Title: Before The Morning
Author: +Zee Monodee
Series: Corpus Brides Book 2: The Prequel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23598414-before-the-morning
In this stand-alone prequel to the explosive Corpus Brides romantic suspense/espionage series, found out how everything started when one of the agency’s deadliest became the target of a rogue faction.
Before the morning
…is the time of greater darkness…
A trained killer with borderline sociopathic tendencies
Rayne Cheltham traced out her life’s path when she was twelve: she would marry her best friend and bear his children, and in the process, stifle the restless edge in her. When he vows never to marry, she gives in to the darkness and becomes a clandestine agent—until the day he walks into her world again, and her carefully fabricated façade crumbles.
A former cop burned by life and his personal demons
When Ash Gilfoy meets a woman who reminds him of his childhood best friend, he starts upon a path that leads him down into the abyss once again. The day Rayne waltzes back into his life, he knows she is his second chance, and the one who will save him.
Each thinks the other is their redemption…until they discover how deep darkness goes inside both of them
The secrets between them make them sit on a keg of gunpowder with a lit fuse in their hands. Rayne’s whole life is built on a lie, and the truth is threatening to explode in their faces. But that is not the only menace they have to face. Someone is out to get Rayne, and she must disclose her secret past before it is too late.
Can Rayne and Ash survive all that’s thrown in their path? Can they hang on to the last thread of their relationship, and can they emerge, still together and still alive, in the morning after the deepest darkness?
Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SU5Y6QQ
Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00SU5Y6QQ
Amazon CA http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00SU5Y6QQ?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
[2 excerpts options. Please delete one]
From the front-facing window on the second floor of the Shepherd’s Close freehold, Corpus secret agent Rayne Cheltham watched the ambulance pull away from the curb.
Shivers crept up her arms, and she hugged herself tight to ward them off.
Get a grip!
She was a professional on an assignment, for God’s sake. An elite, trained operative from a clandestine agency that handled operations for governments and international forces as a stealthy left hand. Her superiors entrusted her with the most important missions—nothing should faze her.
Before today, she would’ve said that nothing could affect her when she had her eyes on a goal.
But she couldn’t be sure anymore. She’d never had her past collide with her present like a few moments ago, in the form of her childhood best friend.
Ashford Gilfoy, better known as Ash. The boy who had been there to catch her when, at six, she had slipped while climbing the chestnut tree that sat right on the border between their two houses in Hastings, two days after her family had moved there from Salisbury. The boy who had taught her how to ride a bicycle without the training wheels on the long and winding, gravel-covered lane leading to her parents’ mansion. The teenager who had smashed the nose of the first lad who had broken her heart, at thirteen, during recess in the schoolyard. The young man she had left seventeen years ago on a platform at London Waterloo, on the day she’d bid her old life goodbye.
For the first time since that day, she’d stepped back on British soil, and kismet decided Ash should cross her path.
Why now, of all times? She stood a hair’s breadth away from closing the contract on this mission. Seven months of intensive infiltration work and she remained poised to achieve her aim—neutralize Nikolai Grigorievskiy’s criminal operations before she took out the man. The Corpus always sent her for the kill, but the trick spelled that she had to make her target’s death appear self-inflicted, at the bare minimum, or an accident, in the direst of cases. Measles, as such operations were known in their clandestine world—a planned assassination not leaving any indication of the cause of death. She would then have to sanitize everything—leave no evidence, no witness, nothing to lead back to her. Unlike her other agency counterparts, she wasn’t an out-and-out black ops assassin, but a different level of highly implicated agent provocateur.
In other words, a consummate actress who got to her ends by manipulating people and circumstances. All those years of drama school, at her mother’s insistence when, obviously, she’d be too tall to become a ballerina, had come in handy. In fact, her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in the drama school’s end of year play had caught the eye of the people who had recruited her into the Corpus. Seventeen years now into the agency, fifteen of them as Kali, her operative name, a sociopath with no apparent conscience who followed her orders with diligence. Never had any one of her targets come close to figuring she could be an undercover agent. Her track record was flawless—each assignment undertaken with one hundred percent success rate and a marginal body count.
Until today, when she’d almost gotten burned.
Ash blinked. He had to be dreaming. Except that the metal band on his finger felt all too real—heavy, smooth, warm, and tight. He glanced at the ring, then at Rayne. It took two people to get married, and she must be the other half of the equation. He didn’t need to see the glinting, burnished piece of gold on her ring finger to put two and two together.
Except, here, two and two equalled a whole muck up of twisted shit. They were married? Since when? How? And worse, had they consummated the union?
He snorted softly. Who was he kidding? Of course they’d consummated their wedding. The only thing between him and Rayne lately amounted to sex, the strings of their friendship just pale, sketchy ghosts grappling for hold where none existed to be grappled.
As he raked his gaze over her, he caught sight of the deep red hickeys on her neck. The confirmation he sought. Damn. He clearly remembered lowering his head to kiss the unmarred column of her neck earlier during the evening when they’d stopped in front of the Bellagio to watch the play of the water fountains. These love bites had happened sometime between leaving the Vegas strip and him waking up with a headache, and he doubted they’d done the deed in public. They must’ve slept together once back at the house.
The pounding in his head intensified to a persistent throbbing against every square inch of his skull. Seeing this ring on his hand had relegated the pain to oblivion—he’d heard shock could do that to a person.
But, married? “What the hell is this, Rayne?”
His voice sounded flat, and cold. She blinked; her eyes then grew wide, and she parted her lips. He thought he saw the lower lip quiver. She brought her arms up, wrapped them around her in a protective hug.
“I…I knew you’d think we made a mistake.”
The shimmer of tears glimmered in her big, blue-grey eyes. Damn it, she wouldn’t cry, would she? Because of him? He’d just been curt with her, but he’d woken up to find out he’d gotten married. Try as he might, he couldn’t remember getting hitched, or even proposing, or agreeing, to marry her. Bloody hell—most men would’ve gone bat shit ballistic for less.
She gave a small hiccup and brought her hand up to rub her open palm against her nose. Bad signs—she would soon unleash the waterworks. Damn.
“Rayne…” He pulled himself up on the mattress, into a sitting position. Reaching out, he placed his hands on her shoulders and squeezed gently. “Calm down. Just give me a minute here, okay?”
She nodded, let her arms drop to her sides and blinked hard a few times, as if to keep her tears in check.
“Tell me something,” he said as he released her. “Are we really married?”
She bit her lip, and nodded.
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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