Rapture The Teplo Trilogy #3
by Ayden K. Morgen Genre: Romantic Suspense
Four months ago, DEA agent Tristan Riley nearly lost his life and the disabled ballerina who stole his heart. Now his relationship with Lillian Maddox is stronger than ever, and he wants nothing more than to put Teplo and the Vetrov case behind him. But when Elijah Noel and the deadly Vetrov drug appear in Los Angeles, Tristan is thrust right back into the middle of his worst nightmare.
In order to stop a vicious gang war and keep the drug out of Pedro Francisco's hands, the DEA agent finds himself wading into unfamiliar gang territory. The stakes are high, and the body count is even higher. Los Angeles is nothing like Seattle…and Francisco's people are a whole new level of terrifying.
When the DEA jeopardizes Lillian's safety and loses their one shot at finding the Vetrov drug, Tristan walks away from his job to save her life. With a rogue ATF agent and Michael Kincaid at his side, he will stop at nothing to bring her home safely.
Outnumbered, outgunned, and with his back against the wall, Tristan will find his resolve tested in ways he never could have imagine. Making a deal with the devil was never in his plans, but he'll do whatever it takes to save his ballerina one last time…even if he has to catapult the entire West Coast into a drug war unlike they've ever seen.
Roman strolled across the barren waiting room, headed for the desk separated from the rest of the room by bullet-proof glass. Tristan followed behind him, glancing around. Like most jails, this one wasn't anything to write home about. The chairs were bolted to the floor. A few grimy magazines were littered around, most torn and illegible from heavy use. Large signs were posted throughout the room, warning visitors of the strict rules and the consequences of violating them. Cameras were positioned high up on the cinderblock walls, capturing every angle of the room.
"Roman Gregory, ATF. And Tristan Riley, DEA. We're here to see Jesus de Silva. They should be expecting us." Using one finger, Roman lifted the chain around his neck for the visitation clerk to inspect his badge.
Her bored gaze flickered over his shield before she lifted her expectant gaze to Tristan. He held his badge up for the same disinterested inspection.
"Are you taking anything in with you?"
"Just the case file and my car key." Roman tapped the file on the desk and then presented the key in question.
The clerk barely glanced at it before sliding a sign-in sheet across the desk toward him. "Sign in here. They're taking him to interview room three. Go through the sally port, take a left, and it'll be the third room on the right."
Roman scrawled their names and the time across the visitation log before sliding it back to the woman. "Thanks, Jessie."
They walked in silence through the waiting room and then to their third set of metal detectors for the day, dropping their badges, the case file, and Roman's car key into a plastic bin. Tristan sighed loudly when the metal pins in his arm set the damn thing off and he had to explain, yet again, why the wand kept triggering on his arm.
The guard examined the surgical scar carefully, like he expected Tristan to rip it open and pull out a gun or drugs. Eventually, the man grunted wordlessly and waved him through.
"Son of a bitch," he muttered, yanking the sleeve of his shirt back down.
"Makes you wonder exactly how many ways they've seen shit brought inside, doesn't it?" Roman asked, waiting for the guard to buzz them into the sally port.
"I don't even want to know." Prisoners were nothing if not creative when it came to smuggling contraband into jails. It wouldn't surprise him if one or two had tried to pull some shit like that at some point.
Once they were through the sally port and into the jail proper, the smell hit Tristan right in the gut. He'd never understand how jails could smell like industrial strength cleaner and stale urine at the same time, but somehow, they always managed to do exactly that. The combination was worse than the noxious cloud of perfume, body odor, and stale smoke that had permeated Teplo every night.
"Fair warning, de Silva doesn't like me much," Roman muttered as they made their way down the hall to the interview room.
"I dislocated his dick, and broke his jaw and both of his legs a few months ago." Roman shrugged, his expression completely stoic. "He's still bitter."
"Not very sporting of him," Tristan said. He'd already known that Roman and his former partner, Brady Kaplan, had kicked the shit out of de Silva and a handful of his buddies after Guerrero targeted Mila. From what Jason had told him, Roman was suspended for a while and Brady resigned after everything went down. For whatever reason, de Silva didn't pursue charges. The dick thing was new info though.
"He had it coming."
"I didn't even know you could dislocate a dick," Tristan muttered. The thought of de Silva's dick being out of commission for a while made him happy. He hoped the fucker never worked properly again.
"I didn't either at the time."
Tristan laughed loudly at the hint of quiet surprise in Roman's voice.
"Agent Gregory?" A rotund man popped his head out of the doorway, his gray eyes bouncing from Roman to Tristan and then back again. With a few strands of hair badly combed over his balding head and sweat staining his button down, he looked squirrely as fuck.
"That'd be me." Roman held up his shield.
