HERO Force Series, Volume 1
Love and danger collide on a snowy mountain road...
All of the HERO Force books can be read as standalone stories.
Navy SEAL Trevor "Hawk" Hawkins is on a mission to avenge his teammate's death when he crashes into another car during a blizzard. Olivia Grayson was running from her own wedding, but the accident leaves her struggling to remember anything at all. Sparks fly between Trevor and Olivia, but an enemy is quickly closing in on their remote cabin - and the holes in Olivia's memory might be the biggest danger of all.
A tall blonde woman with a clipboard stepped into the open doorway of the dressing room. “Three minutes, Miss Barrons.”
Brooke nodded, holding the cell phone to her ear as she massaged her sore upper arm. “Come on, answer the damn phone.”
Hi, I’m busy. Leave me a message!
“Bella, it’s me. I need to see you. It’s really important,” she said, closing her eyes as she exhaled. “I’m…I’m scared. I need you to come out to Colorado. Please. I made you a reservation to fly into Denver Monday afternoon. I sent you an email with the details and…”
The woman with the clipboard was back at the door. “You need to come to the set, now.”
“Just a minute.”
“Right now, Miss Barrons. We go live in two minutes.”READ MORE
Brooke turned her back to the woman. “I can’t go into details now, but it’s really important. I’ll pick you up at the airport.” She hung up the phone and forced the annoyed expression from her face, replacing it with a smile before she turned back around.
“Don’t forget your veil.”
Her stomach pitched violently. “Right.” She picked it up from her dressing table and slid the comb into her hair.
It’s just a costume. It isn’t the real thing.
You’re not really marrying a monster.
The woman gestured for her to follow, and they began jogging through clusters of people who all seemed to be standing still.
Brooke’s head was throbbing, questions swarming like bees. Maybe none of it was true. Maybe this was a dream and she would wake up engaged to the man she’d thought she was marrying, instead of someone capable of hurting the people she loved.
Her arm ached, the injury to her limb nothing compared to the damage that had been done to her sense of trust. She was in danger. She knew that now, and she had to find a way to escape.
Spotlights came into view, violently bright and focused ahead of her. When the woman stopped in the wings, Brooke continued onto the stage. The band started to play and the title sequence began.
“We’ve got a great show for you tonight,” she yelled over the music. The bee-like buzzing in her head melded with the applause of the crowd, her head spinning. It was too much, every bit of it overwhelming, and she thought her brain might burst with the effort it took to comprehend what had just taken place.
What it meant for her, now that her safety net was gone.
The music stopped and she spun in a circle, the veil flowing around her on the air, gossamer and surreal. She felt nauseated. She would get through this by training and sheer force of will. She would smile and pretend everything was all right — even laugh — then she would run away deep into the night, back to where it all began.
She needed to go there, needed her memories around her now more than ever before, even if it meant going to the edge of hell to get them.
You’ll have to get by Gallant.
Sometimes, she didn’t know if he was her bodyguard or her babysitter. The man rarely let her out of his sight, and asking him to leave her alone would only rouse his suspicions.
She would do it, distract him with a woman, maybe the one with the clipboard. He would get laid, and she would get the head start she needed to survive.
The music crescendoed as her plans fell into place.
Right on cue, she shouted to the crowd, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
It took considerable speed to climb Warsaw Mountain in six inches of unplowed snow, speed that threatened to overcome the traction of Trevor Hawkins’ tires at every turn. There’d been another set of tracks in the road, the only sign of humanity in this wilderness, and he imagined they were made by a park ranger or a county truck surveying the road conditions before closing this passageway down for the night.
Your average joe had no business driving on a twisting mountain road in these conditions. Besides the snow on the ground, it was falling at an alarming rate he’d only witnessed once or twice in his life. The lightest wind was enough to create near white-out conditions, and these were not the lightest winds.
He took his foot off the gas just enough to negotiate a sharp turn to the left, the right side of the road bordered only by a guardrail and a hundred-foot drop. That should have deterred him from his mission, but in fact it did the opposite. According to his calculations, that particular turn meant he was just under twelve miles from Steele’s mansion, and Hawk would walk through fire if it meant he could get to Steele today.
He thought of his commander, Jax Andersson, and the direct order he’d given Hawk not to pursue this lead. By ignoring Jax, Hawk might lose his position with HERO Force, but if he followed orders, he might lose his mind.
He frowned. He and Jax had damn near started HERO Force together. The Hands-on Engagement and Recognizance Operations team was everything Hawk dreamed of doing with the rest of his life, and losing that would be a hell of a lot worse than just losing a job.
Those were his teammates. His brothers. His family. And when one of them was murdered in cold blood right before his eyes, he knew the day would come when he would find his revenge, even if it meant the end of his time with HERO Force.
Two years he’d been waiting for a chance like this, an opportunity to get Steele. That man had more eyes on him than a housefly, but somehow he always managed to have his hand out of the cookie jar whenever anyone checked.
