When past and present collide, predicting the future is impossible.
Everyone knows that Prophet -- former Navy SEAL, former CIA spook, full-time pain in the ass -- works alone. But his boss at Extreme Escapes, Ltd. has just assigned Proph a new partner and a case haunted by ghosts from Proph's past. Suddenly, he has to confront both head-on.
Tom Boudreaux-failed FBI agent, failed sheriff, full-time believer in bad luck-is wondering why the head of a private contracting firm has hunted him down to offer him a job. Still, he's determined to succeed this time, despite being partnered with Prophet, EE's most successful, lethal, and annoying operative, on a case that resurrects his own painful past.
Together, Prophet and Tom must find a way to take down killers in the dangerous world of underground cage matches while fighting their own dangerous attraction. When they find themselves caught in the crossfire, these two loners must trust each other and work together to escape their ghosts . . . or pay the price.
Read an Excerpt
Catch a Ghost
Hell of High Water: Book 1
By SE Jakes, Sarah Frantz
Riptide PublishingCopyright © 2013 SE Jakes
All rights reserved.
One month later.
Prophet didn't like sitting still, found it nearly impossible to do so unless it was a life-or-death situation—and that had to be literally life or death and not some bullshit sit still or I'll kill you type of non-threat.
Right now, he was supposed to be playing good little office boy. Doing paperwork, which sucked anyway, but more so because he was wearing not one, but two casts. Goddamn it. He looked mutinously down at the blue encasements that covered his hands and forearms to just below his elbows, and fought the urge to slam them against the desk. He'd done that once before—it'd cracked in half, but it'd been a different kind of cast. These he could fucking take a grenade to and they wouldn't open, thanks to Doc's tricks.
There were a few marks on one from where he'd tried to saw it with his KA-BAR, but that had just made the ends a little sharper and the whole thing more annoying than it had been, which was already pretty damned annoying. Although still not as annoying as the paperwork.
He planned on rectifying that situation as soon as the office emptied out a little—with a match, a garbage can, and a disabled smoke alarm—
The phone rang. He stared at it like that would make it stop. Desk duty wasn't his forte, and this was some serious desk duty. It was partially because of his injuries—although he'd played hurt before—but mainly because of what he considered a minor infraction on his last trip out.
Obviously, his boss disagreed that storming a building protected by twenty guards and a state-of-the-art alarm system, without waiting for backup, and with a thief who hadn't technically, as of that mission, been an Extreme Escapes employee, was a minor infraction (although he'd like to point out that all the good guys had lived, thank you very much), but hell, Phil Butler had known him long enough to realize that nothing with him ever went by the book.
Since the damned phone wouldn't shut up, he finally answered with, "Yeah," and then someone was yelling in his ear. Oh, hell no, he didn't do that. He hung up and it started to ring again almost immediately. He muted the volume and began to draw on his cast, highlighting the number he'd gotten at the bar last night, before Phil walked into Prophet's office—unannounced and without knocking—and slammed files down on his desk.
"Ah, come on, man." Prophet flipped through them. "I finished these."
"I thought the benefit of working here was not having to do this shit," he groused, but Phil just smiled. Because Phil was grooming him, he knew, to take over EE. But the old man wasn't all that old, and he wasn't going anywhere for a while.
Plus, Prophet guessed he should be grateful he could still do shit like paperwork.
"Finish it and I'll buy you lunch," Phil said.
Prophet started to nod, then pushed back in his chair, which went flying, stopped only by the wall. "What do you want?"
"You're all so suspicious."
Prophet pointed a finger at him. "Because you only buy lunch when you're up to shit. Dinner's reserved for someone who's dying."
Phil pressed his lips together, pinched a thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose—the classic I'm trying to hold it together so I don't kill Prophet signal—and said, "You're getting a partner."
Phil spoke louder. "You're getting a—"
"I heard you. It's the eyes, not the ears."
"Hey, you made a joke."
Prophet couldn't even begin to curse the man for that. He was too distraught over the partner thing. "Why now? It's been a year."
"I know. You're not the easiest man to partner up."
"So why try?" Prophet ground out.
"Because these are my rules."
"You own this place—you can change the rules anytime you want."
"True." Phil rubbed his chin with two fingers as he contemplated Prophet's words, then smiled. "Try this new rule on for size—you can't order office supplies."
"This isn't going to work."
"It has to."
"This isn't another one of your jail charity cases, is it?" he asked, and Phil shrugged. "Ah, come on. Who is he? Some prick fresh from Special Forces, thinking he's the shit?"
"And that would differentiate him from you, how?"
Prophet pointed at him. "Nice one, Phil. Come on, answer the damned question."
Phil conceded, leaning a hip on desk as he said, "Most recently, he was a deputy in one of the parishes of New Orleans.
