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Tyson’s Mission

Tyson's Mission

A former Navy SEAL is tapped to provide security for a team of archeologists working to uncover Mayan ruins deep in a Mexican jungle that a local drug cartel is targeting.

After surviving a catastrophic helicopter accident, former Navy SEAL Tyson Quigley is taking well to his new life with the Brotherhood Protectors in the Yellowstone, Montana, office. Life’s looking up. He’s working with old teammates and feeling stronger and more himself every day.

Then he gets a call from his university professor brother, who is worried about a colleague working on an archeological dig in southern Mexico. The team has had problems with thefts of equipment and supplies. Now, one of the dig team members has been kidnapped and held for ransom, but they quickly figure out the finger they were sent in the package demanding payment is from an already dead person. Now, they have no idea whether their team member is alive or dead and worry that the attacks on the site aren’t over. After a quick conference with his Brotherhood Protector teammates, Ty heads down to Mexico to pose as his brother’s friend’s boyfriend to provide her protection for the remainder of the dig.

Cara Woodward doesn’t need a babysitter. Sure, things have gotten scary since a team member was abducted, but she thinks having a bodyguard is overkill. Their sponsors are pulling the plug on the excavation due to the kidnapping, so they’re working furiously to close the site for the season. Tyson’s everywhere she is, and it’s getting on her nerves. His looming presence is distracting, to say the least. He’s too handsome, too intense.

As the dig team continues documenting their work before they pack up and leave, they suffer a series of attacks—this time, too close to Cara for Ty’s comfort. He’s locking her down, with no daylight between them for the duration.

Read an Excerpt

Tyson Quigley didn’t have a lot to complain about. Not really. He’d been one of the lucky ones following “the incident,” which had wounded and killed so many of his teammates. He hadn’t lost a limb and had only some exterior scarring, all of it hidden beneath his clothing, so he didn’t suffer stares or any notice at all when he mingled with the public.

No, his scars were mostly on the inside, where only he could experience them, and therefore, he felt guilty over the fact that he suffered at all. His wounds were stupid. Loss of a spleen. Who needed one anyway? Loss of a kidney. Well, he’d had two, so the other was an extra organ.

So, he felt like the fact his main issues were mental was an affront to his previous badass profession. Loss of sleep due to nightmares…random moments spent frozen in panic…while experiencing flashbacks of the helicopter exploding around him—visions that slow-rolled through his mind of debris hurtling toward him, piercing him, while flames burst all around him before he dropped into the dark water and sank, weighted down by his gear and weapons—without a single breath in his lungs, because the explosion had forced his lungs to expel that last inward gasp.

Those were based on his memories—all in his mind. So why couldn’t he just take a deep breath and shake them off? Be a man.

How he’d managed to free himself of his gear when his torso had been ripped with metal fragments from the chopper, his right femur had snapped like a twig, and he’d been bleeding out still confounded him. Something, perhaps pure adrenaline, had lent him the strength to push aside the pain and fight to make it to the surface. Why wasn’t that same courage helping him get past the emasculating fear that haunted him?

He didn’t talk about it with his brothers in arms—former soldiers and SEALs. He wasn’t one to whine on anyone’s shoulder. He just sucked it up the best he could, and slowly, he was recovering. He’d slept well last night. Perhaps it had something to do with the 10k run he’d completed yesterday with fellow SEAL Gunnar Nielson. Perhaps getting back to the physical conditioning he’d enjoyed before he’d experienced hell on earth was the prescription to cure for his mental woes.

As well he had a lot to be thankful for. He was here. Alive. Physically recovered. In West Yellowstone, Montana. A place that was beautiful beyond anything he’d seen in his journeys abroad. And he was still working side by side with the people who’d shared that tragic incident. They’d all rallied around each other as they’d recovered and spent time in rehab. When the Brotherhood Protectors had approached them to form another specialized team to continue to serve and utilize the skills they’d worked hard to hone while in the military, it had felt as though they’d been offered a soft landing.

Ty was part of the second wave of Team Eagle to join the Brotherhood in West Yellowstone, and he’d been paired with Gunn, his new “battle buddy” soon after his arrival. Being buddied up felt natural. Gunn had completed his first solo mission, providing protection to a group of scientists sitting on an ice floe in the middle of the Arctic Ocean that had a murderer among them—and he’d brought back the project manager of that group. Maddie Russo was finding her legs in West Yellowstone and had her own soft landing after the drama on the ice floe. She was now working with a wolf sanctuary as part of their management team.

Gunn and Maddie’s romance was still fresh and new, and Ty was happy for them both, but sometimes, he felt a little envious of their happiness.

