Safe and SEALed with Ecstasy kicks off an all new series, The Heroes of Silver Island. If you read book 3 of The Heroes of Silver Springs, Stormy Nights, you'll recognize this prologue, but from a different point of view.
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Cambodia – Four years ago
Lara Hampton tried to scream, but the gag secured in her mouth by duct tape muffled the sound. It was just as well. The only men around to hear it were the ones who had brought her here. Wherever here was.
You know where you are and you know who’s out there.
Yeah, she knew. She was in some sort of empty hut deep in the Cambodian jungle. As for the men out there? She may not know their names, but she knew who they worked for. Veng Kim Phay, the notorious drug lord who had ordered her capture.
Except, maybe they weren’t out there anymore. She hadn’t heard a sound coming from outside since the ruckus that had sounded like the whole compound had been moving out. And how long ago had that been?
Long enough for your ass to go completely numb, that’s for sure.
She sat on said ass against the far wall of the tiny, pitch-dark hut, her knees bent and ankles bound together with tight rope. Her wrists were tied together behind her back. She tried, to no avail, to free herself so many times the sting in her abraded ankles and wrists had become a constant burn.
If she could only reach the cell phone in her pocket. Not that it would do her much good. It had barely half the battery life left when she’d been kidnapped.
Please, God, let it have stayed charged long enough for someone to tap into the GPS tracker once they realized I was missing.
Surely, someone at the missionary camp had reported her missing by now. She was the daughter of a US senator. As soon as her father got word of her capture, he’d have the GPS signal traced, and send someone to rescue her, wouldn’t he?
Tears welled in her eyes and she ruthlessly blinked them back. She could only hope her father would send someone. The way he’d been with her lately, she wasn’t so certain. The last time they’d talked, he’d told her he’d had enough. And, okay, yeah, maybe she had put him through a lot. This definitely wasn’t the first time she’d found herself in a real pickle. He’d raised her to stand up for her beliefs and that’s exactly what she did, even when it landed her on her numb ass at the mercy of a drug lord and his band of goons.
The orphaned children, many of whom had been infected with HIV, needed help. They needed expensive treatment and people to care for them. Cambodia had come a long way in its fight against AIDS since the early nineties, but it still had a long way to go.
Lara swallowed, her dry throat protesting the action. She’d been preparing to head back to the states on a crusade to raise money for those children when she’d been kidnapped.
It wouldn’t have happened if you’d kept your distance from Phay’s goons.
True, but how could she turn the other cheek when she’d stumbled across Phay’s compound? How could she keep quiet when his goons were using some of the very kids she was trying to save to do their dirty drug work?
She didn’t think Phay intended to have her killed. Wouldn’t he have done so already if that was his plan? He wanted to keep her quiet. That much had become obvious.
Until what? You die of dehydration and starvation alone in the dark?
A soft click outside the door brought her dismal thoughts to a screeching halt. Her eyes widened and her breath caught in her throat as the door swung open. She couldn’t hear anything over the fierce pounding of her pulse, but she could see the silhouette of a man that stepped out of the scant sliver of moonlight and into the hut.
She screamed, the sound barely audible, as the narrow beam of a small flashlight swept over her. She wanted to run, to hide, to cower for safety under something. She could do none of those in an empty hut save for her, especially when she could no longer feel her legs to move.
“It’s okay.” The man moved closer, a huge and imposing presence that only made her heart race faster. “It’s okay,” he whispered again, kneeling next to her. “We’re US Navy SEALs. We’re here to get you out of here.”
His softly spoken words, definitely in an American accent, slowly penetrated the terror coursing through her mind and body. We? He isn’t alone. US Navy SEALs? Oh, thank God.
He shifted the beam of the flashlight so she could see his face. Hazel eyes studied her from a handsome face streaked with war paint. If she didn’t know better, she’d swear she was suddenly playing the leading heroine role in a movie cast beside Brad Pitt in his younger years.
Really, Lara? You’re noticing that now after everything you’ve been through, everything you’re probably still going to go through because you’re not out of here yet, girl.
It fascinated her how her body could have an immediate heated response to a man when she was still bound, gagged, and helpless in the hut on a drug lord’s compound. But, damn Skippy, this Navy SEAL with those intense hazel eyes deserved every bit of female attention and then some.
“Are you hurt anywhere?” He spoke in a voice just a decibel above a whisper, but he’d leaned closer so she had no trouble hearing him.
She didn’t have any trouble smelling him either. She caught the pungent odor of sweat mingling with the unmistakable scents of the jungle but, beneath that, she could smell something else that was musky and all man.
She shook her head.
“Good. Good. We need to get that tape off your mouth. Do you want to do it?”
Lara drew her brows together, wondering how she could take it off herself when her hands were still bound behind her back. Figuring if she nodded yes, he’d untie her hands first, she shook her head no. She wanted the tape gone so she could get the damn gag out of her mouth.
“No? Okay, I’ll do it for you.” His lips she immediately deemed as far too kissable slowly spread in a comforting smile that sent lust raining through her system. “It’s going to hurt a bit.”
Lara nodded her understanding and started to close her eyes.
“No.” He put a gentle hand on her knee and her eyes flew open. That simple, sweet touch of his callused palm sent a rush of heated desire surging from her knee to her pussy. “Don’t close your eyes. Keep them open. Find something else to focus on. When you close your eyes, you tend to focus on the pain.”