"Tristan Riley," Tristan muttered to the man, not bothering to add the whole "agent" part. Over the years, he'd been called a lot of things, but nothing pissed him off more than someone calling him Agent Riley. It grated on his nerves for reasons he couldn't even explain to himself…perhaps because he'd never felt particularly worthy of the Riley name to begin with. Oddly, that wasn't the case any longer.
For once in his life, he actually thought his parents would have been proud of the man he'd become. That, he knew, was Lillian's doing. She made him see himself clearly…and he wasn't as bad as he'd always believed.
He still hated being called Agent Riley though.
"I'm William Black, Mr. de Silva's lawyer." The man held out his hand, only to lower it again when he realized neither Tristan nor Roman intended to shake it. He pursed his lips, his expression souring. "You understand he's here of his own volition to speak with you?"
"I'm sure the plea deal the D.A. offered him on the drug trafficking and weapons charges has nothing to do with his willingness to speak to us today," Roman shot right back at him.
Black's lips compressed into an even tighter line, his face going red.
"Frankly, I don't give a fuck if he's here because God told him to be here," Roman muttered, glaring down at the man. "We have questions. He has answers. Let's get this shit over with."
Black huffed and then stepped aside, allowing Roman to duck into the interview room. Tristan followed behind him, keeping as much distance between himself and Black as possible. The man smelled like piss and stale sweat.
The nondescript interview room didn't hold much. Paint peeled from the walls and an inch of dirt and grime was visible in the corners. The four chairs in the small space were bolted to the floor. So was the table in the center of the room. Two guards stood at the door on the opposite side of the room, pretending to look everywhere except at them.
The man handcuffed and shackled to the table had shaggy black hair and gang tattoos all over his face and hands. Unless Tristan missed his guess, Jesus de Silva was in his late twenties or early thirties. One of his front teeth was missing in action. The permanent sneer on his face and those hard brown eyes made him appear sullen. Intelligence shone in his eyes though, making it clear he wasn't just another gangbanger. He was smart enough to have made it damn near to the top of one of the most violent gangs in Los Angeles, and that counted for something.
"Puto," he muttered, his lips twisting into a sneer as he glared at Roman.
"Miss me, de Silva?" Roman asked, slapping the case file down onto the table.
"Fuck you, homie."
"We both know I'm not your type, de Silva. You prefer innocent teenagers, remember?" Hatred rolled through Roman's expression as he stared at the gangbanger. "You sick fuck."
"If that's how you're going to speak to my client–"
"Settle down, Black. I know his fucking rights." Roman rolled his eyes and dropped down into the chair across from de Silva. "Riley, this is Jesus. Jesus, this is Riley. He likes you about as well as my last partner did. You remember Brady, right?"
The gangbanger ignored him, his hard gaze flickering across Tristan's face. He schooled his expression quickly, but not quickly enough to hide the flare of recognition, followed by annoyance that flashed across his face.
When Black made his way around the table to take the seat beside his client, Roman caught Tristan's eye and arched a brow. Tristan nodded back before sliding into an empty chair, letting the ATF agent know he'd noticed it too.
Somehow, de Silva knew who he was and wasn't thrilled to see him here.
Wasn't that just fucking lovely?
The Teplo Trilogy #2
After Anton Vetrov brutally murders a young girl as a warning to Tristan Riley, the broken DEA agent believes the best thing for Lillian Maddox to do would be to stay far, far away from him. But Lillian knows a thing or two about fear, and she's not willing to let the man she loves push her away that easily. If he won't fight for them, she will... even if that means risking her life to prove she's strong enough to live in his world.
Her plan ends in disaster when she's dragged out of Teplo at gunpoint, forcing Tristan onto a collision course with the Vetrov family and Pedro Francisco. With nothing left to lose except the only woman who has ever mattered to him, he will do whatever it takes to stop Vetrov and Francisco from ever hurting her again.
But he doesn't know they've been waiting for him to make his move. When he does, all hell breaks loose, and his life is on the line. It's up to Lillian and the DEA to save him, and she's terrified they won't make it in time.
Thrust headlong into a violent, bloody confrontation with the Vetrov family, Lillian comes face to the face with the heartbreaking realization that maybe she doesn't belong in Tristan's world, after all. When the smoke clears, will he be able to convince his ballerina that she's the best thing for him, or will he lose her and the chance at a real future once and for all?
"Hey," he whispered, leaning back against the counter.
She didn't hesitate before walking straight to him.
His right arm went around her, gathering her close as that same strange twisting sensation hit him right in the heart. She rested her head against his chest, humming her contentment. She felt so good in his arms, warm and soft. He pressed his lips to her forehead, breathing her in. She smelled like sin, like him and her and lilacs.
