Take No Prisoners Book #8
Take No Prisoners Book #8
He's a Navy SEAL, she's undercover as an arranged bride to a Saudi Prince. It's about to get hotter in the desert!
Navy SEAL poses as a bodyguard to a sexy CIA operative undercover as the arranged bride of a Saudi prince in search of the biological weapons sale traced to the Prince’s palace
Ben “Big Bird” Sjodin, one of the biggest, baddest SEALs on SEAL Team 10 is tasked to work with a CIA operative on a special project with two of his teammates. All he knows is to meet his contact in a swanky bar in London. From there, he’ll receive instructions.
bodyguards. Once inside the palace, they will search for and find the deadly weapons. What she doesn’t plan on, is the burning attraction she has for the bodyguard who could have been a Norse god in another time, or the Saudi familial factions determined to keep the prince from marrying his arranged bride. Inside an opulent palace, danger and passion flare.
Navy SEAL Ben “Big Bird” Sjodin had to duck his six-feet-six-inch frame to get through the door at Night Moves, the exclusive underground London nightclub. His contact with the CIA had some pretty impressive connections to get him cleared to enter. The poor son of a drunk from North Dakota had no business being in such a high-class establishment. Night Moves was the only place in the UK where the richest of the rich and the most popular celebrities gathered to drink, dance and partake of more exotic substances without the constant barrage of media and exuberant fans. Security was tight, and bodyguards swarmed the interior and exterior of the club to ensure the safety of the clientele.
Located in the heart of London, the building dated back to the seventeenth century and had sunk deeper into the ground over the years. Ben was used to ducking through doors. Having reached his full height at the age of fifteen, he’d had to be aware, or he’d end up with a constant lump on his forehead. Because of his height, he’d been called a lot of things: String Bean, Jolly Green Giant, and Stretch. Names never bother him, not even the nickname with which his buddies on SEAL Team 10 had tagged him. What he didn’t understand was why three members of his team had been deployed to conduct a covert operation in the exclusive underground nightclub. Stingray and Irish waited at a nearby pub, topside. Once Ben made contact with his CIA counterpart, he’d be led to a safe location to be briefed on the mission and what it entailed.
More familiar with combat missions in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, he was left confused by the London nightlife, nearly blinded by the reflections off the sparkling diamonds gracing the necks of the ladies in the room. Fortunately, he’d been fitted for a tailored black suit, courtesy of the CIA, although the patent leather shoes weren’t nearly as comfortable as his combat boots.
None of this operation made much sense. Since when did SEALs team up with the CIA for covert ops? And, without a gun, he felt damned near naked. At least he had his knife strapped to his calf beneath his trouser leg. Not that he expected a celebrity to start shooting. Hell, he doubted the rich and famous knew how to handle guns. However, several stern-faced bodyguards stood on the perimeter who looked like they ate nails for lunch.
They didn’t bother Ben. He could take out any one of them with his hand-to-hand combat skills. When bullies targeted him in high school for being different, he’d fought back by bulking up and learning self-defense. His size helped establish him as the guy no one wanted to mess with, even keeping his father from slugging him whenever he was shit-faced drunk and ornery.
Ben found his way to the bar and waited for a seat to open. In the meantime, he ordered a glass of water. Had he been out with friends, he’d have gone for a beer, but tonight, he was working. Until he knew what the CIA had planned for him and his contact, he didn’t dare imbibe. With an alcoholic father, Ben never drank more than he could handle. He had a terrifying fear of turning out just like his old man.
Leaning his back against the bar, he sipped the water and nearly spewed when bubbles tickled his nose. Damn Europeans! In what universe did a man order water and get some carbonated bullshit?
He set the glass on the counter with a thump and glared at the room full of beautiful people dressed to the nines, laughing, talking and dancing as if they hadn’t a care in the world.
Ben tugged at the knot of his tie, wishing he was back in his T-shirt and blue jeans. If wearing a confining suit and shoes without traction was any indication of what the operation might be like, he had half a mind to call his commander back in Little Creek, Virginia, and tell him to find someone else.
