Covert Game (GhostWalkers Series #14)

Covert Game (GhostWalkers Series #14)

by Christine Feehan
4.9 69

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Overview

Covert Game (GhostWalkers Series #14) by Christine Feehan

Treason, torture and temptation haunt the GhostWalkers in their most dangerous adventure yet, as Christine Feehan's #1 New York Times bestselling series hits an explosive new high.

Rescuing an industrial spy from the hands of a criminal mastermind is a suicide mission for the GhostWalkers. And there's no one more up to the task than Gino Mazza. He's the perfect killing machine--a man driven by demons so dark and destructive that his blighted soul has given up trying to find solace. But his laser-sharp focus on his target has transformed into something nearing desire.

A treasonous senator dangled top secret GhostWalker data in front of a Chinese crime lord, and he bit. Zara Hightower, one of the world's leading experts on artificial intelligence, was sent in to psychically wipe the crime lord's computer network. She succeeded, but at a huge cost. Now she's the captive of a man who has descended into paranoid madness. Torture and death await her...

But GhostWalkers never leave one of their own in enemy territory. And it's up to Gino to save Zara, or kill her if it turns out she's led them into a trap. Either way, heaven or hell won't stop him...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451489876
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/20/2018
Series: GhostWalkers Series , #14
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 32,146
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Christine Feehan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Carpathian series, the GhostWalker series, the Leopard series, the Shadow Riders series, and the Sea Haven novels, including the Drake Sisters series and the Sisters of the Heart series.

Read an Excerpt

1

Zara Hightower stepped into the town car with tinted windows, sliding along the leather seat, positioning her briefcase at her feet on the floor. She gave the man who slid in beside her a small smile and looked out the window, ignoring the way her heart wanted to accelerate. It was always this moment, when she was so close to her goal, when her body wanted to betray her. She never let it. Never. She was very, very good at staying in control. Breathing. Keeping her heart rate perfect, adrenaline at bay.

The car moved forward, and her head went up alertly. "Wait. I need my interpreter. She always travels with me."

The car kept moving. The man beside her, Heng Zhang, turned his head and gave her a small, polite smile. "Miss Hightower, you do not need an interpreter. I speak English."

"I'm aware that you do, Mr. Zhang, but I require my own interpreter. I made that very clear to Mr. Cheng when he invited me. I was given assurances when I agreed to speak with his people. I've turned down his request four times, and will do so this time as well if you don't stop this car immediately, turn it around and get her."

She kept her voice smooth and even. She had a certain reputation to uphold. She never lost her temper. She never raised her voice. She was always polite. She cut people down sweetly, so sweetly they almost didn't realize at first that she was telling them off. She was an expert at that as well. Seeing as how she was considered one of the world's leading minds in the field of artificial intelligence, those around her should expect that she could hold her own with anyone, but they always took one look at her and judged on appearances. Like now. Zhang made the mistake of looking her up and down and giving her a look that said she was nothing in his eyes before turning away from her and looking out the window.

In her head, she went through the moves that would end his life and then the driver's. She would use one hard-edged chop to the throat, hard enough to drive through the trachea. Or she could just scratch his arm accidentally. Smile and apologize. Then, when he slumped on the seat, for good measure she could follow up by taking his gun and shooting the driver in the back of the head, shooting Zhang to be certain and then taking control of the car. One, maybe two seconds was all she'd need.

Zara sat very still, appearing as she always did. She looked like a beautiful model with her long legs, oval face, flawless skin, large slate blue eyes and long red gold hair that fell down her back, thick and unusual, sheets of it falling below her waist, looks that most reporters ended up commenting on when they should be listening to what she had to say. Still, her looks enabled her to get her work done. She shouldn't complain. It was her looks that often kept her alive.

She turned her head and looked out the window, resisting the impulse to kill Zhang for his smug, superior attitude. They probably had a camera on her. She let her mind drift, uncaring of the direction they were taking her. She knew where Cheng's lair was. He was famous in the district, his building a fortress. The government tolerated him because he paid them well and gave them all sorts of reasons to keep him protected. Cheng bought and sold secrets and shared them often enough with the government to buy their protection.

Once at the facility, the car pulled into the underground parking garage, went through three guard stations and pulled right up to a private elevator. Zhang got out first and went around to her door. For a split second, Zara debated whether or not to have it out with them right there in the parking lot by refusing to move from the car. She knew they would force her, but she also knew they wouldn't kill her.

Cheng needed her. He wanted the information she had. He had kept doubling the price each time she refused to come to his private facility to give her talk on the VALUE system, as she called her project, and its uses in the business world. He thought he had bought her with his more than generous offer, the one that would set her up for life if she accepted it-or get her killed.

