An Angel Fire Rock Romance; a Stand Alone Novel
When you mix Hot Rockers with Military Special Ops You get the Whole Package!
TSgt Ryker Lyons is an elite member of a six-man Special Ops Surgical Team, well five men and one vexing woman. That’s a problem because Major Tia Myers is fierce, competent, utterly breathtaking, and completely immune to his charms. Teammates, buddies, perhaps reluctant friends, they’re kicking ass and saving lives. Ryker should leave it at that, but the raven-haired beauty has him risking everything to prove he’s exactly the man she needs.
When the mega rock band Angel Fire arrives on a USO tour, Ryker is given an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream, but it comes at a cost. He must choose between the music stirring his soul or the woman who’s stolen his heart.
The stakes are high, careers are at risk, but failure isn't an option. Ryker won't walk away from the music, and certainly not from the woman invading his dreams. He’s a man who gets what he wants, and whether Tia wants it or not, she belongs to him.
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Hell would be paradise compared to this wasteland. Every breath seared Major Tia Meyers’s lungs. The air was too damn thin, sucked away precious moisture, and crisped the soft, spongy tissues of her lungs. The fault lay in the rugged, mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Her lips cracked. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. Sweat didn’t linger long enough to dampen her fatigues. And her head? It pounded with each step.
She sipped water from the tube attached to the CamelBak tucked into her ruck. She hadn’t peed in hours. Frankly, that wasn’t such a bad side effect of dehydration. As the only female member of a six-man team, not having to squat in the middle of the desolate landscape came as a welcome relief. She would pee when she was dead.
“Doing okay, T?” Lieutenant Colonel Mike Collins called to her over his left shoulder.
The determination of his stride pushed the entire team forward at a relentless pace. He didn’t ask how any of the others were doing. He didn’t need to because the rest of the team was male. Assumptions were a bitch, but she learned to fight the battles that truly mattered and ignored all other slights against her gender.
Collins led their team. He was their trauma surgeon and the shortest man. Only a few inches taller than her, he barely broke six feet. All the others on the team were ripped and stacked, alpha males with plenty of muscles and endurance and egos too big for their heads. Tall and wired with ropes for muscles, Collins was lean, whipcord strong, and demanded nothing but the best from his team. A person might discount him, but his endurance put the rest of the team to shame. The man ran ultra-marathons for fun.
“I’m fine, Colonel,” she said, stepping up her pace. Damn, when had she fallen so far behind?
Technical Sergeant Ryker Lyons glanced at her, his eyes narrowing with concern. As their team’s respiratory technician, she worked closest with him and dealt with his overbearing protectiveness far too much.
If he were an ugly bastard, she’d be able to deal with his looks and assumptions with far more grace, but Lyons had been breaking hearts from the day he was born. A stunning man, he had a smile that made it impossible to hate him. A prominent jaw framed his face. Twining cords of muscles shaped and defined his entire body. Everything about him was strong, powerful, and male. From his thick arms to his broad shoulders, his physique continued down to a ripped abdomen angling to muscular thighs. No one feature made Lyons handsome, but those eyes of his turned women stupid, needy, and horny as fuck, and his smile, at once genuine and mischievous, was a heart-thudding, sexy-as-fuck, irresistible force. The pull was real, irresistible even. When he lifted his cheeks and broke out that grin, his entire being illuminated with charisma and sexual charm. She fought the force of it every day.
If it wasn’t for her fiancé waiting back home, she might give in. Not that she’d ever sleep with Lyons, but he had certainly starred in one or two of her dreams along the way. She was engaged, not dead. Afghanistan nights were long and lonely, but dreams were harmless things.
He had lots to say with his eyes. His concern and overprotectiveness were more frequent than she liked. Beneath his look, a simmering lust lingered, and his eyes were as suggestive as they were protective.
People often spoke of the color of a person’s eyes, as if that were important to their character. She didn’t have a preference. Hers were the darkest brown, nearly the same color as the coal black of her hair. Her fiancé, Scott, had chocolate-colored eyes, deep wells of affection and love. She could lose herself in them for hours. With her olive complexion and his natural tan, they would make stunning babies one day.
Lyons’s eyes were a brilliant Amazon green—bright, vibrant, and shocking. They said people with green eyes were lustful creatures, and Lyons had her believing that myth because he never lacked female companionship. The problem was, when he turned those eyes on her, she would stare back longer than socially acceptable, and she hated how her thoughts tangled. She was probably sending the wrong signals to a man she had little interest in. Not that she could help herself. It was nearly impossible to look away.
