Cyclone: An alpha male, military romantic suspense

Cyclone: An alpha male, military romantic suspense

by Janie Crouch

Narrated by Tom Campbell

Janie Crouch

Unabridged — 6 hours, 51 minutes

Cyclone: An alpha male, military romantic suspense

Cyclone: An alpha male, military romantic suspense

by Janie Crouch

Narrated by Tom Campbell

Janie Crouch

Unabridged — 6 hours, 51 minutes

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Overview

He'd protect her from any threat... But what if the biggest threat is him?

Doctor Anne Nichols is back in Oak Creek, Wyoming, only because she has no other options. Here, she was always the shy, stuttering girl, invisible to everyone. 

Except Zac Mackay. The very reason she left in the first place.

Zac's years in Special Forces taught him survival skills, and he's created a company-Linear Tactical-to teach those skills to others, so they never have to live in fear.

Then why is Annie, the last person he'd ever want to hurt, afraid of him

Zac's determined to wipe the fear from the eyes of the woman who has never been far from his mind. And fix the mistakes-his mistakes-that put that look there in the first place. 

But a predator has set his sights on Annie. And now survival skills will become much more than lessons...


Product Details

BN ID: 2940172244032
Publisher: Calamity Jane Publishing
Publication date: 09/25/2018
Series: Linear Tactical Series , #1
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,026

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

ZAC MACKAY KEPT his body relaxed as he stared down the man standing eight feet across from him knife in hand. A guy who was undoubtedly going to rush him — arm upraised like Jason Voorhees in those slasher films — any second now.

The other guy was bigger, beefier, and about ten years younger than Zac's own thirty-one years. And he was a cocky bastard, oozing self-confidence since he was the one holding the knife.

Zac knew the guy's name but couldn't think of it right at this moment. It didn't matter. Anyone standing in front of him with the intent to harm him or the people he was protecting only had one name: Enemy. Zac hadn't needed his nine years in the Army to teach him that; he'd learned it on the playground in elementary school.

Zac gave Enemy a little smile, then winked.

That was all it took. Enemy flew at him, knife hand raised almost to eye level, weapon clenched in his fist, preparing to put his full strength behind the blow.

Rookie move.

The guy wanted to show off, so instead of coming straight down with the knife, he swung it crossways, looping to the left, obviously wanting to rip across Zac's chest rather than stab him.

If Zac hadn't been ready for anything — now his Special Forces training coming into play — he would've been in a shit-ton of trouble. Zac stepped to the right rather than left, angling his torso to the side. The blade came swooping across where he'd been standing half a second ago.

Any other time, Zac might have played with Enemy a little, shown him that his destroy-everything fighting style wasn't necessarily the best. Definitely not the smartest.

But that wasn't why Zac was here right now.

While the knife was still swinging downward, Zac took an unexpected half step closer to the man, reaching one arm under his elbow and the other above his wrist. He put just enough force on the guy's arm to stop the motion.

It wouldn't take much more pressure to snap Enemy's wrist, grab the knife from his then-numb fingers, and drive it into the softest spot of his throat.

But that would be a little overkill, given this was only a demonstration about close-quarters fighting for some college guys — including Enemy — who had paid to be here and for Zac to teach them.

Zac halted but kept his grip firm for just a couple seconds, demonstrating his control of the situation. The knife dropped to the ground. Only then did Zac release the other man.

"Okay." Zac turned and faced the group that had been watching the whole scenario. "That was at full speed, but we're going to break it down into much slower and more manageable pieces for today's workshop."

He slapped Enemy on the back. "Thanks for volunteering ... What's your name again, man?"

"Brandon," the kid grunted.

"Brandon, right." He slapped Brandon on the back again. "Thanks for trying to kill me with such exuberance."

Everybody chuckled, and Zac managed a smile. Brandon had been using a practice knife with a hard rubber blade. It wouldn't have cut Zac if he'd gotten lucky with his swing, but it would've hurt like hell.

"Brandon's attack had its strengths and weaknesses, both of which we'll get to, but I want to start out with the most important aspect of close-quarters fighting." He reached down and picked up the practice knife, laying it out on his palm and extending his arm toward the group. "Anyone coming at you with a weapon with the intent to harm you is your adversary. To treat him as anything else is a mistake that can cost you the fight. Or your life."

Zac broke them off into sparring partners and went over some basic moves. It wasn't his favorite job here at Linear Tactical, but he didn't mind it, and it played to his strengths.

Zac was good with people and at teaching.

A lot of people, like poor Brandon, assumed because of Zac's surfer looks — light brown hair that had the slightest wave to it, blue eyes, easy smile — that he wasn't tough enough to teach the sort of training and services Linear provided. Things like rifle and pistol skills, self-defense, kidnapping deterrence, wilderness survival, hand-to-hand combat, and situational awareness.

And those were just the beginner level classes for civilians.

The corporate security and law enforcement training Linear provided was much more involved and dangerous — because those situations called for it.

But the people who worked at Linear were more than equipped to handle involved and dangerous. Zac had started the company with a group of his ex-Green Beret brothers. His best friends. They'd been trained to adapt, defend, and survive in almost every type of situation.

