Lock and Load (SEAL EXtreme Team) (20 page)

BOOK: Lock and Load (SEAL EXtreme Team)
3.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Oh, Charlie. I wish we really had met then, in person. None of this…“ She motioned toward the galley. “Would have happened.”

“Really? You would have gone out with me instead of the Frenchman?”

Sadness flittered across her face, but she pushed it back and lifted her chin. “Yes.”

“So you’re saying you think I’m sexier than my avatar?”

Giving him one of the hottest grins he’d ever seen, she said, “I’m reserving judgment until I see more, Pirate.” She tugged on his shirt as if to lift it over his head.

No. He couldn’t be this close to her, not like this. “If that’s what you want—sex without ties—you’d better stay away from me.” He scooted out of the booth, not looking at her. “I won’t do this. I can’t.”

“Why, not? Did Mack order you to stay away from me? Willy didn’t have any problems with it.” She paused. “I thought we had something.” Her words were challenging but her voice held a hint of something else. Dejection?

Didn’t she understand? He wasn’t rejecting her, he was saving himself. 
His stiff legs twitched. His feet tried to go, sludge through the emotional quicksand toward the exit, but his heart forced him to stay. It was as if his entire body was at war with itself. He ground his teeth, not allowing any words to pass his lips. He had a bad feeling whatever he’d say would be wrong. He had to get out of there before he made a complete ass of himself.

“Charlie, please. Talk to me. I’m not mad at you. Willy explained things and asked me to cut you some slack.”

Willy said that?

She went on, “I understand why you couldn’t tell me about the memory card. It was my fault. I do know you. I should have trusted you with the truth. I wasted precious time we all could have used to get away. I was an idiot. I’m sorry. And…” she took a stuttering breath. “I need your help, Charlie.”

He nodded.

“I will pay you. Give you anything you want, if you will help me escape.”

She chewed her bottom lip. Nervous? What in the hell did she have to be nervous about? He’d risk his life to bring her home safely. That was a given. She didn’t have to ask.

Cocking her head, she frowned, as if wondering why he wasn’t saying a word. “You do…want me?”

“Hell, yes. I want you!” he growled. His heart won the battle and he turned back around. He couldn’t stop himself. Why did he even try? He was immediately snared by her gaze.

“Good. I will sleep with you, Charlie. I want to. One or both of you, I’m fine with it. Please, just help me get away.”

That’s what she meant by giving him anything he wanted?
Hell, no. Not like this.

He ran his hand over his short hair. “I won’t do that. Not with you.”

“But I thought…” her lower lip quivered.

It took every ounce of him not to haul her into his arms and still that lip. “You don’t get it, sweetheart. With Willy, sex means nothing. But I’m not Willy.” He cupped her jaw and gazed into her face. God, she was beautiful. “I want to be buried deep in you and not come up for air. To touch, kiss, love every inch of your skin and melt into your soul. Loving you means everything to me. I won’t stop.”

Even as he said the words, he realized his mistake. Admitting that he was already in love?
Who does that?
What had Mr. Lee call him? A
? The old dude was right. Charlie really was a dumbass.

Her eyes widened in surprise and her pretty mouth opened, but no words came out. She was stunned. Silence sucked the air out of the room, just like the quicksand in Africa, had pressed the air out of his lungs. Obviously, she didn’t feel the same way about him.
Smooth move, moron.
He released her jaw. The time to leave was past due and his legs finally got the message. He took a step backward and pivoted to escape.

“Wait, Charlie.”

He wouldn’t. He had to get out of there, go kill his brother, and then throw himself into work. Maybe he’d pound out a few hundred push-ups too. Try to work her out of his system.

She came after him. Before he knew it, she’d spun him around and slammed him against the wall. She pressed her palms against his chest.

“This is not staying away from me,” he growled.

“Neither is this.” She kissed him like he was the only guy on the
. Maybe the last guy on the planet. She devoured his mouth, thrusting her tongue inside, tasting all of him. He grabbed her hips and pulled her closer, pressing her against his hard cock. He wanted her.
Right here, right now.

Not like this.
He pulled back. “You have a decision to make.”

Her lips were parted, her chest rising quickly. “Decision?”

He cradled her face in his hands. “Be sure of what and who you want before this goes any further.” He kissed her nose. “I’m falling for you, Amber. I will not share.”

Her face fell. “You barely know me, Charlie. Who I am, what I’ve done…”

He didn’t care what she’d done. None of it mattered. “I know the real you, what’s in here.” He pressed his hand to her chest, feeling the rapid beat of her heart. “And I want to know more. Give me a chance?”

“What are you suggesting? That we date here on the
while you hold me prisoner? After we get home you’ll turn me in to the authorities to be…to be…“ She pinched her lips together. Her eyes welled.

He rubbed her cheek with the pad of his thumb. “Prisoner? What are you talking about?”

“I know, okay. You can stop the charade. Be honest with me, for once.”

“Amber, I’m being honest. I won’t lie to you again, I promise. Tell me what you’re talking about.”

“I hacked into the onboard system and read the transcript from Mack to Admiral Collins. You’ve been ordered to bring me in alive for interrogation and then…” She broke off in a sob. “They’re going to execute me.”

“No! That’s impossible.” He pulled her into his arms and held her tight.
No, no, no
. It was a mistake. It had to be a mistake. But part of him knew the truth when he heard it—what she’d done was a treasonable act and she would be tried for it.

“I read the encrypted message.”

He rubbed her hair and whispered softly, “Shhh. That’s not going to happen.” He wouldn’t let it. “I’ll protect you.”

She melted against his chest and cried. It tore him up. He held on as if he could shield her against the world. Save her life. Shit, what was he going to do?

