I would give my right tit for a pair of Superman’s glasses right now.
One year ago.
Avery fingered the gem on her ring nervously. The temptation to hit the panic button was becoming overwhelming. None of her contingencies covered what was happening. She should have been on her way to dinner to arrange a meeting with a new client. A bigger fish than she was used to dealing with. The man was an infamous information broker and human trafficker known as the Recluse. Instead, she was alone in the back of a luxury limousine with three goons who looked at her like she was dinner.
No one knew where she was and her backup was sitting in the restaurant, probably wondering where she was. A year of undercover work and she was only weeks away from the largest take down of her career. What had started as a sting to bring down one of the biggest drug suppliers in Denver might lead to capturing one of the FBIs most wanted. It was that fact that made her hesitate to call for help. If she blew her cover for anything other than to save her life, her supervisors would have her ass.
Avery gestured out the tinted windows. “This is not the way to Nicolo’s,” she snapped, filling her voice with irritation rather than the genuine fear she felt.
Mateo Lopez and his two men had met her in front of her car near her fake apartment, claiming to need to talk to her before the meeting. She’d had little choice but to get into the limo with them.
“Mr. Thomas had an opening in his schedule, so we are going to meet him now.” Mateo’s smile wasn’t comforting.
“You said the meeting was next week. I have none of the information I need with me.” More importantly, she didn’t have a swarm of DEA and FBI agents waiting in the wings, ready to arrest the man.
Mateo’s chuckle was mocking. “I am sure you’ll be fine. After all, Ms. Garcia, it’s no different from the work you’ve been doing for years. Correct?”
“I don’t appreciate surprises. Up to now, our business has been extremely lucrative for both of us. What I do takes time and planning. If Mr. Thomas can’t be patient, then I have no interest in working with him.”
“Oh, he’s a very patient and well-connected man.”
The view of the city disappearing into highway outside the limo’s windows made it clear they were leaving Denver. Avery knew she needed to do something soon if she had any hope of salvaging the situation.
“That may be but I’ve been very clear I only meet in venues of my choosing.” She gestured out the window. “I don’t do business like this. Have your driver drop me off. I’ll call a car for myself. If Mr. Thomas wants to work with me, he has to follow the same rules as everyone else.”
“Your money laundering skills are amazing. Almost too good to be true.” Mateo pulled a gun from his holster by his side.
She pressed down on the gem in her ring, activating the panic button. Help would come, but it would probably be too late.
“That is completely unnecessary.” She nodded at his gun. “There is no such thing as too good in my business. I am careful and I don’t get caught, that’s why you hired me.” Staying calm with a gun pointed at her and two thugs on either side was hard.
For the last year, she had pretended to be the daughter of a dead cartel member. The DEA had made sure they protected her at all times as she wined and dined drug and gun runners. She had stayed cool with each encounter because she had the safety net of backup. Threats, lewd suggestions, none of it had bothered her. Here in the back of this limo, all of that bravado failed her. Her stomach twisted as predictions of what could happen to her flickered through her mind.
Hatred blazed out of Mateo’s eyes. “I hired you because your references were impeccable. You never asked questions and always delivered what you promised.”
“Then why the theatrics?” Avery said through gritted teeth.
“Mr. Thomas is more connected than I am. He was disappointed to find out that the FBI knew all about our transactions. In fact, he found out exactly who you are, Agent Perez.”
Fear turned to terror as she realized she wasn’t just in danger of being exposed, they had blown her cover wide open. That it was a leak in the FBI was a bitter pill. Bringing them in to the case last month had been a risk. Undercover operations could be exposed with a single wrong word, but so close to the end her superiors had thought the extra help was worth the risk. A poor decision she was going to pay for with her life.
Avery kicked out, the heel of her shoe catching Mateo in the wrist with the point of the stiletto. She tried to reach for her own gun, but the two men sitting next to her grabbed her arms. She was well trained by the DEA and an expert in several martial arts since childhood. None of that would overcome the disadvantage of the small space or the size difference of the large men attacking her. Even knowing it was pointless, she struggled, bit, and clawed at the men trying to hold her down. Only when they had her pinned face down on the seat with a knee in her back, did she finally give in to the inevitable.
“If you kill a federal agent, there will be nowhere you can hide.” Tears of frustration pricked at her eyes, but there was no way she would let them see them.
“Oh, they will look for you, bitch. You’re a dirty agent who shot her partner, stole millions and took off with her Russian lover. You might even make their most wanted list.” Mateo’s words were like ice against her spine.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” She bucked against the man who pinned her down.
“We’ve known who you are for a month. Setting you up was child’s play. Besides, killing you is too easy. No one betrays me and gets a painless death.”
“You shot Nate?” Her partner had been a gentle man, not really suited for the line of work they were in. No one would believe she had turned on him. They had been friends almost since she graduated from training and started with the DEA. Had they really killed him? She didn’t want to picture a world without her partner’s easy laugh and corny jokes.
“Not personally. But he is dead. I paid Mr. Thomas a pretty penny to make sure the evidence will show you did it. I’m going to enjoy watching everyone turn against you.”
She bucked up against the man holding her down. “You bastard!”
“I’m going to enjoy breaking you. Me and my men are going to spend days making you pay for your betrayal. The beauty of it, if there is enough of you left when we get bored, Mr. Thomas will make a profit off of selling you to someone who will enjoy you no matter how broken.”
Bile rose in her throat. She shook her head. There was no way she would let this asshole break her. She would find a way to make them all pay.