Releasing: November 11th, 2015
Blue Turtle Publishing
Navy SEAL Chief Wyatt Lockwood is fascinated by Marine sniper Captain Talia Culver. But she wants nothing to do with him after learning of his reputation as a heartbreaker. The cocky Texan refuses to take the hint and keeps placing himself in Tal’s path. When she agrees to help him tend to needy families in an Afghan village, she learns there’s more to this SEAL than meets the eye. But is she strong enough to risk having her heart broken again?
Wyatt can’t stay away from the beautiful, surly Marine. Tal is fascinating—and frustrating—and he is determined to crack through her tough exterior and get to know the soft woman he knows lurks beneath the surface. When he joins Tal on a sniper mission in the Afghan mountains, their bond continues to grow. But the mission takes a dangerous turn. Has he lost his chance with Tal forever?
“Just as Wyatt gripped a branch, hauling himself up on shaky legs, the rain suddenly eased, giving him an instant view of his immediate surroundings. His eyes widened as he saw a dozen tree trunks that had been snapped off and were now a pile of giant toothpicks jammed up along the side of the ridge.
“Tal!” he roared, cupping his hands to his mouth. Wyatt didn’t give a shit about anyone hearing him now. His voice was muted by the thunder and the continuing gusts of wind. As he surged toward the pile of trees near their destroyed hide, he looked up.
The entire cliff that had once been above them was gone. Wyatt saw fifty or so pine trees sticking out at odd angles within the mud avalanche that had created this wall of debris. Breathing hard, he reached the trees jammed together on the ridge.
“Tal!” he yelled, starting to climb up on the unstable pile, searching for her. Oh, God, let her be alive! Wyatt yanked his attention toward the slope. Their hide had been completely buried beneath a six-foot wall of mud. Thank God they had gotten out in time, but where the hell was she?
Where are you, Tal?
Slipping on the bark of a trunk, Wyatt fell, skinning his legs as he was hurled down into the logs. And then he saw her. She was lying, unmoving, one leg trapped beneath the broken trunk of the smallest tree.
Oh, God! No!
Scrambling, Wyatt leaped over the other two tree trunks, landing on the soft, muddy ridge.
Wyatt raced around the end of the group of trees, dropping to his knees next to Tal. Her flesh was colorless, her lips parted, mud splattered across her body, face, and hair. Instantly, he tore off his gloves, pressing two fingers against her carotid artery on the side of her slender neck.
There was a pulse!
She was alive! Her pulse was thready and unsteady, and his gaze took in her leg, trapped beneath the tree. His mouth tightened as he moved swiftly, trying to lift the trunk off her leg. Even a man as strong as he was could recognize the superior power of the fallen trunk. He didn’t have a chance.
Wyatt’s mind raced and he grabbed his sat phone. It wasn’t waterproof, and he kept it in a huge Ziploc bag to protect it. His hand was shaking so hard he had trouble dialing the number to connect him with SEAL HQ at Bagram. When the phone connected, he bent over, protecting it from the rain, putting it to his ear. The OIC, officer-in-charge, answered. Trying to keep his voice calm, Wyatt gave his CO a quick picture of what had happened. “I need a QRF, quick reaction force, and medevac right now,” Wyatt told him, his voice shaking as he gave him Tal’s present medical status.
“On its way,” his CO said, his voice grim.
Wyatt gave him their GPS. He knew what would happen. There were always six SEALs sitting in a CH-47 helicopter idling on the runway at Bagram, ready to take off. They were a quick reaction force. They’d find two Apaches—God, he hoped there were two available—that would fly with them to protect them as they raced to this mountainside. With them would be a medevac Black Hawk.
He put the sat phone away, returning to digging out the soft mud beneath Tal’s leg. Wyatt knew it was broken and his mind raced over horrifying possibilities as he dug. There were two major bones in the lower leg. There was a major artery, too. If either or both bones were broken, it could tear into the artery and Tal could bleed out in a matter of minutes and die.
He dug hard and quickly, mud flying in all directions behind him. Wyatt measured the length of the tree trunk that had trapped Tal. There was no way anyone, not even a group of SEALs, could move that log. Tears filled his eyes as he removed the debris around her leg.
Now Wyatt’s heart dropped. He saw that her right ankle was twisted outward at an odd angle. Worse, he saw her calf had become swollen. It meant the artery had been torn. How badly, Wyatt didn’t know, but it wasn’t good.
The rain began to ease. The thunder was rumbling to the east of the mountain now. The wind had stopped gusting. Wyatt could smell the earth, the scent of pines strong around him as he completely exposed Tal’s leg. Taking his SOF knife, he slit her cammie trouser from her ankle to up above her knee.
Gently pulling the flaps aside, Wyatt got his first good look at her injury. The best news was that her skin was scraped and bruised but not broken. He ran his hand down across her calf, feeling the spongy swelling caused by blood leaking from the broken artery.
Because Tal was unconscious, he could probe a little more deeply. Damn! Both her bones were fully fractured, the ends separated from one another. Why one or both had not ripped through her skin, he’d never know. But it was a miracle.
Wyatt knew if she’d sustained an open fracture, she could have bled out quickly, but fortunately, the pressure of the blood swelling inside her calf was actually slowing down the flow of blood out of her artery and into the surrounding muscle tissue.
Had Tal been struck in the head by a log and knocked out? He needed to do a quick head-to-toe exam on her and try to see what other injuries she might have sustained. Shakily getting to his feet, he looked around, peering through the light rain for any signs of the enemy. Wyatt doubted there would be anyone around. But they were in the badlands, and anything could happen.”
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