Friday, September 16, 2022

Read an Excerpt from Sapphire by Taylor Lee



Praise for Sapphire …
Book 1 in Taylor Lee’s NEW Sexy Suspense Collection: Ladies of the Night.

“USA Today best-selling author Taylor Lee does it again! Sapphire is the first book in Lee’s provocative new series, Ladies of the Night. The Ladies are covert agents in a secretive, off the grid security organization. Highly trained fighters, they’re as gorgeous as they are dangerous to the evil men they’re hired to bring to justice. The only thing these formidable women are NOT is “ladies.”

Gabriella Shaw, Code Name: Sapphire is hired to seduce and capture the leader of a lucrative international human trafficking enterprise. The epitome of the mastermind’s targeted women, Sapphire is the consummate bait. Unfortunately for the evil man, Sapphire is as deadly as she is beautiful. Paired with former Col. Jase Malone, the two agents enter the Caligula Club to trap their prey. The club is the salacious playground for the rich, famous and deviant, and the conduit to the human trafficking horror. The only thing more challenging than the mastermind to the fiercely independent Sapphire is her commanding partner. The sparks fly as Sapphire and Malone fight to capture the criminally insane mastermind while their fierce personal attraction threatens to bring them both—and the mission—crashing down.


“Sapphire, incoming.”
    Riley’s voice was low.  Urgent.  Even though the grainy footage on the screen documented a scene that had taken place days before, Jase’s antennae registered the danger. It wasn’t just Riley’s tense voice that tightened the muscles of Jase’s chest, it was the indifferent reaction of the agent on the screen. If the woman heard Riley’s command, her dismissive shrug as she approached the desk confirmed that she was more intent on her mission than in heeding her commander’s warning.  Leaning across the desk, Gabriella Shaw (aka Sapphire) booted up the computer, her fingers flying across the keyboard. The frown marring her profile telegraphed her frustration as she banged out one passcode after another. At each unsuccessful attempt, Sapphire bit down on her full bottom lip, her scowl deepening.
 She was dressed in black. The tight turtleneck above the collar of her cropped leather jacket was pulled up over her chin. An array of silver chains on her studded black jacket mirrored the ones decorating her pants. To Jase’s knowing eyes, it was an outfit worthy of a hard-bodied biker bitch. Jase noted approvingly that the skin-tight leather pants described enough curves to confirm that the stealthy figure was indeed a woman, and a damn shapely one at that. The kickass three-inch heels on Sapphire’s thigh-high black leather boots emphasized a pair of long legs and a first class ass.
Jase’s appreciative appraisal was cut short when Ian Ross’s voice echoed Riley’s. His boss’s tense warning grabbed his attention, if not the agent’s in the room.
“Sapphire. This is Colonel Ross. Listen carefully. You need to leave. Now.  It’s Diego Montero. He just drove up.  You have two minutes at most.”
The split screen image flickered to the dark alley, revealing a black paneled van rounding the dingy corner. Jase frowned watching the agent working furiously at the computer while studiously ignoring her commanders’ terse warnings. Sapphire’s shoulders tightened then eased as the flash of a smile washed over her face confirming that she had opened the program.
Riley’s order was sharp, commanding.
“For the last time, Sapphire. Get the hell out of there. Leave the goddammed program. You don’t have time to download it.  Go now, girl. That’s an order!”
Sapphire glanced up to where she must have known the cameras were.  Tossing her head dismissively, she reached up and yanked the com out of her ear then bent back over the laptop.  Reaching in her jacket pocket she pulled out a flash drive and plugged it in the computer.  Nodding appreciatively, she watched the information flying across the screen.
The image on the left side of the split screen revealed a long shadowed hallway. The heavy iron door at the end of the corridor opened with a hard clang.  It didn’t take Riley’s intense voice in the background for Jase to grasp the danger. In the dim light, it was impossible to see the intruder’s face, but light wasn’t necessary to see his body.  Tall, muscular, also dressed in black, he strode purposefully toward the room at the end of the hall. Jase sucked in a deep breath when he saw the tall figure of Diego Montero advancing. The intruder was at most a minute from the office where the beautiful agent huddled intently over the desk.
    “Goddamn you, Sapphire. Abort.  NOW!”
    Even if she had chosen to obey the order, Gabriella couldn’t have escaped. As the door burst open and the large, dark-skinned man entered, she looked up and gave a careless shrug as if she had been expecting him.  Keeping her gaze locked on the fierce man mere feet away from her, she furtively lowered the lid of the laptop obscuring the downloading program.
