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THE COST OF HONOR
Black Ops Confidential Book 3
BY DIANA MUNOZ STEWART
He gave up everything to escape his family
The only male to be adopted into the notorious Parish family, Tony Parish always did right by his vigilante sisters. But when an attempt to protect one of them went horribly wrong, he had to fake his own death to escape his fanatical family. Tony set sail and ended up in Dominica—face to face with the woman of his dreams…
Now he must give up Honor to save her
After the death of her mother, Honor Silva moved to Dominica, where her family could help her heal and move on. But her activist mother left her more than money, she left her proof that could take down one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.
Tony gave up everything he thought he knew when he fled his family. But when a threat too dangerous for Tony and Honor to fight on their own closes in, he has no choice but to go to them for help. Problem is, they’ll demand something in return—something that could cost Tony not just Honor, but also the love that changed him forever.
Black Ops Confidential Series:
I Am Justice (Book 1)
The Price of Grace (Book 2)
The Cost of Honor (Book 3)
Readers are raving about the Black Ops Confidential series:
“A high-octane…satisfying roller-coaster ride. Stewart’s talent shines.”—Publishers Weekly for The Price of Grace
“Electrifying, edgy, and sexy!”—JULIE ANN WALKER, New York Times bestseller, for I Am Justice
“Witty, dangerous, fun, and smoking hot.”—CINDY DEES, New York Times bestseller, for I Am Justice
Editorial Note: Edited for language.
Rain assaulted the thin, deserted strip of beach along Roseau, Dominica. Though rarely cold on the island, the lack of sun combined with the wild weather created a deep, nagging chill.
Tightening the straps on her jacket, drawing the slick red hood into an outline around her rain-drenched face, Honor pushed through the last brutal gusts of the retreating tropical storm.
Seaweed littered the sand. Stacked lounge chairs clacked, and striped cabanas snapped in the tempest.
It seemed the sky and heaven cried with her, tears of sadness and fury. Honor ducked her head and made her determined way around a large puddle on the sand. The indents from her sneakers created smaller puddles as she went.
Had it really been two years today? Two years since she’d lost Mom and had run here looking for a new start, a life without the ache of missing her.
Hadn’t worked. Mom’s death had been so sudden that the punch of that wound, straight through her heart, still gaped wide open. There wasn’t a day when she didn’t feel bereft.
But today especially, the anniversary of her death. The media, reminded of her famous mother’s passing, had reached out through phone, email, and texts for quotes.
Unable to deal with them, she’d come to the beach looking for a distraction.
She’d found one.
A kiteboarder, rash and daring with a bright-yellow sail, glided across the rough ocean water. His dark hair flew back as his agile body, covered in a wetsuit, maneuvered with and against wind and waves. So beautiful he created an ache inside her. To be that free, that strong, that daring.
He kept hold of the kite’s line as each gale whipped the large sail sideways, dragging him. Outcrops and rocks dotted the water, but he avoided them with ease.
Another gust and the kiteboarder flew up and up. She gasped. Her heart rose with him. Too high. He had too far to fall.
He slammed back down to the surf, angled his athletic body this way and that to skim the waves. He’d done it. She resisted the urge to clap. Mom would’ve loved watching him, another confident, courageous soul.
Mom had stomped through puddles.
Honor hung back, worried about consequences.
Mom had gone boldly after love, spoken her desires aloud, and given her heart away again and again.
Honor secreted away her heart and her true desires.
With every risky new relationship, her mother seemed to forget the tears, the drink, and the therapy needed to get right after the last one had ended. Honor had never forgotten.
But when the winds of time had swept Mom’s fierce soul back into the never-never, as Mom had always called it, it hadn’t been her wild and crazy lifestyle that had caught up with her. No. She’d been hit by a car as she walked the streets of her quiet neighborhood.
One less brave and daring light in the world. And Honor felt the dark coldness of that extinguished warmth in her skin, her bones, her heart. Now anything that was wild and free and exciting felt like a call, a siren song to her soul.
Like the kiteboarder. The way he worked with the energy of the waves, wove himself among them even as he wrestled his second opponent, the wind. As she watched, her breath fanned out in hot sheets of white against the cool wind.
He must be so cold, but he didn’t show it.
Explosive and strong, he leapt with his kite into the wind. A thrill gripped her as he launched skyward. A moment later, he hit the waves, leaned his body almost flat against the roaring ocean as the sail jerked his arms straight.
He rode the waves steadily for a beat, and then the wind turned, snapped his kite, and yanked him backward.
