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*includes a digitally signed, printed author note*


A man tortured by his past. A woman determined to save him. A deadly assignment that threatens to rip them apart.

Eight months after falling in love with Alex Slade, the Army Ranger she rescued from an infamous drug cartel, U.S. Marine Lieutenant Vivian Thorpe is approached to be his second in command of ARMOR, the first team in a new shadowy black ops section called Division Eight. She agrees but has one condition: she will only give ARMOR six months.

With the deadline fast approaching, the pair find themselves heading to Africa with their team. Their mission: to assist an undercover CIA operative who may have unearthed the hottest lead on African arms trafficking in decades. When they fail to make contact with the agent, ARMOR discovers a chain of bloody evidence that leads them across the dark continent on the trail of a notorious arms dealer who may prove to be their toughest adversary yet.

With their enemy always one step ahead of them, Alex and Vivian must ignore the growing storm inside their hearts and call on all their strength and wit to lead ARMOR on one of the most dangerous assignments they have ever undertaken.

Will they survive long enough for Vivian to convince Alex that she is the perfect woman for him?

Format  Paperback
Pages  160
ISBN  978-0-9955013-3-1 
Dimensions  5 x 0.35 x 8 inches
Publisher   Silver Orb Publishing
Language  English
Edition  Third Edition, April 2024


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October 2011. Nicaragua.

The knife danced along his skin, raising goosebumps in its wake. Alex Slade found his senses arrowing in on the cold trail of the metal blade while he sat unmoving, hands bound to the armrests and feet shackled to the legs of a steel chair. The knife kissed his temple and the side of his neck before snaking along his left biceps. Although Alex knew what would happen next, he still gritted his teeth and steeled himself.

The pain came with a heat that choked the breath from his throat, the knife slicing through the thin, sensitive skin of his outer elbow until it almost scraped bone. He swallowed a scream and concentrated on a spot on the floor, willing himself not to utter a single sound, air leaving his nose in short, sharp pants. Sweat beaded his forehead and dripped down his swollen, battered face, prickling his raw wounds. Warmth oozed down his arm. Out the corner of his eye, he saw blood splash onto the dirt floor, adding to crimson stains worn deep into the concrete from all the victims who had occupied the chair before him.

‘The white man refuses to speak today,’ someone said in Spanish a dozen feet to his left.

Alex glanced at the figure leaning against the wall in the corner of the filthy interrogation room, his heart slamming against his ribs.

Diego Morales, right-hand man and brother-in-law of Sebastian Mateo Bolivar, one of Nicaragua’s most infamous and elusive drug lords, stood watching him with a faint smile. Gold glinted at his wrist as he took a leisurely drag of his Cuban cigar, the pungent smoke leaving his nostrils in faint trails that clouded the air. His crisp, flowery shirt and freshly pressed chino pants were out of keeping with their surroundings.

It would take little for Morales to kill him. And after one hundred and ten days in captivity – one hundred and ten unholy days during which he had been tortured to the limits of his endurance, his body and mind scarred from the brutal acts inflicted on him by the skilled “information extraction specialists” employed by the Sacuanjoche Cartel – Alex knew his luck was running out. Especially after yesterday. Yesterday had been a gloriously bad day and a great one.

Bolivar himself had traveled all the way to the mosquito infested swamp where Alex was being kept prisoner to listen to his tortured disclosure, obtained under duress after nearly half a day of being beaten, cut, and electrocuted. It was a disclosure vital enough to the drug lord’s future business endeavors that he broke his reclusive habits and ventured out of the hidden compound where he normally resided with his wife and children to hear it in person. All Alex recalled of those ungodly hours were Bolivar’s cold, dark eyes studying him as if he were an insect. He lost count of the number of times his consciousness faded, only to be brought back to the cruel reality of his situation over and over again by the drugs they injected into him.

Still, the cartel’s torturers had not broken him. Not completely. Ten years of Ranger training had seen to that. And if his calculations were correct, he was going to be either a free man or a dead one in the next few minutes.

Despite the sharp throb of his cuts and bruises, Alex smiled at Morales.

‘The white man says you can go fuck yourself,’ he muttered back in Spanish.

Morales’s eyes widened. Irritation replaced the surprise in his gaze. He uncrossed his legs and pushed away from the wall, strolling across the room and past the butcher with the knife before stopping by the chair.

Morales loomed over him and spoke in perfect English. ‘Why, you have not uttered such challenging words in a long time, Major Slade. Where is this uncommon courage coming from?’

Alex squinted up through puffy eyes and grinned. With death or deliverance but moments away, he had nothing left to lose.

‘I had a date with your momma last night.’

Morales’s face darkened. He grabbed the top of Alex’s head and tugged viciously, bending his neck backward at an impossible angle that caused black spots to dance across his vision. Alex sucked air through his nose as clumps of hair parted from his scalp.

Morales brought the cigar to his face, the hot end stopping a couple of inches before it seared his left eye.

‘I have to say, Major,’ he spat out, ‘for a gringo, you sure have balls. Maybe I should cut them off and feed them to my dogs.’

Alex stared past the orange glow of the cigar to Morales, neck aching in the Latino man’s hold.

‘Don’t,’ he drawled. ‘Your momma will miss them.’

Morales snarled. Alex inhaled sharply. The sizzling butt of the cigar came within a hairbreadth of touching his eyelashes when it froze in the Latino man’s grasp.

A noise had come from outside. Morales released Alex and straightened. He turned and stared at the metal door behind him.

Bar the patter of rain on the rooftop and the crackle and sizzle of the naked bulb hanging from the ceiling, no other sound reached Alex’s ears through the blood pounding in his skull.

Still, he braced himself, lifting his wrists slightly from the armrests and stretching his feet carefully to test his restraints, masking a wince as pain lanced through his swollen, deformed right thigh.

He knew this hush.

Morales stole a suspicious glance at him before motioning wordlessly to the man with the knife. The latter tucked the bloodied blade into the sheath at his waist, slipped a Glock 25 from his belt, and strode to the door.

The noise of the rain intensified when he pulled it open. He inspected the darkness outside before stepping across the threshold. The panel swung on its hinges as he disappeared in the gloom, closing with the faintest clatter.

Morales cast his cigar to the ground and crushed the butt under his heel, much to Alex’s relief. Then he slid a serrated knife from his back and moved behind the chair.

Alex’s breaths turned shallow as Morales cupped his chin with one hand, extended his neck, and brought the pointed end of the wicked blade to the thrumming pulse in his throat.

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