Big Sky SEAL
Romance sparks between a bounty hunter and a SEAL on the hunt for an escaped terrorist…
A former military police dog handler, Jamie Burke, along with her former bomb dog Tessa, are still trying to adjust to civilian life. With a jaded, testy personality, Jamie has few friends. Now, a bounty hunter, she’s tasked to help federal and local law enforcement search for an escaped terrorist in the Crazy Mountains of Montana.
Former SEAL, Sky Reynolds can’t believe Jamie Burke is part of the task force. The last time he saw her was in Afghanistan. Back then, he thought he’d never stand a chance with the pretty, ballsy blonde, sure she had someone waiting for her back home. But here she is, still single, still prickly as hell. Assigned to stick close to her and her dog Tessa during the hunt, he’ll use the situation to get close. This time, he’s not letting her slip away.
When Jamie’s captured by the terrorist, it’s up to Sky, his fellow SEALs, and her motley crew of bounty hunters to save her…
Read an Excerpt
According to the satellite image, Mosby’s cousin’s crude hunting shack stood in an isolated clearing deep in a woodsy area at the foothills of the Salish Mountains. Jamie Burke and her partner for this takedown, Reaper Stenberg, parked their SUV a quarter mile down the gravel road leading to the Montana cabin.
Lock and load time. Jamie drew deep slow breaths to slow her heart, while getting her head “in the zone”. They were going after a badass. A mistake could turn deadly.
Reaper opened the back hatch of the SUV and reached into their bag of weapons and gear.
First, they donned Kevlar jackets. Jamie clipped her badge onto her web belt and slid her Glock into the holster strapped to her leg. Then Reaper held out a shotgun with an orange stock.
She glared. “Seriously? You expect me to take down Mosby with a bean bag round?”
“I don’t expect you to take down a damn thing, other than notes.” He smirked. “I’ll handle Mosby. If he gets past me, you nail him in the gut with this.” His glacier-blue eyes narrowed. “Your Glock is your last resort. You’ll be coming through the back of the cabin. Think I’d trust you with real bullets when I’ll be in the line of fire?”
“I’m a better shot than you,” she muttered, thinking of her last weapons qualification test and the ten tightly grouped shots in the circle around the heart on her target.
“On the range. This is the real world, sweet cheeks.”
She crimped her mouth and loaded a bean bag round into the chamber of her weapon, then stuffed two more shells into the pockets of her jeans. The rounds, intended to disable rather than kill, were filled with fabric “pillows” containing birdshot. Although his caution made sense, she couldn’t let him know she was relieved to carry non-lethal rounds—she’d seen enough death and never wanted to kill again. The fact he didn’t trust her aim—or, perhaps, her nerves—rankled. Still, they’d be inside close quarters, and the “non-lethal” round was far more dangerous than when used, as recommended, to hit targets twenty to sixty feet away.
Didn’t matter to Reaper that she was ex-military and knew her way around firearms. Since being discharged, she’d caught a desk at Montana Bounty Hunters, learning the ropes of the paperwork end of the job, and training with the agency’s owner, “Fetch” Winter, until he’d felt comfortable letting her ride shotgun with his most experienced hunter.
From the moment Fetch told Reaper she was his responsibility, he’d been on her ass. No doubt Reaper hoped she’d quit inside a week, but she was entering her second week and rather enjoying the fact her stubborn acceptance of his constant snarky disses annoyed the crap out of him. She’d weathered similar, un-PC comments during her time in the military. They rolled off her back like rain off a duck’s ass.
Lastly, he handed her an earpiece and inserted his own. “Testing,” he whispered. When she took her time responding, he raised an eyebrow. “You got it turned on?”
She raised her hand and shot him the bird. “I heard you loud and clear.”
He hefted a battering ram with one huge hand and rested it on his shoulder then passed over a lock pick kit. “Don’t keep me waiting. As soon as you’re in place, I’ll knock down the door.”
“Shouldn’t we make sure he’s inside first?”
He scowled. “Think I’m a rookie, rookie? Peek in a window on your way. And don’t get your head shot off.”
“Geez, I’d almost think you cared,” she said, giving him a sly grin and a wink.
His expression remained stony.
The time was mid-afternoon, still plenty of light, but she knew he was too impatient to get this catch-and-release finished. They’d already logged ten days on the road, interviewing Mosby’s high school buddies, family members, and former cellmates. A girlfriend who was pissed Mosby was willing to let her car be taken, part of the collateral of his bail bond, mentioned the hunting cabin. After a quick trip to a local Bureau of Land Management office that morning, they had what they hoped was their first break in this case.
They jogged down the quarter mile track to the edge of the clearing. She stayed close to his heels while his long blond ponytail flapped down his back. Not for the first time, she noted his broad shoulders and powerful build. If only he wasn’t such a dick to work with… When they halted, she noted the rusty white pickup parked next to the porch. Someone was home.
