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THE PRICE OF GRACE
Black Ops Confidential Book 2
By DIANA MUNOZ STEWART
“Witty, dangerous, fun, and smoking hot.”
—CINDY DEES, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author for I Am Justice
Who can you trust
When family, truth, and love are all on the line?
Gracie Parish knows the true cost of trust. Rescued as a child by the infamous Parish family, she became a member of their covert sisterhood of vigilantes. Gracie saw her most precious relationships destroyed by secrecy. She learned long ago to protect her heart as well as her family’s secrets.
Special Agent Leif “Dusty” McAllister will do anything to uncover the truth about the Parish family’s covert operations. Dusty knows Gracie is his ticket in. He’ll use everything he’s got—fair, unfair, and just plain wrong—to break through her defenses. But the more he gets to know Gracie and her family’s mission, the harder he starts to fall. Neither one is sure they’ll get out of this with their lives—or their hearts—intact.
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
“Spellbinding, sizzling. Unsurpassed romantic suspense.”—Patricia Gussin, New York Timesbestselling author for I Am Justice
Note from Diana: In this excerpt from THE PRICE OF GRACE, Gracie Parish is on one of her family’s vigilante operations trying to break into the home of a sex-slaver. Her brother and his friend, Victor, are driving the car up to the gate of the compound, posing as live male/male “entertainers.” Hidden inside a secret compartment in the backseat, Gracie is stuck when a firefight erupts.
In steps the male lead, Leif “Dusty” McAllister. Dusty is undercover for the FBI, pretending to help Gracie’s brother Tony Parish by working as his inside-man at the sex-slaver’s compound. Dusty is really trying to uncover the Parish family’s vigilante activities. FYI: Gracie is dressed as a live “entertainer’ herself as a better-than-nothing costume in case she is caught.
This is the meet cute between Dusty and Gracie outside a sex-slaver’s compound in Mexico.
There was no way Gracie could stay trapped inside this sweaty can of a space for one more fudgin’ minute.
Justice’s voice came through her headset again. “Gracie. They’re in. They’re—”
An alarm sounded. Her heart sped up—way up. It outpaced a Ducati. She needed out of this hidey-hole now.
Her sweaty, numb fingers flip-flapped against the metal escape lever like a fish on the deck of a ship.
The pop, pop, pop of Justice’s gun came through her headset before it clicked off. Why was Justice shooting? Did it have anything to do with the alarm?
This never would’ve happened if she’d still been with John. She’d probably be a soccer mom, have a garden and soft moments.
Okay, stop, Gracie. Focus on squeezing that metal between your fingers. Not regret. Not the man you lost. Not the child you had to let go.
Easier said—thought and repeated again and again—than done. She thought of John all the time. And their son. Tyler. At work. At rest. At play. And now. Here in this sweaty, uncomfortable, uncertain place. Because she was afraid. And her biggest regret was losing them.
Stay calm. Hard enough to breathe squeezed inside the metal curve of this seat. Her fingers cramped, her wrist angled back, she grasped at the latch, pulled. The muscles in her wrist yelped. The spring gave with a dull click.
Breathing heavily, she pushed against the padding. The seat cracked open then stopped dead. Fudge buckets.
More shots. Close. Someone fired from behind the car. Someone used the car for cover. Someone fired at her sister. At Justice. Whoever was shooting at her sister was so dead.
She angled her knee to aid her pushing hand. The seat began to give way.
Hopefully, Justice would keep whoever was firing too busy to peer through the heavily tinted windows into the car’s interior.
The car door opened. “Let me help you there, Gracie.”
She flinched, banged her head. Ouch. Southern Accent? Southern Accent and he knew her name? What the hell was going on?
The car shifted. Guy must be big. There was a creak, and the seat was yanked open.
Air. She sucked it in, turned and pulled her shoulders loose. Freed. She sat up and blinked at fresh air and man.
Uhm. Oh. She stared straight into the startled face of way-too-handsome. Sunset-brown hair topped by a USA ball cap, a big, easy grin defined by the persistent crease of overused dimples, labor-tan skin, and the sexiest nose she’d ever seen. A roughly carved block, his nose added challenge and strength to a sun-rugged portrait.
Her heartbeat skittered between the dread of tense alarm and the uncertainty of unexpected arousal. Her skin heated to a temperature rarely seen outside a volcano. Of course.
The sensitivity in her body painted every emotion upon her skin in hues of red. From pleased pink to rust-colored anger to chili-red lust. Didn’t matter if it was an insult, compliment, or an unexpected sexual attraction that hit her like a bomb, the result was clear on her face.
Top most embarrassing moment, please take a step down.
His eyes bounced along her body. The red-velvet bra. The matching thong. The ruby piercing snuggled in her bellybutton. The tattoo along her right side—a woman’s long, elegant hand curved with vicious scarlet nails, clutching an enchanted apple, holding it out, as if implicitly offering it to the person now consuming her body.
Consuming her body with eyes of thickest amber, eyes drunk on sun, sex, sand, and Southern Comfort.
The heat from his gaze reached out and licked her. Every inch of her grew hotter. Her face. Her hands. Between her breasts. Lower.
The man reached down blindly, groped and found his two-way.
He lifted the two-way to his mouth but spoke to her before he spoke into it. “Darlin’, don’t be upset by this. I’m on your side. Trust me.”
He clicked the radio on. In Spanish, he gave instructions for his men to go out and hunt Justice. He clicked off.
Don’t be upset? Did the man realize that was her sister? Teeth clenched, she reached down and extracted her gun from the hidden compartment. She aimed at him.
A muscle along his thumb twitched, but he kept his Glock 19 down, smiled.
He smiled? Was he trying not to laugh? Oh, buddy, let’s see how quickly I can wipe that smile off your face.
“No. No,” he said, clearly reading her intent from her furious face. “Don’t shoot. I’m working with Tony. I had to send those men so Walid wouldn’t suspect us.”
Tony? “My brother never mentioned you. And you just sacrificed my sister so Walid, a sex-trafficking supervillain, won’t suspect you?”
Her finger tensed around the trigger.
He shook his head. Smile gone. His gun hand remained down. Smart. “I did that so Tony still has a chance. And your sister is good. Honest. Those guys can’t shoot. No fooling. One of them shot himself in the foot trying to take his gun out two months ago.”
“Gracie?” Justice’s strained voice came through her headset.
Gracie clicked her mic on with a flick of her jaw. “Go. I’ve got American Ninja Warrior.”
He did smile at that. “I’m Agent Leif McAllister. FBI.”
FBI? Nuts and bolts. The email. The email she’d sent via a secure site to the FBI. The one she’d sent when Tyler was sick and she was helpless to go to him and it all seemed Momma’s fault. The stupid email that proved her a traitor to the family and Momma’s secret society, the League of Warrior Women. She swallowed a wave of panic. “FBI? In Mexico?”
“Yeah, well, I’m sort of off duty right now. No need for the agent part, actually. Just thought that would make you more comfortable. My friends call me Dusty.”
“Been told I could talk a stone to dust.” He reached out with his free hand. “I’m going to help you out of here. Okay?”
“You touch me and I will shoot.”
His hand dropped. Good. Nothing like getting the boundaries set from the get-go.
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/2kM4b7c
B & N: https://bit.ly/32DFlqZ
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