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1455596361 (ISBN13: 9781455596362)
Wrecked is the new standalone novel of deliciously dark, deeply emotional contemporary romance from J.B. Salsbury, the New York Times bestselling author of Split and The Fighting Series.
When you can’t trust yourself, how can you ask anyone else to?
It’s been months since Aden Colt left the Army, and still the memories haunt him. When he moved into a boat off the California coast, he thought he’d found the perfect place to escape life.
Then Sawyer shows up, and turns his simple life upside down.
Beautiful and sophisticated, she seems out of place in this laidback beach town. Something is pushing her to experience everything she can—including Aden. But as much as he wants her, starting a relationship with Sawyer puts them both at risk.
For Aden, the past doesn’t stay there; it shows up unexpectedly, uncontrollably, and doesn’t care whose life it wrecks.
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Three months ago . . .
“Hey, Sarge, can I have a word?”
With my ass on a cot and doubled over lacing up my boots, I avoid looking at LaRoy. If I make eye contact he’ll only take that as an invitation to air his concerns. The same bullshit concerns he’s been airing for the last few weeks. “Not now, Private.”
His boot steps close in, signaling he’s not going to let this shit go. “Colt.”
With a final tug on my shoestrings, I push up to stand and face my brother-in-arms head-on. “As long as we’ve been fighting side by side, how many times have I let you down?”
The trained Special Forces soldier in him stiffens his spine and snaps back a quick “Not once, sir,” but his wary expression betrays his strength, showing the worry of a friend.
“Grant, I said this before and I’ll say it again.” I strap on my gear while I continue. “You have nothing to worry about. The United States government gave us a job, to train Iraqi forces so that they can defend themselves against ISIL. We’ve done that, and we have a formidable team to show for it.”
“I don’t disagree with you, Aden, but . . .” He turns back toward the sound of our men chanting as they prep for our op—the last op of our deployment before we get to go home back to the States.
The air is electrified with a palpable energy reminding me of the days before playoff games in high school when the locker room felt alive with the excitement of a team about to annihilate the competition.
To keep from being overheard, Grant steps closer. “It’s not the men I’m worried about, it’s their leader.”
I resist the urge to pinch the bridge of my nose. “Al-Bishi is intense, but he’s harmless—”
“How do you know that, Aden?” There’s anger in his voice and a flash of something wild in his dark eyes.
“Because he’s a twenty-six-year-old husband and father of two little girls who live in a city that is controlled by evil. He is invested in our mission.”
He scoffs. “Invested. Is that what he told you?”
“No, that’s what my gut tells me and my gut hasn’t failed us yet.”
He steps back with a humorless bark of laughter. “Fine. But I too am invested in our mission, Colt. I’m twenty-eight hours away from a flight home to my wife and baby who I haven’t seen in over a year.”
“This isn’t a meat-eating op, our only job is to provide backup if needed. Al-Bishi and his men are ready to handle this alone, there’s no reason why you won’t make it home to Kim and Eva.”
He shrugs. “I’m keeping my eye on that asshole and if I see so much as a muscle twitch in the wrong way I’m puttin’ a fucking bullet in his skull.”
Now it’s me who steps close. “Grant, I get it. You’re feeling the effects of a fifteen-month deployment. The paranoia, trust me, I fucking get that—”
“You don’t get shit.” He turns to stomp out of the room, but turns back one last time, his eyes blazing with the angst I heard in his voice. “Strap up, Sarge. As much as you can carry. We’re gonna need it.”
“Hadhih laysat munawara.” This is not a drill. I address both the Iraqi team as well as my own in Arabic. “We have intel that there are two ISIL leaders currently hiding in this village.” I turn toward Al-Bishi, who is standing at my left. “You’ll take orders from Al-Bishi. My team has been instructed to provide backup only. Any questions?”
When the group of eighteen stay silent, I nod for Al-Bishi to command his men.
“Shukraan laky a sadiq.” Thank you, friend.
It’s never sat well with me that he refers to me as “friend,” as it implies we’re on equal ground when I’m his commanding officer, but I’ve let it slide for the sake of peace. Feeling eyes on me, I find LaRoy glaring a hole right through me. Twenty-four more hours, Grant. Hang in there, brother.
Al-Bishi runs through the plan to hike the four kilometers to the outskirts of the small village, then to surround the house and when they’re all in position to infiltrate.
With adrenaline coursing through our veins, we make quick work of the hike down into the valley, making sure to say alert and low to avoid being spotted. The only noise we’re putting off is the steady crunch of our boots to the dirt.
The scent of livestock alerts me that we’re close, so I motion for my guys to get down and be on the lookout. Pride fills my chest when I see Al-Bishi give a similar command to his men and they follow his order with ease.
Schmitt pulls up to my side, flashing me an eager smile. I’ve never met anyone as excited for battle as Camden Schmitt. It’s as if he came out of the womb a soldier, and although I dig his enthusiasm, his thirst for combat can make him unpredictable.