A blonde, wearing a short red dress that fit so perfectly it could only have been painted on, stepped up to the bar and nodded to the bartender. “Water, please.”
“Watch it. They don’t serve water here,” Ben muttered.
“What do you mean?” The woman turned his way.
At first, her accent sounded American, with a touch of English and a flair of something Ben couldn’t quite put his finger on—Turkish, or maybe Middle Eastern.
“It has bubbles,” he warned. “If you don’t like bubbles in your water, order something else.”
She smiled. “It’s sparkling, and that’s the only way I drink virgin water.” While she waited for the bartender to fill her glass, she turned to Ben. “You’re an American, aren’t you?”
He nodded, not really interested in continuing the conversation.
“Where in the U.S.?” she persisted.
Her voice was warm, like syrup pouring over his skin, melting into his pores. Ben tugged at his tie again, inclined to move away, afraid if he got started talking to the gorgeous woman, he wouldn’t want to stop. He wasn’t there to chat with a beautiful socialite; he was there to connect with an operative. “From all over,” he said noncommittally, searching the crowd for anyone who might look like a CIA spy. Shit, what did a CIA spy look like? All this covert bull was well out of his league.
The bartender set a glass of sparkling water on the counter top.
The woman lifted it and touched her full, lush lips to the rim.
Ben’s gaze followed, his groin tightening. Though she had blond hair, her brows were dark and her skin tones were more exotic. Blond or brunette, it didn’t matter. She was striking and knew how to use her body to illicit a response. Yeah, and his body was responding. Damn!
He didn’t need this distraction. If he was there to drink, maybe, but he wasn’t. He was working. Ben straightened and took a step away.
Her hand shot out to clutch his arm. “Oh, don’t go. Things were just starting to get… stimulating.”
“Pardon me, ma’am. But I’m not interested.” Ben peeled her hand off his arm and, again, started to walk away.
The woman’s lips pressed together. She planted herself in front of him and walked her fingers up his chest. “Oh, come on, darling. Don’t be such a spoilsport.” She traced a line down his chest and snagged his hand. “Dance with me.”
Once she had his hand in hers, she didn’t let go. And her grip was surprisingly strong, for a woman. Instead of prying her fingers loose and raising a ruckus, Ben allowed himself to be dragged toward the dance floor and into the woman’s arms. His gaze slipped around the room, still unable to detect which man might be his contact. Rather than fight off the woman, he figured he’d blend in with the crowd and have a better chance of spotting someone from his position in the middle of the room. He relaxed against her, moving to the music but ready to react at any given second.
Although tall and gangly as a teen, he’d always had a natural rhythm and moved well on the dance floor. He never lacked for a partner and often had his pick of the ladies for mattress dancing later. But Ben never stayed the night, always preferring to go back to his own place, rather than pretend a night in the sack meant anything by the next morning.
Long-term relationships weren’t for him. And, God forbid, he should ever spawn children. With a drunk for a father, and a mother who hadn’t loved him enough to take him with her when she ran out, Ben would bet his genes were hard-wired to be a lousy parent. Why inflict bad genes on a kid?
The woman in his arms rubbed every part of the front of her body against his, straddling his thigh several times in what Ben could only assume was an attempt to have sex on the dance floor. When he glanced around at the other dancers, he noted they were all pretty much doing the same.
“Sweetheart, loosen up.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and mashed her breasts to his chest. “You’re so stiff.” Her calf slid up the back of his leg and her sex pressed against the top of his thigh. “Mmm…hard in all the right places.” She leaned up on her toes, stretching to plant a kiss on his lips. “And so tall.” Her fingers threaded through his hair, and she dragged down his head, making it easier for her to nibble his earlobe. “I’ve been waiting for a guy like you.” She leaned back in his arms and glanced around the room. “Ever been to Africa, big boy? Wanna go to my place and get wild?”
