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Sworn to Protect [NOOK Book]

Overview

2011 Christy Award winner!
Border Patrol Agent Danika Morales has sworn to protect the southern borders of our nation, but that oath has cost her. Two years ago, her husband, Toby, was killed trying to help the very immigrants Danika was responsible for sending back to Mexico. His murder was never solved. But now, a recent string of attacks and arrests leads her to believe that someone in McAllen is profiting from sneaking undocumented ...
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Sworn to Protect

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Overview

2011 Christy Award winner!
Border Patrol Agent Danika Morales has sworn to protect the southern borders of our nation, but that oath has cost her. Two years ago, her husband, Toby, was killed trying to help the very immigrants Danika was responsible for sending back to Mexico. His murder was never solved. But now, a recent string of attacks and arrests leads her to believe that someone in McAllen is profiting from sneaking undocumented immigrants into the country . . . and it may somehow be tied to Toby’s death.

Winner of the 2011 Christy Award for Contemporary Romance

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Editorial Reviews

Mindy Starns Clark
With this heroine, DiAnn Mills has created a complex and compelling new character, one who will win your heart and respect. Sworn to Protect brings to vivid life the dangerous and unpredictable world of the Texas Border Patrol. Very enjoyable!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414346717
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/12/2010
  • Series: Call of Duty , #2
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 97,286
  • File size: 567 KB

Read an Excerpt

SWORN to PROTECT


By DiAnn Mills

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 DiAnn Mills
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-2051-9


Chapter One

We are truly a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. BRENT ASHABRANNER

McAllen, Texas

The Rio Grande was not just murky. It was toxic. Danika Morales respected the river's temperament-lazy and rushing, crystal and muddy, breathtaking and devastating. To many illegal immigrants, its flowing water signified hope and an opportunity for a better tomorrow, while others viewed the river crossing as a means of smuggling drugs or spreading terrorism. But for Danika, the depths meant death, and it didn't discriminate among its victims. That was why she chose a Border Patrol badge and carried a gun.

Shortly after the 8 a.m. muster, Danika snatched up the keys to the Tahoe assigned to her for the next ten hours and checked out an M4. A hum of voices, most with Hispanic accents and clipped with occasional laughter, swirled around the station. A labyrinth of sights and sounds had succeeded in disorienting her. A daze.

She took a sip of the steaming coffee in hopes no one saw how the day's date affected her. Her hands shook. The twelfth of July. The second anniversary of Toby's murder. Shethought she could handle it better than this, but the raw ache still seared her heart.

"Tough day for me too," Jacob whispered beside her. "We can get through this together." The familiar tone of voice, as in many times before, nearly paralyzed her. Jacob sounded so much like his brother.

She stood shoulder to shoulder with her brother-in-law and glanced at his muscular frame and the silver streaks in his closely cropped hair, everything about him oddly different from Toby. Gone were the gentleness, the patience, and the outstretched arms of love.

"Thanks. But I'm all right."

He frowned, a typical expression. "Well, I'm not, and you shouldn't be either."

She was in no mood to rile him today. "I miss Toby every minute of the day, but we have to move on. He would have wanted it that way."

"Not till his murderer is found." Jacob's jaw tightened. "I'm disappointed in you."

Danika took another sip of the hot coffee, burning her tongue. Caustic words threatened to surface and add one more brick to the wall dividing them. "I want the killer found too. I'm committed to it. I think about him every day and mourn for our daughter, who will never know her daddy. But I choose not to spend my time harboring hate and vengeance."

"You must not have really loved my brother."

The words cut deep, as Jacob must have known they would. No woman could have loved Toby like she did. "I refuse to be browbeaten by you anymore. Your hate is going to explode in your own backyard one day." She stopped herself before she lit a match to his temper. Actually, she'd rather have been dropped in the bush for the next ten hours with a shotgun and a can of OFF! than argue with him. But the time had come to distance herself from Jacob.

"Hey, Danika," an agent called, "do these belong to you?"

She turned to see wiry Felipe Chavez carrying a vase with a huge bouquet of roses. They remembered. She swallowed a chunk of life. "Oh, guys, you didn't have to do this."

Felipe made his way toward her. The other agents hushed; then one of them started to clap. She smiled through the tears as he handed her the clear glass vase. The sweet fragrance no longer reminded her of death, but of life and her resolve to live each day in a way that commemorated Toby's devotion to her and their little daughter. Perhaps this was what the two-year marker meant.

She took the roses and studied the small crowd of agents. Good men, all of them-even Jacob.

"We cared about what happened to Toby too," Felipe said with a grim smile.

