Special Forces: Operation Alpha
NT Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
He won’t lose her again…
Delta Operative Heath “Woof” Davis has spent years living on the edge. Protecting a State Department official is just another assignment until he discovers that Eleanor Bonham is Nori Duncan, the one that got away. He can protect her from enemy forces in the Republic of Kazarus, but can he defend his heart from the woman who used to be his everything?
She’s not going to fall for a soldier boy…
High school was a long time ago, and Eleanor is no longer the heartbroken girl who ended things with Heath. She doesn’t have time for love, not if she’s going to rise in the ranks at State Department. But Heath is even more handsome than he was back then, and his years in the military have honed him into a man completely unlike the boy she once knew. With his sights set on her, how can she resist?
The mission in Kazarus is as important as it is dangerous. Eleanor and Heath will need to rely on one another if they are going to see the mission through. But will they be able to overcome past pain for the hope of a future?
This book starts off with a bang as Eleanor arrives in Turkey on her way to negotiations in Kazarus. She was just settling in to wait for the rest of the team when she was approached by a man, seemingly with correct ID. The last thing she expected was for him to be part of an attempted kidnapping.
This is a favorite scene.
Eleanor spotted a chair in the far corner of the long room, well past the noise and chaos of the baggage pickup. It was just the type of quiet spot she needed. If she put her headphones on and focused on the upcoming meeting, she’d get just as much done there as she would if she went to the base.
She’d settle in and then let Beth know where to find her.
Eleanor slowed and searched for the sound of the voice. A man in fatigue pants and a buttoned-down shirt with rolled sleeves approached holding out an ID card.
“I’m glad I found you. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to,” he said in heavily accented English.
“Can I help you?” Eleanor shifted the bag on her shoulder and faced the man.
“I’ve been sent to pick you up. Your assistant’s flight was moved up so she arrived earlier and was taken to the base already. We are to meet her and the rest of your team there.”
Eleanor studied his ID card, looking up to be sure his face matched. She nodded and switched her trajectory, following the man toward the doors heading outside. She’d planned to review the file on Onur Demir while she waited for Beth, but she could do that while the man drove. Hopefully he’d let her work in peace. Most of the time, if she didn’t start up a conversation and gave only short answers to any attempts from the other person, she could get people to leave her alone pretty quickly.
She pulled her phone out as she followed the man. She could at least check messages quickly before they got in the car. The man was guiding her through the crowd, talking about the need to hurry to the base before night fell, though she didn’t know why. Adana wasn’t a dangerous city, as far as she knew.
She kept one eye on the path the man was making for her as they made their way along the walkway and slid her thumb over her messages.
“Ma’am, we should get to the car. There is time for that once we’re on the road.”
Eleanor wanted to roll her eyes but didn’t. Like she couldn’t walk and read at the same time.
As the crowd fell away behind them and they moved further along the walkway to a more isolated area, she opened a message from Beth and read the lines. Beth’s flight was delayed four hours and she wouldn’t be in until the evening. She said that Eleanor should go along to the base without her.
Eleanor’s steps faltered as she looked at the time the message was sent. Ten minutes ago.
So why had the man said her assistant was already at the base?
She looked over at the man at her side and slowed, moving away. “I’ve just realized I should really use the bathroom before we go.”
He shook his head. “There’s no time for that.” He reached for her arm, but she stepped back.
“I’ll be fast. If I don’t go now—”
He didn’t let her finish. This time when he reached for her, he caught his mark, his face going dark as he grabbed her with enough force to leave a bruise.
Eleanor’s heart slammed into overdrive and she felt a rush of panic and fear overtake her. Why hadn’t she called the base to confirm his identity? She knew better than that. Any change in plans should be confirmed in her job. But she’d been so focused on trying to prep for the role ahead of her that she hadn’t thought. Hadn’t stopped to take the time to do what she knew she should. And now she was going to pay for that mistake.
Fear kicked her into action and her self-defense training kicked in. She dropped her bags and twisted, wrenching her arm up and close to her body to pull the man off balance. He kept his hold on her but it had loosened. She turned into him and raised her foot, bringing it down on his knee at an angle. He let out a cry and she shoved as hard as she could before turning to bolt.
She ran, then, ignoring his shouts as she tried to get back to the busy section of the airport where she might get help. Blood rushed in her ears and she couldn’t get her body to move fast enough. It felt like she was swimming through mud with concrete blocks where her feet should be.
It was then that she realized there was more than just his shouting she was hearing. Someone else was calling to her. Eleanor looked up to see three large men running at her and she froze.
These guys weren’t like the man she’d just escaped from. With his medium height and build, he’d been hard enough to evade, even with the training she’d had. These men were a different story altogether.
If these men got hold of her, she’d be done. Each of them was bigger than a truck, well-muscled, and from the looks of them, a hell of a lot more skilled than the man behind her. It was in the way they moved. That loose-hipped swagger that said they knew damned well how to take apart anyone who got in their way. The confidence that oozed off of them, telling the world to move out of their way, or else. And it was an or else they were fully capable of following through on.