Ben stopped in the middle of the floor. The code word for his contact was Africa. Body tensed, he frowned at his dance partner. “Been there. Done that. Got the scars to prove it,” he replied with the required response he hadn’t had to rehearse. Ben had been to Africa, and had scars from gunshot wounds to prove it.
He’d been to Somalia not long ago with his SEAL team. They’d gone in to decapitate the head of a Somali rebel group. When the operation went south, he and his team had been lucky to get out alive.
“Mmm. You can show me your scars, and I’ll show you mine.” She took his hand and led him across the floor, heading for the exit. Halfway there, she came to an abrupt halt.
Ben bumped into her.
“On second thought, I think another drink is in order.” The woman changed directions and tugged him toward the bar. “Things just might get interesting around here.”
As she reached the counter, she nodded to the bartender. “I’ll have the Saturday Night Special.”
The bartender glanced across the room, reached beneath the counter, pulled out a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey, poured two shots and pushed them across the counter toward them. He wiped the bar behind the shot glasses and left the towel.
The blonde handed a shot to Ben, took the other and nodded. “Here’s to getting to know you.” She tossed back the whiskey in one swallow, grabbed the towel on the counter and spun toward the door.
A man entered, wearing a long black trench coat, his arm plastered to his side.
From the bar, Ben had a clear view of the doorway and the man coming through. He acted as if he had something beneath his coat, either strapped to his leg or resting against it. Alarm bells rang out in Ben’s head.
“I’ll take the trench coat, if you’ll get the guy by the stage,” the woman said.
“What guy?” Ben snapped his gaze to the stage where another man in a similar trench coat stood, his eyes narrowed, his arm against his side.
They carried rifles.
Ben nodded. “Deal. If you’ll excuse me, I have some business to take care of.” He clapped a hand around the woman’s neck, dragged her in for a quick, hard kiss and released her. “Let’s get wild later.”
“You got it. In the meantime, knock yourself out.” She moved toward the exit.
About the time the two men nodded toward each other and parted the lapels of their trench coats, Ben and the woman were on them.
“Got a light, mate?” Ben stepped directly in front of his guy, so close the man couldn’t bring up the rifle beneath his coat.
“Bug off,” the man said, attempting to step around him.
Again, Ben planted himself in front of the man. “Just asked a simple question. You don’t have to get so…” He swung his elbow, catching the man’s nose in a sharp upward thrust.
The guy grunted, and blood spurted from his nose.
“I’m sorry, did I hurt you?” Ben asked. “Here, let me help.” He placed a hand on the man’s shoulder and shoved him down hard while bringing his knee up at the same time. Again, he hit the man in the face.
Too stunned to do much more than stagger backward into the stage, the man fumbled with the rifle beneath his coat.
Ben yanked the trench coat over his shoulders, trapping the man’s arms to his sides. The rifle fell to the ground, the clattering sound drowned by the loud music.
With a quick kick, Ben sent the rifle beneath the closest table before twisting the coat up behind the man’s back and glancing toward the front entrance. He didn’t see the other man in the matching trench coat, nor did he see the woman who’d downed whiskey like Kool-Aid.
The wealthy men and women in the room only gave him fleeting glances as they twisted and gyrated to the music or went back to sniffing the lines of white powder on the glass-topped tables.
A bulky bodyguard narrowed his eyes and moved toward Ben.
Before the bodyguard could reach him, a woman teetered forward, bumping into the man Ben held in a vice grip
“Pardon me.” She did a double take at the guy Ben was pushing through the crowd. She poked a finger into the man’s chest and slurred, “You should have that looked at. You’re bleeeeding.” With a giggle, she twirled around and ended up on the dance floor, joining the other patrons moving to a techno-beat.
As he neared the door with his captive, Ben stopped short.
A group of people backed into him, and a woman screamed.
Rather than let go of the man he had in tow, Ben slammed the guy’s face into a table, effectively knocking him out. He planted a chair over him and shoved a young man into it. “Stay here until I come back to collect.”
The young man’s head lolled, and he grinned. “Right.”
