Home > Maverick (Elite Ops #2)

Maverick (Elite Ops #2)
Author: Lora Leigh

PROLOGUE

SHE WAS A MOTHER. She was a daughter. She was a sister and a wife. Delicate and so very beautiful. Dusky flesh stretched over aristocratic features that drew attention to the slope of her brow, the full delectable pout of her lips.

She was slender, well toned. She was a work of art for her age. A woman of forty-five shouldn’t be in such peak physical condition.

Unless she was a killer.

Yes, she was a killer, the worst sort of killer actually. A woman of beauty, sparkling wit, and gentle hands. Those hands could fire a gun, wield a knife, or toss a grenade with the same merciless conviction as any male he had ever known. And yet, her soul was gentle. Gentle and strong.

“Pretty,” he whispered as he touched the silken flesh of that hand, ran his finger over it, and finally found the subtle calluses of her trade.

She was a warrior. A warrior such as she should never have the light in her dark, pretty eyes extinguished.

“It’s business, you understand.” He kept his tone balanced, perfectly modulated.

He didn’t want to frighten her. The blood pumped harder and faster through the body with fear. It would flow from her veins too quickly; there would be no chance to enjoy the beauty and rich satisfaction that came the moment one so strong gave up her last breath of life.

Did one such as she feel fear? he wondered.

He tilted his head to the side, an eds t„ge of curiosity pricking at him as she stared back at him with icy resolve. There was no fear in her eyes; there was no concern for her own life. She stared back at him with cold, flat eyes. Yet he knew those eyes. He had smiled into them many times. He had been charmed by her laughter and wit. But he had never known if she ever felt fear.

How very odd, he thought. He normally knew such simple things when he took an assignment. He made it his job to know all things about his victims.

“Do you fear?” He had to ask the question. He asked it in her own tongue; the beauty of her language had always fascinated him.

Many might not consider the Hebrew language one of grace and purity, but he did. He felt it each time he heard the words falling gracefully from an Israeli’s lips. There was a certain cadence, a mystical, ancient fluidity, that fascinated him.

“Of you?” Her words slurred just the faintest bit from the sedative he had given her before carrying her to his lair. “I know no fear of you.”

“Do you fear death?” He feared death. He faced it with each job he took, and sometimes he feared that when his own end came, it would come with pain and humiliation.

“I fear nothing on this earth.” And he believed it.

“But you should,” she continued. “You should fear, for a wrath such as none you have ever known will descend upon you.”

“Your God?” he sneered.

“God will judge you, but Garren and David will destroy you.”

Her husband. Her son. A CIA agent and a Mossad soldier. They were formidable adversaries.

“They will never know it was I who took you from this earth, Ariela,” he promised her with a tinge of regret. “Angels may watch over them, but they won’t speak my name.”

She didn’t give him the benefit of emotion. Instead, she turned her gaze from him, refusing to look at him.

His fingers trailed between her br**sts once again, and he was glad he had cut her clothes from her. The chill air of the lair he had chosen peaked her ni**les as though she were aroused. As though she waited for her lover, na**d and spread out upon the metal table.

Her arms were manacled by the wrists, her hands hanging over the table, the chains attached to hooks in the floor. Her legs were lifted, spread, and held by the heavy chains he had attached to the ceiling.

His thumb brushed over a nipple, and still she didn’t react.

“Does ice water or blood run through your veins?” he asked as he continued to touch her.

The feel of her flesh was exquisite. It was a shame that her husband would no longer feel the warmth of her beside him in his bed each night. Her arms would no longer embrace him. He would no longer know the slide of her silken flesh against his body.

“Does it matter which runs through it?” She didn’t blink; she didn’t cry; she didn’t plead.

What satisfaction would he gain from this death? he wondered. Well, besides the nice fat payment thatght paymen would be deposited in his account once her beautiful body was found. And the fact that his employer would continue to refrain from revealing his identity. That was becoming something of a problem for him. He would have never taken this job without that threat backing his required fee.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter,” he sighed. “Are you not curious why you’re here? Who ordered your death?”

“Would it matter?”

He smiled back at her. “You could take the name of the one who ordered your death into the afterlife with you. Does that matter?”

Her lips quirked. “Whether I know his name or not will make no difference in my afterlife. The One who matters knows his name; He knows the name of the one who hired you. He knows your soul. He knows who to punish.”

He nearly flinched at the belief that resounded in her voice. She believed when he didn’t, yet her belief had the power to send a jolt of concern through him.

Bah. He wouldn’t allow this.

He grinned back at her mockingly. “Your God will punish me then?”

She said nothing more. Her gaze looked up, as though to the ceiling. Her lips moved, though he didn’t know the words she whispered. She whispered them to herself. Perhaps to her God.

He fingered the one article he had left on her body. A symbol of her faith. The Star of David. He had always admired it. Her husband, Garren, had had it crafted for her. Each point of the six-sided silver star held a drop of gold inset in the point. It was simple, held to her neck by leather rather than gold or silver.

“Your son will find your body,” he decided aloud, wondering if she would react to that decision.

There was no reaction. She stared ahead, her gaze fixed on something he couldn’t see, wouldn’t see. Ah well. Whatever got her through death, he decided as he moved from her and chose his blade.

“Perhaps I will give you my real name before the last breath eases from your body,” he decided. “You might want to tell your God who I am. Just in case He gives a damn that you’re dead.”

No reaction, but had he really expected one?

This part was usually his favorite. He moved back from the table and didn’t feel the familiar jolt of excitement, though.

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