Authors: Sharon Hamilton
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Military, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense, #New Adult & College, #Series
SEAL UNDER COVERS
Copyright © 2013 by Sharon Hamilton
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 of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work.
I am eternally grateful to the men and women who put their lives on the line every day, wear a uniform, and, in my humble opinion, don’t get paid enough for what they do. But they don’t do it for the money, or even for the glory of it. They do it because they have found within themselves that inner strength and compassion to do something that others won’t or cannot do. And they do it for us, even if we don’t always appreciate it as much as we should.
I am grateful I get to bring these stories to light. Understand, these are completely fictitious characters, and the portrayal of their strengths, their internal thoughts, if they were lacking, are solely reflective of my interpretation. You should not judge the SEAL community or their families by my writing. I only
to help readers get acquainted with the wonderful heroes I’ve been fortunate to get to know.
Wounded Warriors is a project I donate to, and I encourage all of you, if you are called to do so, look them up and see what you can do. Volunteer at a Navy for Moms project, or Pets for Patriots. You can send packages to service men and women, adopting someone else’s son or daughter who might want to hear from someone who cares.
Our troops need your support, especially now. Let’s not forget, as we rush around in our busy lives, not to be too busy to say thanks. EVERY FRIDAY we wear red to show our support for the men and women who serve, praying that they come home safe to a grateful nation.
So, even if you can’t donate to veteran’s causes, Wounded Warriors or Pets for Patriots, as well as many other charities that do such fine work, you can do something for them that won’t cost you a dime or a minute of your time:
WEAR RED ON FRIDAYS!
Gina had rolled her ankle twice as she hobbled along the wet sidewalk in her red patent leather four-inch heels. She was already flustered since she was running a good twenty minutes behind schedule, but she wouldn’t run. The last thing she needed was to fall and end up walking in there with skinned knees or a bloody nose. She really needed to settle her nerves—now—in order to survive the night.
She was determined her first undercover assignment would be a success. She’d made the connection with the girl, Mia, and her gangland friends. The two of them had hung out together a few times, but Gina was about to raise the bar. She was going to get up close and personal with Carlos, the infamous Scorpions of San Diego leader who had taken over for Caesar during his incarceration.
The distinctive, unhealthy bar smells assaulted Gina’s senses before she saw the dim lights and the flickering neon sign advertising “Babes.” She’d not been to this particular part of town before, and wasn’t used to meeting the men who frequented the bar—men who paid to watch topless dancers gyrating on poles way too close to the customers.
At least that’s what the guys in the Department had told her. She could tell they had gotten off on it. Straight as an arrow Gina. By the book Gina. Going under cover on her rookie mission in her red heels. Well, she’d prove them all wrong. She had assets they didn’t possess, and she was convinced she was made for such a caper.
It still scared the daylights out of her, though.
Gina hoped Mia was there tonight; otherwise, it would be a quick cab ride home after a text to the team. No sense hanging around a place like this unless there was a reason for it. She was glad she’d left her car at home.
On any other Friday night she’d be in sweats and T-shirt, in her LL Bean slippers or lavender moisture socks, wrapped in the lap blanket her grandmother had crocheted for her in college, reading one of her favorite romance novels. She’d be sipping hot tea, not downing pink umbrella drinks like she was planning to do tonight. She hoped she had it in her to keep her wits tight.
She smoothed her palms down the form-fitting, low-cut, red mohair dress, then put a wad of gum in her mouth and shook her head, which released a few of the curls piled high in a clip. Idea was to give her the “just fucked” look her handler had said she would need.
The irony wasn’t lost on Gina. She hadn’t been with a man for six months, not since her detective hunk she’d been down and dirty with told her about the wife he’d left back in New York. He wanted to continue as coworkers with benefits—and his version of benefits was pretty intense, since he was into all kinds of experimentation.
“We’re separated,” he’d said, as if that made it better, as if it didn’t count that they’d spent the week prior to this reveal together, naked more than not. The memory of it sent a dull ache to her abdomen.
And before Sam? Well, there was her high school sweetheart, the soccer player who went off to war and never came back. It took some time before she could even think about dating. Then it became just dating for sex, uncomplicated sex. It helped take away the pain.
Her college days were unmemorable, romance-wise, since she’d thrown herself into her studies and made the Dean’s list every semester.
Tossing her head back and licking her lips, now tasting of cherry bubble gum, she felt the little glass heart earrings she’d purchased this morning tap against her neck. The feeling was somehow comforting. As if the part she was about to play wouldn’t consume her. Those hearts reminded her that she did have a soul, and it was good, unlike the slutty sexual siren persona she was about to play. She was nothing more than bait on a hook. She knew her place in the department. This was her chance to move up.
Her cab disappeared into the night air. She was left without a lifeline as she stepped through the opened doorway of the dark little dive.
A gasp came from several corners of the bar, making her panties bunch and sending shudders down her spine.
Mia was at the bar, just like she’d said she would be. Nestor, the greasy-haired Scorpions enforcer, had his arm around Mia’s shoulder as she was arching her back and raising her shoulders, trying without success to shake him off
“Hey there, Mia,” Gina said as she plucked the black sweatshirt-covered arm off her shoulder.