Just then, a series of gunfire pops came from off the starboard side of the

“Get down!”Charlie yelled. She dropped to the floor and he threw his arms over her head.

The gunfire grew louder as the team members returned fire.

“Go! Go!” Mack’s voice rose above the noise. His commands seemed to permeate the wood boat. Boots pounded up on deck. More gunfire. All hell was breaking loose out there.

“They found me,” Amber wailed. Gripping the front of his favorite black T-shirt, she pulled him closer. “Charlie! They can’t have the memory card. No matter what happens to me. They can’t have it.”

Nothing was going to happen to her. Not while he was breathing. “Stay here.” He pulled a pistol out of his holder. “Lock this door after me. Drag something heavy in front of it.”

He took one last look at her beautiful, terrified face and wished he could stay. The team was waging war out there and instead of longing to join them, he wanted nothing more than to hold Amber. To love her and never stop. He’d never felt that way before. It hurt, bad.

He ran out the door.





er legs were weak with fear, but somehow she rose and did as Charlie had told her to do. She locked the door and dragged a chair to jimmy under the door handle. Another chair went on top of that one. Using all her strength, she tried to heft the dining table, but it was bolted to the floor. She dug through the cabinets and drawers for a weapon. Anything. She pulled out the sharpest, scariest knife she could find and crawled under the dining table.  Curling herself into a ball, she held the knife and prayed.

If anything happened to Charlie…Dear God
She couldn’t lose him. Not now.

The gunfire and screaming outside that door were like hot pokers jabbed into her nerve-endings. She wished she knew what was going on. Who was shooting at them? How many? Was the team outnumbered? Would they get out of this alive? She gripped the knife handle with sweaty hands and kept her eyes riveted to the door, waiting to see who would bust through.

“Now, Willy!” Mack yelled.

Something exploded. The blast threw her against the footing of the booth. The
lifted up on a wave and dove back down. In the process, she’d sliced a hole in her pants with the sharp knife. If she was bleeding she didn’t care. What did it matter? Any minute now a triad member could come through the door, and she’d turn the knife on herself. She had a great memory for fine details. She hadn’t forgotten the schematics she’d seen before she made a copy on the memory card. She wasn’t going to give them the chance to torture any national secrets out of her.

“Again!” Mack commanded.

Another blast. She held onto the leg of the table this time and rode out the next wave.

She listened. Had the gunfire stopped? Slowed, but still the occasional pops, and something…what was that sound? Now that the gunfire and explosions had eased back, it was possible to focus on a high-pitched screech that didn’t sound human. It grated against her backbone like nails on a chalkboard. Horrible. And then Amber realized what she was hearing—Jenna!

She crawled out from under the table and pulled the chairs away from the door. Jenna was hurt and it was her fault. Preparing herself in case bad guys had made it aboard, she raised the blade over her head and threw the door open.

To her shock, a figure stepped out of the shadows toward her. Amber didn’t think. She brought the blade down with as much force as she could.

“Whoa!” Charlie said.

His instincts were blindingly fast. He stepped aside, dodging most of the force. But she was horrified to see a bright red line streaking his shoulder.

“Charlie! Are you okay—?“

He didn’t let her finish. His lips were on hers, his hands diving into her hair, as he held her head and thoroughly kissed her. She wrapped her arms around his back and melted into him. Thank God. Her Charlie was all right. She cried with relief.

“I’m here, sweetheart.” He kissed her cheeks, eyelids, and the tip of her nose. He wrapped her up in her arms. “You’re okay.”

“What about you?” She blinked the tears away so she could take a look at the blood on his shoulder. She shook her head. In a gun battle he went unscathed but rescuing her was life-threatening. ”I can’t believe I cut you.”

“It’s nothing. Come on. We need your help on deck.” He took her arm. “Jenna…well, she needs you.”

“That’s where I was going. Was she shot?”

“No. She’s in shock, I think, maybe PTSD. She could probably use your comfort.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder? Wasn’t that what military guys suffered with after being on the battle field? Why would Jenna have it? “I’ll try to help. Is everyone else okay?”

“The bad guys are definitely not okay. No one on the team was injured. Except me.” He chuckled and elbowed her in the rib. “My girlfriend brings a knife to a gunfight.”

She liked the sound of that. “Maybe my
should not scare me half-to-death if he wants to keep all of his body parts intact.”

“Yeah.” He grinned. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Stepping onto the deck was a real shocker. Everywhere she looked, the wood was riddled with bullet holes. It was a miracle none of the team members were hurt. Casting her eyes out to sea, she saw a charred and smoking boat that had clearly suffered more damage than the

“Who was on it?” she asked.

“Seven hostiles in total. Who the assholes were and who sent them…that’s what we’re going to find out. You stay here with Jenna. Willy, Tavon, and I will check it out before the thing sinks.”

“No.” She squeezed his hand. “Someone out there might be still alive. You can’t take the chance.”

“Nobody’s alive. We’ve got sensors and heat-seeking equipment. Nothing but seven bodies.” Charlie lifted her hand and placed a gentle kiss on her knuckle. He released her hand.

Before she could stop herself, she yanked him back and kissed him properly, thrusting tongue, groping-grabby hands and all.

“Wow,” Ty said behind her. “He’s only gonna be gone for a few minutes, Miss Fitz.”

Remembering they were not alone, Amber released Charlie. “Be safe.”

He pulled away from her with a goofy grin. “Yeah, um, okay. Be right back.”

“Come on, Charles!” Willy called from the skiff. “That damned boat is sinking fast.”

“I’m on it.” But his eyes were on her as he climbed aboard the skiff. He tripped and nearly went into the South China Sea.

Willy stabilized him. “Shit! Watch where you’re going.”

BOOK: Lock and Load (SEAL EXtreme Team)
3.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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