Author: Jen Frederick, Jessica Clare
Series: Hiitman #4
Release Date: September 29, 2015
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Purchase: Amazon UK
Mendoza: I grew up in the slums and lost everything I loved to poverty, illness, and death. I had only one skill to leverage myself out of my circumstances—violence. Being hired out as a mercenary hitman brought me money and built an empire. But all that I've fought for is in jeopardy. My next job: Steal secret information that could bring down world governments. Find my target. Destroy it. But then, I meet her.
Ava: Karma hates me. When my best friend Rose is kidnapped, I have no choice but to take a job as a mule for a pair of criminals intent on selling top-secret information to the highest bidder. I should have known that bad luck tends to cling, because the plane I'm on goes down. That I survived a crash-landing was a miracle. And so was being rescued by Rafe Mendoza—hot, sexy, dangerous. The thing is, he wants the information that I need to free Rose. I can't let him have it, but I need his help. And I need to fight this crazy attraction for this mercenary with hungry eyes. Rose is depending on me, and I won't let her down, no matter how appealing Rafe is.
In the explosive new Hitman novel from the bestselling authors of Last Kiss and Last Hit a jungle mercenary and a female target find love on the run…
I wake up with my face pressed against a warm, broad chest and my legs tangled in the leaves of a tree. Somewhere close by, I hear birds chirping. There’s sunlight dappling my face and everything feels damp.
Everything also hurts.
I’m dazed and my head is ringing with pain, and the sun is beaming right into my eyes, which is freaking annoying as hell. I rub a hand across my face and it takes me a few moments to realize that I shouldn’t see the sun at all if I’m inside an airplane.
Then I remember the storm. The thunderous boom as the plane was hit by lightning. Screams. The wing catching fire. The chaos of Afonso with his gun. Free-falling through the cabin, my grip on the seats the only thing keeping me from flying through six thousand feet of empty air.
Mendoza’s hand ripping out of mine when the cabin depressurized. The screams of people going silent.
I remember him, too.
A noise from somewhere nearby catches my attention. It sounds like heavy breathing. I open my eyes and look around.
I’m still strapped to my seat. There’s a portion of the plane underneath me, and the two seats Mendoza and I buckled into are still together.
He’s next to me, the broad chest I’m currently draped across. His eyes are closed, dried, crusted blood around the injured one. He’s got an enormous bruise on his forehead and his arms are around me, as if he was trying to protect me even as we fell.
“Mendoza?” I ask, sitting upright and pulling out of his arms. Sitting up makes everything in my body scream with pain. My ankles hurt, but I don’t know if it’s because they’re seriously injured or because they were tucked under the seat in front of me, which is also still attached. I test my legs, untangling them from his longer ones, and wince at the pain shooting through my body. It feels like I’ve been trampled in my sleep. My ribs hurt, and my right arm radiates agony.
But . . . I’m alive. I sit up a bit straighter and look at my right arm. The purse I’ve carried for days is gone. The skin is puffy and turning purple. When I flex my fingers, the pain brings tears to my eyes. I look away from it, faint and sick to my stomach at the sight. It’s not just the pain but what it represents. I’m a hand model. I can’t do a thing if my hands are jacked up.
Not that it matters right now.
“Mendoza,” I say again, because I’m about to panic, and panic hard. “Wake up. Please.”
He doesn’t stir.
Fear clutches me, and I grab his shirt with my good hand and give him a shake. “Mendoza?”
That doesn’t wake him, either. I press my cheek to his chest and listen for a heartbeat.
It’s slow and steady. Whew. I sit up and examine him again. The knot on his forehead is huge. Maybe he just got knocked out. I’ll have to figure out how to wake him up once I figure out where we are. It looks like our section of the plane somehow separated from the rest of the wreckage, which is why we’re alive and not a skidmark on the ground.
I shift in my seat and the world tilts. My eyes go wide and I freeze in place, then look around.
I can see trees overhead, and sunshine, but it’s just now occurred to me that we’re not on the ground. The chairs are tilted and everything shakes when I move.
I’m pretty sure we’re in a tree. Clutching at the arm of the chair, I sit up carefully and look around.
I see nothing but air and leaves, green vines and dappled shadows. In the distance, I hear the sound like heavy breathing again. I look at Mendoza, but it’s not him. Oh God. Is it Afonso? Is he still here? Biting my lip, I crane my neck and try to peer down below. We’re at least twenty feet off the ground.
It’s like the wreckage has been swallowed up by a wall of green. Green and wet. On the jungle floor, there’s more greenery and what looks like smoking wreckage. Pieces of the plane are scattered all over the forest floor, along with a few scattered suitcases. In the distance I see another row of chairs, this one facedown in the dirt. The heavy breathing starts again, and this time I see the source: a jaguar, stalking through the wreckage.
My eyes widen and I go very still.
