Exclusive 1st Chapter: Broken SEAL by Geri Foster #SouthernAuthors
Today we have Oklahoma born Geri Foster stopping over to share her book "Broken SEAL".
Broken SEAL - Sleeper SEALs Book 10
The Sleeper SEALs are former U.S. Navy SEALs recruited by a new CIA counter-terror division to handle solo dark ops missions to combat terrorism on U.S. soil.
Garrett Mann is burned out. Eight years as a Navy SEAL can do that to a man – especially when he’s been on one too many missions where he has lost too many of his buddies. At thirty-five, he has been fortunate not to be the next Navy SEAL with his name on the wall. Still, he can’t refuse a former commander who enlists him for one last assignment on a secret project.
Doctor Haley Kingston skills will keep her alive, but only one man can save her after she is kidnapped from the hospital where she is working. Haley’s code of ethics as a doctor leaves her little choice but to help the injured leader of a terrorist group. Unfortunately, those ethics won’t be able to save her, or thousands of others, should the terrorist leader live.
Haley will have to trust the last man on earth that she wants to see – the one that broke her heart. Garrett has his own problems. He will have to face his worse nightmares – see the one he loves in danger and realize that his dog tags may be the next ones given to her. Garrett will be pitted against foes determined to stop him at any cost. Can he save the woman he has always been afraid to love before she is executed? Or will his nightmares come true, and this mission will turn out to be his last?
Each book in this multi-author branded series is a standalone novel and the series does not have to be read in order.
Garrett Mann started his day by reporting to the Falcon Security Agency office, and in the process, plowed directly into the company’s secretary. He grabbed her before they both hit the floor. “Whoa, there,” his large hands grasped her shoulders securely to hold her upright. “You okay?”
She glanced up at him and her pretty face broke into a wide, welcoming grin. “Garrett,” she squealed before pulling him closer for a tight hug. “You’re back.”
Always glad to see her, he grinned. “I am, but I’ve only been gone a week.” His head tilted as he checked out her bulging tummy. “How’s the baby?”
She rubbed her belly and gave a look of pure bliss. “She’s wonderful.”
“I’m surprised AJ’s even letting you out of the house.” Her husband AJ was a Falcon agent and was as protective as any first-time dad... only ten times worse.
“He’s been a royal pain, but I plan to work until I can’t anymore. Frank needs me here in the office, and AJ is well-aware of that.” She laughed, and Garrett couldn’t help but smile in return. “It’s really hard to see a tough guy like him coming to grips with the fact he’s going to be the father of a little girl.” She giggled, the sound rolling over him like a pleasant spring breeze. “He’s scared to death. I only know she’s going to be a daddy’s girl. It’s inevitable.”
Satisfied he’d spent enough time with Zoe so she wouldn’t scold him, he turned to leave, pointing to Frank Hamilton’s office. “The boss in? He called.”
“Oh yes.” Zoe waddled toward the massive double doors. “He’s in there with Commander Greg Lambert.” She gently tapped then shoved the door open.
Garrett followed her in and stepped aside. Zoe left, leaving the men in the large, elegant office that reminded Garrett of the Oval Office. Frank Hamilton sat behind a massive desk, his hands folded, his expression that of a man not rattled easily. Garrett had been with Falcon long enough to know, simply by the look on his face, Frank had an assignment for him. And he needed that. Sitting around, thinking about the past only made his lingering doubts grow and gave him too much time for regrets.
After eight years as a Navy seal, Garrett had given up that life and became a civilian. Immediately after leaving the service, Hamilton offered him a job and he accepted. In his new position he wasn’t responsible for anyone but himself. He didn’t have a platoon to look after, or a commander to hold him accountable. He didn’t have men that he had to make sure got home safely at the end of a mission.
After working with a team for years, Garrett liked being alone. And after all he’d been through, quiet time helped.
Frank had a habit of not making his men wait. When he placed a call, he expected agents to drop everything and come immediately. Once there, you had his full attention. Realizing he had not been seen, Garrett cleared his throat. Frank immediately stood. Tall and handsome for a man in his fifties, Frank had just enough gray to look sophisticated, and his body was still ripped enough to catch a woman’s eye. To his left, retired Commander Greg Lambert also stood and immediately shook his hand. Garrett instantly noticed the lack of a uniform. It seemed strange seeing him in civvies, but he knew Greg had retired several years ago. “Great to see you again, Mann. It’s been a while.”
