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by Toby Neal
Genre: Mystery/Police Procedural
Series: Paradise Crime Book 2
‘Wired in’ to her computers, MMA-fighting tech agent Sophie Ang has been content in her clean, cool tech lab, where she chases criminals online, continuing a dance in the dark with the enigmatic vigilante known as the Ghost. Tumultuous changes from without and within eject her from her agency cocoon to the front lines, where she finds herself in partnership with a brilliant, overbearing, larger-than-life ex-Special Forces operative, Jake Dunn. They climb walls, dodge bullets, kidnap children and dig up bodies for a case that might cost her life—and has already taken her badge.
Sophie set the unconscious child on the ground and stripped off her pack, tossing it into the nearby water, black and slick as tar in the faint light of the moon. Their packs splashed and sank, bubbling, as she picked the girl back up and ran after Dunn’s already retreating form.
The dogs were gaining. Sophie could hear their barking as they headed back up the rugged goat track. They couldn’t follow on the quad on this rough ground with its rapid elevation, but it slowed her and Jake Dunn, too.
Sophie could hear the chopper directly overhead.
If she could just make it to the rendezvous point…
Her whole focus narrowed to the path in front of her, steep, rough with stones and protruding branches, rendered in shades of shallow green by the NV goggles. Her arms ached with the weight of the little girl, a solid sixty or seventy pounds. Her legs burned. Her breath tore through her lungs in hot, rending breaths that left the taste of blood at the back of her throat. But she was keeping up with Dunn. They were going to make it.
The dog caught her from behind by the pants, his teeth leaving a fiery pinch. Sophie fell with a cry, rolling desperately to the side so as not to land on the child.
The dog didn’t let go, dragging her by the leg, shaking her, growling—and he was big enough that she slid backward down the steep, rough path, letting go of the child. “Dunn!” She screamed.
Dunn appeared through the otherworldly green of the NV vision like a demon rising from hell, a knife in one fist and the tranq gun in the other. He kicked the Shepherd and caught it in the side, lifting it off Sophie with a yelp—just in time for the second dog to leap at him from the trail. Sophie scrambled to her feet, hefting the girl, and ran. She didn’t have time to see if Dunn was going to be okay—she had to get the child to safety.