Jason (Kings of Guardian #4)

BOOK: Jason (Kings of Guardian #4)
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Jason:

Kings of Guardian

Book 4

 

By

 

Kris Michaels

 

 

Jason King was presented the opportunity of a lifetime: assume control of Guardian Security from the billionaire who had built the world renowned agency. As CEO, Jason would manage the best security resources in the world. Former SEALs, Rangers, Recon, Green Berets, agents from every alphabet agency in the nation, not to mention law enforcement stand outs, flocked to the organization he’d control. 

But the offer came with a painful stipulation. Jason King must lay to rest the demons haunting him.

Faith Collins' stepbrother rescued her and her infant son from a hideous life, then died overseas in a black ops mission gone tragically wrong. Faith knew how to pick up and go on when things got bad. So she'd made peace with losing him--until Jason King arrived. 

Neither expected their meeting would tilt the world on its axis–and offer them the solace they both desperately craved.

 

www.trollriverpub.com

Jason

Kings of Guardian (Book 4)

Copyright © 2016 Kris Michaels

ISBN: 978-1-939564-84-9

 

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted, with the exception of a reviewer who may quote passages in a review, without written prior permission from the publisher.

This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, events, incidents and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.

 

WARNING: The author and publisher would solemnly advise you not to attempt any of the sexual or non-sexual actions of any of the characters in this book. Any damage physical, mental or emotional is the sole responsibility of the person/persons attempting such actions. Please be aware that this is a work of fiction and you are responsible for yourself and the consequences caused thereof.

 

Dear Reader,

Kris has worked very hard on this particular piece of entertainment. This book was brought to you by hard labor and love. Please respect an artist’s work for the enrichment we try to bring you. I humbly ask that you don’t outright steal this child born on paper and brought to you by love. If you come by this book by nefarious means, and you are simply unable to give the change in your pocket for the purchase price, then take it with my blessing. But if you can purchase it and would like Kris to continue to bring you great books, please purchase a copy to support her.

Thank you,

Troll River Publications

 

Join the fun with Author
Kris Michaels
for giveaways, updates and new release opportunities at:
http://eepurl.com/7OXdr

Chapter One

Almost three years ago…

 

A violent explosion rocked the plane. The cold, hard steel of the aircraft’s superstructure bitch-slapped the side of his face. The unexpected and brutal violence stunned Jason King momentarily. Then reality hit just as hard as the C-17’s damn bulkhead. They were going down. “Get up! Now! Move it! Sound off!”

Scrambling to his feet, he grabbed the belt of the smaller man and hauled the C-17 loadmaster off the deck of the cargo bay where the percussive blast of the midair explosion had catapulted him. He did a visual of his men through the smoky haze enveloping the hold. A quick verbal reply by each of his team verified all were up and moving. “Check your gear!”

“We’re west of the drop zone, sir!”

Jason roared over the turbulent noise of the wounded aircraft. “Get everyone hooked to the line! Everyone on the line! Hook up!”

He turned to the loadmaster. “Get your parachute on and open that damn door!”

“Sir! We can make it!”

“We have a mission! Open that fucking door!” Jason clipped his cord to the line behind his men and glared over his shoulder. “Open it!”

The loadmaster popped the jump door and shook his head, pleading, “Sir, we’re too low!”

Jason slapped the control light above the loadmaster’s head. “Go! Go! Go!”

The violent lurching of the disabled aircraft flipped two of his men into the fuselage. Jason braced himself and peeled their asses off the metal, almost throwing them out of the open jump door. He looked over his shoulder at the loadmaster, silently begging him to get his parachute on. The man shook his head. So be it. Jason jumped after his men. The parachutes in front of him drifted to the west, and he followed suit, using hand controls to angle his decent. The aircraft was no longer in sight. The black night had enveloped the falling Guardian transport.

The distant, yet distinct, popping sound of gunfire reached him through the rush of the wind. His training kicked in and he sharply diverted his angle of descent, watching as the others also moved away from the intended landing zone. An explosion lit up the canopy of trees Jason was headed toward. The C-17’s impact with the ground erupted, shedding an orange-hued light through an opening in the treetops. The speed with which he was falling didn’t allow for much correction, but Jason attempted to maneuver to his left.

