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Tomorrow, His Every Fantasy releases! I certainly hope you give it a try. Sergei and Kara rock the bayou! The story has everything you could want: a hard-edged warrior, nefarious villains, suspense, and a group of sexy SEALs determined to keep a certain little virgin thinking about things other than her problems. 🙂 I know you’ll enjoy them. And I know you’ll be ready for the next story. So get your fingers walking to your favorite online store to pre-order the book! In the meantime, enjoy the intense opening of the story…
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TO SERVE AND PROTECT!
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He’d been here before.
A makeshift tent city on a lonely stretch of Iraqi desert with a shamal wind kicking up fine, wheat-flour sand into a blinding storm.
Tar-paper shacks nestled in a rock-strewn valley in the Hindu Kush mountains under fat snowflakes whipping into a blizzard.
And just like those times, this ramshackle camp hidden in the middle of a Yucatán jungle was surrounded. About to be destroyed. The men guarding the perimeter, smoking cigarettes and bragging about their latest sexual conquests, were already dead. They just didn’t know it.
Sergei Gun drew a deep breath, inhaling scents of rotting vegetation and diesel fumes from the site’s generator. Dim lights burned in huts close to the entrance of the encampment. He’d chosen the far side of the camp, illuminated only by slivers of moonlight peeking through the forest canopy, for their attack. Checking the lit dial of his watch, he noted the time. Although he couldn’t see them and they’d maintained radio silence throughout their trek from the rutted road to the camp, he knew his team was in place.
He raised his arm and motioned twice with sharp pumps of his fist to the men beside him. Five seconds later, the soft muffled thuds of silenced rounds took down each guard. Seconds after that, his men, with faces blackened and bits of vines stuck into their helmets and the straps of their web gear to obscure the outlines of their tall frames, crept into the encampment, the crunch of their footsteps on the jungle floor masked by the howling wind from a tropical storm.
One by one, the security force paid for with drug money fell beneath swift, brutal knives and brawny, suffocating headlocks.
Sergei slipped past his men, making his way to the hut where their intel said the kidnapped Tex-Oil men were being held—one of a line of shacks with slatted wood sides that did little to keep out the elements. Tin roofs clapped with each gust of wind.
Through his night-vision goggles, he noted the shape of a man sitting beside the door of the hut, his head slumped toward his chest in sleep.
Sergei snorted softly. The guards were poorly trained, likely recruited from the local village to do the cartel’s bidding, given guns and more money than they’d ever see farming or leading tourists into the jungle. One or two actual cartel members were somewhere in the camp, and they’d be harder to take down than this one slumbering idiot.
With only a moment’s regret for the man’s poor judgment, Sergei slipped beside him and encircled his neck, his arm cinching to cut off his oxygen. He waited as the man’s heels drummed the dirt and his weakening hands clawed at Sergei’s arms, until the mercenary finally hung limply inside his embrace. Setting the body to the side, Sergei motioned to his second in command, Bear, to follow him while another extraction team member kept watch.
Inside, they found the two Tex-Oil men sleeping on the dirt. Bear moved to one man and went down on a knee beside him. Sergei reached down to the man nearest him and placed a hand over his mouth.
The man’s eyes sprang open.
“Shhh,” Sergei said softly. “Your name?” He lifted his hand an inch.
“Frank West,” the man gasped.
The ragged texture to his voice was a testament to the ordeal he’d endured the past weeks. “Is that Campion beside you, Frank?”
At the man’s quick nod, Sergei gestured to Bear to help the other man. “Mr. West, we’re here to get you both out. We’re Black Spear.”
The man’s relief, even in the green glow of the night-vision goggles, was written on his face. Frank gave another quick nod, signaling he understood, and Sergei backed away, holding the man’s arm to guide him upward. “Hold on to my shirt and follow me. Don’t let go.” He turned to head for the door.
Frank tugged on his jacket. “Wait,” he whispered. “There’s a girl.”
Sergei stiffened. “We’re here for you. Only minutes remain before the whole camp knows we’re here.”
“She’s in the shack next to ours.” He pointed with his free hand. “They brought her in yesterday. She’s the only other hostage in the camp. You can’t leave her.”
Sergei hesitated. Their mission was to extract the two executives who’d been kidnapped. Ransom demands had been met, but the cartel had decided to squeeze the oil company for more. Sergei’s plan called for an extraction so swift that it wouldn’t give the guards the ability to escape or tip off the cartel that they’d been raided. Still, the thought of another hostage, this one a woman, rankled. Breaking protocol, Sergei tapped his headset. “We’ve got another lamb. Need two on West and Campion.”
Stepping outside, he kept close to the side of the hut as two more of his team peeled away from the trees and sped quietly toward them. He and Bear handed off the men, and then peered around the side of the hut at the other isolated shack. This one was guarded by two men, rifles slung over their shoulders, standing on either side of the door of the hut and peering up into the swaying canopy above them as limbs creaked ominously in the storm.
Signaling to Bear that he’d lay down cover fire if needed, Sergei raised his weapon, sighting on the man nearest to him.
Bear crouched then ran past him, but neither guard noticed his movement between the huts. Once safe, Bear knelt at the corner of the building, his weapon trained on the men as Sergei darted across.
