“Face-off” Excerpt from HERO’S HOPE (Underground)

Heros HopeThere’re two people who, up until now, have been background characters to Underground. They’ve had a few moments here and there, but I’ve never really given them the spotlight and let them run with it. In Hero’s Hope, these two characters get to become instrumental to what’s going on around them, particularly where it comes to Rick and Tamia’s relationship, and where the investigation is going from here — those characters are Matt “Watchdog” Clipper and Jenifer “Cat” LaSaulle.

Why did I decide to give these two characters such a front-and-center role in what is still, at its core, Rick and Tamia’s story? Quite simply, because they both have some pretty intense backgrounds and stories of their own to tell, and their relationship has almost as much importance to the outcome of the entire Evolution as Rick and Tamia’s does.

Let me share a sample with you… Say “hello” to Watchdog.


“Face-off” – Excerpt from HERO’S HOPE (Underground, Book 4) –


“Hey, dude, chill out.” Matt Clipper raised his hands in a non-threatening gesture as he backed away from J.T. Romanski. Inside, his heart thundered with adrenaline, and he swore an internal blue streak. Damn it, he knew last week’s little chat with Blade didn’t go unnoticed. J.T.’s soldiers just took their time reporting him. “It’s cool, man. We cool.”

              “You hopped if you think we square,” J.T. snarled. His thumb disarmed the Heater’s safety, and his finger shook on the trigger, and not with fear. Matt watched the infamous leader of the Westsiders’ notorious Ghost Squad kill three cops in cold blood, just a few weeks ago. J.T. pumped iron, and he was famed in the underworld for his temper. Roid Rage, they called it back in the Twentieth. Only, steroids were small potatoes, now. “You sold us out to your military bitch.”

              Matt stiffened instinctively, but forced himself to relax. He had to remember he had a choice, unlike these punks. All he had to do was say the word and Blade would pull him. That reminder curled a cocky, devil-may-care grin on his lips. “She ain’t my bitch, dude. She a ‘Frisco Panther.”

              J.T.’s dark eyes widened for an instant in recognition, before he settled into a glare. Damn, the dude was looking for a rumble. “You lyin’.”

              “Nah. She’s Mia Ku. Spent the Divide tacked and loaded – that’s why she looks military.”

              That information, all very public and true, gave J.T. pause.

              “So why you hangin’ with a Panther bitch?” One of the other Ghosts piped up.

              “She got a pipeline to some shit we can move for a pair a sevens. Hot shit, fresh from the boats.”

              He had their attention now. Even J.T. lowered his weapon and listened. For the chance at making millions moving drugs, they would let him live. Relief curled through Matt. He wracked his brains for weeks, trying to work out how to set up the buy he arranged to have monitored for Narc evidence. Tamia’s little chat in the mall gave him an opening that would keep her out of the Westsiders’ sights, as well. He only wished he could do the same for Jen; there was just no way to turn Ms. Perfection into a street bitch.

              “She tole me where to meet the dudes shiftin’ it into the Apple.”

              J.T. frowned. “What about the Big Man’s cut? What’s that?”

              Matt grinned wolfishly. He had them on the line; now was the time to reel them in. “Nothin’. He don’t even know this shit exists.”

              Narrowed brown eyes considered him for a moment, before J.T. nodded and safetied the Heater. As he stuffed the weapon back into the waistband of his baggy pants, he met Matt’s gaze. “All right, dude. You set up the meet, and we represent.”

              They shook hands in an elaborate ritual of hand movements, and Matt turned and walked away as if nothing was wrong. But he kept his attention fixed behind him all the way out of the abandoned warehouse that acted as the gang’s hangout. He wasn’t stupid. He knew J.T. could change his mind at any time, and burn him down on the spot.

              Finally, when he was halfway down the block from the warehouse, Matt dared to breathe a sigh of relief. That was a damned close call. The worst part about his job was no one knew where he was at any given moment. He was flying solo out here. Not that he let himself care. He fully expected to die out here. Just not before he helped catch the mole; and not while Jen was waiting for him to come home. He’d pick his time, when she hated his guts. When he finally managed to drive the wedge he so desperately needed, and hated. Couldn’t be helped. He saw what the pain of loss did – Blade was a walking open wound. He’d be damned if he let Jen follow.

              He glanced up at a flash of light, to see sunlight glint off what must be a sniper’s scope being retracted, on the roof across the street from the warehouse. Ice shot down his spine, and spread through his abdomen. They’d been watched the entire time. The only question was, by who?




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