He’s a CIA intelligence officer; he’s a new Christian, and he’s being stalked by an assassin. That’s the description of Titus Ray, the main character in the new series of Christian thrillers written by Luana Ehrlich. In the first book in the series, One Night in Tehran, Titus finds shelter with a group of Iranian Christians after his mission to Tehran is discovered by the secret police. Compelled by their unwavering faith, the battle-hardened, covert operative becomes a believer before escaping to Turkey.
When he returns to the States, he discovers his Iranian mission failed because of political infighting within the Agency. In a hot-tempered outburst, he delivers a scathing indictment against the Deputy Director of Operations, and the deputy forces Titus to take a year’s medical leave in Oklahoma.
Before leaving Langley, however, he discovers a Hezbollah hit man has targeted him for assassination. Now, while trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ, he must decide if the Iranian couple he meets in Oklahoma has ties to the man who’s trying to kill him, and if Nikki Saxon, a beautiful local detective, can be trusted with his secrets. Book 1 is available in both print and Kindle editions on Amazon here.
Meet Luana Ehrlich
Luana has been an avid reader of the mystery/suspense/thriller genre from the moment she picked up her first adult fiction novel at the age of eleven.She’s also a news fanatic and follows events around the world on a daily basis, particularly the Middle East.
Luana is a minister’s wife and has lived in Norman, Oklahoma for the past two decades. Along with her husband, she also served as a missionary in Costa Rica and Venezuela.
For the past several years, she’s been a freelance writer for Baptist Press, a national news service for Baptists, where she’s written about the experiences of newly converted Christians. At one time, she wrote a weekly column entitled “A Story To Tell” for The Indiana Baptist, telling the stories of ordinary people who became followers of Christ.
BOOK TWO: Two Days in Caracas, A Titus Ray Thriller
On the hunt for an assassin, Titus Ray faces a threat he never imagined. Can he overcome the obstacles and capture Ahmed Al-Amin before it’s too late?
In this pulse-racing Christian thriller, CIA intelligence officer, Titus Ray, travels from Costa Rica to Venezuela in an effort to stop Ahmed Al-Amin, the Hezbollah assassin, from murdering a high-profile government official. Along the way, a family crisis jeopardizes his mission, and an Agency division head threatens to destroy his career. As the danger mounts, he’s forced to partner with an untested operative to complete the mission and bring Ahmed to justice. Will he make it in time?
The hunt for Ahmed Al-Amin continues in Book 2 of the TItus Ray Thriller novels, released on June 26, 2015 and now available in both print and Kindle editions on Amazon here.
BOOK TRAILER: Two Days in Caracas, A Titus Ray Thriller
Monday, June 4
I needed to move. I needed to do it soon. I was standing inside the doorway of an apartment building on Calle Alturas, just a few blocks from downtown San José, Costa Rica. It was an ideal location, but I knew my presence was going to start drawing attention any minute.
Right now, the torrential downpour made it appear as if I were simply seeking shelter from the rain. However, such tropical afternoon showers usually gave way to sunny skies very rapidly in this part of the world
Once that happened, I would need to move quickly
I studied the house on the corner. Then, I scanned my surroundings for a building public enough for me to monitor the residence from a distance.
The overall construction of the house, with its concrete-block walls and iron bars across the windows, appeared typical for the neighborhood.
I could see nothing unusual about it.
However, its innocuous look didn’t mean anything. In fact, the normality of the place made it easy for me to believe it might be Ahmed Al-Amin’s safe house in San José.
On the other hand, I wasn’t totally convinced Ahmed was even in Costa Rica in the first place.
When I’d arrived at the CIA’s Operations Center in Langley, Virginia, Douglas Carlton, my operations officer, had briefed me on the status of Ahmed Al-Amin, the Hezbollah assassin I was tracking. Afterward, I’d questioned one of the Agency’s logistics analysts on the authenticity of the San José address he’d given me.
“How can you be certain Ahmed is at this location?” I’d asked him.
“Because we’re getting pings from all the texting.”
I shook my head. “I can’t believe Ahmed is using an unencrypted cell phone. He’s one of Hezbollah’s top operatives, and if he’s using his cell phone, he certainly knows our satellites can track him.”
“Oh, it’s not Ahmed who’s doing the texting. It’s the Venezuelan kid who’s with him. Every night he sends a text message back to his girlfriend in Austin. Ahmed might not even know the guy is using his cell phone.”
Would Ahmed really be that oblivious to what his traveling companion was doing? Somehow, I doubted it, but I didn’t argue with the impossibly young analyst.
Instead, I turned my attention to Josh Kellerman, a briefer from Support Services, who spent the next thirty minutes going over my legend, explaining the myriad of details involved in the cover identity I would be using in Costa Rica.
