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Monday, August 26, 2013

Futuristic Shifter Romance Burns Hot!

In a futuristic world where shifters keep their friends close and their enemies closer, passion flares hot and sweet.
Buy Link: Amazon
Buy Link: All Romance E-Books

In a futuristic California that’s almost out of resources, Max leads a double life. A Russian wolf-shifter, he heads up the State of California as its governor—and the shifter underground. He took on the governorship to help his people. Threatened with genocide, many shifters have gone into hiding. Some blame Max and the underground for their plight, rather than the governmental edict that’s meant death for so many.

Audrey works for Max. Unlike most humans with low levels of shifter blood who bless their lucky stars they avoided the purge, she wants to be a shifter. If she could find a way to finesse it, she’d quit her job in a heartbeat and go to work helping the shifter underground. The only sticking point is Max. She’s been half in love with him forever.

Against a dog-eat-dog political backdrop where no one knows who their allies are, Max and Audrey spar with one another. Max fears she’s part of the group trying to kill him. Audrey has no idea about Max’s double identity and worries she won’t be able to walk away from their fiery attraction to help the underground.

After a second attempt on his life, Max faces critical choices. Should he follow his head or his heart?
…Loren double parked the electric car outside the restaurant and shadowed them inside, along with the redheaded guard. “Looks pretty good.” Loren eyed the private, sound-shielded room. “I’ll be right outside, and John will be here, too, just as soon as he takes care of the car.”
“Once reinforcements arrive, feel free to go hunt for your men,” Max said. “You must be worried about them.”
“Thanks, boss. I am. Go sit down. I’ll scare up a waiter to at least get you a bottle of wine or something. John’s going off-shift in an hour, so there will be two new guards outside when you’re done eating.”
“Thanks for letting me know.” Max pulled the door shut and walked to the table. Audrey had already seated herself and was sorting through the stack of papers, arranging them into piles. “It’s all right if you don’t work for a few moments,” he said, taking a seat across from her.
“It’s better if I have something to, uh, take my mind off what happened. You asked if I’d gotten a chance to practice with the gun. The answer is yes. My brother sort of smuggled me into the cop shop gun range in the middle of the night a couple of times. But I’ve never been around anybody who was dead.” Her voice cracked. He saw her swallow hard. Max’s estimation of her edged up a few notches. Audrey was one tough cookie, even though she might not realize it. Most women would have dissolved into hysterics.
“You did fine. Good thinking to be in front of the elevator door with your gun.”
“Really?” She met his gaze with lovely hazel eyes that were shading toward green at the moment and rested her chin on an upraised hand. “I wasn’t certain what to do. I thought I should call the elevator back, but I didn’t want to subvert whatever you were doing. Then I wondered if I should take the stairs to a lower floor, but that wouldn’t have helped if you were still in the elevator… Ach.” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t mind me. I’m babbling.”
“You did fine,” he repeated just as the door opened, and a waiter swooped in with a silver bucket holding a wine bottle and two glasses.
“Good evening, sir and madam.” The waiter bowed slightly. He was in his fifties with a bald head and merry blue eyes. “The gentleman outside thought you could do with a spot of something relaxing. How does a cabernet strike you? If you’d rather have something different, I haven’t opened it yet.”
“I’m sure it will be fine.” Max held out a hand for the bottle and inspected the label. “What’s on the menu tonight?”
The waiter rattled off a series of dishes while he opened the wine. Max glanced at Audrey. “What sounds good to you?”
She smiled warmly. “I’m used to whatever my ration coupons will buy. If it’s not too expensive, I’d love to have a steak.”
“How would madam like it cooked?” the waiter inquired, arching a brow. He poured a jot of wine into a glass and handed it to Max.
“Salad and rice or potatoes?”
“Salad and potatoes, please.”
“I’ll have the same,” Max cut in and took a sip of what was a very good wine. Rich and oaky, it had an enticing bouquet. “The wine is perfect,” he told the waiter, who immediately poured some into a glass for Audrey and added more to Max’s.
“This is really quite wonderful,” Audrey said once the waiter left. “Everything. Not just the wine. I can’t remember the last time I ate out at anything but one of those diners where I flash my wrist computer at the glass cases, and it debits credits from my account.”
“Enjoy it.” Max smiled. “You deserve to be pampered after what happened. I can still barely believe…” His voice trailed off. He needed to be careful not to say too much. “Um, what’s in those documents that’s so important?”
She leaned toward him. Her scent was even more intoxicating than the wine. He caught himself inhaling deeply and pulled away, aware of a pressure against his trousers where he was suddenly hard.
Audrey wriggled in her seat. She bit her lower lip and blew out a tense breath. Finally, she lowered her voice and murmured, “I probably shouldn’t do this, but I need to be honest with you. It’s all in my employment records anyway, but since I was here long before you were governor, well, you may not have looked at them… Cripes! I’m blathering like an idiot.”
“Whatever it is, just go ahead and tell me.” Max felt oddly protective toward her, though he didn’t understand quite why. Worse, the moment his cock had gotten hard, his wolf had begun a steady patter of lewd side remarks that made Max want to throttle him.
