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  • ISBN-13: 9780373772346
  • ISBN: 0373772343
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises, Limited


Palmer, Diana


It was an unusually cold morning for October in Houston, Texas, and Colby Lane's left arm ached. There wasn't a lot left of it, thanks to a stint as a covert specialist in Africa. He'd been too drunk to take proper precautions and it had been shot off, then amputated from just below his elbow. The state-of-theart prosthesis he wore was classified technology, very advanced, and the hand at the end of it looked real enough to fool most people. He even had sensation in it, thanks to implanted computer chips. He was, he mused, a walking, talking lab rat with stealth capability. He grinned to himself at the mental picture that thought produced. But the smile faded rapidly. He was in a foul mood. It was only his second full day on the job as new assistant chief of security for the Ritter Oil Corporation's Houston branch. He'd taken the job as a favor to his old friend, Phillip Hunter, who was training him to be his replacement. The Hunters were considering a move back to Tucson, Arizona. Meanwhile, Colby was trying to get used to new surroundings and at least two department heads who thought they knew how to do his job better than he did. He'd formerly worked for the international Hutton Corporation as another friend's assistant chief of security. Then the Hutton Corporation gave notice that it was moving overseas. He didn't want to go with it. Colby knew Hunter from his childhood on the reservation. Like him, Colby had Apache blood. But Colby also had an innate dislike of tight schedules, corporate politics and wearing a suit. His background in covert operations as a mercenary soldier, not to mention a brief stint in top-secret intelligence work for the government, made this routine job an uncomfortable fit. Office politics was a far cry from going after the enemy with weapons. The amputation of his arm had cost him the work he'd done all his life. He was bitter about that; in fact, he was bitter about a lot of things. Life had failed him. One old friend had voiced the opinion that Colby's growing array of wounds stemmed from a death wish. He hadn't admitted it aloud, but the accusation hit a nerve. He was tired of aching wounds, broken dreams, shattered illusions. He was tired of life itself. Here in Houston, he was trying to settle down for the first time in his life, with two failed marriages behind him and a past history of alcoholism. He'd overcome the drinking problem years ago. He was sober as a judge these days. But he no longer had the physical means to continue in demanding special operations work overseas. He resented forced retirement from his vocation of choice. His aching arm reminded him of all that he'd had to give up. He'd tried hard to put his past to the back of his mind. He had enough to worry about, getting used to this new job. His background, however, predisposed him for security work. He was an expert in martial arts and small arms, not to mention counterterrorism. He was a past master in interrogation techniques and he'd almost learned diplomacy. He had credentials that had even impressed Hunter-- not to mention Eugene Ritter, the head of Ritter Oil Corporation. Now he had to find a way to exercise diplomacy with words when he was used to doing it with firearms. It wasn't easy. He walked in the front door of the sprawling modern building in an industrial complex outside Houston, absently displaying his ID on a card clipped to his lapel as he passed the security guard at the desk. Ironic, he thought, that he was chief of security and still had to flash his own badge to get into the building he protected. The guard seemed to see the same irony, because he couldn't resist a grin. Colby returned it. He was an impressive figure in his navy-blue business suit. He was tall, handsome, lean, and physically formidable, with thick, shining black hair that held a slight wave. He had deep-set black eyes and an olive complexion, and he wore his hair conventionally cut. He never discuPalmer, Diana is the author of 'Outsider ', published 2007 under ISBN 9780373772346 and ISBN 0373772343.

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