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The Marshal's Witness -- Lena Diaz

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The Marshal's Witness

EVERYONE HAS SECRETS. HERS MAY GET THEM KILLED. 

Breaking protocol and going on the run with a protected witness wasn't in U.S. Marshal Ryan Jackson's plans. And even though Jessica Delaney's testimony nearly put away a crime boss, Ryan can't afford to trust her. Still, the duty-dedicated marshal will do whatever it takes to protect Jessica and uncover the mole leaking her new identity. But staying seconds ahead of the ruthless killers on their trail is easier than keeping himself safe from Jessica's unexpected vulnerability and irresistible determination. Now, as the net around them tightens, Ryan's deepest loss may be the one danger he never anticipated.

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reviews

"Diaz leads readers on a merry chase, with hit men jumping out from every corner.” ~ Pat Cooper, RT Book Reviews

excerpt

One juror. That’s all it had taken to set a murderer free.

Jessica Delaney flattened her hands against the conference room window of the White Plains Federal courthouse, watching the mockery playing out two stories below.

Mistrial. The word left a bitter taste in her mouth. What would that juror have done if his friend had been brutally murdered in front of him? Or if his life had become the hell Jessica’s had become, living in fear that her former boss would discover where the government was keeping her during the year-long trial?

She’d been foolish to think her testimony could make a difference, that a twenty-eight year-old accountant could put the head of the most powerful crime family in New York away, when others had tried and failed before her. She’d given up everything--her home, her friends, her job--to become the government’s star witness. For what? DeGaullo was free, and she was about to go into hiding.

For the rest of her life.

Her hands tightened into fists as Richard DeGaullo waded through the crowd of reporters, smiling and waving like a foreign dignitary instead of a man who’d viciously executed a young mother, leaving two small children behind to mourn her death.

He jogged down the steps, his perfectly pressed suit jacket flapping in the wind as the first fat raindrops from an afternoon storm splattered against Jessica’s window. Freedom waited for DeGaullo in the form of a black, stretch limo snugged up against the curb.

The driver opened the rear door. Jessica sucked in her breath when DeGaullo turned and looked up, as if he knew she was watching. He raised his hand in a jaunty salute, flashed a cocky grin, then slid inside the car.

A loud knock sounded behind Jessica, making her start in surprise. She turned around to see a man she didn’t know, standing in the open doorway. The briefcase he held looked like a child’s toy in his large hand, and the top of his head barely cleared the doorframe.

Jessica’s gaze darted past him to the marshals in the hallway. William Gavin, who’d always reminded her of the grandfather she wished she’d had, gave her a reassuring nod before closing the door, cocooning her in with the stranger.

A polite greeting died on Jessica’s lips as the man strode toward her, his angular face tightening into lines of disapproval. With his coal-black suit emphasizing his massive shoulders, he looked like an avenging angel, or a demon, swooping down to punish her for her sins. She tensed against the urge to flinch away when he stopped in front of her.

“Move away from the window.” He gently, but firmly pushed her away from the glass. The look in his dark blue eyes, as he scanned the courtyard below, reminded her of a hawk sighting its prey. Seemingly satisfied, he flipped the blinds closed and crossed the tiny room to the table in the corner.

He pulled out a chair and raised an expectant brow. Jessica reluctantly obeyed his unspoken command, taking the seat he offered. She stiffened when he leaned down, his lips next to her ear.

“Never stand in front of a window, especially with the light behind you,” he said. “Don’t make it easy for him.”

She shivered at the feel of his warm breath whispering across her skin, and the deadly warning in his words--words that rang true after seeing DeGaullo wave at her. Since the stranger seemed to be waiting for a response, she nodded.

He moved to the chair across from her and set his briefcase on the table.

“I was told the glass is bulletproof.” Jessica immediately regretted her statement when she realized how defensive she sounded.

The stranger’s dark brows arched but he didn’t bother to look at her. He was more concerned with the papers in his briefcase.

Jessica pressed her lips together and took the opportunity to study him. Tiny lines bracketed his mouth. On someone else they would have been laugh lines, but she couldn’t picture this man laughing. His eyes were guarded, as if he’d seen too much, and his experiences had stamped themselves onto his soul.

He took three pieces of paper out of his briefcase and placed them on the table in front of her. “Nothing’s bulletproof if you have the right weapon, the right motivation.” His deep voice echoed through the small space. “Your former boss has plenty of both.” He reached a tanned hand into his suit jacket, pulled out a pen, and tossed it across the table.

Jessica managed to snatch the pen before it could fall onto the floor. “Who are you?” She slapped the pen down on the table.

“Deputy U.S. Marshal, Ryan Jackson.”

 

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