Zac may look like a surfer, but he moved and thought like a soldier, a damned good one. Being out of the Army for four years hadn't changed that.

A hundred more times that afternoon, Zac showed his students how to capture a knife-wielder's arm and apply the pressure needed to gain the upper hand. He explained the danger of taking the move too far — a broken wrist for the opponent — but also reaffirmed what he'd avowed earlier, anybody coming at you with a knife was your enemy. And were lucky if a broken wrist was all they got.

Committing the moves to muscle memory was an important part of the training. That's why Zac didn't mind demonstrating over and over — and having his own arm grabbed and taken to the near-breaking point many times. Even Brandon wasn't trying to kill Zac by the time they were done. Evidently, the kid did want to learn. All in all, not a bad class.

"Practice on each other," Zac told them as they finished and headed out to their cars. "But whatever you do, don't give Brandon a practice knife and tell him to attack you."

The guys laughed and made a few comments about who could take whom as they left. Zac gave a wave and ambled back toward the office.

"You can come out now, you cowards," he announced as he opened the office door. "I can't believe you forced yourself to stay inside on a gorgeous day like this."

Finn Bollinger, Zac's brother in every sense of the word but blood, looked up from his desk. "Not nearly as much incentive to help you today as there was yesterday."

Zac grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge in the corner and plopped down on the couch in front of the office's double windows. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have seen you guys yesterday either if it hadn't been for the two brunettes."

Yesterday's class had been a bridal party there for basic self-defense lessons, a gift from the groom's family to the bride and her bridesmaids.

"That's totally not true." Aiden cocked his head, peeking out from behind his computer monitor and waggling his eyebrows. "It was the redhead who had me out there."

"Ahem, not to mention," Finn leaned his hulking form back in his chair, grinning, "it wasn't Aiden taking a blonde out for breakfast this morning at the Frontier Diner, according to Waverly."

Zac just rolled his eyes. "Your sister needs to go back to working the dinner shift."

But he couldn't really be mad. Small-town problems. Everybody in everybody's business, especially for people like Zac and Finn, who'd grown up here in Oak Creek. It wasn't quite as bad for Aiden, who'd moved here when they'd opened Linear four years ago.

Oak Creek was larger than most towns in Wyoming, but not quite as big as Cheyenne. It had everything they needed: restaurants, stores, hotels, and medical facilities. But it was still small enough that gossip reigned supreme. Zac had long since accepted it as part of his life, the annoyance and privilege of coming back to his hometown.

He parted the blinds to glance at a car he heard coming up the driveway. "Who did something illegal? Sheriff Nelson is pulling up out front."

Finn didn't look up from his paperwork. "Anybody know the statute of limitations on indecent exposure?"

Zac stood to open the door for Sheriff Nelson before he could knock. "Come in, Sheriff. If I got a picture of the birthmark Finn has on his ass, would you arrest him for running naked through the bleachers at our high school football game all those years ago?"

"Allegedly!" Finn called out. "Allegedly running naked through the bleachers. Never proven. And it was a powder-puff game. That doesn't count."

Sheriff Nelson chuckled. "I think there are quite a number of ladies at this point who could positively ID Bollinger's ass."

Aiden chuckled. "Only question is if it's from them trying to kick it, or something else."

"Something else, my friend." Finn winked. "Always something else."

"What can we do for you, Sheriff, besides offer you our fugitive?" Zac asked. "Problems in town?"

Zac gestured toward a chair, but the older man refused to sit. "No, this is a courtesy call. I want to talk to you guys about an attack that happened in Platte County and get your opinion, but first I needed to mention something to you, Zac. I wanted to let you know that Jordan Reiss has come up for parole. She'll go before the board in a couple months. Your testimony one way or the other would make a big difference in how this goes down."

Zac sat heavily in the chair he'd just offered the sheriff. How was he even supposed to feel about this? "Jesus. That kid should've been let out of prison a long time ago, Curtis, and we both know it. Six years is too damn long. Hell, she shouldn't even have gone there in the first place. She fell asleep at the damn wheel."

"And killed two people."

He dragged his hand across his face. "I know good and well who died that day."

His wife. His toddler son.

The sheriff's hand landed on his shoulder. "I wanted to make you aware of what was going on in case you wanted to take a stance either way."

Zac tried to focus on the other stuff Sheriff Nelson was saying, details about what would happen at the hearing, but the conversation seemed distant, muffled, as if he were listening through multiple panes of glass.

Becky was dead. Micah was dead. The pain of their deaths was such a part of him that most of the time he hardly noticed it. But right now, the grief seemed to creep up his spine and spread through his limbs, a near-tangible thing. He looked at Finn, his best friend since childhood.

"We'll get the details." Finn tilted his head toward the door. "Go."

Zac was moving out into the fresh air a moment later, walking toward the barn at the back of the property.

It was times like this he wished he drank. Because right now the burn of a couple shots of whiskey would be very welcome. But he didn't, not more than a beer since a night, ironically, only a couple weeks after Becky and Micah's deaths.

