RT Book Reviews just published their March on-line edition … and MAKE THEM PAY received a Top Pick! I’m thrilled because I love this story and, considering that it’s Sean and Lucy’s 12th book, it still resonated and touched all the right notes. Yeah!
Over the course of Brennan’s fantastic Lucy Kincaid series, readers have not only been treated to intricate and gripping suspense, but also the evolution of a complex relationship. At last Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan are about to tie the knot, but of course things cannot go smoothly. This time the threat is coming from within the Rogan family, which magnifies the treachery. By utilizing absorbing plots and building layered characters over the course of this outstanding series, Brennan keeps demonstrating she is one amazingly talented storyteller!
Friday Night, Present Day
Kane Rogan had been a Marine and a mercenary and had devoted his life to Rogan-Caruso-Kincaid Protective Services. He was ruthless when necessary but preferred clandestine operations to violent encounters. He wasn’t a soft man, but he wasn’t cruel.
Still, he had a deep seated anger for those who hurt innocent people. And a violent rage against those who bought and sold human beings like property.
If Kane had known that the FBI had that bastard Angelo Zapelli in custody, then let him go, Kane would have taken him out before he crossed the border. Kane didn’t care about any rights Zapelli claimed to have, or a supposed illegal search and seizure—which resulted in saving dozens of lives. He didn’t care that Zapelli was a Mexican citizen or that he had been detained without probable cause or any of that other legal bullshit which separated Kane from some of his closest friends.
Angelo Zapelli had sold his pregnant girlfriend and her sister into the sex trade where they suffered at the hands of brutal men and women all for sick thrills and profit. Zapelli didn’t deserve to live, he didn’t deserve to breathe the same air as the women he betrayed.
For the two weeks Kane Rogan watched him, Zapelli clearly felt no remorse for his actions. But it wasn’t until Zapelli started talking up a young and obviously underage girl that Kane knew the bastard hadn’t changed. That he would once again sell girls into the sex trade or abuse them himself.
Neither of which was acceptable.
Which was why Angelo Zapelli now sat tied to a wooden chair in the middle of a decrepit barn outside Monterrey, Mexico. His face bled—from his mouth and a cut across his cheek and a gash on his forehead that would scar if Kane didn’t kill him. A tooth that must have already been loose lay in a ring of bloody saliva on the ground in front of Zapelli. Kane hadn’t tortured him, not yet, but Zapelli had put up a fight and Kane enjoyed taking him to the ground. Kane planned on killing him and he wouldn’t bring his team or his family into it.
Not this action. Not this time.
Zapelli tried to put up a tough front, but he was soft. Strong and powerful around young women he could manipulate, use, and bully, but he was weak inside, with clean hands and manicured nails. At first he fought, but now he cried. He’d lost his rage because he wanted to live.
Zapelli knew exactly who Kane Rogan was and what he could do.
“I swear,” Zapelli pleaded, “I didn’t do anything!”
Kane remained silent. He sat on a chair in front of Zapelli, gun in hand. Silence drew confessions from the weak better than torture.
Kane rubbed his jaw. Zapped had gotten in one left cross, but that was it. Sore, a little bruised, but the punch hadn’t even broken his skin. Kane stared at Zapelli. Sweat dripped down his face, mingling with the drying blood. He pontificated, lied, begged. Then lost it.
“Fuck you!” Zapelli screamed. “If I die, everyone in your fucking family will die. You think I don’t know who you are? Do you think I don’t know that fed is almost your fucking sister-in-law? Do you think she’s unreachable?”
Kane kicked the chair over. Zapelli fell hard on his back, unable to brace himself against the hard-packed dirt. He was stunned silent.
“You won’t do anything because you’ll be dead,” Kane said calmly.
His family had been threatened before; they knew the risks. Kane had read Lucy into the program, she’d made many of her own enemies, but she was cautious and she had Sean. A low-level prick like Angelo Zapelli wouldn’t be able to get to her.
But it wasn’t Zapelli that Kane wanted.
Kane had spent the last few weeks putting together the players in the human trafficking organization that Zapelli fed. The Flores cartel who ran it had been mostly wiped out; their accountant was turning state’s evidence and all but two of the family members confirmed dead. Kane had someone on the inside making sure the youngest Flores brother didn’t start up the operation again.
But Kane understood this business well enough to know that there were others who would fill the gaps. Kane may have cut off the head, but those who answered to the Flores cartel would be taking over, and Kane wanted to make it clear that there would be no more black market babies. The sex trade was bad enough, but to use these women as breeders, sell their babies, put them back into the business … it was worse than cruel. It was evil.
Kane would not tolerate it.
He rose, walked behind Zapelli where he still lay on the ground, and pulled up his chair. When he was sitting up again, Kane resecured his restraints, then returned to his own seat. He had all day. Hell, he’d stay here all week and watch Zapelli die of dehydration.
“What the fuck do you want?” Zapelli sobbed.
“They’ll kill me!”
Kane just stared at him.
Sweat dripped into his eyes and he blinked, in full panic.
Yes, asshole, you should be very scared.
Zapelli continued to beg, swear, argue, threaten, plead … he tried every tactic and Kane sat there.
Kane wanted to kill him. He’d planned to kill him.
But he’d promised he wouldn’t.
He never made promises like that, and it bothered him on more than one level. Not only because it tied his hands in an operation but also because Siobhan Walsh figured out his plan without him so much as saying a word.
Since when had the infuriating, sexy, too-smart-for-her-own-good redhead been able to read his mind?
