Authors: Dana Marton
SAVING HER IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN HIS MISSION…
Being deep undercover in a drug lord’s compound, Jase Campbell can’t afford to be anything but ruthless and mission-oriented. But it doesn’t take trained instincts to see that pregnant Melanie Key needs his help to escape an increasingly lethal situation…whether she wants it or not. Jase can certainly understand why the once-naive widow insists on relying on herself and will trust him only so far. And her courage and unexpected resourcefulness in the face of killer obstacles is sparking something even more risky—and irresistible—between them. Now, with danger fast closing in, Jase will put everything at stake for a future with Melanie—if they can survive to have one.
Jase wasn’t sure who made the last small move that brought them together.
Melanie’s soft lips tasted like sweet papaya. An odd, exhilarating feeling hit him like a lightning bolt out of nowhere and sent his head spinning. He wanted to sink into her sweetness, to take her up—here and now—on everything she was reluctantly offering.
Jase pressed closer and licked the corner of her lips. Melanie gave a soft, startled sigh, but didn’t move back. If anything, she leaned toward him. Hot need plowed through him like a freight train.
In the back of his mind he was aware of the open door. He knew if someone walked by, it would mean instant execution. They’d drag him outside and shoot him like a dog. He
a dog, for taking advantage of her like this.
Yet with Melanie’s lips on his, the guilt and the risk didn’t seem so grave, and certainly seemed worth it....
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dana Marton is the author of more than a dozen fast-paced, action-adventure, romantic-suspense novels and a winner of a Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing books of international intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world. When not writing or reading, she loves to browse antiques shops and enjoys working in her sizable flower garden, where she searches for “bad” bugs with the skills of a superspy and vanquishes them with the agility of a commando soldier. Every day in her garden is a thriller. To find more information on her books, please visit www.danamarton.com. She loves to hear from her readers and can be reached via email at
Books by Dana Marton
1105—TALL, DARK AND LETHAL
1121—DESERT ICE DADDY
1136—SAVED BY THE MONARCH**
1179—THE SOCIALITE AND THE BODYGUARD
1206—STRANDED WITH THE PRINCE**
1235—THE SPY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS
1299—THE BLACK SHEEP SHEIK
1328—LAST SPY STANDING
**Defending the Crown
CAST OF CHARACTERS
SDDU commando soldier working undercover in the South American jungle. His information-collecting mission is jeopardized when he meets a powerful drug lord’s sister-in-law and falls in love with her.
Kept captive at a drug lord’s jungle camp, Melanie’s only wish is to escape. But can she trust Jase? On the surface, he’s just another thug, yet he seems more than what meets the eye. He’ll be either her salvation or the biggest mistake she’s ever made.
Special Designation Defense Unit. A top secret commando team used by the U.S. government for clandestine missions abroad, and to track and capture terrorism suspects on U.S. soil.
The head of a sizable drug cartel, the don is struggling with holding on to power, while trying to expand his business into human smuggling and weapons trade.
Once the don’s trusted captain, he is ready to take over his empire of crime, no matter the cost.
A child of the jungle, Mochi lost everything to the drug wars.
Lazy drops drummed a unique rhythm on the emerald leaves. Not rain—not yet, just the humid air weeping in the South American rain forest. Ripened fruit dropped from the mango trees, one nearly hitting a capuchin monkey. The animal jumped aside with a shriek, which sent a flock of parrots flying from the canopy, red-blue wings flapping. The soft and harsh noises blended into perfect harmony, pulsing with life—the morning song of the jungle.
A few hundred yards to the east, boots splashed in the shallow water of the ravine. Guns clinked against the water canteens on the men’s hips. The intruders must not have heard the jungle’s music, because they didn’t even try to fit in, creating disharmony.
Mochi perched halfway up the kapok tree, his feet dangling a hundred feet above the jungle floor. He’d sneaked out of the village at dawn to spy on the new batch of baby monkeys, hoping to spot one without a mother, an orphan he could take home. Since a jaguar had stolen his pet dog in the spring, the mud hut where he lived with his three mothers seemed empty.
