About Lost Faith: Gabriella Moreno was just a job, in and out to gain the objective, the death of her father. She turned out to be far more than that to Tobias Casey, however, from the moment he laid his hands on her too hot for words body. Gabriella had just come home from a two-year stint abroad. The first night home she snuck out, never dreaming for even a moment anyone would be stupid enough to take her. Boy, was she wrong. Faced with brutal truths, Gabbie followed her gut, and her heart, which, it seemed, all led to one place, Tobias. The heat of her homeland was nothing compared to the touch of this man. In his arms, she found something she had craved all her life, the other half of her soul. Yet, how can she ignore the fact that the man who owns her heart is also the man who wants to take the last of her family?
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TeaserAnother day, another dollar. Only these days, Tobias and his team were getting paid a hell of a lot more than they had been in the military. Now they could set their own fees for doing the jobs that no one else wanted to do, or maybe couldn’t do, since they did on rare occasion work for their government’s shadier sectors. But there was no oversight, no backseat driving, and they paid big to get shit done. Their current operation was one they’d been working on for nearly three weeks now with no success. The first week had been recon, getting oriented, and making sure they had their exits memorized for when they achieved their strike. The only thing was, as they’d discovered during week two, the target they were after didn’t ever leave his super secure compound. Not that Tobias could blame the guy. Their target was a dictator, an arms dealer, a drug dealer, and a mass murderer. There were people worldwide hoping that Tobias’ team finally managed to do what no one else had to date. Now it was week three and they were still watching the compound to figure out their way in. Or as Tobias was beginning to believe would be easier, how to get the asshole to come out. They’d tried forty different ways to infiltrate the compound. None had worked. Which actually made sense, given the target, Juan Moreno, or Senor X as they referred to him over com, had hired himself an ex-Special Forces soldier to be the head of his security. Tran Quan was American born but had ties to the Yakuza. Extra weight to be brought to bear should it be requested. Taking a small drink from his canteen, Tobias ignored the sweat trickling down his spine. His attention was locked on a small group of vehicles approaching the compound. Binoculars up, he brought the lead car into focus and easily recognized one of Moreno’s drivers. His attention moving to the second car, he was surprised to see Quan in the front passenger seat. The man was normally glued to Moreno’s side so to see him out without Moreno… this was big. “Ripper, we have four cars approaching the compound. I need to know who exits the second car once they stop inside. Get pictures.” “Roger that, Rogue.” Ripper and Cherry were up on the mountain using some seriously high-powered tools to stare down into the compound. Their position was treacherous since they were, literally, dangling off the face of that mountain. One wrong move and they’d be headed straight down toward death. “They’re turning toward the gate now. Not stopping either, they’ve been waved right through,” Tobias reported. The gates slid shut but not before he spotted a slender leg wearing a dainty shoe at the end slipping out of the door being opened by a guard. Instantly, he felt his gut clench in need to see the body went with that limb. A soft whistle came through the com. “Damn, she’s fucking hot. Think she’s banging senor X?” Herc asked. “Too young for him, you oaf,” Cherry said. “Like that would stop the old fucker. We all know he doesn’t care about age. One of the reasons why we’re here to see him shot,” Herc told her. “Personally, it’s my only reason to see his head explode under the impact of my bullet.” “Cut the chatter. Tell me you have photos for everyone that came in those vehicles.” “Confirmed,” Ripper said. “Good, get your asses down from there. Scout will be here to relieve me soon, then we need to get back and review everything.” Tobias was hopeful that somewhere in those photos he might find a way to pull Moreno away from his security blanket. * * * * “It’s his daughter, Gabriella Moreno.” Rainer said. His words had everyone’s attention. Tobias couldn’t figure out who was more shocked. Turning in his seat Rainer shook his head. “I had to dig, and dig deep. The old man has her buried.” “Makes sense,” Winston muttered. “She’s his Achilles.” He was right. “We need to keep eyes on her. If we get the opportunity, she’ll be the one we grab. I have a feeling