Book Five in The Hellbound Brotherhood

Revenge is sweet…Find out why New York Times bestseller Maya Banks hails McKenna’s books as “A non-stop thrill ride…”

He’s in no mood to play nice…

Mace Trask is pissed. A man he’d believed to be dead just shot his brother. That bastard will die for real this time around, and Mace’s work as a mercenary and military contractor makes him just the man for the job. The trap is set and he can’t wait to spring it. Then a sexy, mysterious woman shows up and starts wandering around the GodsAcre property, which is wired to blow. She’s putting Mace’s plan in jeopardy, and herself in deadly danger.

There’s only one thing to do. Mace whisks her away. Takes her to his cabin in the woods to find out exactly what she wants, and what she knows. And he’s in no mood to play nice…

Her beauty inflames him…

Cait Lamott is terrified when the huge guy with buzzed off hair and cold dark eyes grabs her and drags her off into a remote cabin in the lonely woods. She’s on a mission to find her father, a well known virologist who disappeared eleven years ago, and nobody is going to stop her. Certainly not this suspicious, muscle-bound, infuriating, fascinating man. And not her own body’s traitorous reaction to him.

But as they work together to uncover the truth at GodsAcre, their undeniable desire continues to build—and the more time they’re together, the more Cait craves Mace’s touch. Mace’s armor is no defense against Cait. Her passion scorches him, her stubborn courage inspires him, and her razor-sharp mind might just be what it takes to keep them both alive.

Because their enemy is closing in fast—and the stakes are higher than they can imagine…

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Chapter One

Mace Trask lowered the binoculars, and followed the swiftly moving splotch of lavender with his naked eye for a moment as the mysterious woman wandered behind the fire-blackened ruins of the GodsAcre Great Hall and out of his field of vision. She moved so casually. As if the place weren’t the scene of a mass murder. As if it didn’t hide deadly secrets that could kill in ways that no one could even yet begin to understand.

This woman just strolled around, poking here and there, checking it all out. Taking pictures, kicking rocks and dirty clumps of melting snow. No apparent clue. La-di-da.

There she was again, on the other side of the Great Hall. Who the fuck was she, and what was she doing here?

GodsAcre, Mace’s childhood home, was officially considered to be a death trap. They had gone to insane lengths to keep people away from this place, for their own safety. Every local ordinance forbade coming anywhere near here. No one had been here in months, other than himself, since the winter snows sealed it in and the CDC gave up their efforts to investigate until a more clement season.

Which wasn’t quite yet. It was April, and up here, there were still some old snowbanks hanging on. Spring came late up here.

A lost hiker, maybe? She was dressed for it. Stretchy sports pants showed off a memorable ass, and the sweatshirt hugged her shapely torso. High-tech boots with ankle support. A feather-weight backpack. Classic hiker’s gear.

He focused the lenses once again as she shrugged off her backpack and took off her jacket. It wasn’t warm this high up in the mountains, but the sun was high right now. Under the sweatshirt, she wore a fitted sports top that showed off strong looking shoulders, and clung lovingly to the proud curves of a truly spectacular rack. Not thin. Sexy-strong, with toned, muscular legs that looked like they had lots of spring to them. An athletic hair band around her forehead held back a halo of tight black ringlets, just short of shoulder length. Her hair had lots of bounce and flop to it. She had golden-brown skin, and her face looked pretty from here. Big, striking eyes. Too far away for detail.

Not that he cared about detail, for fuck’s sake. Eyes on the ball, Trask. The hiker’s gravity-defying tits were irrelevant. It had been a while since he’d blown off any sexual steam. At this point, a pitched fight blood, carnage and mayhem would be a welcome relief to this strained, aching tension of constant battle readiness.

But so far, nothing. So far, he’d missed all three of the big battles that asshole Redd Kimball had inflicted upon Mace’s two older brothers and then his best friend, Nate.

Mace wasn’t going to miss another fight. This next one would be the final and definitive battle. That motherfucker Kimball was done tormenting Mace’s family. He’d been at it for a decade and a half. This was where it stopped.

But where the hell did this woman fit in? She didn’t strike him as one of Kimball’s people. She didn’t fit the profile. And after all that had happened recently, it seemed strange for Kimball to send someone like her to do recon, knowing she’d be noticed.

Then again, maybe that was the whole point. Who better to send than someone who looked so innocent and random?

She was dressed for hiking, but there were no public hiking trails nearby. No state or national parks within miles. The single road that led up to GodsAcre had been blocked many miles down the canyon. There was no approach from the other side, and there was nothing out behind GodsAcre but increasingly desolate and inhospitable wild country at higher and higher elevations.

So whatever her reasons, this woman had deliberately meant to come here. It was a long, cold, muddy walk, so she was highly motivated. And now she was wandering around the ruins, taking pictures. Not flowers or birds, but pictures of wet holes in the ground, of burned, collapsed buildings. Piles of unsightly scorched rubble and garbage.

Even the way she walked struck him as suspicious. She didn’t look lost. She didn’t look aimless, or confused, or hesitant. She looked curious. Focused. Purposeful.

Mace was acquainted with every member of the CDC team that had studied the living shit out of this big hole in the ground last fall, as well as all the local, state and federal police officers who had showed an interest in the case. She wasn’t one of them. He would’ve remembered anyone that hot.

No one had made much headway on figuring out what the fuck Kimball had been digging for in that cave. The CDC, after studying the info that Fi had decrypted, had several disquieting theories, but so far, nothing actionable.

One thing was sure. Whatever Kimball was planning, he was insanely, murderously committed to it. He’d killed upwards of fifty people, and those were just the ones Mace knew about.