“There’s no easy way to do this,” she went on, her knuckles so white against the wineglass, Max hoped it wouldn’t shatter from the pressure. “If you decide I can’t work for you afterward, well…” she set down the stemware and spread her hands in front of her. “Not much I can do about it. I have shifter blood. Roughly 35 percent. Some of my relatives have been killed in this purge, so I’m not the most ardent supporter of the governmental edicts to round up shifters and imprison them.”
She sucked in a ragged breath and raised her gaze so she looked right at him. A combination of defiance and pleading etched fine lines around her eyes.
“Miss Westen. Audrey. I’m not going to fire you. It’s all right. Thank you, for trusting me.” Deep inside, Max felt the wolf push him to say more, to tell her about the serum. To offer it up, for God’s sake. He resisted. “You told me that for a reason. I assume it’s related to the documents. Could you walk me through what’s in them?”
She nodded. “Sure. It’s intel about something called the shifter underground.” Her eyes flashed. “Frankly, now that I know about them, I’m on their side, but don’t worry, I wouldn’t ever say that publicly.”
Max listened as she relayed the story he’d lived for the past couple of days. Everything was there, including the serum that pushed cops with a low percentage of shifter blood into full-blown shifters. Before the series of intravenous infusions that law enforcement had forced on their elite tracker task forces, a person needed 50 percent shifter blood to morph into their bond animal. After the infusions, 10 percent was sufficient. Max had gotten unutterably excited by the prospect of thousands of new shifters to swell their ranks and perhaps turn the tide of the war in their favor.
Another set of nationwide reports detailed those same cops betraying their oaths and going rogue. Predictions about anarchy ran wild. By the time Audrey was finished, Max was ecstatic, but he couldn’t let it show. Everything he’d assumed would happen was playing itself out like a well-oiled machine. He couldn’t wait to let the underground know.
“Well?” Audrey raised her gaze from the stack of papers and gathered them together.
“Interesting material. I understand why it was classified top secret.” Max tried for a neutral expression. Just because she’d confided in him was no reason to let his guard down.
The door to their private dining room opened. The waiter pushed a cart laden with wonderful smelling dishes. Max’s mouth watered. He hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was pushing nine at night. For the moment, his sexual hunger receded, and he tucked into a succulent, barely cooked piece of meat.
“Where do they get this?” she asked, cutting into her steak and chewing slowly. “None of the shops where I exchange my ration coupons ever have anything but ground or processed meat products.”
“There’s a black market,” he replied around a mouthful of salad.
Her brows drew together. “So it’s real,” she muttered. “I never paid much attention.” Her mouth curved into a smile. She set down her fork and knife. “It’s so good, I feel like I should save what’s left and take it home. I’ve already eaten far more than I usually do.”
“I can ask the waiter to box it up for you.”
“That would be wonderful. Thank you.” She glanced at him shyly through long, dusky lashes. “You’ve taken the worst day of my life and turned it into something special.”
He wanted to move to her side of the table and gather her into his arms. Not only was Audrey one of the most stunning women he’d ever seen, she was level-headed and seemingly oblivious to how gorgeous she was. Max put himself on a tight leash. He had bigger problems to attend to than his non-existent love life. At least so far, Audrey hadn’t asked about O’Hare’s accusations in the elevator. Christ! Maybe she thought he was tossing the shifter epithet at her.
Max nodded to himself. It made sense. Likely, that was why she’d fessed up about her shifter blood.
“Penny for your thoughts, boss?” She focused her alluring hazel gaze on him. In the low light, her eyes held a violet cast.
“Nothing. Are you about ready to head home?”
She nodded. “I suppose we should. Tomorrow morning will come around early.”
He laughed. “Right you are, Miss Westen. It always does. It’s all right with me if you take a few hours off—”
She waved him to silence. “Nothing happening at home. The neighborhood’s gone to hell. I can’t even go out for a walk anymore. All I do is sit barricaded behind a bunch of deadbolts.”
Part of him wanted to bring her home with him, to his uptown mansion where she’d have gated grounds to roam. He cleared his throat before something untoward slipped out. “Let me find the waiter.” He realized he was still hard and pulled his jacket around to shield the evidence as best he could.
As if the waiter had been waiting right outside and could read his mind, the door opened before Max had gotten up. “Would sir and madam like anything else? A touch of dessert perhaps?”
“You can box up the rest of the lady’s meal,” Max said. “You wouldn’t happen to have that delectable chocolate mousse?”
The waiter’s mouth formed an apologetic moue. “Not tonight, sir. We have lemon cheesecake, a cheese and fruit plate with brandy, or ice cream.”
“Does any of that sound good?” Max glanced at Audrey. Her eyes were wide with delight.
“Oooooh, it all sounds wonderful. I can’t even remember the last time I had real ice cream. That frozen crap they sell nowadays doesn’t even have any dairy products in it.”
“Could you bring us a sampler plate with a little of everything?” Max asked.
“Of course. Coming right up.” The waiter snatched their plates and left.
“Not that I wouldn’t love something sweet,” she said a bit wistfully, “but I thought we’d decided it was late and—”
Max kicked himself. They had decided that—sort of. He was enjoying himself, and he didn’t want the evening to end, but that wasn’t the sort of thing he could—or should—say to his secretary. He shrugged. “You seem to finally be relaxing. After what happened at the office, you deserve a little R and R. You really can come in an hour or two later tomorrow.”
Her gaze softened. “Thank you.”