    The artfully positioned cameras caught the intruder full face. Sharp angles underscored a strong jaw and high cheekbones.  His shoulder-length hair was caught in a leather thong at his nape.  The man might’ve been considered handsome, if not for the web of scars crisscrossing his dark skin. The uneven, crooked arch of his nose spoke to a life that had seen many skirmishes, no doubt more dangerous for his opponents than for him.  The bulge at Montero’s shoulder spoke to a double rig.  The visible blade tucked in the sheath at his waist confirmed that he didn’t feel the need to hide his weaponry. Rather, he wore them artlessly, confirming they were an essential part of his aggressive persona.
His start of surprise when he saw Sapphire quickly became a threatening gleam. The rasp of his voice sent unwelcome shivers up Jase’s spine.  Even though Jase knew he was watching a replay, a scene that had taken place days before, he couldn’t control the adrenalin spiking across his twanging nerves.  The agent who had looked fearsome moments before, now, in contrast to the enormous man in the doorway, looked small, almost slight. Honed by years of fighting dangerous men like the one advancing on Sapphire, Jase’s protective urges flooded his ever-ready body.
The man’s voice was dangerous, filled with an ugly disparaging humor that should’ve scared the shit out of the young woman standing calmly behind the desk.
“Well, well.  Whadda we have here? If it ain’t the snoopy little cunt that’s been flashing her hoo-ha at Alfredo.  I warned him you were up to no good. But that fucking wop can’t see straight if a bikini bizkit is within five feet of ’im. What are you doing, Sugar Tits? Come to leave a note for that randy pal of mine who’s as much use to our operation as four tits on a boar-hog?”
At Sapphire’s dismissive shrug, the enormous man inched forward, his eyes flashing dangerously. A knowing smirk crossed his face. Acknowledging her outfit, he nodded.
“Hmm.  Whatcha wearing, Hoe?  It sure ain’t that G-String and sapphire pasties you was wearing when you were givin’ Alfredo one righteous lap dance last night.”
Montero jerked his head at her outfit, a salacious grin tracking across his face.  
“But I gotta say, all that leather is as big a come-on as them skanky digs you wear at the Club.  You know, the ones that are guaran-damn-teed to make a man blow his pants and fork over his last dollar for a taste of what you was selling.”
Glancing at the laptop, his jaw tightened visibly. Looking from the purring machine to the woman casually standing behind it, he hesitated and then shook his head and frowned, as if seeing her for the first time.  The knowing grimace that lit his face confirmed that he recognized the danger in front of him. Narrowing his eyes, he moved closer, awareness bright in his shifty eyes.
“Now that I think about it, Sugar Tits, you never did put out, did you?  Nope, I gotta feeling all that nooky you were purveying was just a come-on.  Makes me think you were after more than Alfredo’s randy dick and sloppy seconds for the rest of us.”
Rounding the corner of the desk, malevolence spiked his taunting grin.  
“Nope, methinks all that leather might indicate that you’re more interested in the records Alfredo keeps on that laptop than you are in his limp dick.”
The burly man’s eyes gleamed with malicious humor. His voice was soft, insinuating.
“Don’t tell me the sexy little hoe is nothing more than a plant, an undercover snoop? What are you, baby?  A big bad copper?  Or maybe one of those ass-sniffing DEA dogs out to ruin the good thing we got going here?”
Now within inches of her, his predatory intent clear, Montero rasped, “Sorry to break it to you, hotstuff. Even if you are a cop, you still have a righteous ass and before I take you out, I’m gonna have me a hella big helping of that cha-cha you been flashing.” He added with a sneer, “And if all that leather is sayin’ what I think it is, you like it rough, hard. And, honey, I’m here to tell you I’m the man to give it to you.”
Jase’s breath caught in his throat.  The looming man reeked of savage intent.  In his line of work, Jase had seen far too many women who’d faced far too many evil men like the one about to attack the leather-clad agent. Using their massive strength and sociopathic lack of conscience, the sadistic bastards measured their success by the terror on their victims’ faces, their screams of pain and the amount of blood they left on the floor.  Jase was admittedly gratified to see the strain on Ian Ross’s face, and hear the hitch in his breath as he watched the scene playing out in front of them. Even though his boss had likely viewed the ugly footage many times before, like Jase, Ian was no stranger to the brutality men could inflict. The fact that this particular woman had eventually escaped didn’t erase the memories of the countless victims they'd both  seen who tragically hadn’t been strong enough or skilled enough to flee.
