Hide and Seek - Lara Adrian

Book Description

John “Ranger” Duarte was one of the Phoenix program’s deadliest operatives, a man with a dark past and a ruthless sense of justice. Since the fall of the program, Ranger’s gone deep off-grid in the mountains, preparing for war against his enemies. No one has found him in three years, until a woman in desperate need of help arrives on his doorstep—a woman he once vowed to keep safe. Ranger’s honor demands he uphold his promise, but with premonitions of a looming apocalypse haunting his dreams and killers edging closer by the hour, protecting Lisa Becker is a distraction he can ill afford. And when the passion that sparks between them becomes a flame neither of them can put out, Ranger will be forced to decide between the mission his own life depends on, and the woman he cannot live without.


Heavy summer rain pounded the roof of the cabin like a barrage of gunfire. John Duarte cursed as another thin stream of water began to drip from between the log rafters of his small, hundred-year-old mountain home.

The deluge had been going on all day. Driving, relentless. It showed no sign of slowing down, even as the clock on the stove in the single-room living space rolled past midnight.

Taking a swig of his freshly opened Coors, he glared up at the steady stream of rainwater that was splashing onto his living room rug. Fuck. He’d patched two ceiling leaks already tonight and was just about to take off his boots and settle in for a late meal and a cold beer.

No such damned luck. At this rate, the odds of him eating or getting any shut-eye tonight were slim to none.

Not that he made a point of doing either on a regular basis. Blame it on too many years deployed to one hellhole or another as a combat Marine, followed by too many years working covert missions for a different, less public and highly specialized program after his official tours of duty in the sandbox had ended.

Add to that, the past three years he’d been living up on this remote North Carolina mountain, hiding away from the very people—the very duty—he’d once pledged his life to as a Phoenix program operative.

Three years that he’d been waiting for the program’s enemies to catch up to him. Three years preparing for a battle he would unleash on whoever was responsible for the death of Phoenix’s founder and the subsequent threat against everyone else associated with the covert agency.

Duarte took another long drink of his beer as the sum of all those years washed over him. Now, he lived totally off the grid by choice. Alone by necessity. Just him and God and the elements—two of which seemed determined to drown him off the mountain tonight.

Scrubbing a hand over his dark beard, Duarte set the bottle down on the scuffed countertop. His meal would have to wait. He put a lid on the pot of bubbling venison stew he’d warmed up, then turned to take a closer look at the leak he needed to patch.

He didn’t get halfway across the old wood plank floor before a high-pitched beep sounded from the console of monitors on the other side of the room. Hard to hear it over the steady drum of the rain, but Duarte would know that sensor alarm anywhere.

Since he’d gone underground, he’d conditioned himself to register the faint warning even in his sleep.

And he knew what the alarm meant.

Someone was on the mountain with him.

He glanced at the blinking red light to see which sensor had been tripped. The one down by the road—if the narrow, twisting dirt path that led off the mountain pass and up to his cabin could be mistaken for a road.

Which it wouldn’t be, not by anyone who didn’t have any business coming up here.

And not by anyone fool enough to brave traveling this far and this high in the middle of the night. In the pouring rain.

Couldn’t be wildlife either. A few months after he’d installed the sensors around the perimeter of his property, Duarte had made adjustments so the deer, black bears, and other woodland animals didn’t trip the alarms. He’d painstakingly fine-tuned them to react only to the body temperature and two-legged gait of human intruders.

Like the one currently heading right for him in the dark outside.

Another alarm beeped, this one a motion detector situated in the woods off the main path, some hundred yards out from the cabin. Either there was more than