NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Rucker Sloan, thinks all he’s good for is a fighting, killing machine. Relationships are out of the question.
Until he meets a nurse who’d risk her life for someone she doesn’t know…
After her mother died of a broken heart, nurse Nora Michaels joined the Army to do something to help others and to escape her sad memories. Deployed to Afghanistan, she hopes she’s making a difference, especially when she treats a cranky wounded soldier who just might be more broken than she is.
When the local orphanage where she volunteers is overrun by Taliban, Nora and the little orphan girls are kidnapped and taken into the hills where they are to be auctioned off to sex traffickers.
They need a miracle to save them.
Rucker and his team receive intel on the location of the nurse and children taken from the orphanage. In an operation to save them, Rucker and Nora are separated from the others and must traverse enemy territory to find their way back to safety. Along the way, they learn to rely on and trust each other, discovering a passion they never expected to find in the harsh hills of a war torn country.
Rucker Sloan was impressed with Nora Michaels from the moment they met in Afghanistan. He had no idea how long they’d be there but he wanted to get to know her better. Fraternization is frowned upon, but sharing coffee or a meal could be good to get to know one another.
When one of his teammates is injured saving his behind, Rucker stays with him at the hospital. All the tongues start to wag when Nora shows up early for her shift to be sure Rucker’s okay. Since Dash’s injuries turn out not to be so bad the team would be stay in place until their next mission.
One of the things Nora enjoys about her deployment is going to the nearby orphanage, they do health checks and give vaccines. This trip to the orphanage would be Nora’s last since she will be heading back home. Ryker surprises her and is her driver for the day. Only they never make it to the orphanage. They are taken at gun point to do something a bit unusual that becomes complicated.
Delivering a breech baby is difficult under any circumstances outside of a hospital, but Nora with Ryker’s help pulls it off. Much to their relief they would be allowed to return to base.
This is a favorite scene.
Rucker was in awe of all she’d done, and that she hadn’t fallen apart in the middle of it. He would never admit it, but he was a bit shaken by the experience. They’d just delivered a breech baby in a war-torn country.
The door opened, and the father entered, his eyes wide and worried. “All is well?”
Nora nodded, peeling off her gloves. “Congratulations, you have a son, and your wife seems to be doing fine.”
The frown creasing the man’s forehead cleared. He hurried to his wife’s side and peered down at the baby in her arms, a smile spreading across his face. “Allah is good.” He looked up at Rucker and Nora. “Daera manana. Thank you.”
“My apologies for taking you at gunpoint. I did not know how else to get you here.” He held out his hand. “I am Pazir. My wife is Gulpari. We are in your debt for keeping my family alive.”
“Why didn’t you ask the base for help?” Nora asked.
Pazir shook his head. “The Taliban sees all. If I visit the base, they will assume I am passing secrets to the American forces. They will punish me by punishing my family.”
Gulpari clutched her baby close. “We did not know what else to do.”
Pazir sighed. “I took you at gunpoint as a show of force; the Taliban will not question.”
“Are you a member of the Taliban?” Rucker asked.
The man looked away. “In their eyes, I am.”
“In yours?” Rucker asked.
“To keep my family alive, I do what I have to.” Rucker’s fists clenched. “Have you killed Americans?”
“No,” Pazir said. “I believe Allah is kind and good. But I must walk among the Taliban.”
Nora nodded. “I understand. I hope they don’t read into our visit today anything other than the opportunity to help your wife in labor.” She nodded toward Rucker. “Now, if you don’t mind, we need to get back to the base before dark. My people will be worried and will send out squads of soldiers to look for us.”
“Of course. I will take you back to the edge of the village, closest to the base.”
Rucker nodded. “And provide cover while we drive away from town?”
Pazir nodded. “I owe you for saving my wife and son’s lives. I will be forever in your debt.” He gave a slight bow. “You will follow me to your vehicle. My men and I will ride with you until we get close.”
“As long as they don’t plan on shooting us in the back of our heads,” Rucker said.
Pazir clasped his hands together and gave Rucker a slight bow. “You have my word. You and the nurse will be safe with us.”
“And you’ll give my driver his weapon back when we get there,” Nora said. It wasn’t a question, but a demand.
“To show my sincerity, he can have it back now.” Pazir pulled the handgun from a pocket buried in his loose clothing and handed it to Rucker.
