Dangerously Hot (A Hostile Operations Team Novel)(#4) (2 page)

BOOK: Dangerously Hot (A Hostile Operations Team Novel)(#4)
12.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Her heart thumped. “I’m not in that business anymore.”

As if she ever had been. Her
with Al Ahmad had not been planned. His people had grabbed her at a market in North Africa when she should have been out of their reach. They’d proven she wasn’t. That none of them were.

Day after day, she’d thought her life was over. Day after day, he’d toyed with her. Poisoned her mind.

Broke her.

She faced Kev head-on, a current of defiance growing inside her with every second. No way in hell was she letting them shatter her carefully reconstructed life. It didn’t matter that Al Ahmad had resurfaced, that she damn well wanted to nail the bastard to the wall with a rusty railroad spike.

If she were a different person, a braver person, she would take this chance. She’d get close enough to kill him herself. And then maybe she could forget how weak she was. How needy. How malleable she’d been in his hands. She’d fought him, but not hard enough.

Kev pulled the sunglasses from his face and tapped them against a muscled forearm wrapped in ink. “This is too important. It’s you we need. No one else.”

Lucky had to remind herself to breathe when faced with the full effect of blue eyes and silky, dark hair that was much longer than Army regs allowed. But Kev was a Spec Ops soldier, and that made the rules different for him.

Women, as she knew from firsthand observation, couldn’t help but fling themselves in the path of Kevin MacDonald. Which was precisely why she’d been determined not to do so when they’d first met a couple of years ago. There’d been something between them, some spark, but she’d never found out what it was. Because as quickly as it ignited, it was gone.

It still hurt, remembering the way he’d held her so close when he’d gotten her out of Al Ahmad’s compound, the way he’d seemed so intent upon her. He’d kissed her. The one and only time he’d ever done so.

Even now, her lips tingled with the memory. Her body ached with heat.

But it had been nothing more than a beautiful lie. When she’d looked for him afterward, when she’d expected him to come to the hospital to see her, it had been Marco who came instead.

And now Marco was dead, and she had no right to feel anything but grief. Yet that didn’t stop her belly from churning at the sight of Kevin MacDonald.

He watched her with an intensity that both unnerved and angered her. How dare he walk back into her life looking like something straight from a Hollywood movie set and calmly inform her that her world was about to be turned topsy-turvy?


She picked up the surfboard and started up the beach. “Go tell Mendez to reactivate me,” she called over her shoulder. If they wanted her back, they’d have to force her. “If he could do it, he’d have done it already.”

“Aw, sweetheart, don’t be like that,” Kev said in that Alabama drawl of his, and she stopped short, swung around as fury lashed into her.

“Don’t you
call me that!”

He held up both hands, backed away a step. “It’s all right, I can take a hint. No sweet nothings.” He dropped his hands to his sides, but not before sliding the sunglasses back into place over those beautiful eyes. “But you and I both know Mendez could reactivate you with a phone call. Don’t make it happen, Lucky. Help us out, you’re done. Get recalled to duty, and God knows what comes next when this is over.”

Hell, yes, Mendez could do it. She knew that. But it would take slightly longer than one phone call.

“Tell him I’ll think about it,” she said, but she wouldn’t do anything of the sort. Yes, she’d love to get Al Ahmad. But she’d like to live even more.

“He’s dangerous. You know that better than most.” He seemed to hesitate for a second. “Marco would want you to help us get him.”

Lucky whipped the surfboard in an arc and let it go. Kev leaped backward as it crashed to the ground. He stumbled and fell against a coconut palm, the fronds shaking with the impact.

“Jesus Christ,” he yelled. “What’s the matter with you?”

She was shaking. “Don’t you
tell me what Marco would want. Invoking his name won’t get you anywhere with me.”

Kev looked solemn. For the first time since he’d started talking, she felt like she was seeing the real him. The man who’d called her almost nightly for months, trying to make sure she was all right. That Marco’s death hadn’t killed her too.

“We all lost him, Lucky. We all miss him.”

Tears boiled near the surface. Fury ate at her like battery acid. He had no idea.
No idea.

Of course she missed Marco. And yet she’d been so wrong for him. She’d tried hard to love him the way she should, but loving anyone after what she’d been through with Al Ahmad hadn’t been easy.

The guilt of her failures ate at her. She’d been doing a good job of forgetting out here in the sun and surf, of moving on and accepting her life, and Kev was wrecking it all.

“You let him die out there.”

It wasn’t what she’d meant to say, but she couldn’t call the words back now that she’d released them. Kev looked as if she’d slapped him. She knew Marco’s death wasn’t his fault, but that hadn’t stopped her from blaming him—blaming all of Marco’s team—for what had happened.

She should apologize, but her throat seized up.

Kev’s jaw tightened. “That’s not fair, and you know it. Marco died doing the job. It’s a risk we all take.”

Yes, she knew it. And it was the thing that kept her awake at night sometimes, thinking about Marco, about Kev, wondering if he was still alive or if he’d met his end in some dank, lonely, war-torn country the way Marco had.

But she couldn’t say any of that. They stood there staring at each other until Kev took something from his pocket. He held out a card.

“I’m at the Hale Koa. Call me when you’ve thought about this.”

She still couldn’t speak. How could she say all the things she needed to say? The things she’d bottled up for so long? How could she ever explain where it had all gone wrong?

He didn’t put the card away. She wanted to leave him standing there, but her feet seemed stuck in the sand.

“Take it, Lucky.”

She snatched the card from his grasp with a growl. Then she picked up the surfboard and trod up the beach, feeling his eyes on her back the whole way.




