Corpus Brides #3: The Conclusion
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Valeriya Morozova has managed to carve out a do-over for herself away from the clutches of the Corpus agency. The one formerly known as Anastasiya still lives on the edge, paranoid anyone will bust her secret and turn her in. Agency leaders believe her to be at the heart of the failed mutinous plot to overtake command, and the price of that betrayal—never mind that she is innocent—will be her life, paid in blood.
A man who’s always followed orders
In his decades inside the Corpus agency, case officer and former super-spy Graeme Whitman—aka Scott—has always paid heed to rules and obeyed all his orders. When he is chosen to bring the traitor Anastasiya back into the fold, Scott knows it will be just one more job he will successfully complete. After all, doing the right thing is atonement for your past mistakes, right?
Secrets running deep
Scott has secrets; who doesn’t? But he isn’t prepared for the full cupboard of skeletons Anastasiya carries with her...starting with the reason why she ran away from the agency. The more he digs, the less he is certain of, until he comes to ask himself why everyone has falsely painted her as a hard-hearted sociopath.
But is Anastasiya a victim, or a skilful manipulator? When her past collides with her present, the future as both she and Scott conceived it shatters. They’ve answered the call of duty all their lives—will they have to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of love?
“Why did you run, Ana?”
She hitched in a breath. That’s the nickname he’d used-- Don’t. Think. Of. That.
“Antonia. Nothing mattered except her. She wouldn’t grow up inside the agency, and I wouldn’t let anyone take her from me.”
“There was nothing else?”
“That wasn’t enough?” she shot back at him.
He sighed again. “Things have been happening inside the organization.”
“What kind of things?”
He stared at her. “Mutiny.”
“What?” Surprise dropped like an anvil over her and she stumbled to the bed, where she fell into a heap next to him. “You must be joking!”
“Sadly, no. You didn’t notice anything back in there? It never struck you that something could be amiss?”
She turned to face him. “Something was amiss, Scott—I was pregnant, about to bring an innocent, defenceless child into this fucked up existence of being a Corpus agent. Excuse me for not thinking of anything beside that.”
“Speaking of, who’s her father?”
She steeled herself to answer this question...with a non-answer. “Why did you have to fake your death?”
Had he noticed she’d evaded the query?
He remained silent for long seconds, before he responded. “You recall the Stepanovic case in Marseille, a little over a year ago? Nothing was going as planned there, and it even ended in a case death.”
She nodded. “No conclusive evidence, no influence worked, and he even disappeared after a while. Total failure for us on that one, I remember. The boss hadn’t been pleased.”
“You’ll also recall it’s not the only case that fell off the wayside around that period.”
She frowned. “Now that you mention it...”
“Someone from the inside was letting those criminals walk away. Fey had also disappeared; we suspected she’d gone rogue.”
She winced upon hearing that name. How she’d hated that woman, because Fey had worked with Scott and had managed to snare him into her bed a long time ago. She’d had everything Valeriya had ever wanted for herself.
“Then someone targeted Kali.”
“Oh, my God! Is she okay? She isn’t...?”
“She’s fine. Her agent status burned, but she’s alive, living like a civilian now in Notting Hill with her husband.”
A sigh of relief rushed out of her. Kali—aka Rayne Cheltham—had been her best friend inside the Corpus. Right before cutting and running from Prague, she’d done all she could to save the life of Ash, Rayne’s husband, who’d been hit by a rogue bullet when he’d walked in on one of her operations.
Rayne, the only person she’d informed of her leaving, without giving her any details as to why. Her friend must now think the worst of her.
And so must Scott, and everyone else. Clarity suddenly beamed in her mind.
“You think I had anything to do with this?” Only someone on the upper echelons of the organization could’ve pulled this mutiny through, what with having access to case files and their whole arsenal.
And she had disappeared right after Rayne got burned.
That’s why Scott had been looking for her.
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Author, editor, smitten wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween boy, best-buddy stepmum to a teenage lad, bookaholic, lover of all things fluffy & pink, chronic shoeholic, incompetent housewife desperate to channel Nigella Lawson (and who’ll prolly always fail at making domestic goddess status)...
Zee hails from the multicultural, rainbow-nation island of Mauritius, in the southern Indian Ocean, where she grew up on the figurative fence—one side had her ancestors’ Indian and Muslim culture; the other had modernity and the global village. When one day she realised she could dip her toes into both sides without losing her integrity, she found her identity.
This quest for ‘finding your place’ is what she attempts to bring in all her stories, across all the genres she writes. Her heroines represent today’s women trying to reconcile love, life, & relationships in a melting pot of cultures, while her heroes are Alpha men who often get put back into their rightful place by the headstrong women she writes. Love is always a winner in her stories, though; that’s a given.
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