Authors: Paige Tyler
Tags: #Romance, #Military, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense
SEAL for Her Protection
SEALs of Coronado
by Paige Tyler
Copyright © 2016 by Paige Tyler
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmmitted in any form by any means, electtronic or mechanical, including photocopying recording, or by any informmation storage and retrieval system, without permission from the author.
Cover Design by Gemini Judson, Cover Gems
Editing by Wizards in Publishing
With special thanks to my extremely patient and understanding husband, without whose help and support I couldn’t have pursued my dream job of becoming a writer. You’re my sounding board, my idea man, my critique partner, and the absolute best research assistant any girl could ask for!
He saved her once. Can he save her again, this time from danger he doesn’t see coming?
When investigative journalist Hayley Garner is kidnapped by terrorists, she’s sure they’re going to kill her. But in sweeps handsome Navy SEAL Chasen Ward to rescue her. After getting her to safety, he disappears into the night before she can even thank him.
Weeks later, while covering a story on the local navy base, Hayley runs into Chasen again. Even though she didn't see his face that night he rescued her, she can’t forget his beautiful blue eyes.
The attraction is immediate and intense, and Hayley finds herself falling into a fiery romance with the hunky hero out of her dreams. Guys like this aren’t supposed to really exist, but Chasen does, and damn is he hot.
But ever since she got back home, Hayley has had the feeling someone's been watching her. Is it post-traumatic stress or does she have a reason to be afraid? Good thing she has a Navy SEAL to protect her.
ROM WHERE SHE sat on the floor, Hayley Garner looked around the dank, smelly pigsty of the makeshift prison cell, seeing nothing she hadn’t seen the last three days. It was dark outside now, but the single bare lightbulb hanging from one of the overhead beams allowed her to make out the rough concrete block walls and the two pieces of corrugated sheet metal hastily attached to the brick covering what had once been windows.
She’d left the security of the city of Maiduguri to get the real story of what life was like in the war-torn area, especially in the small villages beyond the limited reach of the Nigerian Army. But getting captured by the Boko Haram terrorists she was here to write about was never part of that plan, and now she was in serious trouble.
She hugged her knees and stared at the door that served as the only way in or out of the room. It was impossible to look away from it for more than a few seconds at a time because she was terrified one of the terrorists would storm in at any minute and catch her unaware. Though she had no idea how she was supposed to prepare herself for what she knew was coming soon.
Tears stung her eyes and she blinked them back, berating herself for ever having left the dorm rooms at the university where she’d been staying with the other international journalists. But she’d been sent by her paper back in the States to get real stories, not the fabricated stuff the local military command had been trying to sell them, and the only way to do that was to go outside the city.
According to the official word, Boko Haram was a decimated fighting force, barely hanging onto a few tattered strongholds out in the jungles along the far eastern edges of Borno State, but all it took was one look at the terrified faces of the locals—not to mention one moment spent listening to the sounds of intense fighting outside the city at night—to convince her that was all crap. So she’d slipped away, made a deal to get a vehicle, and headed toward one of the local villages that had recently been attacked in the hopes of getting something real. That’s when she’d been ambushed by the Boko Haram and her Land Rover had flipped over. She been knocked unconscious and woken up in this nasty place. While she had a cell to herself, she wasn’t the only woman being held captive. The screams of the other female prisoners echoed in the air at all hours of the day and night. She shuddered to think what was happening to them.
For the first day or so, she’d held out some hope the men who’d rammed her Land Rover off the road a few miles south of the village of Dalori would ransom her back to the government in return for weapons, money, or food—maybe even a prisoner exchange. That hope had faded quickly when the terrorists had come into her prison cell to taunt her with her fate. They took turns shoving her around, laughing as they told her in words she barely understood what she was in for as soon after the “colonel” returned from wiping out whatever poor, defenseless village had attracted his unfortunate attention.
In three short days, Hayley had come to hate the tiny space she was being held in, hate the single naked bulb over her head that flickered but never went out, and hate the door standing between her and freedom. Worse than all of that, she hated the creak of the door opening. Because at some point, it would mean the horrible men were done taunting and laughing at her. Then things would get much worse.
Hayley knew they were going to kill her because they’d already done that many times with foreign captives, especially journalists. The thought terrified her, but not nearly as much as what they would probably do to her before they got around to killing her. They’d done a lot of horrific things to a lot of women in general, foreign ones included.
Her only hope lay in escaping, but she couldn’t imagine how that would even be possible. Not only was the one door in the room never left unlocked, but her ankle had been twisted badly in the car wreck. Her foot and ankle were purple from her toes to mid-shin and if it wasn’t broken, she’d definitely torn ligaments and tendons. Putting any weight on it was excruciatingly painful and walking on it was nearly impossible. Running on it was out of the question.