She needed to move. Now!
She couldn’t go backward so she swerved and headed toward the side of the terminal. Maybe she could evade them until she made it back toward the crowd and then lose them somehow in the fray.
Part of her knew that wasn’t remotely possible, but she wasn’t about to stop trying. She had to keep moving. If she didn’t, they would get her and this— whatever this was— would end badly.
Her lungs burned and she knew she was sucking in air way too fast. She was going to hyperventilate.
This time, something about the shouted name began to chisel through the terror and panic. No one called her Nori.
At least not anymore.
Before she could piece together the disjointed memory of another time and place with what was happening here, she lost her footing. Her shoe caught on something and she was falling.
“Nori stop!” came the instruction again, command behind the tone.
Eleanor couldn’t stop. She pitched forward, putting her arms out as the ground rushed toward her.
But she didn’t land on the concrete as she thought she would. Strong arms caught her. She began to kick and punch out at the man who held her, knowing that to give in would mean they’d have her. If they got her away from here, she’d never get away. Hell, it might mean her death. She didn’t face danger every day in her job, but there was always the possibility of it.
“Nori, it’s Heath. It’s Heath Davis. I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”
Eleanor froze again as his words broke through the haze surrounding her. Heath?
She couldn’t make sense of the name, so out of place in her world now. So unexpected.
She looked up into the glass-green eyes of a man she never thought she’d see again. And certainly not in the middle of a kidnapping attempt outside a Turkish airport.
Whether it was the stress of the moment, the shock of seeing him again, or the insanity that now seemed to be firmly taking over her battered mind, she let out a garbled half-laugh, half-cry. Then she did the only thing she could in that moment.
She let herself slump into the hold of a man she’d once thought she’d loved. Once, a very long time ago when she was a very different person.
Lori Ryan. Nori’s Delta (Special Forces: Operation Alpha): Delta Team 3, Book One (Kindle Locations 165-222). Aces Press, LLC.
Heath ‘Woof’ Davis has known Nori for a very long time. Now his team has to keep her safe while she does some crazy negotiations with Demir at his Kazarus compound. Her team would be met by another Delta team and they would meet up the day before the meetings are to begin.
In spite of trying to keep things completely professional, Woof and Nori have an attraction that can’t be denied. Even when things go FUBAR.
Plenty of suspense, intrigue and some sizzling heat!
5 Contented Purrs for Lori!
Lori Ryan is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes romantic suspense and contemporary romance with steamy love scenes and characters you won’t want to leave in the pages when the story is over.Lori published her first novel in April of 2013 and has fallen in love with writing.
She is the author of the Sutton Capital Series; the Heroes of Evers, Texas; and the Triple Play Curse Novellas, a set of novellas with sexy baseball players at their core as part of Bella Andre’s Game For Love Kindle World. She has also published in Melanie Shawn’s Hope Falls Kindle World and in Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Kindle World.
She lives with an extremely understanding husband, three wonderful children, and two mostly well-behaved dogs in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing. She loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog.
Special Forces: Operation Alpha
USA Today Bestselling Author
It’s been twelve years
since she picked the wrong brother…
Destiny Fisher is ready to move past the guilt and shame of losing a fiancé to the war in Afghanistan twelve years ago. She never should’ve said yes to his proposal in the first place, and she’s been plagued by her choices for over a decade.
She was his biggest regret…
Trent Dawkins has been married to the army ever since he walked away from his brother’s funeral…and the woman he loved. Delta Team Three is his family. Destiny has avoided him for all these years. Does seeing him remind her of his brother?
Can the two of them face their demons
and move forward?
A chance encounter leads to a flood of emotional baggage. Neither of them is certain they can repair the damage. There are so many obstacles. Distance, secrets, a threat to Trent’s life… Maybe they weren’t meant to be.
Trent ‘Zip’ Dawson hasn’t had any interaction with Destiny since his brother’s funeral. Actually since she got engaged to his brother. He was in love with her back then and still is.
When he sees her at the Ugly Mug he’s determined to talk to her, maybe become friends again, something other than this nothing.
This is a favorite scene.
He grabbed her forearms when it seemed she might fall into him, though half of him thought he should have simply let her collide with his chest. At least he would have gotten a chance to find out what she would feel like against his body.
“I’d rather you look me in the eye and talk to me for a few minutes. We’ve been dancing around each other awkwardly for twelve years. I miss our friendship. I know my brother’s death was hard on you. It was hard on me, too. I miss him every day. Can’t we talk about it instead of ignoring it?” He had no idea why he was pushing her. This was probably a bad idea, especially since she’d done several shots.
She stiffened, grabbed his shirt, and tipped her head back to look him in the eye. “No, we can’t fucking talk about it.” She shook her head, which made her tilt to one side again.
