Revised and re-edited, the elite mercenary team headed by Randall Stone has returned to my catalogue. I hope you'll enjoy Rand's story if you have never encountered it before.
Heart of Stone
New Dawning International Book Fair
“Magnificent view, isn’t it?”
She flinched, the response instinctive, beyond her conscious control. His voice was becoming more terrifying with each day that passed, and now-familiar loathing coiled within her.
Robin Bourne pulled her emotions around her, making them a protective cloak to shield her terror. She nodded, but refused to look at him. “The view is spectacular,” she agreed.
“My own paradise.” He smiled. “
One eyebrow arched, and she laughed bitterly. “An appropriate name for this particular hell,” she murmured. A pause met the comment. “When is Randall supposed to be here?” They’d been playing this game for several weeks now, and she knew it was the one thing that would make him angry enough to leave her alone.
He sighed, then took her by the shoulders and turned her to face him.
“When are you going to stop asking me that?” Amusement was evident in his gaze, despite the thread of irritation in his tone.
“When you allow me to leave this place.” Her voice was devoid of feeling. “You told me Rand sent you to get me,” she reminded him in the familiar verbal fencing. “I believed you. You lie as easily as you betray, Mr. MacIntyre.”
His eyes sparked with real fury, and his mouth tightened.
“Rand thinks you’re dead, sweetheart,” he declared in a blunt tone. “He believes you died in a car crash being chased by that idiot who was so taken with you.” MacIntyre gave her a cold smile. “Ethridge is dead, too, by the way. Rand killed him.”
Robin felt ice form in her veins, and she wanted to laugh, the reaction one of near hysteria. Something in his eyes choked the response and she swayed.
“No,” she shook her head. “Rand wouldn’t do that. Anymore than he’d believe I was dead. Not without proof.”
“Think about it,” MacIntyre jeered. “Why wouldn’t he accept it? The police found your car, your body, and your dog tags.” He laughed when he added the last taunt; she’d been asking for the silver necklace since she’d regained consciousness. He’d told her the first day that it must have been lost on the plane.
“My…” She swallowed and tried again. “My body! How…?”
He shrugged. “Not difficult,” he assured her, sardonic humor glittering in his eyes. “A change of dental records, a dead body of the right age and size, and voila, you’re dead, Ms. Bourne.”
“Rand would know.” She shook her head in rejection of what her heart was already telling her was truth. “You couldn’t convince him,” she almost shouted in her fear. “He loves me!”
“Rand’s in mourning.” MacIntyre gave her a wicked grin. “For now.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Would you like to see your funeral?”
Robin stared at him, stunned into silence. Her mind worked furiously to assimilate the shocking news he’d just told her.
“What?” she gasped, finally, the single word torn from her in spite of herself.
MacIntyre strolled into his study. She followed, if for no other reason than the hope that she might get a glimpse of Rand on the disc MacIntyre picked up from his desk. When he slid the video disc into a waiting machine and turned, she stood in the doorway, eyes riveted to the screen that came to life.
Robin hugged herself and held her breath as the recording began to play. It was grainy, taken from a distance, but the people and the place were undeniable. All the members of Rand’s mercenary team were there: Tricia and Donald Brookman, the few friends she had from her work, even Daniel Rayne and his people from Legacy Designs. Her eyes went to the most prominent of the people gathered, and her heart twisted in her chest. She bit her bottom lip to silence the sob that rose in her throat when she saw
Rand tossing a
perfect white rose onto the casket that had just been lowered into the ground.
His pain was tangible, reaching across time and space to tear at her heart. She
ached for him, with him, and the screen blurred behind a curtain of watery
“Randall…” she whispered, barely aware she spoke out loud.
“Who’s the woman?” MacIntyre’s voice penetrated the wall of agony that was building inside her.
Robin shook off the tears, determined not to let him see how deeply shaken she was by the monstrous farce she was witnessing. She looked again at the screen and her expression turned disdainful. The scene had changed, was now inside the Western Star Health Club.
“My mother,” she informed him. “The other one is my sister, Aureena.” She met MacIntyre’s sharp eyes and tilted her head to one side. “Perhaps you should have taken her. She’d probably find you quite entertaining, Mr. MacIntyre.”
He laughed. “Maybe, but Stone wouldn’t much care if I grabbed her, would he?”
Robin’s eyes widened at the words.
“This is about Randall?” She snarled inwardly at the idiocy of the observation. Of course it was about
“Rand owes me.”
A fragment of memory came back to her, and she concentrated, forcing her mind to work, to recall where she had heard this man’s name before he had kidnapped her off the streets of
came, slowly, and she wanted to retch when she realized how stupid she’d been to
trust him when he’d stopped her. Los Angeles
“You were the one he let escape last year, the one Donald was so angry about,” she said, really looking at him now. “Eddie said he’d been foolish not to kill you when he had the chance.”
MacIntyre grinned, obviously enjoying her shock.
“Blake was the one who should have been killed when the chance was there,” MacIntyre smirked.
“Randall doesn’t owe you a thing, MacIntyre,” she snapped. “He left you alive, and that makes you even. All you’ve done is give him a reason to come after you.”
“We still have an account to settle.” MacIntyre’s voice was eerily soft.
She nodded, slowly. “You’re right. Payment due on your side. He will kill you for this.”
He turned to the video player and shut off the frozen image, then replaced the disc with a new one.
“I want you to see the gift I sent to him a week ago,” he said, voice neutral, eyes watchful of her response.