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Ace on the Run (Code Name Stargate #1)

Ace on the Run (Code Name Stargate #1)

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Motorcycle mechanic and biker Scott Thompson isn’t the laid-back loner he makes everybody believe. Three years ago he was known as Ace, and belonged to an elite group of agents in a top secret CIA program. However, the preternatural ability that made him an invaluable asset to the government could now become his downfall, for he has to resist acting upon his premonitions, or risk exposing himself to the enemies responsible for the destruction of the Stargate program and the murder of his mentor. When his skill alerts him to a looming disaster bound to kill dozens of innocents, he is compelled to take action.

To save her position from planned budget cuts, Phoebe Chadwick needs to prove to her editor that she is a brilliant journalist with a knack for sniffing out a juicy story. When the mysterious Scott prevents a tragic accident that could have killed her and many others, she tries to interview him. But the handsome stranger is a reluctant hero unwilling to answer her probing questions.

Bad boy Scott instantly feels the sizzling chemistry between him and the persistent reporter, and makes a decision he fears will bite him in the ass soon: he allows Phoebe to get close—not only to his body, but also to his heart, always wondering when somebody will discover his secret.
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About the Book

Excerpt

1

Scott Thompson wiped his hands on the oil-drenched rag on the workbench and glanced back at the Ducati Diavel he was working on. He’d had one just like it a few years earlier, but circumstances had dictated that he switch to a Ducati Multistrada Touring bike, a model which was much more conducive to being on the run. Locked in its side cases he kept the essentials that made it possible for him to disappear at a moment’s notice: money, a firearm, fake IDs, a change of clothes, an untraceable phone, keys, and other electronics. He was ready to leave should it become necessary again. Like it had, three years earlier.

He pushed the thoughts into the back of his mind, not wanting to be reminded of the past. He hadn’t been back to the house he’d grown up in outside Washington, D.C. It was too dangerous to claim what belonged to him now. Instead, he worked at a motorcycle repair shop in Cicero, just outside Chicago, and kept a low profile.

“Are you Scott?”

The tentative female voice made him swivel on his heel and look to the open garage door. The woman who stood there wasn’t the typical motorcycle chick who frequented a shop like Al’s. He bet she’d never even sat on a bike, let alone ridden one.

“What can I do for you, ma’am?”

She gave him a seductive smile while her eyes wandered over him. He was glad it wasn’t an overly hot day and he hadn’t rolled down his blue overalls to his waist like he often did to allow the light breeze to cool his body. Because the way this woman ogled him already now in his fully clothed state made him feel more than just a little annoyed. As if he were a piece of meat. He’d never liked that sort of woman—the rich femme fatale who thought she could throw money around to lure a stud into her bed. He preferred more down-to-earth women. Women who had a little bit of innocence left in them. Well, not too much innocence. Just enough for a guy to pretend he was the one in charge.

“I was told you could help me select a motorcycle for my husband. It’s a birthday present,” she purred.

Scott jerked his thumb toward the attached shop which belonged to the same owner as the repair shop—Al, a good-natured second-generation Polish immigrant with a beer belly and a balding head. “All the salesmen are next door. I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you find the right bike.”

He turned back to the Ducati and picked up a wrench from the workbench before crouching down again. His ears picked up the sound of her footsteps as she came closer instead of leaving the garage to enter the shop. Involuntarily, he tensed.

“My friend mentioned that you’re such an ace at what you do.”

Ace? Shit! Nobody had called him by his codename in three years. This wasn’t good news.

At her words, his training kicked in. It was something so ingrained in him that even now he couldn’t switch it off. He reared up and whirled around, coming face-to-face with the woman. In the next instant, he had her pinned against the workbench, trapping her arms so she couldn’t reach for a weapon.

“Who sent you?” Scott growled, almost snarling at her.
When he glared at her, she looked at him with the frightened eyes of a doe caught in the headlights, her chest heaving.

