Avenged (Hostage Rescue Team Series) (Volume 5)

BOOK: Avenged (Hostage Rescue Team Series) (Volume 5)
12.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub










Kaylea Cross



Copyright © 2015 by Kaylea Cross


* * * * *


Cover Art by

Sweet ‘N Spicy Designs


* * * * *


This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.


All rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author.









This one goes out to all our military, law enforcement and other emergency personnel, who put on their uniforms and try to make this world a safer place for all of us every day. Thank you for your service!






Author’s Note



I’m really excited about Schroder’s story, one because he’s a former PJ, and two, because I just LOVE his and Taya’s backstory. You guys know how I adore my PJs, and Schroder is no exception. Hope you enjoy this one!


Happy reading!


Kaylea Cross


Table of Contents

Author’s Note

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five


Complete Booklist


About the Author




Chapter One



It was getting worse instead of better.

Special Agent Nate Schroder cracked his eyes open as the roar of the explosion echoed in his ears. Heart pounding, he rolled over onto his back and let his arms flop to his sides against the sheets. His skin was clammy with sweat as the nightmare slowly faded and he came back to reality. The ceiling fan overhead came into focus, turning in languid circles that sent a wash of cool air over his damp, bare upper body. He shivered.

Virginia, not Afghanistan. His own bed, not the hard, sun-parched ground of Anbar province. There was no blood here. No death. No haunted, steel gray eyes staring at him.

Not while he was awake, at least. Not anymore. These days the flashbacks were less frequent, and only came when he was asleep.

He released a slow breath and blinked to clear his vision. Faint light filtered into his bedroom around the edges of the heavy blackout blinds he’d had installed on his windows. He could hear birds chirping from the branches of the cherry trees currently blooming out in front of the upscale apartment complex. The cheery sound did nothing to ease the leaden sensation in his chest.

Gradually his pulse slowed and the phantom images in his head faded. He lifted his head, aware of a slight soreness in his muscles, and tried to remember what he’d been doing last night. At the sickly sweet floral scent of a woman’s perfume on his bedding and the sight of the empty condom wrappers on the bedside table, a wave of self-disgust washed over him.

Unfortunately, the once foreign sensation was becoming all too familiar these days.

He dropped his head back against the clammy pillowcase with a mental groan. Snippets of last night came back to him as he lay there staring at the ceiling fan, breathing in the cloying scent of the perfume. From the blonde he’d picked up last night at a club.

Hell, this had to stop. This time he couldn’t remember her name, could barely even recall what she’d looked like, other than the shape of her curves under his hands, his body. And that wasn’t even the worst part.

No, far worse was that he’d been stone cold sober when he’d brought her back here, and he still could barely remember anything about the encounter except that she’d liked using her teeth on him. And none too gently, either.

Letting out a weary breath, Nate scrubbed a hand over his sweaty face, wincing a little as his fingertips trailed down to a particularly tender spot on the side of his neck. Jesus, had she been trying to draw blood, or what? He was sure he’d find several more marks on him if he checked in the mirror before he got into the shower.

You weren’t complaining last night.

Whatever her name was—Carly? Karen?—he vaguely recalled her leaving around three in the morning. She’d texted him her number soon after that, saying she’d love to see him again later today. But he wouldn’t be calling her. He rarely called any of them once the night was over, and if he did, only to hook up for a few more days at most. At last count his current record was six straight days with the same woman before he’d left town on a training mission.

He hadn’t told her where he was going, and he’d never contacted her again. He never told any of them that he was part of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, or even with the FBI at all, and not just for security reasons. Yeah, his issues ran way deeper than just the regular garden-variety paranoia that came with military training and being a combat vet. He’d spent years as a student in the school of hard knocks growing up, and that kind of upbringing left its mark on a person. Invisible scars no one else could see.

Shelving that uplifting thought, Nate pulled in a deep breath and glanced over at his bedside clock. Six-thirty a.m. In just ninety minutes he’d be with some of the guys and be able to breathe easier, relax and unwind, pretend everything was fine. It was so much easier to lie to himself when he wasn’t alone.

With a groan he climbed out of bed and headed to the adjoining bathroom. He flipped on the light and yep, his suspicions were confirmed by a glance in the mirror. Half a dozen purplish teeth marks on his chest and stomach, a few on his arms and a big one on the side of his neck. He’d have to wear a collared shirt today when he went dirt biking with a few of his teammates, otherwise they’d ride him about it all day long. His extracurricular activities were an endless source of amusement for the guys these days.

Because they don’t know the reason why you can’t go more than a few days without hooking up with someone.

None of his teammates knew. Not yet, anyway, and he was going to make sure they never figured it out. He was pretty sure they all thought he was just horny all the time, and that was fine by him. Well, everyone except Tuck, his team leader. Being former Delta, that guy didn’t miss anything. Lately Nate had the increasingly uncomfortable feeling that Tuck knew something was off with him, even though he hadn’t said anything.