"How'd you sleep, beautiful?" he asked.
"Good. I always sleep so well with you."
"Good." A pleased rumble started in his chest. He pressed his lips to her forehead again, and then her temple. "I like having you in my bed."
Jason cleared his throat, reminding Tristan he was still on the line. "I'll let you go, man. See you tonight?"
"Yeah, later." Tristan set his phone on the counter and tilted Lillian's face up to his, kissing her deeply. She tasted like mint and sugar, so sweet. When they were both breathing heavily, he broke the kiss and led her to the table before settling her into a chair.
Her blush deepened as her eyes flickered to the table and then back to him, no doubt remembering what they'd done there a few short hours ago.
He couldn't help the smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he remembered too. The feel of her gripping him, the way she cried out for him, gasping that she loved him. The look in her eyes when she'd demanded he take her…. His cock hardened at the memory of her commanding him to give her what she wanted. Christ, he'd never get enough of her.
"You hungry?" he asked, backing away before he lifted her up onto the tabletop and had her for breakfast.
"Starving," she whispered, desire turning her eyes to hazel flames. She bit her lip, her gaze roving shamelessly up and down his body.
"Behave," he growled, swiping his thumb across her bottom lip, "or I'll bend you over the table and make you scream my name again."
Ravished The Teplo Trilogy #1
When Tristan Riley drags Lillian Maddox onto the dance floor at Teplo, he intends only to protect his cover… at least that's what he tells himself. But the lovely Lillian would tempt a saint, and Tristan is far from a gentleman. Beneath the bright lights of the Vetrov family's dangerous club, the weary DEA agent finds himself captivated by the ballerina, coaxing them both into a reckless, erotic encounter.
But Tristan isn't prepared for the intense connection between him and Lillian, or for the fallout of their tryst. In a matter of days, their lives careen wildly off course, catapulting them both into a deadly game of hide and seek with the Vetrov family and one of Mexico's deadliest drug cartels.
Trying to keep his hands to himself while working alongside Lillian to stop Anton Vetrov's deadly new drug proves almost impossible for Tristan, but what choice does he have when being with her might get her killed? He should know: his entire family was murdered by people just like Anton.
When the stakes are raised and innocent lives are lost, will Tristan be able to let go of the guilt, or will he destroy his chance at happiness with Lillian before it ever truly begins?
"What?" Tristan blinked.
"I didn't stutter, Tristan," she said. "You had no right to come in here accusing me of anything when you were the one using me. And it's pathetic that you had to send your boss to admit it for you." She laughed, swiping at her eyes as if expecting to find tears there. "As if it weren't humiliating enough to find out from someone else that you're a DEA agent, or to have someone else tell me your last name after the things we did. I had to sit in a hospital bed and listen to your boss tell me you'd used me and I needed to stay the hell out of your way. You couldn't even be bothered to do that much yourself. You make me sick."
He stared at her, trying to absorb and process what she'd said.
Jason had told her that he'd used her?
"Don't you dare look at me like that," Lillian seethed, swiping at her dry eyes again. "You used me to save your own ass, and I was naïve enough to let it happen." She stopped, her shoulders slumping as if she'd run out of steam. When she met his gaze this time, the sadness and doubt in her gaze wrecked him. "Tell me one thing. Why did you pick me? Out of everyone there… was I really the one that looked the most desperate and pathetic?"
Her sad question hit him like a bullet to his gut. Eight days of guilt and resentment boiled, flashed to steam, and then erupted outward, leaving fury in its place. Fury at Jason for allowing her to believe that he'd used her, at himself for letting Jason convince him to stay away, and fury at her for believing for a second that she looked anything like the women prostituting themselves at Teplo.
"You think I used you?" he demanded, pacing toward her. If she wanted to believe he didn't care about her safety, fine. But he'd be damned if he let her believe he'd used her because she looked easy.
She backed away from him, but he was implacable.
"You think I wanted convenient or desperate? A quick fuck?"
"I know you did," she said, her chin coming up and a haughty gleam entering her eyes. She continued to back away from him, one careful step at a time.
"You know nothing!" He smiled a feral, wicked smile and kept stalking toward her. Even when her back thumped into the pale wall across the foyer, he didn't stop. He advanced until he was toe to toe with her, and her eyes were inches from his.
Her breasts grazed across his chest with every sharp exhalation of breath from her lungs. The electric hunger between them snapped and sizzled, the edges tinged an angry red. His hands came up and landed on the wall on either side of her head, trapping her beneath him.
"Let me go," she demanded, her eyes wide and her face flushed. She stood still, not even attempting to push him away. It wasn't fear that kept her there though, not of him anyway. It was fear of herself and of what she might do if she touched him.
