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Desperate Play - Signed

Desperate Play - Signed

Regular price $15.99 USD
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"DESPERATE PLAY is so good! If you like suspense, lies, betrayal, action, and love, then you will love this book." Becky - Goodreads


When will I receive my signed print book?

Please allow 7-10 days for delivery of autographed book if in the U.S. International Delivery can take approximately 2 weeks.

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Words cannot explain how phenomenal this book was. The characters are so believable and relatable. The twists and turns keep you on the edge of your seat and flying through the pages. This is one book you should be desperate to read." Caroline

Special Agent Wyatt Tanner has always worked undercover. He thrives in the dark of the night. He survives by turning himself into someone else. But living so long in the shadows can make a man forget who he really is. When people start dying, when he finds blood on his own hands, he questions the choices he has made, the people he is with.

Can he find his way back to the light? Can he trust the beautiful woman who needs his help? Or does she also have a secret life?

He'll have to make one desperate play to find out…

Don't miss this undercover, suspenseful tale of espionage and unexpected romance from #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy! For fans of Allison Brennan, Lisa Gardner, Iris Johansen, Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts

What the readers are saying about DESPERATE PLAY…

"Barbara Freethy's books never disappoint, and this one 
will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they navigate the tangled web Avery and Wyatt find themselves in." Stacey – Goodreads on DESPERATE PLAY

"DESPERATE PLAY is the 3rd book in Barbara Freethy’s Off the Grid series and it did not disappoint! 
I’ve read all the books and each one is amazing!" Mindy – Goodreads

fast-paced and full of suspense. You find yourself second guessing the characters’ actions, trying to piece together the clues and find out who the traitor is." Polly - Goodreads

Chapter One

As the sun rose over Manhattan Beach, Wyatt Tanner adjusted the baseball hat on his head and changed positions on the very uncomfortable bench upon which he'd spent the past few hours. It was a little before seven, and he was happy to see the city waking up. He was itchy to get the day going. 

He pulled a granola bar out of his weathered, green seabag and downed it in two bites, then tossed the wrapper into the nearby overflowing trash can. The food did little to ease the gnawing hunger in his gut. He'd always been a big breakfast person, and right now visions of eggs, bacon, hash browns, and pancakes with powdered sugar and hot maple syrup floated through his head. 

Later, he told himself, not sure that was a promise he would keep. But he'd told so many lies in his life, what was one more? 

He ran a hand through his dirty, brown hair and wondered how the hell he'd gotten here. It was a thought that had been running through his head far too frequently the past several months. Of course, he knew how he'd gotten here, but sometimes the twists and turns his life had taken seemed surreal, even to him. 

But he couldn't get lost in the past.

An old minivan pulled into the parking lot behind him. Three young males tumbled out of the van along with a few empty beer cans. He hoped those were from the night before.

The men pulled on wetsuits, grabbed their surfboards and headed across the sand. They were young, ripped, full of life, and cocky as hell. 

He could almost remember that feeling… 

Not that he was old, but this morning he was feeling every day of his thirty-two years. 

As the wind picked up, he zipped up his weathered bomber jacket, and was happy he wasn't out on the ocean today. It was November, for God's sake. This might be Southern California, and while the temp was supposed to get up into the low seventies today, it was only in the fifties now, and the sea was ice-cold. But he could understand the lure of the waves, the adrenaline rush that came from battling Mother Nature. Since he'd come to California, he'd been out on those waves more than once, impatiently waiting for the ride of his life. Usually, the ocean did not disappoint.

He sat up straighter as a black Escalade pulled into the lot a few spots away from the mini-van. The driver, a male in his mid-forties, wearing a conservative gray suit, got out from behind the wheel and moved around the front of the car to open the back door. 

An older man stepped onto the pavement, his hair white, his skin tan, and his body lean in his black wetsuit. The man had probably fifty years on the three teenagers who had hit the beach before him, but there was excitement in his expression as his gaze moved toward the large waves crushing the beach. It wasn't a day for amateurs, but clearly this man did not fall into that category.

The driver handed the man his surfboard and then said, "You need anything else for now, Mr. Tremaine?"

"No, thanks, Robert. Go have your coffee. I won't be more than a half hour. Busy day today."

"Enjoy yourself," Robert replied, before heading down the strand toward a beachside café a quarter of a mile away.  

The older man ran a reverent hand down his board and smiled to himself. He was clearly looking forward to riding the waves. But as he picked up the board, a dark SUV came speeding into the lot, stopping directly behind the Escalade, rather than pulling into an adjacent parking spot. 

Wyatt's gut clenched. Trouble was coming. 

