Home > Under Fire (Love Over Duty #1)

Under Fire (Love Over Duty #1)
Author: Scarlett Cole

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To the military men who helped with the details of this book, from gun choices to enacting the final scene live on video while wearing board shorts so I could understand it better, thank you. I couldn’t have written this without you. If I have misrepresented any detail, the fault is mine. You are the definition of courage, and I am honored to have met you all. And special thank you, CDR Greg Geisen, USN Retired, Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs (2005–2010), for helping the hero of the story with his explanations about medals. Your fantastic one-liner made it into the book as promised!

Barb Devlin—Thank you for walking me through the complicated relationship between the police, CIA, and FBI, and for being one of greatest writer friends I have. Your willingness to share your knowledge is rare and wonderful.

Lizzie Poteet—Book number seven, baby! Thank you for believing in this series, and me! I learn more from you each time we go through this process.

Beth Phelan—For continuing to be the best agent a girl could wish for. I am unbelievably grateful for you.

To my Stars—For being uniquely you. You make me laugh so hard, and usually when I most need it. Thank you for being my happy place on the internet.

To Sidney Halston—For being a rockstar author, my writer BFF, and partner-in-crime.

To all the bloggers who have supported me. I am grateful for every one of your tweets, posts, and shares. A thousand thank-yous.

To Louise Rees—Thank you for picking up all the scattered bits of me and putting them back together in an organized way.

To Amanda and Michelle—Thanks for being such wonderful friends … and for always bringing alcohol!

To T, F, and L.—You three are my everything. Thank you for continuing to support me as I undertake this crazy author ride.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Sixton “Six” Rapp parked his truck but left the motor running, taking a long moment to stare at his first civilian workplace since a lifeguarding gig in college. Never had a nondescript warehouse with peeling paint looked so incredible.

There was no sand here to work its way into every crevice known to man. Just good old American black asphalt and some brown grass in desperate need of the elusive San Diego rain. There was no gunfire, no screaming, and no whirring aircraft propellers. Instead, the sweet sound of Nina Simone singing about sugar in her bowl blasted from his speakers. Most importantly, the building was his. Well, a third of it.

He checked his watch. He was late—a new habit he’d subconsciously developed in the last two weeks since he’d left his Navy SEAL career behind.

“Shit,” he said, pocketing his keys and grabbing his gym bag and garment bag from the passenger seat. He threw them over his shoulder as he got out and winced as the straps crossed over the four lines of scratch marks that Lauren … Lori … whatever her name was … had left on his back after an impromptu heated farewell against his front door. Some things were worth being late for.

With a gait borne of over a decade of military conditioning, Six jogged into the building. The smell of still-drying paint lingered in the air as he made his way past the empty reception desk. Hiring somebody for the post had been Mac’s responsibility, but he was out on their first real two-week job, finding and retrieving a child who had been abducted by her biological father and taken to Mexico. It was nasty case involving years of abuse and a restraining order that was as useless as the paper it was written on.

It was hard to believe that what they had been working on and saving so hard for over the last few years was finally about to be realized. Five years earlier, when Cabe had floated the idea to start planning and saving for a business of their own for when they were done with the military, Six and their best friend, Mac, had thought Cabe was getting ahead of himself. Still hardcore committed to the SEAL brotherhood, retirement had been far from their thoughts as they’d scoured the dusty, barren foothills of the Hindu Kush for signs of a terrorist cell suspected of using the Wakhjir Pass to gain access into northern Pakistan.

But now, at thirty-three, with a Purple Heart and a healed bullet wound to the stomach, Six appreciated Cabe’s foresight. Cabe had invested the money they’d saved from salaries, reenlistment bonuses, jump pay, and special-duty assignment pay. The guy was such a freaking genius when it came to playing the stock market that Six wondered why Cabe didn’t just stay home and play Warren Buffett all day. Their modest savings had grown enough to make Eagle Securities a reality, if not a particularly wealthy one.

It was going to take time to build their special-ops reputation and grow their business, and Six stopped to look at the large board that listed events and names, an idea Mac had had to fill the gap. High-end, discreet security services. Nobody would ever call it exciting work, but it would help pay the bills in return for minimum effort until they were fully booked.

“Hello,” he shouted into the empty building. There was a slight echo as his voice bounced off the tiled floor and undecorated hallway.

“Down here,” a voice shouted from a corridor to his left.

Six followed the sound and found his best friend and former kindergarten carpet partner, Cabe Moss, on his knees underneath the table, fiddling with wires running into the floor.

“I swear to God your ass gets uglier and uglier,” Six said, walking into the room.

Cabe crawled from underneath the table. “And I swear to God, your face gets uglier and uglier. Better my ass than your mug.” He jumped to his feet and hugged Six. “How’ve you been, Viking?”

Six laughed at the old nickname. A family project during high school had uncovered the origins of his tall frame and blond hair. His family was descended from the original fierce raiders. And though the guys had always teased him about it, knowing that fighting was in his blood had been a source of incredible motivation in the hours before getting the go on a mission.

“Glad to be back in San Dog. Spent most of the weekend on my board instead of unpacking. Surfing Seaside was one giant welcome home.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re here, finally. We’ve got shit to do, man, to get this place ready for business. Let me show you around.”

Six followed Cabe out of the room and into a wide-open space the size of a small plane hangar.

“Fitness center is over there,” Cabe said, pointing toward a bank of strength-training equipment and some cardio machines. Two treadmills, a rower, a couple of spin bikes, and a recumbent. Six had plans for those later. “Showers are down the corridor to the left. There’s a dorm with three bunks in it to the right. Can double as medical. Got basic supplies in there for now.”

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