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Authors: Susan Stoker

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Military, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense

Rescuing Rayne

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Rescuing Rayne
Delta Force Heroes, Book 1
Susan Stoker

A
s a flight attendant
, Rayne Jackson is used to cancelations, but she never dreamed her latest would lead to a whirlwind tour of London with a handsome stranger . . . or a life-altering night in his bed. One evening is all the enigmatic man can give her, and Rayne greedily takes it, despite suspecting it will never be enough.

Heading home after another extreme mission, Keane “Ghost” Bryson hadn’t planned to seduce someone during his layover, but Rayne is too sweet to resist. Being a Delta Force member means lying to protect his identity, which is unfortunate, considering Rayne seems made for Ghost, right down to the tattoo on her back. For the first time in his life, regret fills him as he slips away the following morning.

Both are shocked when, months later, they meet again—under the worst possible circumstances. Seems fate has given them a second chance . . . if they can survive the terrorist situation they’re in. If Rayne can forgive Ghost his lies. And if Ghost can trust Rayne to be strong enough to endure the secrets and uncertainty that come with loving a Delta Force soldier.

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

Copyright © 2016 by Sussan Stoker

No part of this work may be used, stored, reproduced or transmitted without written permission from the publisher except for brief quotations for review purposes as permitted by law.

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please purchase your own copy.

Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Edited by Kelli Collins and Missyy Borucki

Cover Design by Chris Macckey, AURA Design Group

Cover Photograph: Darren Birrks

Cover Model: Tyler Morgan

Manufactured in the United States

Chapter One

C
aptain Keane “Ghost
” Bryson leaned his head back on the seat and closed his eyes, ignoring the rain that was pouring down outside as if someone had turned a faucet on full blast. The gray day seemed determined to wreak havoc on the moods of every man, woman and child inside the crowded airport.

He used to hate flying commercial, but it didn’t faze him anymore. As a Delta Force operative, and the team leader, his missions were always top secret and he and his fellow teammates typically flew commercially to get to where a mission would start or to get home.

Using a military plane would be more economical and probably safer in some respects, but the military liked them to have the anonymity of flying with everyday men and women heading to vacation or business trips. Ghost would never complain about it either…there were definite perks to flying under the radar, the occasional delays and cancelations notwithstanding.

Ghost had just completed one doozy of a mission. The team had flown to Germany then headed to Turkey to assist in rescuing a kidnapped Army sergeant named Penelope Turner. Sergeant Turner had been snatched by the terrorist group ISIS while on a humanitarian mission in a refugee camp in Turkey. She and three of her Army Reservist comrades had been taken while patrolling the camp. The three men with Sergeant Turner had been killed, and their beheadings videotaped and publicized. Turner had been used as a propaganda tool to further ISIS’s anti-American agenda.

The Navy SEAL team that had been sent in to get her out succeeded and extracted her from the camp with no issues, but when they’d been flying to the Special Forces base in Turkey to regroup and get out of the country, their helicopter had been shot down by insurgents in the mountains on the Turkish/Iraqi border.

Ghost and his team were sent in, after getting intelligence from a retired SEAL named Tex, to find the men and the Army sergeant. They’d gone in not knowing if anyone was dead or wounded, but in the end, the mission had been relatively simple.

The SEALs had done their job, and all that was left for Ghost and his fellow Delta Force operatives to do was rescue the Army Night Stalker team—some were wounded and some unfortunately killed in the initial chopper crash—provide some basic first aid to the SEALs, take out a few scattered terrorists, and call in a second rescue chopper for their entire group to get the hell out of Turkey.

In the short time Ghost had known the kidnapped Army Sergeant, he’d been impressed. Penelope had been feisty and definitely not broken by her time in captivity. His Delta Force team parted ways with Penelope and the SEALs at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

Ghost smiled, thinking back to Penelope’s simple last words to him. “Thank you.” He could tell the words were heartfelt and while Ghost knew she thought them inadequate, they meant the world to him. It wasn’t often they heard a thank you due to the secrecy of their jobs, and Penelope had definitely meant it. He had no idea if he’d ever see her again, but because they were based out of the same Army post, he assumed they probably would at some point. She didn’t know the Delta Force team was from Fort Hood, Texas, but hopefully, she had enough training to realize that if she saw any of them, she shouldn’t acknowledge them as Delta. She’d most likely get debriefed and if she wasn’t aware of how top secret their presence was at the Army base, she soon would be.

Ghost shifted in the uncomfortable seat in the waiting area at London’s Heathrow Airport. He and his teammates had, as normal, flown out of Turkey into Germany then split up. Fletch and Coach flew to France first and then were headed back to the States. Hollywood and Beatle were going home straight from Germany, Blade was going through Amsterdam, and Truck was taking a detour through Spain.

