Deadly Paradise River of Fear Sins of Her Father

Kathleen Mix

Thrilling Stories of Romance and Suspense

Willing Target

 Be careful what you wish for...

The last thing covert operative Mitch Weaver wants is to be partnered with a gorgeous, reckless newbie. Still reeling from the death of his former partner, Mitch doesn't need the responsibility of keeping anyone else alive, especially when they volunteer to be a killer's target. Not to mention, his attraction to the too-perky blonde is the kind of distraction that could get them both killed in their line of work. Andrea Carnegie's first assignment isn't going quite as she planned. Her partner might be sexy but he's completely frustrating with his determination to keep her out of danger. Masquerading as a billionaire's sister to bait a possible killer is her chance to shine. But if she wants to catch the person threatening their client, she’ll have to find a way to work with Mitch while still keeping her distance. Even as the air between them sizzles, Andrea knows the worst possible thing she could do is fall for her partner.

EXCERPT:

A knock on the outer door interrupted her musings. She crossed the suite and swung open the door.

The man standing outside pointed a finger at her chest and growled, “Don’t ever swing this door open like that again unless you want to end up dead. You check who it is first, got it?”

She bristled. “Who the hell are you?”

His face registered in her brain, and she immediately regretted her sharp words: he was her partner and superior. Damn. Her big mouth had just gotten her off on the wrong foot with someone she needed to impress.

“Mitch Weaver.” His dour expression hinted he didn’t like her or this plan, but the next words he spoke came out in a more civil tone. “Listen, Carnegie, I’m the person responsible for keeping you alive. And I don’t intend to botch that job. You be more careful, got it?”

She decided she’d best be contrite and work her way back into his good graces, or she could kiss a Ranger pin and her covert ops career good-bye before it ever got started. “Sorry. I thought the boat was supposed to be secure and I could trust my partners not to let any assassins roam the hallways.”

He scowled, and his jaw knotted. Okay, she’d goofed again. Criticism of the security perimeter he had or hadn’t established wasn’t going to earn her any points.

She pulled in a lungful of air. “Could we start over here?” She took a step back and motioned him into the suite. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Weaver. Please come in.”

His coffee-colored eyes were focused on her breasts and the damned straining buttons. But at least he no longer looked ready to kill.

He was a handsome, well-built man, and having his attention glued to her breasts sent a tiny shiver of awareness into her bloodstream. His perfectly pressed uniform showed off well-muscled, bronzed arms and legs. Everything about him, from his sun-bleached hair to his confident posture, oozed über masculinity. Damn, being checked out by a hot, hunky partner was not part of her plan for interacting with her supervisor.

He stepped through the doorway, and she shut the door. She turned and his back was toward her as he scanned the room. His wide shoulders strained against the cloth of his uniform shirt. She scanned his broad back, lean waist, and tight butt, then quickly told herself not to notice. Trying for a more professional assessment of the man, she looked for telltale bulges. She detected no sign of a gun at his hip or tucked in his waistband, but assumed he had to be carrying a weapon.

“Have a seat. I seem to have plenty.”

His gaze swept the suite beyond the sitting area. “First things first.” Without another word, he put down the box of file folders and photo albums he’d been holding, walked inside, and started his own inspection. He moved like a cat stalking a mouse, with a grace and confidence that screamed well-toned muscles and training in the skill of survival. As a male physical specimen, he ranked a ten out of ten. She wasn’t as impressed with his personality.

When he disappeared into the closet, she walked up behind him and asked, “Do you have any idea if Karli has a lover?” She motioned toward the negligees. “Women don’t usually buy these things for sleeping by themselves.”

He cocked his head to one side and studied the garments. “No one’s mentioned a lover to me. There’s nothing in her dossier about one.”

“Maybe someone could ask?”

“Dillon might know.”

“He might,” she said with a tiny snort, “but women don’t always discuss their sex life with their brothers.”

“True. We probably need to get confirmation that our info is accurate straight from Karli.”

“It would be helpful to know things like who she’s having sex with before we get too much further into this assignment.”

He nodded. “That’s understandable. And that’s part of the reason we’re keeping you on the boat and alone for now. By morning, you should have had time to study her dossier and have a better chance of pulling this off.”

“I can pull it off if I’m not working in the dark.”

He walked through the dressing room and sleeping area. At a loss for what else to do, she followed.

