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He nodded at his partner, but stayed on the phone. If he got off, it would look suspicious.

“I’ll call you when it’s taken care of,” his contact said.

“Make sure that you do.” He disconnected as the back door opened. Once Marcus was out of the way, he’d take his money and split it with his other source.

“Who was that?” Marcus asked.

“My contact. He says it’s on for tonight. There are only two guards, and with your skill set, you’ll be able to take them out easily.”

He nodded. “Are you coming with me?”

“Do you need me?” He asked the question casually. He couldn’t afford to go tonight. If he did, they’d have to change tactics.

Marcus shrugged. “I don’t need you, old man. Thought you might like to see Hunter killed.”

“Just make sure you don’t screw up.” He added the last part to rile him a little.

Instead of responding, Marcus unzipped the black duffel bag on the glass kitchen table and pulled out his weapon of choice. Davis watched him screw a silencer onto his 45 SOCOM. From past experiences, he knew that the other man preferred to use a knife, but tonight he’d need all the backup he could get.

More than he realized.

Without responding, he grabbed a black ski mask from the bag and exited through the door leading to the garage. Davis heard the roar of the engine, then the garage door open and shut.

He checked his watch. It was a little after midnight. The house they were staying in was barely ten minutes from Hunter’s place. Soon his nightmare would be over and he’d be able to leave the country. The DEA might have evidence on him, but he still wanted Hunter dead. He’d been hoping to kidnap the kid, get the information he needed, then kill Hunter before he made contact with the DEA, but it was too late now. Still, Hunter had to die. If he didn’t kill him, he’d always be looking over his shoulder.

Hunter jerked upright in bed, his senses on high alert. Every fiber in his body screamed that something was wrong. Long ago he’d learned to listen to those instincts. He didn’t know if it was a sixth sense or what, but there was evil in the house. He could feel it deep in his bones. Years ago, when he’d been in the navy, he’d experienced the same, dread-filled sensation he felt now. And it had saved him and six of his buddies from a deadly ambush.

The house was quiet. Eerily so. The wind whipped against the windows, but not loud enough to wake anyone. A ticking sound from an antique clock on one of the dressers was the only other sound.

He slipped out of bed and checked on Jonathan and Alexis. Both asleep. Wearing only long sweatpants, he pulled a sweater on and pulled out two nine millimeters. Then he did the inevitable. He woke Alexis. Something he hated doing.

If nothing was wrong, then he’d just freaked her out for no reason. But he couldn’t take the chance. Besides, he knew she’d want to protect their son. Son. The more he said it, the more he got used to the idea. And after that well-deserved tongue lashing she’d given him, he was ashamed to face her again. Everything she’d said was right. He just didn’t know how to be in their lives. One day Jonathan would be older and understand things more and he’d have questions. Lots of them. Like, where had Hunter been the first five years of his life? And what had he done during those years?

Swallowing hard, he shook Alexis’s arm.

“What?” she mumbled and blinked a few times. She rubbed her eyes, but when she saw his intent expression she sat up, fully awake.

He held a finger to his mouth and she nodded. He held out the gun and placed it in her hand. She looked like she’d rather dance on glass than take the weapon, but she clutched it tightly and nodded at his directives. She slipped out of bed and followed him to the door. She shut it securely behind him but not before mouthing “Be careful.” That alone was enough to undo him. When she’d told him she loved him, he’d felt his entire world shift.

It seemed impossible that after all these years she did, but he knew she wouldn’t have lied. He loved her too. Always had. From practically the first moment they’d met. He’d spent so long convincing himself that staying out of her life was the right thing, but what if he was wrong?

Keeping his gun in front of him, he swept the hallway in a few rapid movements.


With his back pressed against the wall, he inched toward the stairs. The most logical point of entry was downstairs, probably through the entrance to the deck. It would be damn near impossible to get through any of the upstairs windows unless someone had climbing gear. And with easier access, there wouldn’t be an intelligent reason to try anything else. No, if someone wanted to break in, it would be downstairs.

The sound of muffled voices, then a loud thud spurred him into action. No longer worried about staying quiet, he rushed down the rest of the stairs. When he entered the living room, Alan Saltz popped up from behind the couch, gun in hand. For a moment, Hunter’s heartbeat slowed. He had a split second to make a decision.

As he applied more pressure with his trigger finger, Saltz cursed and lowered his weapon. “You almost gave me a heart attack, man.”

