GET YOUR COPY NOW
She walked away from him once.
Now he’s her only hope.
Blackhawk Security weapons expert Anthony Harris has trained for any contingency. Except the return of his ex-fiancée. Glennon Chase walked out on the former Ranger five years ago. And now the CID Special Agent needs Anthony’s help with a deadly investigation into her partner’s disappearance. Dodging bullets he can handle, but partnering with his ex is flat-out dangerous. Especially when Anthony discovers the secret Glennon’s keeping could get them both killed.
“I need your help,” she said.
Four simple words had ripped weapons expert Anthony Harris away from his current surveillance assignment and into downtown Anchorage at three in the morning.
And there she was. Glennon Chase—his ex-fiancée—needed him after all this time.
“I haven’t heard from you in almost five years and now you need my help?” The weight of the Beretta M9 in his shoulder holster kept him focused on the situation at hand and not on the shadows under those hazel-specked green eyes. He shouldn’t have come. Too much history between them. Too easy to get wrapped up in her again. “Don’t you have an entire team of soldiers to help you with whatever investigation you’re working?”
The muted beam from her flashlight streaked across the pitted hardwood floors of the abandoned house. She’d given him the address over the phone, insisted he couldn’t be followed. Because she wasn’t supposed to be there. According to his contact, the Military Police Corps had assigned her to investigate the theft of a weapons shipment out of Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. So why had Glennon told her superior officer she was on base when, in reality, she was about to be charged with breaking and entering downtown?
“I’m not here on an official investigation.” Her gaze darted out the front window, her fingers visibly tightening around the flashlight. Nervous? That wasn’t like her. At least, not the Glennon he knew. Correction: had known. A lot had changed over the last five years. Her dirty-blond hair, now darker than he remembered, had been pulled back in a loose ponytail. Nothing like the polished, professional way she used to wear it. Long, lean muscle peaked out from under her thin T-shirt, a far cry from the soft features he’d loved all those years ago. She’d always been strong, but she’d obviously been pushing herself physically since the last time they’d been in the same room together. And damn, she looked good.
“My partner, Bennett Spencer…he’s missing. You’re the only one who can help me find him,” she said.
“A missing persons case.” Tension flooded through the tendons along his shoulders, pulling his Kevlar vest tighter. Blackhawk Security’s CEO, Sullivan Bishop, had hired him as a weapons expert, using his knowledge from over a decade with the 75th Ranger Regiment to the team’s advantage. War, death, murder. He’d seen it all. But this…this was different. He’d been trained in recovery and rescue, but every cell in his body screamed he shouldn’t have come. Partnering with his ex? Flat-out dangerous.
“You need the police. Not me.”
“The police can’t help me.” She took a single step toward him, hesitant. Desperation seeped into her movements, in the way she held so tightly onto the flashlight in one hand and her Glock in the other. Something had scared her—or someone. And while the idea she’d been rattled didn’t sit well, this wasn’t the assignment for him. The past had to stay in the past. He’d moved on. She had to do the same.
Her voice dipped into a whisper. “You’re the only one I can trust.”
He held back a laugh. Trust? That word meant nothing to her. Anthony shortened the distance between them, the hairs on the back of his neck rising. Heat simmered under his sternum. “What would you know about trust?”
Her brows drew inward, her one and only tell when things didn’t go her way. Nice to see he could still get to her.
“I know what you must think of me, but I wouldn’t have called unless I was absolutely sure about getting you involved. I can’t do this alone,” she said. “There’s no one else who can help me. Please.”
What the hell had she gotten herself into here? He scanned the rest of the street out the dirt-covered front window. The cul-de-sac looked like any other neighborhood downtown. Snow piled up in yards and on flat roofs, white brick with a few scattered trees clinging to the structures. The Kevlar weighed him down as he scanned the rest of their surroundings. No movement on the street, no shifting of shadows.