He grabbed her waist and held her upright. She was drunk, but her tone shocked him. “Why not?”
She glared at him. “Are you really that dense?”
Apparently, but he didn’t get a chance to respond because she kept talking. Her words came out so fast that he could only stare at her with his mouth hanging open.
“Don’t you get it? I can’t be around you.” She shook her head hard. “Ever. Not ever again. It hurts to even look at you.” Her eyes brimmed with tears.
Trent couldn’t breathe. He’d been right. She missed his brother so much that she couldn’t face Trent.
“I was in love with you, Trent. I was in love with you, and you never knew it. I fucked up my entire life when I agreed to marry your brother. I never should have gone out with him on that first fucking date. It was you I wanted.” Her voice was cracking and loud, but the bar was too noisy for anyone to hear her.
Trent sucked in a sharp breath. He couldn’t process her words. His brain wouldn’t keep up.
She didn’t stop talking, her words spilling out with alarming clarity as if she were no longer under the influence of several shots. “Sean was so nice and so sweet and I knew how much he liked me. So, I said yes when he first asked me out. And I kept saying yes for months. And we kept dating. And you stopped talking to me and hardly looked at me. And everything changed between us. And I missed you so much it hurt. And I wanted you to see me. And you didn’t. And then your brother asked me to marry him before he left for boot camp, and I was stupid and said yes because I knew it was expected of me.
“Your mom was so in love with the idea of me marrying Sean that she never stopped grinning. I think she had china patterns picked out before he asked me. And you didn’t want me. So, I thought I should just do it. But it hurt. It ruined everything. The three of us were inseparable for thirteen years and then boom. It was over. And I had been feeling differently about you for over a year by then. And you didn’t feel the same. And I didn’t know what to do. And I made bad choices. And I have to live with them.”
Trent swallowed hard. My God. Oh my God.
Her small fingers fisted in his T-shirt and she shook him. Tears gleamed at the corners of her eyes. Her voice was hoarse and filled with emotion. “And now the entire damn town feels sorry for me. For the poor girl whose heart was broken when her high school sweetheart went off to war and was killed before we made it to the altar.” She gave a sardonic laugh and continued. “If they only knew how many other things we didn’t do before he died.”
“So, no. We can’t be friends, Trent. Not ever. And I can’t look you in the eye because frankly, I’m still half in love with you. And you don’t feel the same, and it hurts so badly that I can’t breathe when we’re in the same room. So, please. Let me go on with my stupid miserable life. If you see me again, turn the other way.” Those last words came out on a sob, the tears finally falling.
She sagged against him now, her forehead on his chest.
He wrapped his arms around her and held her tighter than he’d ever held another human in his life. Fuck me. He tried to process everything she’d just said, but it wasn’t possible. He needed hours. Days.
Destiny hiccupped and then groaned, shoving him back. “I’m gonna puke.” She turned and rushed toward the restrooms.
Trent followed her, staying right on her heels as she passed the line of people waiting, shoved the next person out of the way as someone left one of the three unisex bathrooms, and lunged for the toilet, reaching it just in time.
Trent grabbed her hair and held it back, waiting while she emptied the contents of her stomach. It took a while, which didn’t surprise him considering how much she probably drank.
“Is she okay?”
Trent turned to find one of her friends squeezing into the small room. The door was standing wide open and several people waiting in line had backed up.
“How much did she have before I approached?” Trent asked the blonde.
“Several shots.” She grabbed a handful of paper towels, dipped them under the faucet, and handed them to Trent as if he were in charge of this disaster. And she was not wrong. He was. In a perfect world, he would be in charge of everything that related to Destiny for the rest of his life.
He was still processing everything she’d told him, but he knew one thing for sure— she was not alone. And he needed to make sure she got that through her head.
He crouched beside her and wiped her face with the wet paper towels. She moaned as she slowly stood and met his gaze for a moment. “Shit,” she muttered.
The blonde spoke again. He tried to remember what her name was. Christa maybe. He hadn’t been paying close attention to all their names when they’d been introduced. “We have a hotel room. I’ll tell the girls we need to leave.”
He shook his head. “No. You stay. Enjoy yourselves. I’ll take her to my place. Let her sleep it off.”
Christa held his gaze, chewing on her bottom lip, considering his words. “I don’t think she would like that.”
He chuckled as Destiny leaned into him, grabbing his waist to remain upright. “I’m certain you’re right, but it’s the right thing to do. And we need to talk. Des and I. It would seem we should have done so years ago. We’ve both been living in separate Mansions of Misery.” He had little doubt her posse was well aware of how Destiny felt about him, especially judging by the look of hesitation on her friend’s face. “Don’t worry. I won’t touch her. I’ll fill her with ibuprofen and water and put her to bed. I’m not an asshole.”
Christa nodded. “Okay. You’re sure?”
“Positive.” For once in his life, he was certain of something when it came to Destiny.
