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HOSTILE MISSION (PAPERBACK)

HOSTILE MISSION (PAPERBACK)

Book 2 in the Best Selling Alpha Tactical Ops Series

Regular price $15.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $15.99 USD
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PAPERBACK

She’s trying to save the world. He’s pissed off with it.
When their worlds collide, their only hope is each other.

In the brutal landscape of Antarctica, reclusive scientist, Billie Everson, lives every day in a danger zone. But when she finds something that’s been missing since World War II, enemies circle like vultures, pitching her and everyone else in the remote research station into the crosshairs of the world’s most merciless killers.

Ex-army hero, Levi (Codename: Wasp) has flown choppers in the most hellish places, but when he and his team are sent to find out why Station Eleven has gone dark, heading into the most hostile place on earth makes the nightmares he’s been through seem like child’s play. Levi hasn’t believed in a cause since a failed mission cost him everything, but saving the brilliant scientist from the icy clutches of ruthless murderers has finally given him something to fight for.

With the darkness of winter only days away, will Levi save Billie? Or will hell freeze over them forever?

This is BOOK 2 in the Alpha Tactical Ops series, is an action-packed, opposites attract, steamy romance, featuring an alpha hero who is shackled by his childhood demons and a brilliant heroine who has vowed never to trust men again. Packed with forbidden steamy moments, this protector romance will have you reading all night long.

Alpha Tactical Ops is a series of standalone books with interconnecting characters, featuring ex-military men and women and the partners trying to tame them.

PAPERBACK BOOK DETAILS:

  • ISBN: 9781923194052
  • SIZE: 6 x 9
  • PAGE COUNT: 380 pages
  • GENRE - Romantic Suspense

