PAPERBACK BOOKS
SNAKE IN THE GRASS

If you knew something scandalous about your government and they wanted you dead ... where would you hide? 

Strap yourself in for a shadowy peek inside the mind of a female assassin on the run, a political conspiracy, an organisation that doesn’t exist, terrorists, croc infested wetlands, sharks and ruthless men on an all Aussie action thriller that will leave you wondering ... did it really happen! 

Veronica Cross (Ronnie) is trapped in a global political conspiracy, an organisation that doesn't exist, oil uranium, deadly liaisons, ruthless men that want her dead, a nonchalant country of extremes and one turbulent wet season in Australia's inhospitable Gulf Country. She moves fast, is tactful, calculating staying one step ahead of the ultimate cold blooded killer- her ex-clandestine lover Carlos, whilst trying to survive croc infested estuaries, sharks, terrorists, violent tropical storms and her own torn emotions, with all the anger a scorned woman can throw at a man.... assassin style.....not once but twice!

One obsessed dangerous man with a deadly agenda.....one tormented beautiful female assassin on the run... ... are you ready?....... let the game begin.

In Store Price: $AU28.95 
Online Price:   $AU27.95

ISBN: 978-1-921406-39-3   
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 302
Genre: Fiction

 

 

 

Author: Irena Thompson
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2008
Language: English

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Author Biography 

 

Irena was born Aug 28th 1969 in New Zealand, and raised on the Great Barrier Island into an adventurous family of treasure hunters, yachtsmen, travellers and horse riders. She moved to Australia in 1979. At 38 she has been described as ‘femme le fatal’, a former professional shooter/hunter/culler. Also, jillaroo, adventurer, former professional photographic and .fashion model. She is presently employed as an Armed Escort. 

She modelled for the former RACQ Fashion Design Awards Brisbane, the Australian Wool Parades, was a finalist in ‘Australia’s Face of the Future’, and ‘Dialkio Face of Australia’, finally retiring from modelling in 2000 after doing a two page feature for a popular men’s magazine. Irena is an artist, a ‘realist painter’ and ‘true to form sculptor’. She’s won numerous awards for painting and sculpture, taking out ‘most outstanding exhibit in show’ for a full size Zebra, hand sculptured and painted.  

Irena is a licensed Security Officer, an Armed Cash Escort and First Line Response Basic ATM Technician. Trained in hand-to-hand/hand-to-knife combat, the use of guard dogs, weapons and firearms, Irena has worked her way from being a Crowd Controller, Night Patrol Officer to an Armed Security Officer. 

Since leaving home at 16, she has seen and experienced another side to life where her skills and bravado have come in handy. She is knowledgeable from situations she’d rather not have been subjected to and found a great deal of solace while writing Snake in the Grass’. 

She has experienced a lot of scary situations, being the focus of abusive unfaithful and dangerous men, chased by creatures that bite and felt the pain and loss of two children. She has experienced indigenous and islander culture mixed everything together and wrote her first loosely biographical novel. 

Irena is committed to writing and has four raw manuscripts in the wings with just as much punch and action as the first. 

It took three years for Irena to write this novel, research, combined with her former experiences, interviews, personal heartache and hardship; they say write what you know’ and that she did.  

Irena lives with her partner Gary in the Sunshine Coast hinterland on acreage; they have ex-race horses, three chooks and two cats.

Introduction  

I

cy muddy water seeped through her heavy woollen Muslim attire as she hid, squatted in a creek bed outside an Afghanistan village in the middle of insurgent gunfire. Her back was pressed firmly against the muddy bank, which in the summer months would carry melted ice water to a delta far away. The region’s Alps dominated the landscape, bringing home the reality of where she was. Chugging out small streams of frosty breath, she clutched her rifle hidden amongst her clothing. Her feet ached from the icy water squeezing through the mud. Nervously she cast a fleeting glance at her companion, who lay flattened on the bank above her in camouflage adapted for snow. He watched the village through binoculars, cursing under his breath about ‘intelligence getting intelligence wrong’ and making life interesting.

Ronnie peered along her shrouded body, her mind drifting to warmer memories. She imagined the golden beaches of Queensland. An ill-timed smile crossed her face and she closed her eyes, remembering the smells of the beach, sunscreen, ice cream and the sound of happy laughter.

Suddenly her companion’s boot thudded into her shoulder bringing her swiftly back into reality. “Ronnie,” he whispered harshly. “There’s a patrol heading this way.” Mike Walsh was formally a captain in the S.A.S. until a concealed government organisation, Security Intelligence Australasian Corps, S.I.A.C. recruited him.

 Hurriedly clambering back into the ditch, he beckoned Ronnie to duck low and quickly follow him towards an outcrop of large rocks. It wasn’t easy. They had no idea if there were any hidden landmines. Their eyes cautiously rested on a shredded frozen goat as they shuffled swiftly through the mud and snow towards the rocks.

They could hear the Afghan border guards and the whine of a jeep’s engine rumbling closer above them. The guards were looking for insurgent fighters and hadn’t seen Ronnie or Mike.

While the jeep inched past, Ronnie looked at Mike and exhaled a sigh of relief. Mike leant closer and whispered to her sternly. “You’d better do an equipment check.”

She nodded and removed her sniper’s rifle from beneath the thick cloak, depressed the magazine and opened the chamber staring at the snug round ready to fire. She slammed the fully loaded clip back in and whispered, “Check.” She checked the radio she was carrying was turned off. Any transmitting now could give their position away and was only there for emergencies, such as aborting an operation. They knew their backup was watching from a safe vantage point nearby. The backup team were to assist Ronnie and Mike in escaping after the deed was done. Mike unfolded a map of the village and pointed to the satellite surveillance photographs of the target. She nodded in affirmation, knowing the success of this mission depended upon her ability to do what she was trained to do. It would also enable the U.N., Unified Nations peacekeepers, to gain control over this war torn region.

“Are you ready, Ronnie?” Mike asked her, as an uncompromising look crossed his face. It was show time.

She reluctantly nodded, giving Mike the thumbs up. In her mind, Ronnie knew she was never ready. She trusted in her training, and Intelligence to get their facts straight. The rest came down to gut instinct.

Right on cue a nervous shepherd boy in ragged clothes moved a flock of goats closer towards them. Stopping cautiously he let out the call of a native hawk; it was the signal. Ronnie was to act as a shepherd woman from a nomadic tribe, seeking shelter until the worst of the winter was over. The Afghani guards paid no attention to nomads such as Ronnie’s character, instead nomads were treated like gypsies, thieves, beggars, underdogs and simply ignored. The boy spotted her and froze, he was scared. Ronnie stealthily checked Mike had a visual of her and stood up. Cloaked in her Muslim garb, face and body completely covered in the long black heavy cloak, she stumbled, stooped over like an old woman, hugging the rifle closely beneath. The boy would get her closer to her target as Intelligence had planned it. She hated to think how it was achieved seeing the fear in his eyes the closer she neared. Suddenly he wheeled about, chirped and muttered to his herd, beating a stick on the ground to move them. Ronnie hurriedly followed closely behind.

Shepherds’ tents bordered the outskirts of the village and campfires, mixed with smells she couldn’t stomach, left a dirty shroud over everything. Above the village sat the rebel leader’s fortress, the Unified Nation’s target and his time of terror had ended. Ronnie could feel her heart pounding nervously over what might happen. She couldn’t think or allow her mind solace in thoughts of home, besides no one knew where she was anyway. Her feet ached from the cold but her body was warm from her objective. She looked around slowly from her vantage point, recognising photographed key points from the satellite pictures. Mike would’ve lost visual with her; she knew she was on her own.

She took a deep breath and exhaled before she continued. No one she passed in the dirty streets paid any attention to her. She looked like an old woman covered in mud and wet from snow. Ronnie parted from the boy and walked unsteadily towards the fortress. She could hear the loud voices of the rebel soldiers, and smell their pipe tobacco. They appeared relaxed not expecting any trouble. She briefly spied the heavily-armed soldiers in Afghani turbans, their bodies draped in belts of bullets, walking about smoky fires as if untouchable. Pots of goat stew simmered openly over fires. Ronnie passed them by at a safe distance, amused by the thought of hiding the obvious in the open. She watched the rebels for a moment through the dark netting shrouding her face before continuing towards a shabby terrace house in the street.

The setting sun above threw its last shade of golden red colours above the village, passing to the west behind endless snow-peaked mountains. A lone eagle screeched from high above, its call echoing in the stillness of the evening as frosty wisps of air rose from the ground.

With all the caution she could muster Ronnie knocked softly on the door and waited. It was starting to get very quiet. The door creaked open and an elderly man nervously peered at her, then ushered her inside quickly. His withered face told a thousand stories and his toothless grin nearly made her feel sorry for him. Knowing Intelligence they would have blackmailed him. It was dark inside minus a dull fire in the hearth throwing light towards a small wooden staircase. The rickety stairs led up to an attic in which hung dried herbs and dehydrated meats; frozen storage. As she followed him amongst the food stores she could see him gesturing her towards a small window. The old man nodded to her, showing his toothless smile and then apprehensively backed away from Ronnie down the narrow darkened staircase. She stood staring after him frowning in thought, it was dangerously too easy. A check in her spirit cautioned her suspicious nature as she stood contemplating the situation. She had become skilled at trusting nobody, not even this toothless old man.

Quickly she slipped to the window and hurriedly discarded her cloak. Ronnie placed her service pistol in the wrap about her waist, just in case. Watching the stairwell as she squatted in front of the window, she removed the rifle and positioned it on the sill. It sported an enormous silencer, its barrel wrapped in hessian to disguise the metal-reflecting light and protect it against the cold. Only then did she shift her attention from her only means of escape to concentrate on her profession, assassination.

She calmly rested the weight of the rifle on the windowsill and peered through the scope, switching it to night vision. Instant light filtered through in perfect definition. She adjusted the distance indicator on the scope, scanning her sights over the rebels’ camp. Her heart pumped to a steady rhythm and she slowly caught her breathing, slowing it down to deep slow breaths.

Where are you?” she whispered, searching for the target the ultimate adrenaline rush.

She fondled the trigger guard patiently and caressed the trigger. She’d always done so as she focused her aim, when suddenly the target came into sight. Ronnie calmly watched him through the scope as he walked amongst his men receiving praise from them. He was responsible for so many heartless actions and such terrorism, rousing the interests of the U.N., and they wanted him eliminated.

Ronnie’s brow furrowed at the thought of the U.N. receiving all the praise. “Not the foot soldier who receives any recognition…but the hero U.N. who gets the rest of the world’s respect.” She smirked to herself. “If only the world knew how they practiced. I bet they wouldn’t be so ‘loved’ then.”

Ronnie began to focus her anger on the terrorist rebel. He was the target and she was there to take him out. With the sights of the scope now illuminating the dark, she visually stalked the target as he sat down and was handed a plate of food. The hot rations steamed up towards his face. She watched him like a lion in long grass while he leant forward and smelt his meal with delight. Laughing he nodded his approval and began to eat.

Training and preparation educated Ronnie to shoot centre-mass, no unnecessary headshots. But as she felt her body and mind become one and focus, a strange stillness steadied her and she lifted the rifle’s sights, locking them onto his head.

Time stood still, all life and sound did not exist at that moment except the rifle and the man on the other end of it. Suddenly Ronnie’s subdued second life started raging within, frustration and hatred began to surface. She tried to focus ignoring it and coldly wrapped her finger about the trigger. The first slight squeeze released the safety mechanism the next would send the target into another realm. Adrenaline began to surge through her veins as she watched the rebel laugh and eat. She exhaled a trembling breath as a sudden elicit memory from her past invaded her self-control again. Her breathing faltered, she swallowed back the pain and shut her eyes for a second swearing at herself, trying desperately to refocus. Glowering over the emotional thoughts bombarding her concentration, she quickly opened her eyes with a deadly determination, her teeth clenched with anger. Instead of this dirty bearded Afghani warlord, Ronnie could see Carlos’ face. The very thought of him caused her heart to ache. She released her pent up breath, panting to control the tears as bitterness etched sourly across her pretty face.

She squeezed the trigger. “See you in hell!” she whispered without remorse.

The bullet whizzed through the stillness without a ripple or sound and smashed into the rebel leader’s head. He jerked upwards and continued to fall with the slug on its violent trajectory path. His food and drink went everywhere and time quickly flicked back into reality like a stirred up hornet’s nest.

Ronnie watched the commotion through the scope as a satisfied smile masked her turbulent emotions. Her eyes turned away from the bedlam to the night sky above. She knew well that S.I.A.C.’s surveillance satellite would be snapping photographs of the execution. It was done her way, not their’s.

“Did you get that shot…damn you, Carlos?” she said angrily as she gritted her teeth.

Ronnie double checked her pistol was loaded and grabbed her equipment, ready to leave. Her derisive comment was meant to ruffle Carlos more than anyone else. She couldn’t dwell on his treachery, not now. It was time to escape as loud yells, gunshots, machinery and terrified screams reached her ears. She began to make her way cautiously from the attic, pistol in one hand and knife in the other, when suddenly a face appeared in the stairwell yelling frantically in Afghani. There was no time to think he now stood between her and freedom. She’d been ratted on to gain favour with the rebels. The shock on the soldier’s face at seeing a female assassin bought her time to react. She fired her pistol, sending him crashing in a heap to the floor as she clambered over him. The sounds of rapid fire and mortar explosions outside announced backup had arrived. She had to make a run for it.

Ronnie rushed past the old man who screamed abuse at her. She collided with his old door sending it crashing to the ground and her with it. The commotion surprised another rebel who stood outside; he aimed his aged rifle towards her. Ronnie bounced up with suicidal anger and swiftly rushed at him, the knife’s blade turned outwards slicing his throat open and spraying her in blood.

She ran into the night determined to live, but secretly always hoping a bullet would find her and end her torment. Her eyes were wide, adrenaline urged her forward with a strength she’d always relied upon, thrusting her into a night filled with the resonance of heavy gunfire, burning huts and screams of terror. Ronnie searched desperately for Mike; he’d be somewhere covering her escape. The beating of her heart pounded loudly in her ears and her lungs stung from gulping the cold frosty air as she questioned herself, why…why…why?

Finally in the midst of chaos she saw Mike beckoning to her to ‘run in his direction.’

He aimed a semi automatic poised to shoot at anyone who moved towards her. Running with all her strength Ronnie leapt over a woman falling before her, hit by stray gunfire. She collided with panicking nomads and goats. The tin bells around their necks ringing in her ears mixed with endless panicked screaming. She passed Mike who was holding off an onslaught of rebel soldiers in a hail of bullets. Mike turned and followed her swiftly into the darkness, leaving the carnage behind.

Mike grabbed Ronnie by her arm like a protective husband, the only time he felt justified enough to touch her as he hauled her up the snow-clad mountain pass. The whooping sound from a large helicopter beat loudly in her ears, fanning the cold chilled air in wisps of snow, spraying her face. They were quickly ushered under the blur of the swirling rotors as the chopper powered up. Ronnie shielded her face, her long dark hair whipped about as they were directed to buckle up. She leant back gasping for air but the frigid night burnt her dry throat with each breath. Exhausted she rested her head against the headrest, done in from the run up the mountain. Breathing heavily she watched the valley beneath light up with silent flashes, retracting further away as the helicopter gained altitude. Then there was nothing but the darkness and the rhythmic sound of the helicopter’s blades slicing through the air, and her tormented mind trying to overtake her sanity once again. She tried to relax, fighting with her mind as it began to slip back to a life she once knew but could never regain. She frowned in her unseen agony wanting to tear the thoughts from her head. Tears stung her eyes; she gulped and swiftly stared out of the open sides of the chopper frantically trying not to regress backwards, not here, not now. But it was too late. The creeping memories stole her sanity once more, taking her back to the where it all began.

 

Chapter One (part sample) 

 

R

onnie was an exotic beauty. Long dark wavy hair, olive complexion, athletic, full lips and almond shaped eyes, a touch of Polynesian and European blood. She was someone men wanted to be around to nudge at their mates about. But Ronnie was emotionally damaged goods. She hated her life and secretly wished for a Prince Charming to steal her away, but then couldn’t handle her guilty thoughts because she was married.

She was extremely naïve and ignorant of life in the beginning. She hated to view herself in a mirror and was saddened to watch young women her own age. They didn’t have children like she did; they dressed in the latest fashions, wore makeup and had stylish hairdos. She knew she’d married too young at sixteen, the misfortune of an unexpected pregnancy. But because of her religious upbringing and an adamant domineering mother, it was the right thing to do at the time. Now Ronnie had two small children whom she loved dearly, although secretly she wished she hadn’t brought them into her world.

Her husband, Dan, played a small part in Ronnie’s early life. He was older by several years, strong and good looking but a womaniser. He would constantly leave Ronnie for women more his age group. When he’d had enough he would crawl and sweet talk his way back into her life. Dan began destroying Ronnie’s foundations in trust and love. Unbeknown to Ronnie at the time, seeds of bitterness and the hardening of her soul were sprouting from his heartless actions. Dan’s secretive affairs had sometimes left Ronnie stranded in a strange town with the children, no car and no money. Ronnie would fretfully wait for him to return, surviving in hope, keeping her children sheltered and fed. He would always return to her when he’d had his fill of other women. She’d spend the days crying, vomiting from hunger and a broken heart. Sleepless nights sitting, waiting for him on a cold street to come back, took an emotional toll within her, becoming a foundation for a future she’d never have dreamt about.

When times were good she’d enjoy their adventures together and learned a lot about survival, especially when they didn’t have a cent to their name. Dan introduced Ronnie to life on the road, like gypsies they travelled the eastern seaboard and interior of Australia working agricultural farms and stations. Dan had grown up on the land, learning to handle firearms from a very early age. He introduced Ronnie to culling feral animals whilst traversing western New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Dan always had a small arsenal of weapons with him. He’d work through the day fixing farm machinery and then at night he would shoot, taking the skins as proof in reward for payment.

Ronnie was tortured by her youthful love of her husband. She clung to him, and stomached his short comings, too afraid to be alone in the big wide world. She tried to be the best she could at whatever he wanted her to do, including shooting. She was determined to impress him with something, and soon Dan realised she was a natural marksman. Ronnie knew it was the one sad thing they had going for them. At least they shared quality time together, stripping and cleaning the weapons and stalking prey.

Dan also taught her how to kill quickly, to savour the meat for eating and, when not to waste a bullet on wounded prey. The butt of the rifle to the back of the head, or a strategically placed knife would finish the job. Ronnie felt sickened to her core the first time he made her kill with her hands. It was different with a gun, she just pulled the trigger and the animal died. But using a knife, her hands or the butt of a gun disturbed her. It felt wrong, she felt unclean as if she’d crossed a line especially when she looked at her children. But the guilt passed in time and she replaced compassion with anger and frustration at Dan’s constant clandestine misdemeanours.

When times were hard Ronnie walked the fields early evening, looking for grazing kangaroos. She’d pick out a young buck and shoot it. Methods of cooking wild game became her next challenge, but when there were hungry mouths to feed somehow she managed.

Eventually Ronnie’s sweet innocence made way to a bitter and hard girl. Life on the road from station to station and various towns and cities, taught her to look after herself and her two small children. She began to despise Dan, and became totally unforgiving of his affairs, hiding her deepest hurts within for what he’d done to her. She hated her life, living out of a car with debts and nothing to show for it, two kids, no prospects, no future and no money, and all of 18 years of age…until fate heard her silent cries and intervened, changing her life forever.

They were staying in central western New South Wales. Dan had been given work on a sheep and wheat station. Camp was the disused shearers’ quarters on the property. The decision would have enormous repercussions for Ronnie’s future, even though she couldn’t have guessed it at the time. It was nearly dusk; Dan was ploughing long endless fields. Ronnie had fed and bathed the children and settled them down for the night. There was no television, just the crackling of a local country radio station trying to evoke its listeners to sharing gossip, and passing off bad country songs enough to depress her. Bored, she sat on the veranda watching the rabbits hop back and forth from their burrows two hundred yards from her.

“Why not?” Ronnie muttered to herself. She’d helped the station owner a week ago to be rid of a large warren of rabbits. The holes they made were a death sentence to livestock.

She smirked and grabbed the .22 calibre rifle from the wall-rack above the kitchen table and a box of rounds. Positioning herself on the veranda and resting the gun against her shoulder, Ronnie took aim down the open sights. She spied a rabbit sitting on its haunches, peering around nervously. With a steady shot, the rabbit collapsed as the bullet hit. Another replaced its sentry position. Again Ronnie shot it, then another and another counting as she went and never missing. The evenings on these plains were always pleasant with colourful sunsets and breezes just brushing the long grass. “The perfect setting to die in,” she mumbled to herself without remorse, when a voice broke her concentration

“Hey don’t shoot…me friend not foe.”

Ronnie dropped her sights from the next kill and spun around to see a rather supreme-looking man appear from the side of their quarters. He had his hands up in jest to say that he surrendered. A wide smile passed his lips with ease, revealing a perfect set of teeth. His hair was dark and he looked expensive. She noticed his masculine build as the breeze wrapped his shirt tighter to his well-defined chest. The scent of his cologne drifted to her senses; he was like a mirage. Ronnie had never seen a more handsome man but, at the same time, shocked to see him in the middle of nowhere. Her heart pounded nervously and her mouth felt dry. She said nothing, just stared at his attractive strong face.

“Hi,” he said, placing his hands in his jeans pockets and studying her pure image. He watched her long dark hair dance about her face in the falling sunset, and her eyes burn into him with question. “I’m staying with my brother at the homestead. He mentioned you and your husband were working for him.” The stranger walked closer towards her in a casual manner, then asked, “I was wondering what you were shooting at on such a lovely evening?” He was instantly taken by her beauty, her fitness and brazen stance.

Ronnie rested the rifle to her side, pulling a strand of hair from across her face. “I was shooting at rabbits…over there,” she hesitantly pointed behind her, not sure if she was in any trouble.

He could see her mistrust and doubt, defence building in her eyes. “I’m not sure where to look, I can’t see any rabbits.” He made his way nearer to her studying her natural beauty, admiring her eyes.

Ronnie took a slow step backwards stunned at first, and then became defensive at his remark ‘he couldn’t see what she was shooting at.’ “Follow me then…you can give me a hand to pick up the rabbits I’ve shot,” she cast him a look of defiance and strode off with the rifle slung over her shoulder.

The mystery man shrugged and followed, watching her firm buttocks move beneath torn dirty jeans. There was something different about this woman and his ever-watchful instinct was honing in on her natural abilities.

Ronnie stopped above the warren and picked a dead rabbit up by its foot, sporting her kill to the smooth-looking stranger. He gently pushed it from his face, clearly seeing she’d managed to kill quite a few rabbits. He looked back towards the shearer’s hut judging the distance of the shots. Coupled with the low lighting he pondered in his mind the possibilities presenting themselves.

“Well done…but can you hit that piece of tin hanging from the side of the old shed over there?” He pointed towards an old abandoned tractor shed. It had lost its roof a long time ago, a small bit of tin jutted forward from the side framing and, from this distance if he held his thumb up in prospective, he knew she wouldn’t be able to see past the front blade sight.

“Of course,” she guardedly looked at him, “I can hit that!” With half a smile lifting her inviting lips, she watched for his reaction. She kept her eyes on him and lifted the gun to her shoulder, only then did she shift her gaze from him. With a trained eye she sighted and fired. A sharp noise congratulated her and she looked triumphantly at the handsome stranger, but suddenly caught sight of tractor lights in the distance. Dan was on his way home.

“I’ve got to go and get Dan’s dinner ready, see ya, whoever you are.” She never waited for his reply, just slung the rifle over her shoulder and strode off towards the hut she called home.

“My name’s Carlos.” He watched as she never broke her stride. “My friends call me Carl, but you can call me either,” he was yelling now, “hey…what’s your name…please?” Desperation urged him not to lose her now. Carlos wanted to know more about her

“Veronica,” she yelled back to him, “my friends call me Ronnie.” She disappeared into the hut feeling stupidly giddy and strange within. Leaning against the door, Ronnie smiled to herself. She had shown him. She could shoot and she could see he was surprised. Ronnie felt like a schoolgirl quietly grinning to herself in glee, but a faint tingle within her wiped the smile from her face. It was an alien sensation she hadn’t felt in a long while, she didn’t know if she should feel like this. The very thought of the stranger made her heart beat quicker. Ronnie pulled herself together, Dan wouldn’t like it if she were thinking of another man. It was wrong and she knew what that felt like.

Carlos stood where she left him, amused, then walked towards the shed he’d challenged her to shoot at. A perfect hole greeted him. He touched it, smiling to himself. “I think I’ve just found my next recruit!” he exclaimed and laughed quietly at the thought of where he was. On holiday in the middle of New South Wales, on his brother’s sheep and wheat station, it was all too much. Little did Carlos know then but Veronica Cross, beautiful Ronnie, would be more than he could ever handle.

