Tormented by fragments of a past she can’t quite grasp, an undercover operative plunges into the deep end of the war on drugs, but when lies and truth become intertwined, will one man be enough to save her from drowning?
Stormy St. James
She’s her wealthy father’s love child, except it wasn’t true love. He never married her mother, and wouldn’t have, even if he’d known she was pregnant. Late one night, she dumps the baby on his doorstep. Tag you’re it? Then Mom runs off, never to be seen again.
Stormy is all grown up and all the private schools and fancy cars in the world couldn’t make up for her cold-hearted father. Rather than cowering in a corner and feeling sorry for herself, she becomes the opposite of everything he wanted in a daughter.
Now she’s teamed up with a special ops team to end a drug ring working out of Dallas, Texas. Her specialty: Beauty and brains, along with a knack for breaking codes. Don’t let her looks fool you. She’s trained in martial arts and is an expert with firearms.
He’s part of a team of covert ex special ops who work for the government. Don’t be fooled by his good looks and charm—he’s lethal.
The men on his team tease him when it comes to women. Hell, it’s not his fault that he has some kind of crazy pheromones working and women sort of fall into his bed.
Then she comes along and hits him like a ton of bricks. The mysterious Stormy St. James, AKA Scorpion because her sting can be deadly. Yeah, that’s an understatement.
When Stormy and Ethan are forced to work together to decode documents the drug cartel left behind, tempers flare, and an attraction neither one could’ve anticipated will be pushed beyond the breaking point.
But when the truth about her past is exposed, will Ethan be able to save her?
Ethan raised the glass of now lukewarm beer to his lips. He'd been nursing it for over an hour and was getting restless. When was Scorpion going to show?
He and Carter had chosen a table in a dimly lit corner of the upscale club so they could observe the other patrons without being obvious. Carter looked comfortable surrounded by suits as corporate America drank their wine, highballs, martinis, and beer from a glass rather than a bottle, but then, Carter was the son of a prominent senator. He’d grown up around this stuff. Of course he’d be comfortable.
On the other hand, Ethan was from middle-class America and liked his beer in a bottle. Still, he could adapt to any situation while on a mission. It didn't hurt that he liked everyone on the team—all ex-special ops who now worked for the government. No matter their background, they were like brothers: Carter, Breaker, Samson, Dylan, Ty, and him.
"Are you sure Scorpion is going to be here tonight?" Ethan asked, keeping his words low so that only Carter heard him.
"That's the Intel I got,” Carter said, his words low as well. “My contact said Scorpion would be wearing something red."
"Well, I don't see anything red."
“The night is still young. Have patience."
Patience? Yeah, he didn't have much of that. He didn't like being in the dark either. No one knew what this Scorpion looked like. He always worked deep undercover. Scorpion was a ghost. The rumors were wide and varied. All Ethan knew for sure was that Scorpion was damn good at his job. This time, Scorpion would blow his cover to some degree just to catch El Diablo, the devil. No one knew what he looked like either.
His gaze slowly scanned the room. He couldn't picture any of the men sitting at tables or at the bar as being the murderous drug lord. No sane person would tangle with him. Betray El Diablo and all they would find of your body would be pieces and parts. The man was legendary for his torture techniques. Anyone would be a fool to cross him.
But who was El Diablo? Not one man stood out to Ethan. There were two men at one table who constantly looked around. They didn't quite fit the image of the other clientele in the club. Yeah, they wore suits, but they didn’t look comfortable. One guy kept tugging at his tie. These two guys had been nursing beers for about as long as he and Carter had been nursing theirs.
"What about the two men at the table near the bar?" Ethan asked.
"I've been watching them, too. Bodyguards, maybe?"
"That's what I've been thinking, but who are they guarding?"
Breaker was tending bar, but looked up and met Ethan's gaze. Ethan gave a slight nod toward the two men. Breaker smiled at a young woman just sliding onto a barstool, but pulled at the cuffs of his long-sleeved, white shirt to let Ethan know he agreed.
His gaze moved to Dylan, who casually leaned against the bar talking to a brunette. When their gazes met, Dylan’s slid toward the two men, and then back to him. Ethan tugged on his ear to let him know they were in agreement.
Ty blended into the shadows, leaning against the wall, but gave an almost imperceptible nod to let Ethan know that he knew the two men didn't belong in this particular nightclub. Samson wandered through the room, acting as a bouncer. No one would mess with him. Most of the time, he was a gentle giant, but piss him off, and he became a grizzly bear ready to attack.
The whole team was here, and they would have each other's back.
As long as Scorpion showed. He was starting to doubt the man even existed. Maybe he was a ghost.
The door suddenly swung open. A woman stepped inside, then stood there for a moment, surveying the crowd. She wore a slight smile, as if she knew the effect she had on people—men, to be exact. Her blonde hair was piled on top of her head, with stray tendrils framing her face. Her features were delicate with pouty, full lips—the kind made for kissing.