“It has, sir. How have you been?”
“I’m fine. And you?”
“I’m getting there, slowly.”
Frank waved Garrett into the seat next to Greg.
“What’s up, boss?”
“Greg here has a problem he thought you might be able to help him with.” Garrett and Lambert shared a meaningful glance. They’d work together before on extremely sensitive matters that neither could ever speak of. He liked the man. He had been a good, honest commander and a great leader. Greg had sent him on his last mission. The one that only he came back from.
Greg turned in his seat and looked at him, his brows furrowed, his face twisted with worry. “Do you remember Dr. Haley Kingston?”
A wave of panic slapped the breath from Garrett and he nearly gasped for air. How could he ever forget? “Yeah.”
Frank studied him carefully, gauging his response. “We have it on good authority that she’s been kidnapped.”
Garrett’s heart kicked into overdrive and every muscle in his body tensed. The last time they saw each other he promised he’d stay out of her life. That she’d never see him again, never have to deal with him being gone all the time. Everything they’d once had he’d managed to destroy.
He didn’t want to open that wound again. It’d been too hard to walk away from. To literally turn around and leave without looking back. He didn’t know if he could be that strong anymore. Not even after two years.
“Kidnapped? By who?”
“We suspect our old friend, Zareeb El Hashem, took her,” Frank responded, his voice grave and troubled.
Garrett’s head shot up. “Last I heard he was in Syria.”
Greg tossed a portfolio onto the table that slid until it stopped in front of Garrett. “No, we think the son of a bitch is in Maryland.”
“Why hasn’t Homeland snagged his ass.”
Frank studied his clenched fists. “It hasn’t been out there for the news media too long, but early this morning there was an attempt to place an explosive device at Baltimore Washington International.” Frank shoved several eight by ten, grainy photos toward him.
After blinking several times and making sure his hands were steady enough, Garrett picked up the images. Low and behold, El Hashem stared back at him as if to make sure he would be recognized. Mehaza Nagi’s picture came up next. A man with direct ties to ISIS.
Shuffling through the photos, Garrett said. “Interesting.” His gaze shot to Frank. “You said attempt. I take it they weren’t successful?”
“No,” Greg leaned closer. “They were discovered and the plan thwarted almost immediately.”
That sure the hell didn’t sound like El Hashem. He’d been a terrorist since he was ten years old. He knew how to get in and out undetected. His reputation as a ruthless bastard was tattooed on his forehead.
Frank took up where Greg left off. “They were in the process when shots were fired.” Frank’s gaze homed in on him, sharp as ka-bar knife. “We believe El Hashem may have been hit.”
“Too bad they didn’t kill him. No one deserves it more.”
“True,” Greg straightened in his chair, “but that’s not exactly the way it went down. While he may have been critically injured, his men still managed to get him out of there. As of right now, we don’t know where he’s being held.”
“So, what does this have to do with Dr. Kingston being kidnapped?” Garrett asked, clasping his hands together tightly to keep them from shaking. Hearing the answer would be rough, but he had figured this out on his own. Haley’s life must be in grave danger or Frank wouldn’t have called. The odds of her walking away from this were slim to none. He’d been summoned to go in and get her out, hopefully alive.
“They’re here on American soil?” Garrett asked, wanting to make sure after the bombing they hadn’t fled the country.
“Held up somewhere close by, as far as we can tell,” Frank shot him a look that implied they would discuss things in more detail once Greg left.
Frank had his own methods of operation that few knew about. His ways didn’t always line up with the military, FBI, or any other agency, yet Frank continued to be the most respected man in the security business. Falcon Securities worked for President Davis and the DOD. The man had a lot of clout. If you wanted Frank’s cooperation, then you let him do things his way, or you found someone else. It was that simple.
As if he had prior knowledge his time with them had ended, Greg stood, shook hands, then left without saying anything more. Garrett ran his fingers through his hair and leaned back a little. “What the hell is going on?”
Alone now, Frank picked up his pen and tapped it gently against the top of his desk. “They were trying to blow up the airport. The FBI got wind of it and in the process of shutting it down, gunfire erupted. Three of El Hashem’s men were killed and several TSA agents were injured.” Frank let out a troubling breath. “It was a cluster fuck.”
