What happens when the very men—trained to make the hard decisions—come up against the rules and regulations that hold them back from doing what needs to be done? They either stay and work within the constraints given to them or they walk away. Only now, for a select few, they have another option:
A covert black ops team that steps up
and breaks all the rules …
but gets the job done.
Welcome to a new military romance series by USA Today best-selling author Dale Mayer. A series where you meet new friends and just might get to meet old ones too in this raw and compelling look at the men who keep us safe every day from the darkness where they operate—and live—in the shadows … until someone special helps them step into the light.
USA Today Bestselling Author
With barely enough time to recover from helping out Miles in London, Nico is off to Australia … and a secret mission involving a US covert operative …
When an American undercover operative’s sister goes missing in Australia, Nico has to find out if this is connected to the operative or to the sister’s own activist background. Apparently she made enemies easily.
Charlotte hadn’t wanted to make this trip in the first place, preferring to communicate her polarizing messages through writing her books now. But, bowing under pressure, she finally arrives in Australia, only to be attacked within minutes of reaching her hotel room for the night. After her rescue, she’s forced to dig deep into her family and public life to find the mastermind kidnapper and to stay safe as the bodies pile up.
Nothing makes sense in this twisted mission, but Nico is determined to keep Charlotte safe, even as things take a more personal turn …
As seems to be usual, Nico gets called for a job not long after the last one was completed. Charlotte Ankerby, an anthropologist and an activist for indigenous people around the world, has gone missing. In Australia to give the keynote speech at a rally she’s disappeared without a trace. The problem is they don’t know if it’s because of her undercover brother, or her own activities.
Nico’s partner is Keane, and they begin with investigating the hotel. Something tells them she isn’t far, they just have to figure out where. They figure laundry was the way and decide to question the folks down there.
This is a favorite scene.
Charlotte had been moved from the truck to another laundry cart. Like, what the hell was with that? She was being pushed even now down a hallway. She had no idea why all kinds of discussions were going on in front of her, but one of those was about a helicopter. She wondered exactly who and what was going by helicopter because, if it was her, that wasn’t good news. That would mean she had pissed off somebody really big. She groaned silently.
She wanted the companies to do more, and she wanted the governments to do more. But what she really wanted most was for the world to wake up and to pay attention. To everything— the people, the animals, the climate, and the planet. But, of course, everybody was addicted to their instant conveniences and were happy to stick their heads in the sand about any future generations’ problems and make it a not me problem. She shifted uneasily in the bottom of the bag only to have the top of her head smacked, hard. “Don’t move.”
She took several deep calming breaths. She was covered with laundry and hadn’t really thought anybody would notice, but maybe it made the bag itself move. She stuck a finger along the edge and waggled it. Could somebody else see it? But she did not want the man pushing her to know.
Using her feet, she set up a slight rhythm on the end of the laundry cart. At least the guy pushing her wouldn’t see that. And, with the swaying as they moved forward, it should cover her movements. So far, she hadn’t even heard anybody in the hallway. How did that work? Sure, it was probably late at night again, at least by her estimation, but she was losing track of time. They’ve given her several bathroom breaks, but somebody stood guard each time, watching her.
The first time it made her feel really icky. The second time had been a matter of urgency and she’d been just too damn grateful that she hadn’t worried as much about them watching her. She had muttered Pervert as he walked past though and had been cuffed on the side of the head for that comment. Still, it hadn’t beaten her spirits down too badly.
As long as they were on the move, surely somebody, anybody might see them by chance. The cart jolted as it took a sudden turn. She listened intently, and, sure enough, she heard footsteps up ahead. She didn’t know if it was just one person or not. She also didn’t know if that person would help her or if it was somebody meeting this guy.
“Hey, you still on duty?”
“Last load,” said the guy pushing her cart.
“Man, it’s late for you.”
“I know, right? But the place is a nuthouse.”
“If only I had a share of the money that this hotel was pulling in,” the new guy said enviously. His footsteps continued to walk on past ever-so-slightly.
She again used her foot to make it look like something moved inside the cart, but he hadn’t even seemed to notice. She sank back, feeling hot tears in her eyes. Something in that new voice had her desperate to try to jump out though. But then, if it got her killed, what good would that do? And then suddenly she heard the voice call out, “Hey, by the way, where are you taking that laundry hamper to?”
“It’s going up to the penthouse. Why?” asked the guy pushing her. She could hear the tension running through his voice like a coiled wire stretched too tight.
“I didn’t think that was part of your job.”
“What the hell do you know about my job?” the guy said defensively.
“Well, for one, the penthouse doesn’t get laundry carts like that,” the guy said in a dry tone. “And, for another, you’re well past your shift.”
“I’m not. I still have ten minutes left.”
“Yeah, well, let me see what’s inside your laundry cart.”
“What the hell do you care, man?”
“I care,” he said, “so just shut it and let me see.”