Tempered by a ferocity barely kept in check, Lyons had been created to protect and defend those weaker than himself. Whatever he held dear, whomever he cared for, they bore the full brunt of that innate intensity. His fuck-me gaze brought women to his bed and taunted her at every turn. Not that there would ever be anything between them. Not only was she engaged, but she was also an officer. He was enlisted. That, more than anything, would keep them apart. Besides, his bed was an ever-revolving fuckfest of horny enlisted females. If he had any interest in her, which he didn’t, she would shut him down. It didn’t help that he was a horrible tease and probably couldn’t turn it off if he tried.
Even if it wasn’t for her fiancé, rules and regulations against fraternization would keep her and Lyons separate. The worst part? Lyons knew he was a badass. He was a force of destruction, a bad boy with the girls, and he tore through hearts with the same ferocity he brought to the field. Arrogance came with that knowledge, and he wore it like a badge of honor.
She didn’t have time for games like that or men like that.
Lyons’s gaze continued to linger. His eyes strayed to the heavy pack on her back, and then he returned his attention to her face where he traced every feature, as if he were absorbing her into his soul. Her jaw clenched, and she hooked her thumbs under the shoulder straps of her ruck and jogged past him. He met her glare with an uplift of his left eyebrow. His grin, complete with requisite dimples, filled his face while he took humor in whatever was going on in that head of his.
Staff Sergeant Mike Warren huffed beside Tia. The silent one of the bunch, their surgical tech carried the blades, the retractors, forceps, sutures, and everything the surgeons needed in his pack. Many people overlooked surgical techs, but Warren carried himself with a quiet dignity and an endless reservoir of strength.
Each member of the special ops surgical team was vital to saving lives at the front lines, behind the front lines, and basically anywhere in between the lines.
She hefted the pack on her shoulders. A glance at Lyons revealed the faintest shimmer of perspiration on his brow, but with the dry air, it disappeared between one moment and the next. She felt better about not being the only one pushing herself. They all forged ahead, pitting their endurance against the rigorous terrain.
Collins raised his fist, and everyone came to a sudden stop. They took a knee and crouched on the ground.
“Five minutes,” he said. A glance at the map had his features screwing into a mask of concentration.
She crab-crawled over to him, balancing the weight of the pack. It almost pulled her over, something she wouldn’t live down. Seventy pounds? Yeah, she’d be a turtle trapped on its back. Lyons would laugh his ass off. Warren would offer a hand. Collins would do nothing. He demanded she pull her weight and not slow down the team. For him, she had to earn every breath. The other two members of their team—their orthopedic surgeon, Major Drummond, and their emergency doc, Major Marks—might as easily help her or not. Those two tended to keep to themselves, which was fine. Their arrogance annoyed her most days, but they were beyond phenomenal physicians, smooth as silk under pressure.
“Need help?” she offered.
The terrain they humped could challenge the best navigator.
“We’re off target,” Collins said.
Agreed. It looked like they were hiking along the wrong ridgeline.
He waved a hand. “It feels…empty.”
Empty was an understatement. They’d been hoofing it for ten clicks. Dropped in far behind battle lines, their team headed into a hot zone. Wounded men, too critical for aeromedical evacuation, waited for her team to stabilize them before help could come. In this case, it meant emergency surgery in the field.
A glance upward revealed a featureless expanse of faded out blue. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Nothing but a bright ball of fiery brilliance blazed down on them, but even the sun seemed washed out. The air tasted dry and lifeless, and there was nothing but rock and sand as far as the eye could see. The entire world was desolate.
She examined the map. “Sir,” she said, pointing, “we can cross here.”
Indeed, the ridgeline they were supposed to be traveling lay across the valley from the one they occupied, but there was a way across.
Collins cursed and gathered the team. “Change of plans,” he said.
Everyone gathered round. Collins confirmed her assessment. If they were off course, it needed to be reported to command and control and their new route verified. Lyons lumbered over. He carried the radio gear, making his pack outweigh all the others.
Lyons called their position in, and while he spoke to command, she took a load off and shrugged out of her pack. Protocol demanded she keep a low profile, but she couldn’t help but stretch out the tight cords of the muscles of her neck and shoulders. The physical part of this job never let up.
The high-pitched whine of a bullet sounded moments before ricocheting off a rock to her right. Lyons leaped up, plowed into her, and slammed her to the ground. Her helmet hit a rock and cushioned her head from impact. Lyons’s entire body covered hers, every rock-solid muscle clenched with murderous intent as he protected the sole female in the group.
“Take cover,” Collins called out.
The team flattened themselves against the ground, providing minimal profiles to whoever had them in their sights.
She shoved at Lyons, not moving him an inch. “Move,” she said.
As he lay on top of her, his jaw clenched. “Not on your damn life.”
His gaze lingered on her face, radiating his primal need to protect. Time slowed down as the lethality of the moment sank in. A crescendo of what-ifs passed through her mind. What if she’d been a little more to the right? What if the shooter had better aim? What if she’d been hit? Or worse, what if she’d been killed?
