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Uncommon valor in the line of duty and unconditional devotion in the name of love are the salient qualities of the daring men and women who risk it all in the heart-pounding thrillers of New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann. Crafted with precision and power, her characters come alive with a depth of emotion few writers have achieved. Now, with Breaking Point, Brockmann breaks even further through the pack and delivers a stunning payload.
As commander of the nation’s most elite FBI counterterrorism unit, agent Max Bhagat leads by hard-driving example: pushing himself to the limit and beyond, taking no excuses, and putting absolutely nothing ahead of his work. That includes his deep feelings for Gina Vitagliano, the woman who won his admiration and his heart with her courage under fire. But when the shocking news reaches him that Gina has been killed in a terrorist bombing, nothing can keep Max from making a full investigation–and retribution–his top priority.
At the scene of the attack, however, Max gets an even bigger shock. Gina is still very much alive–but facing a fate even worse than death. Along with Molly Anderson, a fellow overseas relief worker, Gina has fallen into the hands of a killer who is bent on using both women to bait a deadly trap. His quarry? Grady Morant, a.k.a “Jones,” a notorious ex-Special Forces operative turned smuggler who made some very deadly enemies in the jungles of Southeast Asia . . . and has been running ever since. But with Molly’s life on the line, Jones is willing to forfeit his own to save the woman he loves.
Together with Max’s top agent Jules Cassidy as their only backup, the unlikely allies plunge into a global hot zone of violence and corruption to make a deal with the devil. Not even Jones knows which ghosts from his past want him dead. But there’s one thing he’s sure of–there’s very little his bloodthirsty enemies aren’t willing to do.
Count on the intense action and raw honesty that Suzanne Brockmann consistently delivers, as she goes for broke in Breaking Point–and never looks back.
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Since her explosion onto the publishing scene more than ten years ago, Suzanne Brockmann has written more than forty books, and is now widely recognized as one of the leading voices in romantic suspense. Her work has earned her repeated appearances on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists, as well as numerous awards, including Romance Writers of America’s #1 Favorite Book of the Year–three years running in 2000, 2001, and 2002–two RITA awards, and many Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Awards. Suzanne lives west of Boston with her husband and two children. Visit her website at www.suzannebrockmann.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
FBI Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
June 20, 2005
It was a fabulous day. Blue sky. Low humidity. Not a lot of traffic this time of morning. Green lights at every intersection. A parking spot within javelin-throwing distance of the office building.
The elevator opened at the touch of the button and he rode it, express, all the way up to his floor. The doors opened again, and he got a good look at himself in the foyer mirror.
Dressed to shine in his favorite black suit, with a new shirt he’d bought himself as a present, Jules Cassidy was not your average, run-of-the-mill FBI agent, that was for sure. He pocketed his sunglasses and adjusted his tie, then headed down the hallway with a spring in his step.
When you look good, you feel good. No doubt about them apples.
Laronda’s reception desk sat empty, but Max Bhagat’s office door was tightly closed.
As early as Jules had come in today, his boss, the legendary FBI team leader known as “the Max” to his younger, more irreverent, and slightly less original junior subordinates–but never, ever called that to his face–had come in even earlier.
Although, to be honest, it was equally likely that Max had merely stayed extremely late.
Not that anyone would ever be able to tell the difference. Max didn’t do rumpled, even when staying up for seventy-two hours straight. In fact, he could be sat on by a hippopotamus in a bizarre zookeeping accident and the first thing he would say after regaining consciousness would be, “Somebody get me a clean shirt.”
The man kept at least two complete changes of clothing in his office, not to mention a series of electric razors in his desk drawer, his briefcase, his car’s glove compartment, and probably one or two places Jules didn’t know about.
Hey now, ho now! Max wasn’t the only one in early today. That was definitely gourmet coffee that Jules smelled brewing. Max may have been a brilliant negotiator, but the man was severely coffee-making challenged.
French vanilla. Lordy, lordy, Jules loved the French vanilla. Even though he hadn’t gotten into the office before Max or the mysterious
coffee brewer, it remained, indeed, a glorious, promise-filled day.
Jules stopped at the kitchen cubby and–thank you, baby Jesus!–found his favorite mug already squeaky clean in the drying rack. The container that held the ground coffee beans was empty, but there was enough for one more generous cup in the pot on the warmer.
The TV was set to CNN Headline News, but the volume was muted. As Jules filled his Mighty Mouse mug with the last of the coffee, the
too-handsome anchor smiled sunnily at him, as if to say, “Good morning, sweetie-cakes! Something very good is coming your way today!”
At which point the station cut to a commercial break.
An olive-drab and sepia-tinted World War II battle scene–no doubt an ad for the History Channel–filled the screen. But then the fighting dissolved into a full color close-up of a helmeted young man, his perfect cheekbones streaked with dirt.
Holy GI! Those were Robin Chadwick’s perfect cheekbones. This was no History Channel ad, Batman, it was a movie trailer. Shit, it was the movie trailer.
In his haste to reach the remote control, Jules damn near scalded
his hand, and the mug slipped with a crash into the sink. The coffee splashed–no!–right up onto his new shirt.
