Counterstrike is a small agency of hand-picked, dedicated, exceptionally skilled men and women whose mission is to rescue kidnap victims both domestically and abroad. The company is top secret, existing far below any official radar, although high-level government representatives use them on occasion in an unsanctioned capacity. The goal of the team is to fade in and out of any situation without detection, rescue innocents, and eliminate targets with no one the wiser. Danger is ever-present, and the operatives have nothing and no one to rely on but their expertise and each other.
DEADLY ENCOUNTER PROLOGUE
The mission had disintegrated into a shitstorm of epic proportions.
Jaimee Fleming gripped the rough trunk of the palm tree with her cleated boots while sighting down the barrel of her rifle through the infrared scope. Slowly she squeezed the trigger. With the silencer, only a muffled piffft sounded before she moved to the next target. A bullet whizzed past her cheek. Without flinching, she adjusted her aim to take out the source. Piffft.
There were more heavily-armed combatants in the compound than the team had anticipated. Hence, the current cluster. Either the intel had been wrong, or the kidnappers were tipped off. Either way, quietly rescuing the vice president’s godson from the encampment where he was being held had evolved into a herculean effort.
Not that anyone on the taskforce would turn tail and run. Counterstrike got the job done. Period.
Her nose twitched from the earthy scent of rotting vegetation, while sweat dampened her back as the extreme humidity made drawing each breath difficult. She ignored all the distractions and squeezed the trigger again. Piffft.
“You got us covered, Scarlet?” The calm voice came through her earpiece. Wolf was always cool under pressure.
“Working on it.”
“That’ll have to be good enough,” he responded. Gunfire erupted over the receiver. “We’re on our way out.”
Across the clearing, the exterior metal door of the building swung open, crashing against the corrugated wall. Patch appeared first, identifiable by his thinner build and fluid movements in the greenish light of her infrared scope. The team’s medic lobbed an explosive toward a collection of oil drums.
From her perch, Jaimee scanned the perimeter for marks as the device detonated in a fireball of flames and smoke. Piffft.
Following close behind Patch, Coffee took advantage of the distraction and ran full out in a zig-zag pattern, despite the deadweight of the man slung over his shoulder. Wolf exited the building last, covering their rear with a burst of shots as two more guerrilla soldiers raced out of the hanger.
They had a hundred yards of open ground to traverse before reaching the protection of the trees, then another quarter mile on a narrow path through dense vegetation to the pick-up point on the landing strip. Over a sudden blast of gunfire from the rooftop, Jaimee detected the faint drone of the chopper, even as her heartbeat slowed and her hands steadied. She picked off another target. Piffft.
Did I get them all?
A flash to her left caught her eye as a shot echoed. Below her, Coffee went down only a few yards from relative safety.
Noooooooo. The silent scream reverberated in her head as she sighted and pulled the trigger. Piffft. She didn’t need the thud of a body hitting the jungle floor below to confirm the kill. She never missed.
Barely slowing his stride, Wolf bent to heave the man they’d come to rescue over his shoulder before motioning to Patch. The medic ran back to lift Coffee into his arms while Jaimee shimmied down the palm to the ground. Seconds later, she reached the rest of her team.
“Go, Scarlet. I’ve got him.”
After a brief hesitation, her training kicked in, and she followed orders. With a nod, she sprinted after Wolf toward the chopper hovering above the landing strip. The Huey lowered to the stretch of packed earth hacked out of the jungle. Palm fronds whipped back and forth in the powerful draft but couldn’t begin to compete with the storm raging inside her.
Covering the final distance at a pace that would have thrilled her old track coach, Jaimee clambered aboard the craft and turned to help ease Coffee into the open interior. Patch had just hoisted himself up onto the metal floor beside her when the chopper lifted off.
She forced out words that nearly choked her. “Is he . . .”
The medic ripped open his patient’s jacket. “He’s in bad shape. Toss me that bag behind you. I need to get pressure on this wound.”
Jaimee handed him the first aid kit, knowing Patch would ask for additional help if he needed it. Needing to do something—anything but vainly sit there—she reached out to hold her unconscious colleague’s hand. Calloused fingers that could deftly stroke the strings of a guitar—and on one occasion the side of her breast—were limp within her grasp. In the dim glow from the interior lights, she locked gazes with Wolf. Their team leader’s rugged face beneath black paint looked like it was carved from stone. Neither spoke as Patch worked frantically to save the man they all loved.
Only Jaimee’s feelings went far deeper than brotherhood and camaraderie.
A minute later, the doc sat back on his heels and shook his head.
Jaimee suppressed a cry as she tightened her grip on Coffee’s hand. Closing her eyes, she rested her head against the side of the vibrating beast carrying them high over the jungle. Her chest ached with a pain so intense breathing became a challenge. She wouldn’t let the tears fall, wouldn’t give in to the anguish tearing her apart. She wouldn’t show she was soft. Weak.
“You’d better see what you can do for Boylston, Patch. It looks like they roughed him up pretty badly.” Wolf’s voice was even gruffer than usual.
Patch bumped against her feet in the tight quarters as he shifted position to reach the man they’d rescued at the cost of losing one of their own.
A life saved, and a life gone. When she opened eyes burning with unshed tears, her gaze came to rest on Coffee’s still face. He’d never smile at her again or laugh at one of their inside jokes. He’d never show her with a single glance how special she was to him. A shudder racked her body as she struggled to keep her emotions under control. She’d allowed herself to care about him more than she should have, and now she’d pay the price.
Not the first time she’d lost someone she loved. But this time would be the last.
No more letting fear eat at her soul, worrying another mission might end in disaster. No more putting her heart on the line. The risk wasn’t worth the reward.
She was finished. With all of it.
So, there you have it! Keep your fingers crossed for me. And if you liked the excerpt, check out my current SIREN COVE series, available at all retail sites. Links are on my WEBSITE. Happy reading!