But the monkeys dashed off the moment those boots came too close for comfort. Slow minutes passed before the six men came into view, then stopped to rest right below Mochi. He stayed to see what they were about, even if his mothers would be awake by now and looking for him. When he got home, nothing would save him from a good beating. He bristled at that. Nobody seemed to appreciate that
was now the man of the family.
An accident at the diamond mine up north had killed his father three months ago, the same week that his oldest brother had been shot by the drug lord who controlled their village. His three middle brothers had been taken more recently by a curse from an angry jungle spirit one of them had stepped on accidentally. A potion from the witch doctor could have helped, but the witch doctor had been on his annual pilgrimage. So the spirit-curse disease spread through the family, nearly taking Mochi, too. The witch doctor had come back in time to save him, but he’d been too late for the others.
He was still weak and now hungry. A line of lemon ants marched up the trunk not far from him. Not much, but enough to take the taste of hunger out of his mouth. He stood on the wet branch to reach them, balancing on bare feet.
He would never have slipped if a small part of the jungle spirit’s curse wasn’t still wedged somewhere inside him, making his legs unsteady. He grabbed the branch, his feet scrambling in the air for only a second before they found purchase. He barely made any noise at all. But one of the intruders below looked up, right at him.
A dark smile spread on the man’s face.
He weighed the mango in his hand, then threw it hard. The missile hit Mochi square in the middle of his chest, and the boy lost his perilous perch in the tree.
the dead-last thing Jase Campbell needed in the middle of this particular undercover op. He swore under his breath as he watched the boy drop. The soft leaf carpet and the kid’s age, meaning flexibility, saved him from any broken bones, as proven by his quick recovery and dash into the trees.
Most of the men were too tired or too lazy to do anything about it. Mercenaries of the biggest crime lord in the area, they were returning to camp after a weeklong trek through the jungle, tired and sweaty. They just wanted to sit for a second and grab a bite to eat.
But Alejandro, having gotten the kid out of the tree, took off after him.
Which left Jase no choice but to follow. Not that he knew what he could do without blowing his cover.
He watched where he stepped as he ran. Even a small scratch from a broken shaft of bamboo could cause a fatal infection out here; the bite of a poisonous snake would mean near-instant death. He didn’t have to look up to know which way Alejandro went. The idiot made enough noise for a deaf man to follow—first with his feet, then with his wheezing. He’d had way too much palm wine the night before.
“I got it.” Jase passed him when the man slowed to catch his breath.
There had to be a village around somewhere, one that wasn’t on their itinerary. The kid couldn’t have been more than six years old, wouldn’t wander into the woods on his own farther than a couple of miles. The boy ran a lot quieter than Alejandro, his tan skin and drab loincloth blending into his surroundings. Only the screeching birds above betrayed the direction he took.
“Hey,” he yelled. Not to make the boy stop, but to scare him into running faster.
Trees became sparser, the undergrowth thicker as Jase followed. Soon he came out onto a well-worn trail. Probably led to the boy’s village. The kid would reach home safely following it. Jase looked after the boy for a second, then turned back. Time to return to the others and let them mercilessly make fun of both him and Alejandro for being so old and feeble that a child could outrun them.
But he barely walked ten yards before a high-pitched shriek of terror stopped him. He spun on his heels and darted down the trail after the boy.
He expected some sort of an animal attack, but soon he could smell smoke. Then the village came into view—about two dozen primitive dwellings, the huts burned, bodies littering the ground.
He slipped his rifle off his shoulder and waited a few seconds. Nothing moved. He stepped into the clearing and followed the shrieking to a partially burned hut. Inside, the boy kneeled next to a dead woman, tears streaming, leaving shiny tracks on his dirty face. Another woman lay facedown in the back of the hut. The smell of death and smoke hung in the air.