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 stood behind a counter serving food at a soup kitchen pretending to be Sister Dee, a nun. Clouds of heat wafted up from the steel food well. Moisture slid along her face and under the habit tight against scalp-short hair.
She was trying very hard to appear angelic, virginal, and whatever pious thing she could think of. So far so good.
There was a big lunch crowd. They proceeded down the line and took seats at folding chairs pushed up to long, white tables. She dished out beans and honed 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.
Someone in the cafeteria began to play soft music on a worn guitar, and others in the room took up singing a soft Mexican lullaby. It echoed around the open-air cafeteria. Beautiful. Dada met Olga’s eyes. “There are so many people. How can you afford to feed them all?“
“Most don’t stay. They are fleeing troubled areas in Central America. They come through here, because the heard we have food. Luckily, a recent, big donation from Parish Industries means we haven’t had to turn anyone away for a while.”
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, 2x a day.
It was free, but donation boxes dotted the room. People who could afford to eat elsewhere often ate here and gave generously. The food here was that good. The nuns that kind and giving.
So when the tension rolled down the line of sisters, like the wave around a sports arena, Dada stilled. Looking past Olga, she scanned for what had caused the reaction. No what. Who.
6′ feet something. And that something was fine with a capital 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 Olga’s shoulder, getting her attention. “Who is he?”
Olga’s expression soured. “Juan the forger. Works for traffickers—men aligned with the cartel who owns this area. He donates every week, buying trays for people, and bringing one to an older woman in town.”
“So he’s a nice devil?”
Scooping rice to the next in line, Olga said, “What is worse a man who does bad with no concept of right and wrong, or a man who does bad, allows the bad because he benefits in some way? And then, to assuage his guilt, tries to payoff the church?”
Dada knew the answer to that. In a flash, 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.
Dada slapped down her attraction to the man walking toward her. Slapped it down and put it in chains.
She had to fight from reaching for the leather bracelet at her wrist—the one she wore at all times to remember the child she lost. It was a tell. One she could not afford when there was a chance this man knew her. It would be okay. She had on the nun outfit. She had in brown contacts covering her distinct honey colored eyes. It had to be okay.
After taking a scoop of yellow rice from Olga, 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. Blink. Must blink. Not easy when those bold, dare-me-to brown eyes, framed in a bounty of black lashes, locked on her.
Beside her, Sister Olga said, “Do you want beans or are you filling your belly on looking at Sister Dee?”
His cool, pale skin warmed with pink heat. “Excuse me, Sister. Beans 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. The memory of a sleek young man driving down the field with a soccer ball surfaced.
She knew him from her love of sport. Specifically, her favorite sport. He was a soccer player. Or he had been. If she was remembering correctly, he’d been injured right before signing a contract for the Premier League. That explained the limp.
So he now worked for the traffickers? And the traffickers she wanted information from, since they owned this area. Lord, how the mighty had fallen.
This was too good to be true. But too good to be true didn’t mean it wasn’t true. A flare of excitement lit her chest. Keep it calm. Wariness was wise, even though this was her kind of luck. No matter what her disguise, how she hid in the world, luck always found her. And because of that luck, she’d learned to accept and jump at opportunity. Just as she’d learned to accept and find a way around complications—knowing something would turn in her favor.
This was a big opportunity wrapped up in a minor complication. Could she use what she knew of him, his past and his obvious guilt, to pressure him? Not exactly a nun-thing to do, but he’d be a great asset. She’d do it, 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 Olga. One did not make lust eyes at a nun.