Authors: Kimberley Troutte
He wrapped his arms tighter around her. “Don’t move.”
“Who calls at…?” she squinted at the clock. “Five o’clock! Let me up, Mack. It must be important.”
“Or it’s one of your travelers lost in Europe. Maybe one of your billionaires screwed around and missed his train. Your clients are smart people. I don’t know why they can’t figure out how to breathe without their travel agent. Come on, Jenna. You deserve a break.”
The phone stopped.
“There. The dude breathed.” He kissed her neck. “And now that you’re awake…”
“Why won’t they leave you alone?” Mack snatched the cell before she did. “Who the freaking hell is this? Jenna’s on vacation. Got that? Stop calling.”
“Mack!” Jenna slapped at his shoulder.
“What? You need time off as much as this joker does—”
“Lieutenant Commander Riley! Don’t hang up,” the caller said.
Mack frowned. “Who is this?”
“It’s Duncan Fitz.”
Jenna pulled the phone from Mack’s hand and flipped on the light. “Duncan! What’s wrong?”
Mack watched her face as she listened to her boss. Was it pale? He rubbed her wrist and discreetly checked her pulse. It was racing. That bastard had better not be ordering her back to work after only two weeks of downtime. She deserved months of rest after what happened in the jungles of Colombia. She’d saved his billionaire clients and the company’s precious reputation, she deserved a friggin’ break! For crapsake, how many employees would join a SEAL team and rush into the jungle to save a kidnapped family?
heart raced now. Those damned militant guerrillas had captured his Jenna. If the team hadn’t found her when they did… Seeing a pistol pressed to her temple had nearly killed him. He’d never been more scared in his life. Jenna was strong and working on her demons, he’d give her that, but no way in hell was she ready.
wasn’t ready. Shit, if it were up to him, she’d never work again.
He wasn’t the one to make that call, though, just as she was staying out of his re-enlisting decision—for now. Running his hand through his short hair, he groaned. Crap, they had a lot of things to work out.
“Okay. We’ll be there.” She hung up.
He narrowed his eyes. “Where, babe, Tahiti? Because honest to God, if he expects you to go back to work at eXtreme Adventures—”
“Us. He asked all of us to go back to work.”
“You want to repeat that?”
She rubbed his shoulder. “Duncan Fitz needs the SEAL eXtreme team, Mack. He says it’s important.”
He sat on the edge of the bed. “I’m sure it is. To Fitz. Not us, babe. He’s the CEO of the damned company. Let him get someone else for this job. We’re on R&R. Trust me, you need this time off. ”
“I know.” Sharp fear in her brown eyes slashed the air from his chest. Raw emotions rippled through her. Bad memories. He wanted to pound something, or better yet, rip a bad guy’s head off. No one hurt his girl and lived to tell about it.
He rubbed the chill bumps spreading across her tanned skin. “So take the time. Lie back down and I’ll make you forget about your demanding boss.”
“Duncan is sending the jet to us.” She bit her lip. “He’s scared, Mack. It’s personal, his daughter is missing. We have to help him. I’ll get a shower. You pack.”
He waited until her naked body disappeared around the corner to the bathroom before he grabbed his own phone. He’d put a stop to this. Jenna was not leaving his condo and neither was he. They deserved a chance to love each other. To heal.
Admiral Collins picked up in one ring, his deep Southern drawl rolling through the phone, “Good mornin’, Lieutenant Commander Riley. I heard.”
Why wasn’t he surprised? The admiral had ears and eyes all over the place. Mack had learned the hard way in Colombia that the old man had slipped a tracking device on Jenna’s phone to keep tabs on his daughter. Was he also listening in on her calls?
Admiral Collins went on, “Fitz called me, too. You’d better take the team and get going.”
Dammit. He didn’t want to leave Jenna behind. “We aren’t back in play, sir. Our C.O. is still pissed at the Handlys and taking it out on the whole team.”
“I’m authorizing this mission. It’s off-book, just like what we did in Colombia. You'll take your orders from me on this. I'll get you the supplies, transportation, anything you need.”
“Don't try to sweet talk your way out of it, son. There are a lot of things going on here that don’t add up. Fitz claimed his daughter was ready to turn herself in with information she hacked from the D.O.D. until she saw military guys at our embassy plotting to kill her. If that isn’t a load of bullhocky, I don’t know what is. The D.O.D. hasn’t announced a breach alert yet. If Amber Fitz really did hack in, they don’t know it yet. How could our embassy military know it?”
“Maybe she’s lying, sir. Playing a joke, messing with her father, or mentally ill. Who knows?
MP’s from Ship Support in Hong Kong are closer. Why not send them to pick her up for questioning? Why us?”
“Good question. Let’s say for shits and grins that Amber’s story is true. That means we have guys in the field who know a helluva lot more than they should. Terrorists inside our military trying to get their hands on top secret weaponry.” He growled. “Sons of bitches.”
Mack held his tongue, waiting for his orders.
“Stop this shit before they kill the girl and take the data with them. Lieutenant Commander, we do this on the down-low. Top secret. Agree to help Fitz, snatch and grab the girl, and get out before the local authorities catch a wiff your cologne. We don’t want the Chinese to know we’re in there. Understand?”
“One more thing. I know Jenna likes the girl, but if Amber Fitz did what she said she did, she committed treason. She could be a part of a terrorist cell, willingly or not. I need you to get over there and figure out
she’s working with. Get rough. Break her if you have to.”
He dropped his head. He didn’t want to go to Hong Kong. Nu-uh. Too damned far away from his girl.
