Shannon Stacey

On the Edge

The Devlin Group, Book 2

March 27, 2007

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When an explosion rocks the Devlin Group, two agents must risk everything to save them all.

Tony Casavetti emerges from an undercover assignment only to be summoned to NYC by Charlotte, the Devlin Group’s executive administrator. When he arrives, he finds out she may be ruthlessly efficient, but his assumption about her being matronly was dead wrong.

Charlotte Rhames has it all—looks, wealth and the respect she craved. But an attack on the Devlin Group throws her back into the pit of sex, money, and murder she’d crawled out of.

With Tony’s life at stake, how far is she willing to fall?

Warning, this title contains the following: graphic language, and violence.

On the Edge

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Prologue

On the Edge

Shooting one’s self out of a situation gone to shit was hell on the five senses. The scent of scorched gunpowder. The residual sound of ringing in the ears. The feel of sweat pooling in the small of the back. The acrid taste of adrenaline.

And the sight of a teenage girl with the gleaming blade of a hunting knife held to her throat.

“Law enforcement approaching from your six.” The woman’s voice in his earpiece was quiet and calm, a low murmur of reassurance. “Heat signatures show the positions of target and hostage, and we are negative for sniper position.”

Tony moved to his left, putting solid wall at his back, keeping his eyes on Chavez. The girl whimpered and squirmed in the Mexican’s grasp, her eyes pleading with Tony. Save me.

“All girls except hostage are extracted,” the voice in his earpiece informed him. “Officers holding at ten-foot perimeter around your location. Some in interior hall, some outside the building.

“Put the knife down,” Tony told Chavez. He heard a confirmation of the target’s weapon in his earpiece. “If you let the girl go, you have a chance at bribing a judge and walking away from this.”

“I’ll walk away now, cabron. The girl and I are going to get in my helicopter and fly out of here. If anybody gets in my way, I will cut her throat.”

Tony kept his body relaxed and his muscles loose, ready for anything, while he considered his options. Nine freaking months he’d been undercover in Chavez’s operation. The job was to not only get to the Mexican child-trafficker, but to gather intel on the network of bastards who bought the young illegals from him. When the government had enough to go after the scumbags who bought underage Mexican slaves—for domestic, commercial and sexual reasons—he could deal with Chavez personally.

But somehow, somebody had blown his cover. It might have been five or fifty minutes since he’d been in his room, talking to Charlotte Rhames about the goddamn New York Yankees of all things, while checking his weapons and magazines. His fastidiousness about his gun saved his life.

Chavez’s men had come for him. With Charlotte still on open comm, he’d fought for his life, fought for the lives of two dozen girls being held in the house. Charlotte had been there for every step. Every shot.

Now it had come down to this. Tony weighed the life of one girl against Chavez’s countless past and future victims. He had to be stopped at any cost—even if it meant one girl had to die.

“I’m supposed to remind you the contract makes Chavez top priority,” Charlotte said in his ear. The woman had an uncanny ability to guess what was going on, even from two thousand miles away. Frightening sometimes, but helpful. “Reasonable losses are acceptable.”

Tony glanced at the girl. Her dark eyes were liquid with terror, and tears streaked her face. She was pretty, just starting to show signs of the woman she should be allowed to become. He might never know her name because she was just collateral damage. An acceptable loss.

Well, screw that. There was no way in hell Tony was going to let that happen.

“But I know that clause doesn’t mean shit to you,” Charlotte continued, “so the officers are standing by for a mass assault on the room. Confusion might be your best chance.”

Not with that knife being held so tightly against the girl’s throat she had to lift her chin to swallow.

“We’ve got us a bad situation here,” he said to Chavez, communicating a no-go on the mass assault through the mike.

“It’s not a bad situation for me,” the Mexican pointed out. “You want to be a hero, cabron, so you won’t let me kill this worthless puta barata.”

