Sabotage, страница 1
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Copyright © 2017 by James Patterson
Cover design by Kapo Ng; photograph by Bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock Images
Cover copyright © 2017 Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Hachette Book Group supports the right to free expression and the value of copyright. The purpose of copyright is to encourage writers and artists to produce the creative works that enrich our culture.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like permission to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), please contact [email protected] Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
BookShots / Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
First ebook edition: April 2017
BookShots is an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The BookShots name and logo are trademarks of JBP Business, LLC.
The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.
The Hachette Speakers Bureau provides a wide range of authors for speaking events. To find out more, go to hachettespeakersbureau.com or call (866) 376-6591.
When I created BookShots, I wanted to do things differently. True, there are some key aspects of a story that should remain constant, like a quality plot with constant action. But just as there are some conventions worth keeping, others are meant to be broken.
Take Jessica Linden’s Under Covers series, for example. Abbie Whitmore is the one who’s the tough undercover agent. And in the first book, Bodyguard, her boyfriend, Jonathan, was the one who needed saving.
But not every story ends when the characters get their happily ever after. And that was a convention I wanted to break, too. This new book, Sabotage, will show you what happens after the “happily ever after” and that final kiss in Bodyguard. Because for some people, romance lasts forever.
Right from the moment I started reading the first book in this series, I knew there was something special about the relationship between agent Abbie Whitmore and Congressman Jonathan Lassiter. I always get wrapped up in their suspenseful story lines and I’m inspired by how well-matched they are as a pair. They’re the type of couple that you want to watch every moment and during every challenge that life throws at them.
This book is packaged in the same short, action-packed format of all the BookShots titles. It delivers the whole plot of a full-length novel, so you’ll be able to read it in a few hours. And I bet you’ll love every minute of it.
About Bookshots Flames
Letter from James Patterson
About the Author
The suited man furrowed his brow, creating four perfectly parallel wrinkles between his eyebrows. She looked on and donned an appropriately contrite expression.
A second suited man, whose ID badge identified him as Agent Malloy, rubbed his chin and exchanged a look with the first man, who had yet to introduce himself.
She didn’t care. One suit was the same as the next—they all thought they were superior to her. Yet she knew better. The only reason she was here was because of a fluke, a hiccup in the order of humanity. She deserved much better than to be taking orders from these assholes.
So for now, she’d play along with these idiots.
“You’re sure she can hack it?” Agent Malloy finally spoke.
“Everyone seems to think so. She says she can.”
I’m right here. She had to check herself as her nostrils flared. She wished she could teach these two some manners. Her opponents usually made the unfortunate mistake of underestimating her, which she used to her advantage. Though she was small, she was deadly, and she’d like nothing more than to shove a knife strategically in one of these men’s eyes, one of the most vulnerable places in the human body.
A bloodstain would blend into Agent Malloy’s tie perfectly, so perhaps he was the better choice.
The mental image brought a smile to her lips. She was getting overzealous, which simply would not do.
Have patience. Remember the final prize.
It was hard to follow her own advice when she was in the company of these two goons. Men like them were beneath her. They resorted to violence as a first measure.
She’d experienced her fair share of violence, but to engage in physical violence alone was the path of morons. Sure, there were a few people she wouldn’t mind killing—well, one in particular—but death was so finite, the satisfaction so short.
Ending a life was easy. Child’s play.
But ruining a life…that took sophistication. And it was so much more gratifying.
No, she’d much prefer to watch her prey live years of misery.
Agent Malloy pursed his lips and finally looked down at the place where she was sitting.
There were two other chairs in the room, but both agents stood. She knew why—it was a power play. And that was okay. She would play their game.
And comfortably, from her seat, with her ankles crossed daintily—the perfect picture of a lady.
Agent Malloy placed both palms flat on the table in front of her and leaned forward. “You know, if we had any other options, we wouldn’t be talking to you.”
“Then I suppose that’s my good fortune.” Rein it in. Comments like that wouldn’t help. And she couldn’t wait to be free of these morons.
Simply give me the access I need and I’ll be on my way.
And then it would begin.
The bitch had no idea, no clue, what was coming her way.
Perhaps killing her was the better option. The thought of watching the life leak out of her eyes was exhilarating. And she certainly deserved it.
Maybe she’d have to lower her standards, this one time. But only after she was done playing. She drummed her fingertips on the table.