Ethan's gaze slowly roamed over her. The red dress molded to each one of her delicious curves, the deep vee showing off the generous swell of her breasts. She had a small waist, gently rounded hips, and a dancer's legs—long, lean, and made for wrapping around a man’s waist. The red stiletto heels she wore had to be at least five inches high.
Ah, hell no. He met Carter's gaze. "This can't be Scorpion," he muttered.
Carter gave a slight shake of his head. "My contact didn't say whether Scorpion was a male or female. I didn't think to ask."
They could still be wrong about this woman being the badass, deep undercover operative. Maybe she just liked wearing red.
The woman in question moved with a slow seductive sway toward one of the tables, but as she passed near theirs, she met Carter's eyes. She would’ve been given their identities and would know what they looked like on sight. Right now, she held his gaze for a moment longer than necessary.
A man sitting near the possible bodyguards came to his feet with a smile. She stopped in front of him, then casually placed her hand on his arm, tapping her index finger twice—her sign to let them know he was El Diablo. Before she sat down, she briefly glanced their way again.
Ethan had overlooked the man she was meeting when he first scanned the room. The guy reminded him of someone overworked and underpaid. Wearing a slightly rumpled suit as if he sat at a desk all day, he was someone you wouldn’t look at twice. Maybe that was why no one had caught El Diablo until now.
Carter must’ve thought the same thing about Scorpion being a female because he looked surprised as hell. Then he gave the signal to move in. If they played their cards right, no one would get hurt. As Scorpion took her seat, she dropped her clutch to the floor.
When El Diablo stooped to pick it up, the team moved forward. They wanted to take him down as quietly as possible without anyone in the club getting hurt.
Like a well-oiled machine, they converged at the same time. Samson and Breaker each grabbed a bodyguard. Samson held his in a vice-like grip while Breaker wrestled his to the ground, the man’s gun sliding across the floor. At the same time, Ethan lightly gripped the female’s arms while Carter and Dylan grabbed El Diablo. Ty stayed in the background to make sure there weren't more men.
"What is this? I demand answers now!" El Diablo said.
"Sergio? What's happening?" the woman in red asked.
The men and women in the club began to scramble from their seats and pour out the doors. They didn't know exactly what was happening, but they weren't about to stick around to find out. Smart people.
“You’re under arrest for drugs, human trafficking, murder, and whatever else we can think of to pin on you,” Carter said as he fastened handcuffs on El Diablo.
Genuine concern showed in the drug lord's eyes when he looked at the woman, and then he turned back to them. "If you know what’s good for you, you’ll release us," he growled.
“Now, why would we do that?” Ethan asked with a smile as he fastened the handcuffs on the woman to preserve her identity. Damn, she smelled good, exotic.
"He's right, you know. We'll have bail posted within the hour," she sneered.
"Cher, did you think you’d be going to a regular jail?" Breaker asked. "No, we have a special place for the two of you."
"I'm sorry," El Diablo said to her. "I thought this was a secure meeting place. I'll find the traitor and take care of him. Don't worry. They can't keep you locked up. They have nothing on you."
Ethan looked toward the door when it opened again. The lead agent acting as their backup, came inside.
"The other agents are waiting outside—good job taking down this scumbag. We can take him off your hands. They'll both be going to separate, secure locations for questioning."
Samson and Dylan went with him as they led El Diablo out. Ethan unfastened her handcuffs as soon as they were out of the club.
"I think we kept your identity intact," he told her.
"I just wish it was over."
"Excuse me?" Carter asked. "That was El Diablo, right?"
"Oh, that was him, all right. Also known as Sergio Martinez. I'll go into more detail as soon as the other two return."
They didn’t have long to wait. As soon as Samson and Dylan came back inside, she began to explain.
"It'll be easier if you know my name rather than calling me Scorpion. I'm Stormy St. James
And quite unexpected. What was she? Maybe twenty-eight, twenty-nine at the most. He'd expected an older agent—forties maybe. Few people surprised him. She'd shocked the hell out of him.
He quickly introduced the team, and she continued.
“Sergio has been running his whole operation from an estate in Dallas." She went behind the bar and grabbed a bottle of beer, twisting off the cap and tossing it to the side. She took a long drink before continuing. "I was acting as one of his drug buyers. We were supposed to be setting up a drop tonight." She came back around and scooted gracefully onto one of the barstools, crossing her legs.
Ethan didn't know about the rest of the team, but he couldn't take his eyes off her. How could she make going behind the bar and getting a beer, then sliding onto one of the barstools, so damned sexy? She acted as though she took down major drug lords all the time. Hell, from her reputation, she probably did.
"There are more men ready to take Sergio's place. They'll make sure everything runs smoothly until they know he's completely out of the picture. Once they know he won't be coming back anytime soon, they’ll go in for the kill, and whoever comes out on top will take over the whole operation. There's no real loyalty in the drug business."
"So, what are you proposing?" Carter asked.
