Betrayed by a Kiss (An Unlikely Hero #1)- Kris Rafferty

Chapter One

The night was pitch black and Marnie Somerville was in the middle of nowhere, hands slick with blood, fighting to control the car as she drove it off road. As she careened down the road’s embankment into the brush, saplings clawed at her windows, roots whipped the car’s undercarriage as she navigated between the large trees, desperate to drive deep enough into the woods to hide from the sedan tailing her. She drove until it was impossible to continue, then killed the engine and waited in the silence. In the dark.

He’d shot her. Marnie pressed her hand to her bloody side and tried not to freak. The guy had to be company-paid muscle. He had access to the boss’s office. So why didn’t he recognize her? Sure, he’d caught her in her boss’s office, elbow-deep in his high-security servers, but the shooter didn’t know why or that she knew about the murder. Since when did the company employ a shoot first, ask questions later protocol? She was a highly regarded employee of Whitman Enterprises. She didn’t know the shooter, but security personnel had dossiers on all employees that worked in the building. Knowing who she was should have bought wiggle room. At the least, a moment to explain, for shit’s sake.

Marnie still couldn’t believe he’d shot her. Rage merged with equal parts fear. If the bullet had hit her an inch more center mass, she’d be bleeding out instead of complaining. Damn, but her waist stung like a bitch.

The sedan’s headlights came round the bend. She ducked, fearing her car was visible from the road. If he found her, she knew it wouldn’t be for a conversation. The guy seemed intent on killing her. Less security guard. More cleaner. Maybe her hacking into the president/CEO’s computer had tripped an all hands on deck smackdown. She’d been careful, but breaching his firewall had been messy and what she found was enough to destroy the company. Unfortunately. Information like that warranted a security firewall she hadn’t foreseen, so maybe she’d missed something, like spyware that sent a push notification to security. Whatever. She’d screwed up, and now this guy was trying to kill her.

Well, Marnie didn’t die easy.

The headlights continued on. She poked her head up, not trusting in luck. The shooter, a brawny guy, suit, blond, regulation haircut, had followed her through the back roads of rural New Hampshire up into the mountains. That screamed motivated, and she could guess why. By now, the company had to know what she took. They’d want the information back, would need it to save the company, and just as importantly, they’d need to hide that it ever existed. Marnie understood all those needs could be met by killing her.

A shiver ran the length of her spine as she remembered the shooter’s cold, blue eyes and how they met her gaze—impersonally, as if killing her meant nothing more than a job. What a fool she’d been. How had she missed the absolute evil around her? She’d worked at Whitman Enterprises for three years and hadn’t had a clue.

When the headlights extinguished in the far distance, she expelled a deep breath. Exhausted from hours of fending off panic, she dropped her forehead to the steering wheel. So much for going legit. Whitman Enterprises had recruited her out of college when they caught her hacking into their network. Instead of calling the cops, they’d handed her a decent five-figure salary and assigned her a cubicle in the basement. She’d thought they were doing her a solid, like in the movies when young people step over the line and someone wanted to give them a second chance. At the time, she’d thought their decision naive. If she’d wanted, she could have robbed them blind and disappeared into the ether, but their timing had been good. Marnie found herself, for the first time in her life, in the mood to go legit. She’d longed for it. Tried to earn it.

It took three years to work her way into the fraud department, tracking and investigating bad guys, striving to make her bosses happy. Wanting them to feel justified that they’d given her this second chance. It helped that she had an affinity for the job—a regular cyber bloodhound. No one escaped Marnie if she was looking for them. Appropriately, Whitman Enterprises rewarded her with swankier cubicles every year and more pay, a reward, she’d thought, for being a good person. She should have known better. Nothing good ever happened to