FAQS - Chapter look inside

Chapter 1
Years of research, and months of suffering, had led me to this desolate location on one of Antarctica’s lesser-known glaciers. It wasn’t that I didn’t expect to suffer, given that my research was on the coldest continent in the world, but for some reason, Antarctica also seemed to attract jerks.
Or maybe it’s just me. I attract jerks.
While my preference was to work alone, my hazardous location meant I had to rely on others to perform my research.
Aaron, my research buddy—and I used the term buddy loosely—was a fifty-something, Aussie bastard who had an answer for everything. Most of them were incorrect. He was six-foot-six of male imperfection with a very short fuse, who farted all the damn time.
Our accommodation while out on Eubanks glacier was an Apple hut, so named because the bright red, dome-shaped fabrication, that was built at this remote location five weeks ago, looked like a giant red Royal Gala apple.
Sharing the ten-foot-wide space with Aaron for days on end was utterly disgusting.
I should be the one receiving danger money. Not Aaron.
Fifty feet away from Apple hut was our drill site. We’d protected the site with temporary windbreaks, which were rectangular sails with poles at either end that we drove into the ice. Put together, the sixteen sails provided enough of a wind break that I didn’t have to worry about being blown off the glacier. Wind speeds could reach up to two hundred miles an hour, and I’d been blown off my feet too many times to count.
Our windbreak didn’t stop all the gusts though, nor the sound of it howling through the gaps between the sails. And it certainly didn’t reduce the frigid temperature.
If I wasn’t covered nearly head to toe in the best Arctic clothing I could afford, I’d freeze to death in about three minutes.
The area between Apple hut and the drill hole was the most treacherous, and despite hanging onto a tether that connected the two, each time I crossed that distance, I was both exhausted and relieved by the time I got to the other end.
At least today we were treated to blue skies. Making the most of that visibility was imperative as it could change in a heartbeat. I’d been up since before sunrise, and as Aaron had snored his head off six feet from me, I’d gone over the ice core samples we’d collected yesterday.
While they were fascinating, I still didn’t have anything significant that would allow me to declare my five months in freezing chaos a success.
The clock was ticking. In ten days, sunlight would stop reaching Antarctica and the entire continent would be dark for twenty-four hours a day for nearly six months.
Every time we were about to lower the drill into the ice, my breath trapped in my throat. Today was no different.
Will this drill attempt provide the proof I’ve been looking for?
Aaron lowered the borer into the icy tundra.
For weeks, we’d been plagued with delay after delay. Equipment failure. Blizzards. Accidents that thankfully hadn’t cost any lives. However, one disaster had cost us one of the most expensive pieces of equipment near the South Pole—NASA’s micro-submersible exploration device.
And also jerks, who liked to mess around . . . all . . . the . . . time. Sometimes I felt like I was the only person in the Australian research team who took this job seriously. No, not sometimes; most of the frigging time.
Losing NASA’s instrument meant that seeing what was underneath my glacier couldn’t be done with the new technology. I had to revert back to our original system of drilling down as far as we could go and taking ice cores.
In ten days, the Australian station was shut down for winter, and I still didn’t have the core samples I needed to prove my theory.
The drill jerked. A shrill screech emitted from the engine.
My heart launched up my throat. “No! No. No. No.”
The tripod holding the drill in position shuddered. The squeal of an engine under duress got louder.
“Shit!” I squeezed my temples, praying the drill would kick into gear again.
The squealing pitch grew higher. The drill didn’t lower the next inch.
“Jesus! It’s stuck again.” I threw my hands out in frustration.
“Son of a bitch!” Aaron kicked the tower.
“Aaron, please don’t kick things you can’t afford.”
“Ah, shut up, Billie.” He kicked it again.
“Aaron! That’s not helpful.”
“Neither are your stupid comments.” His fierce gaze could carve the ice beneath our feet.
I bit my tongue. Working with Aaron was more difficult than the padded clothing needed to survive the freezing conditions. The man was a Neanderthal. Time and time again, I questioned why he volunteered to team with me.
He could have chosen Tamika, or April, or Beth. My roommates were all beautiful, and much more fun than I am. While I spent every night peering into the microscope, hoping to find something that would put my years of research into perspective, those three were playing pool, or ping pong, or showing off their sexy asses on the rock-climbing wall.
The drill’s screams got so loud it could shatter the glacier.
“Fucking hell!” Aaron slammed his fist on the big red stop button.
The ensuing silence was deafening.
He threw a giant wrench and it crashed into one of the Pelican cases lined up on the ice, skidding it ten feet along the smooth surface. He was just lucky it didn’t keep going and tumble right off the edge of the glacier and into the Southern Ocean.
