SEAL Sean MacKay’s teammate is murdered after stealing a deadly
nerve-gas formula from Syrian terrorists. Naval Intelligence believes
MacKay’s teammate was a traitor and shipped the stolen formula to his
sister in the states for safekeeping. MacKay is given orders to find the
sister before the terrorists do and to retrieve the stolen formula at
looms for Cory Rigatero as she fights to keep her rustic resort near
Mt. St. Helens afloat after her brother deserted her to join the SEAL
Teams. Cory’s whole world dives into a tailspin when Sean MacKay shows
up at her resort with the news of her brother’s death and the wild
suspicion her brother may have sent her traitorous classified documents.
No way will Cory trust MacKay — the man who once seduced her and then
vanished into the night without a trace.
spent a large part of her career working as a biologist at Walt Disney
World — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” — where she enjoyed working
in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy
tales by night. She eventually said good-bye to her “day” job in order
to write her stories full-time.
is a member of Romance Writers of America, and she shares homes in
Tennessee and Florida with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten
English Springer spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a
noisy Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to
all done,” Cook said and handed Garth a dog biscuit from a jar on the
counter. “He had a young man out front helping him when I peeked out the
I’ve never seen this one around here before.” Cook went back to her
pot. “Handsome, though,” she added. “They headed for the barn.”
called out as soon as she reached the barn, and Vern hollered from his
small office at the back. Cory threaded her way through all the
equipment in the back half of the barn and stopped dead in the doorway
of the shop that doubled as Vern’s small office.
hair and dark brown curls perfectly teamed with a matching beard was
her first thought. Her second thought was broad — really broad —
shoulders beneath his black flannel shirt, and hips so narrow his black
jeans sagged a bit on his frame. His sleeves were rolled up, and those
forearms and biceps belonged to a working man.
jerked her gaze to his face, and blue eyes stared back. Blue eyes that
caught her gaze like a predator traps prey. Blue eyes that twinkled with
just enough devilment to cause a wicked flutter in her belly. Blue eyes
that looked startlingly familiar.
said… Mac here is our new help,” Vern repeated slowly enough she felt
her cheeks flush at having been caught not paying attention.
backed out of the office and headed for the horse stalls. Not hearing
Vern behind her, she turned. He’d stopped just outside the office door
and didn’t look as though he intended to move any farther, so she
two of them had worked side by side almost the entire day. Whatever job
she had, Mac had appeared as though he knew she needed him. The help
had started with the bags of mulch she was loading into a small wagon in
hooked the wagon to the smaller John Deere riding tractor intending to
start at Lucky’s cabin and mulch the flower beds now that the tulip and
daffodil bulbs were coming up. She hoisted the first of the
two-cubic-foot bags into the wagon and bent over to pick up another.
Muscular arms closed over hers and around the bag.
face appeared at her shoulder, his cheek close enough that if she moved
her lips a very few inches she could plant a kiss there.
rich smell of man, out-of-doors, and a hint of the morning’s
after-shave had wafted over her and had her thinking sensual thoughts
like cheek-smooching. Okay, way more sensual than just cheeks as her
gaze zeroed in on lips made for kissing. Lips still so soft and
noticeable though surrounded by the close-clipped dark beard. Lips that
easily curved into a smile capable of stealing her breath away. Lips
like that had to be made for kissing. His eyes studied hers intently.
let the pent-up air out of her disappointed lungs as he eased down to
grab another mulch bag. What had just happened? She had almost kissed
her new temporary laborer in the barn on his second day of work. That
hesitated so long, Mac wondered if she’d tell the truth or fabricate
some tale. He knew the Bel Tesoro legend like the back of his hand,
having heard the tale numerous times over the years of his friendship
with Blue. Usually when Blue got good and drunk — and homesick for his
thought the sun rose and set just for Cory and had always said the
worst part of the Black Ops work they did wasn’t the danger, but leaving
her behind. He’d felt forced to cast her out of his life for her own
safety, settling for a half-dozen covert trips back to town to check on
her. Mac had always come along — and regretted it afterward, for he
could never get the little spitfire out of his mind.
stared at him briefly as she slowed for an approaching curve. His heart
hammered out a couple beats. Had she recognized him? She returned her
gaze to the road, and he blew out a silent sigh of relief.
expanded to ten cabins with the extra business, but Benny and Salvatore
didn’t come back for a while due to run-ins with the law back in New
smiled then, and Mac felt a wave a relief knowing she trusted him with
the truth. He could’ve dug up the legend from anyone in town, but it
meant more coming from her.
