Jesse Warrick used to consider himself a kickass medic, but a teammate
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Friday, July 24
La Trinité, Martinique
In a moment of blinding clarity, Dr. Tiffany Peters knew she was dying.
It didn't scare her. The macabre had fascinated her throughout her life, and her death was no different. The clinical part of her brain reeled off the symptoms of death, and her body was checking every box. She wished she could document what was happening. Doctors and scientists had spent centuries trying to understand death. She wished she could tell someone how it felt, but when she opened her mouth, no sound escaped.
The hotel room around her swam in and out of focus, and each breath was a chore, like an elephant sat on her chest. Her belly felt full. She bet if she cut herself open, she'd find a whole lot of blood in there.
She was so damn cold.
A bullet to the stomach wasn't how she'd expected her life to end. Tiffany wasn't a particularly adventurous person. She liked routine, and was okay with sticking to her little corner of the globe and viewing the rest of it through the viruses she saw under her microscope. In a few months, she was supposed to get married — though now she knew that would've been a mistake. She'd planned to have a couple of kids. Maybe win some recognition for her work in virology. She always figured she'd live long enough to see her grandchildren grow up, then die old and frail like most people.
Never in her wildest dreams had she expected to be hemorrhaging internally on a hotel bed in a five-star Caribbean resort during a hostage situation.
Funny how only one week could change so much.
A flash of movement at the foot of her bed caught her attention, and she blinked to clear her vision. Someone was pacing there. A young man with a mean, hard-edged face and cold eyes. She remembered him, the kid with the orange sneakers. He was part of the group of people trying to keep her alive, but he was different from the rest of them. He was trouble.
"This whole thing is fucked," he said, and it took her a long moment to realize he wasn't speaking to her, but into a cell phone. "I warned Briggs this was a bad idea, but he's lost his goddamn mind and taken the whole fucking hotel hostage. Dr. Peters is dying. Dr. Oliver is MIA. And HORNET is everywhere."
Hornet? Like the bug? What did that have to do with anything? But one thing he said did make sense to her.
Dr. Oliver is MIA.
Claire Oliver, her best friend and research partner, had somehow escaped this hotel of horrors. Claire was safe. She was okay. Tiffany grasped the thought, held it tight, and something loosened inside her. Another tether holding her to life snapped free.
The kid in the orange sneakers stopped pacing at the foot of her bed and stared at her. His features showed no concern, no empathy, nothing but mild annoyance. He noticed she was awake and met her gaze. She thought his eyes cold, but they weren't even that. They were dead, with no flicker of humanity on the other side. She thought she'd seen evil before — the man who had shot her less than six hours ago had certainly seemed evil at the time. But she was wrong. That man had been a human making bad decisions. This kid was a psychopath.
"Sir," he said evenly into the phone, all the while holding her gaze. "If I mop up this mess, it's over. My cover will be blown."
He meant kill her. Would he find Claire and kill her, too? Oh God, and there was no way to warn her.
Tiffany tried to sit up, but she barely had the strength to lift her head. She opened her mouth, tried to call out, to warn someone, but all that came from between her dry lips was an inhuman moan. Even though she was dying and could feel her body shutting down one process at a time, she still had to try. For Claire's sake.
"Yes, sir," the kid said and then pocketed the phone. He shook his head and produced a gun.
This was it, she realized. He'd pull the trigger, and she'd be gone before she even registered the pain. She turned her head slightly, looking for the door, praying nobody walked in and got caught in the crossfire. There was no help for her, but if she could save someone else ...
Except she and the kid weren't alone in the room. On the queen bed next to hers lay an unconscious blond man in a bloodstained New Orleans Saints T- shirt. She remembered him. Jean-Luc? She'd heard someone call him that during one of her bouts of consciousness. He'd rescued her from the floor of the hotel's lobby, had brought her here, to safety in this room. And now he'd die, too. All for helping her.
