Bull (Red, Hot, & Blue)

BOOK: Bull (Red, Hot, & Blue)
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Dedication

For my military consultants.

Chapter One

“Go, go, go!” Jimmy’s shouted command reverberated through the communications implant in Bull Ford’s ear.

Following his team leader’s order, Bull took off running. Acutely aware of the location of his backup, the other members of his team, he headed for the shelter of an outcropping. He’d already scoped out how a nearby natural rock formation would be the perfect place to take cover. He flung himself flat on his belly, hidden from view not only by the rocks, but also by the night and the black body armor he wore.

“What info do we have on the bomb?” He whispered the question so the targets wouldn’t hear. From his position, Bull could see his objective, a bomb duct-taped to a live hostage. His task was to disarm the bomb and get the hostage out alive, preferably without getting himself killed in the process. Knowing its composition would help him in disarming it.


Nada
. You’re on your own.”

“Shit.” Bull swore softly at the information that came from Matt at the communications console.

“Shit is right, Bull.” Jack’s cocky southern drawl invaded his earpiece. The man chuckled. “Get it?
Bull
shit?”

“Shut up, Jack.” Jimmy reprimanded his brother and then asked, “What’re you fixin’ to do, Bull?”

“Do we have a location on the tangos?” Bull answered his team leader’s question with one of his own. Since he knew nothing about the bomb, it would be nice to at least know where the bad guys were.

“I see two targets by the hostage. Two more walking the perimeter.” BB answered. He had the best vantage point from his position on the ridge high above the rest of the team.

An idea began to come together in Bull’s mind.

“We need a diversion. I’m going to put together a bomb for a phony explosion. It’ll look and sound like a real one, but without the kick. Just lots of noise and smoke.” He ran over his plan aloud for the team. At the same time, he opened the pack he had strapped to his back and pulled out what he needed. “Trey, you have a bead on the hostage?”

“Affirmative.”

“Good. When I say three, you fire a few rounds as close to him as you can without hitting him. While the tangos are shooting back at the source of the incoming fire, that being you, I’ll lob my fake bomb near the hostage.”

“The tangos will think the hostage was hit by incoming and their own bomb blew. They’ll run like hell and you can complete the rescue. Get him to safety and diffuse the real bomb,” Jimmy finished for him. “Good plan, Bull.”

“What’s your ETA on the fake bomb?” Trey asked.

“Sixty seconds.” Bull estimated the timing, his fingers working quick but sure. “Correction. I’m done. Ready, Trey?”

“Affirmative.”

“One, two, three.” On three, the dirt around the hostage jumped, flying into the air from dozens of tiny percussions. The man taped to the explosives jumped right along with the dirt.

Bull heard him shout a curse as the fake bomb landed within a few feet of him. It detonated a second later with an explosion of noise and thick black smoke. He felt bad scaring the guy he was supposed to be saving, but there was no way to communicate the plan to him safely.

As anticipated, the tangos took off running away from the explosion. Bull ran in low. Holding a penlight in his teeth, he shined the beam on the bomb. He whipped out a knife to cut the duct tape so he could remove it from the man.

The hostage’s eyes went wide. “Don’t. There’s a trip wire under the tape. You’ll set it off.”

Bull sighed. He hated duct tape. He despised homemade bombs even more. This one looked like the typical homegrown version. The kind you get when the how-to instructions came off the internet, which meant it was unstable and could blow at any moment.

He evaluated what he could see of the bomb and the wires attached to it. With hands as steady as any brain surgeon’s, he selected one wire, held his breath and snipped. When he didn’t blow up, he let out the breath.

“Bomb disarmed,” he said for the benefit of the team and the hostage.

“Get yourself and that hostage back to home base and we’ll call this mission complete. Good job, Bull.”

“Thanks, Jimmy.” Bull rose on one knee and glanced at the hostage. “Come on. We’re outta here.”

He felt the hit strike his flak jacket directly over his heart. The force knocked him off balance. He found himself flat on his back, staring up into the face—and the gun—of a grinning black-clad figure. “Not so fast, dog face.”

Bull, powerless to help, watched the gun swing to the side and take out the hostage with a single shot. He closed his eyes and let his head fall back to the ground. “Shit.”

 

 

“The plan was good and solid, Bull. Just don’t get yourself and the hostage killed next time and it’ll be all good. Okay?”

“It’s not all good.” Bull hung his head, shaking it from side to side. “I fucked up the exercise, Jimmy. You were team leader and I made you look bad. I made the whole damn team look bad. I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t.” Jimmy leaned forward in the red vinyl booth where they sat near the backdoor of the bar near base. “We all looked fine. Somebody had to win. This time, it wasn’t us. Next time, it will be.”

“Bull sure wasn’t looking too good a little while ago, with that pink crap all over his flak jacket from the paint-ball gun. What kind of man uses pink paint balls anyway?” Jack asked.

“A sissy Marine jarhead kind, that’s who.” Matt scowled. He’d been recruited out of the Army’s Delta Force Tech Unit. He glanced at Jack and Jimmy, who’d both been Marines prior to joining Task Force Zeta. “No offense.”

Jimmy raised a brow. “None taken.”

“I don’t mind losing. Don’t get me wrong. In every loss is a lesson that could save our lives next mission, but getting beat by Task Force Kappa? That really sucks.” BB shook his head and trailed a finger through the condensation dripping down the side of his glass of soda. “We’re never going to hear the end of this, you know.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” Bull sighed. It had only been a training exercise, but it could just as easily been real, in which case, he’d be dead. It didn’t matter what Jimmy said. Bull was disappointed in himself.