Danika brushed her finger around one of the delicate petals and formed her words. Memories had stalked her like a demon since last night. "Don't know what to say except thank you. Toby was a soldier for his own cause, and he spent his life doing what he believed in. Just like all of us."

One agent shook his head, frowned, and left the room. Far too many explanations for his disapproval raced through her mind. But Danika needed to put the ugliness behind her.

She set the flowers on the long table in front of her. "Today is the second anniversary of Toby's death. All of you have looked after me and my daughter, especially during holidays and special occasions. His death is why I'm more dedicated than ever to help protect the border." She paused, sensing her emotions rushing into chaos. "I appreciate your remembering him and the sacrifice he made, especially since his beliefs were controversial." Enough said.

She took a deep, cleansing breath. "I brought doughnuts."

And they were buttermilk, Toby's favorite.

She glanced at Jacob, hoping to end the tension between them. How Barbara could stay married to him was beyond her comprehension. He treated her and their four kids like yesterday's trash.

Danika wound through the crowd of agents, greeting those who offered condolences and others who offered a good-morning.

The field operations supervisor, Agent Oden Herrera, stood in front of the flags-the U.S., Homeland Security, and the Border Patrol. Pushing the emotions of regret and grief about Toby aside, Danika captured the supervisor's attention. "During the muster you said intel had picked up a cocaine drop last night?"

Herrera walked to a wall map and pointed. "Like I said earlier: arrested seven men and two women right along here, your area. A kid had a small bag of cocaine on him. Most likely a deterrent. The drug smuggler either hid it before being apprehended, or he's still waiting for someone to pick him up. Dogs have been out there most of the night, but Barnett and Fire-Eater are headed that way in a few minutes."

Danika finished her coffee and made her way into the stifling heat and stopped by Jon Barnett's truck. As Fire-Eater's handler, he had everyone's admiration, and the Belgian sheepdog had a reputation for being the best of the K-9s. Barnett snapped on the dog's leash and waved.

"I hear we're working the same area today." Danika refrained from patting Fire-Eater. Some days he wasn't people friendly. After seeing the dog in action a few times when he'd found drug runners, she sometimes felt sorry for those he brought down.

Barnett grinned and wiped the sweat already beading on his face. "He's a good dog, Morales. Just needs a little help with his people skills." He laughed, his freckles deepening in the intense sun. "And he's great with the wife and kids. Like another member of the family." He pulled out his keys. "Do you want to talk? We have a few minutes."

All she really wanted was for the day to be over. Talking increased the chances of liquid emotion-which was more lethal than the river flowing between the U.S. and Mexico. "No thanks. I'm fine."

"Do you need to talk?"

"It's been two years." Therapeutic or not, she would not open up, even to a sweet guy like Barnett. She'd spent hours building a reputation as a tough agent, and she wasn't about to take a nosedive now.

"Right, and the sooner you admit that today has crept up on you worse than a case of food poisoning, the better you'll feel."

She had to agree. "Have you turned psychologist?"

"Fire-Eater and five kids taught me all I know."

"I had a dog when I was a kid," she said, looking for any subject except Toby. "Gentle, sensed my moods, smart. My best friend. Sure missed him when he was gone." Danika blinked back a tear, despising her reaction. She stared at Fire-Eater rather than look into Barnett's face.

"I bet he slept at the foot of your bed."

Fire-Eater climbed into the backseat of the double-cab truck.

"Sometimes in it. We even shared meals. I didn't like meat, and he'd eat it for me."

"Who's your best friend now?"

She swallowed the ever-increasing lump in her throat. "Toby's gone, and I have a tough time in church."

"Confession is a beginning. Any family?"

"Toby's family has been good to me." Never mind Jacob. "My folks never approved of my marriage." She sucked in a breath. It hissed like the poisonous snakes she feared. "Well-meaning friends do this to me."

"Do you feel any better?"

Sneak. "Yeah, thanks, doc. You-"

Fire-Eater barked. No doubt anxious to get moving. The animal and Jacob had similar personalities, but today she'd rather be with the dog.

* * *

Danika turned off Old Military Road and bounced along a narrow dirt and gravel path, bordered by tall, thick grass and brush and laden with prickly pears on the Rio Grande side and more thick brush on the other. Jon had radioed ahead and reported signs from last night, but nothing new. Every agent was on alert. Trouble brewed along the entire two-thousand-mile border between Mexico and the United States. Drug cartels were slaughtering innocent people in the streets, and those on the U.S. side feared it was only a matter of time before the fighting spilled over the line. Not on her watch.