She looked at the kid again and choked out, "Please, don't."
"Sorry," he said, not sounding the least bit sorry. "You've outlived your usefulness, Dr. Peters."
Yeah, that's what he thought.
Tiffany sucked in a lungful of air and screamed with everything she had left in her. The sound that tore from her throat was raw, ragged, primal.
It was the last thing she ever did and, in the split-second before the bullet struck, she hoped it was enough to save the blond man.
One Week Earlier
Friday, July 17
Where the hell was his son?
Jesse Warrick took off his Stetson and shielded his eyes against the afternoon glare of the hot Wyoming sun as he scanned the land around the barn. He knew Connor was awake. He'd hoisted the kid out of bed himself — and, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, why was the boy in bed at three in the afternoon anyway? — but now Connor was nowhere to be seen.
Ever since Jesse's ex-wife had shipped their fifteen-year-old son to the ranch, Connor had been nothing but a pain in the ass. Lacy had all but given up on their son as a lost cause after his most recent run-in with Las Vegas law enforcement. She'd made it clear that she didn't particularly care if he came back because he was "corrupting" her younger children. As if those kids' well-being was somehow more important than her oldest child.
Classic Lacy behavior. As soon as the road got a little bit bumpy, she bailed and went in search of greener pastures. That was exactly what had happened to their marriage. Jesse had really meant his vow of "till death do us part." Lacy had meant something more along the lines of "till I find a better alternative." And she had. Her current husband owned a casino and a couple hotels.
But shipping her son away? It was a new low for her.
And he still hadn't figured out how to break it to Connor.
Not that Connor was even talking to him at the moment. And even if he were suddenly in a chatty mood, Jesse wouldn't be able to have a rational conversation. The kid had been tap-dancing on his last nerve for weeks. Sulking, mouthy, defiant, stubborn, and too damn proud for his britches. Connor had all of Jesse's and his ex-wife's worst qualities.
God help them.
Jesse drew a long, slow breath to combat the temper heating the back of his neck and resettled his hat on his head. Well, there was work to be done whether or not Connor showed up for his chores. He walked into the barn, grabbed a pitchfork, and got to work mucking out the horse stalls. He lost himself in the task until his muscles burned and sweat dripped down the side of his face. The ranch — and the physical labor that came hand in hand with it — was his happy place, and he was in desperate need of some happy these days. Especially since he was still coming to grips with the fact he would never have an MD after his name. No med school wanted a former Army medic with a less-than-honorable discharge under his belt. He'd received another rejection just this morning.
At the sound of his name, Jesse straightened with another scoop of dirty hay on his fork and found Gabe Bristow standing in front of the open stall. "Hey, boss." He dumped the load in a wheelbarrow, then propped the pitchfork against the wall and stepped out of the stall. "I thought you were meetin' us in Martinique."
Gabe inclined his head. "That was the original plan, but I wanted to check things out around here. Quinn's kept me up to date on the training facility. It's not the same as seeing for myself."
The facility, planted on a stretch of land bordering Jesse's ranch, was a new project for HORNET and, save for a few small-time missions, had been the team's main focus. "You know Quinn. He has that place runnin' like a well- oiled machine."
"Yeah, I'm sure he does." Gabe hesitated a beat, then added, "How has he been? Any issues with the mandatory medical checks?"
"Nope. He still don't like 'em, but he doesn't complain." Quinn, the team's XO, had a traumatic brain injury that he'd done his damnedest to hide until their last mission had forced him to reveal it. Since then, he'd had surgery to correct the blackouts he'd been dealing with and was under orders to undergo a monthly physical.
Gabe cracked a smile. "Mara's doing?"
"My guess." Jesse still wasn't 100 percent comfortable with his baby cousin and Quinn together, but there wasn't much he could do about the relationship at this point. Quinn and Mara were planning a fall wedding, had a ten-month-old daughter together, and now Mara was heavily pregnant with their son. Not that he wanted to break them up. Mara was good for Quinn, and they were goofily in love. Just wasn't a comfortable thing to think too much about.