Tony breathed in through his nose, growling low in his throat as he then exhaled. “She’s not worthless, you disgusting son of a bitch.”

“He’s looking for your trigger, Tony. Don’t let him use you.”

On the Edge

“Then you’ll put your gun down,” Chavez said, “and let me and the girl walk out of here.”

If Chavez walked out into the hall, he was going to meet up with a shitload of armed Texas law enforcement, and the girl was going to get hurt.

“Okay. I’ll put it down and we’ll talk.” He lifted the nose of his gun, slowly transferring it to his left hand. Non-threatening move. Passive body language. He bent slightly at the waist, ready to set the gun on the floor.

Chavez smiled. Then he got cocky and loosened his grip on the girl.

Tony took the shot.

The bullet passed over the girl’s shoulder, hitting Chavez in the clavicle. The girl screamed and broke free, falling. Scrambling across the floor.

Chavez fell, roaring with pain and fury. Blood soaked the front of his white shirt.

Tony advanced, ignoring the sobbing child moving past him toward the door. Chavez tried to crawl away from him, but Tony could see in the man’s eyes he knew his time was up.

Chingate, pendejo,” Chavez spat.

“No, screw you.” Tony pulled the trigger twice. A clean double tap and the job was done.

Men exploded into the room and Tony moved away. He sank down against an exterior wall and leaned his head back against the gaudy wallpaper. “Did we get them all out?”

“Yes,” Charlotte responded. “Four of the girls are receiving medical treatment for injuries—one caught a ricochet and another was in the crossfire. A couple were hurt when the girls stampeded. Nothing life threatening. You did it, Tony.”

“We did it,” he whispered. “I don’t think I could live without you, darlin’.”

“It’s a good thing you don’t have to try, then. I’m not going anywhere, Tony.”

He closed his eyes. It was a damn good day.

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Reviews

“In book two of the Devlin Group series, Shannon Stacey delivers an in-your-face, action filled romance that made this reader an instant fan. […]

“ON THE EDGE surprised me on many levels. The plot has wonderful action and a steady build-up to the end. Ms. Stacey is to be applauded for her ability to inspire emotional responses in the reader with a variety of characters. Her various character portrayals will have readers feeling laughter, sexual tension, and the anguish of uncertainty. Tony and Charlotte’s reactions are very honest and subsequently lifelike. There is no playing around between these two. I thoroughly enjoyed the connection they built and the awareness that hummed between them. The action is nail biting, non-stop, and definitely keeps you glued to the pages. I have not read the first in the series and while I am sure it enhances this one, ON THE EDGE is completely capable of being read on its own. From start to finish, this is one story that delivers a wonderful, complete romantic suspense.” —5 Angels from Amanda S of Fallen Angel Reviews:

“The writing for ON THE EDGE is crisp, lean, and gripping. Gallagher, Alex, Grace, and Marge play large roles in this bite-your-nails, tear-out-your hair suspense thriller. The action is relentless, the characters three-dimensional, and the build-up of danger and adrenalin kept this reader turning pages. With ON THE EDGE, Shannon Stacey has us on edge while Charlotte and Tony overcome fear and near-panic to survive so that they may have the chance to get to know each other and bring down an organization intent on destroying the Devlin Group. Read it and keep it.” —Vi, Romance Reviews Today

“The tension, both physical and sexual, never lets up throughout the most enjoyable plot I’ve read since I don’t remember when. Wow! This is a great book. The flow and pace never miss a beat. The sex is a lot like some of the racier category romances but also some of the most arousing I’ve come across in awhile. I actually had tears streaming down my face but didn’t realize it until I had to keep wiping my eyes so I could keep reading. The twists of the plot kept me guessing until the very end. The characters are marvelously well developed and the reader begins to care for them right away. Even many of the secondary characters will work their way into the reader’s heart and remain there. This is a book I’ll be reading again and again. I highly recommend it to everyone.” —5 Hearts from Karen H. of The Romance Studio

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