The two men who exited the vehicle looked more like thugs than surfers, wearing jeans and dark jackets, baseball caps on their heads, dark sunglasses covering their eyes. As they moved toward the Escalade, the taller man pulled out a gun.  

He jumped to his feet. 

The older man suddenly realized the danger he was in as the shorter man ripped the surfboard away from him, tossing it onto the ground while his friend shoved the older gentleman up against the side of the car, pressing the gun into his side. 

Wyatt wasn't about to let the man be robbed, kidnapped or carjacked. No one was paying any attention to him. He was just another homeless person on the beach. 

He took a wide circle around the van, so he could creep up behind the shorter man. He grabbed him by both shoulders and bounced his head off the side of the car. The man groaned and slumped to the ground.

The taller man heard the commotion, turned toward him, gun in hand.

He rushed forward, slamming into the arm that held the gun, the weapon falling to the ground. He kicked it away as the other man threw a fist at his face.

He winced, dodging a second too late to avoid contact. 

Then he reared back and landed a blow of his own. The man stumbled backward, hitting the side of the car, before racing back toward his vehicle. His fellow assailant also stumbled toward the car. They took off with a squeal of tires.

Wyatt looked down at the older man who was leaning against the side of the car, looking shocked and scared, his face as white as his hair. 

"Are you all right?" he asked.

The man struggled to get out the words. "You saved my life. Those men came out of nowhere." 

"Right place at the right time," he said with a shrug. "What happened to your driver?"

"Robert went to get coffee. I need to call 911. My phone. Damn. I don't have it with me. Do you have one?"

"Nope. I'm traveling light these days. Just me and my duffel." He tipped his head toward the bench where his duffel seemed to be drawing the interest of a homeless person, who had wandered down the beach. He jogged over and grabbed it, urging the other man to keep moving. 

The older man came up next to him. "I want to thank you," he said, sincerity in his bright-blue eyes. 

"Not necessary."

The man's gaze fell to the military insignia on his seabag. "You're a Marine?"

"Was," he said.

"So was I—about forty years ago." The man extended his hand. "I'm Hamilton Tremaine."

"Nice to meet you," he said, not really surprised by the firm handshake. 

"And you are…"

"Wyatt Tanner."

"Do you live around here?"

"Some days," he said vaguely.

The man's gaze sharpened. "You're homeless?"

"Let's just say I'm between jobs and apartments."

"Come back to the car with me. I may have left my phone at home, but I have my wallet."

He quickly put up a hand. "No. I appreciate the offer, but I don't take charity, Mr. Tremaine."

"Call it a thank-you gift."

"I'm glad you're okay. That's all the thanks I need, especially knowing you're a fellow Marine." 

"I need to give you more than my thanks. My driver usually acts as my bodyguard. But I've never had any trouble down here in the early mornings. I always send him off for coffee while I surf. I should have been more careful." His gaze darkened. "I've become predictable. If you hadn't been here…well, I don't know what would have happened."

"You should be careful, especially if you're the kind of man who needs a bodyguard." 

"You haven't heard of me?" Hamilton asked, giving him a thoughtful look. 

"Sorry. I've been out of touch the last few years."

"Where did you serve?" 

"Afghanistan. I was in Intelligence—MCIA," he said, referring to the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity division.

"Why did you leave?"

He let out a heavy sigh. "I was injured in an ambush. Explosion took away my hearing for a while. It eventually came back but not in time to pass the physical."

"And you haven't been able to find a job since you got home?"

"It's been a rough couple of months, but I'll figure it out."

"Sure. Do you have family?"

"No, it's just me. But I'm fine with that." 

"Well, I'm not fine with it. Let me help you, Mr. Tanner."

"That's very generous of you, but I can take care of myself." He grabbed his bag. "I'm going to head out."  

"No. I'm not letting you leave," Hamilton said forcefully. "And I have more to offer you than charity; I run a very successful company. I'm sure we can find a job for an ex-Marine. In fact, I could use someone like you on my security team. My long-time security director just decided to retire and move to Florida with his wife, and I've been on the look-out for a replacement."

"Seriously? I am willing to work. But not if it's a job you're just making up for charity."

"It's definitely not that. You're a soldier. You know how to fight. And I know I can trust a fellow Marine to have my back."

"Always," he said. "But I don't want to take advantage. I'm sure you have other people in your company who can do the job."

"Sometimes it's good to have an outsider's objective opinion." He paused. "You risked your life to save mine. Not many men are willing to do that. Putting you to work is the least I can do. Why don't we walk down to the café, and I'll get my—" Hamilton stopped abruptly as his driver came running down the path. 

