~ Blurb ~
Liam McMillan, independent securities contractor, has taken a job to meet with and accompany an embedded journalist at the Iraqi-Syrian border checkpoint. Using his old SEAL connections, he catches a ride with a SEAL fire team. It's supposed to be a quick, easy job. Things get complicated when the team is hit by enemy snipers and his assignment, Fitz, turns out to be a woman.
Ella Fitzgerald is on assignment as an embedded journalist with the women Peshmerga fighters. She wants to write about the strong women who have decided to fight in place of the many men who had left their country. Ella certainly hasn't expected to be picking up a weapon to do battle herself.
Liam has left the SEALs years ago and has sworn off teaming up with anyone. Now, fighting to save his friends' lives, he's discovering there is no protection from the past, and with a woman strong enough to fight beside him, certainly none for his heart.
~ Excerpt ~
Who goes there, friend or foe?
Except one couldn’t fucking yell that out in the middle of an ear-blasting fire fight. The people firing at them were Peshmerga, Iraqi Kurds, and they were supposed to be on their fucking side. Now the two Canadian peacekeepers were dead and his SEAL friends were trapped in their vehicle, trying to get to this tin can of a bunker where he was hiding out, a few life-and-death meters away.
Steve Liam McMillan cussed and got behind the window, peering out quickly then pulling back. He was the only one in here and would be the only one alive if he didn’t think quickly.
It couldn’t be a case of friendly fire. They’d radioed in yesterday that multi-national teams would be arriving at the checkpoints. This was supposedly an easy operation—take the Canadians, walk them through the usual steps, introduce them to the different troop leaders of the Iraqi sections, and back they’d go to their respective duties. As an independent contractor, he’d curried his ex-SEAL status with his cousin, Hawk, commander of a black-ops DEVGRU SEAL cell, for help to get in and out of the area. Hawk had checked with special ops to see who was in the area and had gotten him permission to come with his pal, Wolf, and his team.
Liam cussed out more useless words as he changed position, moving to the other window. He needed a vantage point to cover his new friends as they ran toward him for safety. Thank God his helmet mic was on and they could still communicate.
“Count of three, two of you head my way. The door would be open. Over!”
A spate of grim replies came his way.
“Abe, you take point! Wolf, you go next!”
Liam aimed his weapon, waiting for the signal. All four SEALs were in that fire team out there, huddling behind the military SUV—two possibly injured—and he would not let them down. The logical move was the uninjured one would lead the other in each of the two runs. That meant Wolf was hurt and Abe would be the one getting the door.
He sighted a sniper from the roof top and without second-guessing, fired his weapon, picking the man off. Friend or foe, right now it didn’t matter. Bringing his comrades in to safety was number one priority.
The two SEALs hauled ass as he continued firing hard, keeping them covered as they made their way to him. The door flew open and both men threw themselves inside amidst another round of gunfire.
“Wolf, you okay?” Abe asked.
The taller man, Wolf, looked at his injured arm quickly and nodded. “Bloody, but I can still shoot,” he replied, his voice grim. “Let’s get our other two out of danger. They’re just sitting ducks out there.”
“I’m signaling them now,” Liam told them, keeping his gaze on the remaining two SEALS as they crawled on their bellies toward the end of the vehicle facing the small bunker. “Cookie’s going to need help. Abe, you cover us while I run out there to help Mozart pull him in here.”
“What’s the signal to let them know I’m coming out to them?”
“I’ll do it,” Wolf said. “You go ahead.”
Wolf went to one side of the window. He checked and saw one of his men had lost his helmet. He put out a hand and quickly made some signals. Then he nodded to let Liam know the two outside were ready. Liam opened the door and ran out as Abe covered him. Stray bullets rained on the sand by his feet but he kept running until he reached the other two. The injured one instantly got to his feet and with the help of the other SEAL, they dragged and pulled him along.
In moments like these, time slowed down and everything always appeared to move in slow motion. Liam had experienced it numerous times and he let his adrenaline take charge, trusting his instincts to get where he needed to go. The door flashed bigger and he could see the bullets slamming into it, whizzing right above their heads.
He realized they might not make it. If Abe or Wolf didn’t get the enemy sniper above, they’d be hit with his next shots. His two companions were thinking that too.
“Leave me,” Cookie told them. “Get in there.”
“Quit wasting your breath, asshole, and keep up!” Mozart panted out.
Liam didn’t even bother replying. As if they were going to leave any man behind to be picked off by a damn sniper. He heard the familiar squeal of tires squealing and it sounded as if a vehicle was coming in their direction. Not good. From his peripheral view, he caught sight of a covered all-terrain vehicle. Faster. They needed to go faster.
Outrunning an M-ATV while helping an injured man was impossible. Liam turned his body, raising his weapon-holding arm. Death would not get him from the back. He looked straight up and smiled defiantly as he readied to shoot. He froze.
Above the M-ATV, a figure was facing the enemy, manning and blasting at them with a 50-calibre. It was the most beautiful sight. At the same moment he had his weapon raised, their unexpected help turned, hair spraying out like liquid rubies in the wind.
“Get the fuck out of the way, dumbasses,” she yelled on top of her voice, her Southern accent instantly recognizable to all American boys, “so we could get close to the door.”
Although he couldn’t see much in the few seconds, to Liam, the voice belonged to the most beautiful woman in the world, in combat gear, coming to save their lives. He would kiss her if he could.