Just as Jase was about to give in to his fear that the agent couldn’t possibly have overcome the miscreant who had at least six inches and a hundred-plus pounds on her, Sapphire whirled away from him.  With a loud warrior cry she spun in a circle; then, crouching low, she rose and drove her knee into the bastard’s groin. His startled cry was a mix of pain and outrage. With a fearsome roar he advanced on her but the woman was too quick. Dodging his charge, she whirled again and this time landed her steel-tipped boot squarely against his jaw.  An agonized wail amplified the sound of crunching bone.  The blood spurting from Montero’s mouth confirmed that the blow had done more than break his jaw.
Not content to glory in her charge, the woman flew at him again. But this time she used her fist, ensuring that on the odd chance her kick hadn’t shattered his jaw, the heel of her hand would. Leaping out of the way of her bloodied adversary, and instead of running from the room as she clearly could have done, the gorgeous warrior circled the bellowing man and taunted him.
“You like it rough, asshole?  Good.  Let’s see how you like this.”
She flew through the air in a leap worthy of the acrobats in The New Shanghai Circus. Rising from the floor her leg arching, the heel of her boot connected with his ear. The sound of breaking bone and the burst of blood spewing across the room coupled with the tortured scream from the man crashing to the floor. Righteous anger flashed across the aggressor’s face as she strode toward him.  The satisfied smile, sparked by the clear fury undergirding it, were the first signs of emotion Jase had seen in the icily calm fighter.  
Her triumph at her takedown of the bastard who attacked her had to be the reason she didn’t hear the door open. Glancing up at the sound, she couldn’t hide her surprise at the sight of the man barreling toward her. Not as tall as the unconscious heap on the floor, the new assailant outweighed his unlucky cohort by at least fifty pounds.  The woman overcame her surprise, but not before the rabid bull charged toward her with a furious roar.  She managed to spin to the side, but couldn’t avoid the glancing blow that caught her cheek and drove her to the ground.  Sure that Sapphire couldn’t avoid the attack that was certain to come, Jase grunted in amazement when the intrepid fighter scrambled away from the man about to land on her, forcing him to slam into the corner of the desk instead.
The stream of expletives spewing from the intruder’s mouth underscored his fury at her escape.  But her retreat was short-lived. As she scrambled across the floor struggling to stand, he grabbed her ankle and yanked her to the ground.  Dragging her back he landed a crushing blow on her jaw. Only her wiry move prevented him from breaking it.  Not content to beat his foe to death, the raving man reached to the back of his jeans and pulled out a regulation Smith & Wesson M&P 9. Sucking in an overdue lungful of air, Jase groaned hearing the gunshot. Relief mixing with admiration, Jase took in the amazing sight.  The woman, who had somehow avoided the gun blast from the gorilla on top of her, slithered out from under him, smashing the toe of her boot into his chest.  But her compromised position prevented her from breaking free.  Rearing up, her assailant grabbed for her.
If he hadn’t seen the flash of steel in her hand Jase wouldn’t have believed what happened next. He whistled and glanced over at Ian throwing his boss a disbelieving look.  
His comrade merely shook his head and muttered, “Yes, she’s really something, isn’t she, Jase?”
 At that moment, with a warrior cry, Sapphire struggled up from under the frothing giant and twisted free. Ignoring his outraged bellow, she raised her arm revealing the ten-inch military grade blade in her hand and with a slashing movement drug it across his throat.  The gurgling sound of blood and air escaping from the gaping hole in her attacker’s neck punctuated her victory.
Rising unsteadily to her feet, Sapphire glowered at the dying man. She shook her head in obvious disdain, then leaned down and retrieved her knife. After wiping the bloody weapon on her victim’s pants, she casually tucked it in her boot sheathe. Coolly striding over to the desk, she took the flash drive from the laptop and slid it into her jacket pocket.  Glancing up at the camera, she tossed her head and winked, a slight smile gracing her lovely face. Without a backward glance at the mayhem in her wake, she walked toward the exit.  As she strolled out into the hallway, she swayed her curvy bottom from side to side in a seemingly unconscious gesture.
Jase muttered, correcting himself in mock disgust.
“Unconscious, hell!  That audaciously sexy salute was anything but unconscious!”


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