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Betrayed (Rockfort Security Book 2) by [Rebecca York]

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Betrayed (Rockfort Security Book 2) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 ratings
Book 2 of 3: Rockfort Security

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Length: 322 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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  • Book 2 of 3 in Rockfort Security
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I loved reading this book there was adventure, romance, and some naughtiness.
" - A Crazy Vermonter's Book Reviews

"Fast paced suspense involving a brave, loyal woman and a tough, resourceful
man, who go from lusting to loving while fighting against the odds."" - Just My Book Reviews

"While I love a good romance book, this book is so much more than that. The drama and suspense was what really held my attention." - A Novel Review

"The author keeps the reader guessing with lots of twists and turns and draws the
reader deeper into the story with the captivating men of Rockfort Security. I was
completely engrossed in the story from the very beginning and there was no way I
could not turn to the next page, I had to get to the end and discover what
happened between Shane, Elena and the bad guy. I can't wait to read the next
book!" - Literary Addicts

"Loaded with tension, action and compromise. The characters are enduring,
engaging and captivating. The storyline is intriguing as well as suspenseful. Well
done! I can hardly wait for the next installment in this fast paced, action packed
suspense tale of intrigue and romance series." - My Book Addiction Reviews

"There is a satisfying chase, lots of action, some intense lust filled
scenes and a satisfying ending. A recommended read." - World of Wonders

"Fastpaced,
sexy thriller gives a nonstop
ride to a climactic (pun intended!)
ending." - Hunt for a Hero

"The suspense and action portions of the book were very well done, and I liked
that there was an added level to the grand reveal that I did not expect...I would
recommend Betrayed to fans of Rebecca York, those that enjoyed Bad Nights,
and those that like romantic suspense."" - Sharon the Librarian

"I really liked the characters. You really got to know where they came from and
why they act like they do and all of that....All in all, this novel got me interested in
the series and I'm pretty interested in reading the next one and pretty much
anything else that York comes out with." - Little Miss Bookmark

"Rebecca York's BETRAYED, the second book in the Rockfort Security series,
was a thrill ride from beginning to end. Fastpaced,
actionpacked,
with a hot,
handsome, hero and a very likeable heroine, and seemingly no end to the bad
guys! I read this book in one sitting because I could not put it down!" - Ms C's Diversions --This text refers to the mass_market edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

"I don't want to kill you."

Bueno, Elena Reyes thought as she flicked her gaze from the man's eyes to the automatic pistol he held in his hand and back again. Dios, if she'd only gone to the human resources department in the morning instead of after lunch, she wouldn't be in this fix.

She'd been in the front office talking to the receptionist, Lisa Walters, when they'd both heard loud voices in the back.

"That's Joe Duckworth," Lisa had murmured. "He was let go last week, and he came storming in to talk to Mr. Perkins."

As the volume of the altercation increased, the women had exchanged glances.

"Maybe I'd better come back later," Elena had said, taking a step toward the door.

Before she could leave, Mr. Perkins had stumbled into the reception area, with Duckworth behind him, holding a gun.

And now Elena and the human resources staff were gathered together in the reception area, listening to the man's rambling demands. Air-conditioning poured from the vents in the ceiling, making her feel as if someone had pushed her into an open grave. She wanted to rub her arms with her palms to warm herself, but she kept her hands at her sides.

Don't draw attention to yourself. Blend in. Those were rules she'd unconsciously followed since before her parents had brought her to the United States.

The gunman kept speaking in a high, whiny voice that grated on her ears and her nerve endings.

"But you don't understand the position I'm in. What other choice do I have?"

She wanted to answer, but she kept to her previous decision and let him do the talking.

Yes, that was safer. His eyes told her that he wasn't sure what he wanted, although he was prepared to do whatever was needed to get it.

"Everybody stay calm," he said.

Sure, when he could blow them away at any moment.

