FBI agent Melissa Bradley is used to cryptic assignments like this: retrieve package from PO Box and deliver to old friend. Package in hand, she's attacked by thugsand she's not about to trust the tall, dark and dangerous rescuer who claims he was sent to protect her. A former navy SEAL turned cowboy suddenly reinstated as a SEAL, there's clearly more to James Monahan's covert op than he'll admit. When their mutual friend goes missing, they join forces deep in the swamplands of southern Mississippi to find him. But as a dangerous band of traitors, terrorists and killers close in, survival means trusting each othertheir toughest mission yet.
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Cowboy, you're the only person I can trust.
Those words had echoed over and over in James Mona-han's head since he'd received the call at two in the morning, thirty hours ago.
He'd been at the Raging Bull Ranch for only three days, getting to know his new boss, billionaire Hank Derringer. He had been familiarizing himself with other members of Covert Cowboys Inc. and the assets available through Hank's elite organization. The billionaire had an extensive arsenal of weapons, a computer system that would make the FBI and CIA green with envy, and some of the most decorated heroes the United States had known working for him.
Hank hired only the best. All of the members of Covert Cowboys Inc. had been raised on farms or ranches, where they'd learned the value of hard work, honesty and caring for people and animals. They'd learned of truth and justice and had proved themselves, each in his or her own career field. Whether risking their lives in the military, FBI or other law enforcement agencies, CCI agents were highly respected and fully capable of defending themselves or others.
Honored to have been recruited by Hank, after having quit the Navy SEALs to spend the past two years working as a ranch hand, he'd been happy to get away from the sadness of living on the ranch where his father had died.
Jim had made the tough choice to leave the Navy and his SEAL brothers to take over his father's responsibilities as a foreman on the Triple Diamond Ranch, while his father fought and ultimately lost the battle against cancer.
Once his father was gone, Jim left the ranch that held so many memories of the only other member of his family. The ranch had been the only home he'd known and a place he felt he could always come back to.
Not anymore. Every day with his dying father had been like ripping another piece of his heart out. When the end finally came, the pain the man had suffered in silence was gone. And so was the last member of his family. After the funeral, Jim severed all ties to his past. He'd received and accepted a job on the other side of the state and determined to insulate himself from caring about anyone.
Three days after being hired by Hank, his first assignment with the Covert Cowboys Inc. had fallen into his lap with the call he'd received from Cord Schafer, or Rip Cord, as his Navy SEAL teammates had nicknamed him. Contact with Rip reminded Jim that he was not truly alone in the world. He had his brothers in the SEALs. Men he cared about and would do anything for.
"I made a mistake," Rip had said. "I got a friend involved in something I'm working on. Now I'm afraid she'll be a target. These people play for keeps. If they suspect she knows anything, they'll kill her. Now that I've contacted her, I can't get hold of her to call her off. I'm supposed to meet her at the Shoot the Bull Bar at ten at night in two days. You remember the place?"
Jim remembered. He'd spent more than one evening drinking with his brothers after a hard day of training on the river. "What do you want me to do?"
"She's picking up a packet at the post office in Biloxi between nine and ten in the morning in two days. Keep her and the packet safe. I'll contact you both when I can. Things are getting hot. I might have to go dark."
"Rip, what did you get yourself into?"
"Gotta go. It's not safe. I'll contact you as soon as I can." The line went dead and Jim stared at his cell phone.
Jim had gone directly to Hank, requesting time off, feeling bad about asking when he'd just started his job with CCI.
Hank not only granted him the time to pursue his friend's request, but he'd also declared the appeal for help an official CCI assignment and offered the full gamut of CCI technology and human resources for Jim's use.
That had been almost two days and 750 miles ago. Now he stood in the lobby of the Biloxi, Mississippi, post office waiting for a woman to access the box number Rip had given him. When exactly she'd arrive, he didn't know. Nor did he know what she would look like, or what to expect once she showed up.