Taking a deep breath, he forced himself back into the moment. “Sorry. You’ve got the wrong guy. I’m sure the army can help you find the right one.”
Anthony turned back the way he’d come. The dilapidated floorboards creaked under his steps.
“I have a son,” she said.
Ice ran through his veins and he stopped cold. Heart thundering in his chest, he tried to wrap his head around her words. A son? He turned around slowly, the house protesting his shifting weight. He ran the numbers. They hadn’t seen each other in five years, not since she’d walked out on him while he’d been on tour. A slight tremor shook his hand.
“How…” How old? He clenched his jaw. No. It wasn’t possible. She wouldn’t have left if she’d been pregnant. She would’ve told him. Which meant she had moved on. Just without him. “Why are you telling me this?”
“I’m going after my partner with or without your help.” Moonlight crawled across her features as she moved toward him. The shadow along one side of her face shifted as she widened her stance. “My son has a better chance of his mother coming home if you have my back.”
That was how she was going to play this. Putting the blame on him if something happened to her? As if blame hadn’t already eaten him from the inside. He faced her completely, a hint of the rage he’d held back when she’d left bubbling to the surface. “You have some nerve—”
A laser sight crawled across Glennon’s T-shirt.
Anthony lunged. The front window exploded as the echo of a single rifle shot rang through his ears. He crushed her into the floor then rolled them both near the wall. The world spun, but adrenaline kept him focused and alert as it had in far too many situations just like this. Single shooter armed with a sniper rifle. The echo of the shot died fast, but not before he’d pinpointed the shooter’s location. The trees south of the house.
Anthony raised his head above the windowsill, his knees on either side of Glennon’s waist, and scanned the tree line. The Beretta found its way into his hand. Wood exploded to his left as another bullet ripped through the darkness. He ducked below the window to avoid losing his head.
Glennon had clamped a hand over her left shoulder, both her gun and flashlight discarded on the floor where he’d tackled her. The small amount of moonlight reaching them showed something dark and wet spreading through her fingers. Blood. She’d been shot. Squinting, she let a small groan vibrate through her.
Peeling her hand back, Anthony scanned her shoulder. “Can you move?”
A scream escaped her control, singeing his nerve endings. She rolled onto her side and pushed herself upright. “I’m fine. Just get us out of here.”
He aimed for the now motionless trees and fired. Three rounds. Four. The gun kicked back in his hand with each pull of the trigger. No movement. No return fire. The shooter had done what he’d come to do and disappeared. Or maybe not.
Hell. Pulse pounding hard in his throat, Anthony holstered his gun then reached for her. Wrapping one arm around her back and the other in her hand, he wrenched Glennon off the floor and into his side. Her roselike scent—a scent that seemed to cling to him—claimed his attention as they moved through the house. He couldn’t focus on that now. There were no guarantees the shooter had vanished or that he’d come alone, but they weren’t going to sit around and wait to find out.
Mentally alert. Physically strong. Morally straight, he reminded himself. The words had been drilled into his mind from boot camp.
Glennon picked up her discarded weapon. Moving when he moved, turning when he turned, she followed his lead, not missing a beat. “Do you want to help me now?”
Want to? Hell, no. Need to? Apparently.
“Do you really want to have this conversation while you’re bleeding?” He steered them toward the north end of the house, opposite the shooter’s last known position. If they had any chance of making it to his SUV without being shot, this was it. One hundred yards. That was all they had before they reached the vehicle, but that distance could feel like a mile when under fire. Pulling up short of the slashed screen door at the back of the house, Anthony scanned her from head to toe. “Ready?”
She nodded, blood coating her gun hand.
“Keep low, move fast and use me as cover if you have to.” He didn’t give her a chance to respond as he kicked the screen door aside and rushed them onto the covered back porch. A gust of freezing December air took the breath from his lungs. Hiking the Beretta shoulder-level, he sidestepped along the side of the house, making them as small a target as possible in case the shooter decided to come around the corner.
