DEADLY BETRAYAL (Deadly Vices, Book Three)
Release Date: July 21, 2014
An Afghan woman’s rights activist with a dark secret.
Azita Seraj, doctor and women’s rights activist in Afghanistan, is horrified to learn that her late husband’s brother, Khalid Mullazai, is giving his eleven-year-old niece to a militant warlord. Desperate to save the girl, she reaches out to the only hope she has: an American soldier she treated several years earlier for a near-fatal gunshot wound. A wound he received in an ambush she’d unwittingly initiated. Can she enlist his aid and still keep secret her betrayal?
An American soldier searching for answers.
Kaden Christiansen never forgot the beautiful Afghan doctor who saved his life, and when he receives her cry for help, he doesn’t hesitate. He relishes the opportunity to see Azita again, and being in-country will give him a chance to hunt down the person responsible for the ambush that left one of his men dead.
A deadly conspiracy that threatens them both...
Pursued by Mullazai and the warlord’s fighters as they travel across the country disguised and posing as a married couple, Kaden and Azita begin to fall for their own act and for each other. But Kaden senses that Azita is holding back. Is the reason their cultural differences, or something darker?
Two years ago
Afghanistan, on the outskirts of Kabul
“Suck it up, guys!” Staff Sergeant Kaden Christiansen called to his men as they hopped out of the jeep grumbling. In an hour, the sun would be setting over Kabul, but the temperature was still flirting with ninety-five. Heat shimmered in the dust rising off the dirt road and sweat dripped down Kaden’s back under his type IV personal body armor, the highest level of protection offered by the good old U. S. of A.
As Delta Force operators, Kaden and his men usually strove to blend in with the locals. Today, however, at Captain Hainey’s insistence, they’d forgone the traditional Afghan white top and loose pants known as shalwar kameez] and were wearing the standard digital camo, boots, and helmets favored by American troops. They looked military, but there wasn’t an insignia or nametag in sight.
Their orders today were to babysit a medicine-for-information exchange. Kaden didn’t understand why the fuck the captain needed a Delta Force unit to oversee an op a team of grunts could easily handle. Talk about overkill.
But orders were orders.
Kaden quickly assigned tasks. “Hoffman and Sanchez, take point. Cooper and Lynch, you’ve got rear guard. Reynard, you carry the meds.”
Jake Reynard, the unit’s newest member, shot him a dirty look. “When you gonna stop hiding me under your wing, Sergeant?”
“When I know for sure you can fly.” Kaden tapped the kid on the back of the head. Jake was twenty-three, the same age Kaden’s little brother Thomas would have been now. A pang spiked him in the chest. “Stay close,” he said, his voice gruff with regret.
Hefting the crate onto his shoulders, Jake rolled his eyes. “You got it, Sergeant.” Jake’s coloring was similar to Thomas’s, and when he made a face the way he’d just done, the resemblance to his brother was striking. More than that, there was a hollowness in Jake’s eyes, the same one Thomas had had after… Yeah. Every time Kaden saw it, it killed him.
Shaking off the memories, Kaden ordered his team forward. In formation, they tramped through the pitted streets of Kabul’s Old City district until they reached the designated drop location. They were meeting up with a warlord named Rashid Abdullah. The man would give them some credible intel on the Taliban, and in return, he’d receive the crate of medicines for his village. The medicine was the only reason Kaden hadn’t made more of a stink with the captain. Well, that and the fact that as a rule, Kaden trusted the man and followed his orders.
When they arrived, Kaden took in the sad scene before him. This neighborhood had suffered; the devastation spanned nearly an entire block, every building leveled. Mud bricks mixed with scraps of clothing, broken dishes, shattered furniture, and rusty brown spots he was sure were the bloody remnants of a Taliban attack during the previous year. He surveyed the surrounding buildings, and his neck began to prickle.
“Eyes open, men,” he ordered.
“Something wrong, Sergeant?” Hoffman asked from his position several yards ahead.
“Nothing I can put my finger on.”
Sanchez shuddered. “Place gives me the fucking creeps.”
There was movement up ahead behind a mound of rubble. The warlord and his men. “Let’s get this over with,” Kaden said. Hitching up his weapon, he began to walk.
The men stayed in formation, providing three-hundred-and-sixty degree cover to their unit. Kaden loved how in sync they were. A well-oiled killing machine, all of them topnotch marksmen. He’d never had a better bunch of guys under his command. Twenty feet from the warlord and his fighters, Kaden gave the order to halt.
“Confirm the deal,” he said to Jake.
