Her Perfect Mate(3)

By: Paige Tyler

She sighed. “Dammit, Dave. Why didn’t you just listen to me?”

She gently closed Dave’s eyes, then got to her feet to check on the Russian. He was dead, too, shot once in the head.

Ivy’s gaze went to Dave again and against her will, she found herself reliving the last few moments of her partner’s life. Could she have done something to prevent his death?

She shook her head. Now wasn’t the time—and this definitely wasn’t the place—to have this conversation with herself. Even in a blown out shithole like this one, someone was bound to come snooping around to see what all the shooting had been about. In her experience, people who snooped around shootouts were not the kind of people she wanted to deal with.

She walked over to the second man she’d shot and ripped open the briefcase still clutched in his hand. Grabbing the manila folder inside, she shoved it in her coat pocket, then took out her iPhone and snapped pictures of all three gunmen as well as Dave and the Russian. She wanted to have something to back up her story if there was an investigation.

When she was done, she retrieved her 9mm, then grabbed Dave’s NVGs. She didn’t intend to leave anything behind that might identify them. That included Dave. Bending down, she slid her arms under his body, then lifted.

“Come on, Dave. Let’s get you home.”

Dave was more than twice her weight and she grunted with the effort as she hooked one of his arms over her shoulder and dragged him to the car. It was slow going, but she didn’t care. Crappy partner or not, she wasn’t going to leave him behind.

Chapter 1

Two Months Later

The Mountains of Afghanistan—Nuristan Province

Landon Donovan checked his watch. It was so dark tonight he wouldn’t have been able to see his hand in front of his face if he wasn’t wearing NVGs, but there was just enough glow for him to make out the time. 0200 hours.

He and five members of his 5th Special Forces A-team had moved to the final observation point in the hills above their target an hour ago. A multifamily house surrounded by a high wall in the middle of a small village perched on a mountainside—the place didn’t look like much. Few places in this godforsaken country did. But it was bigger than any of its neighbors and supposedly housed the province’s most infamous resident, a high-priority Taliban leader and bomb maker known only by his first name—Qari. The son of a bitch was best known for insurgent training camps that specialized in turning children into suicide bombers, but he was also a major force behind the growing number of mortar and IED attacks on local Coalition Forces. He had money and power, not to mention technical knowledge out the ass and a fair amount of religious influence. Yeah, well, none of those things were going to help him tonight. Providing everything went as planned.

Landon glanced at his teammates, checking again to make sure each of them was in position. They probably wouldn’t get a peek at the compound’s occupants until morning, but they’d keep at least one set of eyes glued to the scopes the entire night, just in case. He and his communications sergeant Diaz were taking the first watch.

Big Tex-Mex—otherwise known as Sergeant First Class Angelo Rios—slipped down beside Landon. “I have Marks just behind us on the back side of the ridge. Mickens is about a hundred meters downslope. We’ll have warning if anyone tries to sneak up on us.”

Angelo was the senior weapons sergeant on the team, and Landon used him as his second-in-command when they were running split-team ops like they were now. Part Native American, part Mexican, and all badass, Angelo was as sharp as they came.

“Good,” Landon said. “Get the laser designator set up, just in case we get a chance to use it.”

Angelo nodded and slipped away as silently as a ghost. For a big man, the senior noncommissioned officer could be damn quiet.

While Angelo and the other weapons sergeant, Tredeau, broke out the portable laser designator and mounted it on a small tripod, Landon went back to scanning the compound four hundred meters below, switching from his long-distance night vision scope to the thermal one.

“Holy shit,” Diaz called out softly.

“What do you have?” Landon asked.

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