Loose Ends

PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF TARA JANZEN

BREAKING LOOSE

“Janzen adds a potential woo-woo twist to her latest high-stakes SDF adventure, in which everyone is after an ancient Egyptian statue that may hold the key to immortality. Besides doing her usual excellent combo of fast-paced action and passionate sizzle, Janzen also throws in a major series twist. Fans will be elated!”


Romantic Times

“Reading a Tara Janzen novel is like eating an ice-cream sundae. Each spoonful delivers a sensuous treat while uncovering another tantalizing experience.
Breaking Loose
is an enthralling story.… Fantastic story, memorable characters and an ending that leaves you breathless, Tara Janzen delivers a top-notch read.”

—Night Owl Romance

LOOSE AND EASY

“Hot, fast, and sexy.”

—C
INDY
G
ERARD
,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Sexual tension crackles and snaps.… Crossing and double-crossing is on most of the characters’ agendas, which keeps the pace fast and the action sharp.… Janzen’s place in the romantic suspense pantheon is assured.”


Romantic Times

CUTTING LOOSE

“Bad boys are hot, and they don’t come any hotter than the Steele Street gang. This high-octane chase drama accelerates out of the starting gate and doesn’t look back.… This novel is smoking in the extreme!”


Romantic Times


Cutting Loose
 … is a wonderful, fast-paced, and exciting read.”

—Fresh Fiction

“Tara Janzen once again takes readers on a nonstop thrill ride … an exciting and engaging story. Don’t miss
Cutting Loose
!”

—Romance Reviews Today

ON THE LOOSE

“[A] wildly romantic thriller.”


Booklist

“Nonstop action, a mysterious mission and a rekindled romance make
On the Loose
a winner.”

—Romance Reviews Today

CRAZY HOT

“A cast of memorable characters in a tale of fast-paced action and eroticism.”


Publishers Weekly

“Edgy, sexy, and fast. Leaves you breathless!”

—J
AYNE
A
NN
K
RENTZ
,
New York Times
bestselling author

CRAZY COOL

“Wild nonstop action, an interesting subplot, a tormented-but-honorable and brilliant bad boy and a tough girl, and great sex scenes make Janzen’s … romance irresistible.”


Booklist

CRAZY WILD

“While keeping the tension and thrills high, Janzen excels at building rich characters whose lives readers are deeply vested in. Let’s hope she keeps ’em coming!”


Romantic Times

CRAZY KISSES

“The high-action plot, the savage-but-tender hero, and the wonderfully sensuous sex scenes, Janzen’s trademarks, make this as much fun as the prior Crazy titles.”


Booklist

CRAZY LOVE

“Readers [will] instantly bond with [Janzen’s] characters. Driving action and adventure laced with hot passion add up to big-time fun.”


Romantic Times

CRAZY SWEET

“Exciting and adventurous suspense with nonstop action that will keep readers riveted. I highly recommend it, and can’t wait to read more.”

—Romance Reviews Today

BY TARA JANZEN

Loose Ends
Breaking Loose
Loose and Easy
Cutting Loose
On the Loose
Crazy Sweet
Crazy Love
Crazy Kisses
Crazy Wild
Crazy Cool
Crazy Hot

Loose Ends
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Dell Mass Market Original

Copyright © 2011 by Glenna McReynolds

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Dell, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

D
ELL
is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc., and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

eISBN: 978-0-440-33967-0

Cover photograph: © age fotostock / SuperStock

www.bantamdell.com

v3.1

For all the readers who made the Crazy/Loose series such a great and awesome ride. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

TJ
xxoo

Contents
CHAPTER
ONE

Lost boys
.

Dylan Hart sat in the deepening gloom of his thirteenth-floor penthouse at 738 Steele Street, his gaze fixed on the large, dark painting hanging high up in the pipes and rafters criss-crossing the vaulted space of his ceiling.

He’d hung it there years ago, all twelve by eight feet of it, so he would never forget the price some men paid. The price they’d all paid. Now he had to wonder for what: freedom? justice?

Maybe.

A few times over the last fourteen years he’d believed in justice, maybe a few more times in freedom, but overall, he’d never been that naïve, not even in the beginning of his military career, when Special Defense Force, SDF, had first been created. The world revolved on power and the ties that bound men together, and Dylan was bound to the man in the painting: J. T. Chronopolous,
The Guardian
, wielding a broadsword in his hands, dressed in black jeans and a black T-shirt with his dark wings spread out on either side of his body, the feathers dragging the ground, an angel god of retribution without mercy.