The opening bars of AC/DC’s
Hell’s Bells
sounded from his bedroom, jerking him from his bleak thoughts. He rushed back to grab his phone from his dresser and answered Cruz’s call with a brusque, “Hey.”

“Hey, Dr. Feelgood,” he said cheerfully. “You up and at ‘em?”

Nate mentally winced at the nickname some of the guys had taken to calling him in recent weeks. “Yeah, what’s up? Couldn’t wait until eight to hear my voice, huh?”

Cruz snorted. “Keep on dreaming, man. Change of plans for today. Just got a call from the boss man. He wants us to report in ASAP. I told him I’d call you.”

Nate frowned. His assault team was currently on a three month long support cycle, rather than on training or ops. So DeLuca wouldn’t call them in on a Sunday morning unless something was up. “What’s it about?”

“Dunno. Want me to swing by and get you on my way in?”

“Yeah, sure. Gimme ten to shower.” Cruz lived just a few minutes’ drive from him.

“You have another sleepover last night? I wouldn’t want to show up too early and embarrass her.” His teammate’s voice was dry.

“I’m alone,” Nate muttered, though his annoyance was mostly directed at himself. He’d more than earned his dubious reputation as a player. “See you when you get here.” He disconnected and headed straight for the shower.

The hot water pounded over his back and shoulders as he scrubbed himself clean of last night: the blonde’s scent, the sweat and the nightmare, everything. A sense of relief stole over him as he rubbed the soap into his wet skin. He felt cleaner, both inside and out.

Back in front of the mirror as he brushed his teeth, he paused when he glanced up at his reflection. What he saw there made him lower his toothbrush to the edge of the sink as sudden tension slid through his body.

Haunted, hazel eyes stared back at him, dark circles underneath. Physical proof that he hadn’t been sleeping much lately. But it was the look in them that scared the shit out of him.

Gazing into the mirror now, for just a moment he saw his mother’s eyes staring back at him.

It made him feel fucking ill.

He broke eye contact with the mirror and bent to spit the toothpaste into the sink before rinsing his mouth out and splashing cold water on his face for good measure. When he lifted his head and met his gaze once more, all traces of his mother were gone. The hollow sensation in his gut remained.

His mouth tightened. “I’m not her,” he said to his reflection, the muscles in his arms and chest tensing under the strength of the denial crashing through him. “I’ll never be like her.”

You already are like her
, his conscience whispered back.

God, was it true? Nate ran a hand down his face. He’d been telling himself he wasn’t using the women he fucked, because he treated them well while they were with him and he always made sure they got off in bed. And he was always clear he was looking to hook up, nothing more.

The ugly truth was, though, in a way he
using them. Somewhere along the way they’d become his drug of choice to escape from what was happening inside him. He’d become a junkie, always looking for his next fix. Just like his mother.

No. No more,
he vowed
He wasn’t going to end up like her. He wouldn’t piss away everything he’d fought for, the hard-won opportunities he’d earned.

Shaken, he dressed and went outside to wait for Cruz, needing air. The scent of freshly mowed grass and pavement damp from last night’s rain greeted him. A silver SUV turned the corner at the end of the street and pulled up in front of him.

Nate slid into the shotgun seat and adjusted his sunglasses, glancing at the two to-go coffee cups resting in the console. “Hey, you shouldn’t have,” he said, taking one.

“I know,” Cruz answered, shoulder checking before pulling away from the curb.

Nate took a sip of the hot coffee and hummed appreciatively. “Black, one sugar. You remembered.”

A smirk pulled at Cruz’s lips. “What can I say, I’m sentimental that way.”

“So who else got called in, do you know?” he asked as Cruz headed for the highway.

“Vance and Tuck, I think.”

Vance was Cruz’s closest buddy. “But not the others?”

“Not that I know of.”

Huh. “Wonder what’s going on?”

“Guess we’ll see soon enough.”

When they arrived at Quantico they found Supervisory Special Agent Matt DeLuca in his office seated behind his desk, Tuck and Vance seated across from him. “Hey,” their commander said. “Shut the door behind you.”

Curious, Nate did as he was told then slid into a chair between Cruz and Vance while DeLuca pushed aside some paperwork and leaned back in his seat.

“As you guys may or may not already be aware, Nassar Qureshi’s trial starts next week.”

Taken off guard by the mention of the name, Nate went rigid, realizing belatedly that his hands had curled into fists.

Yeah, he was more than fucking aware of the upcoming trial. He’d been following the details carefully in the media since the bastard had been captured trying to enter the U.S. from Canada seven months ago. Evil sonofabitch hadn’t been satisfied with his reign of terror in Afghanistan; he’d wanted to come wage jihad on U.S. soil. The DEA had picked him up during a drug bust just two weeks before the plot to blow up half of D.C. was supposed to be carried out.

Nate had just never imagined being involved with the trial in any way, but now it looked like his past and present were about to collide.

BOOK: Avenged (Hostage Rescue Team Series) (Volume 5)
12.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti
Faith by Lesley Pearse
The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
This Is the Life by Alex Shearer
Dark Sunshine by Terri Farley
The Years of Endurance by Arthur Bryant