Hunter's Prideñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“I don’t need anyone,”
Dev said defiantly.
Anger surged through Kulani. “You are as stubborn as a mule, Dev! Morgan said you are not to go on this mission alone. Are you in the habit of disobeying your boss’s orders?”
Kulani stood there breathing hard. Fear warred with hurt inside her. “I’m going down there with or without you. You can’t stop me from coming, but it would be better if you just agreed to let me come along. That way, if I needed you, you’d be nearby, Dev.” Her throat closed off with tears as she watched his eyes soften with her admission. “Please…I need you on this mission, Dev. Will you be there for me?”
His conscience railed at him. Kulani needed him. How long had it been since someone needed him? Swallowing hard, he grappled with her request.
Because it was tearing his heavily guarded heart wide open….
To all my readers.
Books by Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Special Edition
Captive of Fate #82
* Heart of the Eagle #338
* A Measure of Love #377
* Solitaire #397
Heart of the Tiger #434
† A Question of Honor #529
† No Surrender #535
† Return of a Hero #541
Come Gentle the Dawn #568
† Dawn of Valor #649
** No Quarter Given #667
** The Gauntlet #673
** Under Fire #679
†† Ride the Tiger #721
†† One Man’s War #727
†† Off Limits #733
‡ Heart of the Wolf #818
‡ The Rogue #824
‡ Commando #830
** Point of Departure #853
° Shadows and Light #878
° Dangerous Alliance #884
° Countdown #890
‡‡ Morgan’s Wife #986
‡‡ Morgan’s Son #992
‡‡ Morgan’s Rescue #998
‡‡ Morgan’s Marriage #1005
White Wolf #1135
? Wild Mustang Woman #1166
? Stallion Tamer #1173
? The Cougar #1179
? Heart of the Hunter #1214
? Hunter’s Woman #1255
? Hunter’s Pride #1274
Hangar 13 #27
Silhouette Intimate Moments
Love Me Before Dawn #44
Chase the Clouds #75
Wilderness Passion #134
Too Near the Fire #165
Texas Wildcat #184
Red Tail #208
Silhouette Christmas Stories 1990
“Always and Forever”
Lovers Dark and Dangerous 1994
“Seeing Is Believing”
Morgan’s Mercenaries: Heart of the Jaguar
Sun Woman #71
Lord of Shadowhawk #108
King of Swords #125
Brave Heart #171
is a practicing homeopath and emergency medical technician on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.
She comes from an Eastern Cherokee medicine family and is a member of the Wolf Clan. Dividing her energies between alternative medicine and writing, she feels books on and about love are the greatest positive healing force in the world. She lives with her husband, David, at La Casa de Madre Tierra, near Sedona.
brings you four exciting, adventure-filled missions for the rugged men of the Hunter family!
MORGAN’S MERCENARIES: THE HUNTERS
HEART OF THE HUNTER
December 1998, Special Edition #1214 A wounded, brooding marine finds his heart while guarding a vulnerable beauty.
July 1999, Special Edition #1255 A determined military man wants his woman back—and she’s carrying his child!
October 1999, Special Edition #1274 A sexy mercenary takes on a lovely partner whose passion rivals his own.
Look for the fourth book in the series,
THE UNTAMED HUNTER, in Silhouette Desire (SD #1262) in January 2000!
For those of you who’d like to read the stories featuring Morgan Trayhern and his family—and see where
MORGAN’S MERCENARIES began!—you won’t want to miss this exciting 3-in-1 volume:
LOVE AND GLORY
Would Kulani Dawson say yes? Morgan Trayhern’s hand hovered over the phone as he hesitated, his mouth pulled in a slash, his brows drawn. A month ago, he’d asked her to do some low-key detective work for him on the island of Kauai, where she lived, and she’d come through with valuable information for Perseus. Morgan knew that Kulani had done it because of their friendship, even though she no longer worked for him.
How could he make this next request of her? She would think him heartless. But Kulani had been a high-powered, ambitious woman at one time. Before the accident she’d been a highflier, and now she was living what he considered a desultory life flying tourists around her island. That was a helluva comedown from what she had been. In his gut, Morgan felt she needed the mission he was about to offer her. She needed something to bring her life, and herself, back into sharp, passionate focus once again. Besides, he had no choice. Not one damn alternative. Kulani was the best merc for this job.
With his heart wrenching, Morgan withdrew his hand from the phone and wiped his damp palm against his dark, pinstripe slacks. He didn’t try and minimize how Kulani would react to his request.
