Where it all began
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When I wrote PROTECTING MADDIE for Susan Stoker’s Special Forces World, I had no idea it would lead to a growing, successful series. And it’s kinda strange, too, since the hero in MADDIE is Delta Force and all the other heroes are SEALs (with a nod to my good friend and NYT Bestselling author, Jack Carr, a former SEAL himself). But it seemed readers fell in love with Maddie Winslow . Here is a woman who becomes a heroine when she saves her classroom from a shooter and suddenly becomes a target herself. And has no idea why. But when her life is threatened, enter Hunter “Hawkeye” St. John, tough as nails Delta Force team member on medical leave. He can protect Maddie, for sure, but what does he do about the way she suddenly invades his heart?
When the bad guys are caught and Hawkeye returns to his team, he’s sure he can put Maddie behind him and close off his heart. Uh uh. Not so fast. Maddie Winslow has left an indelible mark on him and I wanted to be sure to write that scene so it was just right. Thankfully I had another good friend, former military, who helped ,me craft the entire scene, so thank you Joe Trainor for helping make this story a winner.
Curious? Well, I hope curious enough that you’ll one-click your copy of PROTECTING MADDIE and then dig into the rest of the Protecting series.
When Maddie Winslow talked a student out of his gun in her classroom, she never figured it would set off a chain of events that put her life in grave danger, and the lives of her parents. Hiding in WitSec for thirty years, her parents thought they had beaten the odds—until the image of Maddie, an identical replica of her mother—hits the television airwaves and the people who have been seeking revenge all these years find her. Intent on learning where her mother is hiding, they break into her home and then try to kidnap her. Frightened, she goes to her friend, Zee, who once dated someone in Delta Force. She calls him to explain her friend’s situation, but he’s prepping for a mission and can’t leave the base. Hunter “Hawkeye” St. John, a Delta Force team member, is on medical leave recuperating in Tampa and chafing for some action. When the he and Maddie meet, the sparks flying between them sizzle the air. But if Hawkeye wants to move forward with Maddie he first has to keep her safe and then eliminate the bad guys.
Under other circumstances Levi “Hawkeye” St. John might not have been so glad to get the phone call from his friend Ghost. Babysitting some friend of his cousin’s wasn’t his idea of a fun gig. And a schoolteacher? He could only imagine how exciting this woman would be. But Hawkeye was sick-ass tired of sitting around waiting for the doc to clear him to return to action. The friends he still had here in Tampa had nothing to do with Delta and so had no idea of what he did or how he lived. They were all good guys, but they were beginning to bore him, which made him feel bad, which then irritated him. And the women he’d been spending time with were beginning to bore him, too, and what was that all about?
His shoulder was 99 percent and, to him, that was good enough. He’d take care of this little task for Ghost and then go pound on the doc to release him for duty.
He’d been about to watch Chuck Norris’s movie, Delta Force, for the twentieth time so he could once again pick out all the flaws when the phone rang and Ghost gave him a reprieve. Now he was headed to someone’s house at ten o’clock at night to do a favor he hoped wouldn’t come back to bite him in the ass.
There wasn’t much traffic at this time of night, especially in the residential sections, and Gretchen LeBeau’s house wasn’t far from his, so, in little less than twenty minutes, he was pulling into her driveway. He took a moment to check his personal weapon, a Glock 9mm like the one he carried on missions, locked and loaded. When he got out of the car, he tucked it at the base of his spine.
He was glad to see all the outside lights were on. No way to get close to the house without being seen. When he got to the front steps, he pulled out his phone and dialed the number Ghost had given him.
He cleared his throat. “Ghost sent me.”
He felt stupid, as if he was playing some kind of game. Couldn’t Ghost have given him something a little more sophisticated?
“And your name?”
“Levi St. John. Hawkeye.”
In a moment, he heard the locks being disengaged and then the door opened. “I’m Gretchen. Come in. And thank you for coming so late. I—we—appreciate it.” She stepped aside to let him into the house.
“Sure.” He punched the End Call button.
She was what he’d call a nice-looking girl, with shiny brown hair cut chin-length, a figure with all the appropriate curves, and warm brown eyes that didn’t look quite so warm at the moment. Not his cup of tea, thank god. Ghost would fry his balls if he made any moves on his cousin.
“I don’t know what my cousin told you,” she began, “but it’s really my friend Maddie who’s having the trouble.”
Hawkeye shifted his gaze to the woman sitting on the couch in the great room and every cell in his body stood up and saluted. Uh-oh and holy shit! Masses of auburn hair tumbled to her shoulders, framing a heart-shaped face that, at the moment, was paler than a ghost. Thick lashes framed eyes of deep gray, an unusual combination with her hair color. When she stood up to shake his hand, he had to drag his gaze away from her luscious body. The skirt and short-sleeved sweater did little to disguise her mouthwatering figure with its full hips and plump breasts.
What he wanted was more than shaking her hand. He was struck with an overwhelming desire to haul her up against his body, thrust his tongue into her mouth, and taste every delicious inch of it while he slid his hands beneath her sweater and palmed her gorgeous breasts.
Hawkeye had to grit his teeth to keep from sporting an instant boner.