He pulled his legs up and tucked them tight, anticipating the collision. Tree limbs slammed his falling body from one branch to another like a human pinball. The plummet to earth didn’t allow Jason to do anything except suck it up and roll on impact. The ground was an unforgiving bitch and every muscle in his body screamed objections at the brutal landing. But he was down, currently alive, and smack-motherfucking-dab in the middle of a hostile landing zone. He lost the chute, pulled out his compass, oriented his position and shot an azimuth toward the predetermined meeting point. Time to find his team.

 

Chapter Two

Present day…

 

“Why, hel-lo, beautiful. Aren’t you just a sexy fucking wet dream come true?” Jason’s voice disturbed the hushed morning air. The hot South Dakota sun reflected off the shiny black paint of the aircraft. The summer heat lifted off the tarmac in mirage-like waves. Impressive for only being ten in the morning. It didn’t faze him, though. If you mixed in the Gulf’s humidity he might agree the heat was a little oppressive, but here? Nah, all in all, it was a beautiful day.

The object of his lust, a Boeing Business Jet 2, sat on the parking apron of the flight line. Lord, he was drawn to it like a
neodymiu
m
magnet to a two-inch-thick iron plate. As soon as he cleared security he’d do what any stick-jockey worth his salt would do… he’d fucking drool.

“She’s nice, huh?” the guard asked as he handed him his flight line badge.

“Nice? Man, this aircraft is pure, prime and pristine. Over $70,000,000 of custom-made flying heaven. That lady is built for speed, distance, and comfort. She boasts a thousand square feet of interior space and is equipped with the absolute latest in instrumentation. Nice doesn’t even come close, son.”

“Damn.” The man’s hushed whisper echoed Jason’s thoughts. The machine was 100% sex for any pilot, and Jason could get wood just from looking at her. He’d give his left nut to own a jet like this. With a $73,000,000 price tag, he’d settle for flying it.

He automatically checked off the required visual assessments during the walk-around and pre-flight. Damn, she was a beautiful, sexy lady. The bird rivaled any jet he’d ever seen. He’d seen them all and flown most. His boss had the best toys. Billionaires usually did.

A smaller G6’s engines powered up. The whine shattered the silence of the training annex. Silence, hell. With the training facility, cattle, horses, dogs, cats, and associated critters on the Marshal Ranch, he was surprised the morning had remained this quiet. Then again, yesterday’s wedding celebration had gone into the wee hours of the morning. The prairie dogs seemed to be the only thing stirring right now. Lord knows he wouldn’t be if he hadn’t been asked to fly his boss and his family back to D.C. His reward for saying yes? Straddling the stick of this gorgeous lady. Definitely a drool-worthy event.

Jason entered the plane and stood straight. That earned the beautiful lady extra points. Standing upright in a private jet’s cabin at six-foot-seven was a rare event. Didn’t happen, actually… unless he was gearing up in the cargo hold of a transport plane, and the last time he was in a transport, everything had gone to straight to hell. Literally. Hell existed, and he’d been there. Jason shrugged the ‘ghost-of-fucked-up-missions-past’ off and pushed it away somewhere down deep with all the other painful memories he’d long ago buried.

The technology and instrumentation in the cockpit almost brought a tear to his eye. Almost. Without much effort, his body folded into the pilot’s seat. The support systems hummed to life at the flip of a couple of switches. Perfect. The routine of pre-flight consumed him until, outside, he heard the G6’s engine rev and hold at the end of the runway. He’d flown the smaller plane around the world and knew its idiosyncrasies like the back of his hand: the indicator light that flickered no matter how many times it was changed; the small give in the stick; and the cushion on the right rudder. His eyes tracked the plane until it reached the last point it could abort without crashing, and nodded as it nose-lifted and rose gracefully into the air.

Once upon a time, flying had been his life. Now it was a skill he kept honed in case his family or his boss needed an assist. In all honesty, it was the last true link to his time at Guardian, and admittedly, he was reluctant to cut all ties. Reluctant? Hell, that tie was the only thing that kept him going some days.

He watched as Gabriel, his wife and three of their four children approached the aircraft. The kids, as Gabriel called them, were adults. Their oldest daughter was in Europe studying, the twin boys were on break from Annapolis, and his youngest daughter? Well, Jason had seen oh-shit crazy before, a.k.a. his sister Jade, but that little one? She would either put Gabriel in the ground or make him wish he was there.