"Is this man bothering you?" the driver asked aggressively, giving him a hard look. 

"He's not bothering me. He just saved my life. I was assaulted by two men, one of whom put a gun in my side, but this man ran them off. Wyatt Tanner, meet my driver, Robert Burton."

He inclined his head as Robert turned pale. 

Robert gave his employer a searching look. "Are you hurt? Were you robbed?" 

"No. Like I said, Mr. Tanner ran them off. I was just coming to get you. We need to call 911."

"I'm on it," Robert replied, taking out his phone. 

Hamilton put his surfboard in the back of the vehicle and then grabbed Wyatt's bag from his hands and tossed it in the backseat. "I still have my seabag in a closet at home. My wife used to threaten to throw it away every other year, but I just couldn't let her do it." He paused. "I was in Vietnam. Drafted. Wasn't my idea to serve, but I'm a better man for it. What about you?"

"I enlisted at nineteen. And I'm a better man for it, too."

A gleam of understanding entered Hamilton's eyes. "Glad to hear you say that."

Two police cars pulled into the lot a moment later. After hearing Hamilton's name, the officers became much more interested in what had happened. 

They each gave their statements. Unfortunately, neither he nor Hamilton Tremaine had seen the license plate number on the car, and their descriptions of the attackers could probably match hundreds of men in the Los Angeles area. 

Wyatt kept his answers as short as possible, and when the police asked for an address where they could reach him, he gave the name of a motel a few blocks away. It didn't really matter. The officers were far more interested in talking to Hamilton. One seemed particularly star struck and mentioned several times how excited he was about Hamilton's private aerospace company Nova Star. 

Tremaine had pulled himself together since the attack, speaking forcefully and articulately now that the shock of what had almost happened wore off. He admitted that the attack had felt targeted and personal, and Wyatt certainly didn't disagree. But he doubted the police would come even close to finding Hamilton's attackers.

As the officers left, Hamilton insisted Wyatt get into the Escalade. 

He attempted one last protest. "I appreciate the offer of a possible job, but I'd like to get cleaned up, so I don't scare your human resource people. Perhaps I could come down to your office later today."

"Do you have somewhere to go and do that?" Hamilton asked.

"There's a shelter a few blocks away."

Hamilton shook his head. "No way. We'll go to my house."

"Mr. Tremaine—can I speak to you for a moment?" Robert interrupted. 

"I know what you're going to say," Hamilton replied, giving Robert a hard look. "But this man saved my life."

"You don't know anything about him," Robert said in a hushed voice that Wyatt could clearly hear.

"I know he's a Marine. That's good enough for me."

"But you can't just take him to your house."

"He's right," Wyatt said quickly. "I'll go to the shelter—"

"You'll go to a hotel," Hamilton said. "We'll check you in, drop you off, and cover any food you need. When you're ready, we'll set you up with an interview. And I'm not taking no for an answer. So, get in the car."

"All right. But the hotel doesn't have to be fancy." 

Hamilton smiled. "Trust me. It will be just what you need."

* * *

Fifteen minutes later, Wyatt realized that just what he needed was a one-bedroom suite in a five-star hotel on Santa Monica Beach with a complimentary fruit basket that was apparently the precursor to a deluxe breakfast that would be on its way up shortly. 

After checking out the view from his ocean-facing balcony, Wyatt went back into the living room and unzipped a pocket inside his seabag. He took out a small phone and punched in a short text. 

I'm almost in. 

The text that came back was filled with swear words, followed by…

You broke my nose

He felt only marginally guilty. You've needed a nose job for a while. 

I told you to watch the face. Where are you?

The Beaumont. Going to get cleaned up before my job interview with the very grateful Hamilton Tremaine.

Next time I get to be the bum to the rescue. 

He didn't reply, just put the phone away and headed for the shower. Then he was going to have a really big breakfast.

THE FBI SERIES takes readers on thrilling, romantic, and suspenseful adventures! While an overarching mystery plays out over the first five novels, every story stands completely on its own and there are no cliffhangers! The books feature complex and exciting storylines ranging from kidnapping to organized crime, terrorism, and espionage. Personal stories often play out against a bigger, broader storyline, and surprising twists will keep you up all night. Start reading today!

Check out more books in the series!

  • Perilous Trust
  • Reckless Whisper
  • Desperate Play
  • Elusive Promise
  • Dangerous Choice
  • Ruthless Cross
  • Critical Doubt
  • Fearless Pursuit
  • Daring Deception
  • Risky Bargain
  • Perfect Target
  • Fatal Betrayal
  • Deadly Trap