Jim arrived a few minutes before nine o'clock with a box full of paper and a roll of tape. For a full hour, he pretended to struggle with packing and taping the box. Then he'd fiddled with the automated postal machine printing a shipping label to an old address he hadn't lived at in ten years.
Still the woman hadn't arrived. As ten o'clock rolled around, he'd about given up on her. He could purchase only so many stamps before the staff at the post office or any of the bad guys Rip had alluded to caught on that he was stalling.
As he tucked another sheet of stamps into his back pocket, the door to the post office opened and a woman dressed in a bright floral dress, a wide-brimmed bright red hat and huge, dark sunglasses walked in. Her lips were painted the same shade as the hat, and what he could see of the hair beneath the hat was a silvery shade of gray. She carried a large white satchel-style purse over her arm.
Something about the way she carried herselfher back straight, her shoulders squared and the tilt of her chincaught his attention. Though a little thick around the middle and bosomy, she was attractive.
In Biloxi, where gambling was legal and a huge boon to the economy, the woman could have been just another tourist there to try her hand at the slot machines. Or she could have been an upper-class Southern lady who lived in one of the plantation-style mansions lining the coast.
For an older woman, she walked with the strength and determination of a younger, athletic one. Jim studied her in his peripheral vision as he stood at a counter, pretending to address an envelope.
If she was an older woman, which he was beginning to doubt, her skin would be more wrinkled and little lines would have formed on her lips. And where were the age spots that went along with the gray hair?
Jim's instincts kicked in and he studied the other people who'd come in shortly after the woman with the red hat had arrived. The post office was bustling with patrons. Many were housewives with children in tow. Others were businessmen or women there to drop off baskets of mail or to stand in line to send mail to other parts of the world.
The woman in the red hat wasn't there to mail a package. She wasn't carrying letters or a box. If Jim wasn't mistaken, that was a key she held in her hand.
Melissa Bradley stepped into the Biloxi, Mississippi, post office and paused a moment to let her vision adjust from the bright outdoors to the dim interior. The large round sunglasses she wore to hide her eyes and much of her face didn't help her vision. The interior of the post office appeared darker than it actually was.
The broad-brimmed bright red hat and gray wig covered her deep brown hair. Her outfit was complete with a gaudy floral print, wraparound dress and sensible, low-heeled red shoes. She could be any senior citizen in town to gamble at the casinos.
In her hand, she clutched a key to a post office box. The key had arrived in the mail two days ago at her apartment in San Antonio, Texas.
Melissa had just gotten home from a tiring day of conducting background checks on individuals and looked forward to a long soak in her bathtub. When she'd found the letter among the advertisements for steam cleaning and coupons for pizza, she'd checked the postmark. The only person she knew in Mississippi was Cord, and he never wrote to her. He always called or texted her.
Excited to get any word from the boy she'd grown up with and called her brother, she'd torn the letter open and a key had fallen out onto the floor. With the key had been a single sheet of paper with the words NEED HELP written in bold capital letters across the top. Below were instructions to pick up a package at the Biloxi, Mississippi, post office between nine and ten o'clock in two days. She was to arrive in disguise, collect the package and meet him at the Shoot the Bull Bar outside Stennis at 10:00 p.m. the following evening. At the bottom of the page were the initials C. S.
Cord never asked for help. For the most part, he rarely contacted her. His life in the Navy SEALs kept him busy and often out of the country on dangerous deployments. For him to reach out to her, he had to be in dire straits.
Between major assignments at her job with the FBI, Melissa had called her boss, told him she had a family crisis and needed to take some time off. She'd hopped in her bright red pickup, driven all night to Biloxi and spent the next day gathering what she thought she might need in the way of a disguise before her rendezvous at the post office.
Now as she stood in the bustling, busy post office, she wondered if her layers of disguise were overkill. Cord had played pranks on her as they'd grown up together on neighboring farms in Ohio. Was this an elaborate hoax? If so, she'd have words for him.