Through the snow, an image began to appear. Hawk squinted and eased up on the accelerator, then he saw it clearly. Sixty feet ahead, a red sports car was stopped in the road, a woman in a white coat standing with her back to him.
Hawk pressed hard on the brake, the muscles of his thighs going rigid, and the scene seemed to freeze. The haze of snowfall that had been blinding just moments before was now made of individual crystals.
There was a horrible beauty in the slide of his car across the snow-covered roadway, a slick movement that seemed to slice the world into before and after, and he forced his eyes to stay open when they wanted to close.
He was going to hit her.
It wouldn’t be the first time he’d taken a life, but it would be the first time he’d done so accidentally. This woman was innocent, and in that moment he wished ferociously that he could stop his car from moving. He pumped the brake, but his Jeep was little more than a hockey puck sliding across ice, without a nod to his intention.
She turned to face him.
Her features transformed in fear, her piercing scream reaching him through the glass.
It made it worse that she was pretty, worse that she was young. Worse still that the red car hinted at a spark in her personality. His eyes closed, his will no longer strong enough to keep them open. A guttural cry rose up from his chest just before the impact, the sound of crunching metal and breaking glass overtaking everything.
The force of the accident threw him hard against the airbag, pounding his face like solid wood, but it was her face he imagined, her injuries he worried about as his car crushed the space that had once been between them.
Your hatred brought you here.
If he hadn’t been so determined to get Steele, he’d be sitting on a beach right now like the other members of HERO Force. Cowboy would be talking up chicks while Logan read some scientific journal and Jax surfed the waves.
This woman would be alive.
Forcing himself to move his shocked limbs, he pushed against the airbag and stood on shaking legs. He could smell gasoline and his mind shifted into high gear, years of training taking control of his body.
He had to find her. Now.
The Jeep was embedded in the side of the sports car. There was no sign of the woman. He checked beneath the vehicles, then scanned the area, his eyes instantly watering from the biting wind and the swirls of snow.
“Lady?” he yelled. His voice echoed back from tall pine trees, the road he stood on the only seeming break from their dominion. The smell was thicker now, more noxious, and his eyes searched frantically for any sign of her, finally catching on a trail through the snow on the hood of her car.
Racing to the other side, he was dumbfounded to see only virgin snow, untouched. Where the hell was she?
He looked back at the markings on the hood. It was as if she had scampered across the top just before the impact.
Or during it.
He braced himself against the wind and walked into the blinding snow, following the trajectory formed by his Jeep and the path from the hood. “Lady? Where are you?”
A noise sounded behind him, a gentle whoosh like a bed sheet being snapped through the air over a mattress, and for a moment he couldn’t place it.
“Lady!” he was screaming now, moving faster through the snow. He nearly tripped over her, lying in the snow wearing her white coat. “We have to move,” he commanded, stealing a glance at the fire behind him, but even as he spoke he knew she couldn’t hear him. He prayed she was unconscious and not dead as he reached beneath her arms and began to pull her up the hill, with only a moment’s concern that he shouldn’t move her before help arrived.
There was another smell here, the scent of blood, light on the cold winter air. Hawk had smelled enough of it in his life to recognize it easily. He pulled harder, forcing his body to move faster before the inevitable occurred.
As if on cue, the red sports car exploded with a deafening boom, flames and debris shooting outward from the accident, the force of the explosion knocking him backwards into the snow. He stared at a piece of flaming material just ten feet away. They weren’t hit, but it was close. Too close, considering his car was bound to be next, and he was packing a lot more fuel for the fire than gasoline.
With a roar he picked up the woman in his arms and began to run. His footsteps fell heavily into the snow, which sucked at his feet and legs, dragging him down. He had to get enough distance between them and the impending second explosion, had to keep this woman safe from further injury.
Already, she might die.
He ran for what seemed a half mile before turning around. He could smell the blaze, but couldn’t see it through the snowstorm. A second explosion, bigger than the first, echoed across the mountainside, the shockwave hitting him a moment later. This time, Hawk kept his footing.
He thought of the weapons he had lost, the car, and how far he was from Steele’s house, then he looked down at the woman in his arms. A trail of blood ran down one side of her face, and she was eerily still. He wished for somewhere to lay her down and realized there was nowhere, so he sat in the snow and cradled her in his lap. His big hand reached inside her coat, sliding along her slender neck.
She had a pulse, though it was weak and thready. He reached for his cell phone and found it was not in his pocket. He cursed out loud, knowing it was lost in his vehicle, and he checked the pockets of her coat for one, too, finding nothing. He squeezed her tighter to him.
What had he done? They were alone on a deserted mountain in the middle of a snowstorm, with no cars, no phones, and no shelter.
He worked to shrug off his coat, then laid it in the snow next to them and moved her onto it, knowing what he had to do now. “I’ll be back for you as soon as I can, sweetheart.”COLLAPSE