Ty had always envisioned that, someday, he’d find one special woman to settle down with, not that he knew how to form a happy family. He and his brother had been raised by an uncle who hadn’t had a clue what to do with kids other than feed and clothe them. Bradon had caught Uncle Charles’s archeological bug and followed him into academic life, leaving the less studious Tyson free to do pretty much what he pleased. He and his brother had never been especially close, exchanging phone calls and cards around holidays but never truly connecting.

No, Tyson had delayed his search for that perfect woman who could teach him how to love for years because he’d been made wary when he’d served on active duty after seeing so many of his teammates’ marriages fail due to stress and long absences. At thirty-four, with so many of the men around him now finding their perfect partners, Ty felt as though he was losing the race.

Ty gritted his teeth, drew air into his lungs, and pushed one last time with his feet on the plates that raised the weights on the leg press. Then he lowered them gently and swung his legs to the side, not rising instantly because he needed a few seconds to let his heart rate slow first and his thighs to stop quivering. He was pressing what he had before the incident. Hooyah.

The door to the gym situated in the West Yellowstone headquarters of the Brotherhood Protectors swung open, and Wyatt Bixby strode inside. “Hey, you left your phone in the conference room. You’ve had two calls from the same number. Someone in San Diego,” he said, his eyebrows rising. He strode toward him and handed him the phone.

Ty swiped down. The calls were from his brother. He frowned. “It’s my brother.”

“Didn’t know you had one.”

“Sometimes, I forget I do,” Ty muttered. He tapped the contact and held the phone to his ear as he stood and followed Wyatt out of the door.

“Tyson,” his brother said. “I’ve been trying to get hold of you.”

“What’s up, bro? It’s not my birthday.” He said it as a joke, but he did wonder why his brother was calling him out of the blue.

“I need help—and I didn’t know who else to call.” His brother’s usual dry, measured words came quickly and were filled with tension. “Last time we spoke at Christmas, you mentioned you’d joined the Brotherhood Protectors. Well, I looked up your organization. Sounds like they do good work.”

“Is the help you’re looking for something you think our organization would get involved in?”

“I don’t know. The university doesn’t have the kind of money needed to pay for the protection my friend needs. The only solution they offered was to cut short the dig…”

Ahead of him, Wyatt had stopped in the corridor and turned toward him.

Ty gave him a nod to let him know this might be official business.

Wyatt gestured for Ty to follow him and headed toward the conference room.

“Bradon, would it be okay for me to put this call on speaker so some other guys from my team can listen in?”

“Sure. Whatever you think is best.”

“I don’t want you to have to repeat yourself. Let me gather some folks. Can you stay on the line?”

Ahead of him, Wyatt brought his cell phone to his ear. “Hey, Stone. Ty has a call we might want to listen in on… His brother… Don’t know yet, but it sounds like he might need our help.”

They entered the conference room. Stone was already seated there, along with Corbin River, Xavier Larson, and Knox Preston, who were part of the Team Eagle protectors. As Wyatt and Ty took their seats, the door opened, and Gunn slipped inside and took a seat beside Ty.

“What do we have?” Gunn asked, turning toward Stone, who pointed to Ty.

Ty laid his phone on the table, increased the volume, and tapped SPEAKER. “All right, Bradon. I’ve got my guys here.” He looked around the table. “How about you introduce yourselves.”

“Stone Jacobs, here.”

“Wyatt Bixby.”

“Gunnar Nielsen.”

“Corbin River.”

“Knox Preston.”

“Xavier Larson.”

Ty leaned toward his phone. “That’s everyone. Now, start from the beginning.”

“Hello, everyone,” his brother said, his tone more subdued. “I’m Bradon Quigley, Tyson’s brother. I’m a faculty member at the University of California in San Diego, specifically part of the archeology department. Another faculty member, Roy Beacham, is on a dig, accompanied by some of his students and the project manager, Cara Woodward, another friend of mine. They’re in southern Mexico on the Yucatan peninsula. The dig site is near the border of Guatemala. It’s a place they’ve worked in seasonally for a couple of years now. They’ve always had problems. Little things…thefts of equipment and supplies. Cara does her best to keep on top of everything. She’s made contacts in the neighboring villages to resupply the site, but it’s becoming more and more dangerous now that a cartel is operating in the area. For the most part, they’ve tolerated the groups who come in to excavate.”

“Has something changed?” Ty asked.

“A week ago, one of the students went missing. Before they had a chance to report it to the local police, a messenger arrived with a package containing a thumb. The cartel is now asking for ransom.”

“We’re not K&R negotiators,” Stone said. “We can do extractions, but that doesn’t sound like what you need right now.”