Becca Jameson. Destiny’s Delta (Special Forces: Operation Alpha): Delta Team 3, Book Two (Kindle Locations 238-290). Aces Press, LLC.
Obviously, the conversation doesn’t go quite as Trent expected and leads to even more questions. To top it off he was compromised on his last mission and Demir has sent his brother on the mission to find Trent and kill him.
Keeping things from his parents is one thing but this new relationship with Destiny really deserves better. Clandestine meetings away from his home are perfect for now, at least they were until Destiny finds out he’s not out of the country on a mission. He’s right there in Killeen.
Lots of relationship ups and downs, and some hair-raising moments for Trent and his team as well as some sizzling moments with Destiny.
5 Contented Purrs for Becca!
Becca Jameson is a USA Today bestselling author of over 90 books. She is most well-known for her Wolf Masters series and her Fight Club series. She currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and Goldendoodle. Two grown kids pop in every once in a while too! She is loving this journey and has dabbled in a variety of genres, including paranormal, sports romance, military, and BDSM.
A total night owl, Becca writes late at night, sequestering herself in her office with a glass of red wine and a bar of dark chocolate, her fingers flying across the keyboard as her characters weave their own stories.
During the day–which never starts before ten in the morning!–she can be found jogging, running errands, or reading in her favorite hammock chair!
Special Forces: Operation Alpha
Lynne St. James
Shy bookstore owner Guinevere Dedmond resigned herself to living her dreams through the pages of the books she sells. But when she receives a mysterious call demanding she pay ransom to save her parents, her comfortable world erupts in chaos. Panicked, she turns to the sexy soldier who swept her off her feet, not knowing he’s part of an elite spec ops team.
Luke “Merlin” Forest and his Delta Team are no strangers to uncovering terrorist plots and stopping them, but when he discovers Gwen’s parents are involved, the risks and stakes get a lot higher. His sexy bookworm has given him a taste of stability that he’s never had before, and this mission threatens to blow that relationship out of the water. Risking his life has always been part of his job—but it just got personal.
We met Gwen in Destiny’s Delta, she runs a book store named Camelot in Lancelot, Texas for her grandparents. They keep insisting that she take more time off, go out, meet people but Gwen’s perfectly happy with her life the way it is.
Her grandmother was with her in the shop when Luke ‘Merlin’ Forest comes in to browse their rare books. Grams is a bit of a matchmaker.
This is a favorite scene.
“Grams, I think I hear Gramps calling your name.” She had to do something to get rid of her before she drove the poor man out the door.
Gwen cocked an eyebrow.
Grams sighed. “Oh, all right. It was nice meeting you, Merlin. I hope I see you again soon.”
“I’m sure you will, Miss— Becca.”
“I’ll just refill this,” Grams said as she took Gwen’s unfinished lemonade and went through the doorway.
Gwen shook her head with a smile. “I’m sorry about that, Luke, or do you prefer Merlin?”
“Either is fine. Does anyone call you Guinevere or just Gwen?”
“Usually Gwen. My family has a few other nicknames, too, but I’m not sharing those.” She smiled as she saved her work and closed the laptop. The website would have to wait. “Did you come in for something in particular?”
“No, not really. It surprised me to find a rare bookstore so close to Killeen. Usually, I’m lucky to find a bookstore at all.”
“I’m not surprised. We’re a little out of the way, but Lancelot was a pull my grandparents couldn’t resist.”
“I totally understand. I bet they have a wonderful story equal to any of the King Arthur tales.”
“Oh they do, and if Grams has a chance, you’ll hear all about it,” Gwen said with a smile. “Can you really do magic?” The question popped out before she could stop it. Grams must be rubbing off on her.
Luke grinned. “Sorry, no magic. My teammates came up with it. They think I have a weird intuition thing that helps keep us out of danger. At first, they chose Warlock, but I threatened to kick their asses, and they decided on Merlin.”
“I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t want Warlock for a nickname, either. Are you in danger a lot?” Damn. She was turning into Grams. “I’m sorry, forget I asked. I don’t want you to have to kill me now.” Gwen could stare at him forever, but it turned her brain into mush and stupid stuff kept coming out of her mouth.
He chuckled; it sent shivers down her spine. “You’re safe and much too beautiful to kill.”
At this rate, it would take hours for Gwen’s cheeks to return to their normal color. “Thank you, but you don’t have to flirt to get a discount,” she said with a smile as she placed her reading glasses on the desk.
His eyes darkened to a molten caramel. “I don’t know who you’ve been dating, but they must be blind.”
If he was as good at everything else as he was at flirting, she might be in trouble. His deep voice raised goose bumps on her arms, and her palms dampened. As she watched his lips, she wondered what it would be like to kiss him.
“Nope. I’m just your average, geeky bookworm.” Gwen shrugged. There was no way a guy like him would be interested in her. But he’d definitely fuel her fantasies for a while.
“I’m sorry if I embarrassed you. I’ve been around the guys too much.”
“Nothing to worry about, it’s just me.”
