DANCE WITH THE DEVIL
A Gods of War Novel
Dance With the Devil - A Gods of War Novel
Date of Publication:
October 10, 2017
Kaylee Thomas escaped from Madrid, taking secrets with her that could get her killed. As an cyber operative for Grimaldi Global, Kaylee's single-minded focus is on tracking down criminals who use the internet to hide their identity. A survivor of cyber bullying, she uses her skills to ensure that no one can hide on the internet.
Mick O'Halloran is a covert ops agent for Grimaldi Global and leader of the Ares team. Saving lives and protecting others is a way of life for him. But babysitting a computer geek sounds like a job better left for the boys back in the office until he meets Kaylee. Sparks fly between them as he takes her into protective custody until the facts she's uncovered can be verified.
But some secrets can't stay hidden and when an assisin comes calling Mick and Kaylee go on the hunt for the mole inside their group. It'll take every bit of her computer savvy and his lethal skills to keep them alive. Releasing the information that Kaylee has uncovered threatens to burn the world down around them.
The apartment that Cory led them too was a delay that Kaylee didn’t need right now. Her bag was ruined, and a part of her…the superstitious part…wondered if it was because her dad was involved in something he shouldn’t be. Ramona and Jeff were seated on one of the couches in the main living area, both looking more nervous than she’d ever seen them. Her own pulse was racing still and she felt slightly nauseous.
“Cory had patched up Mick’s cut before he, Mick and Linc had disappeared into another room and they were awaiting “transport”.
Cory returned a few minutes later and gave her a serious look. “Kaylee, we need to talk about your tech.”
“You and your team. I need everyone’s cellphones, laptops and tablets…anything with Wi-Fi enabled tracking,” he said.
“We’ve already turned that all off,” she said. “We don’t enable anything while we’re working on a case like this one.”
“I need to check to be sure,” Cory said firmly.
“We work for the same company,” Jeff said. “We’re following the company protocols.”
“Exactly. So you guys know that the director doesn’t joke around about stuff like this. Our protocol when on a protect-and-deliver mission is to ensure that we are all safe. You guys and our team. That means verifying that every piece of tech is turned off.”
Cory, for all of his affability, looked like he wasn’t going to back down. She imagined them arguing until the transport arrived, but she suspected they weren’t leaving until he confirmed they were following protocol. “Just give it to him, guys,” Kaylee said.
“Thank you,” Cory said. “Bring your stuff to the kitchen table.”
She followed Cory to the large butcher-block table in the kitchen. For all the luxury of the apartment, it was also homey. There were no family photos, but all of the furniture was designed with comfort in mind.
“Here you go,” she said, digging her laptop, tablet and cellphone from her bag.
He took them from her and scanned the devices with a tool that she had read about, but hadn’t seen before. It was able to find broadcast signals without turning on a device. She had heard of it being used in some cases to see if a snitch was broadcasting to someone else.
“These are clear. Do you have a smart watch?” he asked.
“No,” she said, showing him her battered old Timex. “Still taking a licking.”
He shook his head and laughed, then stood and waved the device around her and she held herself still as he did so.
“Good enough. You’re clean,” Cory said with a wink. “You’re free to go sit back down.”
“Do you have anything I can use to fix my bag?”
“Boss should,” Cory said. “Ramona, please bring your stuff over.”
Kaylee gathered her stuff, shoved it back into the broken bag, and walked into the other room and down the hallway, following the sound of voices to find Mick and Linc. They were discussing the plane and how much longer they were going to have to wait to get back to the airfield.
“Excuse me,” she said, standing in the doorway of what looked like a boardroom to her, but seemed odd to find in a house.
“Yes?” Mick said, glancing up from the table where they had a map spread out.
“Do you have some thread I can use to fix my bag?” she asked.
Mick straightened up. “You know the city better than me, Linc. Find us a location to meet so we can get out of Madrid without being noticed.”
Mick left Linc and walked toward her. He moved with an economy of motion. His gait was smooth and purposeful. He was muscled, which she noticed now that she saw him in just a t-shirt that defined his shoulders and his upper arms. She saw the faint outline of a bandage on his midsection.
“Follow me,” he said.
She already knew he wasn’t much of a talker. And normally she’d have to say she wasn’t either, but a perverse part of her couldn’t stand letting someone else decide that there should be silence between them, so she started talking.
“So Linc is from Madrid?” she asked. “He doesn’t look or sound Spanish.”
“He’s not,” Mick said without looking over his shoulder. He led her into a bedroom with a large four-poster bed in the center of it. There were heavy curtains on the floor-to-ceiling windows. The carpet was thick under her shoes and it smelled sweetly of magnolias.
“So?” he asked, going to the shirt he’d had on earlier and flipping it over to reveal some inner pockets. He pulled out a small gadget and then a sewing kit.
A sewing kit.
“Give me your bag,” he said, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
Bemused, she handed him her bag. He bent his head over the needle as he threaded it while she watched him.
“I think Linc might have a bag that’s better than this old thing.”
“I can fix it,” she said. “You don’t have to.”
“You said the intel wasn’t in here, so why is this bag so important to you?” he asked.
“My dad gave it to me,” she said.
“The wanted criminal, Dirk Thomas?”
Of course, he knew who her dad was. The director had taken a chance on hiring her when others had objected to her background. But she’d been clean since she was fourteen. “Yeah, that one. He’s the one who taught me how to use computers and code and hack—all skills which I use now to put people away.”
She hadn’t seen her dad since she’d left. Occasionally she saw his code online, and one time he’d reached out to warn her about an impending attack on a network that she was in charge of protecting for the United States Government. But that was it.
The last time she’d seen him, he had stubble to cover the strong line of his jaw and had shorn his shoulder-length, golden-brown hair to a shorter, more corporate haircut. Sometimes, usually late at night when she couldn’t sleep, she missed him. Missed his voice and the way just knowing he was in the same building as her had made her feel safe.
“Not judging,” he said.
“I sounded defensive, didn’t I?” she asked, walking toward the window. “It’s hard not to. He’s a complicated man.”
“I get it,” Mick said. “Here you go.”
She walked over to him, taking the bag from him. His stitches were neat and strong. She tugged on the strap and Mick put his hands over hers and tugged hard and the stitches didn’t budge.
He was close now. So close she could see the flecks of brown in his hazel-green eyes.
His jaw was strong, and she could tell from the bump on his nose that it had been broken more than once. His neck and shoulder muscles were well-defined. Everything about him was hard—speaking of strength and promising violence. But his mouth…he had a hard set to his lips, but they looked soft.
“Never apologize for where you came from,” he said. “It’s what made you who are.”
“Is that why you do what you do?” she asked, fascinated by the stubble on his face and the calm, efficient way he spoke and moved.
“Yes. Some of us, like Linc, grow up surrounded by wealth like this. Others grow up fast and hard. We just have to roll with it and answer to ourselves at the end of the day.”
She nodded. “What made you the way you are?”
“That’s a story for another day,” he said. “Suffice it to say, I am very good at what my father taught me—like you.”
“What did he teach you?” she asked as he dropped his arms and stepped back from her.