“The university and the parents of the student are handling that. The school has some K&R insurance, so they’re involved. They’re recommending that Roy pack up and bring home the students, but Roy says he has to stay long enough to build some shelters to protect what they’ve already uncovered from the elements. It could take a couple more weeks before he can close up shop. He sent back the remaining students, but he and Cara, who is the one managing the workers on the site, are hanging back to oversee the work. I’m worried about them both, especially Cara because she works so closely with the locals.”

“Are you asking for protection for the site?”

“More for Cara. Roy sticks close to the dig. He has a couple of colleagues from the University of Mexico who work closely with him, too. He feels secure enough.”

“I can assign a man to act as her bodyguard.”

“Like I told Tyson, there aren’t funds for this, but I could try to get a GoFundMe—”

“Don’t worry about payment, Bradon,” Stone said. “We do pro bono work. I’ll get the okay from my boss, but I don’t see any problem with us providing Cara the help she needs.”

“Um, she doesn’t think she needs help,” he said in a small voice.

Stone’s eyebrows shot up. “Does she know you’re looking for a bodyguard for her?”

“No. I think she’d be pretty upset if she did.”

“So, you want to spring this on her? Is that the smart thing to do?” Stone asked.

“It’s the only way to handle it,” he said. “Once your guy is on the ground, she won’t be able to do a thing about it.”

Wyatt cleared his throat. “Is it smart to send a man out there with the express mission of protecting her? Wouldn’t that make him a target of the cartel?”

“It might work better if you said he was a replacement for some of the students who left,” Bradon said.

“The only problem is the first time someone asked him a question about Mayan culture and artifacts, he’d be exposed as a fraud,” Tyson said.

Stone leaned toward the phone. “This friend of yours, Cara, is she married?”

“No. And no boyfriend, either. She’s a project manager who works mostly with non-profits, so she kind of lives out of a duffle bag. No ties.”

“So, our guy,” Tyson said, “could arrive and play the part of her boyfriend.”

Bradon chuckled. “I’d love to see her face when he gets there and gives her a hug. She’s a little prickly.”

“How old is she?” Stone asked. “We don’t want too much of a mismatch.”

“Thirty-two, I think.”

Stone’s gaze went to Tyson and narrowed. “Send what you have on Cara so our guy can bone up and forward the directions to the dig site. We’ll have someone out there by tomorrow.” Stone checked his watch. “Maybe even by this evening if I can arrange a private plane.”

Tyson frowned as Stone continued to look at him.

“Thank you so much. I was at my wit’s end trying to figure out how to help Roy and Cara.”

“We’ll keep in touch,” Stone said.

Tyson picked up his phone. “Send that information, bro. We’ll get to work to make this happen.”

“Call me when you have someone in the air. And let me know their ETA. I’ll let Roy know when it’s too late for Cara to do anything about this.”

“Will do. She sounds like a bit of a hardass.”

“You have no clue.”

After he ended the call, Ty blew out a breath and sat back in his chair.

Stone glanced at Gunn. “You get Tyson loaded up with comms and tech. No weapon. We’ll take care of arming him once he’s on the ground there. I’ll want you on the plane with him, but only to familiarize yourself with the airport in case we have to return with more people.”

Tyson drew a deep breath. He’d hoped he’d be tapped, seeing as how his brother had brought the mission to them. “Guess I better pack some clothes.”

“You do that,” Stone said. “Check the weather. It’s the beginning of spring, but you’ll be pretty far south.”

Tyson nodded and pushed up from his chair. As he left, he heard Stone say, “Get with Booker. I’ll want you to helicopter him to Eagle Pass. Hank just messaged me that we can use the BroPro jet to get them to Mexico. Booker’s flying it in.”

“I’ll be his co-pilot,” Xavier said. “I’ve wanted to see the inside of the cockpit.”

Outside the conference room, Gunn walked up beside him as he headed back to his room in the lodge. Gunn clapped his shoulder. “Your first mission—and you’ll be covering a project manager. My girl, Maddie, has done that gig. Do you want to pick her brain while you’re on the flight so you’ll know the kinds of things she does?”

“That’d be helpful.”

“Well, I’ll go pack your tech and meet you in front of the lodge. Be quick. I imagine it’ll be wheels up as soon as you’re ready.”

Tyson took off at a jog, entering the lodge and rushing up the steps to the second floor. It looked like he was going solo. Perhaps he should’ve told someone about his panic attacks. Too late now.

When he arrived, he’d put one foot in front of the other and keep alert to his surroundings. And he’d breathe. No way was he going to let a little PTSD get in the way of the mission. He was a SEAL, goddammit. This little protection detail should be fairly straightforward—minimal danger. A few cartel thugs were nothing compared to a horde of ISIS militants. His first solo assignment should be a cakewalk.