She was like a daughter to him. He hoped his own daughters would someday grow up and be a lot like her. She was a woman of incredible courage, having taken part in the Gulf War, where after being shot down, she still managed to bring her helicopter crew back to safety. And she was just a kid back then. Hadn’t even seen thirty yet. Her career in the navy had been meteoric. How lucky Morgan had counted himself in wooing her over to Perseus, afterward.
Sitting down at his desk, he felt his gut tightening. He had to make the call. Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of lives rested on it. Still, how could he do this to her? He knew the awful tragedy of Kulani’s past. After the accident, she had quit Perseus abruptly. Now she was trying to rebuild her life, and Morgan had done what he could to help her do that. She had gone home, where her heart was, to the place she had been born—Kauai, Hawaii. Morgan knew she was trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and he was about to blow it all to hell.
“Damn,” he muttered. His low, growling voice echoed around the large, walnut-paneled office. Raking his fingers through dark hair touched with silver at the temples, he fixed his gaze on the photo of Laura, his wife. Her blond hair mussed by a playful breeze, she sat on the steps of their cedar home, high in the Rocky Mountains. Their son Jason sat to her left, and their second born, Katherine Alyssa, or Katy, at her right. In Laura’s arms were their youngest children, a set of fraternal twins, Peter and Kelly. Laura had always wanted a large family, and they were certainly on their way to having just that. The twins, at eighteen months, looked like healthy little pink butterballs in Laura’s loving arms. The light shining in his wife’s eyes told him just how proud she was of them. Of him. Together, out of their love, they were creating more love in the image of their children.
Smiling a little, Morgan sighed heavily as he picked up the photo. Without his family, he wouldn’t want to live. How destitute Kulani must have felt when she lost the man she loved to such a horrifying accident. Worst of all, she had watched him die. Fingers tightening momentarily around the oak frame of the photo, Morgan could imagine all too well the trauma of losing Laura or his children. Actually, he’d nearly lost them once to vicious drug lords when he and his family had been kidnapped years ago. And how would he feel if someone called him less than a year and half after such a tragedy and asked him to go back to the very scene of the accident? To the place where his life had been ripped irrevocably apart?
He had to be some kind of unfeeling bastard to call Kulani and do just that. Would she understand? Would she be able to get past her grief in order to understand the dangerous nature of the mission he was going to speak to her about? Would she be able to see how necessary it was for him to ask her to take on such danger? How would he react to such a call? He’d tell the caller to go to hell.
Making a grab for the phone, Morgan cursed himself. Cursed his job. He was asking the impossible of Kulani. And she had every right to hate him for what he was going to ask of her.
Morgan’s fingers tightened around the phone. “Kulani? This is Morgan. How are you?”
He heard the gasp of surprise and then the pleasure in her low, soft voice. “Morgan! It’s so nice to hear from you. I’m fine.”
“Am I catching you at a bad time?” He wiped the sweat off his upper lip.
With a slight chuckle, Kulani said, “I’m having my morning Kauai coffee. I’ve got to leave for the airport in about ten minutes. To what do I owe the pleasure of hearing from you? Are the twins okay?”
How like Kulani to inquire about his children. She loved all children, which made her loss even more devastating. With the man she’d hoped to marry gone, Morgan didn’t know if she’d ever have children of her own. His heart pounding, he continued, “The twins are fine. And so are Laura, Jason and Katy. My call is business, Kulani.”
“Oh.” Her voice fell flat. “I got you the information you asked for on that professor.”
“Yes, the information you got us was vital. And I’m grateful.” He hesitated, thought to hell with it and dove in. “I need your help again, Kulani.”
“Morgan…” she pleaded softly, “I don’t want—”
“Please, Kulani, hear me out. You’re the only one who can help us. And if there was anyone else I could ask to take this mission, believe me, I would.”
“A mission? I don’t work for Perseus anymore, Morgan. I’m done with that part of my life.”
The raw desperation in her voice gutted him. “Just hear me out, Kulani. That’s all I ask,” he pleaded, clenching the phone.
The silence was serrating. Finally, Kulani whispered, “I’ll listen, Morgan, but I won’t change my mind. I can’t….”
Heartened, Morgan began what he hoped was a story that would make her change her mind. Sweat beaded on his wrinkled brow. He didn’t have much time, so he made his description of the planned mission succinct. When he was finished, he halted abruptly. Wiping his upper lip again with the back of his hand, he said in a rasping voice, “Now you see why I need you, Kulani. You’ve done the preliminary work on the professor, anyway. You’re familiar with the territory. Only you can do this.” He held his breath.
Over the phone line he heard Kulani sob once. “Damn you, Morgan! I can’t. How could you even think of asking me? It’s just too much.” Her voice cracked. “Too much!”