that even with all his enemies gunning for him, he’ll do anything to protect her.” All they had to do was get their hands on her and use her to bait Senor X. Picking up the picture Rainer had printed out Tobias stared at it. It wasn’t a shot from the compound but one he’d pulled from social media. Gabriella had her head tipped back, laughing at something or someone. She looked carefree and totally at ease. Young, too. The young woman was just over five foot three inches but those come fuck me heels made her closer to five feet seven, she was thin but not waiflike like so many of the women today. Her hair however, was a riot of auburn red curls that seemed to have a mind of their own, and she didn’t bother trying to tame them. Which said something about the woman herself. She might not have the largest breasts that he had seen in his life but hers seemed to work her body perfectly, like a perfect handful, that distracted him completely. “We need everything on her from birth until the moment she went through those gates, Rainer. Leave no stone unturned. I think we’ve just found our hot button for daddy Moreno. We grab her and he’ll deliver himself right to us.” “You sure you want to do that, boss?” Cherilyn asked. At his sharp look, she held up her hands. “I’m down with it, but even if she does leave the compound, you know she’ll have a taskforce worth of guards with her. No way is Moreno letting her out in this country without protection up the ass.” “And we’ll be ready for that. Our best shot will be if she goes into the city. It’ll allow us to blend in and when the time’s right, grab her up.” At Cherilyn’s snort, Tobias turned a glare on her. “What?” “Dude, no offense or nothing, but you do not blend.” Rainer was shaking his head. “I have to agree with her, boss. You tend to stick out.” “I can blend just fine, I’ll have you know.” “You keep thinking that. In the meantime, I think I’ll update the other boys and we can add their hilarity to the vote count against you.” Cherilyn patted his chest, walked past, and promptly burst out in laughter. “I can and will fire your ass,” Tobias called after her. “No, you won’t,” she bellowed back. No, he wouldn’t, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t think about it, in great detail.
Please welcome April Zyon to the blog today, talking about HACKED..
Holly Smith has always had a certain affinity with computers. By day, she strengthens Internet security for corporations. By night, she’s a hacker. When she hits upon what she believes to be an author’s unpublished manuscript, she finds herself reading about a world where warriors of old wage war against a dark force bent on consuming everything it touches. Then she finds out it’s all true.
Demaratus of Corinth has seen a lot during his lifetime. And while many things prove useful, he finds technology to be a greater hindrance than a help. Sent to find the hacker who managed to penetrate their base’s security, he is stunned to realize who she is to him. As the darkness closes in on them, Demaratus and Holly will have to battle to survive not only the coming fight but the war that is gaining momentum.
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Deidre pursed her lips as she stared at Holly. “Do you have a birth certificate?” The woman hadn’t even batted a lash at Holly’s declaration of what she could do to electronics. “While I don’t like it, it will have to do.”
“I don’t have it with me, but I do have a birth certificate. Well, one that I had to have created for me. See, I was dropped off at a children’s home when I was maybe four years old and before that they really weren’t the caring and loving family that most kids have. The people who gave life to me didn’t give them my name or anything like that. They just left me after I had a tantrum and they found out what I could do. I only have very vague memories of the time before them, the tantrum and then the home, but I do remember being terrified and knowing that it was all my fault because I was a bad kid. So, the birth certificate was made for me by the state. I don’t know if it’s my real birthday, and it’s certainly not my real name, but I don’t care. They left me, so it’s good to be away from them, you know?”
Deidre gave Holly a nod and a sympathetic look. “It will do. We’ll take a picture for the file, though. It will be a print, from an old Polaroid camera, actually, and will remain the only copy. If you can have the paperwork all done prior to end of business today, that would be wonderful,” she added.
“Thank you for understanding. As far as I know, I don’t blitz out old cameras, because they are mechanically moving parts instead of computerized and so on. Heck, just take the picture now. I don’t mind. I really don’t. Just keep it in house, if you would, please?”
