Home > Honor Avenged (HORNET #6)

Honor Avenged (HORNET #6)
Author: Tonya Burrows

Chapter One


   Who killed Danny Giancarelli?

   That’s all Marcus Deangelo wanted to know—the name of the sniper who murdered his best friend two months ago. Two simple words. A location, if he could get it, but he’d be happy with just a name.

   But the woman wasn’t talking. And he was running out of time. And patience.

   He tipped her chair back to all four legs and yanked the wet cloth away from her face. She coughed and sputtered and glared at him with murder in her dark eyes. Mercedes Raya was a tough nut to crack, had to give her that. He’d admire her if she wasn’t the enemy and literally in bed with his own personal devil.

   The sniper had to be her lover. According to recent intel, her only family—a brother—went missing over a year ago. So, lover. It was the only reason Marcus could figure a mercenary bitch like her would be so protective of the man.

   He slammed the jug of water down on a table and turned away from her. For a heartbeat, he thought What the fuck am I doing? He was supposed to be one of the good guys. He’d joined the FBI because he wanted to help people. When he left to join HORNET, a privately owned hostage rescue team, it was with the same goal in mind. To help. To save. He’d been a negotiator, one of the best the FBI had, able to talk down the worst of the bad guys.

   Now look at him.

   Waterboarding a woman.

   He was the bad guy now.

   But whatever. Despite his best intentions, he was never going to qualify for sainthood, even before Danny died on that beach in Martinique. After… Well, any shred of decency left in him had been eaten up by rage and booze.

   If it was the last thing he did—if it cost him his tarnished soul—he would find Danny’s killer and make the man pay for taking a real-deal, decent man from this earth. For widowing a sweet woman. For orphaning three beautiful, innocent children.

   Mercedes finally stopped coughing. “Call that torture? My father called it Monday night.”

   He ground his teeth until his jaw ached and turned to face her. Even though he hadn’t put a physical mark on her, she looked like hell. Her long dark hair had knotted into dreadlocks in the weeks they’d held her captive. Her eyes were red and puffy, tears streaming from the corners despite her tough words. Due to her refusal of food, she’d lost weight she couldn’t afford to lose. Mercedes was bony, haggard, and mean, like a stray street dog that had never known kindness.

   She wasn’t going to break.

   The realization fell on him like a load of wet cement, weighing him down where he stood, making breathing impossible. He shook his head. “Why are you protecting him? He left you to us. He hasn’t come for you. If he was worth protecting, he’d have risked his life to find you.”

   Marcus saw a flicker of emotion behind those devil-dark eyes.

   Gotcha.

   He slid his phone from his back pocket and held it out. “Call him. Tell him HORNET is holding you captive near Jackson, Wyoming. Tell him the team is all out of town until Monday. You’re easy pickings right now. Let’s see how much he cares.”

   “He loves me.”

   Uh-huh. That was not the declaration of a woman certain about the status of her relationship. She didn’t believe it any more than he did.

   Marcus jiggled the phone in front of her face. “Here’s his chance to prove it.”

   Gaze fastened on the phone, she lifted the corner of her mouth in a sneer. “If you think you’ll be able to track him from a phone call—”

   He grunted and took out his pocketknife, then sliced through the tape holding her right hand to the arm of the chair. “You’re not stupid. You know how to get in touch with him without leaving a trail.” He shoved the phone into her free hand, then stepped back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Go on. Call him.”

   She blinked at him. “You’re willing to put your team in danger for answers?”

   “I’m not. Your boyfriend won’t come.”

   She flinched. A small, almost imperceptible movement, but yeah, he’d hit a nerve. “You don’t know that.”

   “Yeah, I do. I saw real love at work in Nigeria. You did, too. Jean-Luc and Claire Oliver. He didn’t rest until he found her and repeatedly put himself at risk to keep her safe. What did your boyfriend do? He took off and left you there in the middle of a biological hot zone. Why is that worth your loyalty?”

   She turned the phone over in her hand. Again and again. But she hadn’t thrown it back at him, which he took as a good sign.

   “You plan to kill him?” she asked after an endless moment.

   A thrill raced along Marcus’s spine. He was getting through to her. “I want answers. I know he was a hired gun. If you can tell me who hired him, I won’t need him.”

   Lies. All lies. He sure as fuck planned to kill the man who pulled the trigger, as well as the person who hired him to do it.

   She shook her head. “I don’t know. He didn’t tell me.”

   Holy shit. She was talking. After all the torture—the waterboarding, the sensory overload, the sleep deprivation—all it took in the end was to shake her confidence in her man. He should’ve tried that hours ago.

   “Give me his name,” he said softly.

   Another shake of her head.

   “He. Left. You.”

   She remained stubbornly silent, but there was something different about that silence now. She wasn’t as sure of herself.

   “Why Danny?” The question had haunted him nightly since that bullet tore through his best friend’s chest. Danny didn’t have enemies. Everyone liked him. Christ, he even got thank-you letters from the guys he’d put in prison during his tenure as an FBI negotiator. He wasn’t someone who inspired the kind of deep hatred it took to hire a hitman.

   “It was supposed to be you,” Mercedes whispered.

   His entire body froze, his blood icing over in his veins. “What?”

   “All I know is that you were the target. You ducked.”

   He was the target. He was the target. He was the fucking target.

   His enemies had killed Danny.

   His fault.

   Jesus.

   He moved slowly, like the air had become molasses around him. He squatted down in front of her. “Your lover killed the wrong guy. He took away a good man. A husband and a father.”

   “He knows. He feels horrible—”

   “Fuck that. It’s not enough.”

   When she didn’t respond, he yanked the phone out of her hand and found a picture of Danny with his wife and their three children. “That woman? Her name is Leah. She’s alone because your lover made a mistake. She has to raise those beautiful babies on her own. Those kids are so young they won’t even remember their father. They won’t remember how much he loved them. He won’t be there to walk his baby girl down the aisle someday. He won’t be there to teach his twins all the things boys learn from their father. All because your lover made. A. Fucking. Mistake.”

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