Played | Cara Dee
Release Date: July 15th, 2021
Universal Link: https://readerlinks.com/l/1863521
Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57971698-played
One last mission. One last operation—and the stakes had never been higher. Truth be told, Darius was exhausted. He didn’t want his past mingling with the life he was building with Gray and the kids, but he had no choice.
They were facing their biggest threat yet, and in order to even stand a chance, Darius had to revert to the man he’d once been. He had to set aside fatherhood and love and be the grunt, the private contractor, the soldier who went deep behind enemy lines.
It was time to rally the troops. With Gray by his side, Darius cashed in the last of his favors and put together a crew that would hopefully help them bring an end to this chaotic year. The desert waited for them. Again. So did Las Vegas.
The problem with Vegas…?
Just when you thought you knew how to play the game, it played you.
The Auctioned Series is a journey packed with action, nail-biting suspense, family, and love. In Gray and Darius’s fight for freedom and a future where they aren’t haunted by the ghosts of their pasts, they’ll make you laugh, cry, possibly yell at your e-reader, and swoon just a little bit.
This story takes place in Cara Dee’s Camassia Cove Universe, a fictional town where all books/series’ stand on their own, unless otherwise stated. The Auctioned Series should be read in the following order: Auctioned, Stranded, Deserted, Played, and Finished.
“Pizza delivery!” Ryan’s booming voice echoed and sent a pack of birds fleeing the trees. “I have two brothers here too, bitching about how I drive!”
The cavalry had arrived.
Darius descended the steps and lit up a smoke. Sorry, knucklehead, the two-smoke limit wasn’t in effect tonight.
First to appear out of the shadows was his brother, the person Darius preferred to work with the most. A skilled marksman and sniper, bold, two steady hands, a happy-go-lucky grunt who knew how to go oorah.
“Brother.” Ryan handed over a stack of pizza boxes and eyed the cabin. “You’ve come a long way since last time. Good shit.”
“Maybe next time you bring the family,” Darius replied. Because they had to fucking stop meeting up only for work they’d supposedly quit doing.
After leaving the pizza on the porch, Darius went to greet the next two men. River and Reese Tenley. They’d met in the field maybe ten years ago. A set of batshit-crazy twin brothers who’d taken more risks than Darius had. Mainly because River’s job had usually involved handling sensitive information, and as soon as that was the case, you had a red laser dot on your forehead. His brother, Reese, had been in charge of security. He was loud and outgoing where River was quiet and observant.
“For the record, Riv was bitching, not me,” Reese stated. “Ryan was always good at operating heavy machinery.”
“I love you too, sunshine,” Ryan hollered from the porch.
Darius shook his head in amusement.
“Good to see you again, guys.” He shook their hands firmly.
“Not too good,” River noted with a wry smirk.
“Fuck it. I’m stoked.” Reese looked it too. “Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t retire a minute too soon, but it’s still a rush, innit?”
No one could deny that.
“I am too fucking old for these rushes, boys.” The voice emerged from the darkness and revealed Alicia Dawson, a petite ballbuster with an impressive résumé. Everyone coming here tonight was in their early to mid-forties, but Alicia had the most experience, though not that many years in the field.
Once a wunderkind who’d started college at fifteen, she’d been recruited into the private sector from MIT when she was just two shits high. Granted, she was still only two shits high. She’d worked all over the place, it seemed. For one, she was former CIA. As a biochemist specializing in chemical warfare, she’d always been able to pick freely among employers. So it was no wonder she’d returned to the private sector eventually. That was where the money was.
“Ally.” Darius smirked and offered to grab her luggage.
She huffed and handed it over, then promptly lit up a smoke. Fuckin’ menthols. “I guess these heels weren’t made for walking in grass. Christ—ever the heathen, Quinn.”
She didn’t like the woods. She preferred penthouses, deathtrap heels, and lipstick the color of blood.
“How the fuck are ya, darlin’?” Reese asked.
“I’m rich, bored, and I’ve been trying to pin something on Lange for years. I guess that works in your favor,” she replied coolly.