A heavy rain begins to fall, spattering me from above. I don’t move. My gaze is on that jungle cat as it sniffs through things. If it notices us, I don’t know what we’ll do. Mendoza is unconscious and if I try to move him, we might both fall out of the tree . . . and land right in front of the cat.
The situation hits me and I start to cry. I’m alone. I’m really fucking alone. I’ve never camped a day in my life, much less been in a jungle. I look down at my hands. They’re my livelihood. My way to earn a living. My income depends on them being soft and perfect, my nails elegant ovals.
I have a long gouge down the back of one hand, and my pinky is bruised and swollen. My wrist looks like an elephant’s leg, if elephants were black and blue. Not gonna be hand modeling for a long while after I get out of here.
If I get out of here.
I’m sorry, Rose. I’m trying. I’m trying so hard. I shudder back a sob as the cat slinks into the underbrush, something dangling and arm-sized in its mouth. I’m in the jungle with a busted hand and a stranger that just wants the information I’m carrying . . .
And I don’t even have the information anymore. The purse is gone. I sniff hard, trying to fight back another sob that’s threatening to break free.
“Don’t cry,” a voice says softly.
I turn and look at Mendoza. His shirt is sticking to his big body, wet raindrops splatting down his face. He looks at me and smiles crookedly, and lifts a hand to try to touch my face. “Don’t cry.”
Nikolai: I have been a contract killer since I was a boy. For years I savored the fear caused by my name, the trembling at the sight of my tattoos. The stars on my knees, the marks on my fingers, the dagger in my neck, all spoke of danger. If you saw my eyes, it was the last vision you’d have. I have ever been the hunter, never the prey. With her, I am the mark and I am ready to lie down and let her capture me. Opening my small, scarred heart to her brings out my enemies. I will carry out one last hit, but if they hurt her, I will bring the world down around their ears.
Daisy: I’ve been sheltered from the outside world all my life. Home-schooled and farm-raised, I’m so naive that my best friend calls me Pollyanna. I like to believe the best about people. Nikolai is part of this new life, and he’s terrifying to me. Not because his eyes are cold or my friend warns me away from him, but because he’s the only man who has ever seen the real me beneath the awkwardness. With him, my heart is at risk . . . and also, my life.
Regan: I never really knew what misery was until the day I was kidnapped and sold for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two months later, I’m at a brothel in Rio when I meet Daniel Hays. He says he’s here to save me, but can I trust him? All I know of him are his sarcastic retorts and his tendency to solve every dispute with his gun. He’s also the only safe thing in my world, and I know it’s wrong to fall in love with him, but I can’t seem to help myself. He says he’ll protect me until his last breath, but I don’t know if I should believe him or even if I can.
Daniel: For the last eighteen months, one goal has dictated every action I’ve taken. I’ve left the Army, turned paid hit man, and befriended criminals all across the globe to find my kidnapped sister. In every brothel I raid and every human trafficking truck I stop, I hope the next face I find is my sister’s. In a hidden brothel in Rio, I find Regan Porter, bruised but not broken, and still sane despite her weeks in captivity. I should leave her behind or send her home, because the last thing either of us needs right now is to get involved. But with every passing minute, I find I’m less able to let her go.
There was a time when Nick loved the fear he instilled in his enemies. His tattoos alone promised danger, but it was the look in his eyes that delivered on it. A contract killer since he was just a boy, Nick has now forged a new life and a new identity with the woman who followed him, captured him, and changed him.
He terrified Daisy. Once. But she couldn’t resist, and she ignored every warning. It paid off. Now she’s part of a new beginning, a fresh start in America helping him to leave behind a reckless and violent past as a professional killer. But the past is never easy to outrun, especially when so much of it thrives on revenge.
A new threat has emerged from the shadows, and now Nick and Daisy have no choice but to rely on Nick’s killer skills to protect them from everything they’ve tried so hard to escape.
Naomi: When I was kidnapped I thought only of survival. I don’t thrive well in chaos. That’s why I gave my captors exactly what they wanted: my skill with computers. Making millions for a crime lord who kept me imprisoned in his basement compound kept my family safe. When he was taken out, I thought my ticket to freedom had arrived. Wrong. I traded one keeper for another. This time I’m in the hands of a scarred, dark, demanding Russian who happens to be the head of the Bratva, a Russian crime organization. He wants my brain and my body. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued, but I can’t be a prisoner forever…no matter how good he makes me feel.
Vasily: At a young age, I was taught that a man without power is a puppet for all. I’ve clawed—and killed—my way to the top so that it is my heel on their necks. But to unify the fractured organization into an undefeatable machine, I need a technological genius to help me steal one particular artifact. That she is breathtaking, determined, and vulnerable is making her more dangerous than all of my enemies combined. But only I can keep her safe from the world that she now inhabits. Soon, I must choose between Naomi and Bratva law. But with every day that passes, this becomes a more impossible choice.