“I’ll take the photo when you return your paperwork and not a moment sooner. It will be seen by no one but myself or Mercury. Now go. You have a lot of handwriting to accomplish. And if you wouldn’t mind, dear, ensure that it’s nice and neat so I can read it. Stay on the lines, keep it in English, and don’t get creative.” Deidre gave Demaratus a dirty look before shooting Holly a tight but pleasant enough smile.
“Damn, I can’t write in binary? Okay. I promise I’ll be good, but only because I like you.” Holly smirked. “Don’t know why, but I think that you and I will be friends.” She then looked to Demaratus. “Come on, let’s go, shall we?”
He gave her a nod and, with a small bow to Deidre, opened the door for her. Placing his hand on her back, he guided her along. Toward the elevators, she realized. Stepping in, he pressed a button and eased his jacket off her shoulders when she fidgeted with it. He swung it around himself and shrugged back into it. “When Deidre says to do something, always make sure you do it. She has complete control of her little world, and though she never abuses the power, she’s been known to remind us on occasion of her place. I do have to say that she’s nicer than the last head of HR we had.”
“I will. I was just yanking her chain a bit. She looks far too uptight for being as young as she is. Is she one of those VV things as well? Shit, I guess I shouldn’t say ‘things’ since I’m one, too, huh? Sorry, I talk a lot. You should see me when I’m programming. I get even worse when I’m talking my way through troubles and issues. Strange, aren’t I?”
“No, Deidre isn’t one of the vestal virgins. She’s straight-up human but in the know on who and what the guardians are.” Demaratus gave Holly a thoughtful look and shrugged. “Someone needs to fill the quiet, and you have a lovely voice.”
“As long as you’re good with it. Because I have to tell you that I kind of like talking to you. It’s nice being able to tell you anything and everything that’s on my mind. Too bad she’s not one of them. Another question.” She slipped her hand into his. “You’re super old, like whoa, so does that mean when I die you will have someone else born to be yours?”
“Should you actually want to complete the bond with me, our lives would be intertwined. In other words, your lifespan is tied to mine, and however long I survive, you will continue on as you are at that very moment. It doesn’t keep you from getting colds, or hangnails, but you do get the added bonus of a very long life.”
“I like you. Just met you, but I do like you. I would really like to get to know more about you. I think that you and I have a lot in common, which is awesome, don’t you think? We should, if we’re supposed to be able to be tied together, our lives and souls and whatnot. I already feel as if I know you from the dreams that I’ve had of you all of my life. You saved my sanity growing up.”
“It would be nice to know we have a few things in common. Though how many is anyone’s guess. As you pointed out, I’m a bit on the older side. You seem to have an affinity with technology, while on the best of days it baffles me greatly. I can manage with some things, but only to a point. Anything beyond that point has my head aching.”
“That’s why you have me,” she told him with a grin. “I’ll make sure that all of your gadgets work and keep you okay, and then from there we’ll figure out what you can do for me.” She leaned into him, something she found herself doing a lot. “Although, I have a feeling you’ll do far more for me than I’ll ever do for you.”
“Doubtful, though I like the thought,” he said softly. He squeezed her hand and led her out of the elevator. Their next stop was what he called their dining hall. It was a large yet cozy space, with little groupings of sitting areas, as well as several long tables. Leading her to the buffet, he gave her a tray, plate, and utensils, then waved her forward.
Holly began to take her fill, then moved in just a bit closer to Demaratus. “Why are they all looking at us?” she whispered.
“Ignore them. They’re still trying to figure you out.” He turned to give the men a look that had them all bailing out at high speeds for the door. Facing her again, he cocked a brow. “You need to eat.”
“I will.” She shuffled down to the fruits and vegetables. “Oh, I love veggies.” She took one of the stir-fries and a bottle of soy sauce. “Okay, I need water, and then I’m good.”
“I’ll get it. Go ahead and choose a spot.”