Jesse swiped off his hat and mopped the sweat from his forehead with his arm, taking those few seconds to study Gabe with his practiced medic's eye. Gabe had been wounded during a mission a year and a half ago. They'd nearly lost him, and then he'd been wheelchair bound for close to a year. Now he was walking again with his usual cane, which he'd always had due to a previous injury. He wasn't nearly as muscular as he'd been, but he'd regain that in time with training. Other than the weight loss, he looked the picture of health. Still ...
"What about you? How are you feelin'?"
Jesse'd never say it to Gabe's face, mainly because Gabe wouldn't have wanted to hear it, but he'd been worried about the man. Especially during the months Gabe had been stuck in a wheelchair. Former SEALs like him made the worst patients, and for a while, when doctors were telling him he may not walk again, he'd withered to a husk of his former self. Almost as if he wanted to give up, which was completely unlike Gabe "Stonewall" Bristow. Depression had been a mighty weight around the big guy's shoulders until one day he'd suddenly thrown himself into his rehabilitation with the same single-minded determination that had seen him through SEAL training. Jesse didn't know what had prompted the sudden change, but suspected Gabe's wife Audrey had lit a fire under his ass.
Audrey should be sainted for that because the man standing in the barn now was a complete one-eighty from what he'd been at this same time last year.
"I'm, uh, good." Gabe changed the subject fast, as he always did when someone brought up his brush with death. "There's something Quinn and I would like to talk about if you have some time to swing by the facility this evening."
"I was plannin' on it. Mara invited me for supper."
"Good. See you then."
Jesse replaced his hat on his head and watched Gabe leave. What was that all about? Despite the usual hitch in his giddy up, he appeared to be moving painlessly again, carrying himself like a man once again comfortable in his own skin.
Huh. Gabe had never been the type to beat around the bush, so the fact he didn't come right out with whatever was on his mind was puzzling. Guess he'd find out soon enough.
Jesse grabbed the pitchfork and returned to mucking out the stall. He had five more to do before supper since his son had disappeared on him. He didn't mind the labor. It cleared his head like nothing else could, but the fact Connor had shirked his chores once again rankled. The kid was going to learn some goddamn responsibility if it killed him.
Frustrated with it all, Jesse stabbed at the hay a little too hard and the pitchfork stuck in the wood floor, jarring him all the way up to his teeth.
"Whoa, cowboy. The floor's already dead. If you want to kill something —"
Figured. How was it the one person he'd done his damnedest to avoid always seemed to find him? He didn't bother glancing over at Elena Delcambre, his cousin Mara's best friend, who had somehow managed to become the only female member of HORNET. And had been a massive thorn in his side ever since. He scooped up more hay. "Are you offerin' up yourself?"
Lanie snorted and leaned a shoulder against the stall door. "You'd like to stab me, wouldn't ya?"
He would, but not in the way she meant. Ever since she'd talked her way onto the team, he'd wanted nothing more than to fuck her — an urge he viciously fought. He'd first met Lanie when she was his son's age. She'd visited the ranch for a summer with Mara, and she'd been all long, gangly limbs, with frizzy hair and braces. He wanted to keep that image of an awkward teenage girl front and center in his head, because if he saw her as the woman she was now, he'd end up doing things he'd most definitely regret.
The darkness that had consumed him after Delta Force kicked him out was always hovering right there, a ghost at the edge of his consciousness, waiting to devour him. And now, after three failed marriages, he'd learned nothing ever stuck, not even the people who were supposed to love you. Every loss took a little piece of him with it. And he had so very little of himself left to give. He was done. No more women. No matter how appealing this particular one was.
"Hey," Lanie said and straightened. There was a note of concern in her voice. "What's up with you? You're not taking jabs at me like usual."
Sighing, he forked up another mound of fresh hay from a nearby pile and shook it out across the floor of the stall. "Gabe was here."