“Bull, dammit. Stop apologizing.” Jimmy slapped his palm against the table. “Stop looking like your dog just died. We’re a team. You weren’t out there alone. It’s as much BB’s fault for not seeing the fifth tango on the infrared. Or any one of the other guys for not having your back and taking out that guy before he took you and the hostage out. And don’t forget, we ran this exercise without the commander and down a man because Blake is on leave.”

“Yes, sir.” Bull knew all that. He also knew he didn’t have to call the team leader
sir
, and especially not while they were all out at a bar, but it was easier to fall back on formality when he felt like such a freaking failure.

“Jimmy’s right, Bull.” BB nodded. “I should have seen the fifth tango sneaking up on you, and I didn’t.”

“I guess we all got a little cocky thinking the exercise was over once you disarmed the bomb. We forget it’s not over until we’re all home safe.” Trey’s reasoning didn’t help Bull feel better.

“Besides that, Bull, you’re a really big target. I mean, who could miss ya?” Jack added with a crooked grin.

Great.
That made Bull feel even worse. He scowled and took another swig of beer.

Jimmy shot Jack a look that said shut up. “Tomorrow morning at the team meeting with the commander we’ll go over the scenario again, step by step. We’ll ascertain what went wrong and come up with alternate actions we could have taken. What BB said is right. Losing an exercise is more valuable than winning if you learn from your mistakes.”


We have to
ascertain what went wrong.
” Jack laughed. “Jesus, Jimmy. You sound just like the commander.”

Trey grinned at Jack’s imitation of his brother. “Before we know it, Jimmy will be taking over the team.”

“Nah, that ain’t gonna happen.” Jack shook his head. “The commander isn’t the type to retire. He won’t leave until they force him to, and he’s not that old yet.”

“How old is he anyway?” BB asked.

There was a general blank stare and a few shrugs from the men seated around the table.

“Hell if I know.” Jimmy laughed.

It was obvious the rest of the team had all moved on from tonight’s loss, but Bull couldn’t seem to. He planted his palms on the table and hoisted himself out of his seat. “I’m gonna head out.”

Jimmy’s gaze tracked Bull as he moved toward the back door leading to the parking lot. “You going home?”

“Nah, I think I’ll swing by Lana’s for a little sexual healing.” He forced a smile for Jimmy’s benefit, before his team leader decided to follow him to make sure Bull got home okay.

If the team thought he was on his way to his on-again-off-again girlfriend’s house to get laid, they’d stop worrying about him. Hell, maybe he’d even do it. He made that decision amid the calls of encouragement that followed him out the back door and to where he’d parked in the lot. Heading for Lana’s warm bed instead of his own cold, empty one sounded like a damn good idea about now.

Why not? Hell, hadn’t he held Lana all night long while she cried when her cat was missing? Surely, she’d reciprocate by cheering him up. Sinking into her would go far to get him over tonight’s disastrous loss. That’s what relationships were about, weren’t they? Being there for each other. That, and not having to hook up with a stranger when he wanted some loving.

She didn’t live too far from base. It only took about five minutes to drive there. Before he knew it, he was on her block, but there were no parking spaces in front of her house. He pulled his truck up to the curb a few doors down from Lana’s and turned off the ignition.

He pulled out the key and sat for a second in the dark. It was late and he was beat. He needed a hot shower, some sweaty sex and a good night’s sleep. All three could be gotten at Lana’s house. Hopefully, things would look brighter in the morning. Both mentally and physically tired, Bull rubbed his hands over his face to wake himself up.

Taking a deep breath, he got out of the truck and locked the door behind him. He cut across the lawn, his long strides taking him to her house in no time. He raised his fist, about to knock on the front door when he heard the sound of Lana’s hot-tub jets bubbling away on the back deck.

There was an idea he could get behind, even as tired as he was. A nice soak in the hot tub. Perfect. That’s what he needed.

Imagining how good it would feel to strip naked and slide into the steaming water, he made his way around the house to the back. He pictured peeling off Lana’s bikini and sitting her in his lap. She’d be almost weightless in the water. He could probably guide her up and down his cock with two fingers. That image had him walking faster.

He reached for the bottom of his black T-shirt as he rounded the corner. He was about to pull his shirt over his head when what he saw stopped him dead in his tracks. There were two heads bobbing close together right above the waterline. One of them was definitely male, judging by the buzz cut. They didn’t hear him over the sound of the bubbles. Bull determined that by their matching expressions of complete surprise when they both looked up and saw all six foot four inches of him towering over them.

“Entertaining company, Lana?” He noted his voice sounded strangely calm.

Lana’s eyes opened wide and betrayed her. “Bull. I thought you’d be gone all night at your exercise so I invited a friend over.”

A naked friend apparently. Bull took note of the pair of men’s shorts and underwear at his feet. He raised an eyebrow as Lana’s
friend
looked ill.

“Really. Why don’t you introduce me to your friend?” Bull didn’t miss how they both remained sunk as low as they could get beneath the water without drowning. He’d be willing to bet she was naked too.

With his best imitation of politeness, he extended his hand to the turd in the water with Lana. When the ass took it, Bull pulled until the guy was standing exposed and yup, just as he suspected, totally nude and not making a very good show of it either. He dropped the bastard’s hand and wiped away the wetness on his black pants.

He shot Lana a look he hoped conveyed all of his disgust. Sure, they’d had their problems in the past. They’d break up and get back together about every few months or so. But they had been doing well lately. At least he’d thought so.

BOOK: Bull (Red, Hot, & Blue)
5.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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