In the past twenty minutes, she and the other hostages had learned a lot about him. Joe Duckworth had been a loyal employee of S&D Systems for two years after moving to Maryland from North Carolina. His wife had hated living in a crummy apartment in the North so she'd gone back home to her family. Joe had been driving back and forth on weekends, trying to get her to change her mind. That had taken a toll on him, and it wasn't his fault that his work had suffered.

In the past few minutes, he'd switched from his life story to his demands. He wanted his job reinstated. He wanted back pay. He wanted the respect that was due a man of his considerable talents. He'd been on the phone to Lincoln Kinkead, president of S&D. So at least management knew what was going on up here. But the survival of the men and women trapped in the HR department, herself included, depended on a lot of factors.

Had Duckworth already gone too far to back down? Had his wife come back for a visit? Was she lying dead on the kitchen floor? If so, he had nothing more to lose, and this rant was just his way of working himself up to the big moment when he killed himself and took a bunch of innocent S&D employees with him.

Madre de Dios. The Spanish phrase brought a flash of annoyance. She'd worked hard to think in English. And she always did, unless she was under stress.

She risked taking her gaze off Duckworth for a moment, checking out the six other hostages in the room. There were five women and one man. Mr. Perkins, the sixty-year-old head of personnel, and five much younger female employees who worked for him, including Lisa, the receptionist, a slender brunette wearing a white blouse and black slacks. She was the one who looked like she was going to do something stupid. Elena tried to catch her eye, but the woman was staring into space with a fixed expression on her face.

Relax. Just relax. Don't do anything foolish.

Elena repeated the words in her head, trying to project them toward Lisa, but the woman didn't seem to be getting the message.

She made a moaning sound, and as Elena watched in horror, she leaped out of her chair behind the reception desk and ran for the door. Before she reached it, Duckworth shot her in the back, and she went down, her face pressed against the gray vinyl tile floor.

The rest of the captives watched in frozen horror, but Elena couldn't simply leave her lying there.

"I have to help her," she said in a voice she struggled to hold steady. Forcing herself to walk slowly, she crossed the room and knelt by Lisa. The woman's breathing was labored, and blood stained the back of her white blouse.

"We need something to stop the bleeding," Elena said. "She left a jacket on the back of her chair. Someone bring it to me."

One of the other captives brought Elena the jacket, and she folded it up and pressed it to Lisa's back, wishing she could do more for the woman.

"Just take it easy. You're going to be okay," she whispered.

Lisa moaned and turned her head, giving Elena a pleading look.

"Let me find something to cover you." She turned to the woman who had brought the jacket. "Can you apply pressure?"

She gave a small nod.

Straightening, Elena looked around at the anxious faces watching her, then searched for something to use as a blanket.

As she surveyed the room, she flashed back to another time when her life had been in danger. Then she'd been a little girl, with no idea how to save herself. Now she was older and, she hoped, wiser.

It had been back in San Marcos, where her family had lived before they'd come to the U.S. as political refugees eighteen years ago.

It had happened on one of the local shopping days, which was nothing like shopping in North America.

She and her mother and brother, Alesandro, who was two years older than Elena, had gone to the open-air market in the town square near their home to buy food and look at the used clothing that got shipped south from the United States. Momma had bought tomatoes and squash, and they were heading for the fish stalls when a squad of soldiers came running through the crowd, shouting orders and pushing people aside. They were looking for rebels who had dashed between the stalls, trying to escape from the troops.

The soldiers found the rebels, and the two groups started shooting.

Momma rushed Elena and Alesandro toward the edge of the market, but at the first sound of gunfire, she pushed Alesandro to the cracked pavement and covered him with her body. Elena huddled next to them, shielding her head with her arms and shivering as bullets flew around them. When the shooting stopped, a lot of rebels lay bleeding on the pavement, along with a few soldiers and some unlucky civilians who had gotten caught in the crossfire.

As soon as the government troops let the shoppers go, Momma whisked Alesandro and Elena home. But Elena would never forget that day. Not just the terror of the gunfight but the knowledge that her mother had been focused on saving her son-not her daughter.

