Book 1 in the SSU Series
Scarred by a tragic past, one woman will do anything to exact vengeance...
Left for dead after assassins killed her parents, Jenna Paterson believes she survived for one reason only. Vengeance. She vows revenge on the men behind the attack, including her once beloved older brother, Kai. But Kai has disappeared with a microchip containing data on a top-secret government research program.
Ten years ago, undercover agent Niko Andros sent a vicious Mexican crime lord to prison. Now the man has been released and he's kidnapped Niko's aunt. The price for his aunt's freedom is Kai and the microchip. Niko will do anything to save his aunt―including using Jenna as bait.
As Niko dives back into the deadly criminal underground he'd barely escaped, Jenna discovers she's not as tough as she thinks. Teamed up to find her brother, Niko and Jenna fight to survive in a dangerous world of lies, betrayal, and hidden agendas. Only love can save them...if they'll let it.
Wednesday, Late Afternoon
Surgical Strike Unit Training Compound
Jenna Paterson had five minutes to rescue the hostage.
She nodded and her partner rammed open the door. With steady hands, Jenna pulled the pin on a flash grenade and lobbed it into the room. She quickly turned her head away, closing her eyes to protect her vision against the brilliant explosion. Then waited for her team leader to give the signal to enter. Thankfully, the shock of the grenade had startled the hostage inside into silence. Jenna had been afraid that one more minute of listening to the woman’s terrified screams would throw her back to the night two years ago when she’d been attacked.
Don’t remember, she warned herself. It’s not the same. You’re not the victim this time. Your job is to save this poor woman from further abuse at the hands of the terrorists.
Yet her body wasn’t buying it. Her stomach tightened in dread and her mouth was as dry as the paint on a da Vinci. She pressed her back tightly against the cheap plasterboard wall of the hallway. Inhaled the scent of the grenade’s fumes and underneath that, the nauseating mixture of fresh paint and fresh blood. She tightened her grip on her automatic rifle and hoped the team leader would give the go-ahead before her nerves got the better of her.
Stick to the plan, the voice inside her head chanted. These are not the men who attacked you. That’s not Kai in there.
Jenna clenched her teeth. She was better now. She was. She hadn’t frozen during action since the last time they’d rescued a female prisoner in the middle of being raped.
“Go!” The voice of her team leader came clearly over the headset. At a nod from her partner, Jenna drew in a deep breath and counted to five. He went through the door first, high and to the left followed by Jenna rolling low and to the right.
The next minutes were a surrealistic blur. Muzzle flashes turned the lingering smoke from the grenade into a multicolored cloud. The hostage cried out in fear, not realizing she was being rescued. The terrorists grunted in pain, writhing in grotesque death dances as the bullets from Jenna’s teammates found their targets.
Then, suddenly, silence. Jenna lay on her stomach, panting, her heart racing as she searched for another target. But the room was still.
Three short bursts from a whistle signaled the end of the exercise. The house lights came up and the experienced Surgical Strike Unit operators who’d been playing the terrorists rose to their feet, laser tagged vests glowing where they’d been “hit” by her team’s fire.
One of the terrorists pulled off his baseball cap, revealing sweat-stained blond hair. For a second he looked so much like Kai that Jenna turned her weapon toward him before reality returned. Reeling from the close call, she quickly lowered her weapon.
Thank God the man hadn’t noticed her targeting him. She never would have lived that one down. As she pushed hastily to her feet she snuck a glance at the rest of the room to make sure no one else had seen. And met the fierce chocolate eyes of Niko Andros.
Her heart stuttered. Didn’t that figure? The one person who’d observed her slip was today’s guest trainer, the man her classmates spoke about in awed whispers. The man who, with the predatory stillness of his body and the wary intelligence in his eyes, reminded Jenna of a falcon.
Jenna did her best to act casual, like nothing had happened, but Niko glanced from her weapon to the guy she’d almost shot and raised one eyebrow. Damn. She shrugged and forced a slight smile, hoping Niko would chalk her edginess up to adrenaline.
After holding her gaze for an uncomfortable moment, Niko’s expression shifted from questioning to a banked heat that caused an alarming frisson of sexual awareness to shoot through her. Feeling her cheeks flush, she quickly turned away.
Her stomach churned with nausea. She couldn’t handle this. Not now. Yes, she’d worked hard since the rape to get over her fear of being the object of a man’s sexual interest. She couldn’t train with guys and not expect to receive a few suggestive looks or comments. But until today she’d never felt anything but revulsion in response to a man’s attention.
The doctors would say that her appreciation of Niko as a male was a positive step. Yet even as a brief image of her running her fingers through his short dark hair flashed in her mind, panic began a familiar beat in her veins.
She had to get out of here. Had to―
Here is a short playlist of songs that are connected to Vengeance:
WARNING: Some of these descriptions contain slight spoilers.
- "Away from the Sun" by 3 Doors Down reminds me of Niko while he was undercover with Alvarez.
- "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera represents Jenna's struggle to deal with life after the attack against her family.
- "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones is playing during the scene in the gym at Niko's Montana home.
- "Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof" by Travis Tritt is playing on the jukebox in the bar where Jenna starts the fight.