Hungry Like the Wolf(2)

By: Paige Tyler

McCall grumbled—none of them liked to pull desk duty when there was a mission to do instead. But McCall knew it had to be done. “I’ll get Martinez’s and Delaney’s assault weapons out for them” was all he said as he left.

Gage was only thirty seconds behind the rest of the team, but by the time he got to the second floor of the admin building, the other four men were already gearing up. He joined them as they yanked on navy blue T-shirts, matching military-style uniforms, and black boots. Then came the heavy black Kevlar vests, with tactical web pouches attached. The sounds of Velcro being yanked open filled the room as they adjusted their vests, ammo pouches, and holsters to a snug fit. The gear wasn’t the most comfortable stuff to wear, especially during the hot Texas summers, but it came with being in SWAT.

McCall met them heading down the stairs, tossing Martinez and Delaney their military grade M4 carbines, while giving Gage more details on the situation. The kidnappers were serious—there were cops and civilians already on the way to the hospital in serious condition.

As they moved outside, Gage’s men carefully checked their weapons, yanking slides and bolts back to inspect chambers, then dropping magazines and clips to check their loads before slamming them in with a firm click.

While they’d been working out in the weight room, there had been a lighthearted sense of competition about them. They’d even joked and laughed while they’d gotten dressed. But as they moved toward the operations vehicle and the white SUV that McCall had ready and running for them, the tone had changed. A charged intensity filled the air, the kind you sometimes feel right before lightning strikes.

They were heading out to face a group of men who’d already shown a willingness to shoot cops and innocents. They likely wouldn’t hesitate to shoot a SWAT officer, given the chance.

Everyone turned to look at Gage just before climbing into the vehicles. He glanced at his watch—barely over three minutes since the call had come in. Good.

“We’re going in a little undermanned on this one,” he announced, though it wasn’t something that needed to be said. “There’s a department negotiator heading for the scene, and we’ll give him every chance to get control of this situation. You heard what McCall said, so you know as well as I do how this one is likely going to turn out. These men are killers, so if we have to go in, don’t take any chances. Hit them hard and fast, and let’s get everyone out of there alive and in one piece—us included.”

With that, Gage climbed into the passenger seat of the white SUV, and Martinez had it moving for the gates before he even got his seat belt on.

Chapter 1

“Hey, Mac. We got something.”

Mackenzie Stone jerked her gaze away from the fenced-in compound and its collection of mismatched concrete buildings. In the driver’s seat of the Dallas Daily Star undercover van, her photographer, tech guy, assistant, and all-around best friend Zak Gibson yanked the buds from his ears and switched the police scanner on the dash to the external speakers. The blare of a fast-talking dispatcher spouting code numbers and addresses filled the van.

He glanced over his shoulder at her. “There’s a hostage situation over on Belmont Street and the on-scene commander has requested SWAT to respond.”

About damn time. “Excellent. Let’s go.” She climbed around the console and into the passenger seat as he cranked the engine. “It’ll take a while for them to gear up. If we hurry¸ we can get there before they do.”

She and Zak had been slowly roasting in this dang surveillance van for two days in a row, trying to figure out how to get inside the SWAT team’s inner sanctum. She’d been so close to walking up to the gate and ringing the freaking bell. It probably wouldn’t have gotten her anywhere, but right about now she was willing to try anything.