He is supposed to rescue her, but she puts her life on the line to save his.

Riddick’s work as a federal agent often has him bending the rules to get the job done. So, when his former commander approaches him to help extricate his daughter from a secretly run facility, Riddick reluctantly agrees. Deciding that this woman must be in dire need of help, he calls in a few favours from his friends, Brax and Sarah, to raid the stronghold and protect the woman.

What Riddick doesn’t expect is to find is a beautiful, borderline sociopathic, nuclear scientist who is playing all of the sides to complete her own mission. Deciding to hand her over to her father and walk away from the train wreck, Riddick finds himself drawn into Augustine’s military operation and chaotic life. The one thing he can’t seem to get past is her determination to see justice served, especially when she sacrifices her own freedom to keep him safe.

Publisher’s Note: This action packed, romantic suspense contains a theme of power exchange.

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Special Agent Alastair Riddick stared at the man sitting opposite him, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. How the hell had he found himself in this situation?

“I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t something that can be dealt with in the usual way,” retired Commissioner Denver said, his strong nose and defined features barely hinting at the age Riddick knew him to be. “I’ve come to you because I need your help, not to be judged.”

Riddick ground his teeth together, struggling with the information he’d been given. “Commissioner—” Riddick replied, only to be cut off by the older man’s gruff voice.

“Not anymore, son,” John Denver said, his raised brows testing Riddick’s patience.

“Mr. Denver,” Riddick began again, “I understand how concerned you must be, but what you’re suggesting is completely illegal.” John rolled his eyes, fucking rolled his eyes, at Riddick. It was all Riddick could do to hold his tongue, since the older man would probably put him in his place, were he to speak his mind. “Listen, John, I don’t seem to be getting through to you. There is no way I can infiltrate a military run facility that my own government commissioned, to retrieve an asset who is already under Australian federal protection.”

John cocked his head, his jaw clenching with what Riddick could tell was barely controlled anger. “You don’t understand,” John said, puffing out his chest, “if you think I can let this go, then you don’t know me very well.”

“And if you think that I’d go blindly into a mission that could cost me my badge, then you don’t know me, either.”

John sighed, realising Riddick wouldn’t be bullied. “Very well, but I was hoping to avoid this.” Riddick scoffed, astounded at his former commissioner. He waited for the man to explain, determined not to agree to anything until he knew what was going on. “Do you remember my daughter, Augustine?” John asked, his light blue gaze piercing Riddick’s own.

“I do,” he said, although it had been years since he’d seen the girl. John nodded, pushing a hand into his hair, and Riddick noticed a wetness to his dark lashes. It wasn’t like John to show sign of weakness, especially in front of one of his agents.

“When Augustine turned thirteen, she began showing interest in applied sciences. I couldn’t have been prouder since my daughter was finally coming into her own. Then, by the age of fifteen, I realised that she had an uncommon aptitude for nuclear fission. You can’t understand what it means to realise that you’re the parent of a gifted child, one the world would want to use for all the wrong reasons. It’s the same reason that I hid her.”

Riddick stiffened, completely blown away. Whatever he’d been expecting, it wasn’t this. “You hid your daughter from the government?” Riddick asked, not even sure he wanted to know about this.

“Yes, I pulled her out of school and moved us away,” he confessed. “I fudged her grades and continued home-schooling her, until she was seventeen.”

Riddick felt his jaw drop, his fuzzy mind picturing the young girl who’d always averted her gaze whenever he’d visited her home.

“I know exactly what you’re thinking,” John said, crossing his arms over his chest. “And you’d be right. I was being completely paranoid. But I still did it to keep her safe.”

“Why didn’t you just integrate her?” Riddick asked, wondering why John had gone to such lengths. “Surely, she could have had a normal life without all of the subterfuge.”

John pushed his hands through his hair, and this time the white strands were left in a spiky mess. “I kept her out of the public eye, since I knew what would happen if they saw how brilliant she was. I had to restrict her internet access and teach her how to fake her results just to keep her under the radar. But in the end, none of it mattered anyway. The poor kid was given an IQ test during her finals in high school, one that I hadn’t known about. It wasn’t long before she was picked up by the Australian government, her results having reached our army intelligence and secret services.”

Riddick listened carefully, his heart heavy for his ex-boss. “I guess that was when you retired,” Riddick said, not really surprised when John nodded.

“Forcibly retired, it was my punishment for hiding such a significant asset.” The last was said with a bitterness that Riddick could fully understand. “She was gone, and I was removed from my duties and never allowed to see my daughter again.”