“What happened?” Taking in the appearance of the rest of the room, he swept the immediate area, keeping his gun ready. Two lamps were knocked over, the back door was cracked open, and the once-crackling fire had dwindled to barely burning embers.

Saltz motioned down. “Come see for yourself. I came out of the kitchen and surprised him. He didn’t even have a chance to get off a shot.”

Hunter walked around the couch and knelt down. Two bullet wounds were visible. One on the side of his neck and one to the chest. He checked his neck. No pulse. “This is Marcus Foster.” Despite the fact that the other man knew who he was, he said the words aloud. Maybe simply to hear them. Foster was dead. One down, one more to go.

“Yep.” Saltz shook his head and muttered something about him being a sorry bastard.

Hunter watched as Saltz checked the door. “The lock’s been jimmied.”

Keeping his eye on Saltz, he pushed up from his position and righted one of the fallen lamps before switching it on. The small light illuminated the dead man and his gun. Typical type of weapon Special Ops guys used. Back in the day, he’d used a .45 SOCOM himself.

And that’s when he realized he hadn’t heard any shots. “What kind of silencer did you use?”

Alan withdrew his gun and held out his .45. Hunter ran his fingers along the cold metal. The silencer was small, almost stubby. He knew a lot about weapons, but this was something he hadn’t seen available on the market. It blended with the gun so that if you weren’t examining it up close, it looked like it was part of it. Very interesting. “Where’d you get this?”

He shrugged. “The patent is still pending.”

Hunter noticed he didn’t exactly answer his question. “Did Connor okay that?”

Saltz nodded and took his gun back. “I’ll get you some information on it if you’re interested.”

Ignoring his last statement, Hunter motioned toward Marcus’s body. “It’s odd that he’s alone.”

“I was thinking the same thing, but if they’re limited on manpower it makes sense.”

“Make sure the rest of the perimeter is secure. I’ll wake the others.”

First he checked on Alexis. Jonathan was still sleeping so he told her everything was fine, but to stay put. She started to argue, but he shut the door before she could finish. Then he knocked on Connor’s door, and announced himself. Even though he answered with a weapon, by his fatigued expression, Connor looked like he’d genuinely been asleep.

“What’s going on?” Connor asked.

“Marcus Foster is in our living room.” The words dropped like small bombs.


Hunter nodded and they walked the few feet to Mike’s room. When he knocked on Mike’s door, the other man answered wearing jeans and a sweater. And it didn’t look like he’d been to sleep.

“What’s going on?” Mike looked back and forth between both of them. Neither answered so he continued, sounding thoroughly confused. “Should I bring my gun?” The question made him sound inexperienced, but Hunter couldn’t decide if the other man wanted to appear green.

“Couldn’t hurt,” Hunter muttered, and turned without seeing if the men followed. Something was off about Mike. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he’d noticed it when they’d first arrived. It wasn’t anything specific, but he didn’t seem like a field agent.

As soon as they figured out what to do with Foster’s body, he was going to run a detailed check on Mike Alterio.

Chapter 12

Alexis listened to the sounds of murmuring voices trickle through the door. Jonathan still slept soundly, completely unaware of the outside world. There was no way Alexis could get back to sleep. Not now. Not without knowing what was going on. Hunter had returned once to tell her everything was fine and that he and the DEA agents were taking care of a few things. The way he’d said “things” left a sour feeling in her stomach.

Then he’d shut the door on her as if she were a child. He’d actually had the gall to tell her to try to go back to sleep. As if.

She returned to Hunter’s room and hid his gun in the highest drawer of one of the dressers. Jonathan was a smart kid and knew to stay away from guns, but it wasn’t as if she’d leave it lying within his reach.

She opened the door and peeked out into the hallway. Whatever was going on, she wasn’t in immediate danger. If so, Hunter would have barricaded her in the room, not told her to get some sleep. Her feet were silent as she hurried toward the top of the staircase.

Muffled voices trailed up the stairs so she followed them. As she entered the living room, the pungent smell of copper and gunpowder accosted her. She pressed a hand to her stomach.

The long couch was shifted outward, and what appeared to be shoes were sticking out from the other side. Before she crossed the small distance, she knew what she’d see. Still, she was helpless to stop her feet from moving. It was like witnessing a bad car accident. She wanted to walk away but couldn’t. Her gut roiled when the body came into view.