Her lips trembled, attesting to her fear. “What are you doing?”

“Who?” he insisted, not loosening his hold on her arms.
“Jenny.”

Scott’s forehead furrowed as he tried to place the name. “Jenny who?”

“Markovitz. From the hair salon,” she elaborated, trying to shrink back from him.

The name rang a bell. It took two more seconds for his brain to make the connection. A few months ago, he’d had a one-night stand with a hairdresser named Jenny. It dawned on him then. The woman he was currently pressing against the workbench wasn’t here to kill him. She was here to fuck him.

“You’ve got the wrong Scott,” he claimed and released her.

She glared at him, adjusting her clothes and huffing indignantly. “Yeah, I can see that now. Jerk! Attacking me like that! That’s no way to treat a customer! I’ll complain to your boss about you! He’ll fire you!”

Scott narrowed his eyes. “While you’re at it, make sure you don’t forget to tell him you came here to proposition me.”

“How dare you?” she gritted through clenched teeth, her ample chest lifting. “I had no intention of—”

“Didn’t you?” he interrupted, stepping closer. “Lady, let me tell you one thing. I’m a man, and I know when a woman is coming onto me. I don’t sleep with women like you. So if you want to get laid, why don’t you seduce your husband for once, and leave men like me alone? Because the next time you come up to a stranger, you might run into somebody who’s less gentle than I am.”

And she had no idea just how close she’d come to death by uttering the wrong word.

Her lips parted. Scott could see how she was searching for a comeback, but no words came out of her mouth.

“Something wrong?” Al’s gravelly voice suddenly came from the door to the showroom.

Scott turned his head. “I believe this lady is looking for a bike for her husband, but couldn’t find the right entrance.” He glanced back at her. “Isn’t that right?”

Without a word, she turned away and approached Al.

“Well, let me show you what we have in stock, then, Mrs. uh…?”

“Elroy,” she answered and walked through the door that Al held open for her.

Al tossed him a quizzical look, and Scott answered with a shrug before turning back to the Ducati. He knew he’d overreacted, but maybe it would teach Mrs. Elroy a lesson. Namely that propositioning strangers for sex was never a good idea.

At the same time he recalled his interactions with the hairdresser. He had a rule not to divulge much about himself to any woman he slept with, but one night Jenny had shown up at the local bar he frequented, where several people knew his first name and where he worked. It was the only reason she knew how to get a hold of him. Scott made a mental note never again to screw another woman who knew where she could find him, though he was a little surprised that women would trade one-night stands with their girlfriends.

But then, what did he know about women? He’d never had an honest relationship with a woman. Flings, one-night stands, yes, and plenty thereof, like any healthy thirty-six-year-old man. But no real relationship where the woman knew who or what he was. It had been a necessity to hide his true identity, now more so than ever before. If certain people found out who he was, he would already be dead. And he planned on staying alive.
Scott picked up the wrench he’d dropped on the workbench when he’d grabbed Mrs. Elroy and turned back to the Ducati, when his vision suddenly blurred. He instantly released the wrench and gripped the bench for support.

“Shit,” he cursed and closed his eyes, knowing instinctively what was happening to him.

Instead of darkness greeting him, a scene played out before his eyes. A scene taking place somewhere else.
The man sat in the driver’s seat of the school bus. Behind him, excited kids talked over each other. There were giggles and laughter, then the voice of a woman, but the kids were making too much noise for Scott to hear what she was saying. Nor did he get a visual of her or the kids. She was probably the teacher, though it was odd that she would be on the bus with the kids. Maybe a field trip.

He focused his vision back on the bus driver. He wore a short-sleeve striped shirt and khaki pants, but Scott didn’t see his face, only the back of his head. His brown hair was in need of cutting, and his scalp was showing through the bald spot on the top of his head. He’d made an attempt at a comb-over, but his hair wasn’t long enough.

