Authors: Capri Montgomery
Copyright © 2012 Shunta Montgomery
All Rights Reserved
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.
On the Line is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, event or locales is entirely coincidental.
Thank you, Barb, for catching the mistakes I missed. Your assist with editing has been wonderful.
Thanks to all of my readers for showing your support for my work by buying and reading my books.
Books by Capri Montgomery
Write Me A Murder: Blood Justice
On Thin Ice
Sworn to Secrecy
Explosive: Deadly Connections
Shadow Hills: For the Love of June
Shadow Hills: Deadly Deception
Shadow Hills: April Showers
Betrayal of the Dove
Love’s Last Hope
Shadow Hills: M is for Murder
Seducing the Bodyguard
Shadow Hills: No Valentine
Shadow Hills: Fallen Hero
Secrets and Lies
Saints and Sinners
The McGregor Affair
The Geneva Project
The Admiral’s Daughter
Watch Over Me
And Many Others…
Coming June 2013
Coming July 2013
Shadow Hills Returns: The Cost of Love ~ from the Shadow Hills Returns series
Coming August 2013
Hiking for Danger
~ from the Men of Action Series
About the Series
The Special Ops series is currently comprised of four segments with each segment including approximately four books. We'll have military men, secret agent men, federal agents, firefighters and more. The first segment of the series is
Special Ops: Search and Rescue
. In this segment we’re following four retired military men in their private search and rescue agency. They go over to retrieve the “package” when nobody else can. Three Air Force men (not counting the on-call pilot) and one Marine make up the elite Squadron. These men are ready for action, highly skilled and the most effective team for any search and rescue mission.
The four segments of the Special Ops series so far are:
Special Ops: Search and Rescue
Special Ops: Witness Protection
Special Ops: Homeland Security
Special Ops: Inferno
I hope you will come along with each of the books in the series for the action, the romance and the very sexy men and women heating up the pages of these stories.
reston Strauss sat
looking at the long legged blond woman sitting in front of him. She was what he would call model perfect; thin, at least five eleven and beautiful in a high fashion kind of way. If he met her at Raven’s Bar and Grill, the upscale establishment he and the team had started spending their Friday nights at since Jet and Charlie had broken up, he still wouldn’t have bought her a drink. It wasn’t that he didn’t like what he saw; it was just that it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to even feel an inkling of attraction to the women he saw.
Five years ago he could at least want to spend a few months with one of the women he passed in his secured world, but now he just didn’t care. He realized what he wanted was something he could never have again and he was tired of trying to reclaim it with some random woman. Five years ago he might have had an interest in this woman, but the fact that she was here as a client would have quickly squelched that attraction. He didn’t date clients, no matter which side of the line they sat on—hostage, or hiring party.
He kept himself in shape. He was getting older—not old, as he would say, but that didn’t mean he had to let himself go. He would say he was in the best shape of his life, which was a good thing because this mission was going to be his. He already knew that. They rotated missions when they could, and even though he didn’t catch as many of those missions he still did some of them. The guys had been working hard and they all deserved a little break. Micah and Natalia had gotten a break with their honeymoon, but not even a month after they got back Micah was back in the field. Jet hadn’t long ago come back from his honeymoon. The man had definitely done it right going on his honeymoon right after his wedding instead of waiting like Micah and Natalia had. Micah and Natalia had a different situation from Jet because they both worked at the Squadron and Natalia could understand delaying their honeymoon for a rescue mission, even if that meant delaying for almost a year after their small, family attended backyard wedding ceremony. Jet, however, had married Akira, Olympic gold medalist figure skater, and she wasn’t privy to the inner workings of the Squadron. Preston didn’t think she would have objected to a delay, but he was glad Jet put his marriage first. It was something he, himself, should have done all those years ago and maybe he wouldn’t have lost what should have been the most important thing in his life.
He brushed his fingers through his black graying hair. He had a hint of silver, as some of the ladies would say; to him it was a little more than a hint, but it never bothered him. What was bothering him now was that eighteen years post divorce and he still hadn’t been able to expunge Ariana from his heart.
“I just want to say thank you again for taking my case,” the smooth melodious voice interrupted his thoughts. He should have been focused on his meeting now and not his past. Ariana was a long time ago and he needed to let her and their marriage go. She had no trouble letting their marriage go so why should he let it affect him all this time? Maybe it wasn’t so much an issue of him letting it affect him as much as it was a problem that he couldn’t stop it from doing so. He had tried, God knows he had, but he couldn’t forget her. The more years that passed the more he missed her, craved her, wanted her; yet he never went to her. He wouldn’t go to her. She had left him and he wouldn’t crawl to a woman begging for her to take him back when she didn’t want him.
He was in the military and had just gotten back from a flight assignment when his commanding officer called him into his office and handed him the divorce papers. She knew he was in the military when she met him. She knew it was his career, and because he devoted his time to his training, to his career, she decided to leave him. She didn’t even give him an option to try to work things out; she just sent the papers. He had been livid when he received them. He had thrown the papers back at his commanding officer; he had knocked things off his desk and took his frustrations out on the man’s wall. He should have gotten a harsh reprimand but instead he got a firm hand on his shoulder and some words of support along with mandatory downtime, which he didn’t want.