But, if she were going to try, now was the time. The camp she was in had grown completely quiet. Even the sounds of pain and suffering had fallen silent.
She slowly shoved herself to her feet, gritting her teeth as the pain in her ankle almost stole her conviction away. She fought back another wave of tears. She was getting out of here, dammit. Clenching her hands into fists, she took a step toward the door
Outside, there was a deep, low thud followed by a sharp cracking sound reverberating through the night.
Hayley froze. She’d reported from enough battlefields to recognize an explosion when she heard one. What the…?
Abruptly, the light bulb overhead flickered once then died away, plunging the windowless space into total and claustrophobic darkness. It wasn’t until then she realized the electricity in the place had come from a generator. She only knew it now because the constant droning sound she’d taken as background noise was gone.
Outside, the encampment erupted in a barrage of gunfire and loud, angry shouts. It was sporadic and wild, like there were people shooting in every direction at once. Had the Nigerian Army come for her?
She heard yelling right outside the door of her prison cell, then the rapid
pop, pop, pop
of automatic weapons fire. It was quickly followed by the thud of something slamming hard enough against the door to jar it in its frame.
Her heart thudded in her chest as fear poured through her. If the terrorists thought they were about to be overrun, would they try to take her with them or simply kill her? Which would be worse?
Before she could decide, the door burst open, not swinging into the room but flying off its cheap hinges and hitting the floor.
Hayley jumped back in surprise, falling against the rough block wall and barely staying upright. She stared hard into the darkness but couldn’t see anything more than a big silhouette of a man slipping through as silently as a ghost.
She was trying to decide if she should run around the guy when an American voice stopped her cold.
“Hayley Garner, US Navy SEALs. We’re here to take you home.”
The air whooshed out of her lungs in a rush, the adrenaline that had been keeping her going for three days draining out of her right there on the spot. Legs wobbly, she slid down the wall and would have hit the floor but the big guy in military gear was suddenly at her side, catching her.
She couldn’t see much of him, but as her eyes adjusted to the dim light filtering into the room from the hallway, she realized he was wearing night vision goggles. No wonder he could move so fast in the dark.
The SEAL slipped one arm behind her back, gently holding her up. “Are you injured? Can you walk?”
She opened her mouth to answer when another round of gunfire cut her off. It sounded like a flat-out war was going on around them. How had this guy gotten in here by himself?
“Ma’am, are you injured?” he asked urgently.
She nodded but then figured he probably needed more info. What the hell was wrong with her? She usually had it more together than this even in stressful situations.
“Yes,” she finally got out. “I did something to my right ankle. I can’t put any weight on it.”
Hayley expected him to curse. Maybe get on a radio and call for backup—or a litter. Instead, he wrapped his left arm around her more tightly then slipped his right hand behind her knees and scooped her right up off her feet like it was nothing—all while still holding some kind of short rifle
“Wrap your arms around my neck and hold on tight,” he instructed as he headed for the door. “This might get a little bumpy. Sorry if it hurts.”
She started to tell him she didn’t care how bumpy it got, she just wanted to get the hell out of there, but she didn’t get the chance because he took off running down the hallway with her in his arms like she was a rag doll.
He was saying strange words in hushed tones as they ran, and it took her a moment to realize he wasn’t talking to her. He must have some kind of voice-activated radio so he could talk to the other members of his SEAL Team. He was saying something about coming out of objective Bravo and that he’d be taking the primary lane of movement toward the alternate extraction point. She had no idea what he was talking about, but she was sure as heck glad he did.
Hayley didn’t know what to expect when they came out of the building she’d been held prisoner in for three days, but what she found was definitely not anything close to what she imagined.
It was completely chaotic, with fires burning, explosions rocking the buildings around them, and men carrying AK assault rifles running everywhere and shooting in all directions. It didn’t take a genius to figure out none of the men were on the SEAL’s side. They were Boko Haram terrorists shooting into the darkness and trying to hit the ghosts attacking them.
Her savior lifted her higher in his arms, tilting his weapon up a little with his right hand and taking out the first two men who came running at them. Then he turned right and hauled butt toward the edge of the camp. Crap, he could really move.
Hayley held her breath, sure someone was going to kill them, but every time one of the terrorists even turned to look in their direction the man went down with no evidence of where the shot had come from. She didn’t know where the shots were coming from either, but somewhere out there in the darkness, she and her SEAL had a couple of guardian angels.
As they ran, Hayley thought she might have caught sight of a several other SEALs either running toward the fight or carrying rescued prisoners like her away from it.