“We should have put a bullet in that asshole’s body for every woman we found in his basement before we killed him.” Lucas’s low, angry voice echoed through the unusually silent van we were riding in.
I could not blame him for his disgust. I wished we had filled the deranged pervert with a hundred bullet holes, made him look like bloody swiss cheese. Circumstances required us to do otherwise, though, to save an innocent life.
We had closed in on a Russian diplomat’s house, taking out his security team, and then infiltrated his residence, looking for a kidnapped woman supposedly sold to him as a sex slave.
What we had found as we descended into his expansive, custom-made dungeon was the stuff of nightmares. It was a literal playground for a twisted man who lived to inflict pain and suffering on others for his own satisfaction. Metal chains and shackles hung from ceiling beams and were also bolted to the floor in a few places. A Saint Andrew’s cross sat in the corner, covered in blood splatters, the shades ranging from a fresh red to a dried dark brown. The amount of blood on the piece of equipment was sickening. Pulling my eyes away from the ominous cross, I crept stealthily along after my teammates.
Along the back wall hung a comprehensive collection that made my stomach roll. Whips, crops, floggers, chains, ball gags, restraints, dildos, and a number of other things that I didn’t recognize, nor did I want to know what they were.
The area was expansive enough that we had to split up into two teams. I went left, following Riley and Arturo, while Lucas, Jaxon, and Chase went right.
As I passed one of the couches towards a hallway on the left, I saw a bridle and butt plug with an attached tail to it. Apparently, someone was into pony play.
I was never going to be able to look at the horses on my dad’s farm the same way again.
Without an in depth inspection of the residence, the only things we could see were all of those implements that had been meant for pleasure yet had been turned into something deviant and ugly. What the fuck would we have found if we dug deeper?
I didn’t want to find out.
No, I wanted to get in, see if our missing woman was still alive to be rescued, and then get the fuck out and go home to my woman—my very pregnant woman who had been way more understanding than I had expected when I disappeared for weeks at a time during the last four months while working these missions. What kept me going during the mission was the thought that, the faster we found the woman, the faster I could get home. It was the only thing that kept me from waging my own bloody path of destruction in my search for the sort of monster who would torture women that way.
When we had gone nearly to the end of the hallway, the sound of flesh slapping flesh reached our ears from the last doorway on the right. Riley tried to quietly turn the doorknob yet found it locked and ended up kicking it open instead. I had barely made it into the room when the situation deteriorated to life or death.
Our target had grabbed the woman he had been abusing and pulled her in front of him as a human shield with a knife against her throat. That knife of his had evidently been very busy before we arrived.
The woman he held was covered in weeping cuts, a red trail from her breasts to her thighs. The scary part about her obvious torture was that the tears streaming down her face were silent. She didn’t even whimper when he roughly hauled her by her hair in front of him to save his sorry hide. It was as if he had trained her to keep her misery to herself. Anyone who had lived through that kind of hell didn’t deserve to die when freedom was standing right in front of them.
For a few seemingly endless seconds, I looked into the woman’s green gaze, seeing only my wife.
My gorgeous Belle had been kidnapped eight months prior by a ruthless cartel drug lord we had been investigating for black market weapons deals. Belle still carried scars from a mad man’s knife, much like the silent, defeated woman in front of me would carry for the rest of her life.
As I watched between one blink and the next, Riley took the kill shot, splattering half of our subject’s head on the wall behind him. The woman collapsed to the floor in a heap of sobs; however, those cries had not been ones of sorrow. No. With a look of relief shining in her eyes, she shed tears of joy. Of freedom.
It had taken four months—four long months —to track down the women a Cuban Don named Lazaro Sandoval had sold over the last couple of years. It had not been easy, but with this mission, we had finally ended our recovery of the women. One by one, we had located them, dead or alive.
To our dismay, most of the women had been found dead. Their bodies were buried or burned to ash by their tormentors and left somewhere in a place their owner thought would never be discovered. The only reason we had found their remains was because Arturo was creative with that knife of his. It didn’t take long after he took it out and the blood started flowing before each of the men started sobbing the information we were looking for.
