead.
The bulb shattered, sparks raining down on the assembled crates and packages prepared for shipping the next day.
She moved, sprinting from her hiding place, as bullets tore into the crates around her. Her gaze swept around the room and she grimaced as she saw the black-clad Fuentes soldiers moving through the shadows with stealthy certainty.
They were trained, disciplined. These weren't the drug soldiers they had been when Ian Fuentes first arrived a year ago. This was a highly trained, effective fighting force. A team of dark, dangerous, SEAL-trained weapons.
Damn. The director of the Department of Homeland Security was going to have a cow when she sent in the report on this one. The rumors that Ian was taking out drug and terrorist forces alike hadn't been substantiated. Everyone who could talk somehow ended up dead.
She was going to have to make certain she didn't end up as dead as the rest of them.
Dammit, she had worked hard to get herself into position within the small terrorist cell working out of Aruba. A year of busting her ass and eating dirt with worms to get in place here, and now the team the terrorists had put together was just dead.
Moving quickly, quietly, she skirted the edges of the crudely built warehouse, working her way to the far wall where the loose boards there would allow her an easy exit. She didn't dare attempt to use the door.
"Not so fast."
The Chameleon froze as the barrel of the weapon was laid, almost casually, at the back of her neck.
She knew that voice. She knew the feel of that heated body behind her own.
She held her hands out carefully, allowing the Glock to fall from her gloved fingers to the dusty floor as she restrained the impulse to release the lever holding the knife beneath the sleeve of her light jacket.
Her backup was at her ankle; but it was dark, he might not see it.
Before she could do anything she was jerked upright and slammed into the wall hard enough to knock her teeth together. If she hadn't been anticipating it.
Eyes narrowed, her arms kept carefully at her sides, her head jerked up as powerful fingers locked around her throat and held her in place.
Icy brandy-colored eyes locked on hers in surprise.
He hadn't known she was here.
The Chameleon smiled and, while surprise held him immobile, she moved.
Her leg kicked up, almost slamming into his balls but barely glancing them instead. He went back, his fingers slackening on her throat as she tore out of his grip.
His hand gripped her wrist as she turned into the hold, her ankle twisting around his, almost taking him down. Once again, she managed to do no more than loosen his hold on her.
A graceful twist and she had an arm's distance between them as she crouched and stared back at him, eyes narrowed, her breathing heavy now.
Adrenaline coursed through her veins, her heart raced but not from fear.
"Let it go," she hissed back at him. "I'm no threat to you."
She would never be a threat to him. Not unless she had to be. She was here for him, and her heart ached because this wasn't the man she knew, the man she had fallen in love with in Atlanta.
She watched him, pushing back her anger and her fears of what he had become as his eyes narrowed further. His weapon was tucked into the front of his black mission pants, easily accessible. God only knew where hers was. He could take her out so easily, they both knew it. Just as they both knew he wouldn't. She hoped she knew that.
"Why?" The snarled question was soft, filled with banked fury. "Why are you here?"
Of course he knew who she was. He had always known who she was, no matter where he saw her, no matter her disguise.
"To kill me?" He sneered. "DHS decide they couldn't handle the shame of having one of their own defeat them?"
She shook her head. "I'm leaving now."
"The hell you are." His lips lifted in a warning growl, his savagely honed features reflecting his fury now.
"The hell I am." She smiled back as his hand gripped the butt of his gun. "Will you shoot me, Ian?"
She backed away from him. Her exit was only a few feet away, the boards loosened just in case of such an emergency, prepared for her escape.
She closed the distance as she watched his face, his eyes. A second later it was her only warning. The gun was jerked from the band of his pants, he aimed for her and fired.
Kira threw herself back, knowing, certain, she was staring death in the face until she stumbled over the body behind her.
Whirling, she had only a moment to glimpse the fallen terrorist before she shoved the loosened board aside and slipped from the warehouse to the inky darkness beyond.
Just that easily he had killed one of his own men. For her.
She ran through the night, careful to stay down, to keep as many obstacles as possible between her and any bullets that might come her way.
The Chameleon had been bested by a Navy SEAL gone rogue. Or had she been rescued by a deep-cover agent now so immersed in the mission that he was no longer the man he had been a year before?
Something inside her ached at the thought of either answer. Over the years, Ian Richards had managed to see through every disguise she had used in the various operations where they had met up. She had been on the inside, he had always been part of the force sweeping in to clean up the mess her information had helped locate. Once again, he had seen through another disguise, but this time, they might not be on the same side. And the very scary part of that was the fact that she knew she wouldn't let it stop her. She had come to Aruba to claim what was hers before his father, Diego Fuentes, could steal his soul.
