A pitcher of margaritas, a white sandy beach on the Pacific coast and a bunch of crazy women. Perfect for a killing.
“You dropped this, Jenny.”
Jennifer Lozano turned as the man handed her the resort brochure that had slipped from her carry-on.
“Can’t have you missing your friend’s bachelorette party because you got lost.”
“Oh, please. Didn’t I mention I was directionally challenged?” She laughed. “Thank God she’s picking me up.” Jenny took the brochure from Ramón Villegas, the man who’d made the flight from Dallas go by so quickly, and she noticed the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled.
Maybe a fling with a hot Latino would be the proverbial dagger to the heart necessary to kill Matt Young’s memory permanently from her mind and body. Still, sneaking a look Ramón’s way, she decided he was more her friend Marcia’s taste than hers.
Like she had a taste for men other than womanizing jerks. She quickly pushed that out of her head, promising herself from this moment on, Matt was dead to her.
Let the games begin, she thought as she exited the plane with the rest of the arriving passengers. She was determined to have fun, hoping the ridiculous amount of alcohol she intended to consume would make her forget the last two weeks.
At least for three days.
“Baggage is this way, Jenny,” Ramón said, nudging her toward the main terminal. “If I don’t see you later, I’ll hook up with you and your friends tomorrow night at the party.”
“I’m looking forward to it.” Jenny held back a grin, picturing Marcia’s face when she got her first look at him in his Armani suit and snakeskin boots.
As she scanned the area for her friend, her eyes connected with a tall, sexy Latino man walking toward her with two other men. Instantly, the one-nighter idea pole vaulted up her “things to do in Costa Rica” list.
Until the man pulled out a gun and pointed it directly at her head.
The man smiled, but his eyes remained cold. “I’ve come a long way to meet you, señor.”
Jenny released the breath she’d been holding when she realized he was looking beyond her. Twisting her head around, she made eye contact with Ramón Villegas. The look of terror that flashed across his face was unmistakable.
Caught off balance when the good-looking Latino rushed past her, Jenny stumbled, falling into a shorter man with a distinct port wine birthmark on his right cheek.
“Out of my way,” he sneered, shoving her to the ground.
“Hey, mister, watch where—” Jenny slammed her mouth shut when he shot her a venomous look that sent chills up her spine. Chills that had more to do with the evil in his eyes than the temperature in the airport terminal.
Turning back to Villegas, the man with the birth mark pressed his gun into the Texan’s stomach, leaning his body in until his face nearly touched the businessman’s. Eyes wide and breathing faster, Ramón did a one-eighty around the room, as if deciding what to do next.
“Welcome to Costa Rica, asshole. We’re here to escort you to hell.”
Jenny grabbed her carry-on sprawled on the ground beside her, attempting to get up when two airport police officers raced down the corridor. Mass panic erupted. A woman screamed at the top of her lungs, momentarily distracting the attackers, and Villegas took off down the hallway, still clutching the attaché case he’d kept between his legs the entire flight from Dallas.
The man with the birthmark who’d knocked Jenny to the ground fired a single shot, and the cowboy fell, a red circle spreading across the shiny white linoleum. When the police officers returned fire, the taller, good-looking man who had been the first to approach Villegas collapsed, clutching his shoulder as his gun clattered across the floor.
Without a weapon, the man wasn’t so scary, and Jenny’s medical instincts kicked in. She crawled to him and quickly applied pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. He stared up at her before his body went limp. Glancing up, Jenny watched in horror as the two officers were forced back by the short gunman, who then turned his attention to the man she was helping.
“Get up, Tony.” Carlos shoved Jenny away, unfazed when she landed hard on the shiny floor and cried out.
A third Hispanic man with a gun, younger than the other two, ran up and shouted, “He’s hurt bad, Carlos. We have to get him out of here.”
The two men started toward the exit door, dragging the injured one, their guns still pointed at the speechless crowd.
“Dios! They’re closing in, Raphael. Take Tony,” Carlos said to the younger man as he jerked Jenny to her feet and raised the gun to her head. “Stay back, or I’ll kill her.”
The security officers, now only twenty-five yards away, stopped and aimed their weapons. Shielding his body with hers, Carlos began walking backwards toward the exit, following the one called Raphael, who was now struggling to drag the injured assailant.
“Oh God. Please don’t hurt me,” Jenny cried, fighting to control her nausea, as his foul-smelling breath streamed across her face and the cold steel of his automatic weapon pressed into her temple.
“Shut up, or I’ll blow your brains out,” he screamed. “Keep walking and don’t try anything stupid.”
He shoved Jenny past the silent crowd into a waiting van where a young woman dressed in combat fatigues sat behind the wheel. Just before Jenny was thrown into the back, she caught a glimpse of Carina in the crowd, her friend’s face reflecting the terror that pulsed through her own body.
The two men loaded the wounded man into the van after her. Now semi-conscious, he was bleeding profusely from his shoulder wound and his face was a pale shade of gray. She didn’t need to touch his skin to know it would be cold and clammy.
“He’s going into shock. Raise his feet higher than his head,” Jenny snapped, momentarily forgetting her fear. “He needs medical attention immediately, or he’ll die.”
“I told you to shut up, puta,” Carlos screamed.
Without warning, he struck her in the face with the butt of his gun. Jenny moaned softly as a wave of pain swept through her, leaving her breathless. She tried to lift her head but couldn’t as her vision blurred. Falling backwards, she floated into a sea of darkness.