Thankfully, Sandoval had only been a seller in the sex slave underground for a couple of years. In that time, however, he had documented the transactions of over a hundred thirteen women, all of which we would have never known about had it not been for Brett ‘Ice’ Grady. He was a former Green Beret who had worked with Lucas. He was the President of the Regulators Motorcycle Club that owned strip clubs, one of which ran a small time brothel out of the back in Miami, Florida. Although, Riley had confided to me after our mission in Miami that he suspected Ice, and possibly the rest of the Regulators, were a hell of a lot more than just outlaw bikers.
Almost a year’s worth of investigation had finally come to a close tonight. An investigation that had started with Belle in Texas, working as an ATF agent on a black market weapons case. If not for Belle’s kidnapping by the Mexican Cartel leader Rivera, the Ex Ops team would have never stumbled on the sex slave ring.
That mission had almost cost me the life of my woman.
From there, we had been led to Ice in Miami, where Riley, Lucas, and Declan had gone undercover to pose as members of the Regulators MC. That leg of the mission had cost us the lives of two of our teammates and put Declan temporarily bedbound with a spinal injury. We ended up leaving Miami to head back to our headquarters in Virginia to bury our dead and regroup without catching the man responsible for both our losses and the missing women.
Ice and his boys had stepped in to figure out the rest. If not for them, we would have been delayed getting the information on the kidnapped women who had needed to be rescued for far too long.
Now it was over, and I could breathe a sigh of relief. I prayed that I would never have to look into another terrified woman’s face again, imagining that was what my fiancée had felt while being held hostage. I had nightmares over almost losing her. And Belle had nightmares over almost dying and leaving our teenage son Seth behind. Between the two of us, we could keep a psychiatrist busy for years. However, instead of going to a head doctor, I chose to show my fiancée and son how much I loved them every day that I was with them. The rest of it would heal with time.
I looked back over to Lucas, who still sat seething over the traumatized and violated women we had rescued out of the Russian diplomat’s house. Besides the woman we had initially saved when Riley had killed the bastard, there had been another nine malnourished women in cells on the side of the house that the other half of the team had split off to cover.
“They’re safe now, man. We pulled them from certain death, and now they have a second chance at life. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put this mission behind me. The faster we go back to taking out terrorists, the closer I get to leavin’ all of this behind,” I told Lucas.
He nodded his head. “You’re right. I just can’t help thinking of my little sister every time we find these women. Won’t tell you how bad it fucked with my head when we didn’t find them alive.”
“I know exactly what you mean. Made me relive pulling Belle’s half dead body out of Mexico, and I see that shit enough in my sleep. It never leaves me.”
Lucas leaned his head back against the interior of the van. “Fuck. I can’t imagine what I would have done if that had been my girl. You’re right; we need to go back to blowin’ up the bad guys.”
The sound of an irregular beep caught my attention. I turned my head towards the sound to see my Commander pulling a secured satellite phone from his pocket. Jaxon got a weird look on his face as he glanced at the ringing device and then answered the phone.
“Uncle Sam, I hadn’t expected to hear from you while I was on vacation.”
Translation: What the hell are you doing calling me while I am still on a mission?
He was silent for a moment before his brows furrowed and he frowned. “That package isn’t due for another month. Are you sure it’s about to be delivered?”
The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and my gut churned. The look on my Commander’s face was not good. Suddenly, I had a bad feeling that I was not going to like what he had to say. When he glanced in my direction, I knew I was right to be worried.
“Understood. We’ll rush back so we can be home to sign for the delivery.”
Jaxon flipped his phone shut and then tapped on the small, tinted window that separated the back of the van where we were hiding from the cab our driver sat in. The window slid open, a few clipped Russian words were exchanged between Jaxon and the driver, and then the sliding window slammed shut again. Unexpectedly, the van sped up, and we had to grab on to the edge of the benches to avoid sliding into each other when the driver took a sharp right turn.
Not liking the sudden change in both my Commander and the speed the van was traveling, I leaned towards the man in charge. “What’s going on, Jaxon?”
“It’s time to get you home, Baker.” The matter-of-fact statement, paired with his deadly serious expression, made my stomach sink. Then a slow smile spread across his face until I didn’t think he could possibly grin any wider. “Apparently, your baby girl is on the way.”
Copyright © 2015 Jessie Lane.
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