Series: Adventure Girls, Inc., Book 1
On Sale: February 11, 2014
A pampered travel agent, roughing it at an anti-terrorist training school, escapes through the jungle with an undercover DEA agent when a drug lord mistakes her for a rival’s daughter.
After surviving a week of anti-terrorist training at a school deep in a Central American jungle learning evasive driving techniques she’s sure will help her negotiate Chicago’s rush hour traffic, Maya Cordoba is ready to kick off the mud from her designer boots and find a Starbucks—or the closest cantina serving cosmopolitans—after she hijacks her sexy driving instructor. Instead, she finds herself staring down the barrel of an AK-47 (which she recognizes from her weapons familiarization class, thank you very much!), and being ordered in incomprehensible Spanish into a SUV. She’s being kidnapped! When she figures out she’s been mistaken for the daughter of a rival drug lord, it’s too late. If they learn she’s not who they think she is—she’s dead.
Rescue comes from ex-marine and mercenary/now instructor, Angel Rickman, who just so happens to be among the kidnappers. He says he’s really undercover DEA and he’ll take her out, but she has to do everything he tells her to, no balking. Together, they make a mad dash through the jungle, borrowing a cocaine-laden boat, with the drug cartel’s army on their tails every step of the way.
Note: This story has been previously published within the Uniform Desires box set.
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
“Sweetheart, how ’bout pretending you’re driving in rush hour traffic when a road-raging gangbanger pulls in front of you and slams on his brakes. What are you gonna do?”
“Flip him off? Duck behind my steering wheel?” Maya Cordoba asked, batting her eyelashes. Really, how could the man expect her to concentrate when his sexy green gaze stroked over her bared shoulders like a physical caress? Or was it just her imagination and he was really wondering why she’d dressed in skimpy shorts and a spaghetti-strapped tee for an anti-terrorist training seminar?
Angel Rickman sighed and rubbed a large hand over his short-cropped black hair. Suddenly, his eyes widened. “Keep your eyes on the road,” he barked when she approached another steep, unmarked turn.
Maya almost felt sorry for him. She wasn’t exactly the class genius. After all, this was just a vacation for her. She wasn’t here like some of the other students who had to learn skills for real-life survival.
The most worrisome dilemma she’d ever faced was her travel agency’s audit when the accountant made the ominous pronouncement the company had only months to prove up the business or their financial backers would sell off their assets.
All partners had drawn straws to see which of them would take the first “adventure” vacation so they could begin to familiarize themselves with this new line of offerings they hoped would net more sales. With experience only in high-end luxury packages, they’d all felt the need to become experts in the rapidly-expanding market for adventure tours. If not experts, at least they needed to get their feet wet so that they could add their personal recommendations to clients who preferred an adrenaline rush to being pummeled by a masseuse at a spa or earning a sunburn on some remote island beach.
Which was why she sat behind the steering wheel of a non-descript car on a lonely Central American highway surrounded by jungle with a man who’d introduced himself as a former merc (mercenary, he’d revised when she’d looked confused).
For Maya, the meeting had been lust at first sight.
Apparently, for Angel the experience was a living nightmare. As far as he was concerned, she drove with two left hands, braked with a lead foot, and must have gotten her driver’s license from a Cracker-Jacks box-or so she thought she heard him mumble under his breath.
Problem was, her normally razor-sharp focus on her own ambitions had lost its shiny edge. But how could she be blamed? With a build like a Chicago Bears linebacker, a square jaw, and blunt blade of a nose, he was the most enormous, physically powerful man she’d ever had sitting just six inches away. Never had she felt so intensely feminine-or so incredibly curious about a man’s intimate “proportions.”
And she knew for a fact he wouldn’t appreciate her opinion that his gorgeous eyes softened his tough-guy image. Moss-green with a sooty fringe of eyelashes…mmm-mm. Every gaze that sliced her way cut straight through her usual smart-ass reserve, rendering her insides into wiggly Jell-O.
She’d had hopes this winding trip into the mountains was just his way of getting her alone. Instead, he’d had her executing “boot turns” and “laying Goodyear” on the road-things he’d had her doing around a track with orange cones all morning long without mishap. But this narrow donkey trail of a highway was just another obstacle course.
“Time to play it for real, Princess.”
Recognizing the tension in his voice, Maya wrapped her fingers around the steering wheel like a $99 wedding dress at a Macy’s Fire Sale. The forest canopy opened and sunlight broke through the thick vegetation. An intersection loomed ahead.
“Gun it!” he bit out.
Maya pushed the pedal toward the floor.
Just before she entered the intersection, two cars appeared in her peripheral vision. The tires of a battered Land Rover on her left squealed as it turned ahead of her vehicle. Its brake lights flared bright.
Maya had just a moment to curse, knowing exactly why Angel had asked about gangbangers. Then she grabbed her emergency brake, gave the steering wheel a quarter turn, and executed a “boot turn” in the center of the crossing to face the opposite direction-too breathless to give a victory cheer.
But the second car slid neatly in front of her, cutting off her escape. She mashed the brake with her foot and halted an inch in front of the dented side of the Camaro.
For a long moment, she sat silent beside Angel, her lips pulling into a grimace before she shot him a glance. “How’d I do?” she asked in a small voice, hoping to be heard over her pounding heartbeat.
His eyes blinked as his fingers loosened from the dashboard. “Since we’re both dead now, I’d say you didn’t pass.”
The drivers of the other two vehicles got out and walked to her beat-up Dodge, wide grins wreathing their faces.
“What took you so long getting here, Angelito?” one of them asked.
To stop the burst of laughter threatening to erupt, Maya pressed her lips together. Who in his right mind would have the nerve to call the hulk beside her “Little Angel?” Recognizing another of the instructors, the one who’d lead the weapons familiarization class, she relaxed and decided to get out and stretch her legs.
Only when she got out of the car, she nearly crumpled to the pavement. “Hey, where’d my legs go?”
“Easy there,” Angel said, his arm slipping around her waist.
“You were fast,” she gasped as he pulled her against his chest.
“Only sometimes, Princess.”
Damn, his voice rumbled like a bear’s growl. Maya let her weak knees fold.
“You okay?” His arm tightened around her.
“Just a little shaky,” she whispered, clinging to his broad shoulders, then leaning a little closer to breathe in his lovely, musky smell.
Amusement gleamed in his eyes for a moment before he jerked up his head. His eyes turned from moss to flint. “Back to camp, boys.”
“Yeah, I’m ready for a beer. Joining us?” the other guy said, a smirk on his lips.
Laughter followed the two well-built men as they climbed into their cars and drove in the direction the Dodge now pointed.
Unable to peel her gaze away from their flexing muscles, Maya just stared, and then looked up into Angel’s shuttered expression.
“You want me to drive?” he asked, his face tilted only slightly towards hers.
She cleared her throat and straightened inside his embrace. However much she liked the way his big hands molded against her sides, she wasn’t going to beg him to kiss her.
Not yet, anyway. She still owned a little Yankee pride. “I’m feeling better, now.”
His hands slid slowly away, and he stepped back.
Despite the sun glaring down, she felt chilled. Bereft, even. A word she’d never have used back in her real world. With her nipples prickling against her thin shirt after contact with his hard chest, she turned and plucked at the fabric. Had he even noticed? Or was he still critiquing her driving performance?
After she summoned the courage to face him again, she met his cool, hard gaze.
Angel pulled a pair of dark sunglasses from a pocket of his short-sleeved khaki shirt and slipped them on. “Keep it under the speed limit this time, chica. Class is over.”