Shoving his way through the gawkers, Ben found the woman in the red dress lying on the floor with the other man in the trench coat, her thighs wrapped around his throat, squeezing hard.
The rifle he’d carried in lay nearby. Thankfully, no one had picked it up.
“Need a hand?” he asked the woman.
“No. I got this covered. You might secure his weapon.”
As Ben reached for the rifle, a burly bodyguard grabbed it first.
“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll give me that weapon.” Ben nodded to the woman on the ground. “Otherwise, I’ll turn my girlfriend loose on you.”
The lady in the red dress unwound her legs from the man’s throat, stood and smoothed her dress over her hips. “I’ll take that, Wendell.” She held out her hands.
The bodyguard placed the rifle in them, giving Ben a fierce glare. “Yasmin, you know this fella?” The bodyguard handed over the rifle and jerked a thumb toward Ben.
She grinned. “You heard him, he’s my boyfriend.”
Ben didn’t know what the operation was all about, but he did know that the men they’d subdued had come into the club with the intent to fire off enough rounds to decimate the clientele. Had Yasmin not noticed them when she had, potentially every man and woman cavorting on the dance floor would have left the building in body bags.
Wendell gave a single nod toward Yasmin. “Thanks, lady. Anytime you need anything, you just call.”
Her grin faded into a serious look. “I’m counting on it.”
A couple other bouncers converged on Ben, Yasmin and the two attackers.
“We’ll clean up the mess,” Wendell said. “You might want to get out of here before the Bobbies arrive.”
Yasmin gave the bouncer one last glance, hooked Ben’s arm, and led him out of the club onto the cool, damp street in London.
“Did you know those men would be there?” Ben asked.
“I had received reasonably reliable intel they might make their move tonight. My counterparts didn’t believe me.” She shrugged and turned right, stepping out with purpose. “Guess they were wrong.”
Ben hurried to catch up, curious about this woman who could choke the life out of a man with her thighs, get up and walk away like it was part of her normal exercise routine. For all he knew, that move could be.
“Do you mind telling me who you are, and why the Navy SEALs have been tasked to work with a former INTERPOL, now CIA, agent on a covert operation?”
“When we get to a safe location, I’ll tell you what I know. In the meantime, keep your eyes open. Those two gunmen probably weren’t the only ones scheduled to attack.”
An explosion rocked the streets several blocks from where they were.
Ben stopped and spun toward the sound.
Yasmin’s hand on his arm halted him before he could run toward the noise. “It’s already done. There’s not much you can do to help those people. By the time you get there, the police and ambulances will have arrived. You’ll only be in the way.” She took his hand. “Come on. We have an operation to kick off and no time to waste.”
As if to emphasize her prediction, the wail of sirens sounded in the distance. People emerged from buildings, stared at the skyline and huddled in groups, whispering.
Ben tapped his ear bud communication device. “Connected with my contact. Moving to a safe location. Will report in when I know more.”
“You weren’t part of that explosion we heard, were you?” Irish asked.
“No,” Ben said. “It wasn’t anywhere close to us.”
“Good to know,” Irish responded. “So who’s your contact?”
“I’ll tell you when I know more,” Ben said.
“Ha!” Stingray interjected. “He’s a she. You dog. I’ll bet she’s gorgeous. Tell us where you are. I want to meet this sweet thing.”
Ben tapped the ear bud several times. “You’re breaking up. Contact you when I can.”
“Breaking up my ass—” Stingray said as Ben turned off the earbud.
Yasmin glanced over her shoulder without slowing. “Your teammates?”
“I take it you’re on a tracker, too.” She ducked down an alley between buildings.
Ben hurried after her. “Yup.”
Probably. As little as Ben had revealed, they’d be too curious to wait for him to give a location. Stingray and Irish would have the handheld tracker on by now. Ben’s lips quirked upward. They’d be surprised by the beautiful woman they’d find him with. And, if they tried to sneak up on him, he might have the pleasure of watching her kick their asses.