Snow crunched under their steps. Once they reached the corner of the house, they could make a run for it. Until then, the snow would only slow them down. Instincts on high alert, he listened for movement—anything—that pointed to an ambush.
“On my count.” He had the SUV in his sights and Glennon glued to his side. “One.” He studied the fast-spreading pattern of blood across her T-shirt. “Two.” There were no other options at this point. They had to run. Now. He slowed his breathing, wrapped his free hand around her upper arm. A rush of electricity shot through him at the contact. “Three.”
They raced toward the open white-picket-fence gate. A third shot exploded from the trees. Then a fourth. Anthony maneuvered Glennon to his opposite side, using his body as a shield, and emptied the Beretta’s magazine toward the trees.
Alaska winters were some of the darkest on the planet. He couldn’t see a damn thing, let alone narrow down the shooter’s location in a patch of thick trees without stopping. Getting Glennon to safety had to be his priority. Pocketing the empty gun as they crossed the cul-de-sac, he unholstered another weapon and fired.
“Go, go, go!” Fifty feet. Thirty. The SUV came to life at the press of a button and, within seconds, he’d shoved Glennon into the back seat. He ripped open the driver’s door, hiked himself behind the wheel and rammed the vehicle into reverse. The houses that lined the street blurred as he leveraged his arm against the passenger’s headrest and slammed his foot against the accelerator. One last bullet fought to penetrate the windshield as he maneuvered the SUV out of the neighborhood, tires screaming in protest, but didn’t make it through. One of the perks of working for a heavily resourced security company: bulletproof glass. He’d never been more grateful for it than right that second.
He spun the vehicle around and sped away from the abandoned house and the single shadowed figure standing in the middle of the street. The gunfire died, his fight-or-flight response returning to normal. The SUV’s engine roared as he pushed it faster. One glance at Glennon in the rearview mirror and he white-knuckled the steering wheel. He inhaled deeply to slow his racing heart rate. “You still alive?”
“I’m alive. Thanks to you.” She refused to look at him, staring out one of the back windows. Pretending the last few minutes hadn’t happened—that she hadn’t just been shot—wouldn’t get her out of answering his questions.
He relaxed against the seat, finally able to take a full breath since setting foot in that house. “Good, then you can tell me who the hell tried to kill you.”
SEVENTY-TWO HOURS. That was how long her partner, Sergeant Bennett Spencer, had been missing.
Criminal Investigations Special Agent Glennon Chase read his last text message on her phone’s screen for the hundredth time as the SUV plowed through the snow-covered streets of her hometown.
I found proof.
What did it mean? She hadn’t been able to locate him since. He wouldn’t return her calls, hadn’t been seen anywhere near his army barracks or showed up at the temporary office they’d been assigned to complete their investigation. On top of that, the GPS on his phone had gone offline. Or been destroyed.
But Bennett was alive. She had to believe that. Otherwise…
“Your guess is as good as mine at this point.” Glennon pressed her palm against the bullet wound in her left shoulder as she shifted in the back seat. Pain flooded through her but kept her focused. In the moment. Her attention slid to the wall of pure muscle in the driver’s seat. Because letting her guard down around Sergeant Major Anthony Harris would be a mistake she couldn’t afford. Not again.
The former Ranger hadn’t changed a bit. Aviator sunglasses hanging from his T-shirt, sandy-brown hair, full beard, thick muscles strapped inside that familiar Kevlar vest adorned with a patch of the Grim Reaper. Gun at his side. He was attractive, intelligent, protective—everything she’d imagined she’d needed when they’d first gotten together after basic training. He’d still been in the army then, her weapons instructor out of Fort Benning. And those eyes…the darkest blue she’d ever encountered. Dark and deadly.
