NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
He’d spent his career hiding in shadows. Now they want to send him back into them. The question is, who are they? Is this job his saving grace or has he just made a deal with the devil?
When the military makes Navy SEAL sniper Adam Nichols their sacrificial lamb just two years shy of his retirement, he has no more reason to follow their rules. So the offer the shadowy figure representing an undisclosed organization makes him looks pretty good.
In exchange for more money than he ever made working for the command that betrayed him, Adam is to use any means necessary to free an American woman held hostage in China, without backup and without causing an international incident in the process.
With the promise of possible redemption, in addition to his obsession with the intriguing damsel in distress who kicks his protective side into high gear, his choice is clear.
But who is the tawny-skinned, sophisticated, captive beauty in the photo who rouses feelings he’s long denied? The impeccably-dressed, ebony-haired stranger with the intelligent yet secretive golden-brown eyes who seems so completely opposite from his own beastly rough nature.
He’s to rescue her, and protect her, and nothing else. Easier said than done. And after he does free her, is he handing her over to the good guys, or the bad? Or, perhaps, she’s the one he should be worried about. He only knows one thing for certain—a SEAL who’s lost the ability to trust his gut instincts is, quite simply, lost.
This is the first of a new multi-author series. It’s quite the interesting take on classified off the books operations.
In this book we meet Adam Nichols, a former Navy SEAL stripped of his rank and any benefits. He’s now doing carpentry for some wealthy clients but he’s not living his life.
He gets a mysterious call from an unknown number offering him a job that would let him use his many skills, while he’s skeptical he’s also intrigued by the caller to be referred to as only Charley.
Angela Lewis the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is missing, no one knows what happened to her or where she is. Angela was taken from a Chinese airport and we see her in an elegant hotel suite, one that has been transformed into a gilded prison. She’s trying to figure out how to get help, she has no phone, no tablet or computer just the basics.
She’s tried clogging the toilet and tub to no avail and losing hope when Adam shows up.
This is a favorite scene.
Walking around the cart, he motioned for her to move farther into the bathroom so he could pull the cart in after them. When he turned back to glance at her, he saw her expression of sheer terror.
The last thing he wanted was for her to start screaming. He pressed a finger to his lips to indicate she should be quiet before mouthing, “I’m getting you out of here.”
Her mouth dropped open before she closed it and then nodded.
He leaned down to turn off the flow as the water sloshed out the overflow. “I’ll get these wet towels out of your way,” he said loudly.
Motioning to her to come closer with one finger, he pointed toward the laundry cart.
Understanding his meaning, she nodded and planted both hands on the edge of the cart, frowning at the height of the sides.
Closing his hands around her waist from behind, he ignored how long it had been since he’d had a woman’s body beneath his palms and lifted as she swung her legs into the basket.
He made more room for her by moving the laundry to one side.
The last thing he saw before he covered her completely with a handful of towels was her golden eyes gazing at him with such hope he felt it clear to his chest.
“I’ll get out of your way and show myself out,” he said loudly for anyone listening. Pushing the cart out of the room, he stopped to close the bathroom door, as if she remained inside and said, “Enjoy your bath, miss.”
He went through the motions of the pantomime even though they were in China and the security team watching the monitors—if there even was someone watching—might very well speak only Chinese.
It didn’t matter. He spoke the words anyway. It might not help, but as long as it didn’t slow down their exit, it couldn’t hurt.
Speaking of a slow exit… Christ. This one had turned out to be the slowest.
He’d cleaned out enemy strongholds of both fighters and intel in less time than it was taking to get this one woman out of a hotel room. He was way over the time he’d allowed for this portion of the escape. They needed to move. Now.
After propping open the door, he pushed the cart out of the room and relocked the door as he’d found it. He forced himself to move quickly but not rush toward the freight elevator. The cart was much heavier than when he’d arrived. He tried to make it look like it wasn’t to anyone who might be watching the feed from the hallway cameras.
He’d transport the cart, and its human cargo, in the freight elevator all the way down to the basement. There they should be able to slip out the delivery entrance and into the street.