She slid out of the car without looking left or right, and followed Zhang into the elevator. Neither spoke as they were whisked up to the middle floor where Cheng waited for her. She was stopped as she stepped off. Two guards with automatic weapons took her briefcase and pointed to a door. She stepped through it into a narrow cubicle. Immediately her entire body was scanned for listening devices, weapons and cameras, anything that might harm Cheng in any way.

Zara knew Cheng was paranoid, and deservedly so. He had his hand in every criminal activity around the globe that had to do with running guns, drugs or political secrets. He had top minds working for him developing all kinds of weapons that he sold on the black market. What he didn't develop, he stole. She knew every paper in her briefcase would be scanned and copied before it was returned to her. She'd come prepared for just such a thing. Those papers were "encrypted." No one could break the code because there wasn't one. In reality, the code was nothing but sheer gibberish, but it would give Cheng's people something to keep them busy.

She was taken from the cubicle and marched through an open floor where there were several desks leading the way to Cheng's office. He stood in the doorway, all smiles, as if she should be pleased to meet him even though he'd broken their rules.

"Miss Hightower, how good of you to come," he greeted.

She stopped moving a few feet from his office, forcing Zhang and the two guards to stop as well. "My interpreter?" She didn't smile. She kept her gaze fixed on Cheng without blinking, something she'd practiced for a long time. She was very good at it.

"I'm sorry." Cheng didn't sound in the least remorseful. "You must understand I have many enemies. I don't, as a rule, allow any outsider into these facilities. There are always industrial spies. We won't need an interpreter."

Stubbornly she didn't move an inch. "Don't you think you should have let me know you changed the conditions? I'm uncomfortable without her. When I come to Shanghai, I always use her and have grown used to her."

Cheng stepped back to clear his doorway, waving toward his office. "Please come in, Miss Hightower. My staff has made you tea, which I believe is your favorite drink."

She stood for several seconds, letting them all worry. Zhang stepped close to her. "Miss Hightower." He waved toward the office.

She looked at him coolly. Haughtily. Every bit as arrogant as his boss. "I'm deciding. I added this additional talk to my agenda, and as you both are aware, I've had a very tight and exhausting schedule. I did this as a courtesy. I don't need the money. To have your boss break his word so quickly is disconcerting to say the least."

Zhang switched instantly to his native language. "Do you want me to take her up to the interrogation room? Bolan Zhu can extract the information you require from her."

Cheng shook his head, a small, humorless smile on his mouth, one that reminded Zara of a cold-blooded reptile. "Don't be so bloodthirsty, Heng. She will cooperate."

"I apologize again, Miss Hightower."

"I dislike others speaking in a language I can't understand," Zara said, still not moving. She had understood every word they said. Her resume never stated that she was gifted in languages. That was kept a secret for instances just like this one. She admitted to knowing a few pertinent words in the languages of countries she traveled to often, but was careful not to let on that she understood without her interpreter. Her heart had jumped at the name Bolan Zhu. He was extremely good at torturing people.

"Zhang was only asking after your comfort. We knew you would have trouble without your interpreter, so we tried to think of other ways that would assure you would enjoy your visit with us," Cheng lied smoothly. "We thought a tour of our labs was in order. Understand, this is a great privilege, one not extended often."

As in never. A tendril of unease slid through her. He wanted her evaluation. She understood that. He wanted to hear what she was doing in her chosen field of expertise. She understood that too. She had the feeling that seeing his labs, especially his computers, the ones that stored all that data, the secrets he blackmailed or paid others to get so he could sell out countries-including his own-to the highest bidder, would earn her a bullet in the brain.

She kept her eyes steady on Cheng's face. Zhang didn't matter. He would carry out his boss's orders, but he wouldn't act on his own. He didn't take her as a threat.

"Miss Hightower, I realize the circumstances are unusual, but if you would just come into my office and hear me out, I would appreciate it."

She felt Zhang stiffen beside her. He didn't like his boss asking. He was used to the man ordering others and if they didn't obey, punishment was swift and brutal. The fact that she was a woman and an American probably offended him even more. Deliberately she made certain to stand as tall as possible so she could tower over Zhang. He was particularly short, and she knew it irritated him that she was tall. Cheng was the same height as she was in her heels.

Zara flashed Cheng a small smile and walked past him into the spacious office. She took the chair he indicated and sank into it, deliberately crossing her legs. Zhang didn't like her, but he appreciated her looks. Doing the leg thing always kept others from thinking she was brilliant. She'd found out that most people didn't think looks and brains could go hand in hand.