But she was there for another reason as well. If he hadn't gone rogue, then she was there to make certain that the SEAL didn't murder either the terrorist Sorrell that he had vowed to identify and capture for his father, or his father, the drug lord Diego Fuentes.
The Chameleon had no answers to the questions she had confronted the director of Homeland Security with. Was Ian operating under mission parameters of DHS? She had asked that question twice. Each time the same answer: DHS doesn't contract rogue SEAL operatives.
There were no straight answers, there was only supposition and her orders. Reestablish a relationship with Ian and ensure Homeland Security acquired Sorrell should Ian identify him, as they suspected he would. And keep Diego Fuentes alive.
Diego Fuentes was an asset. He was a DHS-contracted informant. And Ian had no idea the lengths the Department of Homeland Security was willing to go to keep him alive.
Ian swept his gaze across the floor of the warehouse as the team of trained soldiers moved in slowly, dragging the bodies of the assassins to the cleared center of the warehouse.
There were a dozen. Their faces were known to him, several had a price on their heads. Too bad he couldn't collect.
"There's one missing." One of his elite bodyguards spoke at his side. "The blonde. We haven't found her body."
And they wouldn't either.
Ian glanced to his head bodyguard, Deke. Deep cover, a ten-year veteran of the Fuentes cartel, his dark eyes reflected the same chill Ian knew his own did.
This world did that to a man. Planted in ice where a heart should be and diluted the guilt over the bloodshed. The bastards now lying in the center of the warehouse were murderers, kidnappers, rapists. They were terrorists who didn't care who lived or died as long as their fanatical agenda was observed.
He kicked at one lying on its side, knocking the body over until the dead eyes stared up at the heavily beamed ceiling.
"The girl that got away is Algeria Winters," Deke reported. "There's no sign of her, boss."
She didn't get away. He'd let her go.
Ian stared at the terrorist's body. He remembered this one from a mission in Russia several years before. Algeria Winters had been there as well. A Russian-born informant who often worked with Antoni Ruissard, the dead terrorist at his feet.
Anger tightened his jaw as his fingers clenched on the Glock he held carefully by his side.
"We have a team in place in Oranjestad as well as Palm Beach," Trevor stated. "We can get her description out, have her picked up."
Ian nodded slowly. "Go ahead."
They wouldn't find her. The persona Algeria Winters would be discarded before anyone else had a chance to see her. The higher cheekbones would be altered, that sharp chin would disappear, hazel eyes would change, and blond hair would become another color. Her next disguise would be as natural, as smooth as birth, and no one would ever know she was Kira Porter, except him.
He stared down at the dead assassin Antoni, the dark blond hair matted with blood, the head shot having taken off half his face. He wasn't nearly as handsome, as debonair, as he had been when Ian's men had raided the warehouse.
"Have the Misserns arrived yet?"
Josef and Martin Missern were the weapons dealers Ian was to have met at this warehouse. In less than ten minutes.
"Their limo just pulled in minutes ago," Deke reported. "They're being held outside."
Ian's jaw clenched. Would the twins, certain Sorrell contacts, have arrived if they had known about this strike?
Of course they would have, he thought cynically as he stared at the bullet-ridden bodies laid out before him.
"Secure the perimeter. Half of you take up sniper position, the other half are with me."
He had a dozen men. He had come prepared. Survival instinct, knowledge of his enemies, or just plain paranoia had precipitated the cautionary attack on the warehouse.
It wasn't the first time Sorrell had tried to take him out in the past year. Ian had learned to be on guard.
Of course, that was the price of walking away from a life of truth, justice, and the American way to take over the reins of a drug cartel. That cynical thought had something dark and bitter brewing in his gut.
As he turned and strode away from the dead bodies he knew none of the regret at the loss of life that he had often known during his years as a SEAL. The knowledge that he'd had no choice, that he was preserving the laws of his nation, didn't comfort him.
Because he didn't need comfort.
"What the hell happened in there?" Deke asked, his voice low, as the others moved out to secure the perimeter and to surround the heir of the Fuentes cartel. They left Ian and Deke in the center as they moved from the warehouse.
"Did you see Algeria?" Ian asked him carefully.
"Who could miss her," Deke breathed out roughly. "Those Russian cheekbones and cool hazel eyes would be a dead giveaway a mile away. Knock-dead gorgeous and dangerous as hell. Have you ever seen such a pretty package housing such a black heart?"
Ian holstered his weapon as he stared at Josef and Martin Missern across the warehouse lot, although his attention was focused on Deke.
"You're sure it was her?" Couldn't anyone else see beneath the package, the disguise?
"Man, no one could imitate Algeria." Deke snorted, but his look as he stared back at Ian shifted. "Could they?"
Ian shook his head. "It looked like Algeria; I just didn't expect to see her here."
