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Drenched in Black: A YA Action Adventure Novel (Courting Disaster Book 2)

Drenched in Black: A YA Action Adventure Novel (Courting Disaster Book 2)

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Revenge is a dangerous road. Will it end in redemption or ruin?

Simon has threatened their family and loved ones one time too many. Now it's time for payback.

Main Tropes

  • Family of Spies
  • Diverse Cast of Characters
  • Blackmail
  • Double Agent
  • Car Chases
  • Madman

Synopsis

Simon got away...But not for long.

Nothing means more to Kat and Dagger than family. Nothing.

And Simon has threatened their family and loved ones one time too many. Now it's time for payback.

When they discover Simon is one step ahead of them--again-- Kat and Courtney decide to find the mole in the AGENCY that's feeding Simon all their secrets. But can they stop the mole in time? Or will another near and dear to everyone's heart be buried in an unmarked grave? Will it mark the beginning of Courtney's ruin? And can Kat keep the AGENCY together without it fracturing into a million pieces?

DRENCHED IN BLACK, the second installment of the Courting Disaster series, is a high-paced YA suspense thriller filled with car chases, fight scenes, and adrenaline-pumping action to keep you glued to the story well past your bedtime.

Intro Into Chapter 1

Let Go of Your Fear

#Kat

"Learn to let go of your fear," Kenny says as he stares down at me. I’m half floating, half floundering in a lap pool with him holding onto my waist to keep me from sinking in over my head.

My heart races and I gasp as I cling to his massive, tan arms with tribal tattoos covering his
skin. Looking up at him, he reminds me of Maui, the demigod, with his long curly black hair pulled back into a bun, wide nose, brown eyes, and a body the size of a boulder.

Ever since breaking my back over two months ago, I've endured a grueling schedule of doctors' appointments, therapies, strength building, and the brace from hell. But the atrophy in my muscles astonishes—and horrifies me— more than the rest of it combined.

"Psht. Relax. Easy for you to say. You can use your legs," I mutter.

“You don't need your legs to swim in the pool.” One side of his mouth tips upwards. "It makes it easier though."

“Says the physical therapist with a perfectly functioning body.”

Kenny rolls his eyes. “Says the physical therapist who has a doctorate and knows what he’s
doing. Quit your bellyaching and move those muscles.”

His hands loosen on my waist, sending me into a frenzied panic. "No. Don't. I'm not ready!"

Kenny sighs. "We've been here for twenty minutes. It's now or never. I've told you what to do. Now do it."

My lips tremble. I don't know why swimming scares me to death, but it does. Maybe it's because I’m not in control. I either swim or die. And I don't
have the muscle mass or coordination to stay afloat for any decent length of time. Plus, I’m not in the mood to die today. Or ever. And certainly not in a pool filled with kids wearing inflatable armbands and blowing bubbles in the water. Probably peeing too. Ugh. Death by pee water. Not a dignified way to die.

His hand loosens further, and I bite back my terror, taking a gasping breath just before my head sinks under the water. My stomach knots and adrenaline surges through my veins, skyrocketing my fear. Clenching my teeth, I use my hands to position my belly to arch toward the ceiling until I'm sort of floating. The water covers my nose and mouth only occasionally. But my body buoys to the surface often enough that I can sneak a frenzied breath to keep from drowning.

“Good. That wasn't so hard, was it?” Kenny says from where he’s standing next to me.

My head dips below the water and I open my mouth, filling it before arching my back and drifting back to the surface. I spit the water in his direction. “I'm having a fantastic time,” I say between pursed lips.

He chuckles. “Suck it up, Buttercup. Do the backstroke to the edge of the pool. I'll meet you there.”

I tamp down the ever-present panic in my stomach.

He's always been next to me or has me using a boogie board. All by myself? I’m gonna die. One way or another, he’s gonna kill me today. Is it too much to want
to live to see another day?

My hands tremble, and I press my eyes closed. You can do
this. You can do this.
I repeat my mantra over and over in my
mind, hoping it will keep me from hyperventilating.

I raise a tanned hand over my head in a windmill motion, just like my mother taught me when I
learned to swim as a kid. I concentrate on trying to kick my legs, but they're more dead weight than a propeller. My muscles still won’t cooperate the way I want them to.

Before long I'm gasping. My lungs hurt and my muscles scream. I spend more time underwater, fighting to breach the surface than doing the strokes necessary to reach the other end.

“Don’t quit!” Kenny yells from the other side. He’s way too far away to be of any use if I go under and don’t come back up.