Until then, Elena had sensed only that her brother was more important to Momma and Papa than she was. The gun battle at the market left her with a sharp pain in her stomach.

After that, her parents began making plans to get out of San Marcos. When she listened to them talking in low voices at night about their arrangements, she couldn't shake the secret fear that they would leave her behind.

But to her vast relief, they'd brought her to the United States with them, where she prospered, always trying to prove to them that they should love her as much as they loved her brother.

Well, that had been early motivation. Later the drive to succeed had been for herself alone. She'd worked hard to learn English, gone to Montgomery College on scholarships, gotten a degree in computer science, and been hired by S&D in the information technology department. She'd already gotten promoted, and outside of work, she'd been doing equally well. She had her own apartment. She was completely self-sufficient. And she'd been able to buy herself nice furniture, nice clothing, and a nice car.

Now the life she'd made for herself might be snuffed out because she'd come up to the HR department to check on a malfunctioning communications link.

Unfortunately, Duckworth had already been in the back, making demands and babbling about why he thought S&D had screwed him.

He was watching her as she crossed to the coatrack, but he was still talking to the room in general. She longed to tune him out, but she forced herself to pay attention to the flow of words, listening for clues to his state of mind. As she returned to Lisa with a raincoat, he started to pace back and forth, making her think that his mental state was deteriorating.

He moved the gun from his right hand to his left, shook out his wrist, and clasped the weapon in his right hand again.

All eyes were focused on that shift. But as Elena kept her gaze on the gunman, she saw something that made her heart stop, then start up again in double time. Duckworth was standing with his back to the window, and there was a flicker of movement behind him where there should be nothing to see-unless it was a bird or a plane-since they were on the eighth floor of the S&D building.

As she stood with her breath shallow in her lungs, a face emerged behind Duckworth, a man with medium-length dark hair, wearing a running suit and protective goggles that partly obscured his face. She was sure that only one man at S&D would do something so daring-and crazy.

Shane Gallagher, the new head of security.

He'd been at the company for a few months, and he'd come around to interview a lot of people in the workforce. He'd said he wanted to get familiar with the employees, but she had the feeling he had some hidden agenda that he wasn't sharing. Which was one of the reasons she'd been cautious around him. The other was that she was attracted to him, which was dangerous, as far as she was concerned. He was a tough, no-nonsense guy who reminded her too much of the military officers back home. She should stay away from him. Without being obvious about it, of course, because that would make him wonder what she had to hide.

But now he was here-poised to do something about the hostage situation.

He was hanging on to a rope. With one hand, he pushed the goggles onto his forehead and looked into the room. She saw him focus on Duckworth, then flick his attention to her. Across fifteen feet of charged space, their eyes met. He held her gaze, and she was fairly sure she knew what he wanted her to do-keep Duckworth's attention away from the window. While Gallagher did what?

As he pulled the goggles back over his eyes, her heart started to pound so hard that she felt like it would come through the wall of her chest.

She dragged in a breath and let it out, then cleared her throat.

As soon as she made that small noise, the gunman's attention riveted to her.

She licked her lips, her mouth suddenly so dry that she wondered if she could speak, but she managed to say, "Excuse me."

"What?" he snapped.

"I have to go to the bathroom."

"That's too damn bad."

"This is making me nervous. Couldn't you just let me go to the ladies' room?"

"You're kidding, right?"

"I..."

Behind him, Gallagher was moving. He held on to the rope and swung away from the building, then came flying back, feet first, the metal tips on his shoes gleaming in the sun as they aimed at the window. She heard a tremendous splintering crash as the glass broke and Duckworth whirled, his gun raised.

She was the only other person in the room who moved as Gallagher smashed through the window, flying at Duckworth like a giant bird of prey, but feet first.

Still, the gunman wasn't going down without a fight. He had a clear shot at the unexpected intruder, but just before Duckworth fired, she sprang forward and leaped onto his back, her weight pulling him down so that his gun discharged below the level of the window.