Gabriel slid into the co-pilot’s seat after closing the main cabin door. The two of them worked seamlessly and had the aircraft airborne in less than ten minutes. After the plane leveled off at their cruising altitude and they had it on the proper heading, his boss flipped on the autopilot system. He turned slightly in his seat. “I wanted to have a private conversation with you, and I figured the best way to get you alone was to tempt you with my newest plaything.”

“You do know my weakness, that’s for sure. If you have another eighty mil to spare, I’ll take one of these. Just saying.” Only a handful of people knew Gabriel and the recluse billionaire, David Xavier, were the same person. Billionaire? Hell, the last report Jason had seen go over his desk set Xavier’s net worth just shy of a trillion. Gabriel had been working hard and hiding in plain sight for decades. He was damn good at it.

“I’ll keep that in mind come annual bonus time.” Gabriel unlocked the seat and swiveled the chair toward Jason. Gabriel leveled his stare at Jason. “I need a favor.”

“Name it.” The response was automatic. Gabriel had done so much for him, and his brothers and sisters, that he’d do anything for the man.

“You’ve heard I’m setting up the hub for the majority of our operations in South Dakota.”

Jason nodded. The plan for transfer was solid. It kept their people out of sight, and allowed personnel training and rehab without revealing weaknesses. Plus, the buildup gave them a centralized compound where they could monitor any attempted approach and thwart information gathering. It was a fantastic concept—in theory.

“Jared and Jacob filled me in. They’re staying in D.C.?”

“Out of necessity. Jacob is spread thin overseas and our stateside investigative section is slammed. Guardian’s clientele base has quadrupled in the last six years—a direct reflection of your work and dedication.”

Jason snorted. “It was a team effort. If we didn’t have the resources or the right people in place, we’d never have made such an impact.”

“Who hired the people? Who forecasted for the resources? Planned for the growth?”

Jason hated being singled out. He cleared his throat and refrained from answering.

Gabriel chuckled. “What Jared was able to coordinate with the FBI, DEA and Homeland allowed us to round up the majority of the Morales cartel, but most importantly, it allowed Jacob and Joseph to pull off Joseph’s exit strategy. And
those
actions wouldn’t have been possible without the legal exoskeleton and procedural memorandums of agreement with those agencies. Agreements that
you
put in place. Guardian is able to breathe and grow because you were able to see the need and plan for it.”

Jason cringed inwardly, uncomfortable with the attention and compliments of his mentor. Yes, he was good at planning and clearing the way for new growth in the organization. What he’d done had been a no-brainer. Anyone who looked at the company could see they would need to grow. So he planned for it. No big deal. Jason cleared his throat again and shrugged away the discomfort of the praise. Time for a change of topic. “What’s the favor?”

“You need to come back to work. In D.C.” Gabriel held up a hand, forestalling the objection that immediately flew to Jason’s lips. “Give me the courtesy of hearing me out before you shut me down?”

Jason snapped his mouth shut and nodded. Barely. He most certainly
did not
want to hear his mentor out, and he definitely wasn’t going to go back to D.C. Too many dark memories.

Gabriel scrubbed his face with his hands and groaned before he leaned back into the co-pilot’s seat. “Jason, I’m tired. I’ve dedicated my life to building not only Guardian but the corporations my father left me. You know Guardian is the shining star of my business endeavors and the one true legacy I will leave my children. I started this business. It’s my baby. But the twins are too young and too inexperienced to run the organization. I’ve got the right people working my other interests. I want you to come back, to take over as CEO and help me transition out of Guardian. You, my friend, are brilliant and the perfect choice. I need you to step into my mantle and learn how to guide my baby. I have, maybe, ten people in my life I trust, and most of those happen to be your immediate family. I want to have a few years with Anna to travel or just… hell, I don’t know… spend a lazy weekend before we are too old to appreciate each other.”

“Run Guardian?
All
of Guardian?” Jason grasped for any handle on that concept and found none… absolutely none.

“See? Brilliant. You do catch on quick.” Gabriel smiled and winked at Jason.

“I can’t.”

“Why?”

“I’m not qualified.”

