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Twelve Years Later…
“I don’t give a damn if the group is disbanded. Put it back together again. I need you to rescue my sister,” I told Marcus Colter irritably.
Honestly, it had taken everything I had to approach Marcus after all these years, but my love for my younger sister was much more important than my pride. So what if we’d had a thing over a decade ago? Danica’s life was on the line, I desperately wanted her to live, and it made the fact that Marcus had once broken my heart almost irrelevant.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Marcus remarked stoically as he took another sip of whatever amber alcohol was in the tumbler he was drinking from. I rarely drank, so I wasn’t exactly a connoisseur of anything alcoholic.
“It could work that way. I need you to run one more mission.” There was a note of despair in my voice that I hated, but I couldn’t back down now.
I’d never begged anyone for anything, and it was especially unpalatable that I had to do it to try to coerce Marcus Colter. I’d worked my butt off to get my education so I’d never have to rely on my deceased parents’ money. I didn’t ever want to be without a home or the basic necessities in life, and I tried to help the people who didn’t have it as good as I did.
So groveling to Marcus Colter after all the years that had passed without seeing him wasn’t going over well with me. I’d had to kick myself in the ass to seek him out, and pleading with him went against the grain.
It wasn’t that I’d gone back to being the prima donna I’d been before I turned eighteen. In fact, I’d become very independent. My brothers now called me the “quiet sister” and referred to Dani as the “troublemaker.” But I was pretty sure that had a lot to do with the professions my sister and I had chosen. Mine was generally something I did pretty much alone. Danica had to talk to people about controversial subjects.
Only my family could make me completely let go of my pride, try to forget that Marcus had decimated me twelve years ago, when I was barely an adult.
“Your sister was perfectly aware of the risks,” Marcus said unsympathetically.
My youngest sibling, Danica, had been aware of the risks when she’d become a foreign correspondent, but she was so damn passionate about her job that she simply didn’t care. Now, she’d been captured by terrorists, and after several weeks of begging the government for help, I was running out of options. Apparently, our federal government wasn’t even aware she’d been abducted until I approached them and were hesitant to make any hasty moves.
Dammit, the feds were anything but fast or foolhardy. I knew damn well my sister could die without some kind of quick intervention, and it didn’t seem to be coming soon from Washington.
It wasn’t their loved one who might be killed at any moment.
It wasn’t their sister, daughter, or friend who could be suffering unspeakable torture right now.
It wasn’t one of them who woke up in a cold sweat from dreaming about what might be happening to their sister in hostile territory.
I tried to control my fear and anger as I commented, “Yes. She knew the risks. But that doesn’t mean she wants to die or that she deserves to die. All I’m asking you for is one more mission.” I was desperate, and Marcus looked completely unmoved, so I decided to mention something I’d sworn I wasn’t going to bring up. “Since you took my virginity, then came back to Rocky Springs and your girlfriend like it never happened, I’d think it was the least you could do.”
Oh, hell, I was playing my last decent card, trying to make Marcus feel guilty enough to put together his disbanded group of guys, PRO—Private Rescue Organization—back together again for one more assignment. It wasn’t like I was asking him to regroup forever. I knew that wasn’t possible. I just needed him to go out and rescue a captive—my little sister—one more time.
I hadn’t wanted to even bring up my past with Marcus. It was the last thing I wanted to discuss. For God’s sake, the incident had happened twelve years ago. But I was freaking frantic, and my fear for Dani was likely to make me get down on my knees and beg if necessary.
Thank God I felt absolutely nothing for this man anymore. Before I’d arrived at Marcus’s home in Rocky Springs, I’d half feared that I’d still feel that spark of attraction that I’d experienced so many years ago, a flame so hot that I’d had a one-night fling with him, my very first time that I’d never quite forgotten. An occurrence that later had broken my heart.
Now, I felt zilch for the man I was begging to rescue my sister—except impatience. To be quite honest, I found his calm demeanor rather annoying when I was strung so tight I could hardly breathe.
“Could you repeat that?” Marcus asked smoothly.
I glared at him. “No, I won’t say it again. You know exactly what happened.”
If he’s trying to get some kind of rise out of me to make me forget my objective, I’m not taking the bait.
“Remind me,” he requested.
Like he didn’t remember what happened?
If that was true, I’d spend a whole lot of time being hurt when the subject of that pain had thought the incident so insignificant that he couldn’t remember the circumstances.
“Just forget it. I shouldn’t have even tried to ask you for help,” I answered, my tone dripping with disgust.
Bastard! Maybe it had happened a long time ago, but I would think indoctrinating me to the pleasures of sex would at least be somewhat memorable.
It doesn’t matter, Harper.
I had to keep my cool. What had happened between myself and Marcus twelve years ago wasn’t important right now. The only reason I’d even mentioned it was to try to make him remember our connection so he’d be motivated enough to save my youngest sibling.