He's former FBI, too."
Prophet groaned, put his forehead on the desk and slammed it lightly several times. "I don't know which is worse—the Cajun part or the Fed part. Don't we have anyone applying here who's a career criminal? I could at least learn something useful."
"Just Blue—and he's already partnered up," Phil pointed out. "And we're being a bit dramatic, no?"
"No," Prophet deadpanned. "Look, I'll do a job with him, but this permanent partner thing ..."
"You know why I'm doing it."
Prophet straightened. "So what? This guy's going to be like my Seeing Eye dog? Because I could just get a real dog, you know. Would save everyone a lot of time and money."
"Yes, that would work out so well jumping out of planes."
"I'm fine for now, Phil. I wouldn't be accepting missions if I wasn't."
"I know. I get your doctor reports."
"And when I'm not—"
"I prepare for any and all eventualities," Phil said, echoing what Prophet told him on a daily basis. "And I'm not losing you. This partner thing is final."
Prophet knew better than to continue arguing. He rubbed his cheeks with his fingertips, realized he needed a shave badly. He looked down at the sweats and ripped T-shirt he wore because he'd come here straight from training, without bothering with things like a shower. Or shoes. "Fine," he mumbled. "But don't expect me to like him."
Phil handed him another file he'd had tucked under his arm. "New mission intel. And I never know what the hell to expect from you anyway. He'll be here soon."
"Soon, like soon?"
Again, Phil did the nose pinching thing and walked away, cursing to himself under his breath. Prophet had that effect on everyone, he supposed.
No time to shower or change. But hell, he wasn't looking to impress. Maybe the guy would think he looked like a crazy homeless person and demand another partner.
He gave his most put-upon sigh and left his office with the new op file to go raid the supply closet in the common area looking for his favorite pencils. Because when he was forced to ride a desk, he wanted his favorite supplies. Was keeping them in stock too much to ask?
Apparently so. And now he couldn't even order them.
He grabbed a box of paper clips instead so he could try to fix the communal copy machine. He pulled open one of the panels that held the ink supply, brushed the hair out of his eyes impatiently. Too long for most jobs, maybe even longer than he really liked it, but he wore it this way because he could. A daily reminder of his freedom from the bullshit bureaucracy that had hampered him in the past. But the thing of it was, he couldn't escape the future hurtling toward him like a meteor delivering a death blow.
Going blind doesn't have to be a death sentence.
For him, he wondered if it would be.
No one knew, except Phil. Prophet had told him in the hopes that Phil wouldn't want him for EE, that he'd stop courting him and just go away.
That hadn't happened, obviously. Phil had made sure that no one else at EE knew, except for Doc, and he'd made sure Prophet's insurance at EE covered the specialist he now saw.
It would be up to Prophet when and if to tell anyone else at EE, and he wouldn't ever do it. Didn't need anyone treating him differently. Especially a new partner.
He thought about heading out to lunch, but he wanted to see if the guy was punctual. If he wasn't, Prophet would yell at him.
And if he was, it'd prove that he was some kind of kiss-ass to Phil.
A sense of dull foreboding overtook him and he tried to shake it, but couldn't. Another glance at the clock, and he looked down in time to see Phil usher a man into his corner office.
Right on time.
To distract himself, he leaned against the copy machine and paged through the new mission file Phil had given him. He and his new, annoying partner were set to fly to Eritrea. EE kept a second base of operations there. Most of the time, it was strictly recon, which meant you'd wait for something to happen, check in twice a day, and then maybe, if you were lucky—or unlucky —be sent out to do something.
Still, Prophet always managed to find some trouble there. It was hot. Corrupt. And he'd need plenty of weapons and cash for payoffs. T-shirts and candy for the kids. And knives. Maybe another machete because last time he was in-country, he'd broken his. A hell of a trip, his souvenir was an elbow that ached when it rained, and a scar on the back of his neck from the guy who had tried to cut his head off.
With Prophet's own machete. So maybe scratch the machete.
Elliot was in the Eritrea office, had been for the past three months while he'd healed from a bullet wound. Prophet assumed he was being sent there to heal as well, and probably to bond with his new partner.
Son of a bitch.
He glanced up at the man who walked out of Phil's office. The guy was almost as tall as Doc, which put him in the six-foot-five range. And he was broad, with dark hair, but man, the chip on his shoulder was visible from the fucking moon.
Prophet stared down at his casts and sighed. Picked at the edges of them. Wondered if he went into an ER and complained about pain whether they'd take them off for him, then remembered he was banned from the two closest ERs. He pulled his phone from his pocket and Googled ERs over twenty miles away, flagging a few viable options, until a shadow fell across him.
No doubt the gargantuan man. He took his time looking up, and when he did, he stuck out one of his casted hands. "I'm Prophet."