“She wants out,” he had said. “She can have it.” He picked the papers up, signed on the dotted line and asked his commanding officer to make sure those papers went back where they needed to go. He also told him he didn’t need downtime. Thankfully, his commanding officer had gone through two divorces and had taken sympathy on the twenty-nine year old standing in front of him. He hadn’t forced him to take the time away; he had given him more work and that’s exactly what Preston had needed. Four years of marriage and it ended with a signature on a few pieces of paper—documents he hadn’t even read. He guess he should at least be thankful that she hadn’t tried to take him for every cent he had. In fact, she hadn’t asked for anything other than for him to refinance the house and get it out of her name. He didn’t even want the house after that. They had bought it together and living there without her didn’t seem like it would be bearable, so he sold their Round Rock, Texas home, gave her a cut of the profits and moved down to Austin.
He hadn’t seen things ending for them, let alone ending like that.
“Did you hear me, Mr. Strauss? I said thank you.” Victoria Dunlap smiled at him. He still hadn’t been paying attention to her words. He was too busy thinking about Ariana, his Welsh, Latin, and Black American belly dancing goddess. Her skin was the color of cream. Her hair was long, curly and reddish brown. Her eyes were a cool color green, more pastel than hard edged, and her body was the stuff fantasies—his fantasies—were made from. He had met her in Morocco. She was down for a Belly Dance Universe contest, representing America as their five-time reigning champion. It wasn’t the Olympics, but he guess he could say it was the Olympics of her profession.
She had apparently just won her event earlier in the day, thus making her the six time U.S. champion. She was back in her hotel room getting ready for a celebration ceremony when a bomb went off in the hotel. She was trapped in her room while half the building was either blown off or crumbled on the ground and he knew the area she stood in wouldn’t hold up long enough for emergency personnel to get there and get her out. When he saw her he had an instant attraction to her, but he didn’t dwell on it because the military man in him demanded action. He didn’t think about the fact that he was there on downtime. He didn’t think about the fact that he could die inside what was left of that building; he just went inside.
He navigated his way through rubble until he was able to get to her room. The door was stuck and she obviously hadn’t been able to get it open. He didn’t have time to wait for another solution so he kicked the door in. When he saw her he recognized the extent of her injuries and the damage to her room. She was limping, which told him she had either sprained or broken her ankle. He didn’t have time to wait for her to hobble out the building so he picked her up in his arms. He effortlessly cradled the five foot nine delicate woman in his arms and carried her out to safety. She had thanked him in Arabic, a language he didn’t speak and he told her as much.
“You’re American,” she had said and he realized it was the first time he had spoken to her and before that there was no way for her to be sure of his country of origin. Of course she wouldn’t expect him to be American. Why would an American be risking his life in Morocco to save her? What were the odds that would happen?
“I am,” he said as he carried her even farther away from the building and to one of the medical units.
“Me too,” she had said. She explained why she was in Morocco. She was defending the title she had won yet again. When he was going to leave her she had held on to his hand and asked him to stay with her and so he had. They were back in America for four months before they decided to marry. He laughed softly to himself. Four months of dating, four years of marriage, what a coincidence, he mused.
“Of course,” he said because he was sure Victoria was probably still talking about the same thing she was the last time he heard her speak—something about taking her case.
“Well she’s my sister and she means the world to me,” she said. “We’re twins.”
He nodded. “What exactly was she doing in Egypt?”
“Trying to be a reporter,” she shook her head. “We look alike, but the similarities stop there. I established myself in my career. Jules, however, is thirty-three and still trying to figure it out. But she’s my sister and I love her. Please bring her home to me?”
He wouldn’t make her any promises. He would do his best, but given the fact that Jules Dunlap was deep in the desert somewhere Preston couldn’t promise anything. He had to find her first before he could even think of going in to rescue her. Natalia was working on tracking the location, as was he, but that didn’t mean he had it pinpointed and he couldn’t exactly just go into Egypt without an intended destination.
“Do you have any idea how long it will take before you leave to find her?”
Preston smiled to try to put her at ease. “We’re still working on pinpointing her location. I can’t go in to rescue her until I know exactly where she’s at, but I have people working on it; I’m working on it; we’ll figure this out and then I’ll go in to get her.”
She smiled what appeared to be a smile of genuine relief. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” he stood up and so did she. He ushered out of the Squadron before checking with Natalia on progress for securing location. She still didn’t have anything, but she said she was close. He had his own contacts he could check in with as well, but he needed to have an idea of where to ask them to look.
He walked back into his office and sat down behind his desk. He opened the desk drawer and looked at the picture sitting there. It was his and Ariana’s wedding picture. He kept it there; one of them anyway. The other pictures he kept at home. He didn’t know why he tortured himself, but every time he considered discarding the photos or just putting them in a box in the garage, he hadn’t been able to do it. He kept at least a few out in his home and this one in his desk.
He had been keeping track of her too. She was still dancing, still competing, but she had also opened a school in Round Rock. She was teaching dance, working with a troop she had established, and she was doing choreography. She was doing well for herself. She hadn’t remarried either. He wondered why. It couldn’t be because she was still in love with him because if she had loved him she wouldn’t have left him in the first place. Frustrated, he pushed the drawer closed and set about working on finding Jules Dunlap’s trail. The sooner he got her home the better. Nothing good ever happened in Egypt—at least not to him. The last two times he had been over there had just solidified that line of thinking for him. Apparently it wasn’t just his bad luck with the place. Jules Dunlap didn’t seem to be fairing well either. Get in, get the package and get out—that was his plan. “The sooner the better,” he mumbled.