"Yeah?" She took hold of the wheelbarrow full of dirty hay and pushed it down to the next stall in line, then grabbed another pitchfork. She never shied away from dirty work, whether in the barn or behind enemy lines, and it was something he'd always admired about her. "I thought he was meeting us in Martinique next weekend. What did he want?"
"He said he and Quinn want to talk to me about somethin'."
"That's ... cryptic. Weird."
It was. "Probably about the trainin' exercise."
She paused from scooping out the stall and grinned over at him. "That's going to be fun."
"You're just lookin' forward to a weekend at Tuc Quentin's resort when it's over."
"Well, duh. Who doesn't look forward to island time? I'm gonna break out my little red bikini and catch some rays while sipping on a coconut drink."
He scoffed. "You can be such a girl sometimes."
"I am a girl. No, wait —" She straightened and peeked down the front of her tank top. "No, yeah, they're still there. Definitely female. Whew."
The move drew Jesse's gaze to her chest and his throat dried up like he'd swallowed a mouthful of sawdust. Yes, definitely female. The woman had curves in all the right places ... a fact he worked hard to forget. Easier to do when he saw her as just another one of the guys.
"But it's not only the resort time I'm looking forward to." She leaned on her pitchfork and grinned. "I can't wait to scare the bejesus out of our trainees."
He cleared his throat and went back to shoveling like humanity depended on him to clean this stall. "Hmm. Yeah. Trial by fire."
"Is there any other way?" She went back to work on her own stall. "Besides, these kids have it easy. Nothing we can throw at them will be as bad as my first mission with y'all. But I intend to do my best. Like I said, it's gonna be fun."
Jesse had been anticipating the weeklong training mission, too. It was guaranteed to be a good time. The whole team back together again, playing war games out in the jungles of Suriname, scaring some of the FNGs — fucking new guys — followed by a weekend debriefing-slash-retreat at Tucker Quentin's 5-star resort on Martinique. But now that Connor was here ... was it right for Jesse to leave the ranch? His parents would most certainly watch Connor for the week, but there was no telling what kind of trouble the boy would get into. Already in the short time since he'd arrived, he'd been in several fights, had been caught drinking and smoking, and had stolen money out of Jesse's wallet. Which Jesse hadn't called him on yet.
"Earth to Jesse," Lanie said and clanged her pitchfork on the side of the wheelbarrow a couple times. "Hey, space cadet. What's with you?"
He looked at her. Sweat glistened on her brown skin from the effort of mucking out the stall and a sprig of hay clung to the dark ringlets of her ponytail. Dressed in jeans and boots, her bra strap slipping down her shoulder from under her tan tank top, she'd never looked more beautiful. Every thought in his head disappeared except one: he wanted this woman. Had for a very long time. Lanie wasn't so much the one who got away as the one who might have been, had their circumstances been different when they met as teenagers.
Goddammit. Figured she'd come barreling back into his life after he'd sworn off women.
Excerpted from "Code of Honor"
Copyright © 2017 Tonya Burrows.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
She makes you care so much for these damaged characters that you feel there loss and love right along with them.
Attention getting. Lots of action.