“Hope a bullet in the shoulder was worth it.” Anthony kept his focus on the road, but the dangerous sinking of his tone meant his focus rested one hundred percent on what had happened back at that house. She didn’t blame him. An ambush had been the last thing on her mind when she’d tracked Bennett’s GPS to that location. “Did you at least find what you were looking for?”
Right. Focus. She swallowed the rush of warmth spreading through her chest and stared out the passenger-side window into the cold. “You mean aside from proof someone doesn’t want me to find my partner?” She inhaled through another round of pain and pressed her shoulders into the leather seat as a distraction. “No.”
The house had been abandoned long before she’d gotten there, but Bennett’s GPS hadn’t lied. He’d been there for close to an entire day before his phone had been turned off. Or died. Which didn’t make sense. They’d been assigned by the provost marshal general to investigate a stolen shipment of military hardware out of JBER here in Anchorage. Guns, ammunition, rocket launchers. At no point in their investigation had an abandoned house located downtown come into the equation. Bennett shouldn’t have been there.
“One-word answers aren’t going to help me keep you alive.” The rough edge to Anthony’s voice added to the weight in her stomach.
Relief flooded through her, however fleeting. She shouldn’t have called him, but after two days of no leads and running into dead ends, she’d run out of options. Going to the police, even involving the army in her partner’s disappearance, could put her son in danger. Because while she didn’t know exactly what’d happened to Bennett, her gut said he hadn’t walked away. In the end, Anthony was the only person she could trust not to get himself killed and to protect her in the process. “Does that mean you’ve decided to help me?”
Anthony pressed a button hidden beneath the driver’s sun visor and swung the SUV down into an underground parking garage. The building wasn’t familiar. At least, she didn’t recognize it. Several SUVs, exactly like his, lined the parking stalls. No other personnel were visible in the cement fortress. No security guards. No employees. The place was empty.
“We’re here,” he said.
She caught sight of four cameras mounted to the ceiling, all with small red lights beneath the lenses. That, coupled with the Bat Cave entrance, gave her an idea of where they’d ended up.
Blackhawk Security. His new employer.
Anthony shouldered his way out of the vehicle and rounded back to open her door for her, weapon in hand. Always the gentleman, always prepared for the worst.
“I’ve got to say, I never imagined you working in the private sector.” He certainly hadn’t been willing to change careers when they’d been a couple.
She slid out of the SUV, but fell into him when another round of pain shot across her shoulder. With one hand on his chest to keep from face-planting on the cement, she tried to ignore the seductive heat snaking through her. Being shot at, taking a bullet—that she could handle. It’d been part of her job since the day she’d been promoted to special agent within CID. But being this close to him, his clean, masculine scent resurrecting countless nights spent wrapped in each other’s arms… Glennon added another foot of space between them.
No. Despite her need for Anthony’s help, that was as far as it’d go between them. Nothing more. She pulled away. Her voice wavered as she forced her gaze from his. Or was it from the blood loss? “What finally made you decide to leave the wars behind?”
“We need to take a look at that wound.” He slammed the door closed behind her and headed for the single elevator on the north side of the parking garage. Studying their surroundings, he adjusted his vest. Ready for anything.
A rush of warmth crawled into her neck and face as she kept on his heels. The elevator doors closed behind them, her stomach dropping as they ascended to the top floor. Whether it was from the change in elevation or being caged in a small container with the one man she thought she’d never see again, she didn’t know. Didn’t matter. She had a job to do and the bullet tearing through her left shoulder should’ve kept reminding her of that.
With a muted ding, the elevator doors parted and they stepped onto a darkened floor. It was after hours. Most Blackhawk Security personnel had obviously gone home for the day, but Anthony led her to a single lit room at the end of the hall.
A breathtaking view of the Chugach Mountain range took up the entire east side of the floor, and her insides ached. This had been her home for most of her life. She’d loved it. The wildlife, the snow, the sunsets and beautiful lakes. Leaving this city—she glanced at Anthony—leaving him had been one of the hardest decisions she’d ever made. Even if it had been the only option at the time.