Somehow she doubted that. Pain was the last thing stealing her focus right now. Christ, what was happening to her? She’d never had this kind of intense, immediate, sexual response to a man.
Lara averted her gaze and saw another beam from a flashlight in the doorway. Her attention locked on the pair of eyes that peeked inside. Another SEAL, she presumed, and damn if he wasn’t another good looking one, too. It helped to study him as the sweet SEAL reached for the tape covering her mouth. She even found the need to swallow a giggle. Even in the darkness, cut by only the narrow beams of lights from the flashlights, she could tell the SEAL in the doorway knew he was good looking and fully expecting to be first in line in the thank you parade once they got her to safety.
Not a chance. If she thanked either of them in any extra special way it would definitely be the Brad Pitt look-alike. Although, she could certainly use the SEAL at the door as a distraction because, holy molly, simply looking at Sweet SEAL made her want to jump his bones right here in the empty hut.
Lara gasped as Sweet SEAL started removing the tape. A soft squeak of pain escaped her lips when he tugged the last bit from her flesh and the gag fell out of her mouth. Her gaze still locked with the SEAL at the door, she stiffened when Sweet SEAL brought a hand to her face and brushed the back of his fingers over the tender skin beside her mouth.
Lara tore her gaze from the SEAL at the door and dared to look at Sweet SEAL. Christ on a pogo stick, he was too damn handsome, too damn nice, and way too damn dangerous for her hormones. The compassion she saw in his hazel eyes wound around her heart, but the heat she saw mixing in would be her downfall.
It won’t if you don’t let it.
Oh, no. The last thing she needed to do was fall for a hardened warrior, no matter how sweet and handsome he was.
“A little.” Her voice sounded raspy. She said the words much softer than she’d intended and far breathier. Because she hadn’t spoken for a long time. Yeah, that was it. It absolutely had nothing to do with the riot of desire zinging through her body after that gentle touch. “It will be okay. Thank you. Could you, uh…” She wiggled, turned slightly away from him, and shot a pointed look over her shoulder and down to her still bound hands.
He blinked as if coming out of a trance and gave his head a quick shake. “Oh yeah, of course.” He made quick work of untying the ropes around her wrists and then shifted, his hands framing the sides of her legs as he grazed his palms down to the ropes around her ankles.
Lara took a deep breath and let it out slow. His touch felt way too close to a caress. She doubted he’d meant for it to. Sweet SEAL was just doing his job, rescuing the damsel in distress with care and concern. The fact that he obviously found said damsel attractive had nothing to do with it.
He glanced at her and, yeah, he definitely found her attractive. Apparently, touching her was making it more difficult for him to hide his lust. “I’m sorry. I wanted to get that tape off first. You know, so you could talk to us.”
Lara glanced over Sweet SEAL’s shoulder and saw the other SEAL shake his head before his lips started to move as he spoke into the microphone on the headset he wore.
“Can she walk?”
Sweet SEAL shifted again and she got a better view of the SEAL at the door. She saw him wince as he side-stepped. She raked her gaze down to the bloodied knee of his cargo pants before dragging her attention up again. His question had been aimed at Sweet SEAL. Still, she took the liberty of giving him her own answer.
“I could ask the same about you.” Her voice sounded stronger and steadier this time. Good. Limping SEAL, she immediately dubbed the man at the door, was turning out to be a spectacular distraction for her hormones after all. “But, yeah, I can walk.” At least she hoped she could. She stretched out her legs, tested them, and refused to close her eyes as the limbs tingled while they woke from their sleeping state. “I’m a bit bruised and a little sore, but I think the thing that hurts the most is my pride.”
She winced at the admission and the discomfort as she carefully got to her feet and really stretched her legs for the first time in days. “How about you?” she asked Limping SEAL, but turned her attention away from him before he could answer.
It surprised her to discover Sweet SEAL was shorter than her by a full inch or more. Still, whoever had said dynamite came in small packages must have had this SEAL in mind. Height challenged or not, the man still topped the charts on the stud-o-meter. Worse, he’d placed a steadying hand on the small of her back and, jumping jelly beans, her knees nearly buckled as more heat seared through her system.
“I’m okay,” she lied to Sweet SEAL, because she was definitely far from okay. Take away Limping SEAL, put a little more soft light in the hut, add a comfy bed, remove Sweet SEAL’s clothes, and she’d be okay.
Oh, no the hell you wouldn’t.
“I’ve got it.” She smiled at Sweet SEAL and ruthlessly squashed the image of him naked, on top of her, between her legs, and positioned to slide his cock in her eager pussy. “Thanks.” She turned her attention back to Limping SEAL. “So what hurts worse, that knee or your pride?”
He didn’t answer her. Instead, he turned his attention to Sweet SEAL. “We need to move. We’ll hook up with the rest of the team at the extraction point.” Lara saw him push a button on his mic and heard him speak into it. “We’re coming out, Cabelly. Get ready to move.”
Next to her, Sweet SEAL shook his head as he gently cupped her elbow in his hand. “Where does he come up with this shit?”
Lara started to ask what he was talking about, but he fell into a conversation with the other men over his headset. She figured out he must mean Cabelly. What she couldn’t have figured out from what she got of the one-sided conversation was just how much one look at Cabelly would supremely devastate and totally awaken her already raging hormones…especially when he started to sing.