Garrett propped his elbows on his thighs. “Why’d they kidnap Haley? She doesn’t know anything about terrorists.”
“As I said, El Hashem was probably critically injured. Gut shot, from what our intel can decipher. His band of terrorists managed to get him away from the scene and the FBI lost track of them. A few hours later, they caught one of El Hashem’s men, Mehaza Nagi, on security cameras loitering outside Johns Hopkins Hospital.”
Since their split, Haley had left Dallas and took a job as an ER doctor in Baltimore. He’d missed her every day since, yet he’d never expected this. “You’re sure they took her?”
“They waited outside for her shift to end and grabbed her as soon as she walked out the door. They must’ve gotten word Haley was one of the best surgeons in the area.”
“You think they kidnapped her to patch up El Hashem?”
Frank shrugged, but there was nothing casual about the movement. “Best I can tell. If they took her for that, it might mean she’s still alive.” Frank frowned and clasped his hands together, glaring hard. “For now.”
Garrett understood. Haley would never be allowed to live. If she managed to save El Hashem’s life that might buy her some time, but they’d kill her when she served her purpose, most likely with a bullet to the back of her head. If El Hashem died under her care, they’d kill her...slowly.
“Where do I start?”
Frank shoved the folder across his desk. “Mac did some surveillance and Tony used his FBI contacts to find out as much as he could. But there’s a lot up in the air, right now. My guess is they’re holed up somewhere, pressuring Haley to save their leader’s life.”
“What you mean is the clock is ticking. You and I both know she’s not walking out of there alive.”
“She’ll make it, if you go after her.” Franks blue eyes intensified. “That’s the one thing we both know.”
Dr. Haley Kingston had been taken completely by surprise when she walked out of the emergency room exit after her eight-hour shift at Johns Hopkins Hospital and two men grabbed her. Before she could scream, they put a hood over her head and practically threw her into the back of what appeared to be a van. And they were none too gentle about the way they handled her. They practically broke her neck.
When she could finally yell, they put their hands over her mouth. The squeal of tires drowned out her muffled, angry outburst and a hard jerk threw her backwards as they drove away.
She couldn’t be heard, so she swung out violently, trying to get away. By the number of hands holding on to her, Haley assumed there were too many for her to fight off. With a man on each arm and leg, and others in front of her, she stopped struggling and wondered why they’d taken her and where they were going.
“What do you want?” she finally managed to mumble. “I’m a doctor, let me go. I’ve done nothing wrong.” She shook her head furiously trying to knock off the black hood that kept her blinded.
“Shut up,” a man with a thick Middle Eastern accent growled. “If you don’t be quiet, I’ll kill you.”
No one ever took Haley Kingston for a fool and these guys needed to learn that right off the bat. “I’m a doctor. You must need one or you wouldn’t have taken me. Now, get this hood off my head or I refuse to do anything. I don’t care what your medical emergency is. I’m not going to be manhandled by anyone.”
A slap struck her in the face so hard she fell sideways and landed hard on her left ear. She tasted blood as shock streaked through her body. So, they didn’t plan to be gentle or kind. That told her they must be running from the law, or they were probably terrorists and she their only hope.
She kicked out with both feet and hit one of them in the chest. She heard his body slam up against the hard interior of the van. “Don’t mess with me. If you want my help you better learn some manners.” She pushed upright. “You obviously need my services. If you expect to get them, then you better behave. You keep knocking me around and I won’t do anything.”
She felt a sharp object against her neck. So, that’s the game they were going to play? Intimidation and threats? She’d play along, but only so far.
“Perhaps I was wrong,” she asserted bravely. She defiantly lifted her head so the person with the knife had better access to her throat. “You don’t need me? Go ahead and cut my throat. Just remember, you’ll nix any chance you have of saving whoever’s hurt.” A long, satisfying silence filled the air around them. “Either you act like civilized human beings and stop manhandling me or just get the killing over with. What’s it going to be?”
Haley talked a lot braver than she felt, but she knew enough to understand that they hadn’t gone through all the trouble of kidnapping her only to kill a doctor before she had the opportunity to meet the patient.
A voice from the front of the vehicle said, “Leave her alone. She’s no fool. We do need her. She’s the only one who can help us. Stop with your foolishness.”
A shudder of relief flooded her body and, for the first time since being abducted, Haley took a deep breath. She might just live through this mess if she got lucky, but she knew her chances were very slim.
