Home > Forged in Steele (KGI #7)

Forged in Steele (KGI #7)
Author: Maya Banks

CHAPTER 1

“STATUS,” Steele said in low tones.

His receiver crackled in his ear and P.J. Rutherford’s response was immediate.

“No shot yet. Repeat, no clear shot. Give me two minutes to reposition. I’ll get him.”

Steele’s gaze swept the guard towers and simmered with impatience. They were fifteen minutes past go time and the extrication chopper would land in forty-five. Which gave them almost no time to get in, grab the girl and get out.

He wasn’t entirely certain this chick wanted out, but her parents were paying KGI a mint to go in and wrest her from the grasp of Matteo Garza. During three days of round-the-clock surveillance, it had not appeared to Steele that Christina Westlake was in any sort of distress. She’d pranced around in a thong and bikini top and five-inch heels, laughing and smiling and looking smugly content. He just hoped to hell she was wearing sensible shoes today because running would be a bitch in the stilettos and he needed her steady on her feet.

“Make it fast, P.J.,” Steele growled. “We’re on a timetable here.”

“Cool your jets, boss man,” Cole drawled. “My girl will get the job done.”

Steele rolled his eyes, and he knew damn well P.J. was doing the same. He’d suffer more bickering from the two newlyweds as soon as the mission was completed. P.J. would remove Cole’s balls for that remark.

“Any sign of our target?” Dolphin broke in. “I haven’t seen her in half an hour. Thought she was supposed to be sunbathing at this time?”

Miss Westlake had a routine. It was one thing Steele could say for her. Dolphin, Baker and Renshaw had eagerly volunteered for the afternoon surveillance shift so they could see the leggy blonde in her thong. Not to mention she always took her top off when she sunbathed.

She was a looker, no doubt, but she didn’t do a damn thing for Steele.

“She’s late,” Baker muttered. “Which means we’ll have to find her ass when we go in.”

“I’ll go get her,” Renshaw said, an evident grin in his voice.

“Quiet,” Steele ordered. “I want radio silence until I say differently. Get the damn shot, P.J. Waiting on you to take out the guards so we can get this show on the road.”

“Done and done,” P.J. said curtly. “Both front towers are clear. Giddy up, cowboys. Let’s rope the goat and get back home.”

Cole’s chuckle echoed in Steele’s ear. “That’s my girl!”

“Move in,” Steele barked. “I want a clean in-and-out.”

Steele slid out from the blind he’d constructed, hoisted his rifle and crept through the thick shrubbery that surrounded the palatial home.

Usually for a retrieval mission, he’d go in under the cover of night, hit hard and fast and get the hell out. Garza, however, doubled his security at night, almost as if he anticipated a night raid. During the day, he employed few security men and those he had were lazy and inattentive. This should be a piece of cake.

Should be.

He’d learned better than to actually utter those damning words, and he didn’t have a superstitious bone in his body.

He was heading in a direct line to the back of the house when gunfire erupted in the distance.

“Goddamn it, what the hell is that?” he barked into his mic.

“Sorry, boss man,” Dolphin said, a huff in his breath. “Couldn’t be avoided. They know we’re here now.”

Judging by the shrieks that filled the air, Christina Westlake knew they were here too. She wouldn’t have a clue they were here to help her. She just knew bullets were flying, as was blood.

“Give us some cover, P.J., Cole,” Steele ordered. “I’m going after the girl.”

“Already cleared you a path,” P.J. said. “They’ll think the queen of bloody England is coming.”

Steele shook his head at her wit and quickly scaled the stone wall over onto the veranda by the pool. The pool where Christina Westlake was supposed to be sunbathing. The woman had to get unpredictable now of all times?

Another screech rent the air and Steele turned his head in the direction of the god-awful noise and immediately started for the steps leading to the second-floor balcony. He ducked a knife when he got to the top and rammed his shoulder into the burly guy who’d tried to ambush him.

Pain slashed through his arm and he gritted his teeth, pushing aside the discomfort as the blade sliced through skin.

When his attacker stumbled back, Steele swung the butt of his rifle up and crushed the guard’s jaw. He crumpled on the spot, hitting the floor with a resounding thud. Steele’s gaze immediately swept the area, taking in any potential threat. Another sound from inside the double glass doors caught his attention.

“Stupid bitch! Get out of my way!”

“You can’t leave me, Matteo!”

The shriek made Steele wince. Evidently Matteo wasn’t as attached to Christina as she was to him. He was bent on making his escape, but it wasn’t Matteo Steele wanted. Garza could make this as easy or as hard as he wanted. Steele would prefer as little bloodshed as possible, but he was prepared for anything.

Get the job done. Whatever it takes.

It was a creed that had damn near gotten his teammates hurt when P.J. had taken off and gone lone wolf, bent on vigilante justice.

That was done, thankfully, and now they could get back to doing what they did best. Working as a team. Kicking ass. Getting the job done.

Steele edged toward the door and then kicked it in with his boot. The door flew open and Steele grabbed his pistol with his left hand while holding his rifle with his right.

Matteo Garza whirled around, dropping the bag that he’d been stuffing full of things from the wall safe. His eyes were wild and crazed. Christina cowered, trying to insert herself between Matteo and the wall, but he was having none of that. He shoved the screaming girl in front of him and wrapped a beefy arm around her neck.

“What do you want?” he demanded hoarsely.

Steele viewed him in disgust. Using the girl as a shield. No man used a woman in such a manner.

“The girl,” Steele said calmly. “We aren’t here to harm you. Let her go and we’ll go in peace.”

Garza’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. Then he glanced at the girl in scorn.

“Did you do this?” he snarled in her ear.

“No!” she squeaked out. “Matteo, I have no idea who this man is. You have to believe me!”

“Her parents sent me,” Steele said. “Now let her go and I’ll be on my way. Or you can refuse to cooperate and I’ll take you apart. Your choice.”

Garza shoved Christina forward and she stumbled, tripping right in front of Steele. In a lightning move, he slung the shoulder harness over his arm so his rifle wouldn’t fall, and then he made a grab for her with his right hand, pain screaming up his arm as his muscles stretched the already torn flesh.

He was careful to keep his pistol trained on Garza as he collected the wriggling, protesting woman against him.

“Let me go!” she shrieked. “I don’t want to go. I’m happy here! Matteo, are you just going to let him take me?”

There was hurt and confusion in her voice. Garza was completely unaffected.

“Take the puta,” Garza bit out. “She’s nothing to me.”

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