"Bitch," he shouted as he gave a mighty heave and shook her off. She crashed to the floor as Gallagher fired back, hitting Duckworth at point-blank range.

As Gallagher landed next to the gunman, Elena pushed herself to a sitting position. Turning her head, she saw the security chief bending over the man on the floor, who lay unmoving in a pool of blood.

"He's done. It's over," he said as he got up and addressed the hostages. "Is anyone besides Miss Walters hurt?"

None of the shocked people in the room spoke or moved.

The door burst open, and paramedics ran in, heading directly for Lisa, who still lay on the tile floor where she'd fallen.

Elena watched in confusion. "How did they get here so fast?" she asked.

"You were on audio the whole time," Gallagher explained. "They came up here without making any noise, and they were waiting in the hall." As he focused on Elena, he caught his breath. Coming down beside her, he touched her face. When his hand came away, she saw blood on his fingers.

"You're hurt."

"I don't think so," she whispered, even as she struggled to figure out if it was true.

"Don't get up yet," he said when she started to stand. He inspected her carefully. "I think it's Duckworth's blood."

She shuddered.

"Come on."

He helped her to her feet and kept his hand on her arm as he led her into the hall, then a few yards away into the ladies' room, where he turned on the water in the sink and grabbed a wad of paper towels from the dispenser. Gently he washed her face and inspected her blouse.

"There's blood on your shirt. I guess Lincoln Kinkead owes you some new clothing."

She nodded numbly. Then finally the realization of everything that had happened hit her, and she felt her knees buckle.

Gallagher caught her as she started to fall, wrapping his arms around her and holding her against his muscular body as he stroked his hands reassuringly up and down her back. For a moment she let herself lean into his hard body.

"You did great in there," he said. "Just what I needed you to do."

She was shaking now, and she struggled to bring herself back under control. She should pull away from him, she knew. But she stayed in his arms. "I was scared."

"Everybody was, but you were the one who wasn't afraid to act. You didn't panic."

As she listened to the admiration in his voice, she let her head drift to his shoulder, and her hand anchored itself at his waist. A voice in her brain told her she shouldn't be so intimate with this man. She shouldn't be holding on to him as if they were lovers, but under the circumstances, she thought she was entitled to the comfort. And maybe he needed it too after what he'd done. He'd risked his life to get into that room. That couldn't be part of his job description, but he'd gone ahead and done it.

"You were brave, too," she murmured.

He answered with a rough sound, and she was fairly sure he didn't want to discuss his bravery.

"You heard everything?" she asked, changing the subject.

"Yeah. I was listening in. You told him you needed to go to the bathroom."

She felt her face heat. "I didn't know anybody could hear us, or I would have thought of something else."

"What?"

"I don't know."

"Kinkead doesn't advertise he's got the building wired for sound. And, by the way, I didn't thank you for jumping on the bastard's back. You probably saved me from being hit."

Someone knocked on the door. Before either she or Gallagher could respond or break apart, the door opened, and Bert Iverson, the assistant security chief, strode in, giving them a long, considering look as he took in Elena standing in Gallagher's embrace. There was something about Bert Iverson she didn't like, something she couldn't articulate.

Elena felt Gallagher stiffen, pretty sure he didn't much like the scrutiny, either. As he eased away from her, she reached out a hand to steady herself against the sink and realized with a start that she and the two security men were standing in the ladies' room. Truly, she didn't even remember coming in here.

"Elena had some blood spatter. We were cleaning her up, and she got a little shaky," Gallagher said.

"Yeah," Iverson answered. He flicked his gaze to the front of her blouse, then back to the security chief. "I thought you were going to get killed, bursting in there like that. I mean, dangling outside the window and then crashing through with those steel-tipped boots. And your bulletproof vest wouldn't have saved you if Duckworth had aimed for your head."

--This text refers to the mass_market edition.

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