Read Bait: A dark erotic thriller (Hunter & Prey Book 2) Online

Authors: Kira Barker

Tags: #horror, #erotic, #thriller

Bait: A dark erotic thriller (Hunter & Prey Book 2)

BOOK: Bait: A dark erotic thriller (Hunter & Prey Book 2)
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Bait

Hunter & Prey #2

Kira Barker

Bait

Hunter & Prey #2

by Kira Barker

Copyright © 2015 by Barbara Klein. All rights reserved. 
 

http://www.kirabarker.com

First edition: December 2015

Produced and published by Barbara Klein,
1140 Vienna, Mauerbachstr. 42/12/3, Austria

Edited by Marti Lynch

Cover design by
Mayhem Cover Creations
 

This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, events, or locales is purely coincidental.
 

Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written consent is strictly prohibited.
 

The author greatly appreciates you taking the time to read her work. Please consider leaving a review wherever you bought the book, or telling your friends about it, to help spread the word.
 

Thank you for your support.

CONTENT WARNING: This story contains dark themes and scenes of an explicit, erotic nature and is intended for mature audiences. 18+

Half a year can be a long, long time.

A long time to get used to the fact that money can’t buy you the most important thing in the world—peace of mind. A sense of security. A good night’s sleep.

A long time to get used to not having enough money for what used to be everyday luxuries—that sinfully soft silk dress. Shoes that cost more than the average twenty-something makes in a month—and are still as uncomfortable as they are stunning. Food so rich in flavor that it melts in your mouth in a tiny, delicious orgasm on your tongue.

It is just about long enough to turn new behaviors into habits. Like never staying anywhere longer than a week or two, always on the run, always looking over your shoulder. Falling—and staying—asleep is not something I do anymore, but lying awake, alone with the thoughts and memories that haunt me, is easier with a strong body wrapped around me that provides warmth to seep into me—if only skin deep.

Half a year is by far not long enough to forgive and to forget and to move on—particularly if you have no intention of doing so. Ever.

Chapter 1

I thought I wanted to move on. Actually managed to delude myself into believing it—maybe just so that I wouldn’t be lying when I kept telling Adam that I was going to be okay, and that I would never let anyone—least of all the man who haunts me in my every living moment—destroy me. Maybe I even wanted to believe it myself. But that day when Agent Smith tracked us down and offered me a deal that I simply couldn’t refuse, I realized that, deep down, I had been hungering for an excuse to stop running.

Seven weeks had passed since then. Seven. Endless. Weeks. I couldn’t say what I’d expected—I wasn’t stupid enough to believe that any operation of any scope planned by any of the usual three-letter agencies would receive an instant “go” order—but I hadn’t counted on them chasing their own tails for quite so long. This was torture, and as someone who had been tortured in the past, I felt qualified to say that.
 

But it hadn’t just been seven weeks of me sitting around, twiddling my thumbs. The first thing they’d done was actually help enable me to twiddle my thumbs again by taking care of my mangled right hand. It still ached awfully some days, my grip remained weak, and I’d long since accepted that I would never regain feeling in my pinkie, but the most dramatic changes were cosmetic. The scars were still there—old and new ones alike—but now my hand no longer looked like a prop for some under-budgeted horror flick. Or that’s what I was trying to tell myself as I looked down at what used to be well-manicured fingers that knew exactly how to stroke, brush, and caress, now idly twitching on top of my crossed knees.

Checking the clock displayed on one of the computers in the surveillance van, I couldn’t help but heave a sigh. It came out shaky, speaking of emotion that I tried hard to suppress more so than fear. Agent Smith was busy hammering last minute details into her underlings’ minds, then sent them off. Through the closing door of the van I saw them scurrying into the beat-up old Civic parked next to us. To make it harder for anyone to track us—not that I thought that was necessary. Yet—we had parked a good twenty miles outside the city, and would leave from here via separate routes to arrive at our destination. I still had a good hour before it was my time, but that didn’t help calm me down. On the contrary.

I checked my reflection in the small hand mirror for what felt like the millionth time. That estimation was likely not that far off. I hated what I saw. Three botched dye jobs—two of them deliberately so—had ruined my hair to the point where a good five inches would have to go. I’d tried to re-dye it my natural color over the past weeks but parts were still too light, and the ends held that terrible reddish hue that needed to go. To underline my cover story, I’d hit the tanning bed—the drive-thru, five-bucks-a-pop, insta-cancer version—last week, and blown what was left of my budget on makeup to try to make the best of it. The end result was pretty decent, but “decent” wasn’t anything I had settled for since I hit twenty—and not just in the J-O-B department.
 

One would think that setting out to tear down one of the most powerful men in Chicago came with a certain budget, but there hadn’t even been enough to invest in decent shapewear.

Not that money really was my concern. Tonight, I would make do. And depending on how that went, tomorrow I’d start playing an entirely different game than what Agent Smith thought we were here to engage in.

Closing the mirror with an audible snap, I glared at the clock again. My gaze flitted over to Adam, finding him frowning back at me, worry heavy in every line of his face. I could tell that he wanted to apologize; he had done so at least daily over the course of the past weeks. Why, I still didn’t understand—it wasn’t his fault that I was sitting here, now. In fact, without him, I would likely not be living any longer. That I’d struck the deal that would grant him immunity to save his ass was a detail, but far from my main motivation. I owed him—always would, really—but that alone hadn’t been enough to sway my “fuck you!” attitude toward his CIA-now-turned-Homeland-Security handler.

What had was a can of worms I’d not dared to touch, let alone open, so far.