“What do you have for us?” Jake asked in perfect Pashto. How the guy had earned his language skills was a story in and of itself. He’d passed all the psychological and physical tests the Delta Force recruiters had thrown at him, but what Jake had been through in the year before becoming an operator would have broken most other men.
Rashid Abdullah shook his head. “Show me the goods first.”
Jake translated for Kaden. Although his Pashto wasn’t as good as Jake’s, Kaden understood the warlord’s rudimentary request. Pretending ignorance was part of the act. It gave Kaden a chance to think before answering, and it always put the other man at ease, made him feel in control.
“Tell him no. He gives us the intel or we leave.”
Jake relayed the message. The warlord’s face darkened and he took several steps closer, his fighters all tightening their grips on their weapons. Sanchez and Hoffman did the same, pointing their MP5s at the warlord’s chest. The man froze and raised his hands. Then he called one of his men forward. The fighter approached, carrying a duffel bag, which he set on the ground midway between Jake and the warlord. The warlord pointed to the bag. “It’s all in there. Just as the captain asked.”
Simultaneously, Kaden’s entire unit took several large steps back. What the fuck was in the bag? Kaden’s neck prickled so much, burrs might as well have been under his armor. They were supposed to receive verbal intelligence, not a bag of God knew what. Did the warlord plan on becoming become a martyr today?
Jake cut Kaden a questioning glance, one he didn’t know how to answer. Deliver the meds, or listen to his instincts? His gut screamed that they needed to haul ass and get the fuck out of there.
Something glinted on the roof of a decrepit three-story two-hundred-and-fifty yards away, and adrenaline flooded Kaden’s system. Shielding his eyes from the setting sun, he spotted the source: sunlight bouncing off a rifle’s scope.
I fucking knew it. “Down. Get down!” he shouted as he dove at Jake.
Everything slowed, milliseconds stretching into minutes. He heard the crack of a bullet as he lunged into the air. He didn’t know where the bullet was headed, but he knew one thing: he wouldn’t let it hit Jake.
Something stabbed him under the arm and seared through his chest. He collided with Jake, sending them both to the ground. The crate fell from Jake’s arms and the contents spilled out. Not meds at all.
M16s, dozens of them.
Kaden lay face first on the ground, amid an eruption of chaos. He tried to focus, but the shouts of his men and their frantic movements faded and dimmed. Dirt clogged his nose and mouth, every breath pure agony.
Goddamn it. He was going to die for a fucking crate of guns.
“Sergeant, you hit?” Jake crawled out from under him and flipped him onto his back. “Oh shit, oh shit! Jesus. Fuck. Blood’s coming out of his mouth.”
The men closed ranks around them, raining a hail of gunfire on their enemies as Kaden gasped for air. There was a scream, and then a patch of sky came into view where Sanchez had been. Something warm and wet splattered across Kaden’s face.
“Sanchez!” Jake shouted.
Kaden tried to clear the dust and stickiness out of his eyes. He had to get up, protect his men. Protect Jake. But his body was dead weight.
The sniper, he had to tell them about the sniper.
Jake started arguing with someone female, a voice Kaden didn’t recognize. Was he speaking Dari? Kaden’s head spun and spots dotted his vision. He tried to blink them away. Who put the fucking elephant on his chest?
A face appeared in his fading vision. A beautiful woman with eyes like the bluest sky and lips red as rubies. “Am I dead?” he asked her.Concern in her eyes, she touched his face. Was she an angel? Christ, he hoped so. But with his luck, she was probably the devil in disguise.
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Catch up on my award-winning DEADLY VICES series before the launch of book three, DEADLY BETRAYAL on July 21st!
DEADLY OBSESSION - 4.4 stars on 107 reviews
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DEADLY ADDICTION - 4.8 stars on 39 reviews
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Award-winning author Kristine Cayne is fascinated by the mysteries of human psychology—twisted secrets, deep-seated beliefs, out-of-control desires. Add in high-stakes scenarios and real-world villains, and you have a story worth writing, and reading.
Kristine’s heroes and heroines are pitted against each other by their radically opposing life experiences. By overcoming their differences and finding common ground, they triumph over their enemies and find true happiness in each other’s arms.
Today she lives in the Pacific Northwest, thriving on the mix of cultures, languages, religions and ideologies. When she’s not writing, she’s people-watching, imagining entire life stories, and inventing all sorts of danger for the unsuspecting heroes and heroines who cross her path.
To learn more about Kristine and her stories, visit her website: www.kristinecayne.com
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