He strode back to the sitting room, stopped, and planted his fists on his hips. “Okay, listen up. The rules of the job are: I give the orders, you follow orders. Under no circumstances do you leave this boat alone. Got that?”

She raised an eyebrow, pressed her lips tightly together, and nodded. Every game had rules. She played by them as much as possible. But she wasn’t above risking a penalty if the yardage might result in a score.

He picked up something out of the box. “This radio is locked on the Rangers’ frequency. Kenyon, Gregory, and I have similar units that we’ll keep in our possession. Stash it in the cabin somewhere the maid won’t see it. If you need help, press the transmit button, yell, and one of us will be here in seconds.” He pointed at a button on the side. She mimed using her thumb to depress a button and transmit and nodded her understanding.

He pointed at the box. “Go through everything in here, especially Karli’s dossier and the yacht’s floor plan.” He looked her up and down. “Miss Stone probably doesn’t go around with her breasts bursting out of her clothing. Otherwise, you look the part.”

She wanted to defend herself against the breasts bursting remark, but held back. He was either a normally unprofessional jerk, or he had a big burr under his skin about her or the mission. Rangers with enough experience to be team leaders weren’t likely to be idiots, so his problem was probably the burr. Maybe her probation status had him pissed, or he preferred assignments in war zones over those on yachts. Whatever it was, she’d have to identify his problem. But this wasn’t the time.

“Karli always wears a distinctive ring on her right hand and plays with it in public.” He removed a ring from his pocket. The delicate gold band supported a large marquise-set ruby with a tiny pearl mounted on either side. “This is a duplicate. We’ve put a mini GPS unit inside, so we can track you. Wear it. Don’t take it off.”

She took the ring and slid it onto her finger. Why did he think she’d need GPS tracking? Wasn’t he supposed to be nearby every minute?

He walked to an intercom near the doorjamb. “Stay inside this cabin after you return from lunch. Keep the door locked. Use the intercom to order dinner delivered to you here. You’ll meet Dillon Stone for breakfast at eight in the morning in the breakfast nook, and afterward we’ll decide the rest of your day.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Is everything clear, Carnegie?”

She bristled at the way he said her name. Somehow he made it sound like an insult. “Maybe you should call me Andrea or Andi, or better still, Karli.”

“I’ll call you Miss Stone. You’ll call me Mr. Weaver.”

Chalk a point up for him. Karli and the crew wouldn’t be on a first-name basis. “Why weren’t you at the meeting in Boston? Was there another one I missed where all these details were worked out and decided?”

“I’m based here in the islands, and this operation is in our jurisdiction. The details were worked out among our station supervisor, my team, and me. You just need to concentrate on being Karli. Let me, and the other experienced Rangers, worry about catching the would-be killer or killers. Follow orders, and we’ll get along.”

Andrea wanted to do more than get along. She wanted to impress him so he’d send a glowing report back to her bosses. Chalk up a few points of her own. This assignment was a test she was determined to ace. But so far, she didn’t have a good read on Mitch Weaver. Her life was on the line, and she should get some of the glory when the mission succeeded. Would he play fair? Could she trust him not to downplay her contribution and claim the credit for himself?

She remembered the note her second-grade teacher had sent home to her father, telling him Andrea was not a good team player. Coach had given her a good dressing-down and a lecture that still rang in her ears. But this situation was exactly why she’d never wanted to be on a team. Her brothers were a prime example of what she feared. They acted as if the team was paramount, but behind all the talk of sharing and cooperation, they were only out for their own glory. Life was a competition, and to come out on top, they’d stab a teammate in the back in a heartbeat.

Partner or not, she didn’t trust any man, woman, or child to be as concerned for her welfare as she was, and wasn’t about to start blindly trusting now. Until she knew more about Weaver, and why he was in such a snit, she’d play this with the ball held close to her chest. For the moment, she would go along with his strategy and follow his orders.

She said, “I could use some rest. Jet lag. A night to study Karli suits me fine.”

He nodded. “Remember, keep the door locked. Kenyon will deliver your dinner. When he knocks, ask what he’s brought. He’ll say ‘lady fingers.’”

Andrea glared at him, crossed her arms, and blew out her breath. If she was going to show this man she was tough and capable and earn his respect as a Ranger, her battle would be steeply uphill.

“Are you ready to go meet Dillon Stone for lunch?” he asked.

She nodded and slipped on Karli’s shoes. “Of course. I’m a professional, and I’m always ready for anything."



Release is September 26th, 2016! You may purchase in print or as an ebook.

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