Here it is! I’m so excited to share it with you — the cover for my next I-Team novel, Breaking Point.
And who’s on the cover, but the achingly delicious Jed Hill. I recognize those obliques and those lips. Tasty.
This demands an excerpt, don't you think?
From Breaking Point:
Zach hung limply from the manacles, unable even to hold up his head. His shoulders ached from supporting his dead weight, manacles biting into his bloody wrists. But none of that could compare to the residual pain of that last electro-shock. His muscles seized in sharp spasms, his heart slamming erratically in his chest, his body shaking, his mouth filled with the coppery taste of his own blood.
Don’t give in to the pain. Adjust for it.
He willed himself to relax, slowed his breathing.
Cold water splashed over his chest, making him jerk. It wasn’t to revive him, he knew, but to make his skin more conductive to electricity. He waited for the next blast of agony, but instead felt a glass bottle against his lips. A hand fisted in his hair, tilting his head back, and he swallowed, warm cola sliding down his raw, parched throat.
Electrolytes. Caffeine. Calories.
All would help him stay alive.
Then his tormenter spoke to him, as always in Spanish. “You are dying, cuñado. And for what? You are alone now, forgotten, left without even a dog to bark at you. Tell us who has the cocaine and where we can find them. Then your torment will end. There will be no more pain, only sleep.”
Zach fought off a wave of despair. “¡Vete a la verga!” Fuck off!
The bastard chuckled, but Zach knew he wasn’t really amused. They’d tried to break him and had failed. There’d be a price to pay when Cárdenas got the news.
Creaking hinges. Footsteps.
And Zach knew she was there. He could feel her presence, hear her rapid breathing. Hell, he could even smell her, something sweet in a world of filth.
“Tráela aquí.” Bring her over here.
What the hell?
Zach’s head came up. Somehow, he drew himself to his feet, his hands clenched around the chains for support, his heart thudding hard in his chest. Why had they brought her in here? Were they going to torture her to get to him?
Over my dead body.
“Zach?” There was fear in her voice, but also sympathy, concern.
He shook his head, his sign to her to keep quiet, hoping she’d remembered what he’d told her earlier. If they thought he cared what happened to her, if they thought he’d told her anything…
An arm went around his shoulder. “You are a brave man. No one has ever lasted so long against my little stinger, so I’ll offer you a better way out. Tell us where the coke is, and you can have the girl. We’ll take off these chains, give you some food and a little coke to make you strong, sí? And you can fuck her till your prick gives out. And when you’re done, you get one bullet to the head. Fast, painless — and you die happy. If you do not, your suffering will be such that those who find what is left of your body will lie awake at night weeping for you.”
Zach might have laughed if the situation hadn’t been so serious. Having failed to break him with pain, they were now trying to bribe him with rape. They were only bluffing, of course. They had no intention of giving him their Jefe’s prize. But if he played along with them, if he could persuade them to unchain him…
He pretended to consider the offer. “¿Es bonita?” Is she pretty?
Rough hands tore off his blindfold.
“!Mira sus tetas!” Just look at her tits!
Unaccustomed to light he blinked, squinted — and quickly assessed the situation. He was in a small room with a half-dozen armed Zetas. There were two small windows and only one door. Wooden chairs sat around an old table littered with dirty dishes and half-empty bottles of tequila. A couple of AKs leaned up against the wall to his right.
You’d give your left nut for one of those, wouldn’t you, man?
He sure as hell would.
In front of him, a car battery sat on a rolling cart, two electrical cables dropped on the floor near his feet. The sight made him shudder, dread mixing with rage in his gut.
Beside the cart, two Zetas held a struggling young woman between them, while a third unbuttoned her blouse, laughing to himself. Bastards. Knowing he couldn’t risk showing emotion, he met Natalie’s gaze.
His heart seemed to stop. His mind went blank. And he stared.
She looked pleadingly up at him through the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen, their irises an unusual shade of aqua blue. Her features were delicate, her otherwise flawless skin marred by a dark bruises and smudges of dirt. Her dark brown hair — why he had imagined her as a blonde? — hung in thick tangles past her shoulders. She couldn’t have been more than five-foot-four or an ounce over one-twenty.
The protective urge that welled up inside him took him by surprise, and he actually took a step toward her, until chains and pain reminded him where he was — and in what condition. Then her blouse fell to floor, followed by a lacy, white bra, revealing two beautiful, natural breasts.
A low whistle. A groan.
“¡Oye, mamacita, que buena estás!” Oh, baby, you are fine!
The testosterone level in the room surged, and for a moment Zach was afraid the Zetas’ lust for her would overcome their fear of Cárdenas.
The one with a long scar — the electrical specialist who’d turned Zach’s life into a living hell — walked over to stand behind Natalie, then reached around, drew her back against him, and grabbed her breasts, hands that enjoyed cruelty manhandling sensitive flesh.
“¡Chécalo, güey—las chichis perfectas¡” Check it out, dude — perfect boobs.
Zach felt his teeth grind, seeing only the emotion on Natalie’s face — fear, revulsion, pain. Her gaze locked with his as if eye contact were the one thing keeping her shattered world together. She probably didn’t understand what was happening or why they were doing this to her. He wished he could reassure her.
Instead, he was about to make it all much worse.
Stay strong, angel.
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