“Why does the drill keep doing that?” This was the third attempt we’d made to drill in a four-foot squared area.
“There’s somethin’ down there. I’m telling ya.” He kicked a chunk of ice.
“But my research shows—”
“Well, it’s fucking wrong!” He clenched his fists and fear shot up my back at the fury unhinging his expression.
“It’s not wrong. I’ve been scanning this area for nine weeks and I’m telling you, it’s pure ice below us.”
“Then what the fuck’s carving up my drill?” He hit reverse on the engine and the rope hauled the drill back to the surface.
I wanted to scream.
It had taken me over two years to get approval to complete my research in Antarctica. It wasn’t until Australia’s Eastern seaboard had some major weather pattern deviations that were well out of the scope of normal that anyone took notice of my theories.
Finally, people were demanding answers.
Although my bastard boss had shackled my research every step of the way, I was certain I could provide those answers.
Trouble was, my work was a double-edged sword. If my theory was wrong, then I was going to be the laughingstock of my peers. And out of a job that I loved.
If I was right, then planet Earth was heading for a disaster on a global scale that hadn’t been seen for twelve thousand years. And if that was the case, we were all in trouble.
And I was pretty sure I was right.
I just needed proof.
Which was why I was at a desolate site on a million-year-old glacier watching a drill once again be pulled from the ice after failing to reach more than three hundred and twenty feet below the surface.
It wasn’t just my boss who was cynical about my research. After all, how could something that hadn’t changed in hundreds of thousands of years change now?
They were wrong.
Fifty thousand years ago, nearly the entire planet was blanketed with a layer of ash from a massive volcanic eruption in Greenland. Thanks to ice core drilling, scientists had proved that one to two inches of ash from that volcano even reached the south pole.
That was a lot of ash. And it had come a very long way.
Aaron kicked the tripod strut again.
“Hey! What’s your problem?” I scowled at him.
“What’s your problem?” he barked right back at me.
It was so typical of him to answer my question with a question of his own. It was his way of avoiding a genuine response.
If I could do this research on my own I would.
However, even if I had a license for the caterpillar-like, Hägglunds snow vehicle that was required to bring my accommodation and equipment to this remote location, I still couldn’t drive it. I was too short to reach the pedals.
At five foot two, I didn’t consider myself as freakishly abnormal, but it did limit some of my abilities. Driving the Hägglund was one of them.
Nor could I operate the thermal drill that provided the ice core samples for my research. This was a skill I was yet to master, but that was by choice. As this was my first research trip to this frigid continent, I didn’t want to spend time learning how to use the drill.
Which was why I needed bastards like Aaron, a man who made it very clear that he hated the work.
Anger rose in me like a geyser. “Why did you even come here?”
“I was ordered to come out to this stupid location with you.”
I frowned. No, he wasn’t. He volunteered to be with me.
I changed my line of questioning. “Why Antarctica, then? You obviously hate it.”
His response was to deepen his scowl.
The foul look reminded me of Gordon Anderson, my boss. The man who taught me how to hate. When I’d finally come to my senses and confronted Gordon about his perpetual lies, it was like a demon had crawled under his skin and changed his appearance altogether.
Aaron was like that, except he didn’t morph from handsome and flirty and fun, to demonic.
He was straight up ugly and demonic all the time.
I still had five more nights out in this frigid glacier with him before we were scheduled to return to Station Eleven, a ninety-minute drive on our snowmobiles.
As daylight had diminished to under eight hours of sunshine, and every day onward was a sizable portion less, I didn’t want to waste three hours in transit every day. And, as we crossed treacherous terrain to return to base, I was not going to make the trek in the dark.
The helicopter was another option, however this late in the season, it was busy ferrying equipment back and forth, getting ready for full station shut down.
So, staying in our remote location in a temporary hut with Aaron had been my only option.
It could’ve been nice—if he wasn’t an asshole.
“I don’t get it, Aaron. This is your fourth posting in a row down here. If you hate it so much, why do you keep coming back?”
“Will ya just shut up?” The words spat off his tongue like poison.
Gasping at the ferocity in his response, I jerked back.
He squatted at the edge of the drill, staring at the rope being extracted from the eight-inch shaft in the ice.
Aaron made my skin crawl. “Look,” I said, “I just want to get this done. Then you can crawl back into whatever hole you came from.”
My breath hitched. I couldn’t believe I’d said that. I didn’t make waves. Never.
Maybe this crazy continent was getting on my nerves, too. For five months I’d been sleeping in a bunk bed in a room I shared with three other women, eating food from a series of tepid bain-maries, and listening to jerks like Aaron bitch about the rotten conditions.