Leaning against the hut, Sergei signaled thirty seconds, holstered his weapon, and drew his knife from the sheath on his web belt. Cautiously looking around, he circled behind the hut, coming to a halt at the front corner of the building. At the end of the thirty count, he slipped around the corner, rushing the man nearest as Bear launched toward the other.
The struggle was brief. Neither guard had time to draw a breath, much less shout.
Sergei wiped off his bloody hand on his jacket, then opened the latch of the hut and stepped inside. A scuffing sound from his right had him whirling. Liquid spilled over his head, the scent acrid. Urine. A bucket clanked next, shifting his goggles and blinding him, but he was already on his opponent, clamping an arm around a slim body that he backed into the rickety wooden wall. Sheathing his knife because he didn’t want to inadvertently hurt her, he slipped a hand over the woman’s mouth.
Her jaw opened.
“Don’t. Bite,” he gritted out. “Ma’am, we’re here to rescue you.” Her body quivered inside his embrace, her curves pressed so close she could barely draw a deep breath, but he considered that a good thing. She’d be less likely to scream.
“I don’t believe you,” she said in a harsh whisper. “No one knows I’m here.”
“I came for the two men in the cabin next to yours. They wouldn’t leave without you.”
When her wriggling ceased and she appeared ready to cooperate, he righted his goggles and stared downward. Even bathed in a blurry neon glow, she was beautiful. And terribly young. Dark-haired, slender, and wearing shorts and a very thin tee that hugged her upper torso. Braless. That fact bothered him even more than her youth. He wondered if she’d already been raped. His body tightened. “I’m your way out. Or do you want to stay here?”
Her lips pursed. Her gaze darted to the side. When her chin shot up, he knew her answer even before she whispered, “No.”
“Then do exactly as I say. Hold on to my jacket when we leave here. I’ll guide you out. But, lady, I’m warning you, I won’t allow any antics. If you try to make a run for it, you’ll put me and my team at risk.”
“You have a team?”
Sergei pressed a finger over her lips. “Not another word. Follow me.”
He turned, felt her fist gather a bundle of his camouflaged jacket, then stepped outside. She followed on his heels, her steps soft. A quick glance behind him confirmed she was barefoot. But better she suffer bruised and cut feet than remain trapped here. There wasn’t a thing he could do about that situation now.
Not that she was complaining. Her expression was tense, her mouth a tight, determined line.
From the periphery of his goggles, he noted his team, slipping into the forest, melting away. Sergei hurried toward the trees then pulled his compass from a pack on his web belt, checked the tritium-lit direction lines to orient, and took off at a swift pace in the direction of the rutted logging trail they’d used as their assembly area.
Sergei trudged quickly forward, not speaking, impressed despite himself when the barefoot girl behind him kept quiet, her breaths even as he set a swift pace. Fifteen minutes later, he stopped at the edge of a road, checking up and down the line as members of his team slid into their vehicles.
He turned and put an arm around the girl to guide her toward the second vehicle in the line, although here in the clearing moonlight provided plenty of illumination. When he felt stiffened muscles against his touch, he kept his arm around her, telling himself he didn’t want to risk her falling and injuring herself, but the truth was, he wanted her near. Wanted her close enough to grab in case they came under attack or she tried to run. His hand glided from her shoulder to the small of her back. All nicely fleshed, firm muscle beneath. Not relevant, but interesting.
At the SUV, he opened the rear door. “Get in.” Tapping his headset, he asked for a quick head count, and each of the team members chimed in using hushed tones.
They’d made it out without setting off alarms. And without a single casualty. Another tap of his headset. “You set the charges, Linc?”
“Yes, sir. Countin’ down now. Eight, seven, six…”
Sergei swung into his vehicle, tore off his goggles, and gave a quick glance at Bear, who tapped the ignition button. At one, explosions ripped through the air, light bursting above the trees. Satisfied the cartel camp would be busy for a while, Sergei said, “Now let’s get the fuck out of here.”
Engines fired, wheels bit into the muddy trail, and they careened down the rutted track. Bear’s smile gleamed in the moonlight.
“Don’t say it,” Sergei said, not wanting to hear a celebratory whoop. “Don’t jinx it.”
Bear glanced into the rearview mirror at their unexpected passenger. “Get a name?”
Sergei aimed a stare at the young woman huddled in the center of the seat, moonlight filtering over her features. She wasn’t just beautiful, she was exquisite, despite the frown marring her dark brow. “Not yet. Time for introductions once we get to the helos. We’re not out of Omega territory yet.”
The vehicle hit a deep rut then bumped over it, unseating him. He reached for the strap above his window. “Better grab the oh-shit handle, sweetheart. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” And then he grinned because for the first time since his feet had hit the tarmac in Cancun, tension lifted. Still too soon to announce the all clear, but this operation had just gotten a little more interesting.
As VP in charge of special operations for Black Spear, Limited, his presence in the field was no longer required. He had well-trained teams he could scramble at a moment’s notice. Mercs on auto-dial. But he was fiercely glad he’d decided to accompany them this time. It was all about the woman. And the mystery surrounding her. Something about her pulled him in. Was it her youth? Her vulnerability? Or was it the courage she’d shown in those first moments when he’d entered her hut? His gut churned as he considered what else she might have endured. Women were often an easy casualty of war and crime. As many times as he’d stood witness to that truth, he still barely contained his revulsion for men who’d take advantage.
Again, he sought her lovely profile in the rearview mirror and his resolve solidified. No more harm would come to her. Not on his watch.