Westin's Chase

By: Cristin Harber


He saw no point in being the leader if he couldn’t guide his men home at the end of every job. His team. His operation. And right now, his disaster. Fire exploded around Jared Westin as he rolled for cover. Gravel dug into his cheek, and branches scratched at his eyes. Acrid smoke billowed, leaving the bitter taste of accelerant on his tongue.

Radio silence was a bitch. He was fine. He would survive, despite the bite of the bullet in his calf and the shrapnel in his shoulder. His men and the rescued hostage were his concern.

Stuck on the side of a mountain in Afghanistan, he saw that his only way out was through a hostile mess of turbans and firepower. Not the best strategic position. Jared’s only comfort was knowing the released American would soon be on their helo and out of enemy fire. Rocco and Brock had hustled the guy down the side of a cliff toward the pickup zone before the firefight got bad.

Thump, thump.

The enemy’s aim was blind, but close enough to cause harm. Dirt and rocks flew at him each time the bullets found groundcover instead of flesh.

Popping up his head, Jared eyeballed the area. He had a third man in this melee. Roman remained somewhere nearby, drawing enemy fire. A flash of a grenade hit ten yards to Jared’s right, followed by Roman’s return fire. He must’ve had the same damn thought. If I’m going to die on a cliff in Afghanistan, let me do so in a pile of empty brass shells. There was no way either of them was dying without a fight.

Jared checked his super-mag clip—full, with lots of potential. Plus he had a Sig Sauer strapped to his thigh. It had a solid reputation of accuracy, and he needed those bullets to hit their mark.

Fire burned through the brush nearby, and he caught sight of his man. Roman’s shadow danced in the fiery glow cast against the rocky mountain. He was hunched against a boulder, reloading.

Jared reached into the gear pack strapped to his back. He needed something explosive. A bloody distraction. In the background, the chop, chop, chop split the night as the helicopter neared the landing zone. It was right on time, and he needed to get a move on. If not, they would be on their own.

Moving too quickly, his head spun. Blood loss must be worse than I thought. Spectacular. Jared rifled through the bag. More ammo. Two knives. And… thank the gun lords above, a handheld grenade launcher and two big-ass rounds.

Palming the launcher, he recalled the sexy woman he had to thank for this beauty. She went by Sugar. He had no idea of her last name or her real name, but, damn, he loved working with her. She handed out grenade-launching hand cannons as gifts. Now if that wasn’t a turn on…

And if this thing saved his life, he would have to come up with a decent way to say thanks for the cover.

He snapped the metal handle into place, loaded up the first 40 mm grenade, eyed Roman, and shot out a blast. The explosion ripped open a possible escape route. Jared slammed the second cartridge into place. Locked and loaded. After a nod to Roman, saying this was their chance, he let it rip.

Jared covered his face and ran toward the hellfire with his super mag firing. Brass casings spurted from his weapon, leaving a trail behind him. He pushed through the burn in his body and the pain in his leg and shoulder, ignoring the heat that seared his clothes. When his magazine clicked empty, he tossed the piece into the flames.

Behind him, pops of firepower said Roman was behind him. Jared took a harsh breath. The smoke burned his throat. Gun pulled from the holster on his thigh, he pivoted and picked off enemy tangoes. They hit with bull’s-eye precision. Sig Sauer deserved a thank you when this shit mission was done.

Their chopper hovered two hundred yards away in the pitch black night, hanging motionless off the side of the mountain. Roman was fast on Jared’s heels, and the two of them beat feet as quick as they could toward the bird.

As Jared closed in, Rocco and Brock became visible, hanging from the opening, providing cover. Bright explosions ripped through the night as bullets rained down behind them. Two rappelling ropes blew in the violent mountain wind. Hell yes!

With no time to overthink his moves, he launched over the edge of the cliff and into the inky-black abyss. He crawled through air, reaching for a lifeline. The seconds took too long. Without the ropes, he knew death was certain. A free fall down into the rocky mountain spikes meant lights-out for good.

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