Author Showcase – Tracy A. Ball (Kayos: The Bad & the Worse)

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Pride & Prejudice do Mission Impossible with Young Guns

LAREINA ELLIOT, guidance counselor for Presque Isle Academy, discovered her idea for making students loyal to the government is being implemented in the Excellence Program to further the war. It has become her life’s work to undermine that effort. When she is arrested for being a Revolutionary sympathizer, her brothers, KAIDEN, FISHER, and SILAS rescue her with help from three of Lareina’s top students; ALEC, ORION, and YUKIYO. On the run but armed with intelligence and more, they seek to learn how she was exposed and by whom.

CHRISTIAN DEVERELL, the agent assigned to Lareina’s case is relentless. She can’t escape him. It doesn’t matter that he and Lareina are on opposite sides of the law, or that their history is dirty. It doesn’t matter that he commissioned her adopted brother, Silas, to assassinate her. The only thing of importance is his love for Lareina and his promise to protect her.

Silas MCKADE, soldier elite, Lareina’s secret weapon. The man who never misses is on the Government’s payroll to do whatever he likes to whomever he chooses. He has a death warrant for Lareina—the woman who means everything to him—and a heart full of hatred for Christian—the man he wants to be. He’s either going to break Lareina’s heart or stop it altogether. 

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             Christian watched Alec skipping down the fire escape; rifle over his shoulder, two-liter drink under his arm. Cocky little punk. He didn’t know Alec personally, but he was certain his description was accurate. It grated him that it wasn’t the cocky little punk he was waiting for. It didn’t matter. This one was obviously extra special to Lareina. Reason enough to kill him. He slid his gun free. “Stop right there you little bastard.”

               Alec did.

               Christian could see the intelligence in those dark eyes. The little shit is debating it. “You move. You die.” Gut instinct prompted him to add, “And Lareina gets to watch.”

               Now, Alec obeyed.

               “Climb down off that last step and put your hands up. You blink in the wrong direction and I will personally hand her the pieces.”

               Alec didn’t answer. He was thinking.

               “Leave him alone, Eugene.”

               Together Christian and Alec watched her approach. This was no place for a lady.

               Only Lareina would stroll down a blind, back alley, toward a loaded weapon, wearing stilettos. Christian couldn’t remember a day when she didn’t look good. He’d never admit it, but he’d been agonizing over her since the hospital. He had been worried. Hell, he missed her. And there she was: green top—too low in the front, dark jeans—as tight as can be, dangly earrings, glossy lips, an arm full of bangles, and those damned sexy-ass stilettos.

               Armed with an air of supreme poise, Lareina came forth. “Get in the car, honey.” She ruffled Alec’s hair but didn’t stop until she stood directly in front of Christian. His gun was less than three inches from her heart.

               Alec hadn’t moved. She hadn’t expected him to, but it was worth a try. No matter. Now, that she was there, he was safe enough. 

               “What are you doing here, Lareina?” Christian lowered his weapon.

               “Getting my child. What’s it look like?” She had the nerve to grin. “How did you find us?”

               He arched an eyebrow at her and cast a speculative glance at Alec, exaggerating the act long enough to make sure she noted it before he let the topic go. “What did you want with Jeri?”

               “Jeri’s a bastard.”

               “No shit, Sherlock. Tell me something I don’t know.”

               “It was news to me. That M-F’er has been stealing my files. He sold me out. It seemed prudent to find out some particulars.”

               “It wasn’t to the government because you’re a criminal?”

               She pursed her lips at him.

                Not the government. Then who? Something started to click, but Christian couldn’t finger it. “You know I’m taking you in, right?”

               “You can’t. Not today anyway.”

               “Why not today?” He could hear them coming.

               So could she. “Because my son can’t drive.”

               “Yes, I can.” If they wanted to pretend this was normal, Alec was cool with it.   Lareina glanced at him, affectionately. “Not legally.”

                He gave an indignant huff. “Because that matters.”

               “Lareina.” Christian didn’t have time for this shit.

               “Christian. I’m getting my child out of here.” There was no mistaking the resolution in her tone. “If you want to shoot me, you’ll have to do it in the back.”

               He leveled her a mean look.

               “Mr. Deverell, sir.” An officer came into view. Two others followed him escorting Jericho Parks.

               “That’s her!” Jericho pointed. “That’s her! She did it. She’s responsible. I want to press full charges! She was behind it all!”

               His outburst made up Christian’s mind. He raised his weapon and unloaded three caps. Like dominoes, the DoP’s went down one after the other. Jericho screamed. He fell to his knees and covered his head. Christian studied Lareina. “Three days.”

               He watched her eyes dart to the left in that telltale manner.

               “I need at least a week.” Urgency caused her voice to rise.

               “You’re only getting three days.” He was in no mood to bend. Three soldiers lay dead. He had compromised enough.

               “Fine. I’ve got to go.”

               One hand extended, gun still pointed toward Jericho, in the event he attempted to run, with his other, Christian grabbed Lareina’s arm, pulling her to him. He put every ounce of his frustration into his kiss. It was either that or break her neck. And he was strongly contemplating the latter.

               Lareina allowed it. She wanted, craved his touch as much as he craved hers. Theirs was a dance with the devil; irresistible and impossible. The tangles had become knots and he only gave her three days. It wasn’t enough. She could hardly wait.

            The kiss ended, but the intensity remained. He sighed, letting the heat recede.

            She whispered, “I have a pretty long to-do list, Christian. Unfortunately, you’re not on it.”

            He licked the corner of her mouth, matching her tone. “I am the list.”

            She pressed her cheek against his lips. “Well, you’re not getting done tonight.”

            “Don’t fool yourself, Lareina,” he said. “I am going to have you.”

            The absolute authority rippling through the huskiness in his voice made her nerves tingle with anticipation. It was a future fact. The next time, they wouldn’t be in the middle of a shootout. There would be no high emotions or weak moments to blame it on. It would be intentional. It would be permanent.

               Summoning strength he didn’t like to utilize, Christian pulled back an inch, tugging on her bottom lip a moment longer. “Don’t stop.” His eyes were serious.

               “Be careful.” Her eyes were worried. 

               With nothing more to say, she turned, moving away as fast as her stilettos would allow. Alec fell into step beside her. They were to the car, backing out and pulling into traffic when they heard a noise. It sounded like a gunshot.

 

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Tracy’s family is blended from three distinct cultures. Over the years, she has opened her home to foster children, drug addicts, AIDS victims and anyone who needed an assist. She has an equal number of liberal and conservative friends. She knows people who have committed murder and she knows people who know the Pope.

Which is why she writes sweet stories about tough love.

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