“Thanks.” She walked away from Demaratus and took a table near one of the walls at the outer edge of the cafeteria. She watched him get his food. Then she shifted so that he could put himself with his back to the wall. “I figured that you would like to have your back to the wall.”
He tipped his head slightly and set his tray down next to hers. Removing his jacket, he put it over another chair, set the file on the seat, then settled in at her side. He passed her the bottle of water from his tray while picking up the cup of coffee to sip from. “Why would you think I’d want that?” he finally asked.
“From the time that you came from, and the people that you were, you don’t necessarily trust people at your back, and I get that.” She bumped her shoulder to his. “Tell me I’m wrong.”
“No, you’re not wrong. I was only curious to hear what you believed my reasoning was for it. It was a very good assessment, if lacking a few details.” Lifting his hand, he brushed the corner of her mouth.
“So, do you want to tell me what your actual reasoning is?” She wanted to know everything about him.
“An enemy of honor would come at you face-to-face. That way when one of you fell in battle, you would be given the warrior’s passage to the next life. An enemy of dishonor comes at your back, though, thinking and hoping to catch you when you are unaware. They will attack when you are most vulnerable. In your own home, where you think it is safe, and you can truly relax, for example. If enough enemies—or people you thought were your friends—attack you at your back, you begin to realize there’s nowhere safe in the world and to have your back to a wall at all times is the only recourse. That way, you can always see everyone attempting to end your miserable existence and, hopefully, end theirs first.”
“I’m sorry.” She reached out to put her hand on his to give it a squeeze. “Well, I’ll have your back now and make sure that no one comes at you. Promise.”
“You may need to start wearing heels, then,” he told her. When she stared at him, he eyed her up and down. “You’re a little on the short side. You won’t cover enough of my back without a little height, Holly.”
“Hey, I’m as tall as a mountain,” she said with a smirk. “But don’t worry. Seriously. I’ll protect you.”
Nodding, he leaned in to press a kiss to her temple. “I believe you, little warrior. Don’t trip over your own feet during the attempt to keep eyes on everything around you, though. It doesn’t do well on the reputation to be known as the klutz of the team.”
She snorted. “Too late. Unless I’m behind a keyboard, I’m a total klutz. You know that, lovely man.” She bumped her shoulder to his again and, after giving his hand another squeeze, she let go and began to eat.
“No, I only know you’re claiming that. We’ll see when we get you into training if you are as much of a klutz as you say. Close-quarters combat and hand-to-hand is a requirement for all our people to learn. You will also need to be proficient with at least one handgun and one rifle. You may also want to hit the gym to assist in some upper body strength you’ll need for the fighting scenarios.”
“Wait, what? No.” She shook her head. “I don’t do gyms, and I really don’t do guns. I do computers. Not those things. No way in hell. Sorry, but no.” She would likely have an allergic reaction. “I hate gyms, seriously hate them. I do yoga in the privacy of my own bedroom, but running and all that—nope. Not happening. I will be the first one to die in the zombie apocalypse, so yeah.”
“There’s no way you would die in a zombie apocalypse. They’d have to get through me first,” he said. “I will also be with you for all of it, but you need to have the basics at a minimum so that if the worst happens you can protect yourself and others. This is a worst-case scenario where all power, and therefore all contact with everyone, is cut off and we are invaded. I can’t say it will never happen, but we all work our damnedest to ensure it won’t. On the off chance that it does happen, I need to know you’re safe.”
“Aww, that’s the best thing that anyone has ever said to me—that they would take care of me in the ZA.” She sighed and shook her head. “I really don’t do all that well with weapons. I don’t. I’m sorry, but I would be afraid I would hurt someone instead of protect myself.”
“Will you at least try? If I assess that you’re not good with a gun, you will never have one put into your hand. But it’s mandatory that we at least put you through it all, so we know in an emergency situation what your strengths are or are not. I will never put you in danger willingly, Holly. You need to trust me at least a little on this.”