They should piss off home if they don’t like it.
Money was the draw card.
While scientists usually had to beg for funding, it was the support staff who were paid very well. Electricians, mechanics, boilermakers, logistics specialists. The list of workers went on and on.
Living in a hostile location required a team of experts to keep everyone alive.
None of the scientists would be here without them.
“Finally.” Aaron reached for the cable, preparing to guide the six-foot-long drill onto the ice.
I stepped forward with my sterilized bag, ready to slot it over the drill head to catch whatever residual particles remained on the hardened steel.
The drill tip appeared, and my breath hitched. It was buckled out of shape.
“For fuck’s sake! You believe me now?” He glared at me like I was a devil. “Ice didn’t do that.”
“No. No, it wasn’t.” I concealed the mangled drill tip with the plastic bag, and he lowered the borer to the ground.
We both leaned over the end of the drill, examining the mess.
“Maybe it’s another meteorite?” I suggested. Over twenty-two thousand meteorites have been discovered in Antarctica. And that was just the ones that had been reported.
“If it is, then it’s bloody big,” Aaron said.
He was right about that. To do damage like that to the drill, the meteorite would have to be a decent size; otherwise, the drill would have found its way around it. It wasn’t completely out of the question, though. One meteorite, found about thirty miles from this location, weighed in at sixty-six pounds.
“Let’s get it inside,” I said.
“Yes, let’s do that.” He waggled his head at me. The drill was too heavy for me to lift, especially now that its center was filled with solid ice.
Asshole.
Aaron used the tripod to lower it onto a sled and unclipped the drill.
With him pulling, and me pushing, we glided the sled over the ice to Apple hut.
Aaron was nearly twice my size though, so he did most of the work. Being short never bothered me until times like this. I liked to think I pulled my weight, but I literally couldn’t. I was also not very fit. I would have rather spent twelve hours peering into a microscope than even ten minutes on a treadmill.
My average fitness levels nearly jeopardized my opportunity to come to Antarctica for my research. But I’d done the training and forced my body to do things it did not like.
Passing the physical was harder than passing my first science degree. The physical torture didn’t stop once I’d arrived in Antarctica, either. I was required to do an exercise routine every day when I was at Station Eleven. It was hell, but it proved how committed I was to my job.
Unlike some people.
In the distance, ribbons of white air curled up the face of Elbow Hill, so named because the triangular peak looked like a bent elbow protruding from the icy glacier. The swirling wind wasn’t a good sign. If the past three days were any indication, it meant the winds were about to increase their howling. And worse than that, I’d spend another sleepless night worrying whether Aaron had anchored Apple hut properly.
If not, we would literally roll right off the ice shelf and plummet into the freezing ocean about a hundred yards away.
That was not the headline I was seeking.
My research on Eubanks Glacier had produced some interesting results, but my work was far from over. If melted, the rarely-researched glacier contained enough ice to raise global sea levels by approximately three feet. That would decimate many islands and displace millions of people.
I believed my glacier was melting faster than other bigger and better-known glaciers where most of the Antarctica scientists concentrated their research.
If melted, those more significant glaciers could raise sea levels by at least eleven feet. That would be catastrophic for the whole planet. In the scheme of ice melt equations, my glacier was barely a blip on the radar.
But it was my job to prove that it should be.
By the time we’d pushed the drill to Apple hut, I was puffing like I’d run a marathon.
Aaron glared at me.
He thinks I’m faking my ragged breaths.
I damn well wasn’t.
Flipping the bird at him was an option. Not a good one, though, so I clenched my teeth and silently swore at him like I was an army sergeant.
Shaking his head at me as if I was a weirdo, he raised one end of the drill. With my gloves on, I eased the ice from the drill core and placed the cylinder of ancient ice onto the V shaped bracket designed for this exact purpose.
Resisting the urge to study the ice that represented thousands of years of history, I turned my attention to the drill.
Aaron had flipped the drill upright to examine the mangled blade. His eyes were wide, his jaw ajar.
My breath hitched at a dark sliver wrapped around the drill bit.
I grabbed a pair of tweezers and extracted the twisted ribbon from the mangled blade.
The piece released with a twang and folded back around itself.
I blinked at it. The drill had snagged at three-hundred and twenty feet into the glacier. At that depth, the ice would be about six hundred and fifty thousand years old.
This core sample should be nothing but frozen water and air, and any natural particles that had trapped within the tiny bubbles.
Not this.
What the hell!
I frowned. “Is that metal?”
For the first time ever, Aaron smiled.
That worried me even more.

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