“You should take her out,” Grams said from the other room.
Oh, my God. What is wrong with that woman?
“I’m so sorry…” Gwen ran her hands through her hair before she could stop herself. It was probably standing up in twelve different directions. Attractive.
“I was getting there, Becca, you just needed to give me a little more time,” Merlin said with a twinkle in his eyes.
Why wasn’t there an ejection button? Wait until she told her best friend, Belle, that her grandmother was making dates for her.
“I’m sure you have better things to do.” Gwen gave Grams the evil side-eye through the wall.
“No, I don’t. It’s my first day off in months, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it. Picking your brain about books would be more fun than I’ve had in ages.”
Maybe if she relented and agreed, he’d leave, and she could try to recover some of her self-esteem. “I guess we could go for coffee sometime.”
“You could go now. Gramps and I will watch the store.”
Merlin leaned close to Gwen so only she would hear him. She caught the scent of mint and the outdoors. It was like inhaling sunshine.
“Looks like you don’t have a choice. I promise I don’t bite… much.” Then he winked as he pulled away.
She hadn’t blushed this much since she was fifteen. There was something about him that turned her to mush. She wanted to say yes, even if it mortified her that Grams had pushed him into asking. It wasn’t like it would be a hardship to go out with eye candy like Luke. Plus, if she were honest, she wanted to learn more about him— a lot more.
Besides, Luke was right. If she didn’t go, Grams would spend the rest of the day telling her what a mistake she’d made.
After a quick smile, he said loud enough that Grams would hear, “I have a couple of unicorn books I’ve been hoping to find. We can talk about them while we have our coffee.”
It was the perfect motivation, and somehow, he knew it. Luke Forest was definitely too smart, and that smile… Oh. My. God. There was no way she could resist it.
“Okay, Grams. We’ll be at Beans. Call or text if you need me.” “I won’t. Have a wonderful time,” Grams yelled from the back room. Before Gwen could grab her purse, Gramps came out from the back with an enormous grin on his face. God save her from her matchmaking grandparents.
“I’ll talk to her while you’re out, Gwenie-bee,” he said as he dropped a kiss on her forehead. Then he gave Merlin the look over and nodded.
Merlin nodded back— it was probably some kind of military thing. “I’ll bring her back soon.”
“No need to rush,” came the voice from the other room.
Gwen couldn’t hold back the eye roll.
Lynne St. James. Gwen’s Delta (Special Forces: Operation Alpha): Delta Team 3, Book Three (Kindle Locations 168-216). Aces Press, LLC.
If Gwen thought her grandparents were bad they have nothing on Merlin’s team. In fact Zip and Destiny show up at the restaurant where they are having their first real date.
Things turn from fun to intrigue and suspense when Gwen’s parents are kidnapped. They were supposed to be on a buying trip in Egypt but had gone off from their itinerary. When Merlin’s team gets put on alert, things get more intense as Merlin has to keep a lot of things to himself.
With the CIA involved, you know there’s going to be some FUBAR moments and boy are there.
I love this story, with all it’s Arthurian references, Merlin’s books and OMG the sizzling heat!
5 Contented Purrs for Lynne!
Lynne St. James lives in the mostly sunny state of Florida with her husband, two dogs and two cats. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, taking pictures and sometimes even cooking, which makes her hubby really happy.If Lynne had her way she’d travel all over the world and set a new book in each place she visited. Maybe someday!
Addicted to coffee if she’s not at her desk you can usually find her hovering over her Keurig coffee maker waiting for the next cup to be ready.
Special Forces: Operation Alpha
NT Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
After years of resisting his teammates’ good intentions, big, bad and cranky Delta Force soldier, Magnus “Duff” McCormick, agrees to a blind date. Memories of his wife who died on their honeymoon derail his date with the beautiful redhead his friends introduce him to. When his date is attacked and almost stolen away, Duff comes to the rescue and sticks to her like glue, memories be damned.
Newly free-spirited Ivy Fremont, daughter of a senator, gave up her career as a lawyer to own and operate a gift shop, where mistakes won’t cost anyone his or her life. When her world is turned upside down and her life is threatened, her blind date and his team of Deltas launch a mission to Costa Rica to save her.
During their escape from a gnarly drug cartel, Ivy and Duff learn they have more in common than just their friends’ desire to get them together. Passions flare and walls around one intrepid soldier’s heart come tumbling down. They find in each other a reason to live and fight to give love a chance.
At the end of Gwen’s Delta we see Magnus ‘Duff’ McCormick save a women from a fall in Gwen’s bookstore. In response she gives him a kiss that unsettles him, in this book we find out who that woman is.
Gwen has set up her best friend Ivy with Duff, it’s a party for someone leaving another team, but all of Merlin’s team will be there. Ivy is unsure about all of this blind date stuff and ironically so is Duff.