As always at this point in our silent conversation, I averted my gaze and instead tried to clear my mind, hoping that would slow down my racing heart. Until I’d dressed this afternoon and crawled into the then crowded space in the back of the van, I’d thought that the unnatural calm that had besieged my mind would last, driving me insane on its own. But, no. As soon as my mind had realized that the endless waiting was over, it had jump-started my fight-or-flight response, and I’d felt close to passing out from adrenaline overload ever since.

And now, with only fifty-eight minutes to go—

“Let’s go over the details again,” Agent Smith barked at me, her fierce glare holding me captive. I couldn’t help but admire her dedication, even if I still didn’t like the woman one last bit.

Like the trooper that I was, I repeated back her instructions. Check in with our undercover people in catering—who had left an hour ago, just after I sneaked in via the side entrance—very glamorous. Make sure to stay in the public areas of the hotel at all times, mingling with the guests but be only where they could easily cover me. Make eye contact with the mark, but stay at the fringe at all times. Leave as soon as that was accomplished. Just the good ol’ in-and-out, in the least sexually loaded way possible.

Suffice it to say, I had no intention whatsoever of following that plan.

Twice more she made me repeat her instructions back to her, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t fooling her for a second. But really, she had no choice but to trust me, and I could see how that rankled. Sure, it was her best bet—after all, she had tracked Adam and me down against all odds, had managed to ensure our cooperation, and except for the occasional barb, neither of us had protested—but sometimes that wasn’t much better than not having anything to work with.

Finally, the passive waiting phase was over, and when Michaels gave me a curt nod from where he’d just slid open the van door, I mentally gathered myself and physically hugged my coat closer to my body.
 

“It’s time,” Adam said, his voice husky, pressed.

Looking up, I gave him a small, private smile as I reached for his hand—with my left, always my left—and squeezed his fingers for a moment.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine,” I promised, knowing only too well that neither of us believed that lie. But it was all I could give him, and it had to be enough.

Michaels held the door of the dark limousine for me, not making a move to actually help me inside. That was what I loved about him—always to the point, never a single motion that was too much. We’d barely exchanged ten sentences since he’d handcuffed Adam in front of the entire audience of the diner where they’d accosted us, and I had absolutely no idea what agency he was working for, or whether he had family and loved ones waiting for him while he played chauffeur for me. I was sure that he’d do his best to preserve me—his asset—to the best of his abilities, but he wouldn’t take a bullet for me. In short, he was an impersonal dick who couldn’t be rid of me a second too soon but refrained from outright rubbing that in my face. Just the way I liked it.

He would have made a phenomenal client.

I settled into the back seat of the car and watched the scenery change as we drove toward the city. Not into the city, sadly—I would have given a lot to see the soaring spires of the skyscrapers, cross the Chicago River again, stroll through Millennium Park—but close enough. And, come tomorrow, I would take back what was mine.

I waited until about ten minutes into the drive before I rearranged my crossed legs so I could slide my fingers up the side of my right thigh, below the tight dress, and to the top of my thigh-highs. The entire mission should have made me feel like a bona fide spy, but it was hiding this single piece of contraband that did the trick. A simple cell phone, crappy plastic wrapped around a pre-paid SIM card, terribly outdated and clashing with every single item of my outfit. And still, it was this little piece of equipment that got my mind racing as I typed a quick text and hit “send,” then stowed it back in its previous hiding place, Michaels hopefully none the wiser of what I’d just done.

And then we drove by the grand, sweeping entrance of the hotel where already a line of limousines and expensive sports cars was idling at the curb, waiting for the fleet of valets to help the very important persons embark and stow the millions of dollars on four wheels away for the time being. We pulled up to the much less frequented and far simpler side entrance, where Michaels stopped just long enough to let me shimmy out and slam the door shut behind me before he took off.

Not bothering with a look around, I hurried into the building, then traversed the maze of back hallways that facilitated the smooth, seemingly effortless, grand goings-on at the front, following the mental map Adam had prepared for me. Static crackling in my earpiece reminded me that I was not as on my own as the paranoid part of my brain was screaming at me. On the way to the other side of the building, I ducked into a maintenance closet where I ditched my coat, then continued on my trek.

A last corner, and I found myself in a much more lavishly carpeted hallway than the corridor by the kitchens that I’d just come out of, with only the restrooms branching off ahead of me, and beyond, the great ballroom. Exhaling slowly, I took a first step, then another, feeling jitters start in my legs and quickly pick up along my spine.

I could do this, I knew that; I had spent ample hours preparing myself for this—that, and what amounted to at least a week of private sessions with a psychologist who thought her mission was to prime me to conquer my trauma head-on. She had been so quick to diagnose me with PTSD and dismiss the few mistakes I made in our initial interview for stress-related responses. What could I say? After half a year of not reading people and pandering to their every expectation, I’d been a little rusty. It had still been easy enough to convince her of the fact that I was a hapless victim, my spirit broken just like the bones of my right hand had been. In the end, she’d been hard-pressed to give me the clearing Agent Smith so adamantly required; why anyone cared whether I was a mental wreck or not was beyond me, but playing her had been good practice. Playing them both, really, although I doubted that my ploy had worked on Adam’s former handler.

“Could” was not the issue. “Would” was more like it, as every step that carried me closer to my destination proved. My conviction was still strong, burning like a beacon in my heart, churning the acid in my stomach, but my mind wasn’t so far gone yet that fear wasn’t choking me, apprehension so strong that it was nearly impossible to go on. So I did what any woman in my situation would have done—I fled into the bathroom and locked myself in the last stall, blissfully unoccupied at the time. And there I sat, knees spread, head between them, trying to breathe away the panic that had been my constant companion for seven months and three weeks. I could have supplied the exact number of days, too. Hours, really, but even I knew that this kind of obsessive behavior would not let me follow through with my plan.

BOOK: Bait: A dark erotic thriller (Hunter & Prey Book 2)
10.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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