Monday, August 5, 2013

Intense Romantic Suspense+Wolf Shifters = Secrets, Danger, Intrigue

Buy Link: Liquid Silver Books
Buy Link: Amazon
Buy Link: All Romance E-books

Amazon Top 100 Bestseller in:
Paranormal Romance
Romantic Suspense
Fantasy/Futuristic Romance

Keeping secrets is Miranda’s job. The biggest of which is the fact that she’s not entirely human. But being a wolf shifter comes in handy when you’re an agent for The Company. Secrets, danger, and international intrigue will keep you turning the pages of this hot, new romance.

As an agent for an international security firm, Miranda has her hands full. Between secretly lusting after her boss, Garen, and making sure the dirty little secret about her double life as a wolf shifter remains hidden, she’s still a virgin at nearly thirty.

 Sent to eliminate the head of a human trafficking organization in Amsterdam, she barely escapes with her life. Injured, frightened, and under attack the second her private jet lands in the U.S., she doesn’t know where to turn.

 Garen’s been watching Miranda just as surreptitiously as she’s been eying him. Unfortunately, the fact that she works for him is a showstopper. Plus, Garen has a few secrets of his own that have kept him single. He’s frantic once he discovers his oldest friend is besotted with Miranda too. When she insists on heading up a covert operation, he’s worried sick but can’t come up with a plausible reason to stop her.

Miranda’s life is on the line. Will Garen risk exposure to save her?

