He’s a SEAL. She’s the woman his team is sent to rescue.
Navy commander Grant Milton was well prepared to fight Somali kidnappers to save American aid worker Jennifer Anderson. What he wasn’t ready for were his feelings for her.
Noise, unfamiliar, distinguishable from the usual sounds, caught Jen’s attention and had her wondering what it could be. It did not, however, make her wonder enough to lift her head to try and look.
It was too dark to see what was making that strange scratching anyway.
Besides, her captors would protect her from being mauled by wild animals. Even though negotiations hadn’t been going their way, the potential of a big payday meant she was too valuable for them to let die.
They’d starve her, let her wallow with fever, dehydrate her until she was near death, but no, they wouldn’t let her die because that would cost them their ransom.
That the kidnappers still had hope of a payout after all this time was pretty amazing since she’d given up on the idea long ago.
A twig snapped. That noise joined the rustling she still couldn’t pin down the source of.
It had to be an animal. The bugs here were big, but not big enough to make that much noise.
None of it mattered anyway. On her sleeping mat, under the one filthy blanket she was allowed, and ringed by nine guards to make sure she didn’t escape in the night—as if she had anywhere to go or the strength to walk there—no animal or bug would be able to get to her easily.
Her thoughts on the mysterious noise would have ended there if one of the men guarding her hadn’t reacted to it so strongly.
The guard closest to where she and Adam were sat up and grabbed his gun.
She heard others moving and one shout.
Jen opened her mouth to whisper to Adam to ask if he had heard the sound too when the world exploded around her.
Her question was replaced by her own screams as rapid gunfire seemed to come from all sides with her trapped in the middle.
She pulled the blanket up and shielded her head with her arms.
This was it. She’d wished for death and here it was.
Surprisingly death would not come at the hands of her kidnappers, or from the elements she’d been ravaged by, or the infection she’d fallen victim to.
This was worse.
Now she’d be taken by whatever opposing group was attacking their camp. Some warring faction who would kill her captors, take her and then pass her around to be used by the fighters. A war prize.
If she were lucky she’d die in the firefight before being taken, but she couldn’t count on that. So far, her luck had been severely lacking.
As she prayed for God to put an end to her misery, the gunfire stopped as suddenly as it had begun.
As loud and horrifying as the firefight had been, the silence was worse. It allowed her to hear the footsteps pounding toward her.
Still cradling her head she struggled to not breathe, to not make a sound.
It was dark. Maybe they wouldn’t see her. Or they could think she was one of the dead.
Strong hands gripped her through the blanket, searching until they finally located her arm. They pulled her upright as she screamed, struggling and fighting for her life.
Maybe she wasn’t ready to die just yet. Her mind might have given up on her, but her fight or flight instinct was still strong.
“Jennifer! Jennifer Anderson.” Whoever had her knew her name. He said it as he continued to hold her in an unbreakable grip.
She stopped struggling. As the panic resided enough for her brain to process things, she realized the deep male voice had sounded distinctly American.
Why were there other Americans here?
Not to get her, surely. She was a nobody. A teacher. A volunteer who didn’t even get paid. Not some politician or world leader.
Her fuzzy reasoning couldn’t comprehend any of it. “You’re American?”
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