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Shattered Lies (Web of Lies #3)
Author: Kathleen Brooks


1

 

 

When faced with a table full of men armed with guns, a woman had only one shot at getting out alive. And Valeria McGregor wasn’t the kind to bat her lashes.

One week was all it had taken for Valeria to get to this point, but it was all she needed. She had the information necessary to bring down Mollia Domini, the international group set on pulling the world’s strings from the shadows. Now, if only she could get out of the middle of Manuel Hernandez’s cartel headquarters to tell her group.

“Miss McGregor.” Manuel, the head of the Hermanos de Sangre drug cartel, placed both hands on the worn farm table and stared at her from the opposite end. In between them were eleven heavily armed soldiers waiting to be the one to leap to do his boss’s bidding. “Who do you work for?”

“You,” Valeria replied in Spanish. She may have a Scottish last name thanks to her father, but she had the ability to speak Spanish thanks to her mother. Manuel grinned, and she was reminded that while he was handsome, he was also deadly.

“We both know that’s not true,” he said, giving her a look as if she were a child telling a fib. It was a look she’d seen from someone else right before she’d crossed into Mexico through Tecate, a small town along the border between Tijuana and Mexicali. How she hated when men were condescending simply because she was female. It was like a curse at times. But she never let that look deter her. From there, she’d stolen a car and driven overnight to Hermosillo in Sonora, Mexico. On the streets there, she bought a fake Mexican ID before boarding a plane to Mazatlán, the resort town in Sinaloa, Mexico, that was headquarters of the Hermanos de Sangre drug cartel.

“You look like this American I’ve seen.” Valeria looked at the ceiling fan over the table as she tapped one hand on the table as if trying to remember a name. But it was really just a distraction so she could reach for her gun with the other hand. “Sebastian Abel. That’s it. He’s some famous rich tech guy.” And also the person funding the group led by the President of the United States. A group whose mission it was to bring down Mollia Domini.

Manuel preened at the compliment. Little did he know it was Sebastian Abel’s bank account and private plane that brought Valeria to Manuel’s headquarters, looking for a job. Sebastian was a billionaire and President Birch Stratton’s best friend. He was funding the president’s secret operation off the books. And his name was also showing up places it shouldn’t have.

Valeria’s job was to follow the money. She’d taken down plenty of drug lords when she was with the DEA. So imagine her surprise when she began to follow the money of Dan March and Phylicia Claymore, two corrupt FBI agents working for Mollia Domini, who used it to wreak havoc. And it all came back to a little bank here in Mazatlán, right along with some money from Sebastian Abel. The same little bank that also happened to be owned by Manuel as a way to launder his drug money. As the largest cartel in all of Mexico, Hermanos de Sangre wielded more power than the Mexican government. And that made the man down the table from her very dangerous.

“Flattery will get you nowhere. Now, we know you’re no longer with the DEA. So who are you working for now and why are you here?” Manuel demanded. Flattery, maybe. Sebastian was wickedly handsome with black hair and dark gray eyes, but Manuel was like his mini version, standing the same height as Valeria’s five feet six inches.

“I already told you I wasn’t with the DEA. Didn’t you believe me?” Valeria asked with annoyance. It was how she got into the compound. She’d told Manuel the truth—she’d gotten fired because he was paying off her coworkers and she tried to bust them. Since her career was ruined, why not come to the man she at least knew paid well?

“Yes, but I didn’t believe you. You work at a bar owned by Elizabeth James, an FBI agent,” Manuel accused.

The men at the table shifted.

“Former agent. Just like me, she was fired for doing nothing wrong. We jaded types are drawn to one another. Plus, you pay better than Lizzy does. Now, what is this all about?” Valeria refused to look at the ceiling fan. Instead she kept her eyes locked with Manuel’s.

“It’s about this.” Manuel turned a tablet around as a video began to play. It was from a security camera within Manuel’s desktop computer. It began with Valeria waking up the computer. She’d turned off the complex’s security cameras, but she hadn’t known about the one on his computer. At least he couldn’t see the flash drive she’d copied to that was now safe in a waterproof compartment in the buckle of her belt.

“I can’t check my email?” Valeria asked in amazement. They all knew she was lying, though.

“What did you see, Miss McGregor?” Manuel asked in a deadly serious tone that sent chills down her back.

“I see you have a thing for Kerra Ruby’s sex tape.”

Manuel didn’t slam his hands down as she expected. Instead, he sat down and stared at her as if he could read the truth from her. “So you hack my computer, you’re no longer with the DEA, your coworker was with the FBI, and your best friend is the press secretary. You and I both know that doesn’t add up to you coming here for a job. Plus, it’s very interesting company to keep. So I’ll ask one more time. Who do you work for?”

 

* * *

 

Jason Wolski didn’t like Sebastian Abel. He stood toe to toe with him at the private airport outside DC. Jason was supposed to transport a dead body or two. What he didn’t need was this man busting his balls. Dalton, his former PJ team member, certainly didn’t trust Sebastian, and Jason couldn’t blame Dalton. He didn’t trust Sebastian either, and he’d just met him.

“Who are you?” Sebastian asked again as he stood tall, trying to intimidate Jason. It wouldn’t work. As a PJ, nickname for soldiers in the U.S. Air Force Pararescue, Jason and his team were the last chance of rescue behind enemy lines, in the middle of the ocean, on the top of a mountain . . . it didn’t matter where you were, a PJ would come for you. It was how Jason had lost his leg. A rescue in the middle of the ocean where a shark decided he looked like dinner.

Dalton had saved him, and Jason had retired to spend time with his wife, Michelle. They’d started a camp in the Virginia mountains to help wounded veterans regain strength and independence while learning to deal with the inevitable PTSD. And then Dalton had called out of the blue. It was then that everything had taken a horrible turn. His wife was now dead, and maybe Sebastian didn’t realize that meant Jason had nothing left to live for.

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