Cheng seated himself across from her, not behind his desk, clearly trying to create a much friendlier atmosphere. He picked up a file and scanned it quickly. "This is very impressive. I see you went to MIT as an undergrad and then got your PhD at Stanford in Computer Science. Your subfield is machine learning?"

He made it a question, but Zara didn't respond. Instead she looked slightly bored. She was really good at that particular look as well. She'd perfected that and the wide-eyed innocent look she was certain she was going to need very soon.

"I see you teach at Rutgers University. Why not private business? You could make a lot more money."

She shrugged. "Money bores me. I realize it makes the world go around, but I don't spend much time in the real world, Mr. Cheng. My mind prefers other pursuits." Which she supposed was the strict truth. She didn't think about money because she didn't have to. She thought about other things like life and death. Like survival. "I spend most of my time working on things others don't understand, and that's all right. My programs, hopefully, will be a contribution to the world."

"There isn't a lot here about your earlier life."

She frowned at him. "What does my earlier life have to do with my work?" She kept her voice mild, as if barely interested. She kept her heartbeat the exact same rhythm, and that took just a little extra work, but she knew it was possible her vitals were being monitored just by her sitting in the chair he'd chosen for her.

"I like to know everything about anyone I do business with."

"I'm not a businesswoman, Mr. Cheng. I lecture. I get paid to lecture. I give talks on exciting new breakthroughs in the world of artificial intelligence. That's what I thought you wanted from me, and knowing anything other than my credentials is not really helpful. I can assure you, my credentials speak for me. I'm regarded as one of the leading experts in AI and machine learning. I thought you were aware of that."

"I'm very aware of that, Miss Hightower," Cheng assured. "It's just that you're far younger than I thought you'd be. I noted your age, of course, but thought it was a typo."

His gaze flicked several times to Zhang, and more than ever she was certain they were somehow determining if she was lying or not. She liked cat-and-mouse games. She was good at them. She was fairly certain his secretary, or whoever prepared the report on her, wouldn't dare give him a report with a typo. His secretary wouldn't survive the hour.

"My age does sometimes give people pause, but I graduated with honors, I assure you," she said with a small shrug as if she didn't care whether he believed her or not. She uncrossed her legs to switch them, drawing their attention immediately. Once comfortable, she moved her foot, clad in a sexy blue high heel to match the blue jacket she wore, around in lazy circles. That always seemed to mesmerize males. It worked with Zhang, but not with Cheng.

"You disappear for long periods of time."

He made it a statement so she smiled sweetly at him as if waiting for a question, making him ask.

He sighed. "Where do you go?"

She shook her head. "I don't really think what I do in my downtime is any of your business."

"You're more of a consulting professor for Rutgers. I want to know where you go, Miss Hightower. You're asking me to trust you around my researchers."

She stopped the lazy circles, planted both feet solidly on the floor and leaned toward him. "Let's get something straight, Mr. Cheng. I'm doing you the favor, not the other way around. I said no over and over. I made it clear I wasn't interested in your money. You may think I agreed to speak to your people because the money was too good to pass up, but it was because you intrigued me. You were that persistent. I thought the research mattered to you. If you keep insisting on playing this silly game, I would very much like you to ask your driver to return me to my hotel."

"Have I offended you with my questions?"

Zhang interrupted, once again in his language. "Let me take her to the interrogation room, Mr. Cheng."

"That's it." Zara stood up, glaring at Zhang. "I can't believe how rude you're being when you invited me here. Please return my briefcase and escort me down to the car."

