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Deadly Lover (Exit Strategy #1)
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Justin Mallory has years of bad decisions to make up for, starting with agreeing to join the CIA after being recruited out of the Marines. Now he chooses the jobs and he works alone. It’s safer that way, and he can make sure the good guy always wins.
But this job…he can’t do alone. Two pharmaceutical researchers are dead and a dangerous drug is on the cusp of winning FDA approval if he doesn’t track down the culprit behind the lies and murders.
Gabriel Prescott is a well-trained, efficient, and cold-blooded killer. After a brutal betrayal left his lover dead, Gabriel is out only for himself. But when this lucrative contract lands in his lap, he can’t pass it up. Even if it means working with the unpredictable and insane Justin Mallory.
Dodging bullets and secret meetings find them depending on each other. And one hot, frantic night together leads to a hidden sweetness…and questions of whether they could possibly have something more.
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There was still time…
Heavy footsteps pounded across the hardwood floor followed by the slam of the garage door as it shut behind Kevin. He raced across the kitchen, not bothering to flick on the lights as he maneuvered around the marble-topped island toward the narrow hall leading to the master bedroom and his private office. The dim work light over the stove created grim shadows, but he ignored them, focusing only on getting back to his computer.
Kristen’s wide, frantic eyes flashed through his mind. She’d grabbed him, warned him that they were being watched. Her slender fingers bit into his arm like talons and he’d only wanted to shrug her off, walk away and claim that it was paranoia riding her overworked and exhausted mind.
But she was dead now.
His own access to key data files had been cut off at work. The IT department claimed that it was an unknown malfunction and that they were working on it, promising to have it fully restored tomorrow. But Kristen’s desperate words didn’t sound so paranoid any more.
Reaching his cluttered desk, he jostled the mouse, waking the computer from its slumber. The dual monitors flicked on, revealing a login screen. Kevin didn’t bother to sit down as he typed in the first password to decrypt the hard drive and then a second password to get into the actual operating system. If he could just upload all his new data to the cloud, he’d be able to access it from anywhere. He could finish his report while on the run and present his data to the world. Then he’d be safe.
A soft creak echoed through the silent house, barely drifting above the clatter of keys and the loud beating of his heart in his ears. Kevin stopped, trembling fingers hovering just above the keyboard. The house was new — barely five years old. There were no sounds of shifting and settling.
That creak came from a particular floorboard in the kitchen. He’d hit it a hundred times on the trek between his office and the fridge to get a bottle of water or coffee as he worked late into the night on his research.
He wasn’t alone in the house.
A sob tried to break past his clenched teeth, coming out as more of a muffled moan. Blinking, he looked back down at the monitors to find them blurred and unreadable.
He was out of time.
The man’s face was swollen, covered with ugly purple and blue bruises, so that he was unrecognizable. Not that Justin would have recognized him if he hadn’t been. He’d never met Dr. Kevin Weiss. The biochemist had been badly beaten before he finally died of a vicious blow to the back of the head.
The next picture showed a living room that had been torn apart. Stuffing poured from shredded sofa cushions, broken bits of a coffee table lay scattered around the room, and holes pockmarked pale tan walls. And in the center, the doctor’s limp body was awkwardly sprawled in a large pool of blood.
The local news had claimed the doctor had the poor timing of coming home during a burglary attempt.
“So…I’m guessing the reporters got their story wrong,” Justin drawled, lifting his eyes to the woman sitting opposite him in the small booth of the crowded coffee shop.
Marilyn lifted one sleek eyebrow at him, her plump red lips twisting slightly. Dressed in a lilac blouse and white Capri pants, she portrayed the perfect image the middle-class suburban mom. But a hardness in her light brown eyes whispered of a past that most knew nothing of. Not even Justin, and he preferred it that way.
Justin hid his smirk behind his coffee mug as he took another sip. It was so fucking easy to irritate her. Marilyn would never have called him if the police were already on the right track with this one.
“Do you know anything about Iaso Health?” she asked, tapping her manicured nails on the table. Her firm voice was pitched just loud enough to reach him above the steady clatter of noise filling the busy coffee shop.
“Big pharma headquartered in New England—New Hampshire, I think—with a research facility up in Blue Ash. They have their fingers in drugs to treat a variety of diseases, but their big money makers over the years have been in psychopharmalogical and diabetic drugs.”
Marilyn nodded. “Dr. Weiss was one of their lead developers. Rumor has it that he was part of the Siltryptrose development that is expected to receive the FDA’s stamp of approval any day now.”
Justin put his mug down and frowned. “New anti-depressant?”
“Cancer treatment. Pill form. It’s rumored to be more effective than chemo and without most of the side effects.”
His breath froze in his lungs. The smallest of tells and Marilyn still caught it, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. “Yes. Worth billions for Iaso if it works as they claim,” she continued.