“If you fail—”
“I won’t fail.”
“You’re awfully cocky.”
Agent Malloy straightened to his full height and buttoned his jacket. He glanced at the other agent. “Make the deal.”
The other agent nodded.
Agent Malloy strode to the door. “You’ve got twenty-four hours. Get ready.”
A slow smile stretched across her face. She was more than ready.
Agent Abbie Whitmore took out her crystal chandelier earrings, then slipped her 9mm from its thigh holster. She placed everything on the dresser and exhaled, letting go of the small annoyances from the evening.
She’d much rather have faced an armed assailant than mingled with the slew of congressmen’s wives. Especially when those same women only wanted to talk about when she was going to take on the Mrs. title.
They’d looked at her sympathetically and told her that at least she could quit the day job when she was married. At that point, Abbie had walked away. It was either that or punch one of them in the face.
The sad thing is, that would be the most action she’d had in months. She’d better get off desk duty soon or she might seriously lose her shit.
A hand she knew all too well slipped around her middle and pulled her against the hard, lean body of her boyfriend. She tilted her neck to press her lips to Jonathan’s.
Any doubts she’d had about the evening faded away. She was Congressman Jonathan Lassiter’s permanent plus one these days and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m sorry I got held up,” Jonathan said, stepping away to undo his bow tie. “Did you have a lovely conversation with the wives?”
Abbie would have snorted if not for the grin on Jonathan’s face. He was totally messing with her. He knew she hated the chitchat.
“If I ever care more about the exact carat size of someone’s engagement ring than”—Abbie stopped to think—“well, anything, put me out of my misery.”
“Not all of the wives are like that, you know. But somehow, you always seem to get stuck with the petty ones. Some of them are powerful women in their own right. Like you. Getting married doesn’t mean giving up a career.”
Shit. Abbie turned back toward the dresser and fumbled with the clasp on her bracelet. She’d brought the marriage discussion on herself by mentioning engagement rings. She knew better than that.
That damn desk duty was turning her brain to mush.
She cleared her throat. “Where did you disappear to, anyway?”
“Howard cornered me. When he gets to talking about strategy, there’s no stopping him. He did have some helpful insights, though.”
“Oh? What were those?”
Jonathan spun her around and pulled her against his chest. “You don’t really care about that, do you?”
He put his lips to the other side of her neck, applying just the right amount of pressure in just the right place. It was hard to care about anything when he did that. He was right—she didn’t give a damn about what Congressman Howard had to say. Oh, she definitely cared about Jonathan’s career because she cared about him, but the day-to-day details didn’t interest her.
He slipped the strap of her dress off her shoulder. “The zipper,” Abbie said breathlessly. She’d paid a small fortune for this dress, and she couldn’t afford to have it torn—not like the last one.
Of course, that had been worth it.
Jonathan’s fingers deftly located the zipper and within seconds, the dress was pooled at her ankles on the floor. She stepped out of it and kicked it away.
He ran his hands along the curves of her hips and over the black lace garter belt with a groan. “You’re so sexy.”
Abbie yanked his shirt out of his trousers and up over his head, then splayed her hands on his chest with a cat-like smile. “Right back at you.”
A congressman shouldn’t have a body like this—all hard lines and tight muscles. There was a reason Jonathan had multiple fan clubs on Facebook.
He ran his thumb over her nipple, and she leaned into him, biting her lip. If those women realized that any of their fantasies about the congressman didn’t compare to the real thing, he’d need more security.
Her fingers found the buttons on his pants and in seconds, they joined her dress on the floor.
“Abbie, move in with me.”
The fire that was running through her veins turned to ice. “What?”
His eyes met hers and he cupped her face in his hands. “Move in with me.”
Her eyes widened. “Why are you asking that?”
“My timing isn’t the best.” Jonathan ran a hand through his hair, giving it a mussed-up-and-just-out-of-bed look that made Abbie weak in the knees. “I’ve been meaning to ask you, but there’s never a good time. You’re here most nights anyway, or I’m at your place. Our schedules are crazy. If we lived together—officially—then we’d see each other more.”
“It’s a big step,” Abbie said carefully. She wasn’t opposed to it. Not necessarily. But he had caught her off guard. In her professional life, she was ready for the unexpected—and welcomed it, even—but in her personal life, she didn’t like surprises.