He could’ve taken a flight directly to Austin, but the Dallas/Fort Worth flight got in a bit earlier, and had an empty exit-row seat. It was a matter of convenience, but with the rain pouring down in sheets, Ghost thought that maybe he should’ve taken the later flight after all.

“Is this seat taken?”

Ghost turned toward the low, husky voice that immediately made him think of sex. He’d been aware that she’d been walking toward him, as he was of everyone who moved around him. He was always on alert, ready to take whatever action might be needed. It was engrained in the very marrow of his bones.

A brunette stood next to him. Her hair was pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck. There were wisps of hair hanging around her face, which had obviously fallen out of their confinement. She was fairly tall, especially in the heels she was wearing. Ghost guessed her to be around five-eight or so. She was pleasantly rounded in all the right places. Her Marilyn Monroe physique was a turn on, as was the bright smile she was aiming his way.

Her accent gave away the fact she was American. She was wearing a navy blue skirt and shirt, and was pulling a blue suitcase and a small matching bag behind her. Obviously an employee of the airline, a flight attendant, she greeted him warmly.

Ghost shook his head and gestured toward the seat, inviting the woman to sit next to him.

“Thanks.”

The woman sat down, opened the small blue bag, and fished out her cell phone. She turned to him and asked, “Going somewhere fun?”

Ghost wasn’t sure he really wanted to get into a chat, but he was bored, and he might as well pass the time. He’d never been one to reject an opportunity to talk and flirt with a pretty woman. “Home.”

His one-word answer didn’t seem to daunt the flight attendant. “Ah, American. Where’s home?”

“Texas.”

“Really? Me too! How funny that we’re going to the same place. Out of all the people I could’ve sat next to, I picked someone who was going to be on my flight.” She laughed. “You
are
on flight eight twenty-three, right?”

Ghost nodded.

“Cool. But my place in Texas is really more of a place to store my stuff than a home, since I’m usually working. I currently have the European shift. I’m gone more than I’m home.”

Ghost smiled inside. The woman was very pretty and her bubbly personality was pleasant. “Yeah, I travel a lot too, so I know what you mean.”

She beamed. “Ah, I didn’t really peg you as a businessman, but I guess looks can be deceiving, huh?”

“What did you peg me as?”

The woman tilted her head, contemplating his question. Her lips pursed and then she bit her bottom one. Amazingly, Ghost felt himself getting erect.

Jesus, was he that hard up for a woman? He tried to think about when he’d last had the pleasure of a woman’s company in his bed, and was amazed to realize he wasn’t sure. The team had been busy lately with ISIS ramping up their efforts to cause panic around the world, they hadn’t had a lot of time to themselves back home. But it was more that he was tired of all the tag chasers in Texas…women who only wanted to sleep with military men to say they’d done it. Military men were accused of being sex-crazed, but the reality was, around military bases, there were plenty of women who saw marrying a military man as a way out of their destitute existences. Not only that, but some were obsessed with sleeping with as many soldiers as possible.

“Bounty hunter,” she said resolutely.

Torn out of his internal thoughts of when he’d last had sex, Ghost chuckled out loud in surprise at her deduction. “Bounty hunter? Really?”

“Uh-huh.”

When she didn’t elaborate, Ghost crossed his arms over his chest and smiled at her. “Why?”

“Let’s see. Your eyes are constantly scanning the area, even as we talk. You’re hyper-aware of everything around you. I bet you knew I was coming toward you before I even got here. You’re sitting with your back to a wall, a typically defensible position. You ooze testosterone, you’re more muscular than anyone else around here, and you’re wearing combat boots.”

“And you got bounty hunter out of all of that?”

She smiled at him, leaned back in her seat, and turned toward him. “Yup. Am I right?”

“No.”

“So?”

Ghost knew what she wanted, but he was enjoying playing the game. “I’m a businessman.”

She looked sideways at him for a beat. “So, you’d tell me but then you’d have to kill me…right?” She grinned, obviously also enjoying their flirting.

“Something like that.”

She rolled her eyes. “Okay, spy was my second guess. I’m sticking with one of the two. Bounty hunter or spy. I’m Rayne Jackson, by the way. Spelled with a y and an e. Not like what’s currently falling outside.” She didn’t hold out her hand but looked at him expectantly.

Rayne. Ghost liked that. It was an unusual name for an unusual woman. If she really did think he looked like a bounty hunter, she probably shouldn’t have approached him. “Ghost.”

“Ghost? Really?” She rolled her eyes again. “Okay then, Ghost. It’s nice to meet you. And I’m amending my guess. I’m definitely going with spy.”