While technically this is a suspense romance, it definitely falls more on the suspense side. It’s just stuffed full of danger, intrigue, betrayal – the action pretty much doesn’t stop once it gets started. But there is also the long-held feelings between Lanie and Jesse that need to be addressed, as well as Jesse’s relationship with his son. Thrown in this group of people who have between a family of sorts over the years and the feels just come at you. Well, feels when done by Alpha males which is their own kind of weird thing that works for them :) I’ll be honest, while this one can technically stand on its own it will definitely be easier to keep up if you’ve read at least Broken Honor. There is just a lot of people and a lot of interactions between them that make more sense if you have some kind of history there. And you better be ready to hang on to your hats because Burrows gives us one heck of a ride! She got me from the very first page and didn’t let me go until I got to the end. And even then she just teases about what is coming next … I’m so gonna be stalking her until she releases book 5 because I can’t wait to see where she goes from here. *** I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. ***
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book OMG this is the first book of the HORNETS series I have read and I fell so hard for all the guys in this book, But Jessie shattered my heart what he has dealt with in his life and yet still works as a medic, helping save his friends and fighting for them. Yeah just love him. This book is exciting, it is heart shattering It will make you cry hard tears. and it will also make you cry tears of Joy as well. I LOVED Conner, Jessies son as well. I HIGHLY recommend this book, I WILL be reading the other books in this series Jesse Warrick used to consider himself a kickass medic, but a teammate’s brush with death has him questioning everything. Now he’s been promoted to field commander of HORNET. How can he lead when he can’t get his shit together? And how can he focus when the sexy new recruit makes him want to break the rules? Lanie Delcambre can’t seem to find solid footing within the elite hostage rescue team. Worse, the man she’s loved for most of her life is now her boss. She’d kill to act on the chemistry between her and Jesse, but she can’t risk ruining her career. It was only supposed to be a training mission. No live ammo, no hostages, and no real bad guys—only someone didn’t give the bad guys that memo. When their hotel is taken hostage with half of HORNET inside, Jesse and Lanie are the team’s only hope of escaping alive
This book is exciting and heart racing. It has everything: comedy, non-stop action, friendship, betrayal, mystery, intense connection leading to sizzling chemiatry, and love. Jesse and Lainie were long time friends with both feeling more for the other but not letting on. Their scenes together when they finally gave in were smoking hot. I loved how they knew each other better than anyone else. They were friends first. Such an amazing and thrilling ride to their happy ever after ing with amends for Jesse and Connor. And I loved how the setup (hopefully) for the next book in this series was done. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
Fantastic story! Poor Jesse can't catch a break these days while now saddled with his sullen 15 year old who has a temper and Lanie, the only female member of the team who takes no crap from anyone and they've been friends and crushed on each other a long time. You read the blurb so I'll pass that and can tell you first that saying too much will give too much away, however what starts basically as an exercise for the new team and a pleasant rendezvous for everyone on Martinique for a much needed vacation for all ends up being a serious hostage situation that the team walks in on without knowing. The overlapping plot is Tiffany and Claire both research Dr's who are working on a high priority secret project and Tiffany has just broke the code for the virus, ends up kidnapped while Claire is in South America garnering what she deems necessary. These two woman are now pawns between one very nasty man, a half a@@ group of pawns who are trying to grab them and party number three is the Hornet team. Hornet's never fail ladies, not in the field or steaming up the sheets. What a great story, I love the suspense, action, the men of the team and the plot. Tonya Burrows does write a great story, every single time. I love them. Read the book!! I have been waiting for this one and the wait was well worth it!! 4.5 Stars !! **arc from NetGalley and Entangled in exchange for a fair review**
So happy to be back in the with the HORNET team. It’s been a while. This was a very enjoyable fast paced action packed book. It was well written and the storyline was very good. Jesse, who is the medic for HORNET, has been having some trouble lately. Between his teenage son Connor living with him on the ranch full time now and having a strained relationship with him and his PTSD, things have been tough mentally and emotionally lately. The only recent bright spot is Lanie, but he is trying hard not to do anything about that now that she has joined HORNET and is back in his life on a regular basis. He has known her since they were teenagers but they were never a couple. Jesse has been married 3 times and doesn’t really have a desire to start anything with any woman. In fact he swore off women. But this is Lanie an they have some serious chemistry and resisting her proves futile. The condom incident their first time together was pretty funny. Good thing for Jean-Luc. The training exercise the team goes on in the jungle and then their vacation to Martinique is where the excitement really begins. Unbeknownst to them there is a mission there. Things move fast from there and it’s awesome to see the group in action doing what they do best. Things do get pretty intense and scary there for a while but this is the HORNET crew, so they’ve got this. What will become of Jesse & Lanie? Is it possible to have a relationship under their working circumstances? Do either of them want more than just sex? Will Jesse and his son Connor build a better relationship? Will Jean-Luc break his curse? Great set up in the epilogue for the next book featuring my favorite sexy Cajun, Jean-Luc!!