The phone line went dead. Morgan hissed a curse and gently placed the receiver back in the cradle. Kulani’s cry squeezed his heart. Only the sound of Laura’s tears could make him feel worse. And now he’d wounded Kulani—again. On purpose, though his motives had been pure. Patriotic. So many lives were at stake. And he needed her. So why did he feel like the worst kind of turncoat son of a bitch?
Looking angrily around the office, Morgan picked up the phone. “Get me Dev Hunter,” he ordered his assistant heavily. “Now, please.”
“Morgan, I hope you’ve called me in for an assignment. I’m bored as hell.” Devlin Hunter stretched his hand toward the big man who sat behind the wooden desk in the secluded office. Perseus, the covert branch of the CIA that Dev worked for and Morgan headed, had gone underground since Morgan, his wife and son had been kidnapped years ago. Instead of being in Washington, D.C., its original “home,” Perseus was now located in a tiny, sleepy community of Philipsburg, Montana.
Morgan grinned sourly and gripped the younger man’s hand. “Oh, I think I have something that will unglue you from your boredom, Dev.” He pointed to a large leather wing chair to the left. “Have a seat.” Morgan noticed that Dev, although casually dressed, still wore designer clothing, as was his penchant. Of the four Hunter brothers, all of whom worked for Perseus, Dev was the clotheshorse among them. Plus, in Morgan’s opinion, Dev was the only one of them with the kind of model-handsome looks that seemed to attract women like bees to honey.
Dev sat down on the edge of the chair, relaxed but alert. Folding his large square hands between his opened thighs, he waited expectantly as Morgan took his seat and opened the file that sat in front of him. Maybe it was Dev’s imagination, but Morgan looked more tired than usual. His black hair, cropped short and always military neat, had more silver at the temples. Despite that, however, Morgan looked just as fit as ever. Dev knew his boss worked out at the gym daily as if he were still in the Marine Corps, which he’d left a long time ago. When Dev was between assignments, he ran five miles with Morgan most mornings along dirt roads in the area, among huge, fragrant Douglas fir.
“I hope it’s a good assignment,” Dev said. “To tell you the truth, I’m getting flabby.” He patted his hard gut with a grin. Dev, too, worked out conscientiously at the underground gym that was available for Perseus employees. Morgan had had a condominium built in Philipsburg to house incoming and outgoing Perseus employees. To the outsider, it looked like a time-share facility for vacationers coming to the magnificent Rocky Mountain area of Montana. Morgan was very good at camouflaging things to protect his people and to protect his own family from global enemies who wanted to see Perseus and everyone associated with it destroyed.
He thumbed through a number of e-mail messages lying near the file, his thick, black-and-silver brows dipped in concentration. His mouth tightened momentarily and then he raised his craggy head and met Dev’s intelligent gaze. On the surface, Dev Hunter looked less the mercenary and more like a Wall Street broker. And he always wore a lopsided grin, the left corner of his mouth slightly hitched upward, as if he knew a joke that no one else did. It wasn’t a sarcastic smile, more one of a playful imp from Ireland. Dev Hunter’s easygoing nature was one of the things Morgan liked about him. And in this forthcoming assignment, Dev’s charm and laid-back personality were going to be tested to the limits—and then some. Morgan wasn’t even sure Hunter would take the assignment, but he was prepared to apply a lot of pressure on him to do so. Inhaling deeply, Morgan considered his words carefully. He knew that, in order to get Hunter lured into the assignment, presentation was everything. Morgan prided himself on knowing his people—what snagged their attention, what connected with their passion in life, what made them want to undertake a mission.
“Take a look at this,” he told Dev in a casual tone as he picked up a color photograph and handed to him.
Frowning, Dev took the large photo. “Hey, this is some looker,” he rasped as he sat back, his gaze riveted on the picture. It showed a woman in a Hawaiian grass skirt and a bright red halter top, her wrists and ankles surrounded by garlands of pale pink plumeria, her arms raised skyward as she swayed gracefully on a golden beach, the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean behind her. Her black hair, shining with blue highlights, was encircled with a wreath of white plumeria and greenery, which set off her dusky gold complexion and warm black eyes. Her gaze, too, was turned heavenward, her full lips, a ripe pink color, parted, as if she were caught up in some sacred dance with the spirits of nature and the mighty, placid blue ocean that lovingly framed her.
Dev’s gaze moved in appreciation over her tall, lithe body. One of her knees peeked out from the grass skirt, parting the yellowish strands and displaying her long calf and delicate bare foot. Her exquisitely long fingers curved upward in honor of the sky she danced beneath. Her arms, firm and slender, arced gracefully above her head, as if in tribute to the golden sun that embraced her. She was small breasted, her torso long and her hips slender beneath the flowing grass skirt.