Darius smiled. “By the way, we have a funder.”
Alicia smirked and raised her hand.
Ryan had never met Alicia before—they only knew each other through the grapevine—so while Reese handled introductions between the two, Darius shifted his focus to the next car that pulled up.
“We can talk and eat at the same time. I’m starving,” Ally announced.
Darius spotted two guys, so that had to be Elliott and Tariq. They were close, and both lived in the LA area. Elliott Jones shared a similar background to Darius. Semiretired, twenty years in high-risk security and extractions, and these days, he ran a bodyguard business.
Tariq Amin was a short guy nicknamed The Fly. Because he was the proverbial fly on the wall who got access to information nobody wanted to share. He’d started out as a photographer in combat zones who’d seen the demand for interpreters early on. He was fluent in nine languages, and Darius had worked with him more than a few times, especially in the Middle East.
“I see retirement’s working out great for you, Quinn.” Elliott slapped his hand into Darius’s and shook it.
“I got five years of peace.”
Elliott grinned. “That’s more than most, I guess.”
Darius chuckled and shook hands with Tariq too. “Good to see you both. There’s pizza and beer on the porch. Dig in.” He saw their last arrival parking now too.
Dante Williams. Another fucker with an impressive résumé. Born in Jamaica but came to the US before he’d started first grade. He was ex-Army, ex-NYPD, ex-PMC, and now worked as a consultant in risk assessment, all while running a martial arts center in Queens.
“Of course you have to live in the middle of fuckin’ nowhere, Darius,” he said with a laugh.
“Of course I do.” Darius smacked Dante’s shoulder and offered to grab one of his bags. “You’ve been promised food and a briefing, so let’s get to it. How’s your ma? Do you tell her I miss her cooking?”
“She asks about you sometimes.” Dante slid him a crooked smirk. “She worries for your restless soul.”
Darius barked out a laugh. “Oh—I guess that’s one thing you can appease her with. I’m settled down and have two kids now.”
Dante did a double take. “What the fuck? I wasn’t too shocked to hear you’d hooked up with a guy, but kids? You fuckin’ with me? How many times have I heard you swear you’d never have any?”
Darius chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck. Safe to say, he had a fair bit of shit coming his way for all the years he’d been vocal about never settling down.
The two joined the rest on the porch, where the table was already filled with open pizza boxes. Despite having brought two extra chairs to the short end of the table, Darius had known it wouldn’t be enough. But he had no issues using the railing. Ryan was already seated there with pizza and beer for them.
Darius grabbed a slice and got comfortable too. “Y’all need foreplay first, or can I dig right in?”
“If that’s what you tell Gray, I feel for the kid,” Ryan said with his mouth full of pizza.
All right, so the first laugh at Darius’s expense was out of the way.
“Don’t be gentle with us, hon,” Alicia said. “Just cut to the chase. I’ve been waiting far too long to end that motherfucker.”
That was a good place to begin.
About the Author
I’m often awkwardly silent or, if the topic interests me, a chronic rambler. In other words, I can discuss writing forever and ever. Fiction, in particular. The love story—while a huge draw and constantly present—is secondary for me, because there’s so much more to writing romance fiction than just making two (or more) people fall in love and have hot sex.
There’s a world to build, characters to develop, interests to create, and a topic or two to research thoroughly.
Every book is a challenge for me, an opportunity to learn something new, and a puzzle to piece together. I want my characters to come to life, and the only way I know to do that is to give them substance—passions, history, goals, quirks, and strong opinions—and to let them evolve.
I want my men and women to be relatable. That means allowing room for everyday problems and, for lack of a better word, flaws. My characters will never be perfect.
Wait…this was supposed to be about me, not my writing.
I’m a writey person who loves to write. Always wanderlusting, twitterpating, kinking, cooking, baking, and geeking. There’s time for hockey and family, too. But mostly, I just love to write.
Find Cara on social media here:https://www.caradeewrites.com/cdwlandingpage