When the going gets tough, the tough go out with a bang…
Spec Op “Bull” Ford is as big as his nickname. His team, the civilians he protects, whether they know it or not, all depend on him. But beneath his stony exterior beats the heart of a caring man—unless he’s crossed.
Between her job as professional harpist and fending off an ex-boyfriend who won’t take the hint, Marly feels like a circus juggler. She doesn’t need some oversized, overzealous security guard accusing her of being a terrorist—as if a five-foot-nothing woman in a ball gown could threaten anyone.
Though when the real terrorists strike, she’s more than grateful to have Bull at her side…or on top, which certainly makes what could be her last breaths memorable.
But after Bull takes the brunt of the explosion, Marly is left with feelings for a man who doesn’t remember who she is. And by the time the red-hot memories come flooding back, the trail to her heart may have gone cold.
Warning: Contains explosive sexual encounters—literally!
“Bull.” Matt’s voice seemed to explode out of Bull’s eardrum.
He jumped and turned toward the wall so the other guests in the room wouldn’t see him talking to himself. “Jesus, Matt. You scared the crap out of me. What?”
“The threat’s been bumped up. It looks like it’s fucking real. We’re on our way to you now.”
“Where’s it coming from?” Bull’s heart kicked into high gear.
“It’s right up your alley, buddy. Chatter on the lines indicates a bomb.”
“I swept the building—”
“It’s hidden somewhere inside the walls.”
“What? How?” Bull had spoken rather loud and got a few stares from the guests nearest him. “There were workmen there six frigging months ago repairing the plaster. One of them has suspected terrorist ties. I was bored and started to check back just for fun.”
Bull never did understand Matt’s idea of fun, but it was a damn good thing he’d decided to have some fun tonight. A work crew six months ago had planted the bomb? This had been in the works for a while. Organization like that meant these guys were serious.
“Now the original threat makes sense.” Matt continued, “It was some sort of riddle about the walls of Jericho coming down. No one took it seriously until I found the record of the crew that worked on the walls.”
“What do you want me to do until you get here?” He didn’t want to start a panic, and he really didn’t want to tip his hand.
If the bomb was built to trigger with a detonator, that device could be held by anyone inside or outside the building. Letting that person know the good guys had discovered the plot would force the bomber’s hand. Bull reevaluated the guests and staff. There weren’t many people here. It was still early. That was good. The terrorist would want the biggest bang for his buck and wait for a full house.
“Get the senator out, first of all. We’ll never live it down if we let him get killed. But don’t let him know anything. Don’t let anyone know anything yet.”
“Affirmative.” Bull moved closer to the senator. “Sir. Excuse me for interrupting. I need to speak with you. Now.”
When Dickhead—the frigging cocky idiot—looked annoyed that the security he’d insisted on being up his ass all night had bothered him, Bull added, “It’s urgent.”
It must have hit him something was wrong. His eyes went wide and he opened his mouth. Bull grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the room before he could blow their one advantage—the element of surprise. The guests, and probably the terrorist, would guess Bull was security, but no one but the Senator knew he came attached to a special task force highly trained for situations exactly such as this. And no one knew the good guys had discovered what the bad guys were up to.
Outside the building, Bull did a visual sweep of the area. It was deserted except for a few valets waiting around to park any new arrivals’ cars. Even so, Bull pulled the senator to where they could speak without being heard.
“What’s happening?” Dickhead’s voice rose, tinged with panic.
He didn’t feel comfortable telling Dickhead the truth, didn’t trust him to keep his cool or keep quiet, so he’d have to make up some cock-and-bull story. The man was probably a Chicken Little—the type to run around screaming at the slightest provocation. No way Bull could tell him there was very likely a bomb hidden inside the walls of the building where his hoity-toity associates still were.
“Nothing yet.” That wasn’t exactly a lie. “It’s just a precaution.”
“If it’s nothing, then why the hell did you drag me out here?”
