After a bitter fight, Jenna Mosier’s pregnant sister ran away. Now, ten years later, Tanya is dead—murdered. A bloody note clutched in her hand pleads for someone to rescue her baby—a child Jenna must find to make up for not saving her sister.
Former Marine Reed Adler thought he left danger behind when he retired from Special Ops command. But faced with a dead body and a terrified ten-year-old boy in his backyard—and a mesmerizing woman who’s tied to both—Reed finds himself pulled into his most complex mission yet.
Ensnared in a dangerous mystery involving biogenetics research and children with no identities, Jenna and Reed must rely on each other for survival. Yet the closer they get to danger, the more intense their feelings for each other become. The cost of saving her nephew may be their hearts…and their lives.
Read an Excerpt –
Reed Adler lifted the mug of coffee to his lips and inhaled the earthy, robust aroma. This was his favorite time of day, early morning, sitting outside his cabin looking across the small meadow and into the trees. Filled with purple lupine and the first bursts of crimson Indian Paintbrush, the meadow shimmered like an image in a kaleidoscope. A slender trail emerged from the forest into the clearing and then plunged back into the trees. Reed often enjoyed hiking the steep trail, which wound for several miles along the Sandy River. As the last vestiges of winter faded and soft flowers erupted along the trails, it was easy to forget the dangers present when hiking in the late spring and early summer. On his first mountain rescue last year, Reed had learned that rain and ice were still a very real danger. The deceivingly clear skies and bright sunshine tended to fool hikers into thinking it was warm outside.
He pulled up the collar on his Pendleton. “Protect yourself,” he mumbled into his coffee. He took a sip and sighed as the crisp air of early summer mixed with the invigorating taste of a strong, powerful dark roast. This was the life he wanted—one without the guns of war, the heat of the desert, or having to say “Yes sir” to yet one more idiot.
Coffee sprayed across the deck. Reed’s training kicked in as he took cover behind his chair. All senses alerted as he built a wall against the shrapnel of fear strafing his chest. The meadow blurred and he tightened his focus on the mountain trail, his gaze cataloging every rock, every tree as he prepared for an enemy attack.
Reed peered into the stand of trees. Something wasn’t right. Afghanistan didn’t have Redwood trees. Where are the rocky, desert mountains? Reed glanced over his shoulder. Where is the rest of his unit? They never went on a mission alone in broad daylight. They must be hiding in the trees. He scanned left and right for the enemy. Seeing none, he jumped off the deck, crouching low as he ran toward the tree line.
A boy burst from the trees running as fast as his short legs would carry him, the sun glinting off something metal.
Reed shouted to his unit. “Down! Gun! Down!” He hit the dirt and covered his head, waiting for the boy to start shooting.
He turned his head slightly. The kid had stopped dead in his tracks, as if not moving a muscle would make him invisible.
Why wasn’t his unit responding? Shit. He must be the only one left. The bastards must have killed them. He reached beneath him for his backup weapon in an ankle holster.
F— Where’s my gun? No uniform? No flak jacket? What the hell is going on here?? Have I been drugged? Escaped? Why can’t I remember?
Flat in the dirt, Reed raised one knee to his side and placed both hands beneath his chest so he could push up quickly. He would spring forward when the boy made a move. He’d have to kill him with his bare hands. Reed would have to kill him before being shot—before joining the rest of his unit in hell.
The kid did nothing. The gun. Why hadn’t he drawn it? The boys always had a gun. Usually a rifle, but sometimes a handgun. Was the kid the pawn? Were there others hidden behind the trees?
Dammit! He should have been prepared. He knew that young Afghan boys were often sent on suicide missions. How did he let himself get in this situation?
The boy’s eyes were wide and frightened. It was like he was paralyzed by Reed’s deadly stare. When no one else fired, Reed looked up the trail again, trying to find where the others were hiding. He frowned in confusion.
Conifers. Heavily treed. What the hell?
Where were the brown hills, the scrawny, sparse trees barely hanging on to the white peaks above him?
Oh, God. No. Please God. Not again.
He closed his eyes and let out a breath. He wasn’t in Afghanistan. He was home. Mt. Hood. His own backyard. The adrenalin still pumping through him, he took a shaky deep breath and let it out slowly.
Reed took his time getting up to one knee, then pushed carefully off the ground. The boy flinched. Reed stood motionless. He worked on slowing his breathing, stopping the automatic kill reflex.
“Sorry, kid.” His voice was rough, dry from eating dirt when he hit the ground. “You okay? You lost?”
The boy screamed, turned, and took off back the way he’d come.
F—! It was a lost kid and he probably just scared the shit out of him.
Reed pursued. It wasn’t safe for a young kid to be climbing around these mountains alone—especially at six in the morning. If he stepped off the wrong side of the trail, the boy would be dead.
“Hey, kid. Hold up. I’m not going to hurt you.”
During the week, Maggie’s days are spent assisting colleges and universities with technology, distance education, open source software, and open education resources. At night and on the weekends, she journeys into the world of her imagination and writes novels that reflect her passions and her belief that the good guys win in the end and that love will conquer all.
Maggie has published several short stories in romance and science fiction, but since 2004 she has focused on publishing novels. Expendable is her first romantic suspense novel and she promises there will be more. Also currently available is Eternity, an SF with romantic elements; and Undertones, a contemporary romance which is the first in a four book series about the women of the Sweetwater Canyon Band. All of her full length novels are made available in ebook and print by her publishers.
Connect with Maggie online at:
Behind the Book blog where she interviews other authors: http://author-secrets.blogspot.com
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