L.O.S.T., Book 1
When you have no alternative, then you call in L.O.S.T. Because with the Last Option Special Team, it’s do or die. . . .
It’s Jax Cassidy’s first mission for L.O.S.T.—one that will give the former cop who went rogue a chance to prove herself. Her assignment: gain the trust of assassin Marcus Cross . . . eliminate him . . . then take down Marcus’s mentor, Joseph Lazarus, a man with a bold eye on the White House. But the woman who’s known by her team for being a femme fatale succumbs to passion, only to discover Cross’s deadly secret. He’s a vampire, and Joseph Lazarus is his creator.
Left for dead by his platoon in the violent hills of Afghanistan, Special Ops sniper Marcus Cross was given a second chance at life. His newly heightened skills make him the perfect killing machine, and as Lazarus’s right-hand man, he’s quickly rising to the top of his dark empire, purging enemies with speed and precision. Only when dangerous beauty Jax Cassidy is sent to bring him in does he begin to question Lazarus’s motives and his own actions. But when Jax’s life is threatened by the one thing that can destroy them both, Marcus must make a bitter choice—her death or his.
Read an Excerpt
Baltimore City Courthouse
Sally port prisoner transfer section
Irony was one fickle, messed-up bitch, Angela thought. A year and a half ago she was the fair-haired darling of Charm City. Baltimore’s hottest get-the-hell-out-of-my-way-I’m-going-to-the-top cop. Today, in the icy rain that bit at her skin like shotgun spray, two female deputies escorted her, hobbled and cuffed, clad in prison orange, from her courthouse holding cell into the sally port.
The anger she’d kept tamped down since her assault, subsequent arrest, and trial—even when that asshole prosecutor had twisted the facts and her sergeant had trashed her on the witness stand—finally erupted. Yeah, she’d made it too damn easy for them. It was a given there was no honor among the criminals she’d spent most of her adult life putting behind bars. You never trusted them. Never turned your back and never gave them an opportunity to do you. Never had she thought her squad would betray her in such a vicious, public way as they had. If you couldn’t trust your partner, who the hell could you trust?
How the hell had she let this happen? She hadn’t let this happen. Her squad had sold her out. And what had happened afterward? She clenched her jaw, grinding her teeth. She was only human, and, in the end, justice had been served. The price? Her freedom.
Involuntarily, she jerked against the hands grasping her biceps and shivered as a harsh jag of frigid air slapped her in the face. She was going away for life with no chance of parole for at least two decades. Mild hysteria began to seep into her pores. Soon, it would sink deeper into her muscles, then her bones and her organs, before it ate her up. Her chest rose and fell in quick, harsh puffs. She felt like she was walking a gangplank, the shark-infested waters below swirling, churning—waiting.
Angela expelled a long breath into the cold air and watched it curl, then disappear when another harsh blast of air caught it, immediately turning it into nothingness. She refused to become nothing. She was tough. She could handle prison, even though she wasn’t going to get the preferential treatment she had received in the Women’s Detention Center here in the city. She was a trained professional. It was the damn cell, that eight-by-eight space that caused her more concern than a shank-carrying inmate who wanted some fresh meat for the night. Ange hated small spaces. As a little girl, her cousin had locked her in an old refrigerator in the abandoned field behind her house. She’d panicked, her screams for help unheard. She’d woken up in the arms of a policeman. He’d smiled and told her she was going to be OK. She’d known then what she wanted to be when she grew up.
Now she was going to prison and probably never coming out. She was glad her mother had died before Angela had been sentenced. Her dad? Long gone. He didn’t matter. How could he, when she and her mom had never mattered to him?
Angela balked, the muscles in her arms and neck tightening. The guards yanked her along, and this time she offered no resistance, not even when she heard a bus engine roar to life. Inhaling the cold air deeply into the warmth of her lungs, she exhaled it slowly, refusing to watch it disappear without a trace.
She blinked against the shards of rain, wanting, despite the foul weather, to stand in it rather then step on that bus. The bus to Jessup. The bus to the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. The bus to hell.
Angela shook her head, forcing herself not to focus on what was ahead of her. But as one thought hijacked another, she came full circle, thinking what a cluster fuck her life had become. And there wasn’t a damn thing she could do to change it. Not now. Not ever.
“Giacomelli, I hope you have some friends over at Jessup. If you don’t, make some fast,” Deputy Alvarez said as she steered Angela toward the bus. “Those girls in Jessup are gonna want a piece of you the minute they find out you’re in the house.”
Angela’s head snapped back and she looked Alvarez straight in the eye, nearly tripping in the short shackles. Alvarez tightened her grip, as did the other guard. “They’ll have to get to me first,” Angela said. And she knew they would. Eventually.
