Authors: Lisa Renee Jones
Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance
Starting with this kiss. The instant Jennifer’s mouth touched Bobby’s, he pulled her closer, taking her mouth, as if he feared she might change her mind. His mouth parted hers, intimately, full of demand. One of his hands tangled in her hair, the other slid up her back, pressing her close, molding her to all that delicious hard muscle. Her hands slid over his back as he pressed her against the car. Long, strong thighs entwined with hers.
Their kiss was…arousing. It made her thoughts spin and her heart race. Yet, still, he seemed unaffected, cool, confident, in control, with an edge that had always been Bobby and had only grown more frustratingly sexy with time and maturity.
“Peace offering,” he said, obviously offering so much more….
Welcome to the Hotzone—The Texas Hotzone—where three ex-members of the Crazy Aces Special Forces team have opened a skydiving operation right outside of my hometown of Austin, Texas.
is book one in the trilogy, and it is a story about finding what you’ve lost. And no, I’m not talking about your car keys, but rather the key to your heart. Which consequently, in
is going to require a whole lot of seduction by the hero, Bobby Evans, because this key is buried deep. Of course, he gets help in the form of a combination bachelor/bachelorette party and a game of truth-or-dare. Read onward to find out if his heroine, Jennifer Jones, chooses the truth or the dare, and just how hot things have to get to find that key.
I hope you enjoy
and look for book two,
in March. Please visit me at www.lisareneejones.com.
Lisa Renee Jones
442—LONE STAR SURRENDER
BEAST OF DESIRE
BEAST OF DARKNESS
Free-falling at high altitudes came with risks, from unconsciousness to frostbite, but was necessary to stay off enemy radar. A HALO was a death-defying act that could give even veterans like the Aces a sense of quicksand, he supposed. But in seven years of Special Ops duty, and more than his share of HALOs, Bobby had seen quicksand only three times while a mission played out—and every one of those three times had been a bloodbath he’d have nightmares about the rest of his life.
Sitting next to Bobby, Mike Reynolds, the youngest of the Aces at twenty-eight, pulled out a picture of his fiancée, Jennifer, from beneath his jump jacket. “This is it, the last time I’m going to watch out for your sorry Texan asses,” he scoffed, referring to the roots that Bobby shared with Caleb Martin and “Cowboy” Ryan Walker, the two other Aces along for this ride with them. “I’m going home to damn good New York pizza and a hot woman. Adios muchachos.”
Both Bobby and Mike were up for reenlistment, and Bobby had no idea why he hadn’t signed, sealed and delivered his new contract. But Mike, lovesick puppy that he was, had already opted out. He was gone in two weeks and none of the Aces were complaining, but not because they didn’t love the guy like a blood brother—because they did. The Aces were tight. Family without the ancestry. But ever since Mike had met Jennifer six months ago on leave, he’d been operating with the wrong head in control.
And Bobby understood. He used to have his own Jennifer back home twisting his gut in knots. The irony of the shared name didn’t sit well with Bobby one bit. Not when his Jennifer had been, and always would be, the love of his life. The woman he would never forget, could never completely let go. The fact that a mutual, close friend’s upcoming wedding was stirring old feelings only brought that fact closer to light. He’d never stopped checking on his old flame, keeping up with her from a distance, but seeing her up-close and personal, facing what he’d left behind, wasn’t going to be easy.
“Put the flipping picture away and focus,” Bobby said sourly, that quicksand feeling sliding from his feet to his knees and threatening to climb. “I don’t want to ship you back to your woman in a body bag.”
Caleb sat beside Ryan, directly across from Bobby and Mike, his head against the wall, eyes shut. “I’d rather jump without a chute than be led around by my dick like you are,” he mumbled, lifting his head and casting Mike a damning, icy-blue look.
“You’re a dick,” Mike grumbled roughly, stuffing the picture back in his jacket.
“A happy-to-reenlist-and-be-single dick, at that,” Caleb agreed.
The engine roared to life, and Bobby flipped his headset on. The heavy thrum of engines filled the next twenty minutes until a buzzer sounded the ten-minute warning. Instantly all the men were on their feet, adjusting their equipment and preparing the oxygen masks they’d wear for their jump.
Ryan, Bobby’s closest friend, made his customary announcement in his headset. “Let’s go get ‘crazy,’ Aces.” His gaze shifted to Mike, as he added, “Soon you can be pussy-whipped all day and all night, and nobody but your woman is going to give you a hard time.”
Laughter erupted in Bobby’s ears, but there was a subtle tension lacing the air, and Bobby and Ryan shared a look. He felt the quicksand, too.
At the five-minute buzzer, all masks were in place and the doors slid open. Headsets were turned off. This would be a silent jump. They were ghosts, off radar, nonexistent to even their own government. All hands latched on to the rail on the ceiling as a wicked wind screamed a warning and then pounded against them with the force of being hit with a concrete slab.
The jump conditions were far from favorable, but neither were the Iraqi boy’s chances of making it through the night. At the one-minute buzzer, there was a final check of oxygen tanks and chutes in preparation for a jump that would end in a low chute pull that left no time for a backup if anything went wrong.
