Warrior in Love - First Chapter!
The bullet clipped the side of the tree, sending shards of wood flying as Trace sprinted down the trail. The brief
brawl with the security guards on his way out of the house had adrenaline surging through his veins, giving him the
strength to keep running at full speed.
It was all going according to plan… more or less.
He reached up and tapped the earpiece. “Aisha, I’m on the way. Start the plane.”
One of the gunmen behind him shouted something as Trace ducked under a branch, gunfire shredding the leaves
over his head.
“On it,” the reply came. “I’m heading out of the inlet, meet you at—”
“No, there’s no time. I’m coming to you.” Trace saw the end of the line, literally, in front of him.
“What the…” The female voice sighed. “No.”
“Yes.” He hugged the thin plastic case tight to his chest as he ran at full speed toward the edge of the cliff. “Be
there in a few seconds.”
Fate loves the fearless.

Six hours later in Manhattan, Trace strode into the Homeland Security offices. The guards at the entrance had first
balked at his appearance, but once he’d flashed his Interpol identification, they’d let him pass without further
“You.” The growl reverberated through the bullpen, rising over the usual hum of work.
Trace paused, a wide grin spreading across his face as he recognized the source. He dropped his duffel bag on the
ground, pushing it against the wall with his foot. He held up a fabric-covered box, displaying it with pride.
Special Agent Montegro pointed across the room, zeroing in on Trace Dyson with his usual unerring aim. “My office.
Now.” The older man retreated into said office and slammed the door, waiting.
Trace sauntered along, tucking the wrapped plastic case under his arm. He stopped by the coffee machine, making
sure to pick the mug with the Interpol insignia on it—his personal one. It took a second to blow the dust out of the
inside, but at least it hadn’t fallen into general circulation in the bullpen.
He sipped the black brew as he headed for the corner office.
Montegro stood with his back to Dyson, staring out of the window at the rising sun, the long bright beams dodging in
and out of the shadows trying to reach the office building. Below them a series of car horns went off and Trace
could swear he heard the cursing drifting up to the thirtieth floor.
Just another day in New York City.
“Tell me you got it.” The tall black man didn’t turn. He tucked his hands behind his back, the well-tailored suit snug
on his broad shoulders.
Trace put the coffee on a nearby table before placing the cell phone-sized package on the supervisor’s desk,
shifting a handful of file folders to make room right smack dab in the center. He flipped each corner of the black
handkerchief back, revealing a transparent case holding a thick clay tablet.
“Straight from Mexico.”
Montegro sniffed the air. “Damn, you smell like my dog after he’s rolled in the garbage.”
Trace rolled his shoulders back, his leather jacket still damp. “Tell me about it. It was an interesting flight back.” He
smiled as Montegro turned around, his eyebrows rising as he saw the relic. “Call the Nigerian representative at the
United Nations and tell them we’ve just retrieved a piece of their history.”
The older agent looked down at the artifact, grinning as he took in the ancient carvings. “Son of a bitch. I didn’t think
you’d succeed, to be honest.” He glanced at Trace before turning his attention back to the antique. “I heard a rumor
it was in the Yucatan Peninsula, but thought that was just gossip…”
Trace picked up the coffee and settled into one of the soft leather chairs. “Rumor had some truth to it—only some.
Little bit of this, little bit of that, but I found the collector in Campeche. Guy actually bragged about it to his dinner
guests—made it easy to scope the place out. Returned after-hours for the retrieval.”
Montegro put up his hand. “Save it for the report. Along with how you got out of the country and through customs.”
He eyed Trace. “Any way he can identify you to the authorities? Last thing we need is an international incident.”
“He paid to have it stolen from the National Museum in Lagos. He won’t dare make a police report and out himself
as a thief. As for the rest—ask me no questions…” Trace pointed at the tablet. “Important thing is that after two
hundred years, this baby is finally going home.”
Montegro let out his breath slowly. “You’re as good as they said.”
“Damned straight.” Trace finished the coffee and stood up. “I’m going home to shower, shave, and sleep.
Hawthorne’s already got the paperwork going—I’ll sign off on the way out.”
The senior agent couldn’t stop staring at the ancient stone. “Shit. The Nigerians… They’re going to freak out when I
call them. This has been on their wish list longer than we’ve both been alive.”
Montegro brought up each end of the handkerchief to cover the transparent case carefully and with great
reverence. “The Dysons have a powerful legacy. I’d say you’re doing a great job of adding to it.” He gave Trace a
wide grin. “I’ll call when we’ve arranged the hand-off ceremony to the Nigerians. They may want to meet you, thank
the man who retrieved a part of their history.”
Trace shook his head. “I’m leaving for France tomorrow. Emile likes his briefings in person—and this one’s going to
be epic.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I’ll be going to the Museum before I go. Need to stop by and pay my
“Pay…” Montegro frowned. “I haven’t kept up with the exhibit announcements. What is it?”
“The Valkyrie’s Tomb.” Trace extended his hand. “Good to see you.”
Montegro took it, returning the firm grip with interest. “You know if you ever decide to leave Interpol, you’ve got a
place here. I’d be proud to add you to my team.”
“Understood.” Trace gave him a sloppy salute. “Until next time.” He headed for the office door, leaving the artifact
behind on the desk.
It was still early in the morning, but the city was alive and bursting with energy and anticipation—people rushing
around and studying their phones, chatting about business deals and boyfriends and television shows.
He devoured it all, using the enthusiasm to power himself back to his hotel room. He was tired and sore, paying the
price for his adventure.
But it was worth it. In a day or two, he’d see the news release, the triumphant return of a country’s history to their
homeland. Deep down in the article would be mention of an Interpol agent, but never his real name—it was too
He’d know, and it would be enough.
Now, as Trace stood in front of the majestic old hotel, the tension began easing out of his body at the familiar
archway, the weathered stone gargoyles staring down on him from their perches. He’d stayed in a thousand hotels,
camped out in tents, and huddled in caves around the world, but even though he kept a flat in France, where
Interpol was located, this…
This was home.
The doorman recognized him and opened the door as Trace shouldered his duffel bag.
“Nice to see you again, Mr. Dyson.”
“Thanks, Mick. Glad to be back.”
A few people stared at him as he walked through the lobby, but Trace shook them off with ease. He wore his
leather jacket and jeans with pride. It stood out from the business suits and expensive dresses, marking him as an
He had no problem with that.
“Mr. Dyson. Pleased to see you again. Thank you for calling ahead.” The hotel clerk gave him a wide, welcoming
smile. “Housekeeping’s made sure your suite is ready.” The young man checked his notes. “Groceries have been
delivered and put away, along with your favorite beer chilling in the refrigerator.”
“Thanks, David.” Trace nodded and headed for the elevator. A shower and a brief nap would ready him for the
short trip to the museum later on that afternoon.
A pilgrimage he had to make.

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