Lone Raven – (Gia #4) First Chapter

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Baja California

The sun beat down on my bare back and legs like heaven on earth.

The gentle rocking of the boat, well, hell, let’s call it what it was—yacht—underneath me was lulling me into a sweet complacency. Afro-Cuban music piped through hidden speakers and the slightest breeze lifted the hair off my neck as I sat up.

My drink was within arm’s reach. I leaned toward it, knocking my turquoise swim top off my lounge chair onto the teak deck. No tan lines for me. My body was slick with baby oil—straight out of 1970. I’d only been in Baja for five days and already my body had turned a sleek mahogany color. Bonus of being Italian-American.

The tall glass containing my third mojito was slick with condensation, but still cool. I vaguely remembered the pool boy, or whatever he was, taking my other two glasses while I was drowsing and plopping this one down. Tilting my head back, I gulped the cold, tangy liquid until I got to the crushed mint leaves at the bottom. I set the glass back down hoping a refill would appear soon. My buzz was wearing off.

Judging by the sun straight overhead, I’d plenty of time to get sober and get my wits about me. This would be my last drink. I needed to be sharp, ready to fight.

Right now, I was playing a role and working it to the hilt: spoiled playgirl who only cares about booze and sex, baby.

I knew it was possible that Austin was clocking how many drinks I had. Anything less than I’d been drinking the past few days would be cause for suspicion. He’d been acting strange all morning. And not because his feelings were hurt. I worried he was on to me. That he’d spoken to Marc. I couldn’t pour the drinks out surreptitiously because I had no idea how many goddamn hidden cameras were on board this floating mansion.

For the most part, Austin had acted the same this morning, waking me up by kissing my bare back until I begged him for more. But when he flipped me over, his hands had crept up and clasped my neck. For a split second, the look in his eyes had me worried, and I’d mentally prepared to send my knuckle into his jugular, but as quickly as I thought that, he released his grip and relaxed, leaning his head back, heaving and snorting in ecstasy. I guess a little neck squeezing got him off. Super creepy. I didn’t mind a little gentle hair pulling in the sack, but anything beyond that and I’d kick the guys ass from here to next Tuesday.

When Austin rolled over and stared at the ceiling, I stole away to the bathroom, relieved that I’d found out about his alarming predilections only a few hours before I planned to bail on him. Strangulation was not my thing.  If he liked erotic asphyxiation, that was all on him.

But none of it mattered. Because if all went well, I’d soon be long gone.

Now, sitting in the sun, I glanced toward the front of the yacht where Austin said he was going to hunker down in the “lifestyle room” and watch football all day. The lifestyle room was basically a huge playroom for big man babies. It had white padded walls on two sides, another wall was a movie screen, and the fourth wall was a window overlooking the sea. When you wanted to watch a movie, the fourth window went dark by way of some magic I couldn’t figure out. A white padded structure the size of two king-size beds took up most of the floor space. I’d passed the room on the way to breakfast and peered in. Austin had been propped against dozens of pillows, with a remote the size of a book in his hands. I fled before he could call for me.

Now, I hoped he’d pass out on the bed for the next twenty-four hours. Until I could leave.

I took a sip of my drink and reclined again. On my back this time. I closed my eyes behind my dark sunglasses, feeling the heat of the sun spread its warmth over my body. I sighed with pleasure.

I’d drifted off when a clattering noise woke me. I felt something ice cold and sharp on my sternum between my bare breasts.

Austin stood over me. One of his hands held my dueling knife up high out of reach. His other drew my sparring knife slowly up the side of one breast, toward my nipple.

“What the fuck are these, Gia?” He waved my dueling knife in the air—a tribal patterned, round-bladed, hand-engraved, high-chromium stainless steel beauty that looked like a stylized meat cleaver.

I grasped his wrist and inched the blade of my sparring knife away from my skin.

“Easy, sailor.” I sat up, keeping my hand on his wrist, eyeing him, searching for signs of intoxication or drugs. Austin was a tanned, lithe, surfer who was a little dull—in both the brains and personality department—but had a body made for hot sex. He’d inherited a fortune when daddy died young. Up until yesterday, I’d thought he was sweet and even felt a little sorry for him. Big mistake.

He spent his days on the yacht hopping from one tropical port to another, chasing the waves. He was supposed to head to Costa Rica tomorrow. As far as he knew, I was going with him. After we met, he’d dropped all his other playthings. He knew immediately that unlike them, I didn’t want him for his money. He didn’t know that I only wanted him for what he could do for me. Specifically, his access to the man I was hunting.

“I’m not kidding, Gia,” he said. “What the fuck are these?” He waved the dueling knife again.

“I see you found my Sicilian knives. They’re for my training. Remember I told you? The Gladiatura Moderna? Italian martial arts?” I slurred my voice a little. Wouldn’t hurt for him to think I was wasted.

“I don’t remember anything about knives.” He looked confused. He was unsteady on his feet and his eyes were glassy. He was right, I’d never mentioned it to him.

“Sure, you do, baby.” I leaned over to rub his bare leg. He jerked away.

“That’s not all I found, either.”

At his words, my mouth grew dry. I was instantly sober.

Then I saw, just past him, the last two people I wanted to see at that moment. My best friend, Dante, and the man I was hunting, who was holding a knife to Dante’s throat. My best friend’s eyes were wild with panic.

The jig was up.

Fuck me.

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GIA AND THE LONE RAVEN

He thought he could get away with it. He was wrong.

Gia Santella’s hunt for her best friend leads her on a road trip to Mexico where she learns that there is no refuge from evil despite sunny skies and bucolic beaches.

Many Americans flee to Baja, California to escape something–the drudgery of a 9-to-5 life. An abusive husband. A hefty tax bill.

But others go there to kill.

The beauty of Baja hides dark secrets and soon Gia finds herself caught up in a group of ex-pats who like the advantages of living in a place where people can disappear without a trace and nobody bats an eye.

But then Gia comes to town. She will risk everything to save the innocent …

Download this book because you love fierce women, dark mysteries, and riveting suspense.