My business card indicated I was Rafael Arroyo, Vice President of Sales for Global Resources. Kellerman gave me a brief overview of the industrial refrigeration units I was supposed to be selling, along with several boring, but very colorful brochures.
The Rafael Arroyo legend was one I’d used on previous trips to the Middle East, although then I’d been given an Arabic name. Strangely enough, I felt very comfortable in the skin of a refrigeration salesman.
Following my briefing with Kellerman, I went over to meet with Sandy Afton. She was in the southwest wing of the Agency’s New Headquarters Building where Support Services had an area the size of a department store, which was solely devoted to men and women’s clothing. Although the women’s section was twice as large as the men’s section, I’d never questioned the need for this.
As soon as I arrived, Sandy showed me the clothing choices she’d made for me. I approved most of them, and, after that, while my suitcase was being packed by one of Sandy’s assistants, I changed into a guayabera and a pair of dark slacks for my flight to Costa Rica.
When I’d come out of the dressing room—looking like a refrigeration salesman—Sandy had deposited the clothes and shoes I’d just removed—along with my wallet and any other items identifying me as Titus Ray—inside a metal box about the size of a small footlocker.
The last thing I did was hand over the keys to my Range Rover. I did so reluctantly, because, although I’d just purchased the car two months before, I’d already fallen in love with it—or, maybe I’d simply fallen in love with the idea of owning my own vehicle.
I said, “My car is parked over by the west gate in the parking lot used by Security.”
“Why is it parked over there?”
“Because there’s a handgun underneath the front seat, plus a spare in the glove compartment, and I have extra ammo clips in the side pocket of the duffel bag in the back.”
She smiled. “I can see why they wouldn’t let you drive inside the complex. Speaking of weapons, I know you don’t want me to issue you a firearm before you leave, so I’ve instructed the embassy in San José to provide you with whatever you need when you get there.”
I seldom requested the necessary credentials permitting me to get on a plane with a gun. Doing so was too much of a hassle and only served to draw attention to me.
I never wanted to draw attention to myself.
Sandy said, “I’ve already spoken with Ben Mitchell about the type of weapon you’ll need.”
Carlton had set me up with Ben Mitchell, the “Economics Officer” assigned to the American Embassy in Costa Rica. He was my contact while I was in country. In reality, like me, he was a covert intelligence officer.
Carlton had told me Mitchell had been with the Agency for five years and was classified as a Level 2 officer. While I was a Level 1 officer, I didn’t think Mitchell’s lower status would be a problem for me on this particular mission.
I wasn’t acquainted with Ben Mitchell, but that didn’t surprise me. I’d been in Iran and Afghanistan for the past seven years, and I hadn’t traveled south of the border during that time.
Mitchell was scheduled to meet my flight from Miami. Meeting a refrigeration salesman from Global Resources was a natural thing for him to do in his role as the American Embassy’s Economics Officer.
I was sure he would think Rafael Arroyo was a great guy.
However, as it turned out, Mitchell didn’t come to the airport in San José to meet Rafael Arroyo, because, after leaving Agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, I had decided to change my plane ticket and take an earlier flight.
After landing in San José, I’d rented a car and arrived at my present location without having had any contact with Ben Mitchell.
That’s the way I preferred to work.
Completely alone. Solo.
Now though, as I observed the boxy concrete house from the shelter of the apartment building, I was beginning to regret my decision to ditch Mitchell.
Having another set of eyes at the rear of the house might prove beneficial, and, since I’d come to the address directly from the airport, I didn’t have a weapon on me.
Knowing what I knew about Ahmed, I had no intention of confronting him without some kind of firepower.
When I’d entered the Calle Alturas neighborhood earlier, I’d spotted a man and a woman inside a Toyota Highlander parked about a block away from the safe house. I knew they had to be members of the surveillance team Mitchell had brought in to keep an eye on the house until I arrived. They were clearly amateurs, and if Ahmed were in the house, it wouldn’t be long before he would notice them as well.
If he hadn’t already spotted them.
The rain finally let up, and I stepped out of the doorway and walked over to a small pastry shop located next door to a video store. Three small café tables had been placed on the patio in front of the pastry shop, and when a waiter had finished drying off one of the wrought-iron chairs, I sat down and ordered un café sin leche.
Once the waiter had gone inside to get my coffee, I felt inside my pants pocket for my satellite phone and punched in the numbers I’d memorized before leaving Langley.
When Ben Mitchell came on the line, I told him my location and asked him to meet me. He said he would be driving a late model Jeep, and then he hung up on me.
He sounded ticked off.
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