"Why? What's your name? Jesus?"
The guy didn't crack a smile. One of his eyes was green, the other mostly brown, and it gave him a slightly unbalanced look, like a German shorthaired pointer Prophet'd once owned. But man, could that dog track.
"I'm Tom Boudreaux." He ignored the casted hand, and Prophet pulled it back. Saw Phil hovering a few feet away. What did Phil think he'd do, punch him out in the middle of the office?
"Nice to meet you, Tommy," he said, smiling, and the guy rolled his eyes at him and wasn't this going to be fun? Prophet rubbed his fingers along the back of his neck. Getting his head cut off with a machete would be more fun than this, but he forced himself to be semi-human. "What's your background?"
"I don't tell people things like that unless they buy me dinner first." The drawl sounded deep Cajun. The drawn-out words and the lilting, easy roll of his voice made Prophet want to throw a chair at him, mainly because it had always been an accent he'd found irresistible. On anyone but this guy.
Okay, a little on this guy. Fucking bayou asshole.
But I'll bet he can definitely track.
"Dude, what's your area of expertise?" Prophet tried again.
"Look, I'm not getting into a pissing contest with you."
Tommy narrowed his eyes at him. "Didn't want a partner?"
"Awesome. Glad we got that out of the way. Because neither did I."
"Got it, Tommy."
"Tom," the man said evenly.
"What I said."
"This is going to go well," Phil said, more to himself than to them. "Look, assholes, everyone here works with a partner. Don't fuck this up or I will fuck you up. Both of you."
Prophet didn't doubt it—the former Marine wasn't even six feet, but he was stout and muscled. And Prophet had learned a long time ago that bigger didn't always equal winning, which was good for him.
Not that he was small, but six foot two was a midget among this land of six foot four–plus giants.
"I've got shit to do," he told Tommy, turned away from him and toward the copy machine. The paper tray wouldn't even open, so he banged his casts on it a few times, and the damned thing started working for the first time in days. "I should get some kind of bonus for that," he told Phil.
"I've got a bonus for you, all right," Phil shot back.
"You're not talking about him, right?" Prophet pointed at Tommy. "Because no."CHAPTER 2
Meeting the man from the video shouldn't have been so goddamned unexpected.
You've really lost your touch, Boudreaux. You're off your game.
Tom hoped he'd get it all back soon. Like riding a bike. Although he felt more like he'd just fallen off one and gotten run over in the process.
Why the hell someone had sent him that video of his new partner—how anyone knew Prophet would be his new partner a month ago—was the most pressing question.
Not telling Prophet about it at all was the best course of action until he discovered the answer. He already had the proof that Prophet was a maniac—a lethal one, both things perhaps born from necessity.
Or maybe he was just born that way.
He was a couple of inches shorter than Tom, and lankier. And there was no mistaking the fact that the man had war in his eyes. Tom didn't know if the general population could see it, or if they'd stop at the rugged handsomeness, the way he looked as though he'd just literally rolled out of bed ... and hadn't been sleeping.
But if you watched closely, you'd see that his gaze swallowed whole areas, that he stalked as opposed to simply moved. That he missed nothing.
The man was trouble. Those eyes had him locked and loaded, and Tom would've felt less conspicuous naked on a float in the middle of Mardi Gras. He didn't scare easily, but this could easily become the most trouble he'd had in his life, and that was saying something.
As he watched Prophet walk away, Tom rubbed a hand across the back of his neck, then cursed because he was mirroring the man.
"That went well," Phil said as he escorted Tom into a large office across from his.
"Is this the part where you tell me he'll come around?"
At least Phil Butler was an honest man. Five minutes before he'd met Prophet, Phil had told him, "We're more of a discover-on-your-own type of company. I don't have time to hand-hold you through a partner or a mission."
All Tom had been able to get out of Phil was his partner's age—thirty-one to Tom's thirty-six—and the fact that Prophet was probably one of the best operatives Phil had ever seen, hands down. He'd used words like highly skilled, capable, and lots of field experience.
EE had a reputation for providing their operatives with everything they needed, including what Phil liked to call creative freedom. They'd also given him a lot of training the past month. He'd had his ass kicked by several operatives to get him up to speed on everything from new techniques in hand-to-hand and weaponry, to demolitions and explosives. It was a crash course, one Phil told him would continue in between his missions.
"What else do I need to know about Prophet?" Tom asked him now. "Real name, maybe?"
But Phil ignored his question, telling him instead, "You can work here or at home. Most operatives rarely come in unless there's a meeting. Just know your intel for your first mission. Details are in your secured email." Phil pointed to the laptop on an empty desk before he left the room.
