Dark and Devious
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by Christy Poff
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Suspense/Thriller
Description: Jeremy Payne's name describes his life--he's close to no one because they seem to suffer from being near him. He escapes to Oregon for peace and quiet though his past always haunts him. Sapphire Knight is running from hers thanks to a contract on her life. In her time in protective custody, she learns the truth. Can love and honesty overcome the dark and devious forces attacking both their lives? Or will one man's hatred win out?
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: September 2008
14 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [316 KB]
Reading time: 191-268 min.
"Since I live on the Oregon coast I found this setting to be truly inspiring. Jeremy and Sapphire are a wonderful couple--not just because the sexual tension between them is intense but they each fear for anyone they love because of their own troubles. I loved how passionate and trusting Jeremy and Sapphire are to each other -especially since it's obvious that there are very few people on whom they can count. As always Christy Poff does not disappoint with the intensity of the storyline, passion and unexpected twists to the tale that will leave you gasping in wonder." --Romance Junkies
"This story depicts a love the will not be denied, no matter the consequences. Jeremy and Sapphire know immediately that they have a bond, and the author does not mess around with the game of cat and mouse. She gets right to the heart of her characters, and the reader is transfixed. Suspense keeps the story vibrant and exciting, adding the element of danger to every encounter. Ms. Poff fills her stories with passion, but never compromises plot. I recommend her work, and will gladly read anything she has to offer." -- Lototy, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
Jeremy Payne's flight landed and he picked up the car waiting for him. He drove to the hotel, the concierge giving him a large envelope and a message.
"Your party's waiting for you in the restaurant. If you'd like, I'll have your bags taken to your room."
"I only have the one. I'll keep it with me."
"As you wish, sir."
Payne nodded then went into the restaurant where a well-dressed man waved to catch his attention.
"Mister Bonder, over here."
Jeremy joined him, the men shaking hands.
"A drink, sir?" the waiter asked.
"Vodka tonic, thanks," Jeremy said.
"I took the liberty of ordering for you. Our menus here are exotic if one's not used to the cuisine. The kitchen is preparing you a medium cooked prime rib with the usual American additions."
"Thanks, I appreciate it. I've had the food here before and we didn't get along."
"I see," the man said. He slid a newspaper across the table to Jeremy. "There's been activity in the north. From the extent, we surmise they are protecting the target because that area is peaceful and sides with the government. The Rebels feel if they nest themselves in the center of it, no one will do anything against them."
"Sounds like the Sandinistas."
"Then this is what I need," Jeremy stated, writing a quick list.
"You can't be serious. You intend to..."
"Halo jump, yes," Jeremy said. "In quick with no disturbance. I can take him to a rendezvous point and we get him out with little if any gunfire exchanged."
"Tomorrow night," Jeremy said. "Once I look at the pictures I requested, I'll know better where I want the pick-up point set."
"They said you were good. I didn't believe them."
"Wait until the vote's over to be a believer."
"Superstitious." * * * *
The Halo jump the next evening went like clockwork. Jeremy made his way from the drop point near a small village to the tiny house where the diplomat had been reportedly held. Before approaching the small rundown building, he scanned the area finding no guards--no evidence of the small town being in the center of a high-profile kidnapping. Slowly, he made his way to the darkest side of the house, took a deep breath hoping he had good intelligence and there had been no mistakes, then peered inside through the dirty window. His target sat on a cot in the corner of the room, handcuffed to it and under the sleepy eye of one guard.
Jeremy checked his lock pick kit, finding his handcuff key. Pulling it out, he slid it between his watchband and arm then crept to the front door. For being a politically charged situation, he expected more than one guard. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, telling him what he already sensed. Something's wrong.
Cautiously, he entered the building and deftly took out the one man standing between him and his quarry. Once the guard lay dead, Jeremy sat the man in the chair making him appear to be sleeping as he had been a few minutes earlier. He quickly went over to the diplomat, unlocked the handcuff on his wrist and led him out of the building and into the woods surrounding the small village.
"I'm here to get you to New York," he told the man who nodded. "Are there any other guards?"
"No," the man answered. "They left the one when their group took off."
"Early this morning."
"What's going on?"
"They figured I'm a frail old man who wouldn't give them trouble."
"Are you up to traveling a short distance to where we're scheduled to meet the helicopter?"
"Yes, I think so, Mister..."
"No names--it's easier that way." * * * *
Thirty-six hours later, Jeremy escorted the diplomat through customs at JFK in New York. After they made their way to the extraction point and had been flown out of the area, they headed straight to the airport boarding a plane to Berlin. They'd flown in from Toronto, taking several commercial flights from Warsaw in order to discourage anyone from following them or making another attempt to abduct or maybe murder the diplomat.
"You're a very cautious man, I see."
"It's habit," Jeremy quietly said.
"A good one. I appreciate everything you've done."
"I did my job, sir."
Jeremy shook his hand once the man's protection shifted to other Federal agents, his job done. He crossed the airport to the private terminal where the Gulfstream waited to fly him back to Langley where he'd debrief before having a doctor examine him. After a day or two, he'd be boarding his private jet to fly home.
