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Along Came a Spider

Along Came a Spider

All this SEAL wants is time alone to recharge after a grueling mission, but what he gets is caught in the crossfire of passion and danger.

After Spider follows a fellow SEAL’s advice to take some downtime and try fishing to get over his restlessness after back-to-back missions, he finds himself even more irritated until his fishing lure gets caught in the bushes, and while trying to free it, he notices men armed with tactical equipment moving through the forest. Curiosity piqued, he follows and is just in time to prevent the men from harming a lone female camper.

Jessie Tamberlin hoped to hide out in the woods until after her wedding to a billionaire, following her discovery that he is an illegal arms dealer. However, she knows secrets he’s determined to keep silent; he’s never going to let her go. When she finds an ally in the woods, who helps her escape, she has to make an on-the-spot decision to trust him.

Together, they work to stay one step ahead of her ex-fiancé while trying to ignore their growing attraction for each other.

Note: This novella was previously published in the Men in Uniform anthology.

Read an Excerpt

Ever since they’d returned from their last rotation, this time in northern Syria, Spider had been edgy, unable to relax, terse with his friends—to the point they’d told him he needed to get laid or go a round with someone who’d kick his ass good in a boxing ring. Tank had cleared his throat after that last suggestion and recommended his own favorite stress break: a weekend of fishing, alone in the wilderness. No voices. No sounds other than the swishing of the trees as the wind filtered through their branches, the gentle burbling of the water, the occasional warble of a bird…

The thought of isolating himself in the forest, on purpose, as a way to let go of the tension that kept him wound tight, had sounded like a slice of pure heaven. After getting the GPS location of Tank’s favorite watering hole, he’d left Little Creek last night, arriving in the North Carolina national forest in the early morning hours at a roadside motel Tank promised didn’t have bed bugs. He’d dropped his gear in his room, which turned out to be exactly as his buddy had promised—old, but clean. The slight smell of mildew in the bathroom was kind of comforting in its own way.

He’d headed out on foot, following his GPS into the woods, just a flashlight to guide him, a fishing pole and his folding chair slung over his shoulder, the tackle box under his arm, and a cooler carried at his side. Watching the sunrise from the rock outcropping that stretched nearly to the center of the river had further heartened him that he’d chosen well because, during that last hundred miles of driving, he’d wondered if he shouldn’t have chosen door number one and simply gotten laid.

Well, he was here now. It was Saturday morning, and he had until Monday to return to base. All he had to do was follow Tank’s simple instructions—hook a worm, cast, wait until something happened, pop the tab on a beer, wait some more, reel in the line, and then hook another worm. Rinse and repeat. The path to nirvana. Catching a fish wasn’t the actual goal.

He reached back and cast his line again then watched it sail far out toward the center of the river, but a sudden gust of wind pushed it back toward the bank on the other side of the eddy. He jerked his pole, but the hook had caught on vegetation. Huffing a breath, he pushed up from his chair and jerked harder on the line.

A metallic tinkling sounded. “What the hell?” he whispered under his breath. He tugged again, this time more gently. The sound repeated, but more muted this time.

Since fishing wasn’t nearly as interesting as exploring the source of the sound, he walked back across the rocks, climbing down to the river bank, then cut through the woods in the direction he’d heard the tinkling sound.

He pushed through a thicket of bushes then happened to glance downward. A nearly invisible filament, thicker than a spider’s web, was stretched ankle-high. A booby trap. What the fuck?

His heart thudded, pounding more solidly inside his chest—a comforting feeling, really. He crouched and followed the direction of the filament with his gaze. Just as he decided to step out to explore, he heard rustling in the bushes and froze.

Dead ahead, he saw two figures moving through the forest, dressed in camo, holsters strapped to their thighs.

Moving quietly, he backed out of the thicket and then moved along a path parallel to the men. Maybe they were simply hunters, stalking prey. If so, he’d leave them to their weird little survivalists’ play. However, the hand signals used by the first in line, a raised fist to halt, spread fingers pointing at his eyes, a single digit, indicating one target… Those were military signals. What the hell was going on?

And then he saw it—a small blue pup tent. A smoking campfire. He tensed, realizing two things: he had only his K-bar as a weapon in case shit went sideways, and these guys weren’t just sneaking up on a buddy to scare the shit out of him.

Another signal was given, and the second man moved away, stealthily circling the camp, until he met a trip wire and a jangle of tin cans pushed both to give up their advantage and charge into the camp. One man grabbed the tent and pulled it up, stakes and all, to reveal an empty bedroll.

Whomever they hunted had given them the slip, maybe forewarned by Spider’s rattling of tin with his fishing line. In any case, it was time for him to leave.

He stepped backward but halted when one of the men called out, “There!”

The slim figure of a woman jumped up from behind a bush and headed deeper into the thicket. The man crashed after her, his accomplice right behind him.

Spider didn’t hesitate. Although armed only with his K-bar, no way was he letting these two harm the woman. He followed, moving as quietly as he could to keep from alerting them someone else was in the forest.