Special Ops Seduction by Megan Crane
Series: Alaska Force #5
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: January 12, 2021
The fifth book in the Alaska Force series, Special Ops Seduction, is sure to be filled with plenty of suspense and a side of my favorite romance trope – fake dating! Read on for an excerpt.
She’s the last woman he ever wanted to see again…
After an official operation turned deadly, Jonas Crow began a new life in Grizzly Harbor with Alaska Force. But when fellow soldier Bethan Wilcox joins the group, she forces him to remember things he actively prefers to forget. That’s unforgivable enough. But now the two of them are forced together on a mission to uncover deadly secrets tied to their complicated past, and with the heat between them at a boil, forgiveness is the least of his worries…
And the only woman he needs.
Bethan Wilcox, one of the first women to make it through Army Ranger school, didn’t join Alaska Force to deal with Jonas’s foul temper. Or her own errant attraction to him. Thrown together in a race against the clock, they have to pretend to be a couple and play nice to throw the enemy off their scent. She knows better than to let their pretend love feel real…especially while time is running out.
Jonas has always been good at saving the world. But it’s Bethan he needs to save this time around—if she doesn’t save him first.
Bethan had been highly trained in a variety of scenarios. She’d signed up for the army right out of high school, mostly to appall her high-ranking air force general father. But then, spite enlistment or not, she’d loved basic training. She’d loved it when she got into psyops, too, and for a time, she’d greatly enjoyed her work as an interpreter, translator, and interrogator, connected to highly classified missions all over the world. It was after one of those missions—the one where she’d met Jonas, though neither one of them ever spoke of it—that she’d decided she wanted to be able to do more. To do something, on a grand scale.
That had led her to becoming one of the very few women to ever make it through Army Ranger School.
But the army hadn’t given her what she wanted, and now she was here. Using all her years of army training to stay calm in the face of provocation. Whether it was a building that shouldn’t have blown up or Jonas freaking Crow.
“Proceed,” Jonas ordered her.
“I have you covered,” Griffin said, cold and precise.
Bethan’s gut was working overtime, but courage wasn’t the absence of fear. It was using it as fuel. She eased out of her protected position, squinting past the billowing smoke from what they’d had down as a meaningless outbuilding in this creepy, abandoned place. She could feel eyes on her, no doubt friend and foe alike, and wished she were in full combat gear—but that wasn’t how they were playing this.
She quickly considered her options. The inhabited ruined building was directly across the square from where she was. The original plan had been for her to take the long way, skulking around the back of what was left of the row of houses where she’d been squatting. Then find a way in through a window that was almost certainly alarmed, if not actively guarded.
Bethan hadn’t seen any guards yet. And it was always possible that someone was blowing stuff up on the outskirts of this crumbling ruin of a mining town for reasons that had nothing to do with why she was here. Anything was possible.
But the more likely scenario was that there were guards, and those guards knew Alaska Force was here. And that they’d expressed themselves with a little C-4 as a welcoming gift, so there was no point sneaking around anymore.
Bethan stood. Then she sauntered around the corner of the ruined house like she was out for a stroll somewhere civilized. She headed across the arid dirt square, in the kind of broad desert daylight that made her lungs hurt, to go knock on what passed for the front door opposite.
“I like it,” Rory said with a quiet laugh from his position around the far flank of the building she was approaching. “A frontal assault always confuses them.”
“Shock and awe, baby,” August agreed.
Jonas, naturally, was completely silent.
Bethan knocked. The sound echoed strangely out here, with the Andes towering in the distance and that profound, if deceptive, emptiness all around. She knew how American she was, because she wanted to see a tumbleweed roll by, or a creaking saloon door, or the beginning twangs of a Wild West theme. But there was nothing.
Bethan knocked again. Louder.
She could feel all the targets up and down her back as she stood there. As if the eyes on her were punching into the light everyday tactical gear she wore, and worse, directly into the back of her deliberately uncovered head.
Look how friendly and approachable I am, her clothes were meant to proclaim across the desert, to all the various bad guys lurking around. No need to shoot.
Every single alarm inside her body was screaming bloody murder and she wanted nothing more than to duck, cover, and hide. Instead, she stood tall. Because she knew the fact she wasn’t visibly cowed was as much of a statement as a blast of C-4. A bigger one, maybe.
“I know you’re in there,” Bethan said through the makeshift door, leaning against the gutted wall beside it as if she felt nothing but casual, here in the middle of a creepy, abandoned desert village in a place even the few hardy locals avoided. “The trouble is, everyone knows you’re in there. And sooner or later, they’re going to come. All of them. And they won’t knock at the door, as I think you know. They’ll come right in—if they haven’t already.”
Languages had always come easily to her. This one, a specific dialect of a language very few of her own countrymen knew existed, much less could speak, had always been one of her favorites. Tongue gymnastics, she’d said, laughing with a friend, way back at Monterey’s Defense Language Institute, where she’d first started learning the kinds of languages that made her invaluable in the field.
She waited as the pitiless sun beat down on her. She had that same sort of split focus she often did in situations like this. There was a part of her that was all here, right now. She was aware of everything, from the faint sounds of life from the other falling-down structures around the square, to the wind from the far-off mountains, to that skin-crawling sensation of being in the crosshairs of too many targets. And on the other hand, she found herself thinking of her home of a year and a half now. In faraway Alaska, where a March afternoon like this one would almost certainly be gray. And wet. It might even be snowing.
For a girl who’d spent a significant part of her life in sunny Santa Barbara while her father ordered people around on Vandenberg Air Force Base, the idea that she could long for a place like Alaska should have been funny.
Some days it was.
Today it felt like a much-needed moment of centering. Reminding herself that she had a job to do here and a home to go back to, which let her focus in more sharply.
“All I want to do is ask you a question,” she said to the door. Conversationally. “What will the rest of them do, I wonder?”
Another eternity passed while the sun blazed down on her, lighting her up and giving every sniper in the village ample opportunity to take her out.
But no one did.
Far in the distance, she heard what sounded like a foot dragging. Faintly.
“There were three guards around the perimeter,” Rory said into the comm unit a few beats later. “Neutralized.”
Griffin’s voice came like a knife. “Three seems like a low number.”
Bethan knew their best sniper was up high on one of the buildings around this square, but she didn’t bother looking for him. She knew she wouldn’t be able to find him unless he wanted to be found.
“A little house-to-house turned up some more,” August said quietly. “Bringing the total to an even eight, which is still low for an asset like this.”
“I don’t like this,” Jonas said in that stern, considering way he had.
Bethan was sure he was about to recall her—order her to fall back and find a defensive position—but that was when the door cracked open.
She waited, aware that she looked relaxed when she was anything but. Her weapons were holstered, so she simply stood there with her arms loosely at her sides, looking as unobtrusive as any of them did in their tactical gear. Her cargo pants and a combat-ready shirt weren’t as dramatic as army fatigues, but she doubted very much that the slender woman who stood there in the sliver between the board masquerading as a door and the questionable wall would confuse Bethan for anything but what she was.
For a moment the two women eyed each other. Bethan smiled. The woman did not.
“Hi, Iyara,” Bethan said quietly. Warmly, as if she knew the woman personally instead of from photographs. “Do you want to tell me where your brother is?”
“How do you speak the language of my childhood?” Iyara Sowande asked softly in return. “How do you know a single word?”
“I’m only looking for your brother,” Bethan repeated in the same steady tone. “I don’t mean you any harm.”
“What is harm?” Iyara asked bitterly. “You’re too late for that.”
The door was wrenched open wider then.
And suddenly there were guns in Bethan’s face.