Even if she hated him, she still wanted him. He saw that truth in her eyes, too.
A satisfied smile spread across his face.
"I may have approached you as a cover, Lillian, but that ended before I ever touched you. I buried my fingers in your body until you came because I wanted you. I dragged you to the lounge and fucked you with my tongue until you screamed because I couldn't stop thinking about you. I wanted you."
She gasped at his low, fervent words, trembled, and then clenched her jaw. Desire flared brighter in her gaze. She balled her fists, seemingly fighting for the ability to keep her hands to herself.
"Even when I thought you worked with the Vetrov family, I wanted you. Even now that you fucking hate me, I still want you." He pressed himself into her, making her feel the truth of that statement as his erection pressed into her stomach. He dropped his head, placed his lips to the shell of her ear, and nipped at her skin.
"I want to be inside of you so goddamned bad it's driving me out of my mind, beautiful."
Lillian swallowed hard and shivered, a breathless groan escaping her lips.
He hummed at her involuntary, telling reaction, and put his mouth to her skin again, unable to resist. Jesus, he wanted her. Here. Now. Against the wall with her legs around his waist and her nails digging into his back.
Wanted her until neither of them could move, let alone remember why she hated him.
"Go to hell," she whispered. Her words shook, but were no less desperate for it.
"You want me," he said, shifting his hips into her one more time. "You want me right here and now, don't you, baby?"
"No," she lied as he dragged his lips down her throat.
"You do." He ran his tongue across her skin, working his way closer to her collarbone.
"I can't stand you." She tilted her head, granting him access.
Ayden K. Morgen is the Amazon Bestselling author of the Ragnarök Prophesies series. She lives in the heart of Arkansas with her childhood sweetheart/husband of fifteen years, and their furry minions. When not writing, she spends her time hiking, reading, volunteering, causing mischief, and building a Spork army.
She graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology in 2009 before going on to complete her graduate degree in CJ and Law.
She puts her education to use as a 911 Dispatch Supervisor, where she's responsible for leading a team of dispatchers as they watch over police, EMS, and firefighters for her county. Her books feature law enforcement officers, the women who love them, and the difficult cases that drive them.
Guest Post by Ayden K. Morgen TheTeploTrilogy: Fun Facts
In the Teplo Trilogy, a DEA agent falls for a disabled ballerina on the dance floor at the night club he's investigating. Determined to keep her safe and do his job, Tristan winds up dragging Lillian into the middle of his investigation. That goes about as well as you'd expect. Tears are shed. Blood is spilled. Things explode (literally!).
The series was pretty challenging to write. I joke that none of it was my idea and I just tried to talk sense into them along the way because that's basically how the writing happened with this one. I'd have it all plotted out…and then they did whatever they wanted to do.
Here are some other fun facts about the series.
I wrote the first words of Tristan and Lillian's story over nine years ago. It started out as a short piece of fanfiction…and spiraled from there. Three books and nine years later, it's finally complete!
Tristan is the most uncooperative and frustrating character I have ever written. There were many times when my beta team had to talk me down because I was ready to off him.
Teplo means heat in the Czech language. The series is pretty steamy, so the word fit perfectly.
I'm still embarrassed that my grandma not only read the first two books of the series (sadly, she passed away before the third was complete), but then proceeded to have a conversation with me about her needing a man after reading them. So awkward!
One of my grad school professors was instrumental in the early stages of writing this series. He helped me out with the cartel research and advised me along the way. Trying to find a happy medium between reality and fiction was tough at times. He was the voice of reason when I wanted to put a little too much reality into the series.
I loved getting to add ballet to the mix in this series. I've always been a huge fan, and it was a lot of fun getting to write a character who danced for a living.
Michael Kincaid is probably one of my favorite characters ever, and is always a fan favorite. He's so over-the-top ridiculous at times during this series. I cannot wait until his book comes out later this year and everyone finally gets his story.
Lillian is kind of a badass. Tristan has a tendency to bulldoze over everyone and everything, but she stands up to him like a champion. They argue a lot until they finally figure it out, but I love a strong woman who isn't afraid to stand up for herself and what she wants and needs. Her strength is also one of Tristan's favorite things about her.
I once lost a job over writing this series. It was a massive drama at the time. I won the appeal. I didn't ask for my job back though. I figured if they were that bent out of shape over what I write, I didn't belong there.
Rapture (Book Three) is dedicated to Tevin Campbell. Tristan, Roman, and Michael, three alpha males, team up in the midst of a gang war in the book. They completely annihilated my plot and basically did whatever the 'eff they wanted to do. I blasted Can We Talk for two weeks until they started cooperating. Never negotiate with terrorists! :)
For more fun facts about the series, don't forget to follow me on Instagram @aydenmorgen.
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