"I've only been on his estate a few times, but I know he keeps all his files on a computer. If we can get to them before someone has a chance to destroy them, we can shut down his entire operation. We can make it so no one will be able to take Sergio’s place." She took another drink of the beer.
"And your plan?" Carter asked.
"A raid on the estate. I couldn't get deep enough into his computers. I know he encrypts his files. If I can get to them, I think I can decode them." She shrugged. "It's one of my specialties. Computers, not so much."
Ethan closed his eyes for a moment. He had a feeling he knew what was about to happen. His month long vacation with a hot flight attendant on a private island slowly faded. How many times had he envisioned Carmen running naked along the beach? Too many times to count.
"Ethan is our computer genius," Ty spoke up.
Ethan glared at him. Ty knew about his vacation plans. Yeah, Ty looked all innocent now, but he would bet his last dollar that he was laughing on the inside.
"Then we're all set," Stormy said.
Ethan supposed it could be worse. The lady was hot.
She turned just in time to catch his speculative gleam. Her eyes narrowed.
“We’ll be staying at Sergio’s estate. This won’t be a vacation. We’ll be working.” Her gaze slowly slid over him before returning to his face. “All we’ll be doing is working.”
When her phone began to ring, she reached inside her clutch and brought it out, walking away from them for privacy.
Ethan frowned. She was all business. Completely unaffected by his charm. Damn, that was a first.
He looked at the others. “That sounded like a challenge to me,” Ethan said with a grin. “What about you?”
Samson snorted. “Sounds like this one has your number.”
Ty nodded. “I got the same impression.”
Breaker grinned. “You gonna need some of my Cajun charm to win this one over.”
Ethan laughed. “You think that might work?”
“Never hurt in the past.”
“I think you might have met your match,” Dylan agreed with the others.
"Oh, ye of little faith," Ethan said.
“You’ll be there to work. Don’t forget that,” Carter reminded him.
“Of course I’ll be there to work,” he scoffed. He still couldn’t help but wonder why she didn’t seem to like him. That had never happened. Maybe it was the new cologne he wore. Yeah, that could be it.
Stormy knew Ethan’s type. He was a player. He probably told women up front that he didn’t do long-term relationships. Even then, he would break hearts.
If he thought she’d jump into his bed, he’d be disappointed. She'd met his kind before and wasn't about to fall for his game. They’d be going to the estate to work. She'd been undercover way too long not to end Sergio's operation.
After ending her call, she strolled over to the table where they had all gathered, grabbing a salt and a pepper shaker on the way by to use as props. "There's a guardhouse at the front gate. There will be one man on duty, and he'll be armed. Once he opens the gate, there’s a short drive up to the main house.” Stormy moved the saltshaker to where the house would be. "There's a guardhouse to the right and a little bit to the back of the main house. He'll have six armed guards, but not all of them will be in the house. They usually roam around the estate." She moved the pepper shaker there.
"And inside?" Ethan asked, all business now.
She met his gaze for a brief moment, then turned her attention back to the table. "He has one person on the inside—also armed. These men will shoot to kill. It's not that they're loyal to Sergio but more that they fear him. With good reason, too."
"Obstacles?” Dylan asked. "I'm good with explosives and can take care of anything that needs blowing up."
She shook her head. "No, but there's a large swimming pool behind the house." She moved another saltshaker behind the house and to the left side. "This is his guesthouse. There shouldn't be anyone staying there right now."
"Servants?" Carter asked.
She shook her head. "They won't be any trouble. They’re terrified of Sergio, but not enough to fight an intruder. He brought most of them from Mexico and Honduras with promises of a better future, but Sergio forced them to work for him when they got to the United States."
She looked at each of them. "We don't have time to plan. This has to happen tonight."
"Then let's make it happen," Ethan said.
Stormy still wasn't sure about him. He seemed to be all business when he needed to be, but what would it be like working with him day in and day out. They would be the only two on the estate. She just wanted this over and done. Being undercover for almost a year had started to get to her. She'd seen too many gruesome things to ever sleep well at night.
Yeah, like she could anyway. The nightmares were getting worse. No, not really nightmares. There were more like memories. Fragments of a past she couldn’t quite grasp. But were they hers or something she might've seen on television? She didn't know anymore. Sometimes, she thought she was losing her mind.
"If you're ready, we can leave now," Carter said.
She quickly brought her thoughts back to the present. Not enough sleep over the last few days. She’d known this was going down tonight and only hoped nothing went wrong. It still might. Armed guards had a way of getting angry when someone raided the property. Not that anyone had tried before now. This would be a first, and the operation could go south fast if they didn’t make each move count.
After she set her empty beer bottle on the table, she looked at the men, all ex-special ops. They were muscled, too hot for their own good, cocky as hell, but she knew they all wanted the same thing. Her gaze stopped on Ethan. Yeah, well, he might want more than the others.
She had a feeling he was going to be trouble.