NY Times Bestselling Author
The most dangerous threats of all…
Partway through her third deployment to Bagram, Army nurse Lt. Erin Kelly is burned out and headed for a well-deserved leave back home in Montana. But when a mysterious stranger shows up and unintentionally drags her into harm’s way with him, she suddenly finds herself an unwitting target of the U.S.’s number one high value target: the notorious American-born terrorist known as Rahim. Now stuck in a CIA safe house with the sexy operative, it’s impossible to ignore the explosive attraction between them…or to forget that death is stalking them both.
Are the ones you don’t see coming.
CIA operative Wade Sandberg is a man caught between worlds. He’s spent the past three years living deep undercover amongst the enemy, infiltrating the network of the U.S.’s most wanted terrorist—until the kidnapping of a high-ranking American official forced him to blow his cover. Officially sidelined from the investigation to bring down Rahim, Wade knows he’ll never be able to work in the region again. When he’s sent back stateside with Erin, keeping his hands off her proves to be even harder than making the transition back into western civilization. And when Rahim takes his revenge by unleashing a devastating attack on U.S. soil, Wade will do everything in his power to protect the woman he loves and destroy the man who’d once trusted him with his life.
Another powerful book that brings home the facts of war and terrorism.
If you’ve been reading these books you’ll remember Erin from all the hospital visits the others have made. She’s an Army nurse, and she can fight as well as heal, with the healing being more of a priority for her. In this book she’s ready to head home for some R&R looking forward to seeing family and riding horses.
Wade was instrumental in the rescue of the Secretary of Defense, Maya and Jackson from the vicious hands of the terrorist Rahim. Unfortunately Rahim isn’t taking this betrayal lightly and has plans for Wade and everyone he’s been in contact with.
After a run in with Erin when he goes to see Jackson, Wade prepares for his trip stateside. He’s not sure how he feels when he arrives at the transport to find Erin already there. Apparently they would be traveling stateside together. At least that was how it initially appears.
Then things go FUBAR at the last checkpoint on their way to the airport.
This is a favorite scene.
While security made up of Afghan police and military inspected the forward vehicles, a guard came over to collect their travel documents. Wade watched the man’s face carefully as he checked the photo in his passport and glanced up to study him. When he handed it back and moved on to Erin’s without further investigation, Wade allowed himself to relax a little. The guard finished his check and waved them forward. Once they passed through the gate without incident, Wade eased back against the seat and placed his hands on his thighs, away from the grips of the concealed pistols. He watched in the passenger side mirror just to assure himself there was nothing funny happening behind them and no one following them.
“Something wrong?” Erin asked him.
“No.” He didn’t want to worry her, but he couldn’t let his guard down until that plane lifted off the tarmac in Kabul. Rahim had an extensive network and there was no telling who might be a threat out here.
She studied him for a moment longer, as if she wasn’t sold on the denial, then went back to staring out her window. Wade stole a glance at her profile. The curve of her cheek looked so soft and smooth, and that dusting of freckles across her nose was downright adorable on her. When she turned her head and caught him staring, he felt himself flush, but she didn’t seem annoyed or offended. Rather, she let her gaze travel over his face for a moment before meeting his eyes, and if he wasn’t mistaken she seemed to like what she saw.
“Can I ask you something?”
He might be rusty when it came to making conversation, let alone with a woman, but in his experience when a female phrased a question like that, it was gonna be really damn personal. Since he was going to be trapped beside her for the next long while, there was no escape except to be rude and shut her down, which he didn’t have the heart to do. Digging deep for the forgotten social niceties his mother had drummed into him as a kid, he answered. “Sure.”
“I assume you’re not current military, so what are you? A contractor?”
Close enough. “Yeah.”
Those intelligent eyes kept cataloguing his features and he knew she was studying him from the perspective of both a soldier and a medical professional. He was pretty sure she’d already figured out far more about him than she was letting on.
“Bet it’s been a while since you ate American-style food, huh?”
Yep, definitely putting it all together in that pretty little head. He nodded in acknowledgement and braced himself for more questions, the inevitable lies he’d have to feed her to protect his identity, but she surprised him by letting it go to stare out her window once more.
They rode in silence for the next forty minutes until the convoy began to slow when they reached the next checkpoint, the last one before they hit Kabul. Wade watched as the military guards approached the vehicles. This time a few of the soldiers climbed into the back of the supply trucks ahead to inspect the cargo. He could see two other guards talking to the driver and passengers of the lead Humvee. The taller of the two guards sent to inspect the first vehicle talked to the occupants for what seemed a lot longer than necessary, and by the time he and his partner turned and headed toward their vehicle, Wade’s instincts were already humming.
