When a routine reconnaissance mission turns into a hunt for a vicious killer, Dada Parish joins forces with her sexy informant… joins him in bed, on the floor, couch, table. But can she trust him with the truth? A secret that makes her the killer’s next target.
Undercover in Mexico, Dada Parish has all the wrong feelings for her handsome informant. Her disguise as a Dominican nun keeps that searing hot attraction behind a wall. But after that barrier is knocked over, hammered down, and vigorously pounded away, their love stirs up a killer’s wrath. He’s been watching her. Knows about her past. And his obsession will lure her to him, to his work, to “the disappeared”— bodies of women buried in the desert.
Sion Bradford lost everything when he lost his soccer career. Six years later he limped out of the bottle and into a new profession as a volunteer art teacher in El Salvador. Stunned when his most promising student is trafficked into Mexico, he infiltrates the criminal organization as “Juan the forger.” What he uncovers leads to a sickening truth. Some women and girls aren’t sold for pleasure, they’re killed for pleasure.
As Dada and Sion race to stop the mastermind behind a deadly femicide business, but the secret she keeps from him could allow this vicious killer to tear them apart. And lure them to their doom.
Ten minutes after walking into the Dominican abbey, Dada found herself standing behind a cafeteria counter, pretending to be Sister Dee, sliding a rectangular pan heavy with beans into a steel food well.
Clouds of heat wafted up from the water, working moisture along her face and under a veil tight against scalp-short hair. She slid her mitted hand out from the pan. Hot stuff. And not just the steam. Living and working in Pennsylvania, she wasn’t used to such heat in October.
Beside her Sister Colette, finished with her own rectangular pan, placing a steel spoon inside black beans. She looked at Dada. “It’ll cool down when they open the doors.”
No sooner had she said this then the folding doors that served as walls slid open. People and soft breezes strolled inside. The people lined up for lunch.
Dada spent the next 45 minutes honing her Spanish. Not a problem. Language she could do. That’s what made her such a good undercover operator. Now if she could just get this nun thing down.
Doling out a spoonful of rice, she met Colette’s eyes. “So many people.”
“Many fleeing from troubled areas in South America. Luckily, we haven’t had to turn any away for a while. We’ve had a recent big donation. Parish industries.”
That warmed her heart. It was good that Momma’s donation had served to help. But it was truly the nuns who made it all possible. This soup kitchen was open seven days a week. It was free, but donation boxes dotted the room. People who could afford to eat elsewhere sometimes ate here and gave generously. Essentially paying for their meal and four others.
The food here was that good. And the atmosphere that friendly. Even as the lunch wore on, the sisters remained genial and kind. So when the tension rolled down the line of nuns, like the wave around a sports arena, Dada stilled. Leaning past Colette, she scanned for what had caused the reaction.
No what. Who.
6’ feet something. And that something was fine. Wavy auburn hair, sexy beard, and summer brown eyes. The kind of toned body that a man couldn’t hide—even under a flannel shirt. Hot for the shirt. Conceal carry? Maybe. Or maybe he just had that lumberjack thing going.
He walked with a slight limp, but in a way that almost looked like a swagger.
Yum. No lie. He was stupendous. And familiar. She knew him? How did she know him?
Her heart ratcheted up its pace. Each beat, like a cart ascending on a roller coaster, clicked higher and higher into her throat as this man, this shaggy, mountain man, made his way toward her.
How did she know him? Would he recognize her?
She brushed Colette’s shoulder, getting her attention. “Who is he?”
Colette’s sour expression softened. “That’s Juan. He won’t hurt you. He works for organized crime. Traffickers. But he donates every week. And every week, he gets a tray full of food and brings it to an older woman in town.”
Juan? Didn’t look like a Juan. “So he’s a nice devil?”
Colette frowned. “Mother Angelica always says, ‘when you know better, you do better.’ What is worse someone who does wrong mindlessly, through fear or desperation, or someone who knows it’s wrong, but continues to do it, hurt innocents, and then, to assuage his own guilt, tries to payoff the church?”
Dada already knew the answer to that. For a moment she was nine again, held prisoner in a room so one man, a very rich French man, could enjoy her when he was in town. He brought her many gifts over her four years of captivity. Taught her. Spoke kindly to her. But none of that made up for the pain and humiliation and fear he’d caused her. Or for the pregnancy she’d suffered at 12. The unborn child she’d fallen in love with, a child her emaciated girl body—sixty pounds lighter though only a few inches shorter than she was now–could not birth.
The truth was, he allowed his supposed “good acts” to excuse what he did to her. Dada slapped down her attraction to the man walking toward her. Slapped it down and put it in chains.
After taking a scoop of yellow rice from Colette, the man stopped in front of Dada. His eyes widened. Her heart plunged. He did recognize her. He did.
Heat spiked in her body. A knowing warmth and an unexpected, and unwelcome thought…It’s him. Him.
Him who? How did she know him? Had they dated? Dada shook herself. Remembered to blink as those bold, dare-me-to brown eyes, framed in a bounty of black lashes, riveted her.
Beside her, Colette said, “Do you want rice or are you filling your belly on looking at Sister Dee?”
His cool, pale skin warmed with pink heat. “Excuse me, Sister. Rice please.”
His Spanish was good, but a bit awkward. It was the accent. British?
That was it. How she knew him.
They’d never met. Never dated. She knew him from her love of sport. Specifically, soccer. What she thought of as football until coming to the states. He was a soccer player. Had been injured right before signing a contract for the Premier League. Lord, how the mighty had fallen.
He now worked for the traffickers? No doubt the very same traffickers she wanted information from since they owned this area.
Her instinct for caution nearly matched her flare of excitement. She shushed both. Wariness was wise. But too good to be true didn’t mean it wasn’t true. She’d learned to accept and jump at opportunity. Just as she’d learned to accept and find a way around complications.
This was a big opportunity wrapped up in a minor complication. She could use what she knew of him, his past and his obvious guilt, to pressure him. Oh, he could be a great asset. She had to get close to him, find his weakness, and ignore the way he made her feel.
With her heart still in her throat, she scooped out beans. Her fingers brushed his and a stronger, more certain spark of awareness traveled up her arm and down her spine. A visceral response. A longing. A knowing. A wanting.
A big complication.
His skin bloomed redder and he moved off with a, “Sorry, Sister. Sorry.”
No need to ask what he apologized for. It was obvious. To her. To him. Probably to Colette. One did not make lust eyes at a nun.