LOVED this book! This novel picks up with HORNET engaging in a training mission, followed by some time at Quinten's Martinique resort. Unfortunately, a epidemiology conference of scientists is also scheduled at the same resort and some mercenaries are trying to get a hold of a team of scientists on the verge of making a monumental discovery. However, the mercenaries' plans go sideways when one of HORNET's members spots them and takes action. Before long, there is a hostage situation and all of HORNET's members are working to try to resolve it. In the midst of all that, Jesse and Lanie are trying to sort their way through their non-relationship and intense attraction to each other. This novel is non-stop action wrapped around a romance that I just loved. The characters are flawed, feel real, and made me care about their story. While this is part of a series, this is a stand alone novel, however, its so good that you really owe it to yourself to read them all. Fans of the genre will love this book and want to put it at the top of their TBR. The author is on my must read authors' list.
Code of Honor is a fantastic addition to the HORNET series. Jesse Warrick is many things, a cowboy, a father, and the HORNET teams medic. He has been through hell and come out the other side. Lanie Delcambre is a former Texas Ranger and the only woman on the HORNET team. Lanie and Jesse have a past and if they want to have a future they are going to have to get through this mission alive. I really enjoy this series. If romantic suspense is your thing then I highly recommend this story.
✩ ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩ FIVE-STAR ✩ REVIEW ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩ > > Judging a Book by it's Cover > Looking Deeper Third-person. Setting: French Caribbean island, Martinique. Holy cow, the wait was WELL WORTH IT! As the team's medic, all Jesse wanted to do was heal and fix people but with every mission he took on, the darkness threatened to consume him further. The same darkness was what kept him pushing the people he loved most away, including his teen son Connor and newest team member (but long-time family friend), Lanie. All Lanie's ever wanted to do was help people, but following in her dad's footsteps as a Texas Ranger was not as fulfilling when her hands were tied by protocols and red tape. Joining HORNET seemed like the logical step but now she felt as though she did not fit in and would never be seen as "one of the guys". After taking the recruits on a training game, they converged on Tuc's island hotel for a weekend getaway. However, a relaxing day at the beach was taken off the itinerary by a powerful new enemy. All the HORNET guys were present and accounted for in Code of Honor, even as they became separated and needed to form new commands on the fly. Viral research, hostages, some steamy chemistry, several happy updates, new love interest possibilities, and a devastating loss all kept this plot flowing through the ups and downs at an exciting pace. I'm not a crier. I had to PUT THE BOOK DOWN. I could not see the words through the damn tears. Tonya Burrows pulled out all her tricks on this book and, man, it gutted me. Well done, Ms. Burrows, well done. I had an inkling right away about "Paul" and "orange sneakers", but it did not detract from the story itself at all for me. I was pleased with how it all unfolded, even if someone had to take one for the team. The conclusion was solid and the epilogue provided a tantalizing peek into the next story to come.... I loved Jess and Lanie's story and am now biting my nails to read the Ragin' Cajun's book!!! While I whole-heartedly would recommend this book to Romantic Suspense fans, I'd highly encourage readers to start from the beginning of the series as the plots do follow a timeline and would benefit greatly from reading the books in order. . Rating: [R] ~ Score: 4.6 ~ Stars: 5 Steamy sex, Graphic Violence ========================== ⭐ ⭐ **** Disclosure of Material: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the Author/Publisher with the hope that I would voluntarily leave unbiased and unsolicited feedback. I was not asked, encouraged, or required to leave a review - nor was I compensated in any way. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising". ***** ⭐ ⭐