“I’ve already called in the rest of the team.” Anthony diverted her to a hallway to his left, bypassing an occupied conference room, and motioned her inside the first door. “But I’m going to check out that wound first.”
“Like I said back at the scene, I’m fine.” She’d taken a bullet before. And lived. But he didn’t need to know the details of that particular investigation. “I came to you to keep me alive, and so far, you’ve done a bang-up job. Now, let me do mine.”
She made her way back to their original route and swung the floor-to-ceiling oak door open with her uninjured arm. The large conference room was dominated by men and women she assumed made up the founding core of Blackhawk Security. One stood immediately, striding toward her with his hand extended. He was muscular, although not quite as big as Anthony. Dark hair and a five-o’clock shadow were eclipsed by his sharp sea-blue eyes. “Sullivan Bishop, CEO of Blackhawk Security. You must be Ms. Chase. We’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Sergeant Chase.” Probably nothing good, considering how things had ended between her and Anthony. She wrapped her blood-free hand around Sullivan’s callused grip. “But as much as I love the chitchat, I don’t have a lot time. My partner is missing and the longer I’m here, the less likely I’ll find him alive. So I need Anthony to help in the recovery. I’ll pay whatever fee you set. There’s just one condition—you can’t involve the authorities or the army.”
“All right. Then let’s get to the point, Sergeant.” Sullivan threw Anthony an amused smile before dropping her hand and folding his arms across his chest. His stance screamed military—wide legs, impossible to push over if she tried. A SEAL, if she had to guess. She could tell by the haircut. “Who put that bullet in your shoulder and why?”
Anthony threaded his fingers around her uninjured arm, hiking her into his side. “She needs to get this wound checked before we get into this.”
Hadn’t they already covered this?
“I have no idea.” Stinging pain worked through her as she wrenched out of his hold to take a seat. As much as she appreciated his concern, they didn’t have time for this. Flashes of the night’s events were fresh in her mind and she needed to remember every detail. Talking it through was the only way to do that. The shooter could be anywhere by now.
Collapsing back into one of the leather chairs, she exhaled hard, checking her wound. No major damage. She’d live, but she’d need a good cleaning, and stitches front and back. “But I’m positive it has to do with my partner’s disappearance. I tracked Sergeant Spencer’s phone GPS to that location. Obviously someone doesn’t want me following in his footsteps.”
Anthony took a seat two chairs down, her awareness of him at an all-time high.
“Could it have been your partner who pulled that trigger?” Another member of the team leaned forward in his chair, fingers laced on the dark reflective wood. His expression seemed to light up at the idea.
She’d done research on the people in this room before dialing Anthony’s number. Sullivan Bishop: CEO. Elizabeth Dawson: network security. Kate Monroe: profiler. Vincent Kalani: forensics. She’d had to know what kind of support—if any—she’d have access to during her off-the-books investigation. But something about Elliot Dunham, Blackhawk Security’s con-artist-turned-private-investigator, made her hope the firm had a whole lot of hazard insurance to keep him on their payroll. “It’s not him. I know Bennett. He’d never take a shot at me.”
“It’s amazing what some people will do to keep their secrets safe.” Elliot smiled. “And going to the police is a bad idea because…?”
All eyes landed on her, a physical pressure holding Glennon in her chair. “The fewer people involved, the better.”
She had her own secrets. Granted they wouldn’t stay buried forever, but she wasn’t about to reveal them right here, right now. And not to these people. She glanced toward her ex-fiancé, every muscle in her body strung tight. A rush of dizziness crashed through her and she checked her stained shirt. Too much blood loss. Damn it. Maybe she should’ve listened to him after all. She couldn’t go on like this much longer.
Gripping the table hard, Glennon tried to breathe through the darkness closing around the edges of her vision. “On second thought, I think I’ll take you up on that patch job now.”