If I weren’t in a pool, I’d be sweating buckets. My breaths come in gasps now. My strokes are more like flailing limbs. I must’ve gone a mile. Maybe two. Why the crap haven’t I hit the wall yet? Am I swimming in circles?

I glance up at the ceiling. This is the last thing I’m going to see before I die. Some stupid rooftop filled with I- beams and insulation that nobody bothered to decorate for those of us who die underneath it.

I hate Kenny. I hate having a broken back. I hate that I never had a chance to kill Vel or Simon before they escaped.

“C’mon, Kat! Just a few more feet,” Kenny says, his voice louder now. My panic attack lessens to a minor freak-out.

“You’re almost there,” Henry calls. He sounds close to Kenny. Maybe if I’m lucky Henry will Hearing Henry’s voice is the most beautiful thing I’ve heard all morning.

I look up, searching for his face, and find it upside down in my vision. Henry’s smiling, his arms outstretched to me. He has his black hair gelled into the fauxhawk I love and is in a white
T-shirt.

I flail my arms in the water slowly dragging myself along the surface toward him like an injured seal until I scrape my knuckles against the rough cement wall. With the last of
my reserves, I pull myself to the safety of the ledge.

Gasping for air, I close my eyes. Sweet, beautiful oxygen. It seems to take forever for my breathing to return to normal. I am so freaking out of shape. How did I go from an elite military fighter to barely surviving half a lap in the pool?

“Wow!” Henry says above me. “You’re making some serious progress, girl.”

“Thanks,” I say between gulps of air.

I clench my teeth, fighting the frustration and the headache I now have from practically
hyperventilating.

Use this. Use this resentment to fuel the fire you need to heal from this broken back. Courtney is waiting for you. Your life with Henry is waiting for you. All of your friends are waiting for you. And you can shove it in Dad's face that once again, you overcame impossible odds and wound up on top.

“There are no breaks,” Kenny says, dropping his feet into the water next to me. “If you're gonna eat bon bons over here, you'd better share them with me. Otherwise, do another backstroke to the other end.”

I glance up at Henry and roll my eyes before I kick away from the wall. It’s more like drifting away, but I’ll take every inch I get at this point. I struggle to get my legs  in  the  proper  position  and  close  my eyes, concentrating on my leg muscles, even if they are Jell-O in the water.

“Hey! You guys started without me?” A voice says from the other end of the pool.

A grin washes over my face.
I could recognize that ten-year-old's voice anywhere. I want to turn and greet Courtney—give her a little sass, but I can't. My body refuses to cooperate, so I muscle my way down to the edge
of the pool.

Kenny's not paying attention to me anymore. I stop several feet short of the wall and slowly bob to the edge, using my hands for balance and direction. Thank goodness I’m buoyant in the water.

Courtney waits for me on the side of the pool, in a sparkly pink swimsuit, arm floaties (lucky
girl), goggles resting on top of her head, and a life jacket. Her feet are in the water, slowly kicking in the waves.

Behind her, Henry has changed into a white tank top and swim trunks. My mouth waters and my
cheeks warm. Oh, my word, he is one sexy Asian.

I smile up at Henry. “Hey.”

He grins. “Hey. You guys almost done? Can we join the fun?”

“Are we?” I ask, glancing at Kenny.

“Sure,” he says with a glint in his eyes. “As soon you make it over and back without my help again.”

I groan. “I'm never getting out of this pool.”

“Quit your bellyaching, Kat. The cavalry isn't coming. You've gotta do this yourself. Make those arms and legs work!”

I grit my teeth, resisting the urge to splash him. He's right. But I don't have to like it.

I glance up at Courtney and force a smile as I nod to her life jacket. “Taking a few precautions, boss?”

Courtney scowls. “Absolutely not.” She leans forward and brings her hand up to her lips as if to whisper. “I'm afraid of the water.”

I nod conspiratorially. “Amen, girl. Right now, I'm not fond of it either. But sometimes we have to do hard things.”

“If you can do it, I can do it. Right?” she says, her lips tipping into a frown. She pulls her long brown hair into a ponytail and fiddles with the goggles hanging from her neck.

“Absolutely,” I say.

She sighs and looks up at Henry. “You coming in too?”

Henry motions to his shorts. “I ain't wearing these for my health.”

“Good. I might need you to distract Kenny if I have to escape,” Courtney says, glancing sidelong at the Samoan.

Henry laughs. “Nah, girl. You're on your own with Kenny. I'm gonna help Kat with the rest of her PT.”