All I wanted was my sister back. I wanted her safely back with me. I worried about Dani every damn time she left the country, and after several years of fretting over her safety, my worst nightmare had become reality.
Dani was taken, kidnapped. Held hostage somewhere in Syria by an unknown rebel group. A rescue in that hostile climate had recently been completed by Special Forces, but Dani wasn’t part of the group of hostages recovered.
That made the military all the more certain she wasn’t really a prisoner.
My brother, Jett, had gotten some ransom demands, and we were more than willing to pay her captors to get her back. We didn’t care if it was another group of rebels in another location, a small group of guerilla fighters the US government wasn’t even aware existed. My sister was in danger, and it hadn’t mattered what lunatics were holding her. But when it had come time for the meeting to exchange Dani for the money, the rebels hadn’t shown up. And no Dani.
Had they already killed her?
Had they not been able to get across the border to meet my brother?
Had they thought it was some kind of trap and decided to ditch the meeting?
Had they misunderstood?
We had never gotten the chance to find out.
Communication had ceased, and I feared my sister might be lost to us forever.
That’s when my brother Jett had suggested trying Marcus and PRO. Having once been a member of the private, elite recovery team that Marcus Colter had led, my sibling knew better than anyone just how good they’d been. During their several years of existence, they’d never failed to find a hostage…unless the captive was already dead.
Unfortunately, the group’s existence had been exposed, and so had all of the guys on the team. With their identities and private work compromised, they disbanded, and my brother had been one of the injured on their last and only failed mission that had brought them to the attention of the world.
“I didn’t exactly say I wouldn’t help,” Marcus finally answered.
“Don’t play games with me, Marcus. You’ll either rescue Dani or you won’t,” I told him angrily. This man had toyed with my emotions in the past, and I wasn’t about to let it happen again.
I was older, a hell of a lot wiser.
“Like I said, it’s not that simple. Your brother can’t go into a rescue situation, and neither can one other guy, our pilot, who used to be a pretty damn important member of our team. Both of them were critical specialists of the group. But I may be able to replace them to attempt this rescue.”
I watched him, holding my breath as I saw the contemplative look on his face.
Damn! He was still gorgeous, even if he was an asshole. Not that I felt any of the chemistry that we’d had years ago, but in a custom suit and tie, his cropped hair perfectly in place, and a five-o’clock shadow forming on his strong jawline, Marcus Colter was aesthetically handsome.
Too bad his gray Colter eyes looked deadly cold.
“Please,” I finally begged. “I have to get Dani back alive.”
“If I do retrieve her, she needs to keep her ass in the United States,” he grumbled. “I see her in just about every damn hot spot I’m in myself. She’s a pain in my ass.”
“You two have met up?” I asked, interested in how they’d interacted.
Marcus had a pained look on his face as he answered, “Way too many times. If it’s an area of the world where there are problems, your little sister is always there.”
I knew that Marcus was an international traveler, but I didn’t realize he’d ever run into Dani. “That’s her job. She’s a fantastic reporter,” I defended.
Marcus let out a masculine sigh. “She has a goddamn death wish.”
I smiled because he sounded so much like my older brothers. They all hated Danica’s chosen profession, but nobody had ever been able to hold her back. I didn’t like it, either, but I understood that I couldn’t stop her from pursuing her passion. It would suck the life right out of her.
“So you’ll go?” I asked anxiously.
“As soon as I can get a team together,” he agreed, stroking his jaw like he was already thinking about how to organize the group.
“Thank you,” I said breathlessly. “I’ll owe you for this.”
“I think giving me your virginity was quite enough,” he answered stiffly.
“I thought you didn’t remember,” I accused, meeting his steely-eyed gaze as he leaned against the desk in his home office.
“It might be coming back to me,” he said absently.
“I’m sorry it wasn’t important enough for you to recall immediately,” I replied sarcastically. In reality, it hurt that he didn’t remember something that had been so significant to me. But he obviously hadn’t cared enough to even recall the encounter.
He looked me up and down with a slightly mischievous grin. “Oh, I’m pretty sure it was memorable.”
I wasn’t quite certain what he meant, but as I continued to lock eyes with him, I was relieved that I still felt absolutely nothing.
My memories were all that was left of what happened between us. This Marcus was not the same young man I’d met up with years ago.
Oh, he was still handsome, but he had a rough, brutal edge to him that made me slightly uncomfortable. I couldn’t imagine him as the same guy who’d grinned at me like a mischievous boy, and made me smile at a time when I’d been so unhappy.
For a brief moment, I grieved for the young man he used to be. But then, I realized I’d changed over the years myself.
Excerpted from "Billionaire Unknown: The Billionaire's Obsession ~ Blake" by J.S. Scott. Copyright © 2017 by J.S. Scott. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.