The M-ATV swerved right next to them, close to the front door. The driver beckoned as the woman continued shooting at the enemy, giving the cover. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Liam pushed Cookie up into the vehicle. He heard the others behind him as he and Mozart scrambled up. In seconds, all the SEALs fire squad was inside and without needing orders, they began shooting in unison, like the perfect fighting team they’d been trained to be, aiming at the parapet wall as their driver turned and drove out of firing range.
“Are they going to come after us?” Liam asked.
“Seeing what a small group we are, I’d say yes,” Wolf said.
They’d stopped shooting since it’d be just a waste of bullets. The parapet wall was too far away.
“No, they won’t,” the driver replied.
Like everyone else, Liam turned his head at the female voice. Two women. He hadn’t expected that.
“Hey, thanks for coming to our aid,” he said, studying them both with interest.
The first one, the one manning (should he say womanning?) the weapon was still standing, so all he could see was her lower body. The camouflaged pants fit her very well.
“You’re American,” he continued speaking to Legs when the sound of battle had died down and there was only the rumbling of tires as they sped off.
Legs had a fine voice, with that Southern drawl. Such an unexpected thing in the middle of the desert. It reminded him of the sweet iced tea he guzzled down in the pungent heat of Florida summers when he played baseball.
“We were escorting the Canadians to meet with the Peshmerga leader,” Mozart said. He wiped perspiration from his forehead with his sleeve. “Now they’re dead. Care to explain?”
“Our leader is dead. They killed him this morning,” the driver told them, quietly, her voice without emotion. She spoke with an Arabic accent.
“What happened?” Cookie asked. He sounded a little strained.
“You have injured men. You’d better tell how serious it is first,” the driver said, glancing back at Cookie. “Ella?”
“Yes, I remember the first aid kit,” Legs said, the rest of her finally coming down from the hole above them. “It’s in my backpack under the seat, along with my laptop and notes. So be careful if any of you are sticking your hands under there looking for it.”
“I’m okay,” Cookie said, reassuringly. “I’m a SEAL. I can take a little flesh wound until we’ve reached somewhere safe.”
“Not if you bleed to death. I don’t care whether you’re a SEAL or not. Right now, I’m in charge here and I want to know the status of those injured,” Legs retorted.
Laptop and notes. Liam studied the woman closely.
Besides the long legs and the glorious red hair loosened from the helmet, she looked as if she’d put on her fighting gear in a hurry. Her weapons were carelessly slung over her shoulders and her shoes were partially untied. The smears of dirt on her face brought out the startling blue of her eyes in stark relief. Her small nose was slightly upturned and her skin was pale, the kind that went with a true redhead.
“SITREP of injuries,” Wolf acquiesced, in his usual quiet voice. “Be more detailed than the usual ‘just a flesh wound, sir,’ men. After that, I’d also like a SITREP from our rescuers, so we could all assess our options. I’ll go first. A bullet nicked my arm. It’s bleeding but not badly.”
Liam liked the man. He could lead without causing friction. “I think only two of us are injured,” he said.
“They got me in the back of my thigh. I can’t run very well,” Cookie reported reluctantly.
“Near his ass, actually, by the looks of it,” Mozart added, with a slight grin. “Should be fun examining that wound.”
“I’m not letting you bandage my ass,” Cookie shot back.
“Your turn,” Wolf said to the two women. “What’s going on?”
“I thought it’s pretty obvious the SITREP on what’s happening over there,” Legs said, dryly.
“I’m assuming you’re part of the Kurdish troop at check point, so your people knew we were coming,” Liam pointed out. “In contrast, we have no idea who we’re talking to and the enemy we’re dealing with.”
“I’m Ella and American,” Legs replied. “She’s Zainab. We’re both…hmm…trainees for the Kurdish Peshmerga army. We were attacked last night. One of the men who recently joined up was a spy and came in with the others to overpower us.”
“Traitor,” Zainab spat out. She started talking angrily in Kurdish.
“Hey, slow down a bit,” Wolf said. “How many survivors? What was the purpose of the attack?”
“They thought our leaders were there. Wanted to take them prisoners. They became angry when they realized they were wrong, so they decided to take some of you prisoners instead,” Zainab said, in slow English.
“They figured they could get a friendly fire situation to happen and start an incident,” Legs—Ella—continued. “They’re also sort of looking for me.”
All the SEALs gave Ella their full attention.
“Why?” Mozart asked.
Liam sat up straight. Laptop and notes.
“You’re Fitz!” He gave her a hard look.
Ella grinned back at him.
Liam rubbed his jaw. “Sean didn’t say a thing when he sent me to get you. Damn, like me, the enemy thinks you’re a man.”
Ella’s grin became wider.
~ Meet Gennita Low ~
Jenn, as everyone calls her, likes to keep things simple. That's why she runs a roofing construction business, teaches, writes and does her own business taxes eight days a week. She considers herself a multi-cultural and well-rounded person. Workers leave her alone when she starts yelling at them in Chinese and Malay. She also studies German and Russian because she can't pronounce French very well. The most boring and interesting thing she ever did was translating documents from various languages into English, giving her an opportunity to see many countries. Having traveled extensively in her twenties, she now spends her thirties quietly with six noisy dogs.
Shameless Promotion: Jenn was a RWA contest slut, having finaled in and won a bunch of them including the Marlene, the Merritt, and Indiana's Golden Opportunity. She is also a three-time finalist in the RWA Golden Heart contest before she became published. She would love to hear your comments about her books. She has been known to give away bookmarks and stuff to those who praise her.
AND, if your roof leaks, she can probably give you some advice!
~ Connect with Gennita ~