Unknown Tasks, Book One – Baked Goods

The first book in my new Unknown Task Series – coming January 4 available for pre-order now!

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Brandy has worked alone since she graduated, but the task before her now is different, long-term and complicated. Is this a promotion or a test? And why is the object of her task so . . . male. There’s never been attraction before, everything about this task is different.

Jason has been on the run since his entire team was ambushed and murdered. He has no time to stop, but nowhere else to go. Can this intriguing woman, who doesn’t know him, really help?

Excerpt –

She could feel him now. He was close. He had taken some time to arrive here, but Brandy became more aware as he approached her location. His pace had given her time to prepare for him, construct the infrastructure she now had. She wasn’t able to see his face yet, but his body was that of a man in his prime, despite whatever he was going through. He was definitely hungry, that was easy enough to pick up on, but he couldn’t allow that to slow him down. Little slowed this man down, but she could tell he was burdened, nearing the end of his rope.

Why did she still not know what constituted that rope?

He was the main reason she was here and had created a more permanent living arrangement—much more than any previous task she’d been assigned. It had been a busy time since rescuing Jen from Keith back in Tennessee. Instead of a single motel room, Brandy now had what, to her, was an elaborate setup.

Others would benefit as well. This task was multi-faceted and seemed to be of highest importance to her employers. She would do what she could to help all of them. They had put a lot into this, more than she was accustomed to.

****

Jason observed the bus driver closely as he left the driver’s seat and stepped out onto the sidewalk. The driver stretched quickly, then, shivering from the cold, hurried inside the small storefront which also served as the depot for this town. If anyone was waiting for the bus, they were doing it inside where there was some heat.

This wasn’t the end of the ticket Jason had purchased, though he’d never intended to go the whole way. If the people looking for him knew he was traveling by bus, they no doubt had someone waiting at that destination. At least they hadn’t been pulled over yet, so maybe he was ahead of them. He just knew he wasn’t safe yet, if ever. No tingling on the back of his neck currently alerted him of danger, though he expected it any second. There was never a time to let down his guard.

The bus had stopped earlier at a larger town than this, giving passengers the opportunity to grab some lunch to eat on the way as they refueled. He hadn’t gotten off then. Meager funds and no desire to mingle had him pretending to sleep as the others stretched and grabbed meals they obviously didn’t need. His own stomach growled at the lack but the obese man that climbed back on board with a foot-long sub wasn’t going to miss a calorie. Jason was pretty sure the mega-drink the dude now carried wasn’t diet. When the passengers returned, they’d slowly drifted off in a post-lunch stupor he could only envy. This was the next stop and Jason understood why the company had chosen the larger venue for the longer pause. There was little here, but that worked in his favor.

With no one outside waiting to board, Jason had no idea if anyone waited inside or how long the bus driver would be away from his vehicle. The driver hadn’t been counting the passengers anyway. This was no party bus, and no one had bothered with conversation except with a travel companion.

He was practically invisible to everyone else on the bus, and he liked it that way. Most of the commuters weren’t even really awake anymore, lulled by highway hypnosis as well as full bellies from lunch. Jason had scrutinized his fellow passengers for hours and was convinced of that. Now it was too cold to get out and stretch their legs. None of them would be able to give a decent description of him. No one sat further back behind him.

Jason hefted his backpack and made his way to the rear door, behind the other passengers. The driver hadn’t reappeared and wouldn’t notice if one more seat was empty. Nothing of his was held in the storage area underneath the bus. The backpack in his hand held everything he currently owned. They might perceive the cold when he opened the door, but only for a second.

He stepped out and winced. The temperature had dropped dramatically. The sky had also grayed considerably which he hadn’t noticed with the tinted windows of the bus. Weather was blowing in. The wind chill was going to be a factor tonight, but fortunately nothing was currently falling. If he layered on everything in his pack it wouldn’t be enough. A small café sat across the parking lot and to the rear of the large vehicle. No one would spot him without turning around. The café was probably a prime location for anyone disembarking, but there were few choices and he wanted to be out of sight before the driver returned. He walked with purpose to the door, no running or skulking, just a normal gait, if hurried due to the temperature.

A cheery bell over the door signaled his entrance and the woman behind the counter looked up. The sign said this was a breakfast and lunch only venue. He was lucky the place was still open. Her eyes seemed to lighten when she spotted him, and she smiled. He didn’t know her. He didn’t know anyone in this town. Hell, he hadn’t even learned the name of the town until the bus driver announced it as he parked, but her acknowledgement seemed to lift his mood a little as well. That was strange, his mood had been subterranean for a long time.

Jason still nearly backed out. The aromas were overpowering, and he didn’t have the funds for any of them. He had the money for a cup of coffee at least, though not much more. Only one other couple remained in the café. The lunch rush was over. And he had nowhere else to go.

Jason approached the counter and the woman’s smile warmed. “Could I get a cup of coffee?”