Authors: Monette Michaels
Cold Day in Hell
A Security Specialists International Book, Book 2
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509
Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © 2012, Monette Michaels. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
Calista Meyers is a world-famous, soon-to-be-ex-supermodel. After arriving for a fashion shoot in Cartagena, Colombia, she realizes her agent has misled her about the nature of her last modeling assignment.
Paramilitary leader Jaime Cruz paid her slimy agent a lot of money to get Callie to his part of the world. Cruz has threatened to kidnap and kill her younger brothers if she attempts to leave the country.
What’s a Marine brat to do? Callie calls on her childhood friend Keely Walsh-Maddox and Keely’s husband Ren, the owner of Security Specialists International, to help her.
SSI sends operative Risto Smith to rescue Callie. The former Marine has had a thing for the model ever since he’d first seen her picture on a magazine cover. But he knows he isn’t nearly good enough for a lady like her. She’s an assignment and can be nothing else.
Callie knows Risto is just the man for her and decides to use the close quarters of their escape from Colombia to convince the stubborn male. When Risto leaves her in Panama and disappears, Callie is upset but not defeated. But after two months passes with no word from Risto and with her enemy Cruz in the US and back on her trail, Callie once again turns to Risto for protection.
This time, it would be a cold day in hell before Callie allows Risto to turn his back on their love.
To my husband, Tom.
Thanks to my beta-readers Holly, Ezra, and Sherry. Lots of hugs to Sharis for editing during a cross-country move. And as always, thanks to April for another luscious cover.
Rescue Day 1, the walled city of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.
“Chin up, Calista!”
Mentally frowning, Callie followed Evan’s instructions. Both of them had been dragooned into this one last modeling job before she hung up her Manolos forever. But unlike her, the photographer wasn’t in the cross-hairs of a paramilitary leader who wanted a new piece of arm candy. Evan was not Jaime Cruz’s type.
Scared to death of the man stalking her and threatening to keep her in Colombia, she’d called in back-up who would assure she’d fly home to Chicago and not end up a prisoner on some jungle plantation. Once safely back home, she’d junk her top model image once and for all, become plain old Callie Meyers, and begin a real life.
For now, she was two days into a three-day shoot and she had a job to do—and the enemy to hold off until the cavalry arrived.
“Calista, love. Look at me, not the crowd.”
Callie dragged her gaze away from the two thugs Cruz had assigned as her “guards.” The huge men glared at anyone who got too close to the photo shoot.
“That’s my girl. Now part your lips. Make love to me
the camera, not the clouds, sweetie.”
“Why, Evan, I didn’t know you cared.” She gave him the best sexy look she could muster under the circumstances. It must have been good enough because Evan nodded and hummed happily as he framed the shot. “Your Chad would bitch slap me into next month if I turned my wiles your way.”
“Got that right.” Evan chuckled. “My sweetie is one jealous hunk.” He snapped six pictures in less time than she could think about it. “Although if I were going to play for the other team, you’d be the only woman I’d do. You are sex personified, dear one.” Yeah, right. What a joke. She might be a supermodel, but she hadn’t had sex with a man in so long she forgot how. Raising younger twin brothers since the death of their widower father seven years ago had taken up the majority of her free time. Besides parenting the twins, she’d attended college part-time and worked as a waitress until she’d been “discovered” by Evan, a world-famous fashion photographer. That had been six years ago. He’d just been hired to photograph a new ad campaign for a major cosmetics line. Given
in choice of models, Evan had convinced the company to use her as their face. After that serendipitous meeting, there’d been little time for male-female relationships. It amazed her she didn’t look as old and tired as she felt. If given the choice between sex and sleep, she’d choose sleep every damn time—and had.
“You.” Evan turned and crooked a finger at the meek, put-upon Colombian fashion designer’s assistant standing off to the side. “Fix the drape of the dress across Calista’s hips.”
The girl was in awe of her and Evan, but scared to death of the two goons in dark designer shades and jungle
-design; their light-weight Italian wool sports coats were perfectly tailored to hide the guns holstered under them. Callie’s guards glowered at the visibly trembling young girl as she approached Callie.
Thank God Cruz stayed away during the daytime shoots or nothing would have gotten done. He was even scarier than his thugs since his harmless exterior hid the killer lying just under the surface. He was probably too busy raping and pillaging the countryside in pursuit of left-and right-wing terrorists while protecting his drug cartel bosses. Instead, Cruz chose to bother her during dinner. The last two nights he’d managed to corner her at the hotel restaurant for that evening’s meal. She’d had indigestion her whole time in Colombia.
The designer’s assistant smiled shyly as she smoothed the aqua-colored chiffon over Callie’s hips with shaky fingers.
Callie hated the fear in the girl’s doe brown eyes and suspected if anyone wanted to look closely enough, her own eyes displayed a similar emotion. They were both pawns in a male-dominated, failing nation. “They won’t hurt you. They’re here for me.” The girl nodded as she backed away. Like any wary prey, she kept the goon squad in sight at all times.