As his gaze moved to her face, he felt a wrenching in his chest. That caught him off guard. Hunter was used to being around attractive women. He drew them like sunlight opened flowers. It was his gift, he supposed. Certainly, his other brothers did not possess the charisma he had with women. But something about this woman moved him as no one had before. He studied her features—the square face with high cheekbones, the dark black brows arching above her wide, shining eyes. Everything about her shouted of aristocracy, from the fine thin nose to the confident way she held herself as she danced the hula. Dev had been to Hawaii a number of times, and because of his curiosity about other cultures, he’d learned quite a bit about the traditional dance. It was a sacred custom among the Hawaiian people, not the touristy thing that visitors thought it was. And there was no doubt the woman dancing in this photo was moving in a deeply sacred communion with the unseen.
Releasing a low whistle, he raised his chin and pinned Morgan with his gaze. “Tell me she’s my mission.”
Smiling a little, Morgan said, “She’s half of it.”
Dev sat up expectantly. His hands tingled as he held the photo, and he was amazed once again at his reaction to the woman pictured there. She looked like an ancient Hawaiian princess—or maybe the daughter of the fire goddess, Pele. “Okay…you got my attention. Is she my tango?”
Morgan smiled to himself. Tango, a military term that meant target, was used to identify the person a mercenary would be protecting. “No,” he said slowly, “she’s your partner.” Steeling himself, he saw Dev’s expression go first, to surprise and then to mild shock before he set his jaw firmly. Hunter was a loner among the elite personnel of Perseus; he didn’t work with a partner. He never had—until now.
Glancing briefly down at the photo, Dev bit back an automatic “No.” He knew Morgan too well, and he sensed his boss was trying to trap him into taking the mission by showing him an incredibly beautiful woman. Morgan knew a pretty face was Dev’s Achille’s heel. Anger sparked within Dev and tension ran through him momentarily. Yet, as he looked at the photo, those shining eyes filled with such life and awe, he found his anger dissolving. That shook him. No woman had ever had that kind of hold on him. He took that back—one had, but not to this powerful degree at first glance—and that relationship had ended up in a disaster of untold proportions that haunted him to this moment.
“What’s her name?” he demanded gruffly.
Morgan was surprised. He’d expected Hunter to instantly put up a fight and flatly turn down the assignment. Something must have captured his attention. Smiling to himself, Morgan answered, “Kulani Dawson.”
“Kulani…” Dev muttered, more to himself than to Morgan. He repeated the name over and over in his mind. The funny thing was, his heart pounded a little bit every time the word spun through the halls of his mind. Was he just having a purely male response to this photo of her? She was stunning looking. More ethereal than real to Dev. He wanted her. For him it was that primal, that straightforward. Yes, it had to be his desire for her that had caught him off guard. That was all.
“Kulani used to work for us. She’s a helicopter pilot,” Morgan continued. “She was one of the first women to fly helos in the U.S. Navy. I found out about her, managed to convince her to leave her military career behind and work for us.” His voice grew sad. “A little over a year and a half ago, she quit. She runs her own tourist helicopter service over on Kauai now.”
Dev grinned cockily. “This is one helluva dessert to be putting on my plate.” He placed the photo back on Morgan’s desk. “You know I don’t do partners. And even though I’m intrigued, I’m not changing my mind about how I operate.”
Holding up his scarred hand, Morgan said, “Hear me out first, Dev, before you make a final decision.”
Shrugging his broad shoulders, Dev replied, “You’re the boss. What’s up?”
Becoming grim, Morgan said, “Your brother Ty and the team from the Organization of Infectious Diseases—OID—confirmed that a genetically altered form of anthrax was sprayed upon an unsuspecting Juma Indian village south of Manaus as a ‘test’ case for Black Dawn, the international terrorist group.”
“Damn,” Dev whispered painfully. “I didn’t know the details. I suspected what was going on, but Ty didn’t say for sure.”
“He couldn’t. This is top secret information. But it’s been confirmed through five different governmental agencies, including our own. It’s only a matter of time until Black Dawn picks a top event target.”
“Like delivering anthrax by air over a major city?”
“Yes, and probably a U.S. city—that’s our best, educated guess.” Morgan tapped the pile of e-mail messages on his desk. “But we’ve got a lead. A strong one. And I hope this isn’t a wild-goose chase this time. The light plane used to deliver the aerosol spray over the Juma village in the Brazilian jungle had numbers on the side of the fuselage. We were able to trace those numbers.”
Dev’s brows shot up. “That was a pretty basic mistake on Black Dawn’s part not to disguise or change the lettering on the plane.”
Morgan agreed. “No plan, no matter how carefully thought up, is without mistakes and screwups. And this is theirs.”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî