BAD TURN (Charlie Fox #13)

Read these first three chapters to set the scene as Charlie Fox tangles with the international arms trade.

"Zoë Sharp has produced a sure-fire winner and a classic addition to the Charlie Fox series."

One bad turn…deserves another.

Ex-Special Forces trainee turned bodyguard Charlotte 'Charlie' Fox is back in this, her 13th adventure.

Charlie Fox has quit her job in close protection, been turned out of her New York apartment, and is apparently out of options. Why else would she be working for a shady arms dealer?

House-sitting in rural New Jersey has to be the pits—TV and TV dinners. A far cry from Iraq... Bulgaria... Afghanistan. Unlucky or not, she happens to be around at the right time to foil a violent kidnap attempt on Helena, wife of billionaire arms dealer, Eric Kincaid.

Kincaid offers her a job looking after Helena. The rumours about Kincaid’s business empire say he’s gone over to the dark side, but Charlie is in no position to be fussy. And protecting people against those who want to do them harm is what she’s good at. But when the threats against the Kincaids escalate, and then follow the couple over to Europe, Charlie’s really going to have to up her game. It’s time to take the fight to the enemy.

Charlie’s at her best putting an end to trouble. Now she must learn to strike first. And hope that the Kincaids don’t discover the secret she’s been keeping from them, right from the start.

Chapter One

I don’t like surprises. More often than not, they’re the nasty kind and experience has primed me to react accordingly. Jump out of a cupboard with a birthday cake or a bottle of champagne when I’m not expecting a party, and you’re liable to get smacked in the mouth.

Up until a couple of months ago—back when I still had a job that came with both the requirement and the authorisation to go armed most of the time—I might even have shot you. These days I have to improvise with whatever is at hand.

On a backwoods route in rural New Jersey, all I had at hand was the old GMC pick-up I was driving, when I rounded the next bend and stumbled into a full-blown ambush.

I had only a split second to take in the scene. A Lincoln Town Car, incongruous outside of the city, sat halfway onto the dirt shoulder, nose-down at an angle, its chauffeur-black paintwork speckled with bullet hits. Two dark SUVs had been slewed across the narrow road in either direction, effectively boxing-in their target.

Three men were using the SUV closest to me for cover. I marked them as aggressors from the body armour and assault weapons. The two men I could see near the Lincoln both wore ordinary suits. They were doing their best to repel the attack with semi-automatic pistols. A losing bet, whichever way you squared it.

My right hand had snaked toward the small of my back before I remembered I didn’t have a weapon of my own.

The moment I appeared, two of the men crouched behind the SUV stopped pouring fire into the stricken Lincoln and switched their aim to me. Nothing personal, I figured, just standard operating procedure—leave no witness behind. The third man didn’t flicker. He stayed on target, trusting his pals to deal with the new threat.

Which meant I was dealing with pros.

I braked hard and just had time to duck down behind the pick-up’s dash before the first rounds punched through the windscreen. They thudded into the back of my seat where my head had been, moments earlier.

Yeah, definitely bloody pros.

Well, if they were playing for keeps, so was I.

I jammed my foot onto the accelerator again, heard the heavy V8 growl in response, the steering wheel vibrating under my hands as the transmission kicked down a gear. For once, I was glad I wasn’t on a motorcycle as all four tyres bit and the front end of the vehicle lifted.

Sprawled across the front seats, I braced as much as I could. A second later, we smashed into the driver’s side of the SUV. The pick-up’s airbags deployed with an explosive whumph. It almost drowned out the shriek of graunching steel and breaking glass, ending with a scream chopped short by a soggy thump.

I pivoted onto my back and kicked the airbag out of the way. It was already beginning to deflate but the driver’s door was bent and buckled. I scrambled for the passenger door, which had suffered less in the crash. It opened at once. I spilled out onto the road and rolled to my feet, keeping low.

More by luck than design, I’d struck the SUV directly amidships, ripping the driver’s door off its hinges and tenting the roof as the pick-up buried its front bull bars deep into the B pillar. The driver had been using his part-open door as a firing position and I realised he was the reason for that wet thump. I forced myself to remember he’d been aiming for my head…

One down.

The gunman towards the rear of the SUV had come off better, but not by much. The nearside front corner of the pick-up was embedded in his door. The man—muscles, buzz-cut, olive skin, clean-shaven—was now pinned between door and frame at the chest. He flailed weakly, eyes screwed shut in pain and shock.

I leapt for the weapon already dropping from his grasp—a Colt M4 carbine. I’d seen plenty of those over the years. I jerked it out of his weakened grip and slammed the stock into the side of his skull just below his left ear. The blow cannoned his head into the roof of the SUV and he slumped.

Two down.

I spun with the M4 pulled up into my shoulder, looking to acquire the front-seat passenger, but he had dropped from sight.

Rounds zinged past me. I didn’t wait to confirm if they were fired by the occupants of the other SUV in retaliation. For all I knew, the two guys from the Lincoln were taking no chances, either.

I flung myself behind the SUV’s rear tyre, which at least offered a little protection from stray rounds passing underneath the vehicle, took a breath and checked the M4’s thirty-round magazine. It was about two-thirds full. Could be worse.

Behind me, the pick-up’s engine had dropped to tickover now, patient as a dozing cab horse waiting for the return fare. So, it ran, but I had no idea if it would still drive. A puddle was forming around the front end, and at first I thought I’d busted the radiator until I realised the fluid was not the piss-yellow of coolant but instead a dark, sticky red. I looked away.

On the far side of the vehicle, the firefight continued. I didn’t stick my head up to see who was winning. Instead, I dropped to my belly and squinted through the darkened slot between the SUV and the road.

The first thing I saw was the body of the driver. He’d fallen partly on the ground and partly back into the vehicle, the M4 close to his open hand. His leg was badly broken, the knee joint operating in reverse. I couldn’t tell if he was alive or dead, but he was certainly unconscious or he would have been screaming.

Beyond him, the twin yellow stripes of the road’s centre-line led directly to the other SUV. I could see part of the passenger side, the lower edge of an open door and the legs of one of the attackers from about mid-calf downwards, booted feet braced.

I dropped my eye to the M4’s optical sight, right thumb feeling for the safety lever and flicking it to three-round burst as I did so. Another breath, trying to slow my heart rate, steady my aim.

I squeezed the trigger, stitching across the man’s ankles. Half a dozen rounds spat from the barrel in the time it took me to release my finger. What the?

I swore under my breath and flicked the safety back to single shot, knowing I didn’t have that kind of ammo to waste. My target was already falling back inside the vehicle.

One of the men shouted but I didn’t catch what he said. I couldn’t even swear to the language he used.

I squirmed sideways, tried to get a bead on the other men from the second SUV. They were staying out of sight. A moment later, the vehicle took off backwards, performed a pretty creditable J-turn, and disappeared around the next bend in the road, engine screaming.

A deafening silence greeted its departure.


Chapter Two

“Hey, you in the Lincoln—I’m coming out,” I shouted, loud above the ringing in my ears. “I’m here to help. So, don’t shoot me, OK?”


I rose cautiously, ready to duck down again at the first sign of movement, never mind trouble. Still nothing.

So far, so good

I edged out around the back end of the SUV, flicking my eyes across the fallen driver as I did so. Yup, he was definitely dead. Nevertheless, I toed his M4 a little further away from his hand. Old habits.

The front passenger door of the Lincoln stood open, but there was no sign of the guy in the suit who’d been standing next to it when I first appeared.

I stepped round the rear of the car, eyes everywhere. I was still keeping the M4 up into my shoulder but let the muzzle drop a fraction in an attempt to convey, if not friendliness, then at least a little less outright hostility.

The driver of the Lincoln was down and appeared dead, something I confirmed with two fingers against the side of his neck. I swore under my breath—I hated getting shot at without affecting the outcome. As I started to rise, I caught a glimpse of something inside the back of the car. When I yanked open the rear door, I found a woman on the back seat, huddled into the corner as far away from me as she could get. A man was crumpled up on the floor, wedged between the front and rear seats. The legroom was generous in a Town Car, but he was a big guy and it was a tight fit.

“No closer!” the woman snapped, grabbing my attention as much by the iced fury in her tone as by the 9mm suddenly in her hands. Something cold pooled at the base of my skull.

Shit...rookie mistake. I should have been paying her more attention from the start. I rectified that now—better late than never. She was small, with a Mediterranean complexion that tanned easily. Her hair was ashy blonde, about shoulder length, a tribute to her hairdresser’s art. The gun looked too big for her hands but I could tell by her grip that it wasn’t her first time. Her clothes were obviously expensive—they went with the car. She wore gold rings on both hands and a watch studded in diamonds.

Slowly, I lifted my left hand away from the stock of the M4, palm open and fingers spread placatingly.

“I’m here to help,” I repeated. “Are you injured?”

For a moment the woman stared at me almost without comprehension. She made the slightest motion with her head, which I took to mean no. The man on the floor of the car shifted a little then, groaning. It seemed to twitch her back to right here, right now, and took the last of the fight out of her.

“My God,” she said shakily, lowering the gun. “Illya!”

“He needs treatment.” I put the M4 down outside the car, but still within reach, and knelt half inside. The man she’d called Illya had a pulse but it was weak and erratic. “Do you have a phone? If so, you should call for help.”

She nodded, eyes still on the big man as I began to loosen his clothing enough to find out where he was hit. There was nothing visible on his head or back and I struggled to turn him in the confined space.

When I finally managed to roll him onto his side, I saw the front of his shirt was soaked with blood. Good job the interior of the Lincoln was all black, or it would have looked like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie in there.

I pulled a knife out of my jeans pocket, flipped it open and sliced the shirt up the centre, ignoring the buttons. I used the remnants to wipe a path and found entry wounds in his shoulder, chest and stomach. All were bleeding faster than I could clear them.

“Do you carry a first-aid kit?”

The woman shrugged helplessly. “I–I don’t know.”

“OK. In that case, do you have sanitary towels on you?”

The woman, fumbling in a large Louis Vuitton handbag, looked up at me as if I’d grown another head.


I bit back a curse. “Sanitary napkins—pads? Whatever the hell you want to call them. Or tampons? Anything.”

She reached into the bag again, pulled out a discreet drawstring bag and handed it over without a word. I looked inside and found half a dozen slim tampons.

I smiled my thanks, ripped the wrapping off one, teased out the strings, and inserted it into the first of Illya’s bullet wounds with great care. He seemed too far out of it to notice or care. Gradually, they expanded to plug the wound and the flow slowed to an ooze. He might not make it, even so, but at least he wouldn’t die of blood loss before they could get him to a hospital.

When I finished and sat back on my heels, I found the woman staring at me again but with less suspicion this time.

She had a smartphone with a huge screen pressed against the side of her face, making her appear all the smaller by comparison. “I never would have thought of…” she began, voice sombre. “How did you know what to use?”

“It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as it’s absorbent and sterile.”

She looked about to say more, but ducked her head as the other end of the line was finally picked up. “It’s me,” she said, not meeting my eyes. “Trouble. You will know where. No, I’m OK! But…hurry.” And she ended the call, stabbing at the screen with a thumb that had started to tremble.

“Well, either you have a really close relationship with the local cops around here,” I said, “or I’m guessing that wasn’t them you’ve just called.”

She didn’t answer.

I sighed and nodded to Illya. “I hope you have just as close a relationship with a local trauma surgeon as well, otherwise your guy here isn’t going to make it.”

“He will take care of him,” she said, without going into specifics.

I shrugged, doing another scan of the surrounding area. We were lucky nobody else had arrived on-scene in the meantime, but this area to the far west of New Jersey was farming country and sparsely populated. As long as it remained beyond an easy train ride into Manhattan, it was likely to remain that way.

I nodded to the open front passenger door. “Where’s the other guy?”

She frowned for a moment, following my gaze. “Ah, I had only two men with me. Illya got in back with me when he was wounded…to give me his weapon.”

I glanced at the wounded man with renewed respect. He’d lived up to the slang term for bodyguard—bullet catcher. Now all he had to do was survive the experience.

Minutes later, I heard a thudding engine note over the top of the faithful GMC, which was still ticking over on the other side of the wrecked SUV. I climbed out of the Lincoln and checked the road in both directions. For the moment, I left the M4 propped against the rear tyre, close by but not actually in my hands. No point in asking for more trouble than I probably had already.

A shadow flitted across the sun overhead, and the branches of the trees began to shiver. I looked up, shielding my eyes against the light above the canopy, just as the dark shape of a helicopter swung low and came in for a fast landing in the field next to the road.

The woman got out of the Lincoln and stood at my shoulder, her eyes skimming briefly over her dead driver. She kept any feelings she might have had about that out of her face by pure effort of will.

I jerked my head towards the car. “GPS tracker?”

She nodded. We both kept our eyes on the helo. It was a Sikorsky S76D in dark red livery with gold detailing. Top of the range and classy—not to mention expensive. It went with the Lincoln and the handbag and the watch.

As soon as the helo was on the ground, the doors were flung open and half a dozen men jumped out, armed to the teeth. Two of them carried medical packs. They had the woman hustled across the downdraft-flattened grass and the wounded man loaded in on a stretcher inside seven minutes.

I turned away from the scene, found one of the men standing behind me. He also carried an M4 carbine—coincidence? He held the weapon not quite aimed at me, but near enough to be suggestive. I glanced at it pointedly.

The man didn’t speak, just gestured that I should head for the Sikorsky with the woman and the stretcher. When I hesitated, his grip on the weapon tightened.

I shrugged, jogged across the grass ahead of him, automatically keeping my head down, and climbed inside. The cabin was kitted out in cream leather and deep carpet, executive style.

My guard climbed in behind me and slammed the door shut. The pilot goosed the collective and the Sikorsky rose smoothly into the air. As it climbed, it rotated onto its new heading. Through the trees below I caught a last glimpse of the pick-up, still embedded in the side of the SUV, the bodies sprawled on the blacktop, and the stricken Lincoln, before the scene was lost from view.


Chapter Three

Nobody spoke to me during the short flight. I stared down out of the helo’s starboard window, trying to gauge roughly where we were going. It distracted me from thinking about the guy I’d pancaked between the pick-up and the SUV. Instead, I tried to remember the way his rounds had ripped into my seat, right before I’d run him down. It seemed to balance the scales just a little.

I’d been shot before and had been lucky to survive. It wasn’t an experience I was in a hurry to repeat.

After only a few minutes, at a guess, the aircraft’s forward momentum slowed, nose lifting as the pilot flared the rotors. We swung into position for landing and I saw acres of rooftop and glass, barns, and white-fenced paddocks with grazing horses apparently unfazed by our arrival.

As we touched down and the engine note died back, the doors were flung open. The stretcher was unloaded first onto a waiting gurney. I half-expected to see an ambulance waiting, but instead a middle-aged man with a stethoscope around his neck hurried forward, otherwise dressed as if he’d come straight from the golf course. The doctor pulled on latex gloves, already bending over his patient as he was wheeled away.

The woman got out next, surrounded by a tight phalanx of four men. A phrase containing the words ‘stable door’, ‘horse’ and ‘bolted’ sprang to mind, but I kept such thoughts to myself.

I warranted only one guard, probably enough considering he was armed and, if you discounted the folding knife in my pocket, I was not. We followed the woman into the house through an impressive double-height front door. Inside, it opened out into a massive entrance hall with a sweeping staircase leading up to a galleried landing above.

The woman’s heels clicked on the Italianate marble floor. Everyone else was wearing soft-soled boots, myself included. I looked down at my dusty jeans and bloodied shirt and got the feeling they really should have hosed me down and taken me around to the tradesman’s entrance at the back of the house.

She disappeared into a room to our right, the door closing firmly behind her. Her bodyguards stayed outside. Two flanked the doorway, the others disappearing along a corridor at the rear of the hallway. My guard, sadly, was not among them. He gestured again, this time towards a baroque-style buttoned chair near the foot of the stairs.

“Wow, you just can’t stop jabbering, can you?” I murmured, and saw the merest flicker of amusement in his stony features. “I think I’ll stand, though, thanks.”

Partly to get away from the stare-out competition we seemed to be having, and partly just to see if he stopped me, I wandered to the far side of the room to study the artwork on the walls. It was mostly modern—I recognised works by Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, which, if genuine, gave me a good ballpark figure for the income bracket of the owner. Not that the executive helicopter, and the mansion, and the private army hadn’t pretty much done so already.

We waited. Maybe a quarter of an hour passed, during which time a young man in a black suit brought out a tray of coffee served in a Limoges pot, which he put down on a side table, also without speaking. I was beginning to wonder if everyone here had taken a vow of silence. None of the bodyguards touched it, so I helped myself, if only because it allowed me to hold something I might be able to use as a weapon—either the cup itself or the coffee it contained.

Finally, the door opened to the room the woman had entered. A man stepped out. From the way he was dressed—the same casually expensive style as the woman—and the way the guards stiffened slightly, I guessed this was the boss.