Jonathan closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around her. “Think about it.”
“You wimping out on me?”
Jonathan eyed FBI Agent Steve McDowell and wiped the sweat from his brow. If he was smart, his answer would be “yes.” But he wasn’t smart, at least in this arena. He was a glutton for punishment.
He wiped his bloody knuckles on his towel. “Again.”
The approval in the other man’s eyes was instant. Jonathan rolled his shoulders and put his fists up.
They squared up in the ring, and Steve didn’t give Jonathan a moment to gain his bearings before he came in swinging. Even still, Jonathan knew his friend was holding back and it pissed him off. He bided his time, blocking most of the blows coming at him before landing a solid right cross on Steve’s chin that sent his head snapping to the side.
Steve chuckled. “Didn’t see that one coming. You’re getting better.”
“You’re holding back.”
Steve shrugged. “Can’t knock out the future POTUS.”
Jonathan merely gave him a look and started peeling the tape off his hands. That was one of the things he wasn’t looking forward to for his potential tenure in the White House. He didn’t want to be treated differently, especially by his friends.
It would inevitably and irrevocably change his life, in some ways good, some bad. But it would be worth it.
If he was elected, he’d be the youngest president the nation has ever had. Of course, he had to first secure the nomination.
He turned toward the locker room and his eye caught the clock on the wall. “Shit. I’m going to be late. I’m supposed to meet Abbie.”
“You still haven’t told her, have you?”
“No. She doesn’t need to know,” Jonathan said gruffly. Abbie had no idea he’d given up his regular gym regimen for training sessions with Steve. And there was no reason to keep it from her. But he had.
Steve put his hands up, palms facing out as if warding off an attack. “Damn, dude. You don’t have to bite my head off.”
“I’m just so fucking sick and tired of everyone assuming she’s my babysitter.”
Steve frowned. “I don’t think that. No one thinks that.”
Jonathan grunted and turned away. Maybe his friend was right. Maybe it was all in his head.
But damn, a few months ago he’d watched her take a bullet to protect him—a memory that was always present in a corner of his mind. Part of his brain protested that the situation was backward—he should have taken the bullet for her. He should be protecting her.
It was stupid. He was all for women’s rights and believed women were equal to men in every way, but he couldn’t shake that feeling. Abbie’s acting as his bodyguard hadn’t bothered him until he’d seen the woman he loved bleedi
The image wasn’t one he could shake easily.
And it wasn’t an experience he wanted to relive.
So he’d taken steps to prepare himself, in case they were ever in another situation. Learned hand-to-hand combat. Bought a gun and now practiced shooting regularly at the range.
It was a normal reaction.
So why hadn’t he told Abbie?
Abbie tapped her pen on her desk. A neat stack of completed reports sat on the corner, ready to be filed by the intern. She’d replied to every e-mail and returned all calls.
And it was only 10:00 a.m.
Desk duty was the pits. She was itching to get out in the field, but after she’d returned from medical leave, the director had still wanted her to take it easy. But it’d been months and her shoulder was fine. Better than fine. She’d done hours of strenuous rehab and she was stronger than ever.
So why was Director Oliver holding her back? It wasn’t exactly the kind of question Abbie could ask.
No one scared her or intimidated her. Except Director Sandra Oliver. She’d been at the agency a full year before Abbie had even learned the woman’s first name. Director Oliver might be pushing sixty, but Abbie had no doubt she could hold her own with the best the Cartwright Agency had to offer.
Sophie Walters, their resident computer expert, propped a hip on the corner of Abbie’s desk. “I need to get out for a while and clear my head. Want to go for a walk?”
Abbie was out of her chair before Sophie could complete her question. “God, yes.”
Sophie laughed as they walked out of the office toward the elevator. “Bored?”
“I hate desk duty,” Abbie grumbled, punching the button for the ground floor. “I don’t know how you do it. Sitting in front of a computer all day would kill me.”
“Says the woman who recently got shot in the line of duty.” Sophie risked a sidelong glance at Abbie and was rewarded with a scowl.
“Okay, I see your point.”
The two women walked in silence down Wilson Avenue in Rosslyn, a stone’s throw over the Potomac River to the capital. As they passed the construction crew that had the right turn lane blocked off, the workers averted their eyes. The week prior, they’d make the mistake of catcalling to Abbie. They’d learned their lesson.