Email. Right. He opened the brand new computer and found that his first name popped up, along with a list of passwords for him to reset. He did so quickly, anxious to check that he could get his secured emails, knowing he'd read them when he was out of this place and away from the maniac. He'd figured if he could deal with the Cajuns, he could deal with anything. He might've been seriously wrong.
Someone knocked briefly on the still-open door. He turned to see the woman he'd met earlier—Natasha, from support systems—and motioned for her to come in. She was tall and slim, and he had a feeling her body type belied her capabilities. Phil had told him that even the support staff knew how to kick ass.
Excerpted from Catch a Ghost by SE Jakes, Sarah Frantz. Copyright © 2013 SE Jakes. Excerpted by permission of Riptide 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
You know a book is hecka good when not even a tenth of the way through you're checking the release date on the next book and groaning because it's not out yesterday. This book knocked my socks off from page one when the irascibly endearing Prophet Drews makes his appearance and then the epic 'gasoline to flame' meeting of two Titans when he finds himself paired up with Tom Boudreaux for the next mission. The shadow world of covert ops is dark and gritty, but makes for a suitable backdrop for the story of these two guys. The mission takes a dip into Proph's past and touches a few of Tom's ghosts too. Both men are pushed hard by the circumstances and by each other. Tension is high and danger is always present. The only thing scarier is that they get past the hard walls they built around themselves over the years and start to know and trust each other. The danger comes to a head and Prophet is left to make a huge no win decision dredging up all the demons from the past that he struggles to contain. Tom has to make a hard choice in the end too. While the mystery that the mission presents them is intriguing and deliciously twisty like I enjoy and the characters were so well written, it was the relationship between Prophet and Tom that took over this book for me, pulled me in and had me so eager to see it progress. And this is saying something because getting to know these guys through the alternating points of view just never got old. This relationship is not easy or simple, but it is loaded with passion. It was painful and it was exquisite all at the same time. And in the end...let's just say that book two cannot come soon enough. So many things are left unresolved, but this isn't a problem because I am thrilled that this is an ongoing series. This was one of the best series openers that I've ever read and I can recommend it to those who enjoy grittier plots, multi-faceted difficult characters in a spicy m/m romantic suspense. My thanks to Net Galley and Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this book for review purposes.
I love alpha men especially when they are bad*** and have the hots for each other. Two highly trained men working together in and out of the bedroom may just be my favorite type of read. I’ll definitely be continuing the series.
This is a book to be read and reread. I keep finding new things that catch my attention. SE Jakes does a wonderful job of creating two very engaging main characters. Blood, sex, violence, character development, and a twisty plot. I enjoyed every page, and I am looking forward to more.
What an absolutely stunning novel! Jakes takes you into her world of action and suspense with an immaculately written, thoroughly thought out plot that will keep you captivated throughout. Danger and adventure war with heat and revenge in this altogether unforgettable tale. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the inner workings of the man known as Prophet. All of the little things about him are revealed, and you really get to know what makes him tick. He becomes a full 3D individual that you love and hate in equal measures. Tom(my) is an intriguingly complex character as well. I would have liked to know that secret piece of his history that makes him tick, but I’m sure it will come out in future novels. These two are such strong individuals and well developed characters that they easily carry this adventurous story forward. My final thoughts on this one? SERIOUSLY TOMMY??? *face palm* I can’t believe you just did that. Yeah. I definitely need to know what happens next because this can’t be the way that ends. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
I'm NEVER disappointed when pick up a nook from SE Jakes! I couldn't put this down. Love Prophet and Tommy!!
Great author! I've read all of this writers books. Can't wait to read more about Prophet and Tom.
Finally we get Prophet’s story…well, sort of, and only some of it so far. But, I’m extremely glad the next book is to be released soon as Prophet’s story is actually a multi-parter (four books I think). We initially learn about Prophet in the Men of Honor series and in Free Falling…both of which are incredible reads that I highly recommend. And I was very happy that Prophet was finally getting his story, but jeez…S E Jakes makes us work for it. Don’t go into this expecting a resolution to Prophet and Tom’s story…(or is it going to be Prophet and Tom)? I am pretty sure the answer is yes, but since we don’t have the sequel yet, and this ended without our HEA, I am not positive. And Cillian…wow, I was almost rooting for him and Prophet together, but nah….it’s gotta be Tom. But, Cillian has a story, I hope. Tom is a smoking hot mercenary and the perfect partner for Prophet. That is him on the cover and oh man, what a great cover it is. His tattoos and piercings are great…especially when Prophet sees them through the x-ray the first time. LOVED that scene!!! I’ve seen a review that compares this to Ty and Zane in a couple ways, and have to admit that the thought crossed my mind as well. It is not a bad thing, trust me, but there are similarities. All in all, I think I am going to love this spin-off series and can’t wait for the next couple of books. Highly recommend, but do yourself a huge favor and read the other books first.