And to make matters worse, Kimball was definitely still furious about his friend Nate’s desperate gambit a few months ago. Nate had tricked Kimball and his henchmen into coming out to hammer his girlfriend Elisa’s homicidal ex-husband. It was a slick move, but bugfuck crazy, in retrospect. Nate and Elisa were still alive, by pure luck.

So far, anyhow.

So Kimball was not only furious, but humiliated, too. He had GodsEye under constant surveillance, he had a huge budget, an army of killer goons to call on, he had the cutting edge murder-drones that had shot up Elisa’s ex up at Beecham Lake.

Enter a brand new enigma; a hot girl with mysterious eyes, trotting down the hill toward the excavation pit, tits bouncing cheerfully. Like she had no clue where she was and who might be watching. And how fucking dangerous it was.

She shrugged off her knapsack again and dug in it, pulling out an object about as long as her hand. She fiddled with it for a couple of minutes, and then started walking slowly, steadily toward the excavation pit, holding the device in front of her.

She was following an electronic signal with a tracking device. Oh fuck.

His heart revved up. What was the signal? Where the hell did she get it? What was she looking for?

And whatever he was asking, it was a sure thing that Kimball was asking the same questions. Right now. In real time.

Possibility A) She was Kimball’s, and needed to be stopped and interrogated.

Possibility B) She wasn’t Kimball’s, she had some other mysterious agenda, and she urgently needed to be rescued before she got herself captured, tortured and killed.

Either way, he had to move fast if he wanted to get to her before Kimball did.

# #

Cait tossed aside some tree boughs that the wind had blown up against the big slabs of plywood that functioned as makeshift doors to the reinforced entryway, which were plastered with big scary signs. Do Not Enter. Danger. Falling Rocks.

She would guess that no one had been here since the winter snows had started to melt. The place must have been buried in many feet of snow over the winter.

Ping. There it was, the signal from wherever it was. Her heart thudded.

So Dad’s coordinates were right on. So close—but still nothing.

Stuff had happened up here, for sure. Dramatic stuff. But it had happened a long time ago. Maybe she’d missed everything relevant, and it looked like nobody cared anymore, judging from the scattered garbage. The place was utterly deserted.

Which was fine by her if no one noticed or cared. It was much better if she didn’t have to fight anybody for permission, or waste breath explaining herself.

Not that she had anything to explain. Not yet, anyway. Just a handful of disconnected dots and no way to pull them together. X marks the spot. The GPS coordinates that Dad had left on that journal, stuck in a safe deposit box for fourteen years. Dad had also written down a frequency in his cryptic lab notes. And he’d left this handheld tracking device in the safe deposit box as well. That was all she had.

A few random dots to follow. The contents of the box. A father who had suddenly disappeared fourteen years before, leaving her desperate for answers.

That ping that the sensor heard—maybe it would lead to at least another breadcrumb. But looking at the shored up cavern mouth, she had a sinking feeling that whatever might once have been in there, by now a big chunk of the mountain had fallen down on top of it. Hundreds of tons of broken rock would be a depressing setback.

The big, rough plywood doors blocking the entrance into the cavern could be moved, with effort. She heaved and rolled rocks and brushwood away from the door until she was able to lever open a space big enough to squirm through. The stretchy synthetic fabric of her clothes snagged and ripped on the door, but she made it through.

Inside was absolute darkness, and the clammy smell of damp earth and mold. Cait wished she’d brought a flashlight, or one of those headlamp mirrors that spelunkers used, but she’d never dreamed she’d be crawling into a cave. Next time she would.

If there was a next time. That ceiling above her could fall down on her head, and no one on earth would know what had happened to her. This place would be her tomb.

Worth it. She had to know what had happened to Dad. She was willing to risk it.

Mom had been tormented, too. And wherever Mom was now, out there in the great unknown that awaited beyond death, Cait only hoped that she had somehow finally had her questions answered. That they had been answered to her satisfaction. That Mom was safe, content, and at peace, reunited with the man she loved. Cait dared to hope that much.

Dad had left a trail of breadcrumbs in that safety deposit box, and she would by God follow them, if they led her to the depths of hell.

Cait thumbed on her phone for the flashlight function. She shined the weak, watery blue light around. The glow didn’t penetrate far. There was a big, broad chamber in the front that looked like it had been cleared out, even smoothed out. But behind, the cavern stretched much further, and was piled with heaps of rubble, in some places reaching almost to the ceiling.

Ping. There it was again. The beacon showed itself coyly, glowing briefly on the screen from somewhere beneath that crushing mass of rock. Taunting her.

Her heart sank. It looked like she wasn’t going to be find the trace today, or anytime soon. This project had suddenly gotten bigger, more difficult, and more expensive in every way. It would take resources and permission and cooperation and teamwork, and a not inconsiderable budget. She would need heavy equipment, people to run it. And she would need to somehow justify all of that to the powers that be.

All she had was a missing father and a handful of cryptic breadcrumbs.

Nothing worthwhile comes quickly, Dad used to say when he wanted to egg her on. The thought made her laugh. For real, Dad? Fourteen fucking years?

She took a tentative step out into the tumbled boulders, and something huge and heavy hit her in the back. Her flashlight flew—and rocks slammed up to meet her as darkness closed in.

Her first thought was that the ceiling had fallen in after all. She’d die here in the dark, pinned by massive rocks. Curiosity had killed the cat.

But then that massive rock that pinned her down shifted and flexed. A big, strong hand grabbed her wrists and clamped them behind her back. Another wound through her hair, jerking her head back sharply.

“Who are you?” His voice was a low rasp in her ear. “And what the fuck do you want from this place?”

End of Excerpt