Chapter 1
   The Gulfstream G280 shuddered as it banked hard right. Miranda Miller pushed one of the window blinds aside; it was black as pitch outside the aircraft. She felt like warmed-over crap. Her mouth tasted sour; her eyes were hot and gritty. She rubbed them and tallied how long it had been since she’d slept. At least two days. She reached for a Styrofoam cup in its no-spill metal holder, sloshed cold coffee around her mouth, and swallowed.
   Her headset hummed. “Wakey, wakey, fraulein,” a heavily accented German voice rumbled. “We land at JFK as soon as the tower clears us.”
   “What?” Fear sliced through her fatigue. “I told you we needed a smaller airport.”
   “Sorry, fraulein. This one was closest. We are below recommended minimums on fuel.”
   She considered asking the pilot why he hadn’t planned better but decided not to antagonize him. It was bad enough they were flying without a copilot—probably against FAA regulations. She had a dummied-up commercial pilot’s license tucked in her wallet under one of her many assumed names. Hopefully it matched the one on her phony passport. She hadn’t had time to check. If it came down to it, she’d been instructed to tell the tower she’d copiloted the flight.
   “I need you to move into the cockpit, fraulein.”
   “Alrighty. Give me a minute.”
   “You do not have much more than that. I do not wish further difficulties with the U.S. authorities.”
   Miranda wondered just what other problems the pilot might be referring to. She almost asked him, and then decided she didn’t really care. Her international security company engaged professionals. Most of them came from either the military or law enforcement and had checkered pasts. She unbuckled her seat belt and stumbled to her feet. Her crumpled, black pantsuit stank, but maybe only to her lycan senses. She hoped humans wouldn’t be able to smell stale blood and sweat. Her body ached, especially her ribs where her target had slammed a lead pipe into her. She fingered her side and wondered if anything was broken. Not much you could do for ribs. They had to mend on their own.
   A few steps took her to the tiny head in the rear of the aircraft. She splashed cold water on her face and winced when she took a good look at her scraped knuckles. Her target in Amsterdam—head of a worldwide human trafficking organization—had been much harder to eliminate than she’d expected. She’d needed her supernatural speed and strength—and her wolf form. One more face-dunking in cold water and she grabbed a towel to dry herself.
   “Now, fraulein.” The jet shuddered again as its landing gear clicked into place.
   The pilot sounded so panicked she rushed down the aisle and pulled open the cockpit door. He grabbed her arm and nearly threw her into the empty seat. “Watch it!” she snapped; her upper lip pulled into a snarl. Claws pressed against the ends of her fingertips. Miranda struggled for control. Her wolf wanted to kill the human who’d manhandled her.
   “Sorry.” The pilot’s voice was mild. She recognized compulsion beneath his words and wondered just what he was. “I do not wish to draw anyone’s attention,” he went on smoothly. “The rules regarding business-class jets are in constant flux.” He glanced at her with gray eyes that didn’t miss much. “Are you hurt?”
   She nodded. “My, um, assignment ran into unexpected snags.”
   “Will you require medical attention before you proceed to the West Coast?”
   She snorted. What a subtle way of asking if she’d been shot or stabbed. Lars Kinsvogel—or whatever his name really was—had obviously dealt with people like her before. Something he said caught her attention. “Won’t you be my pilot?”
   He shook his head. “Someone fresh will relieve me.”
   “Will I be able to stay aboard?”
   He shot her an odd look. “Of course not. You must go through customs.”
   She rolled her eyes. Her lips pressed into a thin line. “That’s why I wanted to land somewhere inland.”
   His gray eyes narrowed. “All flights from foreign destinations are subject to customs, no matter what the airport. Is this your first international assignment?”
   Heat rose to her face. “No.” She was damned if she’d say anything else. She didn’t know him from Adam.
   The radio crackled. The pilot responded in pilotese and banked the plane. “Flights from Europe are cleared to land at certain airports. With the fuel we have left, we could have landed in Philadelphia or Newark, but I have a feeling those two destinations would not meet your needs, either. What are you afraid of?”
   Miranda wasn’t certain what she could tell him. Company policy was clear. Talk to no one. “Never mind.”
   She thought about Garen, her boss and chairman for The Company. She’d been half in love with his razor-sharp mind, lithe build, salt-and-pepper hair, and sky-blue eyes for years, but he didn’t see her as anything but a junior-grade agent. Rumor had it he scarcely acknowledged employees until they’d become full-fledged operatives. If her fellows were any indication, she had a way to go. At least a few more assignments. And then there was the problem of her being a lycan. She sighed; fantasies of Garen went up in smoke like they always did. It was nice to dream, but Miranda steered clear of men. Between her wolf side and her somewhat unorthodox career, intimate relationships carried too much risk of discovery. She relied on her fingers, a vibrator, and the occasional one-night stand to take the edge off her needs.