Merciless
—God knew the world was that and worse … far worse.

A heavy sigh escaped him, and he slid deeper into one of the overstuffed leather chairs in his living room, slid deeper into the ocean of guilt waiting to drown him.

Jesus, sweet Jesus, what have I done?

His throat was tight.

To die was one thing. Everyone in Special Defense Force, a black ops team run out of the underbelly of the United States Department of Defense,
his
team, knew their life was on the line for the job, and they’d all signed on willingly. Hell, they’d signed on eagerly, then trained their guts out, through blood and sweat and the crucible of their own experience to keep death at bay. They won their fights. They’d always won—except once.

He lifted his hand to his face and covered his eyes, let his palm rest there, a shield against the hard truth scrolling down the screen of his computer, the results of an eight-month investigation.

“This is ugly, Dylan, and it’s only going to get uglier,” said the woman who’d spent the day decrypting the files he’d brought with him from Washington, D.C. She was sitting across from him, blond and beautiful, dressed in a pair of bad-girl high heels and a simple, incredibly expensive gray dress that fit her like a glove. “Randolph Lancaster needs to have an accident, a very bad accident. Gillian and I can get on a plane to Washington tonight. No one else ever needs to know. We can survive this.”

Assassination of a top-level U.S. government official, that’s what she was proposing; that she and Gillian Pentycote, an SDF operator known as Red Dog, go to Washington, D.C., and rig Randolph Lancaster’s car to fail, or arrange for him to go swimming one night in his pool stone-cold drunk, with too much precisely administered alcohol in his blood, and drown. Or maybe one of the girls would take him out on his sailboat and drop him over the side, while the other shadowed them in a getaway speedboat.

Either of those plans was a better death than Lancaster deserved.

Through his own auspices at State, and through his “foreign policy adjustments” using a legion of pawns put at his disposal by the various intelligence agencies of the U.S. government, most notably the CIA, Randolph Lancaster had accumulated millions of dollars selling American soldiers through a company called LeedTech.

Lost boys
—and none more lost than J.T., because of a LeedTech contract with a Southeast Asian company called Atlas Exports.

Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, a quarter of a million, the price of a man’s life—the computer had over a hundred invoices for the sale and delivery of over a hundred extremely skilled, superlatively fit soldiers to Atlas for “enhancement and experimental use,” each invoice tagged with a coded Department of Defense Special Operations Forces (SOF) identification number.

Dylan’s team in Denver, Colorado, comprised eleven elite SOF soldiers, and six years ago one team member’s coded ID number had been duly printed on an Atlas Exports invoice—J.T.’s number. He’d been sold by Lancaster as military chattel, set up to disappear during a sanctioned mission in Colombia and be sent to Southeast Asia.

He’d been sold out while under Dylan’s command—and then everything had gone even more horrendously, sickeningly wrong.

Dylan slid his hand down to cover his mouth for a moment and lifted his gaze to the woman across from him. She was right. Lancaster needed to be brought down.

Geezus
. The depth of the betrayal was numbing.

Randolph Lancaster had been a friend.

Enhancement and experimental use
—he knew exactly what the words meant. On the computer screen, on an
Atlas Exports invoice dated three years ago, he’d seen his own coded SOF ID number typed across the top of a page.

Sometimes, at night, the bite of the needle would come to him again, waking him with a scream lodged in his throat, his body drenched in sweat. More pain than what he’d been subjected to was literally beyond his imagination. Yet he knew J.T. had suffered much more, torture beyond bearing, transformation beyond reversal. J.T. had been changed into someone else, something else, a half-man/half-genetically altered beast going by the name Conroy Farrel, and that creature was on the loose, out there somewhere in the world and closing in on Denver. Dylan knew it down to his bones. He’d been the one to bait the trap, and “the bait” was showing all the signs of impending escape—heightened alertness, hours spent either pacing or standing stock-still, looking out toward the windows, refusing to speak. Somehow, somewhere, even with her locked deep inside Steele Street, incarcerated on the tenth floor, Conroy Farrel had communicated with Scout Leesom. The message would have been simple: “I’m coming to get you.”

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