He was maybe mid-thirties, tall, broad, and light on his feet in the way that martial artists are. Something about the way they walk, the way they put their feet down. His hair was darkish blond and his jaw was square. I bet he’d played football in college, the kind that involved padding and helmets. But I didn’t mistake him for a meathead, by any means. There was a calculating brain behind his narrowed eyes that made me instantly wary.

He came into the hallway unsmiling, but with his right hand outstretched. Mixed messages.

“Ms Fox?” he said, his grip firm without attempting to crush my knuckles. His hands were long-fingered and broad but well-kept, neither soft nor callused. “It would seem I owe you my thanks.” He didn’t sound happy about that state of affairs. Maybe it explained the stony face.

Clearly, he’d spent the time between our arrival and now running background on me, although it was interesting how quickly he’d learned my name without much to go on. He couldn’t even have run the plate on the pick-up, because it belonged to the owner of the farm where I was house-sitting.

Yeahvery interesting. And maybe a little worrying, too.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t do more,” I said, ignoring the stark mental image of that greasy red puddle under the front of the pick-up again. “How is your guy—Illya, was it?”

“Being well taken care of,” the man said smoothly. He stepped to one side and indicated the open doorway behind him. “Please, will you join us?”

Unable to think of a good reason to decline, I put down my now-tepid coffee and obliged. Inside, the room was a little less imposing and a lot more lived-in. A huge flat-screen TV hung above the open fireplace, in front of which was a low marble table boxed in on three sides by a comfortable-looking sofa and a pair of armchairs, their cushions misshapen by regular use. It lacked the interior-design magazine, staged look of the hallway.

The only thing conspicuously out of place in the room was the small, slim man lounging against the wall just behind the open door with his hands in the pockets of his jeans. I caught a glimpse of him in my peripheral vision as I entered and couldn’t prevent my head jerking round in that direction. He gave me a fractional nod, like I’d passed some kind of test.

Something about him made the skin prickle across the top of my shoulders. I had to force my arms to stay relaxed by my sides when instinct tried to form them into a defensive block, just in case.

He was dressed in uniformly dull-coloured clothing that didn’t look either new, or originally bought for him. A baggy jacket over an open shirt and T-shirt topped off the jeans and suede boots. His reddish-brown hair was collar-length, and he sported a droopy moustache and goatee, and small wire-rimmed glasses.

It took a moment for me to realise he was another bodyguard, but from a very different mould to the men in the hallway outside. More subtle, more sinuous, and ultimately far more deadly.

The boss paid him absolutely no attention as if the man was a fixture, the same as the curtains.

The woman from the Lincoln was sitting on one of the sofas. Her shoes lay on the floor and she’d curled her bare feet up beneath her. She was clutching a glass of liquid the colour of a ripe conker that might have been brandy, or bourbon. Dutch courage, either way.

“You’ve been doing your homework,” I said. At his silent invitation, I sank onto the sofa opposite where I could keep the slim bodyguard in view. “You know my name, but I don’t know yours.”

They exchanged the briefest of looks, then the woman cleared her throat. “I’m Helena,” she said. “Helena Kincaid. And this is my husband, Eric.”

She paused, as if expecting the name to resonate. I kept my face neutral. “I would say it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs Kincaid, but under the circumstances…”

That provoked a smile. She was not conventionally pretty, but the smile lit up her face from the inside, made it more than the sum of its parts. Kincaid sat alongside her, closer than he needed to for convention’s sake. I picked up no tension between them. In fact, they were a well-matched couple—outwardly at least.

“I understand you’re staying out at the Stephensons’ property,” Kincaid said. It was a statement rather than a question.

“Just taking care of the place while they’re away. Europe, I believe,” I said vaguely. I pulled a rueful face. “Speaking of ‘taking care’ of things, that reminds me—I need to do something about Frank’s truck—”

“It’s in hand,” Kincaid said, using that same smooth, almost bland tone as before. “The vehicle will be returned to you as soon as it’s been…sanitised.”

I grimaced. “Yeah, that might take some doing. I admit that using it as a battering ram wasn’t quite in the game plan.”

Helena’s head came up quickly. “You had a game plan?”

“Just a figure of speech.”

“Really?” she demanded, her voice sharp now. “Well, figure of speech or not, what kind of a person just so happens across an ambush on a road-to-nowhere in Hicksville and has any kind of a game plan in place for dealing with it?”

