Blind Fury (Men of Steele Book 1)

By: Gwen Hernandez

For my husband.

You’re the reason I believe in love and “happily ever after.”





CHAPTER ONE





IN THE LAND OF DUST and sand, things got messy when it rained. Mick Fury’s boots made sucking sounds in the mud left behind by a morning shower as he strode along the graffiti-covered blast wall that ran the perimeter of Kandahar Airfield.

He kept pace with Rob Ryan, ignoring the kerosene scent of jet fuel assaulting his nose as they headed to meet up with their Claymore Security teammates. They were scheduled to train local police recruits in tactical shooting techniques today. A worthy exercise if the trainees stayed alive long enough to use their new skills. Unfortunately, cops in Afghanistan were one of the Taliban’s favorite targets.

Rob waggled a large rip-proof envelope addressed to his sister in Virginia. “Let me drop this in the mail on our way.”

They detoured to the makeshift post office. “Did I forget Jenna’s birthday or something?” Mick asked.

“Have you ever remembered it?” Rob ribbed him.

Actually, he had. Every year. November twenty-fifth.

“No,” Rob said when he didn’t answer. “It’s just some notes and stuff that I don’t have room for in my bag.”

“So you’re really not coming back?” A lead weight settled on Mick’s chest. He and Rob had been best friends and teammates for twelve years. They’d had each other’s backs through boot camp, pararescue training, and now at Claymore. If Rob left in two weeks like he planned, then Mick would be left here with only his friend Dan Molina and a bunch of assholes, the kind who thrived in an industry where the rules of civilization didn’t apply.

The brotherhood he’d experienced in the Air Force—putting the members of the team above all else—had been hard to find in the world of private security contracting. Any one of them could walk away at any time, and some of the guys were outright criminals who’d never be allowed to carry a gun in the States.

“I’m really not coming back,” Rob said, stuffing the envelope into a slot in the shipping containers that masqueraded as a post office. “And you shouldn’t either.”

It was an old argument. The constant stress, the poor management, and the barren surroundings chafed like a tight shoe. But there was no substitute for the adrenaline rush. There was something about cheating death that made him feel alive like nothing else could.

“What else can I do?” Mick asked. “Every time we go home, I’m happy for about two weeks. And then it all starts to seem so pointless, so boring.” And quiet. There was nothing worse than being left alone with his thoughts. At least here in this hellhole he knew without a doubt that he was good for something.

Rob shoved his hands in his front pockets and rubbed a heel in the mud while they waited for the others to show up. “You think I don’t feel the same way? But every time I leave, the look in Jenna’s eyes nearly rips my heart out. I can’t do that to her anymore.”

Mick knew that look. Had memorized it long ago, along with everything else about the one woman who was off limits to him…and not just because Rob had threatened to permanently end his sex life if he tried anything.

He couldn’t toy with the heart of a woman who’d suffered so much already. Jenna was the kind of girl you married and took home to Mom. Not Mick’s usual type. She was smart and sweet, hardly a seductress. But somehow he couldn’t get her pale, almost-gray eyes and schoolgirl freckles out of his head.

“What will you do?” he asked Rob, bringing himself back to the ugly reality of Afghanistan. “I can’t see you settling down to a desk job and a white picket fence.”

Rob laughed, but the humor didn’t reach his eyes. “Screw that. I was talking to Dan, and he knows a guy who’s a flight medic for one of those MedEvac helicopters. They also do search and rescue missions. I’ll have to go to school first, but it’ll be worth it. It will be like being in the PJs again, but without anyone shooting at you.”

“Then where’s the thrill?” Mick asked, not entirely joking. He plastered on his trademark carefree smile and tapped his rifle. He never should have left pararescue, but the money he’d been offered to join Claymore had been impossible to resist.

His friend shook his head. “Just think about it, okay?”

“Sure.” He’d think about it. In fact, he already thought about it almost daily. Jesus, why couldn’t he be normal? When he was here, he wanted to go home—drive his new Camaro, flirt with girls, party with his friends; and when he was back in Virginia he could hardly stand it. The tedium and pettiness of Stateside life was suffocating. At least things made sense here.