Home > Nori's Delta (Delta Team Three #1)

Nori's Delta (Delta Team Three #1)
Author: Lori Ryan

Chapter 1



His body made it on the plane but he felt like his stomach was still on the ground somewhere. Which wasn’t the least bit normal for him.

Heath Davis—known to his team and most everyone other than his dad and sisters as Woof—was the last to board the military transport set to take them to their next assignment. That was about all he knew so far. Waking up in the middle of the night and leaving for a mission with little or no notice came with the territory on Delta Team Three.

But he didn’t usually have to deal with the fog that surrounded his brain on this particular night and the crap feeling in the pit of his stomach. Even though the team had been out drinking the night before with Trigger and his team, a team they worked with often and had just finished a mission with, he didn’t expect to feel this way.

They’d met up with the guys at The Ugly Mug, a bar where they spent a lot of their down time. He probably shouldn’t have matched Doc shot for shot. That had been mistake number one.

When Grover and Oz joined in, shit had gone to hell fast.

Trigger and Lefty had brought their women and, truth was, it hurt to see Trigger and Lefty there with the women they’d fallen hard for. Somehow, despite the kind of work they do, those guys had made it work for them. They’d found amazing women who were nothing like the flaky, vain barracks babes who often threw themselves at them in bars, wanting nothing more than to say they’d fucked a special forces guy.

Heath had once hoped he might have the kind of love his friends had found, but it wasn’t looking like that was going to pan out for him.

So, yeah, he’d done something he hadn’t done in a long time. He’d gotten tanked and he was paying for it.

He opened his go bag and grabbed one of the small baggies he kept in the side pocket and tossed a handful of vitamins and supplements in his mouth. If it was a hangover, they might not help. But if he was getting sick, he needed to head it off now before it snowballed.

His teammate Zip, a guy who was all-smiles, all the time, handed him a bottle of water that Woof promptly used to wash down the pills and capsules. Jangles shook his blond head at both of them.

“They won’t save you,” Jangles said.

“But they won’t hurt,” Woof and Zip said in near unison. They both believed in the power of vitamins and homeopathic remedies and the team didn’t hold back on ribbing them on it.

Woof tipped his head back and finished the bottle of water. He knew the other thing that wouldn’t hurt was hydrating. Hitting the Middle East without feeling like he was all there would only get worse if he was dehydrated.

Merlin sank onto the bench beside Jangles, with Duff settling onto the bench across from them, rounding out the team. Merlin was the old man among them at thirty-five. Not that that was old, but his hair was starting to gray around the edges and there was no way in hell they weren’t going to point that out to him any chance they got.

Duff didn’t say anything, only gave a nod to each of them. He didn’t ever say all that much, though. He was a big son-of-a-bitch and if his size wasn’t enough to scare off most people, his personality was. He made a scrub brush look soft and cuddly. Come to think of it, he made a scrub brush look chatty, too. But he was one of the team and the men were loyal to the core to him, same as he was to them.

Merlin passed a heavily encased tablet around the group. “We’re heading in to grab Eleanor Bonham at the Adana airport in Turkey. She’s the Associate Counselor for the US Department of State. We’re going to escort her into the Republic of Kazarus for a covert meeting with Onur Demir.”

Woof rested his arms on his knees and leaned forward. “Head of the Kazarus Freedom Army?”

Merlin gave a nod as Jangles passed the tablet on to Zip.

“She’s been tasked with negotiating a covert agreement with the KFA. We support them off the books and, if they’re successful in overthrowing the current regime, they’ll support our efforts against Al Qaeda and ISIS,” Merlin said. “We’ve got intel that the Kazarus government has been feeding weapons to the terrorist organizations and that shit has to stop. This is one of the ways our guys are attempting to cut off that pipeline.”

They all knew Al Qaeda and ISIS had begun working together lately. Each organization had been hit hard by the US and their allies in the Middle East, but if they were successful in banding together, the strides that had been made against them lately might be wiped out.

“Kazarus has never been particularly stable,” Woof said.

“No, it hasn’t,” Merlin agreed. When one of its surrounding nations wasn’t controlling it, Kazarus had been rife with bloodshed and civil war.

The current government was an absolute monarchy with the king, Ehsan Barrera, at the helm with his eight sons in line for the throne. The family had been in place for the past twenty-five years and didn’t seem inclined to give up their hold on the country and the small iron and oil reserves the land boasted.

“Demir and his rebel army claim to want to put a democracy in place. Our government wants to gamble on backing them if the terms are right,” Merlin said.

Woof took the tablet Zip handed him but didn’t look down at it yet. “Demir’s group has taken hostages in the past.”

Jangles was the one to answer this time. “They have. They’re still holding two doctors and three nurses from the US, England, and France hostage. It’s a complication.”

No one said anything. It wasn’t their job to question the decisions made by the people who told them what to do. They got their orders and they followed them. The person negotiating with Demir would need to walk that tightrope since the US didn’t make concessions where hostages were concerned.

Woof looked down at the tablet and lost his breath. Lost was the wrong word. It was knocked clean the hell out of him. He looked into the serious face of a slight woman in a suit gazing back at him with challenge and determination in her eyes.

Long straight brown hair framed hazel eyes and a mouth held in a flat line as she looked into the camera. He knew those eyes. There was a time when he’d been able to bring a smile to them and a curve to that stiff mouth, and he’d reveled in doing just that. In knowing he was the one who could do that to her.

That and other things. He shifted in his seat, his body going rock hard at the memories. That was a long-damned time ago, back when they were kids and he’d been innocent enough to believe nothing could touch him. Touch them. So damned naïve.

It wasn’t a surprise it had all gone to shit.

He blinked as he processed that her name had changed and looked back at the name on the file. Eleanor Bonham.

She’d been Eleanor Duncan when he knew her.

Well, damn, if that didn’t kick him in the gut. Not that it should.

It should mean nothing to him that Nori had gotten married. He hadn’t seen her in fifteen years. Of course she’d moved on and gotten married, built a life for herself. He wouldn’t let himself wonder if she had children. If she was happy. There was no point in going there.

She was a mission and the mission was all that mattered.

Yeah. Sure. He knew bullshit when he heard it and that was all he was spouting now.

He moved his gaze back to Merlin’s. “Credible threat or standard protection detail?”

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