Trained to kill it takes the love of a unique man to uncover the gentleness within.
Gifted with a unique set of abilities that had come to light during a time she was MIA in Africa, Serenity Chandi Walker had become a killer for the government, taking on a new name for her assignments, Raven Dare. Retired, she is drawn back in for one more assignment by the very man who’d betrayed her.
Brandt Fowler is the son of a construction magnate. When his life is threatened to get at his old man, he’s given bodyguards. Ditching them all he finds himself with a woman named Raven. She’s not like the others, he can’t lose her no matter how hard he tries. When he realizes the threats are real, it’s almost too late. Raven protects him then leaves, vanishing from his life.
A chance meeting in the Caribbean reunites them and he struggles to understand this woman who’d captured his heart. He has no wish to let her go, but realizes she has to accept she’s allowed to be loved, no matter what she’s done in the past. Will she or is her future destined to keep her alone?
The Alaskan Wilderness
The distant yet distinctive whirr of blades sliced the crisp air, interrupting the peaceful sounds of nature surrounding the spectacular log home. There, in the middle of nowhere, sat a two-story, octagonal-shaped log home. A full porch ran the circumference of the home and had pieces of cedar furniture strategically placed on it. Tables, chairs and more. All of it handmade and beautifully crafted.
The home sat smack in the middle of this wild, untamed beauty known as Alaska. Not a house, but a home where the owner found her peace. A solitary woman sat in complete tranquility on one of the hand-carved porch swings. She looked up and away from her book only briefly as some indescribable emotion flashed across her face, coinciding with the moment her two canine companions raised their heads to the sky.
The new noise was not difficult for her to identify. Not in the least. She knew it was a UH-60 Black Hawk chopper used by the Army mostly, but not in this case. It was a personal one. If she wanted to think on it she could pretty much hazard a guess on the pilots sitting at the controls.
Two pairs of intelligent eyes, almond-shaped and dark in color, stared up into the cloudless blue sky as the solid black helicopter came into view. Once it landed in the clearing near the cabin the two dogs rose and placed themselves on either side of her.
She sat motionless on her swing as she continued to read her book, ignoring the fact that a large aircraft just landed in her front yard, flattening the lush green grasses with the force of air from its revolving chopper blades.
Three men jumped out of the chopper, heads low to avoid the rotor wash as they ran towards the large, odd-shaped house. They stopped at the bottom of the porch steps, for both dogs had begun to growl low in their throats. The noise they made was barely discernible over the chopper but the three standing there heard it just fine. Loud and clear, their message was received and understood. Come no further.
The three were dressed completely in black, both shirts and BDU’s with nine millimeters strapped on them as well. Not a single hint of emotion showed on their faces as they looked up at the woman on the porch, who still ignored them and kept reading her book.
The woman wasn’t exactly what one would expect to be out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains and crystal-clear lakes. Her skin—rich nut brown, clear with health—and her black as pitch hair shone in the rays of sunlight that managed to find her under the porch’s roof. In the wilds of Alaska people didn’t find many African-Americans, but here one sat. She paid no heed to the three men at the bottom of her steps.
The man in the middle, with silver oak leaves on his shoulders, cleared his throat and spoke in a deep, rough voice. “Serenity. We need your help.”
No response from the woman except maybe to sigh and turn the page of her book. And that sigh was unlikely. He tried again. “Serenity. Can we at least come up and talk to you?”
Brown eyes so severe they appeared almost black flicked up to glance up the men, showing no emotion one way or another, then silently dismissed them and went back to her book. She finished reading her page and put in a picture as a bookmark.
In an unhurried motion, she placed the book on the seat next to her before swinging her denim clad legs to the floor and gaining her feet. Slowly, as if she had not a care in the world, she descended and the dogs fell into step with her. One on each side. Their hackles weren’t raised and they were silent, but none of the men relaxed for they weren’t fooled.
The dogs were impressive to view, as was the woman who walked between them. Although relatively easy to tell that one dog was female and the other male, it was even easier to know that both were devoted to their mistress and would protect her at all costs. They were waiting for the slightest signal from her, or if they determined on their own that she was in danger, and they would go into immediate attack mode.
None of the men wished to tangle with the dogs, or the woman. They had seen the dogs in action and knew what damage and destruction they could inflict. What they had witnessed had been in a planned scenario and for training purposes only, but it was enough. The dogs had gained their respect then, and the woman herself was a known force to be reckoned with. All the men knew of her feats. And of her sacrifices. She was somewhat of a legend in their circles.
The dogs were beautiful. Their bodies were covered in semi-plush coats. The female appeared onyx black and a deep brick red while the male was solid obsidian. Ears stood upright and eyes assessed. The men knew the dogs’ teeth were sharp, with jaws that could clamp down in excess of three hundred pounds of pressure to easily break the ulna or radius.
She stopped two steps from the bottom, which put her higher up from the three men, and waited. Still not a single word passed her full lips and those sienna eyes remained expressionless. With a minuscule gesture she sent the dogs, one at a time, back up the stairs to sit at the top of the porch.
The man wearing the silver spoke again. “Will you hear us out, Serenity?”
Her eyes flickered over to the other two men, meeting each gaze before silently dismissing them and moving on. Finally, she fixed back on the man in the middle. A short abrupt nod and she turned and walked back up the steps to where the dogs waited.
As she sat back down on the swing, crossing her legs, the men walked up the steps slowly. They all stayed by the railing and in front of her as the dogs lay down beside the swing and closed their eyes. Again, the men weren’t fooled by this action for they knew the dogs were alert.
“Like I said before, we need your help. Will you come with us?” The man watched her face, searching for some kind of emotion, and found none. It was like staring into the eyes of the dead. Just blank. Eyes that had been so full of life had nothing in them now.
“Please, Serenity. I know I have no right to ask you to do this. I understand that. But we need you. . . I need your help.”
“You’ve got that much right. You have no right to ask me for any favors. None.” Her graveled voice reached all three of the men.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t important.”
“What is important to you may not be important to me.” There was no vestige of sympathy in her emotionless voice. “How did you find me?”
One of the other men spoke up. He had a blond crew cut and dark blue eyes that held people’s attention. “That is not the issue. We need your help...” He broke off as those eyes found his. Her brown gaze remained on the blond man as she asked her next question.
“I asked you a question, Commander. How did you find me?” Serenity didn’t even acknowledge the man she had silenced with a flat look.
“I have always known where you went, Serenity. Always.”
“For what purpose?” She swiveled her eyes back to his.
“I had my reasons. Will you help?”