The uncertainty nearly drove her mad, but she fought back her fear. She’d worked the emergency room at Chicago General for three years. During that time, she had pretty much learned how to deal with tough guys. When you patch up eight to fifteen bullet holes a night, you learn a lot quickly. One of the things she figured out early in her career was that, regardless of the fact she was a woman, she had to be the one in charge.
Odds were she probably wouldn’t walk out of this mess alive, still she had to try. She had to live long enough to take care of whoever needed her. That generally turned out to be the kiss of death. If she managed to identify the person, then they weren’t about to let her go. She also knew if the person she treated died she’d be next. That was the harsh, cold reality of her situation.
She’d learned that a long time ago too...the hard way.
She scooted over until she braced her back against the side of the vehicle and decided it wise to remain silent. They would probably remove the hood when they reached their destination. Then, whoever kidnapped her would expect her to take care of the patient.
As quickly as they’d managed to nab her, Haley doubted they were seen. That meant the odds were no one knew what had happened to her, where she’d be taken, or what these maniacs intended to do. Her future looked bleak.
From the front of the vehicle came, “We have no desire to hurt you, Dr. Kingston. We have a comrade who has been injured and only a doctor can help him. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter. Once he is on the mend, you will be free to go. I give you my word, you won’t be hurt. That is not our intent.”
“I’m a doctor and if there is someone in need of medical attention, all you had to do was ask. I’m more than happy to take care of the sick or injured. There was no need to kidnap me, or put this hood over my head, or toss me bodily into the back of this van. It’s all unnecessary. You simply could’ve walked up to me and asked for my help. I’d never turn anyone away.”
“You’re a very intelligent woman and I knew that. I know more about you than most people. I spent a great deal of time learning who you are, how talented you are, and how capable you are in an emergency.” The person speaking strained to sound kind and considerate. It didn’t work.
“Then why manhandle me?”
“What we are asking you to do is to take care of a man wanted by your government.”
“And that’s supposed to surprise me?” She’d guessed that from the stench of unwashed bodies that nearly fried her nose hairs, his foreign accent and their disregard for women. “Are you with Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, or the Muslim Brotherhood?”
“In the past we have been in contact with those groups you mentioned, but we have our own mission. We don’t need the assistance of any of our brothers. We’re going to do what must be done. We’ve been called by Allah. You will have the honor of treating the Almukhtar, the Chosen One. His plan will be carried out and America will, unfortunately for you, pay.”
“I’ve heard that before. What are we supposed to pay for this time? Grave injustices done to you and your people, for being a world power, or are you just not getting enough of our money?”
A sinister chuckle filled the vehicle that made Haley cringe in fear that she might have been too arrogant.
“Dr. Kingston, you are a smart lady, but you are obviously not smart enough to keep your mouth shut. Your contempt insults me. And no one does that. Another smart remark and I’ll cut out your tongue. For what you will be doing, it won’t be necessary.”
Haley remained silent. The man was a monster and she believed every word he said. He’d cut out her tongue without a second thought. They’d also kill her in the end.
She had to find a way to escape because no one would ever be able to find her. The driver made sure they weren’t followed. All the U-turns, different surfaces of the road and changing speeds assured finding her would prove to be very difficult, if not impossible.
Thoughts of Garrett Mann danced through her mind momentarily, for that’s all she’d allow. This was not the time to reflect on all the sadness in her lifetime. She had to concentrate on survival.
For as long as she can remember, Geri Foster has been a lover of reading and the written word. By the seventh grade she had worn out two library cards and had read every book in her age area of the library. After raising a family and saying good-bye to the corporate world, she tried her hand at writing.
To her surprise, she won a couple of contests, hooked up with a really great critique group and her writing career was well on its way. She spent several years studying her craft and developing her voice.
Action, intrigue, danger and sultry romance drew her like a magnet. That’s why she had no choice but to launch her published career with action-romance suspense. While she reads every genre under the sun, she’s always been drawn to guns, bombs and fighting men. Secrecy and suspense move her to write edgy stories about daring and honorable heroes who manage against all odds to end up with their one true love.
To keep the serious side of life at bay, Geri likes to write sexy short stories for her fans. In the Women of Courage series, Geri explores the deeper, darker nuances of life and relationships in small-town mid-century America.