“You are. Uniquely. I need your mental acuity and your field experience. Your training with the teams against the aggressor forces and operational experience rounds out the outstanding business acumen you possess. Besides, I said transition, not take the reins today. God willing, I’ll be around for a while. Hell, if I retire now I’d be home with the wild one.” Gabriel laughed and shook his head. “That little girl is going to drive me insane. I thought Deacon and David were impossible. My boys seem like gilded angels compared to Jacqueline.”

“I’m a drug addict.”

“Recovering addict, and you were addicted to prescription medications. You weren’t mainlining H.”

“I still want it. I could relapse.”

“Do you use? When was the last time you went out and scored?”

“No, I don’t use. I haven’t had anything since they released me from the hospital after that shit went down.” The mission that had cost him his sanity. Two of his men had paid the ultimate price.

“Do you go to NA meetings? Do you have support in D.C. you can turn to if shit gets tough?”

“Yes, but…”

“Do you think I’d put more on your plate than you could handle?”

“I’d like to think not.”

“Then stop fucking running away. This thing you’ve been doing? Hiding and licking your wounds? That shit needs to stop. You aren’t that person. You are a warrior. You can’t deny you’re hiding in Mississippi. I won’t let you waste any more of your life in that backwater law office. Our time on this planet is too short to hide in fear of making a mistake. Walk with me, Jason. Step by step, we will manage this transition.”

“If I ever let go of the rage I have inside me… I’ll fuck it all up. Let you down.” His words passed his lips as a mere whisper. He knew that for the absolute truth. Yes, he needed to pull out the wrath boiling deep inside him and examine it, but he’d been to the shrinks, got the talk and the t-shirt. Fuck him very much. He still couldn’t guarantee he could keep a lid on the violence that haunted his soul. Yeah, he could see the crayon on the wall, written in big block letters: FUCK UP. His anger and addiction—God, it had become the story of his life. Over and over again.

Gabriel reached over and clasped Jason on his shoulder. His touch was warm and comforting. “You couldn’t let me down. Ever.”

“You don’t know that. Look what happened with Bravo Team.”

“You need to let that go. You and I both know you protected your men as best you could. I’ve read the reports, talked to the survivors. If it wasn’t for you,
everyone
would be dead. What you fucking did over there was beyond anything I’d expect from my most seasoned team leaders.”

Jason looked out the side window of the cockpit, not meeting Gabriel’s penetrating stare. The deaths of those men, his men, still haunted him.

“Give me six months, Jason.
Six
months. If either one of us thinks it isn’t working after that, I’ll… hell, I don’t know what I’ll do, but if you can’t or won’t take over… I’ll figure something out.”

“Have you told Anna you’re walking away?”

“Yeah. She’s excited. But if I couldn’t, she’d understand. She’s an amazing woman.”

Jason nodded. They settled into a meditative, comfortable silence. Jason went over the offer from every angle he could imagine. The idea scared the shit out of him. Pulled him out of his comfort zone and made him want to run or retreat into chemical numbness. The thing his mind kept coming back to was his respect for Gabriel. The man had saved him. Was six months too much to ask? He could deal for that long. He hoped.

“Okay. Six months.” The commitment cost him. He’d be walking through his personal hell, but nobody needed, or for that matter, wanted, to know about those issues.

“A full six months starting the day you walk back through those doors.”

“Yeah, and in six months and one day I’ll be back in Mississippi.”

“Guarantee you won’t, but I’ll let you come to that decision by yourself.” Gabriel’s smugness irked him more than just a little bit, but damn it, Jason couldn’t hold it against him.

“I suppose I should thank you.”

“Have I ever been wrong?” Yep, smug to the tenth power.

“Yes, you put me in charge of Bravo Team.”

“Hell yes, I did, and I thank God I had the sense to do it, too. You saved them from dying in that transport and you brought home the majority of our men. If you hadn’t convinced those fuckers we’d pay big money for each member of the team, you’d be another IS YouTube video and a dead body statistic. There was absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent what happened to Collins and Santos.” Damn it. Gabriel was getting loud. Jason glanced back to make sure the door to the cabin area was shut. Not that it wouldn’t be, still, if anyone else heard that statement, well…

BOOK: Jason (Kings of Guardian #4)
5.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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