The following days found Ronnie occasionally running into Carlos. He always looked good and smelt expensive. She never said too much to him in passing, trying to keep him at a watchful distance. He made her feel nervous and shy all at once, strange vibrations she didn’t know how to handle. Sometimes Carlos watched her working without her knowing. He would watch her fencing, moving farm equipment about, helping Dan with maintenance on machinery, and he watched the way she fussed and cared for the children. He admired her elegance in a dirty environment. Her ability to adapt to every workload convinced Carlos she’d be perfect for his organisation. The trap was she had to be willing to come on her own.

Carlos was the front man to a very secretive organisation. Its alias name, bosses, and even its employees were never to be known about. He was always on the lookout for the ideal new recruit. Carlos had many ways of persuading people once he’d found them. He held his position with no challenge from another. Fighting his way through the ranks and stepping over his peers, secured him the position as C.E.O. of S.I.A.C. Carlos didn’t get there without having blood on his hands.

He was a supreme man to look at physically. His well-built body filled out his expensive clothes and screamed authority. His smile looked deceptively friendly and he was very good at hiding his objectives. Carlos was anybody anywhere, and could be anybody at any time, using any method to get what he wanted. He had no conscience where that was concerned.

For now he was obsessed with Ronnie and like a lion plotting an ambush, began to dig into Veronica and Dan’s history, looking for a key trigger to bait her with or force her choice his way. S.I.A.C. had no boundaries when it came to technology and digital information, especially when the head of this phantom organisation was being pressured to complete his mission. Presently his demands came from way above him, from the unseen ghost of a manipulating wealthy multinational organisation. It was all Carlo’s suggestion in the first place and they’d held him to that – Carlos had to find the ultimate recruit for S.I.A.C. Besides he’d lost too many male recruits recently, ever since the terrorists changed the rules of engagement. His next operative had to be a female, a beautiful woman and one who could be trained to kill.

A smile escaped his deceitful face as he watched Ronnie work. “Soon angel, I’ll find a way and have you working for me. Life will never be the same again, it will be better! You’ll have everything.” He smirked at his next deadly thought, ‘I’ve just got to get rid of hubby and spawn first.’ He lowered the binoculars he was using at a safe distance with the satisfied look of a cat that’d just caught a mouse.

In the next few days Carlos’ fascination to encourage Ronnie to his side became his only focus. He followed Dan on his daily routine and helped with work where he could. To Carlos, it was of the utmost importance. He had to get to know his enemy before he took them on. It’s what made him live longer, be stronger, outwit and outsmart his competitors, and with years of S.I.A.C.’s intelligence training ground deeply into him, he very quickly managed to find Dan’s weak spot, other women, and opportunity came knocking.

Mid week Carlos and Dan drove into town for supplies, deciding to go to the local bar for a quick drink before heading back. Carlos mused as he noticed Dan flirting with the young barmaid. She was being equally flirty in her small top with midriff showing. An idea started to formulate in Carlos’ mind, he had a plan. With his influential ways of getting what he wanted and on a quiet unseen moment, he flashed a large amount of cash under the barmaid’s nose. Carlos promised her more if she would comfort his friend Dan, who was feeling down after a split with his partner. Everyone in Carlos’ book could be bought. That included the barmaid who agreed, and the bait was set. All Carlos had to do was sit back and wait for nature to take its course, with a little shove to start with, Carlos style.

To start the ball rolling, Carlos sent Dan into town two days later to retrieve a parcel which was delivered to the hotel. Dan didn’t mind going in, he could have a cold drink and flirt with the pretty young barmaid. Dan went to see if Carlos wanted to go as well, but was told he’d gone on an historical drive of the area, photographing old buildings. Dan left for town alone.

From a secluded vantage point waiting for him like a spider with a lengthy zoom lens, Carlos sat waiting. If his little trap worked, by tomorrow he could hopefully start splitting his next prodigy from her heartless husband, her going no where life, and have Ronnie all to himself. There was more going through his mind than achieving results for S.I.A.C. Within the hidden sordid business he was employed, outside opportunities were presenting themselves. Things weren’t as controllable as they once were, and unbending old ways were no match for men with evil intentions. If the changes he was expecting to occur happened tomorrow, Carlos would rather be ahead of it than in its wake. A woman like Ronnie at his side, his plans and his South American secret venture would complete the years of servitude and imprisonment to S.I.A.C. He wanted to break away from the invisible masterminds behind the orchestration of world peace, and the man who pushes his buttons closer to home. Carlos would like nothing more than to see them all sweat. They could control everything but one little thing…and Carlos had found her.

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