He stopped at a newsstand, picking up the latest copy of USAToday. He paid for it then walked down the concourse to meet his pilot. While he walked, he scanned the headlines, startled when he felt something sharp jabbed into his side.
"Keep walking," a man with a Colombian accent ordered.
"Whoa, friend, I don't think you want to do this," Jeremy said quietly. He couldn't reach for his Sig nestled in its holster thanks to his assailant being on that side of him.
"Señor Enriquez sends a message--he still hasn't forgotten."
"Neither have I," Payne said, his mind racing. "I've stayed out of..."
"He wants you dead, mi amigo," the man hissed. "You should never have come back to New York."
"What does that mean?"
"You entered his territory and he doesn't like that."
"You should know he's moving up the East Coast--I thought you knew everything."
"From Colombia to Canada--Señor Enriquez controls it all."
"Greedy son of a bitch, isn't he?"
Jeremy gulped, feeling the blade enter his side. His hand quickly went over his attacker's holding tight while he slowly dropped to his knees taking the Colombian with him. He tasted blood, fearing the worst.
"Tell your boss I feel the same."
"But you're already there while he has a long life ahead of him--something you stole from his brother."
Jeremy looked his assailant in the eye, tasting more blood. His grip tightened, needing to keep pressure on the point of entry where the knife cut into him. He knew removing it would only serve to make matters worse--exactly what Enriquez counted on.
"Freeze," a deep voice ordered.
Jeremy inwardly sighed with relief. The voice belonged to the Gulfstream's pilot and a good friend. Thank God the pilots carry...
The Colombian started, giving Jeremy the chance to move a bit.
"This has nothing to do with you, Señor."
"It most certainly does," Henry stated. "You kill him, I lose my paycheck. If that happens, who's going to put my ten kids through school?"
"Lo siento, Señor, but my boss will not appreciate my leaving this unfinished."
"And I told you..."
A quiet shot sped through the air embedding itself in the Colombian's brain. He fell over dead, his hand still between Jeremy's and the hilt of the knife.
Henry Darnell--a six foot five black ex-college all-star center from UCLA and very good at his job--put his gun in his belt while crossing the polished floor to get to Jeremy.
Jeremy gasped, shaking from chills overtaking his body. Shock threatened to overwhelm his rapidly weakening body, his mind fighting to remain alert. He saw Henry looming over him, glad to know he could die in peace. He gulped air, feeling blood in his mouth after he coughed.
"I'm going to pull the knife out."
"No, just get me out of here."
"I don't want to die here."
"You won't if I have anything to do with things," Henry assured him. "Hold on..."
Henry carefully lifted Jeremy from the floor and took him the remainder of the short distance to the plane. Once on board, Henry and the steward worked to stop the bleeding. Gil Farrell brought linen napkins from the galley plus got a huge pitcher of water.
Gil took a look, shaking his head.
"I saw things like this in Desert Storm. This is worse than I've ever seen. We've got to get him to an OR."
"Can you stabilize him long enough for me to fly to Langley?"
"I'll do what I can but..."
"Then do it. We can't afford NYPD getting hold of this."
"I suggest we get going," Gil said, Henry leaving them to go to the cockpit.
Jeremy whispered something, Gil bending down to hear him if he repeated it.
Gil reached over to the couch, pulling down a blanket and covering Jeremy.
"Don't worry, sir. We're..."
"I can't feel anything."
"As soon as we're in the air, I'm going to remove the knife. I'm sorry if I hurt you more but it's the best way under the circumstances."
"Whatever," Jeremy said. "It's over. The Colombian finally won."
"No, I'm not letting you die--not on my watch," Gil assured him. "Mister Payne?"
Jeremy had lapsed off.
"It's probably for the best," Gil told himself. He moved the blanket out of his way, took a deep breath before placing his hand on the hilt then pulled the knife out as carefully as the situation warranted. As soon as he did, he quickly applied direct pressure to the wound in order to stave off more bleeding.
A short time into the flight, Henry came back to learn the latest on Payne's condition.
"I've put her on auto-pilot," he assured Gil. "How's he doing?"
"He's unconscious. I think I've stopped the bleeding or at least eased it some. Can you arrange for a trauma team to meet us?"
"Already talked to Langley. They're on standby waiting for our arrival."
"Good," Gil said. "I wrapped the knife in a napkin. I figure they'll want to examine it."
"More than likely."
"How much longer before we land?"
"Okay, because he needs help yesterday. He's feverish again and is experiencing numbness. If he makes it through this, I'll..."
"Don't say it," Henry said.
Gil understood, quietly thinking if Payne survived, it'd be a miracle. No one he'd ever treated survived something like this.
"I'll let the medics know," Henry said, standing up before he returned to the cockpit where he sat behind the controls and prayed. * * * *
At the same time on the opposite end of the continent, an eerie phenomenon occurred, one foreseeing a change in someone's life. A complete stranger sitting in her home in Coos Bay, Oregon felt a sharp pain in the exact spot Payne had been stabbed. She cried out, no one hearing her.
As quickly as it hit her, the pain stopped though she continued to feel a dull ache for a while afterward. Over the next several hours, she continued experiencing pains though not as sharp as the original. She assumed she'd pulled a muscle reaching for something, forgetting about it and continuing with what she had been doing.