The man grumbled to himself, looking to the right and the left as he approached a railroad crossing. He glanced at his wristwatch. Three minutes before two o’clock. It was afternoon, Scott noted, and by the way the sun shone into the bus and the clothes the driver was wearing it appeared to be summer. The driver’s hand reached for the radio. He turned up the volume, maybe to drown out the kids’ voices.

At the railroad crossing he slowed, glancing to the left once more. He rolled onto the rails, then brought the bus to a stop.

Scott held his breath.

The bus driver switched off the engine and pulled the keys from the ignition. His hand went to the mechanism to open the door, but instead of opening it, he seemed to wiggle it slightly. Scott focused on it and saw that it had been cut through and was hanging on by only a sliver. It would break off the next time somebody touched it.

The driver didn’t lose any time. He pushed the window to his left open and wedged himself through it with such grace that it looked like he’d practiced it beforehand. Once outside, he slid the window shut and pulled something from his pocket.

Scott peered through the window and watched him jam a lock into some hooks outside the window—hooks that shouldn’t be there in the first place—rigging it so it couldn’t be opened.

Where the driver disappeared to, Scott couldn’t tell, because at that moment a movement caught his attention. The gates of the railroad crossing were lowering.

Shit!

Scott glanced down the railroad tracks, first to the left, then to the right, when he saw a movement in the distance. From the right, a train was approaching.
The occupants of the bus were oblivious to their fate. The train wouldn’t be able to stop in time. It would hit them full-on. Horrified, he let his eyes wander, trying to find any indication as to where and when this event playing out before his eyes would take place.

He focused, knowing he had only a few seconds more until the vision would disappear. It always did as soon as the disaster occurred.

On the opposite side of the railroad crossing a car was parked, and another one on the other side of the street. Both with Illinois license plates, a good indication that this railroad crossing was in Illinois. He was searching for street signs, anything that would help him identify the location, when he saw a phone number on a billboard. A realtor was advertising his services with a 312 prefix, the area code for Chicago. Good, realtors only advertised locally, so the railroad crossing had to be in the Chicago area. But Chicago was big and there were many train lines leading into town, and even more railroad crossings.

The song on the radio stopped and the DJ came on instead. “And that was Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac. How’s that for nostalgia?”

Another voice joined him, this one also coming from the radio. “And can you guess who’s going to be singing the anthem at tomorrow’s baseball game, the White Sox against Kansas City right here in—”

The train hitting the bus cut off the radio.

Scott’s knees buckled and he fell forward, feeling the impact physically. His eyes shot open and he saw the ground coming toward him. In the last second he braced himself with his hands and slowed his fall before he hit the hard concrete floor of the garage.

His breathing was ragged when he pushed himself up to sit. He shoved a trembling hand through his dark hair, feeling cold sweat on his nape.

The kids from his premonition would die unless he intervened. He knew it for certain. He’d seen too many of his visions become reality to doubt their authenticity. And he had enough information to find out where and when this collision would take place: the time on the wristwatch told him the time of day; the mention of the baseball game told him which date; and with the help of photos from Google Maps, where the sun was coming from and from which direction the train had come and hit the bus, he could find the correct railroad crossing in the Chicago area.

But he also knew one other thing for certain: if he intervened in this looming tragedy, he could expose himself and lead his enemies right into his arms. If they found him, they would kill him.

His heart beat into his throat. Could he let all these kids die to protect his own life? Could he live with the guilt of knowing he’d done nothing to save these young lives?

About the Code Name Stargate series

Gifted with precognitive skills and trained by the CIA in a top-secret program that not even the top brass of the agency was aware, the Stargate agents were once the nation’s most powerful secret asset. Betrayed by unknown enemies, unable to trust anyone—not even one another—the Stargate Agents hold the key to unmasking a conspiracy steeped in greed, power and revenge. To survive, they’ll have to solve what lies behind the recurring premonitions they experience, and stop an impending disaster.

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