He ran his burned fingers under the cool water as he used his other hand to turn up the volume on the TV. He knew he shouldn’t. He absolutely should’ve turned the damn thing off but he couldn’t help himself.
Thundering choral music played while the picture dissolved again, this time to a close-up of another young actor as darkly handsome as Robin was fair.
It was Adam Wyndham.
Jules’s lying, cheating, son-of-a-bitch ex.
God, he looked good.
As an actor.
He looked good on film, with the flattering lights and makeup. That’s what Jules had meant. That was not some kind of masochistic, longing-for-reconciliation, he-looked-good thought that had popped into his head.
No, no, no, he was securely in the been-there-done-that phase as far as Adam was concerned.
But as Jules continued to cool his fingers, the picture dissolved again, this time to both actors as they sat shoulder to shoulder, dressed in World War II battle gear, gorgeous and giddy with silent laughter as the thunderous music played on–movie trailer code signaling that this was a meaningful epic drama.
Then a cut to another scene as, still side by side, the two men ran, weapons locked and loaded, up a beach into battle.
The picture froze with them both midstride, and faded back to that same earlier sepia tone as the voiceover announced, “American Hero. The war is within . . . Starts Friday in select theaters.”
Jules’s expensive new shirt was stained, his favorite mug had cracked, the French vanilla coffee was gone, and the movie starring his cheating ex—significant other, the movie he’d stayed out of theaters for the past two months to avoid seeing, the movie that had made him toss his subscription copies of Entertainment Weekly to avoid reading about, didn’t even open until this Friday.
Fuck a duck.
But okay. That sky outside the window was still blue. And Deb Erlanger, one of his fellow FBI teammates, appeared like an angel of mercy bringing tidings of hope and caffeine. “Hey, Jules. We’re going to Starbucks. Want something?”
Her partner, Joe Hirabayashi, was right behind her. What was this? National Come-In-Early day?
Jules muted the TV’s volume again. “Any chance they’ve started selling business attire?” Like Max, he kept an extra shirt in his office. But unlike Max, he’d used his two days ago and had forgotten to replace it.
Yashi surveyed the damage and summed it up concisely, as was his zenlike way. “Shit, man. That shirt’s ruined.”
“Aren’t you having some kind of review today?” Deb asked. “With Peggy Ryan?”
Yes, Deb. Yes, he was. In fact, his review today wasn’t merely “some kind of.” Instead, it fell into the subcategory of “review, comma, extremely important.”
Jules was up for a promotion. So far he’d sat down with all of the team leaders–except for Peggy Ryan, to whom he was going to talk today.
Peggy was one of those people who dealt with her homophobia by pretending Jules simply didn’t exist. In the past, Jules had cooperated by staying out of Peggy’s way as much as possible.
But this was one meeting neither of them could avoid. It was going to make for an interesting afternoon, that was for durn sure.
“Maybe that’s a good thing,” Yashi said, gesturing with his chin toward the dark blotch that Jules was now half-heartedly blotting with a paper towel. “Coffee stain on your shirt. Kinda makes you look straight.” He scrunched up his face. “If, you know, you squint . . .”
“You definitely need a gingerbread latte, extra whipped cream,” Deb decided for Jules. “We’ll be right back.”
But it was then that George Faulkner appeared, blocking their route. He was out of breath, which was somewhat novel. Jules hadn’t been aware that George even knew how to run.
“Where’s Laronda?” George asked, his tone broadcasting all kinds of grim.
“She’s not coming in,” Deb told him.
“What? Why not?” Jules hadn’t known it was a Laronda-less day.
Laronda was Max’s administrative assistant. A day without Laronda was about as productive and as much fun as a day spent hitting one’s thumb with a hammer. Over and over and over. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
“Her son’s debate club made it to the national finals,” Deb explained. “Just out of the blue–total long shot. The Max told her to take a few days and go to Boston with the kid. She won’t be back until Friday.”
“Max needs to see this.” George was ultrafocused and one-track this morning, holding up some sort of e-mail that he’d printed out.
“Temp should be here in an hour,” Yashi said. “Put it on Laronda’s desk, let her deal.”
“No,” Jules said. “Nuh-uh.” Last time a temp came in to replace Laronda, it was twice as awful. “We want to get anything done today, we need to take shifts.”
Deb and Yashi both started making noise, but Jules stopped them.
“An hour at a time at Laronda’s desk,” he said, in his take-no-arguments voice. “We can all survive being Max’s AA for one hour at a time. You know we can.” But, shit, shit, shit. So much for running out to get a new shirt before his meeting with Peggy Ryan. “I’ll go first, then Yashi, then George, then you, Deb . . .”
“I’ll get lots of extra coffee,” Deb decided.
“Good. Yash, call Fran and Manny, give them a heads up,” Jules ordered. “Tell them to get in, ASAP.”
“George, what do you want from Starbucks?” Deb asked.
“Max really needs to see this,” George persisted, talking directly to Jules now. “Right away.”
Shit. Jules took the e-mail and skimmed it, while Deb leaned in and read over his shoulder. It was a list of names under the morbid heading Civilians Killed in Hamburg Cafe Blast. This latest terrorist attack had occurred in Germany just yesterday morning, and the focus of most of the media’s reporting had been on the fact that the casualties had been low–that the car bombing ...
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