In spite of the eyes on them they dance and talk, but then Duff leaves abruptly. With Duff gone, Ivy doesn’t want to stay around either. Merlin escorts her to Gwen’s car and then returns to the bar. Neither of them notice Duff is still hanging around and it turns out it’s a good thing he was.
After Merlin returned to the bar, Ivy is attacked.
This is a favorite scene.
Then the man pushed away from his seat and hit Duff in the gut with his shoulder, sending them both away from the car.
Now on relatively equal footing, Duff’s hand-to-hand combat training kicked in. He twisted the man’s arm around and spun him to face away, shoving the arm up between his shoulder blades.
The man kicked out behind him, catching Duff’s ankle, making him loosen his hold to maintain his balance. He dove to the ground, jerking his hand free.
Before Duff could grab him, he rolled to the side, scrambled to his feet and ran into the shadows.
Duff started after him but stopped, afraid that if he went after the man, he’d circle back and get away with the car and the precious cargo in the trunk.
Duff ran back to the car and reached inside to trigger the latch release for the trunk. When the lid opened, he hurried around to the back.
Ivy sprang up and swung her fist, smashing it into Duff’s jaw. The blow stung, but Duff was pretty sure the force of her punch hurt her hand more than it hurt his face. “Hey, it’s me.”
She blinked several times, focused on his face, and raised her arms to him. “Oh, thank God.”
He lifted her out of the trunk and held her close, his pulse only just beginning to slow as a residual tremor shook his body with the aftereffects of almost losing her to a thug.
“I didn’t think I’d get to you in time,” he admitted. “I didn’t think anyone would miss me until it was too late,” she whispered, her breath warm against his neck. “Thank you.”
He buried his face in her hair, his arms tightening around her. For a long moment, they remained locked in each other’s embrace.
Duff would have held her even longer, but she spoke.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
“I should be asking that,” he said, leaning back to peer at her face. “Looked like he hit you pretty hard.”
She raised a hand to her temple where a lump and bruise were forming. “He did. I think he knocked me out. When I came to, it was dark. It took a moment for me to remember where I was. About that time, the trunk opened. I thought it was him coming back.”
She looked up into his face. “I hit you pretty hard. Are you sure you’re okay?”
He chuckled. “I’ve been hit harder. I’ll live.”
She cupped his cheek gently. “You’re going to have a bruise.”
“It’ll match yours.” He looked up. “We should call the police and report this incident. They might be able to trace the car and gather fingerprints.”
She nodded but didn’t move her cheek from where it lay against his chest. “I guess that means we have to go back inside.”
“Or we could use my cellphone and call from here,” he suggested.
“Yes, please. I don’t want to cause a stir.”
“Sweetheart, you didn’t cause it. Whoever that was who attacked you did.” He let her legs slide to the ground and held her with an arm around her waist, pressed against him while he pulled his cellphone from his back pocket and dialed 911.
After he reported the attack to dispatch, he brought up Merlin’s number. “I’m going to let the guys know what happened. Are you okay with that?”
Ivy glanced around the back alley behind the bar and shivered. “The more the merrier, I always say. Or would it be closer to the truth to say there is safety in numbers?”
“Safety rules.” He hit the call button and waited for Merlin to pick up.
“Miss us already?” Merlin answered.
“Need backup. Outside behind the bar. ASAP.”
Merlin didn’t question. “On it.” A moment later, the back door burst open and his team piled out.
“What happened?” Merlin asked.
Gwen appeared behind him. “Oh, dear God, Ivy!” She rushed toward her friend. “Are you okay?”
Ivy nodded. She didn’t move out of the circle of Duff’s arm. If anything, she leaned into him, and he liked it. “I’m okay. Thankfully, Magnus was here.”
Duff explained what he’d seen and how he’d responded.
“Son of a bitch,” Merlin muttered. “He might still be out there.”
Immediately, they split up and searched the alley, going around the nearby buildings, bushes and shrubbery in yards close to the bar.
They returned, each shaking his head.
Merlin stood in the glow from the bulb over the back door of the bar. “Why would he go after Ivy?”
“Good question,” Duff answered. “Could be a crime of convenience. Bastard could have been waiting for any female to exit the bar alone.”
“I should have stayed outside watching until she got clean away,” Merlin said. “I thought she would be all right since she was inside Gwen’s car, all the windows rolled up. Hell, she was pulling out of the parking lot.”
His team automatically turned, forming a perimeter around them. A siren blared, getting louder, heading to their location. Zip ran to the front of the building and directed the police and an ambulance to the rear where they waited.
The policemen questioned Ivy and Duff.
“The car was stolen,” the policeman in charge of the scene said. “We’ll take it to the impound lot and dust it for prints.”
Emergency medical technicians checked Ivy and Duff. Ivy shook her head when they asked if she’d wanted them to take her to the hospital.
“We’ll get her to the ER,” Duff said.
“I don’t need to go to the ER,” Ivy insisted.
“Oh, honey.” Gwen touched her arm. “You were knocked unconscious. You could have a concussion.”