She drove slowly past the few houses perched on the right side of the road, most of which had been stash houses at one time or another, havens for illegal aliens and drug smugglers. She stopped the truck beside a well-worn trail to look for recent signs in the dirt. After a generous spray of mosquito repellent on her uniform and hands, she stepped into the stifling ninety-degree heat and bent to study the hours-old footprints indicating where the illegals had gained access into Texas before being apprehended. Most of them only wanted an opportunity to better themselves, but others had a darker agenda. At least she hoped the footprints had been accounted for.

A breeze from the north fanned her face and offered a brief reprieve from the unrelenting sun. The tall grass with its thick growth waved as though mocking her commitment to the Border Patrol.

Fifteen minutes later, Barnett radioed a call for assistance.

"Spotted a man wearing a backpack near the 112 sensor. He headed into the carrizo."

Danika ran back to the truck and raced her vehicle toward Barnett's location. She wanted to tell him to wait for backup and not search through the thick grass alone, but she knew Barnett and Fire-Eater were a team and stayed on the traffic. The smuggler probably hid on a rattler's nest.

She was the first to respond to Barnett's request. Pulling in behind his truck, she unclipped her HK from her belt while radioing her arrival. She grabbed her cell phone and dialed his number.

"Barnett, I'm here," she said. "Tell me you're not in the middle of the carrizo."

He chuckled. "Fire-Eater's after him. I'm skirting it. Neither one of us is coming out until we have our man."

She pocketed her cell phone and followed the agent's footprints on the dusty road until they disappeared into the thicket. Hot as it was, the Kevlar vest felt good, even if it was worthless against a stab wound or a shotgun blast.

Fire-Eater barked, snapping Danika's attention toward the riverbank. The dog growled from somewhere in the depths of the overgrowth.

Gunfire cracked in the still morning air. Alert to the danger, she pulled her weapon.

"This is the United States Border Patrol! Come out with your hands up!" Barnett's voice roared.

Another shot fired. Fire-Eater yelped.

Blood pumping, Danika yanked out her radio. "Shots fired. Shots fired. Agent or K-9 may be down."

Two more shots pierced the air.

When Barnett didn't respond, she clicked the radio in place on her belt. "Barnett," she yelled, "tell me you're all right."

Nothing.

A dark-haired man emerged from the right side of the road several yards away, wearing a backpack that no doubt contained drugs. His attention scattered in different directions.

"Alto, o disparo," she said.

The man turned and fired at her before racing across the road. The bullet angled to her left. Danika returned the fire and sank a bullet into his thigh. He fell, and she raced toward him.

"Drop the gun, or I'll be forced to shoot again."

He kept his fingers wrapped around it. She wrestled with the rage that always seemed to lie below the surface of her control. If she killed him, she could claim self-defense. But her job title meant self-control.

"I said drop the gun." She fired above him and kept running in his direction.

He lifted his hand and aimed. Instinctively she pumped a bullet into his hand. His wound caused a burst of blood to splatter the ground and the quiet air to echo with obscenities. Still he refused to release the hold on his gun.

"Do you want your whole hand blown off?" She stood over him and clamped her booted foot over his injured hand.

He screamed, and she pointed her firearm at his face. Danika trembled. She wasn't a murderer, but anger did struggle to rule her emotions.

"You'll pay for this," the man said. "I know who you are, and there's a contract out for you."

"You aren't the first or the last to threaten me." She picked up the man's gun, an older model Beretta. With his leg and hand bleeding, he wasn't going anywhere. She slipped the handcuffs from her belt and clamped them on his wrists. Rolling him over, she brushed his bleeding leg against the hard ground, and he moaned. Where was backup? Please, let Barnett be okay. Five kids. A respected agent.

"The drug cartels will destroy the Border Patrol."

"Big talk for a man in handcuffs."

"You wait and see who wins." He spit on her boot. "You'll never find out who killed your husband."

She smothered the gasp that nearly stole her breath. How did the man know her? know about Toby's death? He clearly had inside information-information that couldn't have been obtained easily. Unless Toby's murder was related to something bigger than she had imagined.

Focus. Now was not the time to weigh the shooter's words. Later she'd look into it.

Her gaze searched the area. An outstretched arm poked through the overgrowth where the downed man had attempted to cross the road. She hurried, gun raised, eyes taking in every inch of the brush. As she grew closer, she saw the rest of Barnett's body sprawled on the trodden grass. Blood soaked the ground, creating a small puddle of red against the vibrant green. Danika bent to his side.

Barnett moaned. "He shot Fire-Eater," he whispered. "Get him."

"I have him cuffed. Hold on. Help's coming." She pulled out the radio. "Need EMS. Agent down."

She hadn't been there for Toby, but she could be there for Barnett.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from SWORN to PROTECT by DiAnn Mills Copyright © 2010 by DiAnn Mills. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 5, 2010

    Sworn to Protect is a must read!