At exactly 0100, with the night as their cover, and a few mountainsides in view, Caleb saluted and exited the plane in a headfirst free fall. Ryan followed. As Mike started forward, Bobby shackled the younger Ace’s arm, for reasons he couldn’t explain. Instinct. Warning. He didn’t know. Bobby checked his chute. Then pointed to Mike’s chest and then his own before twisting two fingers together, telling him silently he would have his back.
Mike gave a nod, all jesting gone at this point. They did their jobs. They knew the risks and they took them seriously. The first few seconds of the jump were critical. The jumper had to claim control from the wind and find body position.
Mike jumped, and never got the chance at control. The wind gusted, smashing him against the plane. Suddenly, Mike was spiraling downward, his body out of position. Mike made no attempt at correction. He was either unconscious or paralyzed with panic. Either way, if Mike didn’t or couldn’t pull his chute, he’d be dead. There was no auto-pull for a HALO.
Bobby jumped after him, adrenaline rocketing through him, as he forced himself into the cool-under-fire mentality that would be a necessity if both he and Mike were going to survive this.
The wind beat at Bobby, but he worked through it, forced his position, and sent himself into a purposeful spiral. In twenty seconds, he came level with Mike and wrapped himself around him with a jolting collision of bodies. Mike didn’t react. He was out and Bobby didn’t have time to check for a pulse. They were thirty seconds from pull, which was only twelve hundred feet before the ground, and Bobby’s heart was thundering like that plane engine. One chute wouldn’t hold them both. He had to pull Mike’s and get away fast enough to pull his own. A near impossibility.
Struggling, Bobby tried to right their body positions, but Mike was dead weight. Somehow, he found a feet-first position, when Mike suddenly jerked and came awake, his eyes meeting Bobby’s. Bobby breathed a sigh of relief, as he shoved away from Mike. He had pulled his chute and was under canopy in seconds and so was Mike. But that quicksand kept coming.
Gunfire splattered across the terrain as Bobby’s feet hit the ground, and he instantly separated himself from his chute, dumped his oxygen tank and mask, dropping low to the ground. Mike was facedown and unmoving a foot away, and Bobby silently cursed. More gunfire chattered a deadly song nearby. Blessed returning fire followed. Ryan and Caleb were ground level, and they had his back.
Their landing zone positioned the Aces three kilometers from the enemy’s camp, which sat nestled inside a mountain range, and that enemy now knew they were here. So much for a surprise attack, but they would improvise. The Aces always did. If Sadr’s son was alive, they’d get him out of here.
Surrounded by mountains that could easily conceal shooters, Bobby felt like a sitting duck. He scrambled toward Mike. That twist of dread he’d felt in the plane returned, now more like a sharp slice of a knife.
Quickly, Bobby detached Mike’s equipment, going cold in the hot night as stickiness brushed his fingers. He kept moving. Mike would survive. He’d make him survive.
His best option was dragging Mike, staying low, though carrying him would be faster. It would also make them one big bull’s-eye target. Bobby started moving and gained assistance from Ryan. Caleb took up a position above them, holding off the enemy the best he could.
They were under heavy fire by the time Bobby and Ryan had Mike hidden behind the steep rock of the towering mountainside they’d landed nearby. Flipping him over, Ryan shined a light on Mike. Blood seeped from a cut in his head and a bullet wound in his upper chest. That quicksand that had been waiting for Bobby swallowed them up right then and there. He held his breath and felt for a pulse. Relief washed over him as he found a weak one. Mike wasn’t dead…yet. There was no help until extraction. Bobby made fast work of tying off the wound the best he could, with the limited medic supplies in his vest. When he was done, Bobby’s and Ryan’s eyes collided through the shadowy night as they united in the only emotion they could afford in the middle of enemy territory. Anger over Mike’s injuries. That he might die when he was about to go home for good. He couldn’t die. And both of them wanted some Al Qaeda ass and they wanted it now.
Suddenly Caleb appeared, sliding down the mountainside, machine gun in hand, gunfire echoing in the funnel of sweltering August heat. “We have to move! Now!” He looked at Mike and cursed.
“Go!” Bobby ordered Ryan. “Get out of here!”
Ryan hesitated only a split second before he was in action, already firing his weapon. Bobby dragged Mike to a dark corner, under a ledge where he’d leave him until backup arrived, though it was killing him to think about walking away, if only for a brief time.
Task completed, Bobby reached inside Mike’s flight suit and grabbed the picture of Jennifer, shoving it into his pocket. “I’ll tell her what a lovesick pup you were, Mike,” he vowed, just in case the unthinkable happened, and Mike didn’t make it, an idea that instantly soured his stomach, delivering a hard revelation. Bobby knew why he hadn’t signed those reenlistment papers. This wasn’t the life you asked any woman to endure, not fairly. And Mike wasn’t the only one with someone back home.
Bobby pushed to his feet and drew his weapons, resolve forming. The sooner he completed this mission, the more chance Mike had of survival. Mike wouldn’t die and this mission wouldn’t be for nothing. The Aces were going to rescue that captive little boy and return him home safely, Mike along with him. And then Bobby had a Jennifer of his own to go see.