“I’ll be fine.”
Duff’s arm around her waist tightened. “You’re going.”
She stiffened in his arms and frowned up at him. “You’re not my boss or my mother.”
“No, but you don’t have a vehicle.” He nodded as a couple of wreckers arrived.
“I could drive Gwen’s car,” she said. “It’s only a broken window and seatbelt.”
Duff shook his head.
“He’s right, Ivy,” Gwen said. “At the very least, let the ER doc decide if you’re fine.”
Ivy drew in a deep breath and let it out. “Okay.”
“Merlin and I can take you,” Gwen offered.
“I’m taking her,” Duff announced.
Ivy leaned into him. “He saved my life. I trust him to get me there.” Her brow puckered. “If it’s not too much trouble.”
“It’s not.” Duff’s arm remained around her waist. So far, she hadn’t objected, and he wasn’t letting go. The image of the man hitting her and dumping her in the back of the car stuck with him, making his chest tighten.
He couldn’t help thinking about what might have happened if he hadn’t gotten to her fast enough. If he’d left before she’d been attacked.
The scenarios that could have been triggered those feelings of desperation he’d had when he’d tried to find Katie in the water after their boat capsized. He’d dived down numerous times, to no avail. He hadn’t been able to save Katie, but he’d been there for Ivy.
He didn’t want to let her go, afraid something else might happen to her if he did.
Elle James. Ivy’s Delta: Delta Team 3, Book Four (Kindle Locations 563-624). Aces Press, LLC.
This really is just the beginning for Ivy and Duff. He insists on staying with her to follow concussion protocols. In the process they both learn a lot about each other.
However it’s Ivy’s mother that sort of puts some clarity on Ivy’s attack. It seems the senator is causing waves regarding sales of firearms to send across the border.
Plenty of action, suspense and sizzle in this page-turning read.
5 Contented Purrs for Elle!
Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin.
As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!
Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.
Special Forces: Operation Alpha
USA Today Bestselling Author
Hope Mitchell lived her life on the outskirts, no attachments, no friends, no family. All of this by design. All of it because she knew the pain that came when you lost someone who meant something to you. She’d sworn off men long ago, the last time she fell in love she’d invited the devil into her heart and she’d lost, huge. That was to say, she knew better than to let the larger-than-life Delta Force operator into her life. Hope recognized the risk but Beau had promised her he would fight for her and he did—until he left her more broken than he found her.
Beau “Jangles” Talbot had promised himself he wouldn’t fall for a woman while he was still in the Army. He’d seen it too many times before—a good woman getting worn down by the demands of being a military wife. But when he meets the gorgeous bartender Hope Mitchell, he does the unthinkable and falls in love. Then his worst nightmare comes to fruition and Hope is thrown into a dangerous situation because of him and his teammates.
One mission—five women—everything is on the line. Jangles and his teammates have one shot at getting it right, one chance at extraction, or every man on his team loses the women they love.
Beau ‘Jangles’ Talbot has been seeing Hope on the sly for quite a while. She takes care of his cat Buster while he’s off on missions, and sleeps with him when he’s home. Suddenly he realizes she’s more, has been for a while and he’s not sure how he feels about that.
Hope manages the Ugly Mug for BF, a disabled veteran who also owns the shooting range next door. She doesn’t want serious and her relationship with Jangles is perfect the way it is. She’s also come to realize she has feelings for Beau, something she can’t afford to have.
Beau is what she always calls him in private and when she calls him Jangles he gets annoyed. He’s Beau with her and nothing less than that will do. Beau broke down her walls and she told her story, one that had me sniffling. Then she tries to break up with him to protect her heart. Beau’s having none of that though.
This is a favorite scene.
“Hope, baby, look at me.” Jangles’ words might’ve been soft but the demand was clear. She didn’t look up. Instead, she kept her eyes trained on the now reassembled Beretta and said, “You know, it would be really awesome if for once in my life something could go right. Just once have something go my way. Like, say, when I break things off with a hot Delta operator, he walks away without showing up at my place of business a few hours later to torture me. That’d be super great.”
“Hot Delta operator?” He chuckled. “I don’t even know what that is. Is Delta even a real thing?”
“I’m not being funny.”
Hope’s gaze lifted from the gun to Jangles and her eyes narrowed. “Why are you here?”
“I’m taking you to lunch.”
“Babe, I get why you bagged on breakfast. I gave you that. But you’re leaving here to go directly to the bar to work another six hours. You’re eating before you do that.”
“How big of you to give me that,” she mumbled.
Unfortunately, Jangles didn’t respond to bitchy bait.
“You need to fire that before you give it to the owner?” Jangles gestured to the Beretta.
“Of course I do. I never give someone back a gun I worked on without firing it first.”
“Right. Grab the nine and let’s roll. I’m starving.”
“Then you should mosey on out to your truck and go get food.” Jangles’ lips twitched and her irritation soared. “Seriously, Jangles, you should go. I’ll grab something at the bar.”