“She’s gonna run,” Kev said into his government-issued cell phone. He was sitting at a shrimp truck parked beside Kamehameha Highway, finishing off a plate of shrimp, macaroni salad, and white rice. He’d chosen this location because it was across the street from the road leading out of Lucky’s neighborhood.

She lived in a small beach community on the North Shore. Her house was a tiny rental that sat upon tall blocks and had jalousie windows that opened to let the sea breeze in, and her car sat under the house, a beat-up blue Jeep with the top down. He’d been sitting here for the past hour, watching for that Jeep. It had not yet made an appearance.

But he knew it would. He knew it like he knew his own name.

“I won’t argue with you,” Matt said. “Besides Marco, you knew her better than anyone.”

“Yeah,” Kev replied, ignoring the sting of those words in his gut. He’d let her go, dammit. Let Marco have her. And now she hated him.

Of course she did.

“Just keep an eye out. Do what it takes to bring her in.”

“Copy that.”

They hung up again and Kev pushed the plate aside, his gaze focused on the street. He was still trying to process everything he felt at seeing Lucky again. He hadn’t seen her in months now, not since he’d gone to her and Marco’s house for a barbecue late one afternoon shortly before they’d deployed to the desert and the ill-fated mission to get ibn-Rashad. Kev had made it a point not to refuse invitations from Marco, though he’d wanted to refuse every one.

That last time, he hadn’t gone alone. He’d taken some chick that he’d picked up in a bar earlier. She’d been half-drunk, half-dressed, and completely horny for him.

He’d paraded her in front of everyone like she’d been someone important in his life even though it made him vaguely disgusted with himself to do so.

But Lucky had seen through the act. She’d glared daggers at him half the night. Which, perversely, he’d found gratifying. As if she cared about him. As if she weren’t married to Marco but was instead still just one of the gang, frowning at him and giving him a hard time over his choice of female companionship.

Which, God knows, he didn’t have a great track record with. The trashier the female, the more flagrantly he flaunted her in front of his friends. Give him a gal with a serious penchant for short skirts and too much makeup, and he was all up in that business.

Even though it turned him off on some level.
Blood will tell,
his mama had always said. And he figured since he had the wrong kind of blood, he might as well embrace his heritage.

Except, God, he remembered holding Lucky close after he’d broken into Al Ahmad’s compound. Remembered the sweetness of her lips, the beauty of her face—swollen with tears—and the hard surge of tenderness in his gut. He’d wanted her then. Wanted her more than he’d ever wanted anything in his life.

A frightening prospect for someone who knew what it was like to have everything ripped away in a moment. His life had changed irrevocably when he’d been sixteen, and he’d vowed not to need anyone ever again.

He’d done a good job of that until he’d met Lucky. She’d gotten under his skin somehow, and he hadn’t liked the way it made him feel. So he’d walked away before he could fuck it up.

Kev sat up a little straighter as a blue Jeep pulled up to the main road. His heart thumped as he got a look at the woman in the driver’s seat. Oh yeah, she was running all right. He could see the suitcases piled in the back seat. The trouble with an open-top vehicle was that it revealed all your secrets. Lucky wasn’t making a grocery run.

Kev trotted over to his rental and unlocked it. A second later, he was behind the wheel and pulling into traffic. Surprising how much traffic there was on the North Shore. It wasn’t as bad as Waikiki, but it was still damn congested. The sun shone down, and the ocean sparkled off to his right. Hawaii was frigging beautiful. He wanted to spend more time in the sun, but it looked like his stay was going to be of relatively short duration.

Traffic crawled toward Haleiwa, the town where he’d take the turn that led through the center of the island past the Dole Plantation and back over to the H2. Then it was down to Honolulu.

He couldn't see Lucky’s Jeep, but he wasn't particularly worried about losing her. There was only one way off the island—one quick way—and he had no doubt she was headed for the airport. Sure, she could pay someone in a fishing boat to take her to a different island, but even then she’d have to fly back through Honolulu on her way out.

No, she was headed to the airport. She knew she needed to act quickly, and she probably hoped to catch him off guard. Probably figured he’d gone back to his hotel to await her call.

Traffic thinned out in Haleiwa as people went to other beaches or headed into the funky shops and restaurants in the beach community where more than one television show had been filmed.

Kev started up the long incline between pineapple fields that led to the center of the island. Three cars in front of him, Lucky’s Jeep moved steadily along. When they reached the fork that went toward the H2 or down into another community, Lucky headed toward the H2. Soon they were rolling down the highway and heading east.

Kev stayed as close as he could manage without alerting her. When they reached the airport, she stopped in long-term parking and unloaded all her bags. Too many bags to mean she was coming back.

Kev parked the rental nearby and rubbed his fingers along the bridge of his nose. Goddamn, he hated this. Hated everything about it. But he had a job to do, and Lucky already despised him enough that one more thing shouldn’t matter.


Lucky disliked abandoning her Jeep. She took another fond look at the beat-up vehicle and then pocketed the keys with a sigh. She’d find a cop inside and give the keys away, saying she’d found them. It was all she could think to do in the time she had.

Kev wouldn’t wait long at the Hale Koa before he began to get suspicious, and she intended to be off the island by then. She turned away and started to arrange her luggage so she could at least get it as far as a trolley.

“Hey, great. You’re all packed.”

Her head snapped up to find Kev sauntering toward her as if this was the most normal circumstance in the world. Her stomach fell into her toes and blood pounded in her temples. Had she really thought she could lose him? Really?

“What the hell are you doing here?”

As if she didn’t already know.

He thumbed the loops in his jeans, oh so casually, but his stare didn’t waver in intensity. “I’m here to catch a flight, same as you.”

BOOK: Dangerously Hot (A Hostile Operations Team Novel)(#4)
12.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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