“I can’t believe I’m hauling you off for murder one, Giacomelli,” Alvarez rambled. “I thought you were a lot smarter than that.”
“Yeah, well, walk a mile in my shoes.”
Alvarez shook her head and tsked tsked like Angela was some kid who’d gotten caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
“Fuck you, Alvarez.”
Smyth, the other guard, grunted and tightened her grip on Angela’s arm. “You think that mouth of yours is going to keep the boogeyman away?” Smyth shook her head. Pity radiated from her deep hazel eyes. “I’m scared for you, Giacomelli.”
“Don’t waste the energy, Smyth.” Angela threw her shoulders back, commanding herself to show no fear. Where she was going, the predators fed on fear. When word got out who she was and what she’d done, she’d be an instant target. And even though she’d be housed away from the general populace, they could still get to her. And she’d be ready.
She’d get no help from her ex-colleagues. Not after all the dirt that had come out during the trial. They were funny that way. Back in the day, when cops had been allowed to be cops and not PC pansies, the blue shield had protected its own even at a cost to the rank and file. Now? Every prick in the department walked the PC line. The thugs ruled the streets and the cops were screwed, with their hands tied behind their backs.
Just as she’d been totally screwed by that pimp, human trafficker, and all-around piece of shit, Carlos Montes. And her backup? Nowhere to be found. They should have been there, but they hadn’t been. When she’d gone after her sergeant and her partner for answers, they’d had none. And then the shit had really hit the fan. There was no love lost between ex-cop, now convicted felon Angela Giacomelli and BCPD.
Angela let out a long, pensive breath as a sudden wave of guilt, laced with self-directed anger, washed over her. Not for what she’d done. Not because she’d made it easy for them to send her to prison for the rest of her life. But that in the end, she had let down her mom, the only person who had loved her unconditionally. It was her only regret in life.
“C’mon,” Alvarez grumbled, yanking her along. Angela ignored her, keeping her steps deliberately slow, almost casual. She’d get on the damn bus when she got there: in her time. The guard leveled her black eyes on Angela and paused in her step, causing the other guard to yank her forward as if she’d been a rope in a tug-of-war. “You’re not my only prisoner, and just because you used to wear a uniform doesn’t give you special treatment.”
“Where’s the love, Juanita?”
“I got no love for felons.”
Angela smirked. “Yeah? What if that slimeball Montes sold your little girl to the highest bidder?”
Juanita shook her head, refusing to answer. But Angela saw the fury spark in her dark eyes. Alvarez could act like a holy roller, but in the end, she’d do what she had to do, badge or not. Just like Angela had.
“Don’t tell me when he skipped away free as a bird you’d be OK with that.”
“God will be his ultimate judge.”
“God works too slow for me.”
“He might work slow, but His vengeance is mighty. You’ll have lots of time to read all about Him where you’re going.”
“Great, can’t wait,” Angela muttered as she was pushed toward the correctional officer standing like a brick wall in front of the open doors to the prison transport. She met his piercing eyes, staring back unwaveringly. She took exception to the calculating glare in his eyes. “You have something to say to me, Officer?” Angela challenged.
A slow half smile twisted his lips. He towered over her five-foot-five-inch frame. Not many men intimidated her, but this one? Maybe. Just a little. He was broad and muscular, and there was something primal about him that made her very aware she was a woman. He looked around to make sure no one of significance was watching and leaned a little toward her. “What if I do?” he taunted.
“Get me out of this hardware and I’ll teach you to keep that mouth of yours shut.”
“End it, Giacomelli,” Alvarez said, pushing her forward. Angela stumbled, the hobble giving her barely a six-inch step, and slammed into the wall of the guard’s chest. He grabbed her shoulders to steady her. She jerked out of his grasp and hissed.
“Don’t touch me!”
Doing the opposite, he spun her around and slammed her, face-first, against the side of the bus. Pressing his big body against her, his fist bore into the small of her back. Angela gritted her teeth and closed her eyes, suddenly feeling suffocated and weak at the knees. Since her assault, she could not stand to be touched by anyone, especially a man.
“You have no rights, prisoner,” he softly said against her ear. “I’m bigger and badder than you, so you decide now how you want this to go down.”
“Let. Go. Of. Me,” she ground out.
“Are you going to play nice?”
“Let go and find out.”
He chuckled, but damned if he didn’t back off, yanking her with him. He spun her back around. Angela caught the surprised look on Alvarez’s and Smyth’s faces. While an unruly prisoner was often at the mercy of the guards, this type of conduct was what lawsuits were made of. Yet they did nothing to stop the guard’s behavior. She glanced at them with a sneer, then looked up at the brute. “So you get off roughing up helpless women?”
He threw his head back and laughed in genuine humor. “There is nothing helpless about you.”