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KILL WITHOUT MERCY
ARES Security #1
Released Dec 29th, 2015
From the hellhole of a Taliban prison to sweet freedom, five brave military heroes have made it home—and they’re ready to take on the civilian missions no one else can. Individually they’re intimidating. Together they’re invincible. They’re the men of ARES Security.
Rafe Vargas is only in Newton, Iowa, to clear out his late grandfather’s small house. As the covert ops specialist for ARES Security, he's eager to get back to his new life in Texas. But when he crosses paths with Annie White, a haunted beauty with skeletons in her closet, he can't just walk away—not when she’s clearly in danger…
There’s a mysterious serial killer on the loose with a link to Annie’s dark past. And the closer he gets, the deeper Rafe’s instinct to protect kicks in. But even with his considerable skill, Annie’s courage, and his ARES buddies behind him, the slaying won’t stop. Now it’s only a matter of time before Annie’s next—unless they can unravel a history of deadly lies that won’t be buried.
“A fantastic blend of romance and suspense…thrilling to the end.” --Mary Burton, USA Today bestselling author.
Rafe forced himself to wait ten minutes before he left the restaurant and returned to Newton so he could drive by the motel and make sure the yellow Jeep was safely parked in the gravel lot.
The last thing he wanted was for Annie to think he was some psycho stalker, but he had to make sure she’d made it back to her room safely.
He told himself it was his natural protective instincts. Any man would be worried about a young female out at night when there was a potential killer on the loose. Especially if the killer was connected to her father.
But in his gut he knew that his driving compulsion was something more.
He just didn’t know what that more was.
Refusing to give in to the impulse to park across the street and keep an eye on her like some creeper, he turned the truck around and headed back to LaClede to pick up a few groceries.
It was a chore that could easily have waited until the next day, but he wasn’t anxious to return to his grandfather’s house.
He’d managed to clear the boxes out of the living room, bathroom, and one bedroom, but it still felt cramped. Claustrophobic. As if his grandfather’s ghost was standing at his shoulder, urging him to leave.
At last he returned to Newton, pulling to a halt in front of the small house built on the very edge of town.
He grimaced at the sagging roof and the wraparound porch that listed to the side. The white paint had peeled away
and the hedges grown to overtake the small front yard. Long ago his grandfather had kept the property in pristine condition, but it’d been years since his health had been good enough to do the work, and he’d been too damned proud to ask for help.
Behind the house the yard stretched to the edge of an empty field, with two large sheds overfilled with boxes. So far he hadn’t done more than glance inside and slam the doors shut.
The mere thought of having to dig through all the crap was enough to make Rafe wish he could toss a match and be done with the problem.
Stepping on the porch, he froze as he heard the creak of a floorboard.
Shit. Someone was inside.
Cautiously, Rafe set the bag of groceries on the porch swing and pulled out the gun holstered beneath his sweatshirt. Then, with the silence that came from years of rigid training, he was moving to press himself flat against the front door he hadn’t bothered to lock. Why would he? Not only was the small town the sort of place you left your door open, but he’d be happy as hell if someone wanted to come in and haul off the shit inside.
Now he cursed his lax security.
The last thing he wanted was to have to shoot some yokel who decided to snoop around.
Easing the door open, he had the gun pointed toward the center of the room when a familiar male voice echoed through the darkness.
“You shoot me and I’m going to be pissed,” Teagan drawled. “And my mother will kick your ass.”
“What the hell?”
Shoving the gun back in its holster, Rafe closed the door and flipped the switch on the wall. Instantly the room was filled with a dull yellow glow from the overhead light, revealing the large man dressed in camo pants and a black T-shirt that was stretched across the impressive width of his chest.
Rafe frowned. The last person he expected to be leaning against the crumbling fireplace was Teagan.
“How did you get here?” he demanded.
The computer genius shrugged. “Hauk flew me to Des Moines and I rented a car.”
Rafe glanced out the nearby window. He’d been distracted when he’d pulled up to the house, but there was no way he’d missed a car. “Where is it?”
“I parked at the gas station on the corner.” Teagan gave a dramatic shudder. The man was a freak when it came to cars, devoting his spare time to refurbishing old automobiles and selling them at an enormous profit. “I didn’t want anyone to see me driving the POS.”
Rafe arched a brow. “And you just decided to break into my house?”
“I didn’t want to wander around town terrifying the natives.”
Rafe gave a short laugh at the thought of the large male with his buzz cut and tattoos strolling down the streets of Newton.
He definitely would have caused a panic.
“Good choice,” he said dryly, planting his fists on his hips. “But you wouldn’t have to worry about the natives if you’d stayed in Houston.”
“You asked me to get you info, didn’t you?”
The faux reasonable tone did nothing to ease the spike in Rafe’s temper.
He loved his partners like brothers. He truly did. But sometimes they could be worse than mother hens.
“I didn’t say you had to personally deliver it,” he pointed out. “This might be the boonies, but I do have Internet access.”
The golden eyes narrowed. “You know I always go above and beyond the call of duty.”
“Yeah, and you’re as nosy as an old woman.”
Teagan smiled, smart enough not to try and deny his reason for traveling to Newton. “You can’t blame me for being curious why you’re suddenly interested in a serial killer.”
True. If the positions were reversed, he wouldn’t be able to stay away. Not until he was certain his friend hadn’t lost his mind.
“Where are the files?” he asked. Teagan nodded toward the low, arched doorway across the room. “In the kitchen. Along with a few bottles from your favorite microbrewery.”
“Damn.” The mention of the beer had Rafe instantly on the move. He’d been enduring cheap on-tap beer for the past week. “If you weren’t so ugly I’d kiss you,” he said.
Teagan strolled behind him. “You’re so not my type.”
“Thank God.” Rafe opened the fridge to pull out two beers, using the edge of the counter to pop off the caps. “I’ve seen your type,” he told his friend, handing him one of the bottles.
“Harsh,” Teagan muttered with a smile. They both knew he always chose drop-dead gorgeous females. Then, moving to the center of the cramped room, he tapped the files stacked on the dining table. “Here’s the info on Don White.”
Rafe pulled out a seat, flipping open the top folder and spreading the contents across the table.
“It’s kind of sketchy,” he muttered.
There was a black-and-white mug shot, a dozen newspaper clippings that screamed the headline NEWTON SLAYER, a copy of White’s driver’s license, the mortgage on his farm, and the insurance policy on a silver Taurus.
“Sketchy is the right word,” Teagan growled, gingerly taking a seat across the table.
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ALEXANDRA IVY graduated from Truman University with a degree in theatre before deciding she preferred to bring her characters to life on paper rather than stage. She currently lives in Missouri with her extraordinarily patient husband and teenage sons. To stay updated on Alexandra’s Guardian series or to chat with other readers, please visit her website at www.alexandraivy.com.