    In Sworn to Protect, DiAnn Mills takes us inside the U.S. Border Patrol through Agent Danika Morales, a world of tension and suspense where each day men and women lay their lives on the line. Through her characters, Ms. Mills presents a well-researched and balanced view of the issue of illegal immigration with compassion, honesty and integrity for both sides through the characters and setting of her story.

    The people in this book are fully developed, well-crafted and engaging. You care about them right from the beginning. You are pulled into their stories, their dreams, their struggles. The antagonists are complete people, not stereotypes. Their true natures are not revealed until the end.

    The suspense, romantic and the Christian elements are very believable.

    This book is a definite page turner as you follow Agent Morales on duty protecting our borders, at home dealing with widowhood and a handicapped child, tentatively exploring the possibility of a romantic relationship all while her career and life are threatened by forces and people out to kill her.

    I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    Great book. Held my interest from the first page to the last.

    DiAnn Mills continues to write another captivating story. A recommend read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2012

    Loved it

    Diann Mills is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. This book was great. Good characters and very believable. I now preorder any book this author has coming out.

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  • Posted April 3, 2012

    Good read.

    Enjoyed the story with my wife. Good plot with growing relationships , mystery and clear wording. Always love a good conclusion. Surprised there were no common characters with the first book but the Call of Duty concept ties them together. Christian values are realistic and part of the character's lifestyle

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2011

    Great story - as well written as the first

    Although this is #2 of a series, you don't need to read the first book. The characters are not intertwined, each story stands by itself. Very well written! Pacing is good, characters come to life on the pages. The lead protagonist in this series is always a woman. That didn't matter to me so much but each woman is strong, real and in an action profession.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Sworn to Protect By Diann Mills

    Diann has done it again. Her novel Sworn to Protect is compelling, informative and moving. Learning about the Border Patrol and all the various aspects of the immigration issue was far more interesting through the eyes of her characters then reading dry facts.

    Just when you think you know how the mystery will be solve another twist is added to the plot. The ending leaves the reader satisfied and inspired.

    The only criticism I have of this book is the cover. Our heroine, Danika Morales is blond yet the cover pictures a dark haired beauty. Go figure!

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  • Posted May 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Sworn To Protect By Diann Mills Review

    Sworn to Protect was a thrilling book that kept me engaged till the last page. I loved it! I think that it was well written and should be read by everyone! The story is just so amazing. The things the characters go through are so hard yet they handle them well. They stuggle for forgiveness, justice, truth and anwsers. They find them but it was not how I, or they thought it would turn out. Another amazing book by Dian Mills! Can't wait to see what she writes next!!!!!!

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  • Posted May 1, 2010

    Great Book ~ Great Topic!

    This style of book is not one I would normally pick out. I'm just not a big suspense/thriller reader but as soon as I started reading this, I fell in love with it. I found it almost impossible to put down!

    The story is full of romance, intrigue, suspense and Christian faith. The characters and their relationships are realistic and moving. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was almost no blood and gore; what little there was of it was tastefully done.

    All in all...a great book!

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  • Posted April 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Border Patrol

    Thank you to CFBA and Tyndale House Publishers for my copy of this terrific suspense novel. I enjoyed this one, and I honestly hated to interrupt my reading to take time to eat or sleep.

    The writing is third-person point of view, with short chapters--which I prefer. The story seems to move along at a faster pace as I flip pages.

    The characters are all quite believable, and even a bit of romance is included. Both viewpoints of immigration are presented in a balanced manner, allowing the reader to reach to her own opinion.

    The plot is a smooth flow of heart-thumping action. I've learned such a good bit about the hard work of the Border Patrol and how our Texas borders are protected.

    Discussion questions are included. This is a suspense novel I recommend.

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  • Posted April 11, 2010

    I'd give it 4.5 stars if I could!

    This was a very good read and touching story. The pace at the beginning was a little slow for my taste, through the middle it got better, but then the end seemed a little rushed. But it was an awesome read! Like I said, I'd give it a 4.5 stars if I could!

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  • Posted April 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Who is trying to murder the border patrol agent?

    An interesting look at a different group of police, the border patrol. Well written, suspenseful, good development of characters. Although it's an area of law enforcement that isn't well publicized, I found the actions and attitudes of the characters believable. It was interesting to see that aspect of work where there would be a tug between sympathy and law-breaking, who was the real immigrant and who was the drug carrier. I learned some about the profession as well as enjoyed the suspense mystery and of course the romance.

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    Posted November 18, 2011

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    Posted March 10, 2011

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    Posted April 10, 2010

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    Posted December 7, 2011

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    Posted June 9, 2013

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    Posted November 24, 2010

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    Posted January 22, 2011

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