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Acts of Manipulation (Paperback)

Acts of Manipulation (Paperback)

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The head of the gang declared, kidnapped, and ripped me away from the love of my life and family.

Sid’s a monster, but not to me.

He tells me he loves me and will die for me.

And he claims it’s my choice—love him or choose not to.

No matter what he says, I can’t stop yearning to feel Javier’s arms and lips on me.

Nor can I forget the future he promised me, no matter how much Sid pressures me.

And the consequences of not picking Sid will kill my family and Javier.

All I want is for him to come rescue me before I have to do the unforgivable.

But I’m running out of time.

Acts of Manipulation-Prologue

Agent Javier Lòpez

Retribution comes in many forms. It might be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Some people believe that makes it justified, but the time I spent in Afghanistan with the military taught me retribution isn’t a level playing field. 

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth doesn’t exist in my world. 

In the Marines, my mission was to annihilate the target. 

In the FBI, my job is to capture them. 

Over four years of working on Twisted Hearts cases, and no takedown has ever been more critical. 

Two years plus, I spent trying to take down Skates, the mastermind and head of the vicious gang, and his retribution didn’t come from me. I wanted it to. He issued the order to kill my friend and fellow FBI officer, Peter Carter. 

Someone else took him down and ended Skates’ life and created more significant problems. 

When Skates was alive, there was order within the Twisted Hearts. Now, there is a new way of doing things, and it’s more sinister than ever.

Sid Triker, recently paroled from a thirty-year murder sentence, stepped into the role. He gives the orders, and thousands of members across the country follow. 

And he’s issued an order to deliver a woman to him, and offered a one hundred thousand dollar reward to whomever can bring him this woman so she can become his.

She’s my woman. 

And his retribution will be death. As soon as we bust into this old building intel told us he’s having a meeting in, I’m shooting him—directly in the head. 

There will be no mercy, no warning, no hesitation. 

My partner, Chloe, and I have our guns out. The safeties are off. She nods and, with adrenaline coursing through my veins, I turn the handle and shove the door open while we both stay on opposite sides of the entryway.

There is no noise. The fluorescent lights are on. I cautiously peek inside, and my heart sinks. 

It’s empty. Not one piece of furniture or other item remains. No one is present.

“Damn it!” 

“You have to be kidding me,” Chloe mutters. 

“We’ve been set up. Our intel is compromised. This is the third—” My phone vibrates in my pocket. 

I retrieve my cell, and a cold sweat breaks out on my skin. 

“Oh my God,” Chloe mumbles, staring at hers.

A picture of my beautiful Gabriella, gagged, tears shining in her eyes pops up in a text message.

I run for the car, and Chloe follows. The drive to my place, where Gabriella is supposed to be, feels like slow motion, even though I’m driving fast. 

I pull up to the building and throw the car in park, leave the keys in it, and take two steps at a time up the stairs. When I get to the third floor, I sprint down the hallway and punch in the code to my condo unit. 

“Gabriella!” I holler in panic. 

Please be here.

My heart is racing, and I run from room to room, opening doors, but she’s nowhere.


“Javier, she isn’t here.” Chloe puts her hand on my arm. 

“Ah!” I tug at my hair. “We have to find her.”

Think, Javier. 

“Oh shit.” Chloe crouches by the entrance. 


I hadn’t noticed it when I came in. I was only praying Gabriella would be here even though I knew in my gut she wouldn’t be.

Blood on the tile. I swallow the bile in my throat then crouch, swiping my finger over a drop. My pulse beats faster. “It’s dry. They could have had her for hours by now.”

“Where is she?” Hudson storms in.

“They took her,” Chloe says.

“No!” He hits his hand on my wall so hard the drywall crashes in.

Ryland and Beckett fly in behind him. 

I stand. “I’m going to kill them. All of them. When I’m done, Triker and anyone else who ever touched Gabriella will be dead.”

“You get to stay with Beckett, Hudson, Ryland, or me. Who do you want to stay with?”

I want to stay with you, but aren’t you tired of me yet?

I’m scared to answer, so I don’t.


“I want to stay with you, but—”

He pulls me close and kisses me with so much urgency, I’m breathless.

“Good answer.” He kisses me some more. 

“Aren’t you going to get sick of me?”

“Nope.” He pulls back and opens his door. “Let’s go.”

We go into the house, and I pack a bag.

“Fill another one. I’ll make room for you in my closet and dresser. I’ll get your stuff in the bathroom. We can get the rest another day.”

The rest?



“Can we take a breather for a minute?”

He scrunches his face. “What’s wrong?”

I pat the bed next to me. 

He sits then pulls me onto his lap and brushes a lock of hair behind my ear. “Tell me what’s wrong, baby.”

“Nothing’s wrong, I just...I...” I let out a bunch of air.

He waits while I collect my thoughts. 

“Am I moving in with you right now?”


“Because of Triker’s declaration.”

He licks his lips. “Triker’s declaration is just an excuse.”

“An excuse?” 

“Yeah. An excuse for me to get exactly what I want.”

My heart flutters. “What’s that?”

He cups my face. “You in my bed, next to me every night and every morning. And when I leave for work, I get to come home and you’re still there.” 

“You aren’t going to get tired of me?”

“No. I’m in love with you, Gabriella. Every single part of you, I’m crazy in love with you and no amount of time is going to change that. The moment I laid eyes on you, I felt something I never have before. So no, I’m not going to get bored with you.”

“I love you, and you’re all I want, too,” I whisper. 

Heat burns in his eyes, and when he kisses me, everything else disappears: the fear since the attempted abduction, the anxiety he was only telling me to move in to keep me safe and might regret me being there, the voices in my head insisting all day long I’ll lose him when he gets bored with me. He calms all of it. Through his kisses, he assures me I am his and he is mine. 

“So, you’ll move in with me, then?” he murmurs.


Find out what happens next in Acts of Manipulation

You should read this book if you love:

  • Romantic Suspense
  • Kidnapping Romance
  • Family Saga
  • Friends to Lovers

 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐"This story was not for the light hearted. Lots of dark elements here. You find out how much strength and love they have for each other and learn a lot more about the Brooks family."-Goodreads Reviewer

 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐"This book had me on a rollercoaster ride, but it was well worth it. Maggie has a way of weaving a story that makes me invested in the world she has created."-Goodreads Reviewer



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