"Antoni was here," Deke pointed out. "They're known associates."
"She doesn't usually work assassination squads," Ian reminded him.
It was clear Deke didn't have a clue who Algeria actually was.
Ian rubbed at his jaw, pausing before stepping closer to the Missern limo and staring around the warehouse lot. The neat wood and metal buildings were grouped close together, their contents awaiting shipping or delivery. It was the perfect place for an ambush. So why hadn't the Chameleon warned him of it?
She had been the Chameleon tonight, partially. The disguise had been perfect, as it always was. The feature-altering latex appeared as natural as true flesh. The contacts in her eyes hadn't given a hint of their true color, and the wig, if it had been a wig, looked as natural as real hair.
It better be a wig. God help her if she had cut that length of silky black hair that had graced her head in Atlanta.
She looked like a witch in her natural form. Gorgeous. Wicked. Seductive. The persona of Algeria Winters was as dangerous, as lethal, as any disguise the Chameleon had ever taken though.
"We have another problem," Deke warned him then.
Ian glanced at him from the corner of his eye. "Just one?"
Deke grimaced. "Word came in as we were suiting up to attack the warehouse. Kira Porter sent a message to the villa saying hello."
Ian froze. Son of a bitch. Son of a bitch. She had called the villa? Which meant Diego knew, and that scheming, matchmaking bastard would be all over that one like white on rice. Nothing would please Diego more than to believe Ian had managed to catch the interest of a society princess such as Kira Porter — her real life persona. But it had also been the warning he wondered why he hadn't received.
He was going to wring her slender, graceful little neck.
"Ian, what the hell is going on here?" Josef Missern snapped, as he and his brother and chauffeur stood with hands flat against the hood of the limo.
Black-clad Fuentes soldiers pointed lethal M-16s at their backs, their eyes behind the black masks filled with the anticipation of death.
He pushed Kira to the back of his mind. He would deal with her later. But he would deal with her. And when he did, he promised himself, she wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much as she believed she was going to.
"Treachery, Josef." Ian strode across the distance with lazy ease as he watched the weapons dealers with a cold smile. "Treachery and death. Would you like to join in? I can arrange it for you."
The Frenchman paled as his brother stared back at him in horror.
Oh yeah, they had known what was going to happen here, and they were the perfect messengers to inform Sorrell that his highly paid assassins had failed.
As for the missing Algeria Winters, aka the Chameleon, aka one satin-fleshed, gray-eyed, black-haired Kira Porter? Well, he would take care of her on his own. And whatever her agenda, she could fly right back to Washington and let her handler know she had failed.
Ian had warned them when he left to stay the hell out of his way. He would kill and ask questions later before he would risk his own life, and his own plans. He was here for vengeance, and by God, vengeance would be his.CHAPTER 2
"So where the hell is Kira Porter?" Ian slammed the door to his office the next night and faced the bodyguard who had stepped inside with him.
His orders to Deke that morning had been simple: Find Kira Porter.
Deke looked as damned tired as Ian felt. Waylaying assassins and buying arms from gun smugglers at midnight, trying to justify letting the scum of the earth live another day, and doing it with only a few hours' sleep in the past two days hadn't helped his mood.
Nearly being knocked on his ass by a pint-sized black-haired witch with more guts than common sense wasn't helping either. It didn't matter to Ian that she was one of the most experienced and competent contract agents that he knew. It sure as hell didn't help that she likely knew exactly what she was doing. The fact that she was there had the blood boiling in his veins. Unfortunately, it wasn't all anger that was causing it.
Excerpted from Killer Secrets by Lora Leigh. Copyright © 2008 Lora Leigh. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
Lora Leigh is the author of Live Wire, Forbidden Pleasure, and Enigma, among many others. Writing is her passion, her peace, and her lifeline, and she can often be found daydreaming and plotting and planning with the varied characters that fill her imagination. When she isn't writing, she tends her flower gardens, watches horses romp outside her home, or spends time with the family and pets she fills her life with. She lives in the rolling hills of Kentucky.
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I loved the series, didn,t want it to end.
I was hooked from the beginning till the end.
I thought this book was the best yet of the series. Very good!
I actually read the last book in this series first and now I'm working my way backwards. I very much enjoyed this story. The story line was well put together with a mix of suspense and hot love. Ian and Kira have deep feelings for each other, but neither of them wants to admit how much they care. Both would lay their life down for the other. It was fast paced and kept me interested from beginning to end.
This whole series are my favorite. The will to fight for love is beautiful.
A very good book book that all should read. I could not put it down.
I love all of Lora Leighs books...Killer Secrets didn't disappoint. A fantastic read. Great series. Would recommend as a Great read.
Anything by Lora Leigh has been a hit with me for sure.