Fear was a mind killer, and she had no time for it. So, she turned her fear into anger and directed it at Lyons. She could damn well take care of herself, but what she hated most were the vibrations humming in her veins with him lying on top of her. Perhaps he felt them, too, because his grin grew impossibly wide, even as the furrow in his brows deepened. The man was a master at expressing disparate emotions within the same glance. His left knee pressed between her legs, spreading them and making their relative position entirely too intimate. Under different circumstances, it might be considered a prelude to something more.
Whomever their sniper was, the bastard had either run out of ammunition or bravery because, after ten minutes, there were no more shots fired. Ten long minutes of Lyons lying on top of her with their faces entirely too close.
Tia’s team was armed and packed some heat, but medical gear filled their rucks, not bullets. It was impossible to know who was shooting, so they could be pinned down by a band of insurgents or a goat farmer with a rifle and a handful of bullets. Either way, that shooter had her team hunkered down and her trapped beneath Lyons.
Insurgents had been in the area. That was the reason they’d been sent out. There’d been a firefight, and men were down. Reports said the enemy had been neutralized. There shouldn’t be a shooter. Helicopters would be sent in soon, but before that, she and her team had lifesaving surgery to perform for two of the men attached to the special operations unit they’d been sent to assist. One had a collapsed lung. The other had his guts torn up. Their field surgeries stabilized and saved lives but weren’t pretty.
Getting to their target quickly couldn’t be more important.
Instead, they found themselves plastered flat against the heat of the rock. She found herself sandwiched between the hard ground and the unmoving physique of Lyons. His eyes bore into her, green fire lashing out, and the bastard refused to budge.
“Get off me,” she said, trying yet again to roll him off her body.
“No,” he said.
He was a man of few words, so she was surprised to get that much out of him.
“You’re making yourself an easy target,” she said.
“All the important bits are covered,” he said with a grin.
“Not your ass.”
“Oh, glad you care about my ass, T,” he said with more sarcasm than that comment deserved. That was the way with Lyons. He had no filter and no idea how to turn off inappropriate thoughts.
“The only reason I care about your ass is because, if something happens to you, we have to split your ruck.”
“You mean,” he drew out his words, toying with her, “the others will pick up the slack. You’re maxed with what you can carry.”
She’d punch him if it wouldn’t hurt her fist. Not only was Lyons packed with muscles, but his battle gear was also hard Kevlar. The ceramic ballistic plate on his chest pressed against hers, putting painful pressure on her breasts. She bit back a groan.
“I pull my weight,” she said, exacerbated. Like his sarcasm, her words were threaded with more defense than they should be.
With a shove, she moved him enough to wriggle out from underneath his weight. He landed with a thud and a whoosh of breath. Served him right.
“What’s wrong T?” he teased. “Get nervous when the man’s on top?”
Her glare could’ve frozen hell, but with Lyons, it only amped up the heat simmering in his gaze. The man simply didn’t know how to turn off his fuck-me eyes. Fortunately, she had the best defense.
“You wish. I’m taken, Lyons, so stop trying.”
“Oh, everyone knows you’re taken,” he said. “You talk about your douche-bag boyfriend all the time.”
“Fiancé, Lyons,” she bit out. “Scott is my fiancé.”
“Right,” he said with a cheeky grin. “A douche bag who’s sent you what? One letter in the last two months. I’m telling you, if I had a woman like you, I’d send a letter a day with flowers and chocolate, minimum. I’d probably write a poem or sing you a song.”
“Well, good thing you don’t have a woman like me because I hate flowers. They wilt and die. Is that really what you want to tell your girl?”
He arched a brow. “What do you mean?”
“That your love for her is as fleeting and fragile as a wilted flower? Scott doesn’t do crap like that because he knows what that kind of gesture means to me.”
“You’re fucked in the head, T,” he said. “Can’t you just let a guy be a guy? Or is it always about who has the bigger balls? I feel sorry for the douche.”
“Stop calling him that.”
“What? Douche?” He shook with a soft laugh. “Hey, I just call it like I see it.”
“And how is that?”
“That guy has to be a total pussy—”
“You don’t know shit.”
“Really? You’re telling me there’s a heart under those brass tits?”
“Sergeant!” Collins cut Lyons off. “Show a little respect.”
She didn’t need Collins’s interference but appreciated him putting an end to Lyons’s shit-talk about Scott. Lyons shutting the fuck up topped high on her list of priorities, right after not getting shot.
There weren’t any more shots fired, but Collins wouldn’t risk his team until he was certain it was safe. Until they had eyes in the air, they were stuck on the ground. Good thing they had drones.
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Read Chapter 2 here