“Why don’t you fuckin’ mind your own biz, sweet cheeks?” Nestor stood up, huge muscles making him look like a stubby version of an already stubby Michelin Man.
“Thanks for the compliment,” Gina said in her most direct way. She liked that she had a Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight .38 special strapped to her inner thigh, even though it would be a mistake to use it right now. “I’m her date for this evening, if you get my drift.”
“I smell some female-on-female sex, and I wanna watch.”
“Then go watch your mom in the bathtub. Or, better yet, go jerk off in the men’s room and look real deep into those bloodshot eyes of yours.” Mia snickered at this.
Gina saw the twitch in his right eye, the slow tilt of his head and narrowing of his eyes. Nestor was going to hit her, so she kneed him in the nuts before he could get himself properly positioned. He immediately bent forward, protecting his groin, nearly falling into her. She pushed him backwards with both hands, easily dropping his intoxicated ass to the floor. He landed on the ground spread-eagled, cracking his head on the concrete floor. Gina flinched.
Did anyone notice?
She hadn’t wanted to hurt the creep. Gina was relieved when he shook his head and was pulled away by a couple of his buddies.
“Gina, you gotta be careful. Those guys are part of Caesar’s, gang,” said Mia.
“Like I care? Notice how many of them were going to rush over to protect your virtue?” Gina said as she watched the crowd in the corner carefully. A tall, caramel-skinned man glared at her from under the bill of a red baseball cap as he shoved Nestor into a chair in front of the little stage next to him. He didn’t hide that he was perusing Gina’s every curve, daring her to show the smallest bit of fear.
Gina sucked in her gut and tried to calm her nerves. He was every bit as scary as they’d told her in the briefing. She stared right back at him and tried not to blink.
“Let’s get out of here,” Mia muttered, picking up her enormous red purse.
“You planning on staying overnight?” Gina said as she turned a shoulder to Carlos and pointed to the bag. “Come on, let’s have one drink and let these guys drool a bit. It will do them some good.”
Hope to God backup gets here soon.
Mia was nearly off the stool. “No, Gina, I mean it. They’re bad news. Meeting here was a dumb idea.”
While it was good Mia was starting to show some common sense, it would mess up the mission.
“Which makes me wonder,” Gina studied Mia’s heavily lined, gold-sparkled eyes. She could see her new friend wasn’t nearly as tough as she wanted the world to believe. “Of all the dives in San Diego to hang out in, why here, if you’re trying to avoid the Scorpions?”
Mia repositioned herself on the barstool, turning forward and focusing on the lighted bottles over the bar as she sighed. “That’s a good question. I guess I thought I’d be safer here. And I have you to protect me, Gina.”
This tugged at Gina’s heart. It was true, Gina was a cop, and so she was able to protect the innocent from the lowlifes of society. Mia was able to somehow figure that out without knowing it consciously. But she was also still putting her faith in men, the wrong men, even though she’d been knocked around by several of them. Caesar’s gang had even kidnapped her, thinking they could force Mia’s brother, the SEAL, to sell them specialized military equipment and firepower. Only reason Mia was alive was because of her hunky brother and the rest of his SEAL Team 3, who saved the day and helped break up a ring that included some dirty law enforcements and regular Navy guys. All of them were serving time now.
The present operation was considered a cleanup detail, an attempt to eviscerate the rest of the gang, and perhaps catch the guys who were trying to take Caesar’s place. “You come in here on Valentine’s Day, and you’re like candy on a string. Begging for trouble,” she shot back to Mia.
The Department is using her, too.
Gina wondered if she’d ever get used to it.
“None of them are supposed to touch me. Caesar’s orders.”
“Except you told me you never visit him. So are you still his property?” Gina saw Mia flinch.
“I’m not his fuckin’ property.”
Gina took her seat next to the beautiful Latina. “Women are always some guy’s property, honey. I’m sure your mother has told you so. That’s the way of it, I’m afraid.” Gina didn’t want to look at Mia for fear she’d see it was a lie. Part of her wanted to cheer over the streak of common sense her friend was beginning to develop, though.
They ordered strawberry margaritas. Gina left a generous tip for the bartender, who gave her a friendly wink. “Pleasure doin’ business with you,” he said. He turned to serve another customer, then stopped himself and came back. “Say, you gals aren’t here to try out, are you?”
“No.” Gina said before she Mia could answer.
The bartender leaned on the counter and gave Mia a wolfish grin, his head barely clearing the pink and red paper hearts that hung from the ceiling in a ridiculous display of gaiety. “And what about you, little lady? I’d like to see you up on the stage, showing your stuff. You could make close to a grand a night, did you know that?”
Mia sat up straight. “A grand?”
“I never lie,” the bartender said in a low, sultry voice. Gina could tell he’d been a handsome man at one time, but years behind a bar, and years of indulging in god-knows-what, had left his face ruddy and tired, and his gut flabby. His aloha shirt was buttoned one button too low to accommodate his thick neck, but it exposed a hairy chest with several gold chains buried in the fur.
Gina glanced at Mia and could see her friend was actually considering it.