Courtney huffs and plants her hands on her hips. “Traitor.”

“Your mom is right. You've gotta get over your fear of water and learn how to swim. It's an
important skill. You never know when I'll have to throw you off a bridge to avoid an explosion or something.”

“Not funny, Henry. You're gonna jinx us.” Courtney glances around as if someone’s going to jump out and grab her.

Henry laughs again. “There hasn't been a trace of Simon or Vel in weeks. You're safe for now.”

She narrows her eyes. “For now. But I should be spending my time running the A.G.E.N.C.Y. not
taking stupid swimming lessons.”

“The A.G.E.N.C.Y. will run fine for an hour without you,” Henry says.

“I agree.” Kenny scoops Courtney up into his thick, arms. “Plus, I promised your dad I'd get you
dunking your head while he was away.”

Courtney looks up at him and her face pales. “You did?”

“Absolutely. He has a whole list of stuff we're supposed to do while he's away. But we can’t do them unless you’re dunking your head,” Kenny says, wagging
his finger at her.

Courtney whimpers. "I'm scared. What if I breathe in water?"

"You won't breathe in any water. I'll be right here helping you."

I narrow my eyes at Kenny. “You said the same thing to me. And now look. I’m swimming to the other side with you nowhere in
sight!” I point a finger at Courtney in mock severity. “Don’t trust him. He’ll get you all comfortable and then BAM!
Swimming all by yourself.”

She grips his shoulders and whimpers again. “Can we do this another day?"

Kenny gives me a warning look and then says to Courtney. "Sorry, munchkin. Today is the day you dunk your head. Besides, would you rather be sparring?"

“That’s the only thing I hate more than swimming,” she groans. “Why do I have to spar? Isn’t that why I have Kat and Henry and you?”

“It’s always good to be prepared for anything. And I promised your dad I’d whip you into
shape.”

“I’d rather you just whip me,” she mutters.

“You’re right. Sparring is horrible. We’ll concentrate on dunking for now, and do that other nasty ‘ol stuff tomorrow.”

Courtney grabs his neck in a vice grip. "No!"

Kenny slowly drifts toward the middle of the pool. “You'll be safe. I promise."

Boy, do I feel for Courtney. Heaven knows I’ve wanted to grab hold of Kenny a few times and not let go.

Kenny looks at me and motions with his head. "Get going, girl. Those laps aren’t going to do
themselves. And now you’re doing two."

I sigh.

Henry rips off his tank top, drops it on the cement next to the pool, and jumps into the water next to me.

I barely notice the scars on his chest and torso because I'm too focused on his muscles and new
tattoos, making him look dangerous. My eyes travel up his skin and rest on his lips. They’re quirked into a half smile.

"Want a picture?" he asks.

"Nah-uh. I'd rather read by braille."

His eyes widen and he chuckles.
“Tsk tsk. The little girl is only feet from us."

I quirk an eyebrow. "She's too busy strangling Kenny to pay
attention to us."

His eyes flash over my shoulder and he chuckles. "Kenny’s got his hands full for sure."

"How come Courtney hasn’t learned to swim before now?” I say, half-walking and half-swimming toward him until we’re close enough to touch.

Henry glances over my shoulder again and cocks his head. “She’s scared to death of water. But
Marc’s never said why.”

I inch closer to him until I can feel his body heat, but we aren’t quite touching. “And how’s work been?”

Henry shrugs. "Not much is new. We know Simon is looking for Aleasha's little brother, Nathan.
But Nate is off-grid, and we haven't seen him anywhere for weeks. Vel either. Courtney has
everyone running in a million different directions trying to dig up leads."

He puts his hands around my waist, pulling me closer. "They’ll show up again soon. I'm sure
of it."

He plants a light kiss on my forehead. "You coming back to the office soon? Everyone misses you."

"I don't know. I'm still in a wheelchair and can only walk
a couple steps at a time. If I go in, I’ll be in the way. "

"You won't be in the way. We
need your brain and your perspective. You’re a valuable part of our team." He kisses
my nose. "Besides, I miss you. It's not the same flinging crap at Giselle. She cries. You fight back until I cry."

"I don't know whether to feel honored or horrified," I say, looking up into his brown eyes.

Henry opens his mouth to say something, and I shake my head. "Nope. I'm horrified. Let's get these laps done so I can get away from you, weirdo."

"Whatever. You know you love me."

I swim to the far edge of the pool and am nearly back to Henry when the screaming starts.

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