“It’s good to meet you too,” he returned, ignoring her spy comment. It was a bit too close to the truth. “Think we’ll get out of here today?”

She smiled at him. “So we’re talking about the weather? Okay, I can do that. Are you in a hurry to get home?”

Not knowing why she was asking, but being cautious, Ghost answered, “Not particularly.”

“Good, because in my expert opinion, we aren’t going anywhere today.”

“Hmm. Other than your profession as a flight attendant, what is this expert opinion based on?”

Rayne grinned. “Well, I’m not a meteorologist, but I’ve been flying through here for quite a while now, and every time it’s rained this hard, the flights are either delayed or canceled.”

“Shit,” Ghost said under his breath. He didn’t really need to get home, his team could handle the report back to the lieutenant colonel at the base, but he also didn’t need the hassle of spending the night in London either. Damn the others, they were probably well on their way home by now. Stupid English weather.

“Yeah,” Rayne commiserated. “Unfortunately, I’m pretty used to it by now.”

Just then an announcement came over the loudspeakers in the busy airport.

F
light
eight twenty-three to Dallas/Fort Worth is now delayed. Please check the boards for more information.


T
old ya
,” Rayne said with a smile.

“You really don’t care that you could be stuck here?” Ghost asked. “Most women I know get extremely…ruffled…when their plans go awry.”

Rayne snorted, and Ghost noted that even the small sound was attractive coming from her.

“No. I don’t get…what was your word? Ruffled?” She shook her head. “I certainly didn’t picture a man like you using a word like that. Does it usually come up in your super-spy conversations?” Her question was obviously rhetorical, because she continued before he could answer. “No, I don’t get ruffled when flights are delayed or canceled. It’s all a part of my day. Remember, I’m actually working, not on vacation. In fact, the delays and cancelations give me a chance to get out and see the city where I’m holed up. I’ve had dinner in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, taken a gondola ride in Italy, and even smoked a joint in Amsterdam during one layover.”

“Hmm, a woman of the world,” Ghost joked.

Rayne laughed at him. “Not even close. Don’t let my adventures fool you. I’m much happier sitting at home reading a book than going out, but I figure while I’m young enough, and I’m here, I might as well get out and see some of the cities most people only dream about visiting.”

“Very mature of you,” Ghost said honestly.

“Are you trying to tell me I’m old?” she joked.

“No, ma’am. I know better than to even hint at a woman’s age.”

“Good. Because at twenty-eight, I’m not old. Not even close.”

Jesus, twenty-eight. It seemed so young to his thirty-six, He’d seen a lifetime of things she couldn’t even imagine, but his body didn’t seem to care. He was attracted to her, there was no denying it. “Twenty-eight…practically a baby.”

“Whatever. What are you…thirty-two?”

“Six, but thanks.”

“You are not.”

“I’m not what?”

“Thirty-six. There’s no way.”

“So you’re saying I’m lying?” Ghost sat up and put one arm on the back of the chair she was sitting in. She was hilarious.

“Not exactly lying, but you might be trying to make me think you’re more worldly than you really are.”

If only she knew how worldly he really was, she’d probably immediately get up and walk away. “I’m thirty-six. Want to see my ID?”

Rayne waved him off, laughing. “No. I’m just teasing you. So…what’re you going to do if our flight is canceled?”

Ghost stared at the woman sitting next to him. He made a split-second decision. “Hopefully taking a pretty brunette to dinner and showing her some of the sights of London she might miss if she stayed in her hotel room and read a book.”

He watched as Rayne blushed and stared at him for a beat. Then, surprising him, she said, “I’ll take you up on checking out your ID now.”

“My ID?” The change in subject threw Ghost for a moment.

“Uh-huh. I might go to dinner with you, but I’ve watched too many episodes on the crime channel. I’ll text your name, address, and birthday to my friend back home. Then we can hang out here until we find out if our flight really is canceled. If you continue to be as interesting as you have been the last half an hour and you don’t do anything completely creepy or stalkerish, like ask me to take off my panties so you can pocket them, I’d be happy to see the sights of London with you.”

Again, Ghost was surprised, but pleasantly. He wasn’t sure why, but the thought of Rayne being cautious and safe gave him a weird feeling inside. Knowing she was looking out for herself and trying to be careful was a total turn-on. Surprisingly so. He reached into his back pocket and took out his wallet. He pulled out his Texas driver’s license and handed it to her without breaking eye contact. “I have a rule. I don’t ask for anyone’s panties on a first date.”

She smiled, but didn’t comment further. Rayne balanced his ID on her knee, took a picture of it with her cell phone, and then typed out a note to her friend on her phone.

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