Long Time Gone (Hell or High Water )

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Riptide Publishing

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Hillsborough, NJ 08844

http://www.riptidepublishing.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Long Time Gone (Hell or High Water, #2)

Copyright © 2013 by SE Jakes

Cover Art by L.C. Chase,
http://lcchase.com/design.htm

Editor: Sarah Frantz

Layout: L.C. Chase,
http://lcchase.com/design.htm

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher, and where permitted by law. Reviewers may quote brief passages in a review. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Riptide Publishing at the mailing address above, at
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.

ISBN: 978-1-62649-060-4

First edition

October, 2013

Also available in paperback:

ISBN: 978-1-62649-061-1

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Soldier of fortune Prophet Drews always worked alone—until Tom Boudreaux became his partner. But when Tom walked away three months ago, ostensibly to keep Prophet safe, Prophet learned the true meaning of being alone. Everyone knows that Prophet, a Navy SEAL turned CIA spook turned mercenary, can look after himself. Which means he must’ve driven his lover away.

Even with half a world between them, Prophet can’t get the man out of his head. Maybe that’s why he’s in New Orleans in the middle of a hurricane, protecting Tom’s aunt. But the only looter around is Tom, bursting back into Prophet’s life. It turns out that Prophet’s been stuck in Tom’s head—and heart—too.

Their explosive reunion gets even hotter when Tom is arrested for murder. As they fight to clear his name, they delve deep into his past, finding enemies among everyone they meet. Staying alive in such a dangerous world is hard enough, but they soon discover that fighting to stay together is the most difficult thing they’ve ever done.

For J, N & C, because you’ve been there from the beginning.

Never love a wild thing . . . the more you do, the stronger they get. . . . If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.

—Truman Capote,
Breakfast at Tiffany’s

We are all searching for someone whose demons play well with ours
.

—Author Unknown

About Long Time Gone

Prologue: Sudan

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Also by SE Jakes

About the Author

Kasey Coetzee backed against the cold stone of the well’s sides, hiding her knife behind her. Abject terror choked her, but she swallowed it.

She would survive,
dammit
.

After being ignored for days, someone was leaning over the side of the well, blocking the light. She wasn’t sure which was the more horrifying prospect—being left to die down here or her captors pulling her out.

The last time they’d thrown several bottles of water to her—which had to be more than a full day and a half ago—one of them had called down, “
Jy beter dit werd wees vir jou vader.

You’d better be worth it to your father.

Now, a distinctively American voice said, “I’m here to help you, Kasey.” She sagged and sobbed with relief. Even if it was the CIA again, at least she would be out of this hole. She saw he was lowering something down to her only when it got close enough to grab, which she did. It was a harness with a pulley and she forced back her tears at the first near-taste of freedom.

“Step into the rig and I’ll get you up.”

Five days ago, her kidnappers—soldiers from her own country—had trapped her in here by lowering her into the well in a rig just like this, except her hands had been bound in front of her. She’d searched for days for something to cut the rope, which is how she’d found the knife.

And the bones.

The well was fifteen feet deep and both too smooth and too wide to climb. She’d tried, of course, but all she had to show for it were bloodied and bruised hands, her nails jagged and torn. At least it had been somewhat cool, thanks to the depth—that had been the only saving grace over the past few days.

But this man was her true saving grace, and his voice was a rough-and-tumble slide over her nerves. It was deep and low and commanding—a voice she wouldn’t have thought to disagree with.

“Kasey, you’re thinking too much,” he told her now. “Just step into the rig and I’ll haul you up. Go on, that’s it,” he encouraged as she pulled the rope around each leg. It was knotted to hold her around her thighs and waist, and as soon as she felt tension on the rope, she shoved the knife in the waistband of her jeans, grabbed onto one of the knots, and hooked her feet desperately into the smooth stones. She gained a foothold more easily now, thanks to the man’s strong grip on the rope.

“Come on now. I’ve got you.” He helped her up the unrelentingly smooth sides, his strength doing most of the work. When she got close enough to the top, she panicked and grabbed for his arms. Her muscles screamed, but he eased her up, making her do as little of the work as possible, and finally, the heat of the midday sun hit her face. She was halfway over the top when he grabbed her around the waist and hauled her completely out.

She remained balanced against him for a second, and even as she blinked to try to get used to the light, she could see a military-looking vehicle coming toward them through the heat shimmering off the sand. It must’ve been heading their way the entire time, but her rescuer seemed unconcerned as he set her feet on the ground and let her lean against the well. He immediately wound fabric around her head—she assumed it was for camouflage, like the one he wore—and in return, she shimmied the ropes off her legs.

“Can you walk?”


Ja
,” she rasped. Coughed. “Sorry, yes.”

“Okay. Come on then.” His tone was skeptical, but he let her try. She lurched forward, nearly fell face-first into the sand, and he caught her in his arms with a swift, easy movement, and carried her away from the well.

And still, the big green truck came closer. “I’m sorry.”

“Nothing to be sorry for.”

How he could be so calm when the truck was advancing was beyond her. But it was lulling her into the same state, and she didn’t care anymore if it was a false sense of security. She was so tired of panicking. “My father?”

“He’s okay.”

“Are you taking me to him?”

“No. It’s safer not to.”

Safer.

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