★★★ EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT ★★★
By Tia Louise
Chapter 1: Jessa
The metal bar cuts into my sternum. I’m lying flat on my stomach across a network of steel twenty feet above the concrete floor, and my last chance to anchor my safety line is gone.
Our mark and his men slowly fill the open, warehouse. Every move is a potential echo, and these guys are edgier than sinners in church. Lifting the rifle, I slowly exhale through the pain of the sharp beam against my skin. A bead of sweat trickles from behind my ear down my neck, and my heart hammers in my chest.
Just get this shot off, Jessa.
Half the battle is in the mind. Mind over matter. Mind over pain. Mind over balance. With slow, deliberate motions, I adjust the position of my M14 rifle. The movement causes a wobble to the left. Fear shoots through my veins. A fall from this height would be fatal.
The low voices of the men grow louder, and I quickly push the fear out of my brain to focus. This isn’t my first rodeo. Closing one eye, I take aim on the leader, but a fight breaks out. Two of the men are shoving each other against boxes of paper.
Looking up, my eyes flicker across the metal network just below the ceiling. Mace is at the far side of the warehouse holding a UMP-45. The sound suppressor adds six inches to the tip of his submachine gun, making it just visible from my location. He’s watching me. Our eyes meet, and even at this distance, I know he’s worried. He can see I’m in trouble.
I can’t stay in this position much longer. I’ve got to get this shot off, take out as many of them by surprise as possible, and hope I can catch myself when I fall. The scope is at my eye, and my finger is gently squeezing the trigger. The Barracuda is in my sight…
TICK! TICK! TICK!
With the silencer on, the blasts of my gun sound more like an air rifle, but the effect is far bloodier.
“What the FUCK!” One of his capos dashes forward just as their leader falls.
Turning the gun, I continue firing as my body wobbles violently on the beam. Another goes down… another… it’s not enough. They’ve spotted me, and now the return fire has begun. Sparks fly around me as the bullets ricochet off the metal girders.
My gun falls from my hands as I lose my balance. “NO!” I scream involuntarily as my body slips off my perch.
Twisting my torso, I flail my arms around, stretching and reaching for the metal rod on which I was just lying. My fingernails scratch on the surface just as it slips out of my grasp…
White fills my vision. I’m going down. It all happens so fast, and just like every cliché I’ve ever heard, my life flashes before my eyes.
I remember being eighteen and seeing my grandmother killed in the crossfire of a drug war. I remember my tears and vowing to dedicate my life to hunting down the men responsible for her death.
I see myself at the academy, a young recruit. I see myself meeting my friend and tech guru Christine, and how she was just as green as me those first days. I remember confiding in her how I didn’t believe I could ever combine my passion for my work with falling in love, starting a family. I remember her arguing with me that we could. She could, I’d thought…
Then I remember the first moment I saw Mason “Mace” Moscaretti, standing in the rubble of a Colombian drug compound, looking like the sexiest G.I. Joe I’d ever seen. He changed everything.
Tears are in my eyes as I brace for the slam of concrete that will end my life. We never had time to make a baby…
* * *
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