“Passports,” the guy said to Thompson in heavily accented English as he scanned the interior. His gaze fell on Wade and he paused for just a fraction of a second before taking their ID from Thompson. Wade kept his attention riveted on the man as he perused the documents and glanced up at Erin before swinging his eyes back to Wade. “Wait here,” he told Thompson, and motioned for his partner to come over. They stood far enough back from the truck that Wade couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it was clear from the surprise on the second man’s face that whatever the first one said meant bad news. Ahead of them, the first Humvee and both supply trucks started through the checkpoint.
“Taking their sweet fucking time clearing us, aren’t they?” Thompson muttered in annoyance. Being isolated from the rest of the convoy was definitely cause for concern.
The first guard said something into his radio that Wade didn’t catch, then turned and headed for the guardhouse. When the second guard stared at them and held up a hand to make sure they stayed where they were, the alarm in Wade’s head started blaring. Something was definitely wrong.
He cursed in Pashto and jerked forward to grab Thompson’s shoulder. “Get us outta here.” Erin stiffened and shot him a disbelieving look but Wade didn’t take his eyes off the second guard.
Thompson cranked his head around to gape at Wade, opening his mouth to say something, but Wade cut him off. “Right fucking now,” he snarled, just as more guards exited the little building building and started toward them, weapons at the ready. Erin sucked in a breath and froze in her seat. Wade didn’t look at her. “Holy shit,” Thompson blurted as he realized what was happening, then started the truck and gunned it in reverse. His whole body tense, Wade stared through the windshield as the guards burst into a flurry of activity. Swinging them around in a hard J-turn, Thompson stomped on the accelerator and tore back the way they’d come, already on the radio to the lead vehicle, now trapped on the opposite side of the checkpoint. “They’re coming after us—getting us outta here.”
“Oh, shit,” he heard Erin breathe as she ducked down and put a hand on the weapon strapped to her thigh.
Looking back through the passenger window, Wade saw two black pickups tearing after them, a gunner in the back of each manning the mounted rifles there. He whipped around to check their six o’clock. Beyond the barricade, the soldiers in the rest of the convoy were all being hauled out at gunpoint and ordered onto their stomachs on the ground. Over the radio Wade could hear the shouts and confusion going on, and the message was clear: they were on their own.
Wade faced front and leaned forward a little to peer out the windshield as they tore down the two-lane highway. “Get us off this road,” he snapped at the driver.
“And go where?” Thompson demanded, jaw tight, fingers clenched around the wheel.
“Where they can’t follow. More of ‘em will be coming at us from the northern checkpoint now too.”
Swearing, Thompson glanced once in the rearview, saw the trucks coming at them, and veered off the main road. The big vehicle bounced and bucked as it tore across the dry, open plain. Over the radio, the response from Bagram came back. Stand by. “Got any ideas?” Thompson demanded.
The only two options were left or right. “Head for those hills.” Wade pointed left, to the northwest.
“What about mines?” Erin said in a tight voice, her body tense. She had her weapon in her right hand, her left one gripping the door handle so hard her knuckles were white.
Wade took in her pinched expression, how pale she was. A foreign feeling of guilt settled in his chest. He’d done some fucked-up things in his time undercover, but knowing he’d put her in this potentially lethal situation because Rahim was targeting him made him feel badly. “Shouldn’t be a problem here.” Unless they ran over an IED buried in the ground.
“So, toward the hills. And then what?” Thompson jerked the truck to the side to avoid a clump of boulders.
“We see what happens.”
Erin cranked around in her seat, mouth thinned as she stared out the rear window. “I think they’re gaining on us.”
Wade swung around to look. Yeah, and at this speed, in another few minutes those gunners would have them within range. He turned back to search in the distance ahead of them, scanning the terrain for a better, faster route. There wasn’t one.
Cross, Kaylea. Danger Close (Bagram Special Ops Series Book 4) (pp. 25-30). Kaylea Cross. Kindle Edition.
When they finally make it back to Bagram, Erin learns the severity of the situation she finds herself in and who Wade actually works for.
In spite of everything Erin finds herself falling for Wade, and then there’s the close confines of the safe house they eventually get to.
Nothing is going to fall into place easily, not Rahim, not the traitors among them, not even the beginning relationship.
There’s a lot of action, hold your breath scenes, some laughter, lots of tears and a romance that survives it all.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!
5 Contented Purrs for Kaylea!
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kaylea Cross writes edge-of-your-seat military romantic suspense. Her work has won many awards and has been nominated for both the Daphne du Maurier and the National Readers’ Choice Awards. A Registered Massage Therapist by trade, Kaylea is also an avid gardener, artist, Civil War buff, Special Ops aficionado, belly dance enthusiast and former nationally-carded softball pitcher. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and family.