Between a SEAL and a Hard Place
The last person world-class sniper, Wolf Kinkaid, expected to see in the cross hairs of his rifle during an operation to take down a drug cartel assassin was his pretty, bounty hunter wife. He takes the shot, disarming the bad guy, but the assassin wasn’t working alone, and now, Piper is a target for revenge.
Solution? The two of them hole up in a safe house while his team tries to find the assassin’s psychotic brother. Piper and Wolf have issues to resolve, and all that time alone gives them something they haven’t enjoyed in excess for a while — each other. But while they get close, the enemy closes in…
Read an Excerpt
So many things were the same. Merciless heat beating down from above. Staring through the scope of a Macmillan Tac-50 from a dusty perch. Spotter at his elbow. Familiar chatter from the mission commander in his ear. And yet, everything was different.
For Wolf Kinkaid, the differences made the experience surreal. Yes, the air was hot, but he wasn’t wearing a heavy helmet, which would have cooked his brain. His position was on a high-rise rooftop rather than amid rocks in a lonely mountain pass. The spotter at his elbow was dressed in SWAT black rather than a uniform of woodland camouflage, as was he. And the commander providing updates of what was happening inside the building entrance he surveilled wasn’t talking about insurgents. He gave details about an Assistant District Attorney, a “suit” who was about to exit the law building they watched.
Yup, he was a long, long way from Afghanistan.
“Suit’s taking the elevator,” Deke Warrick, the mission commander, said quietly over the comm in his ear.
Wolf checked the pictures he’d taped to the wall he knelt behind. One was of ADA Ben Souther who had a hit on him from a Mexican cartel, primarily for the fact he was preparing to prosecute a high-ranking cartel member for murder and racketeering. The second photo was of the assassin that the team—which consisted of FBI, ATF, and Charter agents—was trying to take down. They wanted to arrest the bastard and maybe milk him for names of other members residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Wolf’s particular talent was needed to implement Plan B if the assassin got too close to Souther.
Outfitted with a Kevlar vest, Souther was accompanied by two bodyguards, both provided by Wolf’s new employer, Charter Group.
They’d trained for this mission for a week in another city with a similar topography, all while keeping Souther in a safe house. Souther’s office had hired the company to provide added protection and, hopefully, nab another cartel member, because the cartel lieutenant they’d captured had, so far, remained uncooperative. After weeks of lying low, Souther had grown restless and suggested they end the impasse by allowing him to act as bait.
He was a gutsy bastard, an ex-Marine who’d used the GI Bill to complete his education and become an attorney. So, Charter had agreed, figuring he knew the score and could handle himself should shit go sideways. A situation which chatter from paid CIs said was about to happen.
“Get ready,” said Deke. “He’s about to come through the doors.”
His sights already set, Wolf looked through his scope, noted Souther’s set jaw, his short buzz-cut. Determination and fearlessness radiated from the man. He wasn’t a SEAL, but the man was a warrior, no matter he now wore a suit and tie. His battlefield was a different kind of minefield, a courtroom.
The doors swung open, and one of his guards preceded him, glancing left and right before turning to usher Souther through them. His second guard kept close to his back, glancing behind then taking in the sidewalk and the armored car placed behind a barricade that stood in front of the doors.
“We have movement from the West,” said Deke.
Wolf pivoted his weapon on its tripod. A slender figure with an impressive rack, wearing a ball cap, moved forward at a fast clip. But she wasn’t the target. He recognized that long, fit frame. Her brown and copper hair was drawn back in a ponytail that bobbed behind her. He noted a cord extending from her ear to her collar.
Damn, his fears were confirmed, the little twit was on the job, and likely looking for the same target they hoped to capture.
“Wolf, is that—”
“Southwest corner of the building,” came another urgent voice.
Again, Wolf sighted down his barrel. No time to wonder why she was here or how she’d discovered their plan. A man wearing blue jeans, a cowboy hat drawn low over his forehead, and wearing a casual jacket also made his way down the sidewalk from the opposite direction.
“God dammit,” he whispered as he took a bead on the man, ready to pull back the trigger at the first sight of a weapon—should the team closing in on him not get there in time. He glanced to the left, hoping the damned woman wasn’t about to get in the way of his bullet.
Then she glanced up to the rooftop where he perched, mostly hidden, and he cussed again. She knew he was there, but she was still coming fast.
She reached behind her and drew a handgun then kept it hidden against her thigh.
“Dammit, he’s got a gun!” Deke said. “Wolf! Take him out!”
Wolf adjusted, aimed for the middle of the cowboy’s thigh, drew a breath, held it for a split second, and then pulled the trigger. Blood spurted from the wound.
Piper sprinted the last few feet and took the assailant down at the knees. His cowboy hat fell away, long black hair spilled, a dark hard-edged profile was revealed. They had their man.
Or rather, Piper did, pressing into the wound Wolf had made while shoving her Glock hard between the bastard’s legs.
The man reached out his hands and dropped his weapon to the pavement at the same moment the first of Souther’s guards took position over him and Piper, his stance wide and his weapon pointing downward.
Blood pounded in his ears. Wolf cussed again and put down his weapon.
“Want me to pack up for you?” his spotter drawled.
Wolf shot him a deadly glare. “Not a fucking word.”
The man smirked and took up position behind the weapon, likely to watch the fireworks through the scope.
Wolf headed to the stairwell and hopped the steps two at a time, racing downward. At ground level, he hit the bar on the exit door with a bang and sprinted across the street.
The team was converging. Souther had been moved to the armored car. Piper was still on the ground, but now lying face down beside her “collar” with her hands cupped behind her head.
“I have paperwork in my pocket,” she said, annoyance in her voice. “He’s mine to return to Houston on an outstanding warrant.” Frowning, she glanced behind her shoulder. “Is this really necessary?”
Deke shook his head then spotted Wolf bearing down on them. “Mind explaining how she knew to be here at this exact moment?” he bit out.
Wolf shook his head, too furious to get out the words. She’d promised him she’d be taking easier jobs, ones close to home. And although she’d never promised to stay completely out of harm’s way, something that would have been impossible for a bounty hunter to do, she had said she wouldn’t be seeking the most dangerous, high-value jobs. At least, she’d kept the first promise about staying closer to home. He bent and tugged at her earpiece, dislodging it.
When she looked over her other shoulder at him, she ventured a thin smile. “Hi, there, hon. Thought that might be you on the rooftop.”
He brought the device to his mouth. “Calvin, hustle your ass down here. Now,” he gritted out then dropped it. She began to open her mouth. “Just shut up.” He glanced at Deke, wanting to know if he had a preference for how this should be handled.
“Bring her along. I’d like to hear her sorry excuse, too.”
Several of the team turned as a large man barreled down the walkway, huffing. “Damn, Piper,” Calvin said, pausing beside her, then bending, hands on his knees as he gasped for breath. “Told you this was a bad idea.”
“I took him down,” she said, her voice gruff. “He’s mine.”
“Don’t think they’re gonna agree, baby girl, and your man looks ready to pop an aneurism.”
She glanced back again. “Can I get up?”
Barely able to keep his motions contained, Wolf reached behind his back, drew out a set of cuffs and snagged her wrists, drawing them down to the small of her back, and quickly snapping on the cuffs. Then he gripped her upper left arm and levered her to a stand.
Deke handed him her piece and the keys to the vehicle they’d come in. “See you back at HQ.”
Wolf grunted and goose-walked his wife to the underground garage.