That night. He scrubbed his hand over his face again.

Mixing grief and alcohol made you do some damn stupid things. His memories of that night were mostly a blur. And the parts he did remember just made him wish he didn't.

Or when he was truly honest with himself, more. He longed to remember so much more of that lost night a few days after the funeral.

He walked around the building through the woods to his apartment. He'd started living on Linear property because he'd needed a place to stay after getting out of the Army. He'd had no interest in living in town, so he'd built a studio apartment on top of the barn that had become his refuge. He'd never brought women here. He rarely brought anyone here.

Becky had been dead a long time. Six years. He missed her. Missed his redheaded, spitfire wife with her sassy mouth. She'd grabbed his heart in middle school and never let go. He didn't miss her with spikes of agony like he had in the early years, but with the quieter pain of what could've been. And sweet Micah ... he'd been two years old and driving her crazy with his tantrums and tendency to put everything he found into his mouth. Zac had been deployed and missed much of it. Something he'd give anything now to change.

Zac had long accepted that wound — the loss of time and life — would never heal.

He slid the barn door open and stepped inside, some of his tension easing. No, he didn't want alcohol. This was what he wanted: the Harley Roadster he'd gotten when he'd been stationed in Germany. He ran his fingers over the chrome of the fuel tank.

Forget sitting at home thinking about what was never going to be. Becky wouldn't have wanted him to do that.

Of course, there were a lot of things Becky wouldn't have wanted him to do. That night included.

Even though it wasn't required by law, Zac slid on the helmet. Within moments the Harley rumbled beneath him, and he was taking off down the paved drive of Linear's private road. Soon he was flying down Highway 210, throttle wide open, the landscape streaming by around him.

This was what he'd needed, wide-open spaces and a fast machine he controlled with perfect precision. Too much of life was beyond his control — like their deaths. But this he could control.

The miles flew past. Maybe not quite as fast as they had a few years ago when he'd been stationed in Germany and ridden his bike on the Autobahn — no speed limits there — but enough to ease his mind. Help him feel centered again.

No, he couldn't hate an eighteen-year-old who'd made a shitty judgment call that had cost him his wife and child. But he damn well could hate himself for the fact that the memories of his wife's death were blended with those of that night.

The night he so itched to forget and remember.

He'd had six years' practice pushing Anne Nichols's face as far from his mind as possible. Six years of trying to block out the sound of her quiet sighs from his ears.

He revved the engine louder.

As always, it didn't work. So, he rode, letting the miles smooth everything from his mind. Ease the thoughts of Becky and Micah being gone forever. Fade the thoughts of Annie — sweet, quiet Annie — who was practically just as gone.

It was hours later, the sun disappearing in the distance, when Zac turned back into Oak Creek. He would stop at The Eagle's Nest, everybody's favorite bar and grill. The guys would be there by now.

Finn would fill him in on everything the sheriff had said, or they could let it all go for tonight. Plenty of time to face everything as it came.

The light turned green and Zac eased the throttle on his bike. As he moved forward he caught the other car out of the corner of his eye. Damn it, they weren't slowing down for their red light.

It all happened like it was in slow motion. Zac hit his brakes at first but immediately realized that wasn't going to help him. He needed to move forward, not stop. He revved the throttle, back tire spinning just a moment before catching and propelling him toward safety.

The car was close enough for him to see the teenage driver's face wrenched in horror as he slammed on his brakes. Zac breathed a sigh of relief when the rear tire of his bike cleared the bumper flying toward him.

Crisis averted.

But hell if a dog didn't trot out into the middle of the road right at that fucking second. Zac jerked the bike the opposite direction, choosing to hit the curb rather than the dog — a German shepherd, damned pregnant one at that — the impact throwing him and the bike to the side. As he laid down his bike and slid to the ground, the heat of the road burned through his leather jacket before his head jammed into the curb on the opposite side of the street. Everything went black.

CHAPTER 2

ANNE NICHOLS GRIFFIN never thought she'd be back in Oak Creek.

Wyoming hadn't given her much the first time around besides deadbeat, alcoholic parents who hadn't understood a thing about her. She'd been bizarre and embarrassing to them, with her nose always in a book and her pronounced stutter.

She'd only had one friend here in Oak Creek. One who Anne had ultimately betrayed in the worst way possible. So, when she'd been told six years ago to leave and never return, she'd honestly planned to follow those instructions.

Yet here she was.

Because as bad as Oak Creek might once have been, it was nothing compared to the failure her life had become for the past three years.

She was divorced, broke, and terrified of social situations to the point of paralysis. Except for being an excellent emergency room physician, she had basically zero going for her.

Anne sighed, regrouping at her office in the hospital. She needed to focus on the positive. Things were starting to look up. Although that wasn't saying much, since down wasn't even a possibility.

Counting the positives was easy. Number one: she had a new job where she wasn't known as the wife who still had to work with the husband who had dumped her for someone more attractive and charming, who worked at the same hospital.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Cyclone"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jane Crouch.
Excerpted by permission of Calamity Jane Publishing.
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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