Bull clenched his jaw and mentally talked himself down from telling the senator what he thought about him. “There’s new information about the threat. My orders are to keep you out of the building until further notice.”
They should evacuate. The commander would probably have Bull trip the fire alarm. That would clear the building but wouldn’t tip off the bombers. But until the commander and the team arrived, his orders had been to get Dickhead out, and he’d done that. Now he figured he was free to go unobtrusively search for the bomb and the bombers… If Dickhead would get clear of the damn building and let Bull do his job.
The senator scowled. “What am I supposed to do? Stand out here in the driveway like an idiot?”
He was already doing a good job of being an idiot, so that sounded like a good idea to Bull. A long black car pulled up and he recognized Dickhead Junior being helped out of the back seat by the driver. “It looks like your son’s arrived. I’d strongly advise you and he take the car and go elsewhere until the situation has been reevaluated. Somewhere far.”
Like out of the blast zone.
“All right. You have my number?” There must have been something in Bull’s tone or expression, but the senator quit acting annoyed and started to look concerned. Lucky for Bull, Dickhead was a chicken shit and all in for saving his own skin. He gave in.
“Keep me updated.”
“Yes, sir.” Bull watched Dickhead steer Junior back into the car. He even waited until the vehicle drove off the property, just to be sure. Then he turned on his heel and headed for the entrance.
“Matt, Dickhead and Little Dick are off the property. I’m heading back inside to see if I can spot the trigger man or find evidence of the bomb’s location.”
“Matt, we’ve still got civilians inside. Between staff and guests, about two dozen.”
“I know, but until I recheck everyone, we can’t clear them out. One of them could be our tango.”
“Understood.” Inside, Bull heard the harpist begin a new song. “Can you check the harpist?”
“Do you think she’s our tango?”
“No. Just covering all the bases.” He did think it would be a shame if she accidentally got blown up though. Maybe he’d come up with some bogus reason to get her out of there once Matt had cleared her.
“Okay. Give me a few min—shit, Jack! Take it easy on the turns. You almost knocked the laptop onto the floor. I’m sorry, Bull, but I’m doing the best I can in the back of the van with Gordon up there driving like he’s on the NASCAR circuit. Hold tight. We’ll be there soon. It could still be nothing.”
“Should I ask around? Try to find out where the crew worked on the walls? It might give us a clue of where to start looking.”
There was dead air for a moment and then Matt was back. “The commander says no. Sit tight.”
“Roger that.” Bull sighed.
The one thing he was not all that good at was waiting and doing nothing. He glanced around the room again. The wait staff was comprised of pimple-faced boys. Old men and cleavage-baring women guests, and one petite harpist with reddish brown hair pulled into a sleek, surprisingly sexy ponytail rounded out the full complement of those in attendance. He’d bet his life—he was betting his life actually—not one of them was the terrorist.
He’d have to start his search again now that he had the all-important information from Matt to look at the walls. But this time, he’d have to do it so no one, the bomber in particular, would notice. He remembered a closet on the first floor. It apparently used to be a bathroom. The old cast-iron tub and fixtures were disconnected but still there, surrounded now by cardboard boxes and paint cans. It was obvious one wall had been freshly painted. He’d start there. If he was wrong…well, they’d know soon enough.
He slipped into the closet unnoticed and began running his hands over the surface of the wall, looking for any irregularities.
He jumped one more time. It must be his being alone, without the team, making him so jumpy. He blew out a breath. “I copy, Matt. What’s happening?”
“There’s no record of a harpist on my list.”
“humor and danger, plus a smoking hot guy, sex on the mission and even a cheating girlfriend gave this story that extra something and kept my interest from page one.” Terri, Night Owl Romance Reviews TOP PICK
“Bull is a must read if you’re looking for a hot, fast-paced novella. ” The Harlequin Junkie
“hot and sexy … A great continuation of my favorite ops team members.” Jo, Joyfully Reviewed