Exclusive Excerpt: Into the Whirlwind by Kat Martin + Giveaway
A bodyguard, a bounty hunter, a private investigator, no one can handle the heat like the men of BOSS, Inc.
Megan O'Brien is at her wit's end. Her three-year-old son has been kidnapped. No police, says the ransom demand. Fearing for her son's life, Meg has no choice but to turn to her former bodyguard, Dirk Reynolds.
Dirk's never forgiven Meg for the way she left him after their brief affair. But with bounty hunter Luke Brodie on his side, Dirk knows he's got to help Meg rescue her son.
The few clues they’ve gathered send them spiraling into a murky world of big banking and international crime. Meg may be way out of her depths, but she’s seeing a side of Dirk she never suspected—one no woman could possibly resist.
Meg sat in the Bronco, her fingers curled into the backseat, eyes trained on the empty dirt road stretching in front of her. She itched to get out of the car, follow Dirk and Luke to the house by the lake, find her son and bring him home.
She wouldn’t, of course. She wouldn’t do anything that might cause the men trouble. She had promised not to get in their way.
Straining for any sound of their return, she heard nothing but the rush of the wind through the trees, the rustle of leafless branches. A storm was moving in, a drizzle beginning to fall.
If she’d had the windows rolled down, she might have heard the approaching footsteps. Instead, she jerked at the light tap-tap against the window glass beside her, and turned to see the barrel of a pistol pointing directly at her head.
Adrenaline surged through her and yet she felt frozen in the seat.
“Reach for the pistol and you’re dead,” the man said. Well-dressed in a pair of dark slacks and expensive Italian leather dress shoes, Prada, she figured, if she knew her designers, which she did. He was medium height, late thirties or early forties, athletic build. Though his dark hair was slightly receding, he was still an attractive man. “Open the door.”
Meg swallowed, fighting for calm, knowing how important it was to make the right moves. She flicked a glance at the gun on the seat and saw a second man on the other side of the Bronco, his pistol pointed at her from the opposite direction. He was bigger, muscular. She couldn’t see his face.
“The door,” the first man said. “Open it now.”
Her heart beat wildly. Dear God, what about Charlie? What about Dirk and Luke? She should have listened, shouldn’t have come. She had put them all in danger.
She cracked open the door, her mind spinning with ways to alert the men, her hiking boots sinking into the mud as she stepped out of Luke’s battered SUV. “Who are you?”
The man in the designer shoes gave her a polite, hard-edged smile. “You may call me Thomas. It isn’t my name, but for now it will do. And you’re Megan. Little Charlie’s mother.”
Her stomach rolled with nausea. She clamped down on a shot of fear. “What have you done with my son?”
“Why don’t I take you to him? I assume your detective friends are somewhere about. Quite clever, they are. Finding us here. I don’t think they’ll be pleased to see you, however.” He nudged her with the barrel of his gun, urging her to walk back down the road the way Luke had driven in.
Around the first bend, a silver Honda Accord sat off to one side, Hertz rental plate frame on the front. The men were from out of town. The one who called himself Thomas spoke well, seemed intelligent, and dressed well. Probably the man behind the kidnapping. She wondered how he’d come up with the scheme.
Thomas opened the rear passenger door and motioned for her to slide onto the seat, then slid in beside her, his gun pressing into her ribs. The other man climbed in behind the wheel of the Accord, filling the seat completely.
As he started the engine, Meg took a deep breath and fought for control, desperate to think of a way to warn Dirk. At the moment all she could think to do was get them to shoot her and hope Dirk heard the sound--not the greatest plan.
A shiver slid through her. She might not have any other choice.
“We’ve got surprise on our side,” Dirk said, his attention fixed on the house.
“Smash and grab?” Luke asked.
“Affirmative. You want the front or the back?”
Luke’s expression hardened. “You take the back, bring out the kid and the girl. I’ll go in the front.”
Luke’s features turned to granite. “Oh yeah, I’m sure.”
At the steely glint in Luke’s blue eyes, Dirk wondered if his friend might cut off the kidnappers’ balls for real.
“Give me two minutes to get in place,” Luke said.
Dirk looked down at his watch, started to give a nod, then heard the sound of tires churning up the road. “Someone’s coming.”
Luke’s gaze shot down the lane. Dirk's pistol was already in hand, his grip on the big semi-auto reassuring. Luke palmed his weapon, they split up, and slid quietly off into the woods surrounding the clearing.
Standing in the shadows out of sight behind the thick trunk of a tree, Dirk watched a silver Honda Accord roll toward the house. Rental car. Three people inside.
His stomach cramped at the sight of Meg sitting next to a man in the back seat of the car. The guy lifted his hand, showing off the gun he pressed solidly against her head.
Jesus God, Meg. He shouldn’t have caved to her wishes, should have left her home. Should have tied her up if he had to.
The car pulled up and stopped next to the other two. The engine fell silent and the doors cracked open. A man wearing black slacks and a button-down sport shirt, oddly civil attire for a kidnapper, hauled Meg out of the vehicle and positioned her in front of him. He was clean shaven, receding hairline, his dark hair perfectly groomed. Most likely the brains of the operation.
The man in charge pressed his big semi-auto firmly against Meg’s temple. “Mr. Reynolds, I know you’re out there, you and your friend, Mr. Brodie. As you can see, the situation has changed, and not in your favor.”
Dirk silently cursed. Not only had they spotted the Bronco, the bugs the men had planted in Meg’s house had given them their names. Two minutes on Google and the bastards knew all about them, knew they were PIs, knew they were former military, which meant they knew he and Luke were armed.
“I need you to come out from wherever you are,” the man said mildly. “If you don’t, I shall pull the trigger on my weapon, firing a bullet into Ms. O’Brien’s very lovely head.”
“Don’t do it, Dirk!” Meg shouted. “They’ll kill you!”
They’d try. That was for sure.
He heard running footsteps. The men from inside had heard the commotion and rushed out to join the fray. They rounded the corner, weapons drawn, and raced toward their friends.
Dirk settled a little lower in the bushes. “Looks like we’re having a party,” he whispered into his mic.
“The more the merrier,” Luke replied.
They both held positions that gave them clear shots at the men. There were four of them now, with plenty of firepower, and Meg in the middle.
Things couldn’t get any worse.
Scratch that. Pam had just run out of the house, carrying Meg’s little red-haired boy.
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Currently living near Missoula, Montana, Kat Martin is the bestselling author of over fifty-five Historical and Contemporary Romance novels, currently an NYT bestselling author of the romantic suspense AGAINST series. Before she started writing in 1985, Kat was a real estate broker. During that time, she met her husband, L. J. Martin, also an author with over 33 book length works. Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. "I love anything old," Kat says. "I love to travel and especially like to visit the places where my books are set. My husband and I often stay in out-of-the-way inns and houses built in times past. It's fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a by-gone era."
To date, Kat has over fifteen million copies of her books in print. She is published more than two dozen foreign countries, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, England, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Japan and Greece.