Reaper gave her a curt nod then broke left following the tree line, while she kept to the brush to the right, until she was midway down the long side of the shotgun shack. With her heart rate kicking higher, she edged carefully toward a window and shot upward to glance inside.
A man sat in the shadows of a living room in a ratty easy chair, watching TV.
She edged upward again, quickly studied his profile, then crouched to pull the bench warrant from her back pocket to check out their target’s picture. Same bald head and heavy brows, same black tribal tattoo climbing up his shoulder from under his grubby white wife beater to wrap around his neck. “It’s him,” she whispered. “In the living room. Front door’s ten feet from his chair.”
“Is he armed?”
“Didn’t see a weapon. I’m heading to the back door.” She kept close to the side of the house, came around the back, and then halted when she noted the modified back door. “Big damn dog door,” she whispered. “I didn’t see a dog.”
“Good. Door saves us both some time. Get your ass inside, Burke.”
Jamie knelt, lifted the rubber flap, and peeked inside. Still no dog in sight. Tightening her mouth, she pushed her weapon through first, angled her hips, and crawled into the opening, her hands sliding on greasy tile. “I’m inside,” she whispered as she lay sprawled on a floor that smelled like onions and beer. Did the guy use the floor to fry his hamburgers?
“On three,” came Reaper’s raspy whisper. “One…two…three…”
As she shoved to her feet, she heard a distant crash as the wooden front door splintered, and then the clatter of nails on linoleum from a room just beyond the kitchen. She rushed through the doorway into a bedroom just as a short, very muscular brindle pit bull jumped onto the mattress, heading in the most direct path toward her. She darted into a bathroom, climbed onto the toilet seat, then the small counter. When the dog stood on his hind legs, snapping at her boots, she leapt toward the doorway and slammed the door closed, trapping him inside.
The dog thudded heavily against the wood, and then barked like a hellhound.
The sound of furniture thudding came from the next room. Something glass hit the floor and shattered. Muffled grunts and curses sounded.
“Bastard, stay down!” Reaper shouted.
Speeding toward the living room, Jamie halted when she saw Daniel Mosby with Reaper hanging on their target’s back, his arm around his neck in a chokehold.
The two large men hit one side of the doorframe then the other. Mosby’s face was red, his teeth bared. Three inches taller and burlier than Reaper, Mosby kept moving.
Pulse racing, she backed up toward the kitchen doorway.
“Shoot him, Burke!” Reaper growled. “Shoot the fucker!”
Sucking in a breath, she raised her shotgun, aimed for Mosby’s large belly, and pulled the trigger.
Mosby grunted, his black eyes widened, and he screamed, despite the arm cinching his thick neck. And despite the direct hit, he kept coming.
She backed up into the kitchen, sure Mosby would drop any second, but he lunged toward a wall, slamming Reaper against it.
Reaper’s hold loosened.
Mosby shook him off and aimed an elbow behind him, catching Reaper in the chin as he went down. Mosby’s dark gaze locked with hers, and he rushed forward.
With no time to load another round in the shotgun, she considered her Glock, but that was her last resort.
Brains over brawn—a cliché that had served her well in tighter situations. The bastard was big and lumbered toward her like a bear. Likely his size intimidated most men, but she wasn’t a man. And she wasn’t scared. Although she was good at pretending fear. She widened her eyes and sank into a crouch, raising a hand as though to cover her head.
Behind Mosby, Reaper groaned. “Goddammit, Burke. Use your fucking weapon!”
But she had a better idea. Killing was easy. And Mosby had sworn he’d never be caught, never spend another day in prison. She wanted the sorry asshole to spend years thinking about the fact he’d been bested by a woman.
As he rushed her, she kept her feet flat on the greasy floor and ducked to the side. Just as he came within reach, she swept out a foot and tripped him. On his way toward the dirty tile, she spun and clocked him in the back of the head with the butt of her shotgun.
He hit the floor hard, arms sprawled from his sides, and didn’t move.
Before he could stir again, she stuck a knee in his lower back, pulled back one meaty arm, and latched a cuff around his thick wrist, then repeated the action with the other. When he was secured, she shot to her feet and stood over him, at last withdrawing her Glock from its holster to point toward his ass in case he roused. She shot a quick glance over her shoulder at Reaper. “You through napping?”
“Bitch,” he wheezed from the floor.
“He wasn’t armed. What’s your excuse?”
Reaper sat and leaned against the kitchen wall, working his jaw side to side. He winced. “I was just softening him up for you, babe. Nice takedown, by the way.”
And then he smiled—a real smile, not his usual one-sided smirk. She grinned, relieved that at last he saw her worth. “I’m still too scrawny to get his ass to our vehicle. You rested?”
He chuckled and pushed upward, not hiding a groan as he straightened. “Wait until I tell Fetch. He said you were a firecracker, and that I shouldn’t count you out in a fight.”