Then in a supremely annoying maneuver, Jangles grabbed the gun off the workbench and turned to the door.
“I changed my mind.” Oh, thank God. “I’m Beau. Just Beau. Anytime, anywhere, whether I got you naked in bed or having a beer at the bar. No more of this Jangles shit.”
“That’s how you introduced yourself,” she returned.
“No, it’s not. That’s what you heard Woof call me when I was standing at the bar waiting for your fine ass to finish serving every fucking cowboy in the place that chose your side of the bar instead of Jake’s. Which, babe, I fully understood at the time, because you’re gorgeous. But now it just pisses me the fuck off when every patron with a dick would rather wait five minutes to be served by you than not wait and have Jake pour them a drink.”
Hope knew she looked like a fish when her mouth opened and closed several times before she sputtered, “Are you nuts?”
“Yeah, Hope, I am. I’m totally fuckin’ nuts because I fell for the one woman in Texas that’s gonna fight me to the bitter end because she refuses to admit that we have something more than great sex. And so you don’t twist this, what I mean by more is that I have feelings for you. I care about you. And we’re gonna explore those feelings. You can bullshit all you want, say I mean nothing to you, but that’d be a lie. I know. You know. We both fuckin’ know it. So let’s go throw a few bullets downrange and hand this motherfucker off to whomever it belongs to so we can leave and I can feed my woman.”
Hope swallowed past the lump in her throat.
The self-loathing slithered around her heart and squeezed tight.
“You can’t care about me.”
“Wrong, Hope. I can and I do.”
“No, you can’t. There’s nothing to care about.”
“Wrong again, baby. And straight up, I’m gonna show you just how wrong you are.”
“I don’t want you to.”
“I know you don’t. That’s why I know I’m doing the right thing.”
“You got two choices, Hope. Test this gun so we can go to lunch or I lock this door and start educating you on all the reasons why I care about you. And I’ll start by telling you I know this tough-chick exterior you got is bogus. I know because I’ve seen you with BF. He’s old, he’s grumpy, he’s pretty much an ass to everyone unless they’ve served their country in one way or another. He gives you shit and you shovel it right back, but you do it in a way that shows you love him. You’re loyal to him, you bust your ass for him, and don’t deny it because I see it.”
“You are nuts!” Hope shouted and threw her hands in the air.
“You already said that. What else you got?”
“You’re not paying attention. Which is surprising considering who you are. You notice everything. I don’t want more. And trust me, I’m not worth—”
“Now you’re pissing me off,” Jangles growled his warning.
“See? I’m a pain in the ass. You should—”
Hope didn’t finish. In two quick steps, Jangles was across the room, his mouth slammed down on hers, his tongue shoved in— uninvited but not unwelcomed, and damn it all to hell, she kissed him back. Then her hands went to his shoulders, trailed up the back of his neck, and finally, her fingers slid through his hair as she deepened the kiss. God, she loved his hair, loved that he wore it longer than military regulations. It made him look like a step above badass but one down from a pillaging Viking.
Hope took and tasted, drank from him. It wasn’t often he allowed her to control the action— not the kissing, touching, or sex— Beau was all about him giving to her. He led the way, he guided them where he wanted them to go. Sometimes that guidance was rough and demanding, sometimes it was slow and coaxing. Whatever the speed, it was magnificent. But right then, he’d passed the torch and she knew it was costing him. Hope felt it— his pent-up energy was rolling off him in waves, washing over her, upping her excitement tenfold.
She needed more.
Hope didn’t want to acknowledge the truth, she wanted to deny her feelings, pretend she wasn’t in love with him. Beau Talbot would wreck her. If she had any chance of keeping what was left of her sanity intact, she needed to let him go.
But what if I let him in?
A sliver of hope pierced her heart and apprehension coursed through her blood. But she couldn’t deny it— couldn’t deny that she wanted Beau to bulldoze through all her walls and make her face her demons.
Blood-soaked dreams or a beautiful future…
She didn’t deserve a future.
But Beau did.
Riley Edwards. Hope’s Delta (Special Forces: Operation Alpha): Delta Team 3, Book Five (Kindle Locations 600-651). Aces Press, LLC.
Things start looking up for them when the unthinkable happens. Not only to Hope but also Nori, Destiny, Gwen and Ivy.
Woof, Zip, Merlin, Duff and Jangles go on the mission of their lives. I was really glad to see Tex in this one, he’s the best there is!
I couldn’t put this book down, I laughed, cried my eyes out and was surprise my kindle didn’t melt from the sizzling heat between Beau and Hope.
5 Contented Purrs for Riley!
Riley Edwards is a bestselling multi-genre author, wife, and military mom. Riley was born and raised in Los Angeles but now resides on the east coast with her fantastic husband and children.
Riley writes heart-stopping romance with sexy alpha heroes and even stronger heroines. Riley’s favorite genres to write are romantic suspense and military romance.
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