   The jet banked yet again and dropped lower. Its wheels made contact, and the pilot hit the brakes. Because she wasn’t belted in, Miranda nearly plunged into the instrument cluster. Lars made an aggravated clucking sound, but he didn’t say anything. They taxied off the runway.
   “Since I have to get off, I need to get my things together.”
   “Wait until the aircraft comes to a complete stop, fraulein.”
   He sounded so much like a bot, she stifled a laugh. The plane moved smoothly into an enclosed hangar. Once it rolled to a halt, she pushed out of her seat, returned to the passenger compartment, and unhooked her small duffel from the wall. Lars’ breath hissed against her ear. “Where are your weapons?”
   “On me and in my bag.”
   “Put everything in your bag. Clips separate.”
   “I’m not that stupid.” She pulled a 9mm semiautomatic from its shoulder holster and punched the button to discharge its clip. She drew back the slide, extracted the chambered bullet, and stuffed it into the clip. Next came a snub-nosed .38 revolver and two knives. She spun the chamber to make certain all the bullets were out and then placed everything in locked gun cases in her carry-on.
   Lars still stood practically on top of her. She met his gaze, noticing they were about the same height, which meant he was five feet eleven. “Yes?” She quirked a tired brow.
   “Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?” His hands settled on her shoulders. She smelled his arousal and knew he had a hard-on without even looking.
   “Christ! Not now.” She spun from beneath his grip. “Let’s just get through customs and allow whoever’s knocking on the cabin door to search the plane.”
   “We will have some downtime in the terminal. At least an hour.” He sounded hopeful.
   Miranda looked at him. Really looked at him. Lars was attractive in a Teutonic sort of way with ice-blond hair and gray eyes. His trim body suggested he worked out. Interest flickered but then died. She shook her head. “I haven’t slept for forty-eight hours. I’m dead on my feet.”
   “Why did you not sleep during the flight? The air was smooth.”
   Good question. She’d wondered the same thing. “I did, just not much. Too keyed up.”
   He shouted something in German to whoever was pounding on the cabin door and took her arm. “I will watch over you until you are safely back in the plane.”
   She opened her mouth to tell him it wasn’t necessary, but something in his face stopped her. In that moment, she understood he was a trained operative just like her. His role this time around happened to be pilot, but she was certain he’d stood in her shoes before. “Which branch of the military trained you?”
   He shook his head and let go of her arm. “It does not matter. Follow me, fraulein.”
   She shouldered her duffel and walked to the rear cabin door. Lars had just sprung the locks. He spoke soothingly in German to an obviously agitated customs officer. The agent’s beady, black eyes settled on her. “Do you speak English?”
   “Yes. Is there a problem, sir? It’s been a long flight, and both of us are tired. It took me a while to get my bag together.”
   The agent, nostrils flared, looked intently at her and then waved them down the jet’s steps. “Customs is the last door at the north end of the hangar,” he barked. “Don’t even think of running. This hangar is locked and fully alarmed.”
   Lars placed a hand beneath her elbow and guided her across a concrete floor. “It is best if we do not deviate from a straight line,” he muttered.
   “Holy crap,” she said. “Why are they so uptight?”
   He shrugged. “As you Americans say, it goes with the territory.” He grinned, displaying very white, very even teeth. “Everything we do and say between here and the customs area is filmed and recorded.”
* * * *
   Despite interested glances and furrowed foreheads, her munitions-heavy duffle had passed inspection since her fake identification pegged her as an undercover agent for the Chicago Police Department. Miranda breathed a sigh of relief once they’d scanned her passport and released her. Even though Garen told his operatives each of their alternate credentials were fully covered at all ends, she’d never exactly believed Jayne Powers existed on the Chicago PD payroll.
   They settled in a private lounge specifically for business-class jet crews and their passengers. At least an hour passed. Lars handed her a cup of coffee. He pulled a silver flask from an inner jacket pocket and waved it at her. Miranda shrugged. “Sure. I’ve never made a habit of drinking in the morning, but what the hell. What time is it, anyway?”
   “Around five-thirty. It will be light soon.”
   She sipped the coffee, delighted to find he’d poured Irish whiskey into it. The liquor burned a path to her empty stomach. “Do I have time to grab some food?”
   He frowned. “Probably. I do not understand why the relief pilot has not met us.” He pulled a cell phone from his jacket and powered it on.