Rucker ejected the magazine. It was still full. He shrugged into his uniform jacket, then his bulletproof vest and slid the handgun into the holster at his hip.
Nora slipped her jacket on over her bloodied T-shirt. “How did you know a nurse would be coming into town today?”
“We know,” Pazir said. “If you are certain my wife will be all right, you can come with me now.”
Nora looked toward the mother-in-law who had done a good job of cleaning up the mess of childbirth. The older woman gave her a sincere nod.
“She’ll be all right as long as you keep her clean and germ-free. The same goes for the baby. Wash hands with soap and water that has had the bacteria boiled out of it before handling the baby.”
Pazir spoke to his mother, and then nodded to Nora. “Follow me.”
He led them out to where the HUMMV was parked in the walled yard. Nora checked the items in the back. When she was satisfied, she nodded.
“We only took the gloves.” Pazir said something to the two men with the rifles.
One of them ran back into the house. A moment later, he returned with the box of surgical gloves and handed them to Pazir.
He, in turn, handed the box to Nora. “Again, I thank you for saving my wife and son. I am indebted to you. I will find a way to repay that honor.” He gave her a brief bow and waved a hand toward the HUMMV.
Rucker opened the door for her.
Nora climbed into the passenger seat.
After closing the door, Rucker hurried around to the driver’s seat. He didn’t completely trust the Afghans after they’d taken them at gunpoint.
The three men climbed into the back seat. This time their guns weren’t pointed at Rucker and Nora’s heads. The drive through the streets was a little less stressful, though Rucker knew the men could kill them if they wanted. The fact that Pazir considered himself part of the Taliban left Rucker uneasy. Even if he only belonged as an attempt to keep his family safe.
As he drove, Rucker studied the turns. Pazir took them a different route from the one that got them to his home in the first place. Rucker wasn’t sure he could find his way back to the walled home.
Pazir was smart. He didn’t want them retracing their route.
Soon, the Afghan had him stop. “We will leave you here. Follow the road ahead. It will take you to the main path leading back to the base. You will recognize it when you get there. Peace be with you.”
The three men left the vehicle and disappeared down a crowded street.
Rucker shifted into drive and moved slowly forward, not liking that they were without an escort preceding and following them. Hopefully, they were close enough to the base they could make a run for it, if they found themselves attacked. He inched through the throngs of people until they arrived at the main, wider road he remembered driving down earlier that day. He turned toward the base. “I suppose the vaccinations will have to be done another day,” he said.
Nora nodded. “It’s getting late in the day and I have the night shift. I need to get a few hours of sleep before I go on duty. Besides, I want to give the children the time and attention they deserve.”
Rucker nodded. “You really care about them, don’t you?”
She gave him a sad smile. “I do. I hate leaving them. I wish I could take all of them home with me.”
“You have a big heart. And what you did for that woman and her baby…” He shook his head. “Delivering a baby is hard enough, but delivering a breech baby…” He reached across and took her hand. “You were amazing.”
She stared down at where his hand held hers without pulling away. “Thank you for helping.”
“I only did what you told me. You were the star of that show.” He winked.
She laughed softly. “I have to admit, I was shaking inside. That could have gone horribly wrong, ending in the death of the baby and the mother.” She looked up at him. “That would’ve been bad. And if they’d died, I wasn’t sure Pazir would let us live to come back to the base.”
“You had a lot riding on the outcome.” He squeezed her hand gently. “It all turned out for the best. And I think you made a friend out of a member of the Taliban.”
Nora grimaced. “I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
James, Elle. Breaking Silence (Delta Force Strong Book 1). Kindle Locations (881-940). Twisted Page Inc. Kindle Edition.
In spite of what happened Nora is determined to go to the orphanage to visit with the children and give the vaccines. It was her chance to say good-bye. Unfortunately things go sideways again, and her helping Pazir just might be a saving grace.
Rucker isn’t able to accompany her and when the news reaches him he does what he has to do. There’s no way his team isn’t going to help him find her and get her to safety.
Nora and Rucker have much to consider especially since she’ll be heading back to the states. One thing for certain they want to stay in touch and see what happens.
Plenty of action, flirting and a touch of sizzle.
I’m behind on this series so I have some catching up to do.
5 Contented Purrs for Elle!
Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!
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.