“I know what you’re going to do, and I won’t stop you,” Siobhan said the night he left.
Kane stared at her. “You know nothing.”
“I want to kill him too. Marisol wants to kill him. But remember what you told her, just two days ago? You can’t come back from murder.”
“He wouldn’t be the first man I killed.” He’d said it to scare her, but Siobhan didn’t scare easy.
“You need information, you’ll get it from him. But he’s not worth another piece of your soul.” She stepped toward him. He didn’t move. He didn’t dare move.
Siobhan whispered, “I still love you, Kane.” She kissed him. He stood rigid, willing himself not to respond to her. She stepped back and smiled, just a little turn of her lips, and he itched to take her to bed, right then, show her that he wasn’t the man she thought he was. That he took what he wanted, and he had wanted her for years.
But Siobhan wasn’t a one-night stand. She wasn’t a woman he could screw then walk away from. She was a woman that demanded lovemaking, not mere sex. She knew it, and still she pushed him. “I will love you no matter what you do in Monterrey. But you’re better than Zapelli. You’re better than all of them. I’m not letting you disappear on me again, not anymore. I will hunt you down and make you realize that you are the man I see, not the man you think you are.”
And then she walked away. Siobhan walked out of his bunk and left him shaking with a hard-on.
He didn’t want to love anyone; love was dangerous.
He especially didn’t want to love Siobhan Walsh.
It looked like he had no choice in the matter, because as soon as she walked away he craved her even more.
It didn’t take long for Angelo Zapelli to break, and Kane Rogan didn’t have to say another word.
“Fuck you.” But there was no venom, no fight. He was resigned.
Zapelli gave up three names, and after continued questioning, Kane was fairly certain those were the only players Zapelli knew. Kane had heard of two of them. One he was certain was dead, the other in hiding after he’d found out Kane was looking for him. And the third … a new player? Or was it an alias?
Kane would find out. He stood.
Zapelli started to cry. “I don’t want to die. Please.”
Had the women he sold as sex slaves cried and pleaded for their lives? Zapelli hadn’t cared about them, and Kane cared less about the whiny, sniveling bastard in front of him. Angelo Zapelli was a waste of oxygen.
But Kane had made a promise. Even though he didn’t explicitly say he wouldn’t kill Zapelli, Siobhan had walked away believing he had.
He should shoot Zapelli now to prove to Siobhan that he was unworthy of her and her love.
But Kane was tired. Tired of the violence and the heartache and the misery that he’d been fighting for well over twenty years.
“Is Jasmine alive? Is she rebuilding Dom’s network?” Kane knew Jasmine was alive. He wanted to see what Zapelli knew.
“I don’t know! I swear, I don’t. I … I think so, but I haven’t seen her, I swear! I’m out of the business. I only work for my dad now. I swear.”
He was blubbering, but Kane didn’t believe him—Zappelli wasn’t out of the business. Maybe this beating would change him, but Kane wasn’t holding his breath.
“If you want to live, tell me one thing.”
“Who bought your son?”
Zapelli’s mouth opened and closed and no sound came out, until a gut-wrenching sob emerged. “No. They’ll know it was me.”
Kane raised his gun.
“New York! That’s all I know, someone in New York, a business tycoon who has four daughters and wanted a son. He’s powerful and has money. My son will have everything, everything! Why do you care? He’s not yours! Marisol can’t give him shit, she’s nothing!”
Kane pistol whipped Zapelli and he fell over again. He holstered his gun and took out his knife.
It took all his willpower not to slit the bastard’s throat.
Instead, Kane cut the binds at his wrists, leaned down, and said, “I will kill you if you ever threaten my people again.”
He rose and walked away. It might take the sobbing asshole a few hours to get out of his leg restraints, but Kane lived up to his promise. He didn’t kill him.
In fact, he lived up to both promises. He’d promised Marisol that he would find her son, and now he had a lead.
Time to call in the cavalry.
And time to go home.
He hadn’t thought of having a home for years. He’d enlisted in the Marines when he was eighteen, but he’d always thought of the house where he grew up as home until his parents died ten years later. Since then, he’d had home bases and camps and occasionally a long-term apartment in some border city.
But that all changed when he reconnected with his brother Sean; and then Sean and Lucy moved to San Antonio. Sean wanted him to live in the apartment he was building over the garage; Kane said no. Too close to civilization, to people. He needed his space. It was probably the only luxury he truly needed.
Yet Kane felt that Sean and Lucy’s house was more of a home than anyplace he’d had in nearly twenty years. Lately, he’d been using Jack Kincaid’s spread outside Hidalgo. Last month, when Jack came to help get him out of a jam, Jack told him the house was as good as his.
“I signed the property over to RCK. It’s as much yours as mine now.”
The Hidalgo property was perfect for Kane—a lot of space, a great location, and secure. But home wasn’t just a piece of land. More and more Kane had been thinking of slowing down. Being more selective in the jobs he took. Spending more time with his family.
Home wasn’t a place, it was the people, and for the first time in a long time, Kane looked forward to seeing his family, taking time off, and spending more than a fair amount of time with a certain Irish redhead he hadn’t been able to get out of his head for months.
Months? Try years, Rogan.
Thirty minutes later, Kane drove the borrowed Jeep to the remote, unmanned airfield where he’d landed his plane. He called one of the few people he trusted outside of RCK.
“Rick, it’s Kane. I have information about Marisol de la Rosa’s son.”