“It’s fucking laundry. But sure, if you’re into laundry, go for it. Here. Come on over and take a look.”
If the guy bent over, she knew what would happen. Her kidnapper would hit this poor person if she didn’t do something. She struggled to move underneath the laundry, but it seemed to be at the same time that they were lifting up laundry above her. She screamed behind her gag, a sound that she swore was yelling at top decibels but came out as a muted moan.
And then she heard the new guy say, “Hey, what the hell is this?”
Her kidnapper said, “You fucking asshole, get out of my business.”
She heard a blow hit. She tried to sit up and push off all the laundry that had been put on top of her. She felt some of it giving way. She reached for the edge of the hamper and tried to stand, sending the rest of the laundry all over the floor. She fell over the side of the hamper to the floor, completely caught up in the laundry.
As the two men fought, she scrambled to stand, when suddenly somebody picked her up and threw her over his shoulder, and she was carried down the hallway. She tried to scream and wiggle free but then she was in an elevator. She moaned and fought, her body struggling hard as she tried to head-bang him away.
Then she was set on her feet, and the binding around her mouth was ripped free, and a voice asked, “Are you Charlotte?”
She nodded, staring in the dimly lit elevator to see who it was. She felt a little reassured that the doors to the elevator remained open.
“You’re safe now,” he said.
She stared up, her gaze widening. “Who are you?” she whispered.
“My name is Nico. My partner’s attacking your kidnapper right now.”
She shook her head and frantically said, “He’s only one of four. You have to help him.”
“Help my buddy? No, somebody needs to help your kidnapper,” he said. Just then another man came into the elevator, pushing the laundry cart.
As she stared down, her kidnapper was facing up, but he was unconscious. “Is he dead?” she whispered.
The new arrival just grinned and shook his head, pushing a button on the elevator to close the doors and to get it moving now.
As she stood here, shivering and trembling at the sudden change of her circumstances, she said, “If you don’t clean up all that laundry out there, somebody’ll notice.”
“Yeah. They’ll notice and blame him.”
Before she could process it, her arms were separated from her bindings. She groaned as Nico dropped her arms gently to her side. She shuddered with pain, but her rescuer rubbed the top of each of her arms all the way down to her hands. She looked to see the knife he’d used to separate the duct tape. She whispered, “Thank you. I thought my arms had died.”
“No problem. It’s always rough at first, when trying to get the blood flowing again,” he said, a note of apology in his voice. “Take the rest of the bindings off while I cut your feet apart.” He quickly separated the tape at her ankles and ripped it off. She’d been wearing slip-on sandals and Capri jeans, so the duct tape had left a raw red band on her skin. But she barely felt it with all the blood rushing to her extremities. Just being upright made her a bit dizzy. She huddled against the corner as she slowly tried to get the rest of duct tape off her wrists.
When he straightened and looked at her, he said, “I’m sorry. It’ll hurt, but it’s much better this way.” And he grabbed one hand, then he grabbed her wrist, and he just ripped. She cried out in pain, but he did it again. She stared up at him, her eyes wounded and her mouth open, knowing that the odd keening sound was coming from her, but she was unable to stop it.
Immediately he pulled her into his arms and just held her close. “It’s okay. You’re safe now.”
She collapsed against him, tears pouring down her cheeks. “Why did they choose me?” she whispered. “Why me?”
“We’re trying to figure that out,” he said. “Maybe when he wakes up, he’ll have a few answers for us.”
“Aren’t you taking him to the police?”
“Nah,” the second guy said. “Don’t really feel like helping the police out on this one.”
She stared up at him, a little nervous and confused. “Are you not the police?”
The man shook his head. “No,” he said, “but you’re safe with us.”
She bit her bottom lip. “Am I though? I’m not exactly sure about that.”
“Well, you’re no longer tied up, and we’ve taken out your kidnapper, so maybe you could rethink that.”
She blinked slightly, trying to figure out just what had happened. “If you’re not the police,” she said, her voice gaining in strength, “who are you?”
“We’re military, Special Ops,” the first guy said. “US Navy. And we came here to collect you.”
She stared at him. “Okay,” she said slowly. “But you’re a long way from home.”
“That’s quite true,” he said, handing her a burner phone. “Should we get separated, use only this phone to communicate with only me. My number’s the only one in the Contacts list.”
She numbly stuck the phone in her jeans pocket, frowning.
Just then the elevator came to a stop, and one guy backed out, pulling his laundry cart with her kidnapper still in it. The other one grabbed her arm, following his partner, and said, “Come on. Let’s go.”
Dale Mayer. Nico (Kindle Locations 561-635). Valley Publishing Ltd..
This is only the beginning as they end up with far more questions than answers. Even once they get Charlotte home, there’s much to figure out.
Lot’s of suspense and intrigue, a family reunion and a simmer to sizzle romance that I love so much!
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!
Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.