After she put on the sunglasses he had in his bag and raised the hood on the sweatshirt over her hair, even if street cameras picked up her image and someone tried to run identification software, it wouldn’t identify her. That was one huge flaw in the technology. A shortcoming he was grateful for at the moment.
He held his breath as he waited at the end of the hall for the freight elevator, half expecting to hear running footsteps, breathing again when the doors whooshed open and he saw the car was empty.
Humming, to calm both himself and her, he pushed the cart inside and hit the button for the maintenance level.
This was too easy. Too smooth.
Adrenaline flooded his veins as, outwardly calm, he remained braced, waiting for the storm.
They reached the selected floor and he stood with his hands on the cart, but poised and ready to draw his weapon if needed.
The hall wasn’t clear. A man in a uniform similar to his nodded as he walked past. Adam returned the nod and walked faster toward the service exit.
That was close. Too close. Too risky.
What if the man had spoken to him? He was sure the hotel employed those who spoke multiple languages for the convenience of their many international guests, but he seriously doubted they’d hire him for their maintenance team—an American who spoke no Chinese at all.
Time to get the hell out of there.
The door to their safe escape didn’t seem to be getting any closer, but farther away as his anxiety created some kind of surreal, Matrix-like effect.
He was either going crazy, or his sixth sense was warning him danger was on the horizon.
The threat of being caught hung in the air like a visceral specter. But he’d be damned if he dropped the ball in the end zone.
He’d performed the miracle of getting her out of a locked room on the top floor of a soaring skyscraper. He wasn’t going to lose her now.
The cart was too cumbersome. It was slowing down their escape. Not to mention it was too damn big to hide quickly. And way too frigging noisy. Wheeling it down the hall sounded more like a freight train.
He skidded to a stop by a door maybe thirty feet from the exit and used his key card to open it.
It looked like a storage room for cleaning supplies. Good enough—and big enough to accommodate the cart.
He pushed it inside, closed the door and said, “Come on out.”
He reached down to pull the towels off her when she didn’t move. He didn’t blame her for hesitating. But he did need her to move.
Fishing around beneath more laundry, he located his backpack and unzipped it.
He tossed the sweatshirt to her when she managed to crawl her way over the high sides of the cart.
“Put this on and pull the hood up over your hair.” As he spoke, he’d stripped off the uniform, tossing the pants and shirt into the laundry bin.
She reached for the sweatshirt but froze, her eyes pinned to his waist.
Glancing down, he remembered the gun. He pulled his shirt out and over the holster, covering the weapon.
“Hurry. We gotta go.”
His order knocked her out of her stupor. She struggled to put on the twisted garment while he moved to the doorway and eased the door open.
“It’s clear. Let’s go.” He glanced back and saw her pulling the hood over her head.
She moved forward and after one more look to make sure the coast was clear, he swung the door wide and steered her out into the hall with one hand pressed firmly against her back.
He pulled the sunglasses out of the front pocket of the backpack that was looped over one shoulder and handed them to her. “Put those on.”
Silently, without question—thank God for that—she did as he’d said.
Now to get the hell out of there. Grasping her elbow firmly in his hand he guided them toward the door and freedom.
Shouts from the other end of the hall alerted him first. He didn’t understand the words but the tone was clear. That, and the shouts were accompanied by the sound of more than one set of feet pounding against the floor.
“Run!” he shouted.
Johnson, Cat; Johnson, Cat; Sisters, Shadow. Shadow Pawn (Shadow SEALs). Kindle Locations (741-800). Cat Johnson. Kindle Edition.
This escape is a bit hair-raising and the steps Adam was to follow tangled. He doesn’t like the ending orders at all and he needs to do something about that too.
Of course Angela isn’t exactly the complacent type either, which also complicates things.
Plenty of suspense, intrigue some action and that simmer to sizzle relationship I love.
5 Contented Purrs for Cat!
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Cat Johnson is a top 10 New York Times bestseller and the author of the USA Today bestselling Hot SEALs series. She writes contemporary romance that usually features hot alpha heroes (who often wear combat or cowboy boots) and the sassy heroines brave enough to love them. Known for her unique marketing she has sponsored pro bull riders, owns a collection of camouflage and western wear for book signings, and has used bologna to promote romance novels.