“Fine. For you, I will try.” She leaned into him and smiled. “I trust you. I barely know you, but I do trust you completely. Maybe it’s because of the dreams that I’ve had of you all of my life. So, if you’re the one who’s teaching me how to use a weapon, then I will take every single chance that I have in order to learn. Promise.”
“It requires full-body contact. I’ll be the only one teaching you,” he said gruffly.
“That’s a very good thing.” She took a deep breath. “I look forward to the close-quarters teaching with you.” She picked up another piece of food and ate it. “Will we be able to stick together for a while? You won’t be going out on missions or whatever for a while, right?”
“Only if it’s required, but doubtful, unless you find one of the VV’s and Mercury requires me to be there for backup. Depending on the area where the VV’s are found, and any indicators on what their gifts might be, he makes the determination on who he thinks will help convince them to return to the base and the safety here. Doesn’t always work, but he does his best with the information supplied.” Demaratus looked to the door suddenly and tipped his chin up.
The one she recognized as Alexander came in with a blonde woman. She was laughing up toward the man but turned to look their way and waved her fingers.
“He actually looks like he’s ready to smile. Does he ever?” Holly asked and waved back. “Who’s the woman? Is that his wife or girlfriend or, well, what are the VV’s to the men?”
“She’s his VV, the one the goddess has chosen for him to help him on his journey through the rest of his days. Her name’s Phoenix.” Wiping his napkin across his mouth, he tossed it on top of his empty plate and sat back in his seat. “The bond between a guardian and their VV is more than marriage and much more than a girlfriend. It is deep, personal, intense, and life altering. It is permanent, forever, and something that helps to soften the slightly rougher edges we have. In some cases, anyway.”
“Is that why I already feel so much for you in such a short amount of time? Is that why I’m drawn to you in a massive way? Because I am.”
“Extremely,” he said, nodding. “Every touch, every kiss, every moment spent together helps to strengthen the bond until it will hurt if the bond isn’t completed. I’ve heard rumors that a bond not properly formed can be broken if the VV decides to leave. There will always be a yearning for what never was, but it can never be recaptured. I don’t know if that is truth or a creative fiction designed to make us appreciate the precious gifts the VV’s are when they come into our lives.”
“So, I’m a precious gift to you?” she asked with a smile. “I think that you’re pretty awesome, too.” She looked to the couple getting their food now. “At least you smile. Maybe not as much as I do, but you do and that makes me all kinds of excited. You have a fabulous smile.”
He frowned at her, shaking his head slowly. “I do not smile,” he corrected. “As to your question—yes, you are. I’ve been alive for a long time, but I have never felt even a small portion of what I already feel for you for any other.” Lifting his hand, he brushed his fingers gently across her face. “You are beyond precious to me, little warrior. You are irreplaceable and perfect.”
She leaned in and placed a kiss to his cheek. Against his ear she whispered, “You’ve smiled for me. Once. Give it time, though, and you will smile some more, I promise.” She hoped she would get a great deal more of them from this man. “Now, do we need to scooch over a bit so your friends can sit with us?”
About The Author
Having been a lover of the written word all her life April has always wanted to expand her horizons and write something that could be shared with the world. Only one thing held April back, the fact that the letters and numbers mixed and jumbled more often than not. Diagnosed with Dyslexia when she was eight years old April had to work her butt off just to be able to keep up with the other kids in reading and writing, so her love for fictional writing was tossed to the wayside for the moment.
Time marched on, as it always does, and she forgot her childhood dream of becoming an author and instead focused on what she had to – creating a career for herself.
As the endless waves of time passed the shores became less rocky and more sandy, a place where she could find an even foot. That and Microsoft invented Word. Hallelujah.
This is where April began her journey into the written world, the world that her imagination had been ceaselessly creating for her entire adult life.
Now she has been given a chance to let her literary wings unfold and fly, thanks to the amazing publishers with Evernight Publishing and Secret Cravings Publishing.Now its time to let the dream take flight and watch it soar!
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