Authors: Lynn Raye Harris
Tags: #Hostile Operations Team#1
ABOUT THIS BOOK
The last man she ever wanted to see…
Evie Baker’s luck just ran out. Thanks to an
ex-partner with organized crime ties, she’s lost her restaurant,
her money, and nearly all her self-respect. Forced to return to her
hometown and work as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, she
doesn’t think her luck can get any worse.
But then someone starts shooting at her, her
sullen baby sister is suddenly missing, and the high school
heartthrob who stole her heart—and her virginity—is the only man
big enough and bad enough to help.
Might be the only one who can save her…
Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard can’t
afford to get involved. He’s already on the verge of a
court-martial after a Top Secret op gone wrong, and he’s been
ordered to stay out of trouble while he’s home for his sister’s
But when Evie’s ex-partner turns up dead,
staying out of trouble is the last thing on Matt’s mind. He failed
Evie once before; he can’t fail her again. If he’s going to protect
her from a killer, and find her sister before time runs out, he’ll
have to risk his entire future—and both their lives—to do it.
Things are about to get HOT in the bayou!
Copyright 2013 by Lynn Raye Harris.
Cover Design Copyright 2013 Croco
Digital Formatting by Author E.M.S.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All
For my handsome military husband, who always
believed in this story.
Two months ago…
SOMETHING WAS WRONG.
It wasn’t anything obvious, but Captain
Matthew Girard felt it in his gut nonetheless. It was an itching
sensation across his skin, a buzzing in his belly. Perhaps it was
simply the weight of this mission pressing down on him. Though the
Hostile Operations Team always performed critical missions, this
one was even more so. Failure was not an option.
Beside him, Kevin MacDonald lay in the sand,
his camouflage-clad form as still as marble until the moment he
turned his head and caught Matt’s eye.
Kev’s hand moved.
Doesn’t feel right
, Matt signaled back. Count on Kev
to pick up on it too. They’d been on a shitload of ops together.
Matt knew that if his second-in-command was picking up on this
weird vibe, it wasn’t just him. Yet the mission was too important
to scrub without more than just a gut feeling to go on.
“It’s awful quiet in that compound.” Jim
Matuzaki’s voice came through the earpiece a few moments later.
“Yeah,” Matt answered into the mic attached
to his helmet. Almost as if the tangos inside knew that a HOT squad
was coming and had abandoned the compound.
The stone structure thirty meters away rose
two stories high and lacked windows. The roof was flat to enable
gunmen to look out on the surrounding territory and defend the
But there were no gunmen. Not tonight.
In the surveillance photos, the gunmen were
so plentiful they’d stood out against the pale roof like a
porcupine’s quills. And now…
Though it was quiet here, gunfire exploded in
the distance at regular intervals. A pitched battle between a
pocket of enemy forces and a Ranger battalion raged a few miles
away. HOT’s mission was quieter, but no less deadly.
They were here for Jassar ibn-Rashad, heir to
Freedom Force leader Al Ahmad. But this mission was different.
Usually, they killed the target. Tonight, they were extracting him.
The rumored new Freedom Force mastermind was wanted higher up in
the chain, and Matt didn’t question orders from the Pentagon. They
wanted him, they were getting him.
Matt and his team had planned the mission to
kidnap ibn-Rashad for weeks. Down to the last damn detail. And then
they’d gotten word just a few days ago that ibn-Rashad was moving
to this location.
The intel was good. Damn good. And their
contact had been reliable on more than one occasion.
But this time?
The bad feeling in Matt’s gut was getting
stronger by the second. He’d thought the kid seemed more nervous
than usual the last time he’d gone to meet with him. The kid had
always been nervous, but he’d seemed to trust Matt’s word. And Matt
had trusted him as much as he was able. Trust, but verify.
Which the CIA had done. All the chatter
indicated that ibn-Rashad had moved to this location. Nothing
indicated that the Freedom Force had any idea they were being
targeted. And in spite of the niggling feeling he’d had about the
whole thing, Matt had chosen to press forward with the op.
Just then, a light flashed up on the roof and
blinked out again. Male voices carried in the night, followed by a
bark of laughter.
“Two men,” Marco San Ramos said over the
Marco and Jim were closer and had a better
view through the glasses.
“Richie?” Jim’s voice came through the
headset again, calling Matt by his team name.
He knew what the other man was asking. What
they were all waiting for. In another location close by, Billy
Blake, Jack Hunter, Chase Daniels, and Ryan Gordon also waited for
the signal to go or to retreat. The timeline was tight, and if they
didn’t go in now, they’d have to scrub the mission. They had
precisely twenty minutes to infiltrate the compound, kill the
tangos, and extract ibn-Rashad.
they were going in.
“Mission is a go.” Matt made the split-second
decision in spite of the acid roiling in his belly. What if they
didn’t get a second chance at this? Lives hung in the balance with
ibn-Rashad remaining free. This mission had always been risky, but
what did they ever do that wasn’t?
Failing was simply not a part of his genetic
makeup. Maybe he got it from the old man—that combination of
stubbornness, meanness, and sheer cockiness that wouldn’t let him
back down unless there was no other option. He wasn’t stupid, but
he wasn’t a quitter either. And people’s lives hung in the
People he could save. He’d made a promise,
long ago, and he’d kept it. He was still keeping it.
“Repeat,” Matt said, his jaw tight, “mission
is a go.”
“Copy,” Jim replied. The rest of the men
chimed in. Seconds later, two cracks rang in the night. And then
Billy’s voice came over the headset. “Targets on roof
Matt let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d
been holding. Jack “Hawk” Hunter could always be counted on to make
the difficult shots. The dude was probably the best sharpshooter
Matt had ever seen. Thank God.
Everything went like clockwork from that
point on. They converged on the compound from their separate
locations. Kev set a charge on the door and then it exploded
inward. Billy tossed a flash-bang into the opening. It went off
with a loud crack, the light flaring for a split second as bright
as a nuclear flash. Whoever was in that room would be temporarily
blind and disoriented after that baby went off.
The team rushed through the door, going right
and left in succession, guns drawn, as pandemonium reigned inside.
HOT worked like a well-oiled machine. Each man knew instinctively
where to shoot, could have done so blindfolded.
Within seconds, the terrorists lay dead and
the scent of spent gunpowder hung heavy in the air, along with the
odors of smoke and stale sweat.
Sweat also trickled down the inside of Matt’s
assault suit. He didn’t have time to be uncomfortable. Instead, he
and Kev raced up the steps along with Marco and Jim, searching for
ibn-Rashad, while the other guys secured the perimeter.