Kincaid put his hand on her leg, to reassure rather than threaten, I judged. Her own hand—the one holding the glass—trembled slightly, but I put that down to shock. She wasn’t afraid of him. That was something, at least.

“We know what kind, Helena,” he said gently.

For the first time, she glanced at the bodyguard by the doorway, as if checking something by comparison, although I hoped I didn’t give off the same kind of vibe. Then she nodded, the fire going out of her.

“Like I said—you’ve been doing your homework,” I repeated.

“Nobody sets foot into our home without that happening, Ms Fox,” Kincaid said. “Particularly after the events of today.”

He paused, as if waiting for me to jump in with questions I had no intention of asking.

Eventually, I sighed. “OK, I get that you don’t want to take anything about me on trust, and I suppose I can’t blame you for that. If someone had just made that kind of attempt on me, I’d be as suspicious as hell of anyone and everyone—especially someone who just so happened to be on-scene at the time.”

I rose, stuffed my hands into my pockets and gave each of them a level stare. They didn’t do a bad job of maintaining eye contact, either of them. “But I’m not after anything from you other than the repair and return of the truck I was driving.”

“Nothing else?” Helena demanded, unable to keep a note of incredulity out of her voice.

“Well…” I let my gaze travel around the room, as if pricing up the cost of the furnishings. “As your guys insisted I leave my vehicle behind, I wouldn’t say no to a lift back to the Stephensons’ place, if you wouldn’t mind? It doesn’t have to be by helicopter.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bodyguard by the door break into a smile. It was not reassuring.

“Dude, I like this girl,” he said, speaking for the first time. He had a soft voice, his accent difficult to place. “Seriously, she’s cool.”

Kincaid ignored him and reached into his inside jacket pocket, the action making me twitch reflexively. When he withdrew his hand, however, the only thing in it was a chequebook. He flattened it out on the table between us, laid a gold pen on top.

“Please, don’t get me wrong, Ms Fox, I—we—are very grateful for your…intervention today. But you must realise that people in our position find trusting in strangers…difficult.”

“You’re very cynical, Mr Kincaid.”

“I’m a realist,” he returned. “Anyone successful in kidnapping my wife could have legitimately asked for a substantial ransom for her safe return, as I’m sure my associate, Mr Schade will confirm.”

The slim bodyguard shrugged. “I’d have opened at twenty million, maybe accepted ten as a kind of early settlement deal.”

Kincaid uncapped the pen, opened the book to the next blank cheque and started filling in the day’s date.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

He paused. “How much will it take, Ms Fox, to ensure your…discretion in this matter?”

“I’ve already told you my price,” I said roughly. “Give me back Frank’s truck—preferably in the same condition it was in before I used it to hit that bloody SUV, and we’ll be even.”

“Nothing else?”

“I assume, from what you’ve said, that you’re going to make all the evidence out there on the road simply…disappear?”

Kincaid looked to the bodyguard again.

“Oh yeah, already in hand,” Schade said. “Clean as my conscience before nightfall.”

“Then that will do for me,” I said. “All I’m trying to do is get by.”

Kincaid sat back slowly, recapped the pen and laid it back on top of the chequebook. “When you say ‘get by’ I take it you’re referring to your current…employment status?”

I gave a short laugh. “Lack of it, you mean?”

“In that case, I’m sure we could offer you something that would suit your…unique skill-set. I want to—”

I shook my head before he could get any further down that particular line of thought.

“I’m sorry,” I said quickly. “But I don’t do that kind of work anymore.”

“Is that so?” He gazed at me. He had blue-green eyes that were focused and intense. “From what I heard about you today, Ms Fox—driving unarmed into the middle of a firefight—you just can’t help yourself.”


She’s in!  Charlie Fox has penetrated the inner sanctum of arms dealer, Eric Kincaid. Lucky break or cunning ploy? Why is Kincaid’s bodyguard, the enigmatic Schade, so suspicious? And why is Kincaid’s wife Helena so reluctant to accept Charlie as her own bodyguard, especially after her traumatic kidnap ordeal?

For the moment, Charlie is playing hard to get but the scene will soon shift from rural New Jersey to Italy and France, where she will need all her legendary skills to protect her principals—and herself—amid the bizarre perils of the international arms trade.


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