ENJOY THESE EXCERPTS FROM SEALED AT MIDNIGHT
Thom cracked open one eye. Things were blurry but he could make out Brody leaning close.
The man smiled. “Hey, buddy. Good to see you finally awake. Any longer and I was fixin’ to call next of kin.”
He groaned. “What the hell happened?”
“RPG. I’ll tell you what, we were damn lucky. It blew in through one hatch and out the other. If it had hit anywhere else, it could have blown up the bird.”
An RPG? What the hell? And Brody’s talk of hatches and helicopters didn’t make any sense to him either.
Thom looked more closely at his friend. Brody was dressed as if ready for a mission, but the last thing Thom remembered he had been kicking back with Brody and Chris watching college football.
The southern born Cassidy brothers were Alabama fans. They had been giving him shit about being a Yankee and his allegiance to Boston College.
Confused, Thom asked, “What are you talking about?”
Brody’s usual poker face broke and Thom could see the surprise in his friend’s expression. “You don’t remember?”
He would have frowned, but Thom realized he couldn’t feel his face. “I guess not. Why don’t you enlighten me?”
“Uh, yeah. I’m just gonna go grab a doc. You stay here. I’ll be right back.”
Stay there? He wasn’t sure he could move, so it wasn’t as if Thom had a choice to do anything other than wait.
The hand came out of nowhere, covering her mouth and pulling her back against something big and hard. She screamed but barely any sound came out past the fingers blocking it.
She dropped the flashlight. It fell to the floor of the barn and the beam went out, plunging her into darkness.
It was like a horror movie, but this was very real.
She couldn’t move, never mind run.
Her heart thundered. She gasped for breath but the steely hand was so large it blocked her nose and her mouth.
He—whoever this was who had captured her—was going to kill her. She knew it. She was going to die, here and now, just like every stupid heroine in every horror movie and it would be her own fault.
All alone, in the middle of a snowstorm with no power, she’d chosen to wander out to the barn, right into the grasp of the killer.
Had she been in the audience for this horror show, she would have been yelling at the too-stupid-to-live heroine on the screen right along with everyone else.
If this was the end, she wasn’t going to die quietly.
Ginny kicked backward, nailing the man in the shin with her boot. Probably not the most effective defense but he had her in an iron grip, pressed up against a body that felt as hard as granite.
“Shh! They’ll hear you.” He spoke low, his mouth pressed close, his voice rough and intense.
It had been so long since she’d had the heat of a man’s words against her ear . . .
Despite the husky voice and hard body, this man was most likely a lunatic who’d throw her in a hole in the ground, fatten her up and then wear her skin like a coat after he murdered her.
“Is anyone else outside?” he asked, just as softly as the first time he spoke.
He moved the hand over her mouth enough that she could answer. “No.”
Shit! She should have said yes. That her big, burly husband the Marine was in the house cleaning his guns and he’d be looking for her any second.
Too stupid to live. Yup, she was living up to the horror movie heroine stereotype perfectly.
He was shivering behind her, shaking so badly the vibration traveled through him and into her. She realized his jacket was soaking wet. Her hands gripping his arms that held her were starting to freeze just from touching him.
Maybe he wasn’t a killer, and just a nutcase. In that case, kid gloves were required.
She asked in as calm a voice as she could muster, “Who are you hiding from? The police?”
“No. The targets.”
“The who?” Ginny asked.
“The insurgents? Um, where are they?”
“Building A. According to the plan we rehearsed back at the base, Alpha team was to hide in the storage shed, building B, and take the targets by surprise while they slept. Brava team is behind the goat shed waiting on our signal.”
“Let me guess, the goat shed is building C?”
“Yes, but I can’t find the rest of Alpha team and I lost my communicator. We didn’t plan on an American civilian. What are you doing here?”
Oh, boy. He definitely wasn’t all there. At least, he wasn’t here where she was.
“Um, where exactly do you think you are?”
“I told you. Building B.” He sounded frustrated by her question.
“Yeah, the storage shed. Got that. I meant, what country do you think we’re in?”
He hesitated at her question. His breaths came quicker while his grip on her loosened.
Slowly, she turned in his grasp and took a step away. He let her go.
Now would be the time to run. Sprint for the house, lock the door, find her cell phone and call the police.
Instead, she stood frozen in place listening to his teeth chatter in the darkness.
“Where are we?” he asked.
“Massachusetts.” She hoped her answer didn’t send him into some sort of fit.
“Massachusetts,” he repeated it before letting out a shaky breath. Then again, everything on him was shaking.
“You’re wet and freezing. Come inside.” She shushed the voice in her head that kept repeating the word stupid, followed by skin coat.
Blindly, she pushed the barn door wider. She abandoned the flashlight. The bulb was probably broken, even if she could have found where she’d dropped it in the dark.
The moonlight would offer enough illumination for her to get to the house. She stepped out of the barn and into the snow, wondering if he’d come and not sure she wanted him to.
When she turned back she saw he had followed her out of the barn. He stood in the snow, his arms wrapped around himself as he looked around, as if seeing it all for the first time.
Afraid they’d both freeze to death, she reached out and touched his arm, gently to not set him off into another delusion. “Come inside the house?”
That was a relief. She was even less prepared to deal with hypothermia and frostbite than she was for this storm. And a man frozen to death in the yard would be hard to explain to the homeowners.
Stepping in her own footsteps she started for the house. A half a dozen steps later, Ginny realized that she’d forgotten to latch the barn door—the whole reason she’d come outside in the first place.
It didn’t matter. The banging wouldn’t keep her awake because she seriously doubted she’d be getting any more sleep tonight. Not with Mr. Alpha Team in Building A with her.
“Do you remember what happened to you?”
“Most of it. I remember my SUV skidding off the road, but I have no recollection of actually crashing or anything else until you found me outside.”
“Wow. That’s crazy.”
Not really, but he probably had more experience with traumatic brain injury than she had.
“I remember some other things too.”
“Really? Tell me.”
“I have two kids. Jason and Juliette.” He watched her react to that.
Her surprise was apparent before she hid it. “Two kids. That’s great.”
“Mmm, hmm. I’m divorced from their mother.”
“Oh.” That one syllable seemed ripe with so much. “Do you, uh, have a girlfriend you need to call?”
He might be rusty and a little bruised around the edges from the divorce, but he knew when a woman was fishing for information and Ginny was.
“Nope. No girlfriend.”
“Oh. Okay. I just wanted to check. You know, didn’t want anyone to worry.”
He smiled. “Thank you for worrying about me.”
“Sure. Anytime. I’m just glad you’re feeling better.” She bit her lip as she raised big brown eyes to look at him.
That did nothing to help the situation in his boxer shorts. The way he was positioned, so close, touching her, there was no way she’d missed feeling it.
He swallowed. “Yeah. Definitely feeling better.”
“Good.” Her eyes narrowed as her gaze dropped to his lips for the briefest of moments.
His SEAL training had taught him to read people. Informants. Terrorists. He could detect lies and threats, but that skill transferred beyond the counterterrorism world.
If he wasn’t completely off base, Ginny wanted him as much as he wanted her.
He couldn’t seem to get the words out at first. He lifted one hand to cup her face, running a thumb across her bottom lip as he leaned in. “Tell me if I’m out of line here.”
Her throat worked as she swallowed. “You’re not out of line.”