When Shanghai arrives to save the day, Mia can't help but wonder if the wild man from her past, the man who broke her heart, has finally been tamed. Or whether he would have come if he knew the truth behind her baby's paternity. But she's still in jeopardynow more than ever. And Shanghai may be the only one who can help.
It isn't over between them. Not even close.
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The Girl With The Golden Gun
By Ann Major
MIRACopyright © 2005 Ann Major
All right reserved.
Where was the damn plane?
"Where are you, you little shit? Why don't you be a good boy for a change and just come to Daddy?"
DEA Division Director John Hart squinted as he lowered his binoculars and shoved on his sunglasses. His pale blue eyes burned from eye strain from searching the skies so long for one tiny airplane.
So far the seizure was going off as planned. Except for one skinny, dark kid in ragged jeans, who'd run like lightning, eluding his best agents and their bullets, his men had rounded up Octavo Morales's ground crew. At this very moment the bastards were cuffed and cursing him as they sweated like pigs in a sweltering van parked out of sight in a sharply cut canyon beside the trickle of water that was the Rio Grande.
No way was Hart driving the traffickers to El Paso. Not when the pilot was rumored to be Morales's half brother. It was hard to be patient and wait, but Hart wanted this plane, its cargo, the pilot and the woman. He wanted them badly.
Ah, the woman.
He still couldn't believe it.
Bringing Mia Kemble home to the Golden Spurs Ranch was going to be bigger than the seizure. Way bigger. Just thinking about who she was and what this could mean for him made his pulse speed up. His name would be all over the papers. He'd be a hero.
It was high time. Wasn't he capable and ambitious? Hadn't he worked hard for the agency for years? Hadn't he played it straight? Hell, for the past two years he'd worked his butt off on Operation TexMexZero, which was an international Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation into the MoralesGarza (MGO) drug organization.
Since the U.S. Mexico border was the primary point of entry for drugs being smuggled into the United States, and he worked El Paso, he'd naturally been forced to play a big role. Operation TexMexZero involved seventy separate criminal investigations conducted by dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including Mexican and Colombian police officials.
Hart hated working on task forces. There were always too many egos and too much bureaucratic horseshit. When things went wrong, everybody got paranoid. Nobody cooperated. He'd been blamed for mistakes others had made. In the past year he'd gotten himself shot at twice by traffickers — once at point blank range. If he hadn't been wearing his vest, he'd be dead. He was damn sure he'd been set up, too.
Hell, he was nearly as sick of lawmen as he was criminals. Where had his hard work gotten him? He'd been passed over for all the big promotions for guys who knew how to kiss ass or blow their own horns.
Then the Sombra had contacted him, and things had started to change. He didn't know who this guy was or why he had it in for Morales, but if Hart could rescue Mia Kemble, get Morales's half brother and make a major seizure to boot, all in one day, the name John Hart was going to be big on the Texas border. Maybe not as big as Morales, but big enough to suit John Hart. At least for a while. What he really wanted was to get Morales alone and chop him into little pieces.
The Chihuahua Desert was hot, rugged country even in early spring. Hart's armpits were ringed with sweat. Watchful for snakes, he grabbed his backpack off the ground and then squatted in the scant shade of a nearby boulder and kept his eyes trained on the sky. A dozen of his men were hidden behind other rocks, but he preferred his own company.
He shook out a cigarette. Lighting it, he inhaled deeply. Then he pulled out a crumpled photograph from his shirt pocket and studied the redheaded beauty on the magnificent, black horse. Next his gaze turned to the tall, sinisterlooking man with her, who held the bridle.
Hart inhaled again. Even now, having studied the images dozens of times, the picture still had the power to shock him.
What the hell was Mia Kemble doing with that drugsmuggling, murdering son of a bitch, Morales? The bastard had to be balling the panties off her. And she had to have more tricks up those panties of hers than a talented border whore, or why else would he risk keeping her alive?
Her plane had crashed fifteen months ago in the Gulf of Mexico in the dead of winter. Everybody in Texas believed she was dead. Hell, her own father and husband had had her declared legally dead — no doubt to get their hands on her money. Her husband had even remarried, her twin sister, of all people.
All John Hart knew about the mystery was that it was lucky as hell for him that the bitch was still alive.
Where the hell was the plane?
Impatient, he lifted his binoculars again.
Chihuahua Desert Northern Mexico
Be careful what you wish for.
The desert wind was blowing hard outside. Despite the close, suffocating heat, Mia shivered convulsively as little pebbles pinged against the fuselage of the Cessna 206 like buckshot. Her nerves were on fire. She wasn't sure how much longer she could stand being locked up in this tight, dark space.
What was wrong? Had she been set up? The plane, which sat on a dirt runway outside the tall walls of Tavio Morales's immense outlaw compound, should have been airborne for el norte, translation — the United States — hours ago.
Mia felt faint and slightly woozy as well as nauseated from the marijuana fumes, which reminded her, of all things, of the woodsy, slightly sweet stink of skunk urine back home on the Golden Spurs Ranch. Mopping at the sweat on her brow with her sleeve, she plucked her soaked blouse off her breasts. Then a gust rocked the plane so hard the towering bales shifted in the cargo hold, several of them falling on her.
When they struck her cheek, knocking her down, she screamed. Then she clamped a hand over her mouth. Being locked up was horrible, but being crushed was even worse.
Her heart thudding, she wriggled free of the heavy bales and sat up, straining to listen for the running footsteps of Tavio's thugs outside or a nervous spray of machine gun fire. When nobody stomped up with assault rifles or machetes, she fought to calm down, sucking in big gulps of air. All the deep breathing did was to make her grow even woozier from the marijuana.
In the total blackness, the thin walls of the sweltering Cessna felt like they were closing in on her. To calm herself, she tried to imagine that she was loping bareback on one of the Golden Spurs' endless green pastures instead of lying here trapped in this airless prison fearing imminent suffocation.
Excerpted from The Girl With The Golden Gun by Ann Major Copyright © 2005 by Ann Major. Excerpted by permission.
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