Top secret commando soldier Ryder McKay is shot and left for dead in South Texas. But when he comes to in a bedroom on Grace Cordero's remote ranch, he realizes the beautiful former army medic did more than save his life. She risked her own. Not that he can tell her the whole truth about his mission. Ryder is sure dangerous thugs are using Grace's vast property to smuggle drugs, weapons--and people--across the border. But to prove it without blowing his cover, he has to let her ride shotgun on the investigation. And keeping his heart guarded against sexy, off-limits Grace will be the hardest part of all.
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Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
July 01, 2012
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from The Spy Wore Spurs by Dana Marton
Ryder McKay leaned his back against the rough bark of a tree in the middle of a sparse South Texas mesquite grove, surrounded by darkness and silence. He'd been shot before. But this time it didn't look as if he would be walking away. He figured he had about another ten minutes to live.
He pressed his blood-crusted hands onto the gaping bullet wound in his thigh. If he let go to push himself to standing, he would bleed out on the spot. No point in standing, anyway. He wasn't going to make the long mile to where his pickup waited.
He grabbed for his belt and unbuckled it as blood gushed from the wound. Black specs swam in front of his eyes within seconds. He had to slap his hands back on the injury long before he could have tugged off the holster, the Taser, phone clip and all the other stuff he carried.
The amount of blood he'd lost already... If he let go again, he'd pass out before he could make a tourniquet.
He needed another plan. He ignored the light-headedness, the sweat trickling down his neck and the ants crawling over his legs. Think. He didn't believe in failed missions. He believed in never conceding defeat until you were six feet under.
He had to come up with a solution, and he had to do it on his own. Nobody at the new SDDU Texas satellite office knew where he was. When he'd driven off, he'd simply told Mo that he would be checking the border. He hadn't meant to come this far.
Normally, a dozen or so people worked at the Special Designation Defense Unit's Texas satellite office. Half of the top secret commando team was currently off on various missions in South America. Ryder and five others were on location here to address credible intelligence that a South-American drug lord had sold both weapons and smuggling services to a terrorist organization that planned on infiltrating the U.S.
The smugglers would cross at this section of the border--within a fifty-mile stretch--sometime next month. The recon team's job was to know the border area inside out by then--know the trails, know the players, and find assets who would be able to pass on useful information.
The rest of the team would be returning as their missions ended. Together, they would take out those terrorist the second the bastards set foot on U.S. soil.
He wanted to live long enough to be there for the takedown. Except, when his teammates realized he'd gone missing, hours from now, they would have a thousand acres to search. And a search like that could take days.
He only had minutes.
He gritted his teeth, casting a dark look at his cell phone that lay in pieces on the rocks a few hundred feet away where he'd first fallen.
He could have used his flashlight to signal for help, but, for that, too, he'd have to let the pressure off the wound. And nobody was around, anyway, in the middle of the abandoned South Texas borderlands. The light might even bring back the drug traffickers who'd shot him.
He hadn't squeezed off any shots into the air for the same reason.
He knew of only one ranch close enough so if someone was there, they might hear--but the one time he'd checked, the old house had looked abandoned. Nothing else for miles around but dust and heat.
He looked up to the sky, wondering if he had enough time to confess all his sins. Not a single star showed, nor the moon. A dark storm was gathering.
Grace Cordero sat back in her grandfather's old recliner and rubbed her fingers over a spot of dirt on her jeans. She'd spent most of the day walking around the ranch, then cleaning the house to make her stay a little nicer.
"I don't like the idea of you out here alone." Dylan put his feet on the coffee table, work boots and all. The pose seemed relaxed, but the muscles around his eyes were drawn tight, and tension stiffened his shoulders. He had a number of businesses, at least two dozen employees, the kind of stuff that came with a lot of headaches.
She frowned at the boots on the table, but didn't tell him to mind his manners. He rented the ranch from her so technically he had a right to do whatever he pleased, even if he never used the house, just the land.
He watched her with those pale blue eyes she'd written poems about back in high school. She'd been pitifully smitten. Now she could barely remember that carefree, always-grinning-like-an-idiot teenage girl she'd once been, let alone relate to her.
"Why don't you go over to Molly's? She loves you to pieces."
Warmth spread through her. "I'll stop by." She loved Molly, too. Dylan's sister had been her best friend back in the day. But social visits would have to wait. She looked through the window for a second, into the blind night. "I came here for a reason."
He gave a slow nod, casting a sideways glance toward the brass urn on the fieldstone mantel above the ornate fireplace her great-great grandfather had built. "I want to go with you when... You know."
He wanted to be with her when she finally spread her brother's ashes on the ranch, as Tommy had requested during his long, losing battle to live.
"I appreciate that, Dylan. I do." She tried to think of a way to say the rest without offending him. "But I'd rather do it alone. I'm just still not at peace with this." She wasn't at peace with a lot of things. Unease and anxiety were her ruling emotions these days, along with a good dose of anger and resentment.
"Of course." Dylan reached for her hand. "You take whatever time you need."
A faint clap sounded in the distance, almost like a gunshot. She pulled her hand away. "What was that?"