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Covert Game (Signed Book) (GhostWalkers Series #14) 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Anonymous 10 months ago
This book hit all of my emotions! When your heart races at one point and melts at another, you're sappy to the point of tears and furious by the next chapter, THAT IS A NOVEL!!! I couldn't put it down. A-maz-ing!!!
Anonymous 10 months ago
Another great addition to the series!! I hope Nonny lives forever! She's so great as a role model for all the women...and Zara was a complete sweetheart!!
Anonymous 10 months ago
Gino is the man for Zara. Love at first sight, even though she was a frightful sight when Gino rescued her. He doctored her back to health. Gave her back her self esteem. Went after the man who tortured her and got rid of him. Now they will be family. Excellent story.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Love all Christine's Feehans books.. Chomping at the bits, till the next one....Chomp Chomp
Anonymous 10 months ago
Good reading. It had me right there. I felt like I was a part of the story .?
Anonymous 10 months ago
Amazing!!!!
Sandy-thereadingcafe 10 months ago
4.25 stars--COVERT GAME is the fourteenth instalment in Christine Feehan’s contemporary adult GHOSTWALKERS paranormal, romantic suspense series focusing on an elite group of ‘genetically enhanced’ men and women known as the GhostWalkers. These ‘super soldiers’ were once part of an unauthorized government experiment performed by Dr. Peter Whitney-a man tantamount to evil incarnate. This is GhostWalker/hunter Gino ‘Phantom Wind’ Mazza, and industrial spy/GhostWalker Zara Hightower’s story line. COVERT GAME can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story lines is revealed where necessary but I recommend reading the series in order for backstory and cohesion. WARNING: COVERT GAME contains very descriptive scenes of graphic violence and torture that may not be suitable for all readers. Told from dual third person perspectives (Zara and Gino) COVERT GAME follows the abduction, torture and eventual rescue of enhanced female Zara Hightower. Considered a genius in the world of AI (Artificial Intelligence), Zara was Dr. Whitney’s pawn; an industrial spy whose special abilities superseded what the evil doctor considered her glaring failures. Sent to ‘download’ a file about the GhostWalkers, from Chinese crime lord Mr. Cheng, Zara found herself trapped by a man, Bolan Zhu, whose reputation in specialized torture preceded our heroine’s visit to Shanghai. What ensues is the rescue and recovery of our Zara Hightower; the building relationship and romance between our leading couple; and the fall-out when several teams of Whitney’s enhanced soldiers, and Bolan Zhu, are sent to recapture our story line heroine. COVERT GAME is a story of power, abuse, betrayal and revenge. As the series continues to develop the author has changed the original direction of the series in that the enhanced soldiers no longer need or require a ‘female’ to anchor their abilities (Team 1); and the most recent instalment does not confirm or deny the existence of genetically matched DNA between two unsuspecting GhostWalkers, both changes the author addresses in the current story line. I would also like to point out the author continues to justify Trap’s abusive behaviour in Spider Game (GhostWalker #12) as a by-product of Asperger’s Syndrome –a plot point that was never mentioned in Trap’s story line- Spider Game- but has been addressed in the last two instalments in an effort, I believe, to appease the many negative comments and reviews about Trap’s abusive and controlling behaviour. In this, there is also much talk between the heroines, throughout Covert Game, rationalizing and accepting their mates’ controlling behaviour-something I see as the author, once again, as trying to defend her male characters’ less than favourable characteristics. I do not have a problem with alpha males in my ‘fictional’ story lines but the increase in controlling and somewhat abusive behaviour is something the author is most likely trying to address and explain via her female leads. COVERT GAME is a suspenseful and action packed story line. Gino will seek retribution for the woman he loves, retribution that is equal to the torture inflicted upon our story line heroine. The premise is startling, dramatic and intense; the characters are intelligent, complex and charismatic; the romance is intimate and emotional. COVERT GAME is an intriguing and fascinating look at the paranormal.
Anonymous 9 months ago
‘Covert Game’ [GhostWalker series] by: Christine Feehan is another winner! This book is about Zara & Gino; both are GhostWalkers & have been paired by the insane Dr. Whitney. When Zara is held prisoner by Cheng & Zhu, Gino & his teammates rescue her. There’s lots of action, violence, sadness, & happiness in this story about strength, courage, & Love. A few things are explained in this story that left readers wondering about in previous books. A HUGE suggestion will be to start reading the GhostWalker Series from the beginning with book #1. You will better understand how an insane Doctor can be! I HIGHLY Recommend this book! 5 Stars! ?????????? ? Review by: WolfeeTx
Anonymous 9 months ago
Very good, well written and interesting. I like all the series by Christine Feehan but the Ghostwalkers is my favorite. Excellent job. Please keep writing. MR.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Love it
Anonymous 9 months ago
Ms Feehan cannot write a bad book!
Anonymous 9 months ago
Great read Great read
Anonymous 9 months ago
I liked this because it was not so predictable. I always enjoy the different personalities the ghostwalkers have. A great story.?
Anonymous 9 months ago
Great story. Loved the characters
Anonymous 9 months ago
Awesome story line!
Anonymous 9 months ago
I love her books they can be read alone or in the series. Her writing is excellent, the characters work together serious and humor in the books. Once u start u can’t put it down.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Awesome
Anonymous 9 months ago
Another great story can't wait for the next
Anonymous 23 hours ago
As amazing as all the other books she has written. You will love this sieres. As well as the other books she has written.
Anonymous 16 days ago
A bit slow in the middle but picked up to a great climax!
Anonymous 25 days ago
Great read
Anonymous 4 months ago
Good plot, intriguing with a love story. Keeps a good pace. Takes a few pages to get into it, but worth it.
Anonymous 4 months ago
These books just keep getting better and better. Who will the next book be about? Hurry please . . .
Anonymous 4 months ago
I love this series. I have all of them and I will return to them and reread each one is and they will still get me caught up in the storyline till I can't put them down till I finished the book
mstami 5 months ago