that time, Salvatore had changed his name to Charles Luciano — Charles
“Lucky” Luciano — and Benjamin went by the nickname of Bugsy. Meyer
was always Meyer.”
hoped the appropriate amount of shock showed in his expression. “You
can’t be serious. You mean Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano, and Meyer
and Bugsy had become too powerful for their mob boss Joe Masseria, and
they set up his assassination, so they could steal his rackets. Lucky
stole everything in Masseria’s safe and hid the stash from their rival
boss Maranzano. Legend has it that Lucky put the stash in a trunk and
brought it here on vacation shortly after the assassination to keep it
jerked his head up in time to see the end of the dock collapse — with
Cory in the middle of it — and Vern racing for the water. The black Lab
streaked out of the rear garden, barking his fool head off.
vaulted from the tractor and had his feet under him before he took his
next breath. Panic put wings to his feet. Cory hadn’t bobbed up by the
time Vern reached the collapsed end of the dock. The old man disappeared
beneath the surface, and Garth perched at the end of the sagging dock,
barking his complaints.
feet left the lakeshore on a dead run, and he sliced into the water,
stroking before he completely submerged. A handful of power strokes and
he reached the spot where Vern had gone down. Mac dove under to find the
old man red-faced and struggling to hold his breath while he pulled on a
dock piling that had toppled over and pinned Cory’s legs to the lake
bottom. In the crystal clear water, Vern’s eyes were wide with fright.
Cory watched his approach, but lay limp and had ceased to struggle.
dock boards had remained pinned to the collapsed piling and framed her
lithe body like the sides of a coffin. He stroked to her side, put his
shoulder under the closest dock board, and prayed it would hold tight to
the piling as Mac pressed upward with all his might. Thank God, Vern
saw what he intended, and though short on air himself, the old caretaker
scooted around and pulled Cory free from beneath the piling.
waited until they were well and clear before he dropped the mass to the
lake bottom. His heart jolted hard when he saw Vern go limp. He had
wrapped one arm around the caretaker and the other around Cory and
pushed hard for the surface, thankfully but a few feet up. Mac managed
to hold both their heads above water and kicked hard for shore. Garth
howled and whined as he paced the length of what remained of the
collapsed dock. Mac dragged both bodies up and out of the water the
minute his feet found purchase on the bottom, then he laid them both on
the sandy shore. Vern rolled to his knees and began to cough and hack.
crouched over Cory lying limply on her side, her eyes closed. He
detected a weak heartbeat when he laid two fingers to her throat and
leaned his cheek close to check for breathing. Hearing only his own
labored breathing, he tugged her chin down with a thumb and stuck a
finger into her mouth, intent on clearing an air passage.
had almost made it back to his cabin when he heard Garth’s frantic bark
again. The sound hadn’t come from the lake, and Garth wasn’t out
hunting night critters as he’d earlier suspected. This bark came from
the area near the barn.
the dog might be in trouble, Mac sprinted for the barn, surprised to
see all the doors shut. He pulled one of the large double doors open,
and Garth bounded out, jumping up and almost knocking him over.
squatted down to Garth’s level and suffered a couple face licks. “How
did you get shut up in the barn?” He ruffled the dog’s ears and noted
the big canine looked slightly unsteady on his feet. “You okay, boy?”
wagged his tail, and Mac took him out in the moonlight for a better
look. A scream ripped through the night air and stopped them both.
hauled ass for the main house, Garth huffing hard alongside, already
winded and trying to stay on his heels. Something had happened to the
dog, but he couldn’t worry about that now.
two broke through the border of the side garden. Mac could see the
kitchen door of the main house standing wide open and raced that
second scream ripped through the air. This one sounded closer to the
front of the house, and Mac turned course to race in that direction.
Garth stayed straight and bounded through the kitchen door as Mac
cleared the corner on the house.
stumbled when he spied a man wearing a black hood and dark clothes — a
knife held at Cory’s throat — half-carrying, half-dragging her down
the front steps. Mac skidded silently into the rhododendron bushes
lining the porch. The assailant hissed over his shoulder to someone
wolf-like howl suddenly echoed in the house, clearly audible through
the open front door. A heavy thud, a scream of pain, and vicious
snarling sounded in rapid succession. Mac had backup. Garth had made it
One still clutched Cory. Hearing the scuffle inside, he twisted around
to see the front door, and his knife pulled slightly away from her
throat. That was all the distraction Mac needed. He streaked from his
cover and grabbed Tango One’s arm, yanked it back, and brought it down
hard on top of his thigh. The knife dropped to the grass at their feet.