As if reading his mind, Admiral Collins added, "Assign someone to keep an eye on Jenna. She went through a helluva ordeal and is still recovering. She still won't accept my help and is barely speaking to me. You, she’ll listen to. Keep my daughter safe and out of harm’s way this time. Do you hear me? It’s an order."
“Yes, sir.” It was a sharp order, aimed at Mack's gonads. The Admiral blamed him for what happened to Jenna in Colombia.
Get in line, Admiral.
No one blamed Mack more than he did himself. If Jenna had died in Colombia, Mack would’ve taken his own life. Not two seconds later. He couldn’t live without her. But there was one problem with the admiral’s direct order. Mack didn't trust anyone else to keep his girl safe.
No one but him.
Once Mack had stowed the gear in the jet, he climbed inside and sat beside Jenna and linked his fingers with hers. Though she’d never admit it, he knew take-offs and landings scared the shit out of her. “You okay?”
“That’s always scary. What about?”
“Duncan Fitz suggested I come with the team. Amber is running scared and he wanted her to recognize a familiar face.”
“Yep.” Mack ran his thumb over her knuckles.
“I agreed with him. Before Amber left, I gave her a city map and pointed out many of the hideaways off the tourist path. Many locals won’t open up to foreigners, especially American military. If they’re hiding her they might not tell you. I lived there for several months and know my way around the backstreets and alleys. The team will be able to get in and out quicker if I’m there. Coming with you is a good idea, this time.” She was talking fast, like she did when she was trying to convince him to see her point.
“Why’d you agree to take the job at all?” She cocked her head, reading him, always trying to figure him out. “This is too easy. What made you give in?”
He couldn’t mention Admiral Collins ordered him to take the job. Jenna’s relationship with her father was like a stretched thin rubbed band, any extra weight and the whole thing could snap. Besides, she usually bucked at orders, especially when they came from her father.
He hiked his eyebrow. “Nothing about me is easy, Jenna. I never give in. Never surrender.”
She snuggled closer. “I wouldn’t say that.”
“Okay, sometimes I surrender.” He leaned over and said softly in her ear. “But only because you’re so sexy.”
“You’re evading the question.”
“Yes, I am. Consider it evaded. Why don’t you climb into my lap like last time? Let’s see if we can pull off a repeat performance.”
"It's not that easy, hot stuff." She cast an eye toward the bulge in his jeans and got that hungry look in her eye that he loved. She'd give in. He just had to wear her down a bit.
"I'll show you hot." He ran his knuckles over her breast.
She captured his hand, held it in place. “You didn’t want to call the SEAL eXtreme Team in to rescue Duncan’s daughter. Why’d you change your mind?”
“Yeah. I put myself in Duncan’s shoes. If our little girl was out there hiding for her life, I’d do everything to rescue her. Every damned thing. Hell, I’d rip heaven and earth apart to save her. And I’d kill every S.O.B. who dared to look at her wrong.”
She pressed his hand to her heart. “Our little girl?”
“Or boy. It wouldn’t matter to me. One of each? Two of each?”
“Oh, Mack.” She unbelted and climbed into his lap, just as she’d done the last time they were on this jet.
“Careful, babe. We might get started on our little family right now.”
Against his lips she whispered, “There’s a pack of condoms in my backpack. You know me. I’ve always got a plan.”
“That’s my girl,” he growled and grabbed her ass. “Yes, babe, just like that. I surrender.”
Later as Jenna napped in her seat, Mack made his calls to arms. Tavon would be the first.
Holding his untraceable cell phone in his lap, he took a moment to dig deep and pull out his inner car salesmen. Convincing his friend to go on this mission might be a tough sale. If Mack was conflicted about it, Tavon would be downright torn up. It wasn’t the danger that would repel him—the big bull wasn’t afraid of anything—the idea of rescuing someone who’d stolen secrets from the U.S. would chap his hide.
Tavon was one of the most patriotic guys he knew. He was a friggin’ war hero. They were piling up a collection of medals between the two of them. Tavon, or Big T., as the guys called him, was the man Mack trusted the most, as a spotter, as a friend. Mack was currently one of the best snipers in the SEALs, but he’d be nothing without Tavon’s gift as a spotter. The two were right and left hands, yin and yang, strong and fricken’ frightening. Mack would feel incomplete without Big T. by his side on this mission.
Still, he wouldn’t force the man to go. Every team member had the option to say no and it was 50/50 odds that Tavon would decline. The ferocious monster was turning into a family man. He was ready to hand over a pistol for a hammer, and a Humvee for a lawnmower. Big T. said he wanted to settle down and made it clear on the last mission he would not re-enlist. Even though he loved his job, as all the team members did, his wife and kids meant more to him than his buddies. More than life. More than SEALs.
For the first time, Mack understood the sentiment. Watching Jenna sleeping beside him, he lifted her blond hair off her sweet face, and smiled. He understood all too well.
Hell, he was doomed.
To his surprise, Tavon agreed to meet him in Hong Kong.
“Raising kids is damned hard, Riles.” His deep voice rumbled across the line. “The bickering, snoring, farting. It’s like being on the team without the pay. Just
Mack grinned. Part of him couldn’t wait. The other part was a SEAL through and through. He had no idea how he was going to join the two sides of his heart.
Next, Mack dialed the number for Ty Whitehorse, the team’s helo pilot, corpsman, and tracker extraordinaire. Ty answered on the first ring. “Hey, Mack. Granny said you’d be calling.”