Part of the Wild Lies anthology/collection.
The Justiss Alliance, Book 5
Written Musings (January 25, 2022)
Working together, hiding secrets, and fighting attraction…
Rathmusen Blackwood, aka Rath, rode off into the sunset on his Harley after a SEAL team mission went deadly wrong and the media dubbed his unit the “Rogue Six.” But he didn’t leave behind the anger that’s pushing him toward his father’s destructive legacy. He needs to find the truth and avenge his comrades in order to prove his worth to his family…and maybe to himself. The mole who fed the U.S. lethally false information is hiding in dangerous cartel territory in Mexico, so Rath breaks into the secluded house where intel says Dan is staying. Instead, he finds Dan’s beautiful daughter, Neesa, who’s risking her life to find her father. Since she thinks Rath is the agent sent to help her, he goes along. He can learn more about his target and keep Neesa safe in hostile territory.
Neesa has been desperately searching for her father, dealing with questionable informants while waiting for the help the U.S. government has been promising. Rath, however, looks more like a narco than he does an agent, but he proves himself capable when she’s attacked. Neesa’s not sure exactly what happened at the anti-cartel compound with the SEALs, though she believes her father’s an innocent victim…except for one small thing that worries her, one she keeps from Rath.
As they navigate the treacherous world of narcos, holding back information from each other, the chemistry igniting between them grows hotter and trickier. They follow Dan’s trail, and as their secrets come to light, including her father’s, they are drawn deeper into mystery, danger, and a love neither could have imagined…
Read an Excerpt
Neesa chose a thick-trunked tree and took one of the silver knives in her right hand. This was a newer skill, one she’d been working on during the down times here. She threw one-two-three, each hitting the tree. As she approached, she patted the trunk. “I’m so sorry, beautiful tree. I hope I’m not hurting you.”
“You know the tree can’t understand English, right?”
She stumbled back at the man’s voice a few yards away. Then jerked one of the knives out of the trunk and held it at her side and moved closer to driveway until she saw him: tall, in jeans, black combat boots, and a black shirt. Damn, how had he snuck up on her?
More disconcerting was that he looked like a badass, with his strong stride, his brown longish hair brushed back, and dark beard that didn’t soften angular jaws. He could be a narco, but he wasn’t Mexican or even South American as far as she could tell. And then there was the southern drawl.
“Neesa Federson, I presume?” he asked, fully aware of the knife by her thigh clutched in her hand by the flick of his light blue eyes. “Since I’m here upon your request—or should I say nagging, from what I’ve heard—I’d feel a lot better if you didn’t knife me before asking questions.” He gave her a sardonic grin, arms slightly raised.
Her body relaxed but just a little. “I’ll try to restrain myself. Who are you?”
“Didn’t meant to startle you.” He glanced at the tree. “Or interrupt your conversation.”
Damned embarrassing. And the man seemed to be enjoying it, given that glimmer of grin. He slowly pulled out his wallet, extracted a card, and extended it to her. Which meant she’d have to get close enough to take it.
But that was the hoity-toity-sounding last name Reynolds had given her. She tried to emulate his confident stride as she neared him and took the U.S. driver’s license. The photo matched, an impatient expression on his face. “Long line at the DMV?”
He glanced at it, then huffed. “Don’t like my picture taken.”
She looked at his information. Anson Carlton Braithwaite from Tennessee. “Why do you go by Rath?”
He spread his arms out. “Do I look like an Anson?”
“Sure, why not? But why Rath? It sounds rather ominous.”
“Kids in school used to call me wraith, which kinda tells you what a terror I was. I decided to, ya know…” He gave her a stunning smile. “Soften it.”
She didn’t like how that smile curled through her. “Yeah, almost cuddly.” She passed it back to him.
After he put his wallet back, he glanced at the tree. “I’ve heard of tree huggers, but not tree stabbers.”
She grimaced. “I hugged it first if that makes me seem less murderous.”
He was looking so intently at her face that she wondered if he meant her and not the sentiment. She’d been cursed with a young, cute face that still got her carded when she bought the occasional bottle of wine in the U.S. and garnered her flirtations from teenaged boys at times.
“Is that what they said, that I’ve been nagging them?”
“Maybe it was dogging them. Cracking the whip. Riding their—”
“Got it. Let’s just stick with nagging.” She nodded for him to follow her to the porch, angling herself so she could see him in her peripheral vision. “I’ve been down here for two months, with a promise that someone would come. Had to be the squeaky wheel and all that.” She turned back to him. “Not that I’m apologizing for it.”