Honor froze. The wind tossed him up, then beat him down against a black outcrop of rock. His strong body, suddenly flimsy and fragile, slipped from the rocks and under the waves.
Faster than thought, she broke from stillness and raced toward the ocean. She flung off her shoes, ripped her rain slicker over her head. Knee-deep in water, she stopped. Where was he? The sail bobbled against the waves, but where was he? Where?
His body, facedown. A wave rose up and crashed over him. He disappeared. She took two leaping steps and dove. Using muscles conditioned by years of swimming, she plunged under the beating waves and fought her way to him.
Salt water stung her nose, esophagus. Again and again, she felt the push, the ocean’s insistent, “Turn around.”
She kept going. Surfacing, she bobbed in the water, got her bearings. This was where she’d seen him go under.
Diving with her eyes open, she scanned. Green and gray, a surreal muted picture. Something dark, darker than the rest of the ocean. Him? Lungs burning, desperate for air, she swam closer and deeper.
No more death today. Please. Her ears muffled with pressure, she reached out and grasped the collar of his wetsuit, capturing a fistful of his hair in the process.
She pulled, arms straining. He came even with her, and she grasped under his armpits and kicked up. Her head angled as high as she could get it. Air. She needed to breathe.
The weight of him slowed her.
Let him go or die?
She couldn’t let go.
The edges of her vision began to dim. Too far. Not going to make it. She kicked harder. The glassy ceiling drew nearer. Please. So close.
With a huge gasp, she broke the surface. The kiteboarder was silent against her, his head bobbling in the surf. Heaving air, legs as insubstantial as seaweed, she rolled onto her back and kicked toward the shore.
What seemed long moments later, her butt hit the beach, and she gave an exhausted cry. Sweeping her feet under her, she crouch-pulled the kiteboarder onto the sand. Waves rolled into them, pushing. He was heavy.
“Let me help,” someone said.
Gratefully, she looked up to find an older, bald man. Together, they dragged the kiteboarder out of the waves and dropped him onto the rain-soaked sand. She started CPR.
The bystander, hovering beside her, said he’d called emergency services and apologized for the inadequacy of his lungs. Asthma.
No air to respond, she pushed on the kiteboarder’s chest. Drops of water slid across his handsome, too-pale face, but not one muscle twitched.
Please, please, please, she silently begged. Her knees ground in the wet sand as she pinched his nose, put her mouth over his, and forced air through her aching throat into his lifeless body. Crying now, begging God for intervention, she pushed again on his chest.
He convulsed once, hard enough to look like he’d been hit with electric paddles, coughed, and spit out water.
She helped him onto his side. He spit out more water. After another moment, he rolled onto his back, eyes closed, breathing heavily.
The bystander ran up the beach, waving to the EMT.
She’d done it. She’d saved a man’s life. His eyes stayed closed, and she brushed the sand from his neatly trimmed goatee, cheekbones, and lips. Her fingers lingered against those full lips. The most perfect shape, perfect feel.
He was beyond handsome with a muscular build that filled out his wetsuit like a superhero. Her mother would’ve declared him “good enough to eat.”
Lord. What was wrong with her?
His eyes popped open, blinked. Caught. She stared, still as a stone.
Deep hazel eyes ringed in the longest lashes she’d ever seen. For a moment, he seemed confused. His eyes turned to slits as if trying to puzzle something out. His lids rose, and his gaze cleared. “Silver eyes,” he said, smiling. “F**king beautiful.”
Before she could respond or figure out how to respond, emergency services arrived. They carried him up the beach to the waiting ambulance with her dragging behind, gathering her jacket and shoes as she followed.
Diana Muñoz Stewart is the award-winning romantic suspense author of the upcoming Bad Legacy series and the current Black Ops Confidential series, which includes I Am Justice, The Price of Grace, and The Cost of Honor (Sourcebooks). She lives in eastern Pennsylvania in an often chaotic and always welcoming home that—depending on the day—can include a husband, kids, extended family, friends, and a canine or two.
When not writing, Diana can be found kayaking, doing sprints up her long driveway—harder than it sounds—practicing yoga on her deck, or hiking with the man who’s had her heart since they were teens.
Links to Diana‘s Website, blog, books, etc.
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2m5lv7u
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**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Diana is giving away an ebook copy of Black Ops Confidential Book 1, I AM JUSTICE, and Book 2, THE PRICE OF GRACE, to one lucky reader of her Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog. Happy Reading!!
Thanks, Diana, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!