“And now you want me to break her out?” Riddick asked, his hackles rising at the thought of Augustine being mistreated.

“I don’t think she’s in any immediate danger,” John said, his tone hard. “The government completed her training then turned my daughter into something she was never meant to be. Augie may have been a distant child, but her sense of right and wrong have always been exact. Now they send her on dangerous missions and make her build weapons for the good of the country.” John’s lips thinned sourly. “If that wasn’t enough, they’ve turned my girl into some sort of assassin, killing people to help their cause.”

Riddick clenched his jaw, hating how much John had suffered. But he knew he was being the devil’s advocate when he said, “Maybe she’s okay with her new situation? I mean, you did say she wanted to work in that sort of field—”

“I know my daughter,” John growled, his anger resurfacing. “And I won’t let you tell me otherwise.”

Riddick raised his hands in defeat, facing the older man. They were sitting in John’s living room, his Victorian house set on many acres. The position offered privacy needed for their conversation and Riddick wondered how long it had been since his former boss had left his home.

“So, how do you plan on breaking her out of the stronghold?” Riddick asked, making his decision.

“I speak to Augie once a week,” he said, “it’s all they allow. A few years ago, Augie and I worked out a secret code, in case something like this ever happened. She told me during our last conversation that she needed to get out, that they were going to make her do things she didn’t want to do.” Riddick pondered this, realising that if he were in John’s place, he’d want to act on his daughter’s behalf as well. “If I were younger, I’d go myself,” John said, sounding desperate. “But I can’t, so I need you, Alastair. I’m asking for your help to save my daughter.”

Riddick ground his teeth together, his instincts driving him to offer protection. It was something that always landed Riddick in trouble, no matter how hard he tried to keep himself out of other people’s business.

“Where are they keeping her?” he asked slowly, knowing that he’d agreed to one crazy plan.

***

Augustine used the back of her hand to wipe across her sweaty brow, her movements precise as she fixed the wire to the detonator inside the metal casing. This type of military weapon was still in its prototype stage, and Augie was fairly sure it was the only one in existence.

“For fucks sake, Denver, we’re not paying you to waste our time,” her commander barked, his features twisting with anger. Augie had been hired to build weapons for her government, but most of the people here knew that cooperation was forced.

“I’m attaching the detonator now, Senior Constable,” Augustine murmured, avoiding eye contact as she calmly completed her task. She knew better than to piss off her ranking officer, especially this one.

“And that means shit to me,” he barked, his aggression towards Augie something she was quite used to. “Just get the job done so I can go home.”

Augie ground her teeth together, not bothering to point out they’d removed her from her own home at barely legal age, to force her into a military academy without her consent.

“Yes, sir,” she replied, ensuring that the connection was in place, before sliding the metal plate closed. Senior Constable O’Riley grunted once, then turned on his heel and headed for the exit.

“I expect to see you at o-seven hundred, Denver,” he snapped as he reached the metal doors. “I want that thing coded and ready to launch by noon.”

Augie stood to attention, her back stiff as she waited for the Senior Constable to leave. Once the doors swung closed, she breathed a slow sigh of relief. She’d dragged this farce out for far longer than she’d thought possible, but now she was running out of time. There was no way she’d been able to delay the completion of the weapon, not when her bosses kept bringing in other physicists to check on her progress.

“Fuck my life,” Augie groaned, collecting her tools and leaving the main floor. The guards stationed at every exit didn’t so much as glance at her as she made her way towards her quarters. Augie knew most of the personnel here believed her to be unpatriotic, and therefore beneath their notice. The walk back to her barracks was short, and Augie breathed a sigh of relief when she entered her room. Placing her items carefully on the bed, she completed her usual routine, scanned the room for bugs, then collected her pyjamas and entered the small bathroom.

Once she closed the door and checked every surface, Augie twisted on the shower and stripped out of her clothing. Even with her delays and countermeasures, the bomb had reached its final stages. Tomorrow, Senior Constable would make her arm the prototype, and Augie would have to sit back and watch as the damned thing took lives for the good of their country.

“Well, fuck that,” Augie growled, her movements precise as she thoroughly scrubbed her body then rinsed off. She would die first before she allowed something she’d created to harm an innocent person. Once she was finished, Augie turned off the shower and collected her towel. If her communication with her father was correct, then she would be getting the chance to escape this prison tonight. If not, well, then Augie would just have to go with her own plans to stop the violence, using any method possible.

Dressing quickly into her comfortable pyjamas, Augie pulled a frozen meal from her icebox and placed it into the microwave. She didn’t know what her father had planned, but she’d make damned sure she was ready for him.

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