Callie would’ve taken care of the smoothing of the dress herself and saved the poor girl the trouble of being the center of the bad guys’ attention, but she was precariously balanced on her side on a crumbling wall of a UNESCO Heritage site, the ancient city of Cartagena de Indias. The drop from the fortification walls, which had prevented seventeenth century pirates from raiding the town, was over a hundred feet to a rocky, wave-beaten shore. Yet, as dangerous as her position was, the Caribbean Sea shined like a turquoise jewel in the background and the pictures would be fabulous.
Several more clicks and whirs and Evan put his camera down. He walked over to help her off the wall. “Sore, love?” He held on to her until she could step out of the five-inch-heeled, bejeweled sandals that probably cost more than most Colombians earned in a month. The little assistant snatched them up as if they were the crown jewels and placed Callie’s own thrift-store flip-flop sandals on the ground.
Now barefoot, she wiggled her peach-colored toes on the stones of the uneven walkway, polished to satiny smoothness by thousands of feet over hundreds of years, then slipped into her sandals. “As if you cared, sadist.” Evan liked to make his models suffer for his art. She smiled. He winked, his lips twisted into his famous grin, but his eyes held concern and fear for their situation. “I’m fine except for those torture devices called shoes. They were killing me and I didn’t even walk in them. We almost done for the day?”
They’d started six hours ago and she hadn’t eaten. If it hadn’t been for the vast quantities of fresh juice the assistant had provided, she would’ve fallen on her butt from low blood sugar and dehydration a long time ago. Then her guards would’ve probably shot everyone. Cruz wanted her in one functioning and decorative piece. His plans for her, ones he had shared in explicit detail the night she’d arrived, made her want to vomit.
“Almost, my precious one.” Evan guided her behind the changing screen under the shade of a tent raised to protect her skin from the harsh equatorial sun and intermittent rain showers. While she changed out of the exorbitantly priced dress into her own chain store tank top and peasant skirt, Evan retreated to a perch on the wall next to the screen.
“They’re here again.” His voice was whisper-low and tight with anxiety.
“Sort of hard to miss,” she whispered back. “Think the Bears would want them for the offensive line?” She came around the corner of the screen and sat in the folding director’s chair with her name screen-printed on it.
“Always the kidder, aren’t you?” His lips thinned into a grim smile. His body blocked her from the gazes of the two tough-looking men who’d been her shadows since she’d arrived in Cartagena.
“Yeah, well, I grew up on marine bases all over the world and then raised two boys from pre-teen to college age. A sense of humor and a thick skin is a requirement.” She sighed and swept trembling fingers through the mass of multi-hued blonde hair which had helped make her famous. She turned troubled eyes toward her friend. “Cruz won’t let me go. It could get hairy.”
“Jesus, Callie, I thought you were calling for help. Where is it? It’s been almost two days!” He leaned even closer to her so as not to be overheard. He fussed nervously with the folds of her gauzy skirt, his hands trembling. “I read up on this Cruz person after you told me who he really was. He’s bad news, my sweet.”
“Yeah, I know.” She stifled the beginnings of hysterical laughter. She tended to laugh at inappropriate times. Her childhood friends, the Walshes, used to tease her unmercifully. She’d spoiled many a war game of hide-and-seek/hostage rescue in the savannas and swamps contained within the borders and surrounding Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, by giving away her team’s position. Because of that, she’d been made designated hostage. The irony when compared to her current predicament had her snorting delicately. “I called the US Embassy in Bogotá the night we arrived, the night Cruz threatened me, and told them the local para-leader was far too interested in me.”
“And? What did our illustrious government representatives say?”
“To make sure I was never alone—and to get the hell out of the country as soon as I could. Big help, huh?” Callie swore under her breath. “We shouldn’t have let Marv talk us into this job. I wonder what Cruz paid our slimy agent under the table to get me here?” Evan fisted her skirt, realized what he’d done and then proceeded to smooth out the creases he’d made. “That greedy old bugger. Marv told me you wanted this job, that you wouldn’t come without me, that you wanted to finish your career with the photographer who’d started it.”
He paused, his eyes narrowed. “Tell me the truth … are Chad and I in danger? From what I read on the Internet, kidnapping is a booming business for the paras.”
“Cruz doesn’t want you or any of the rest of the crew. He wants me.”
home. In his bed. Bearing his children. Yeah, like that will happen.
“Plus, he has other leverage to keep me here—my brothers. He won’t use you.”
Not if I can help it, anyway.
She patted the hand mutilating her skirt once more. “He never mentioned you or Chad either time he cornered me.” Not satisfied with threats, Cruz had also man-handled her as he outlined his agenda and what he expected of her. “At the end of the shoot, he expects me to go to his plantation and willingly…”
after he threatened to kill my
“…become his woman, as he put it.”