   Miranda snapped upright from her slump against soft cushions. Deviations almost always meant trouble. She took one more slug of coffee and set her cup down. As tired as she was, she couldn’t risk any more whiskey—not until she found out if something was truly amiss. Lars punched in numbers, waited a few moments, and disconnected. He stood and held a hand to her. “We must go, fraulein.” She opened her mouth to frame a question, but he shook his head. “We have stayed here too long, I fear.”
   She cocked her head at a restroom door near the rear of the private lounge. He nodded, obviously understanding her intent. If trouble was afoot, she needed to be armed. She went inside, ducked into a stall, and dug what she needed from her bag. The ammo clip slid into her 9mm with a satisfying thunk. She checked in a mirror to make certain her underarm holster was hidden. Her reflection shocked her. Gray circles etched beneath bloodshot blue eyes. Her dark hair hung in greasy strands. She wound it into a queue and shoved it behind her shoulders.
   Lars met her right outside the ladies’ room. Miranda’s practiced eyes noted the swell of a gun beneath his woolen jacket. She blinked hard to clear her head. Were they going to have a full-on shootout in the middle of JFK Airport? He shook his head almost imperceptibly, gripped her elbow, and propelled her into the corridor. At least this wing of the airport wasn’t busy at this time of day. Only a few others strode meaningfully toward destinations.
   He jerked his head sideways. A half-open door sat about fifty yards away. He bent so his mouth was right against her ear and whispered as they walked. “You will take the stairs all the way to the bottom. There is a door there. It opens into the main terminal. I will meet you if I can. If I do not, take a taxi. Put some miles between yourself and this airport.” He made a sound midway between a snort and a grunt. “Hell, if you can get the cabbie to drive you to the next state, do it.”
   She wanted to ask about perhaps flying back to Seattle, but there wasn’t time. He gave her a push, and the door snicked shut behind her. She heard it lock and understood he must have jimmied it somehow. She padded down a spiral metal staircase, grateful for her flat-soled, practical boots. Lights flashed whenever she passed a landing. She worried about what to do if the door at the bottom was locked. She wasn’t bad at picking locks, but she didn’t have her pick set with her. She’d pretty much stopped carting it around because nearly every lock she’d run into in the last few years was electronic. Don’t borrow trouble. I’ll find out soon enough.
   Adrenaline twisted her stomach into a sour knot. Her wolf wanted out. It took precious energy to keep it contained. The stairs ended, and she stared at a metal door. The same blinking light flashed overhead. Wary of alarms, she twisted the handle. It didn’t budge. Shit! She blew out a tense breath. Lars had managed to unlock the top one, so it couldn’t be impossible.
   She bent to examine the lock. The easiest thing would be to screw the silencer onto her gun and blow it to bits. Yeah, right. Every cop in the joint will come on a dead run. The lock had a card hole, which meant it was electronic. Maybe her lycan magic could tease it into compliance. She hummed a note, and then another. Something whirred at the edges of her sensitive lycan hearing. The lock didn’t give, not quite, but hope slammed into her. This could work if she was patient.
   Miranda let a hand hover over the mechanism and felt its resonance. She tried a couple of three-note combinations. Her fourth try worked. She tamped down elation as the door popped open. She hurried through and tried to look casual as she tugged it closed behind her. Anxious to put as much distance as she could between her and the door before some sort of siren sounded, she ran headlong into someone and muttered apologies before she realized it was Lars.
   He pointed toward a glass revolving door. She stumbled after him. Questions bubbled around her tired brain, but she knew better than to talk on the cab ride. They got out in a neighborhood of stately old brownstones. Lars motioned her up several flights of steps and into an apartment furnished in Motel Six modern. He locked a series of deadbolts and turned to face her.
   “Are we safe here?”
   He nodded. “As safe as anywhere, fraulein, until I can get us out of the city tomorrow. I have made arrangements for a plane in Boston. We will fly to Seattle from there. Take the bedroom at the end of the hall. There is another bedroom, but I will sleep on the couch.” She raised a questioning eyebrow. He smirked. “It is closer to the door in case we have … unexpected company.”
   Miranda was almost certain she knew the answer to her next question, but she asked anyway. “What happened to the other pilot?”
   Lars’ lips curved into a sneer. “Dead. The bastard who killed him will be once I get my hands on him.”
   Miranda walked down the hall and into the bedroom. She shut the door behind her, grateful Lars hadn’t asked who she’d taken care of in Amsterdam. Human trafficking was global, but such an instantaneous response to losing one of their own chilled her. From long habit, she checked the adjoining bath and closet. A shower would be welcome, but it could wait. She pitched face down on the bed and was asleep in seconds.