But something inside her told her it wasn't a hoax, and she kept her eyes open for anyone who looked in any way suspicious as she worked her way through the building to the rows of post office boxes.
No one followed her, but there was a man standing at a counter addressing an envelope. He was big, somewhere between six feet two or four, had dark hair that hung down to his collar and wore a Texas Rangers baseball cap. It was the smoldering dark eyes that were at that precise moment following her that made her look at him twice.
The hairs on the back of her neck rose. She located box 1411. As she slipped the key into the lock, she turned her head enough to catch the big guy staring at her.
Committed to opening the box, she twisted the key and pulled open the door. Inside was a large, thick envelope. She took it out, slipped it into her purse and closed the box.
Then she turned and walked by the big man, making note of his face, eye color and the shape of his chin and lips in case she had to have a forensic artist draw a picture of him.
As she stepped out the door into the bright sunlight, a car pulled up in front of the building. Two men, dressed in black jeans and T-shirts, wearing dark sunglasses, hopped out. They hurried toward the entrance, and her, at the exact moment the man she'd passed in the post office exited the building behind her.
Melissa forced a smile, performed an abrupt right turn and walked quickly away from the door, praying the men weren't actually aiming for her.
Unfortunately they were, and they followed. She'd parked the car she'd rented a block away, just in case. Now she wished she'd parked in front of the building. She'd already be in it and speeding away.
That was, if her stalkers didn't make a grab for her and try to force her into the car that had been easing through the parking lot of the post office, matching her pace.
Melissa walked faster. Knowing she wouldn't make it to the rental car soon enough, she turned right again and headed for the café on the backside of the post office. If she could make it there, she might be able to slip in and get out another way.
A man and woman were walking ahead of her in the same direction. She ran to catch up and clapped a hand on their shoulders. "Oh, there you are," she said. "I thought you were going to wait for me."
They turned with startled looks at her.
The man pulled the woman into the circle of his arm. "I'm sorry, ma'am, do I know you?"
She laughed, glancing over her shoulder.
The two men in black were right behind her and the café was to her right.
"Sorry. I thought you were someone else. My bad." She smiled and shot to the right, making a beeline for the café's front door. As she entered, she yanked off her sunglasses and called out, "Where's your bathroom? It's an emergency."
The waitress at a table pointed to the back of the building. "Back left corner."
The door opened behind her.
Melissa didn't turn to look back, making a run for the bathroom. Once inside, she thanked her lucky stars it had a sliding lock on the main door and a small window at the back. Quickly, she stripped out of the hat, wig and floral dress. Beneath it, she wore a pair of stretchy biker shorts and a thin jacket with a hood. She pulled a small drawstring backpack out of her satchel, along with a pair of tennis shoes. Stuffing the large envelope into the backpack, she traded shoes and climbed up onto the toilet seat. The window was small, but she had fit through smaller.
A loud knock made her bite back a scream. Her pulse hammered against her ears, muffling the next rap on the door. Based on the heavy-handed taps, she'd bet her red shoes the men who'd been following her thought they had her cornered.
Leaving the satchel with the dress and shoes hanging on the back of the stall door, she balanced on the lid of the toilet tank, levered herself through the window and dropped onto a large azalea bush below the window.
Pulling the hood up over her head, she took off at a slow jog, trying to put as much distance as she could between the café and the men inside. Staying close to the shadows of buildings and bushes, she hurried down a secondary street, afraid to go back for her rental car in case the men who'd been chasing her caught up to her.
A shout behind her made her turn back. The two men in black jeans had spotted her and gave chase.
No longer trying to appear casual, she sprinted toward the next street and started to run across when a motorcycle slid to a stop in front of her.
The rider pushed back the facemask on the helmet, exposing the piercing dark eyes of the man she'd seen watching her inside the post office. "Get on if you don't want those guys to catch you."
She bolted around him and kept running down the sidewalk. Thanks to the man on the motorcycle slowing her escape, the men who'd been chasing her on foot were closing the gap.
Motorcycle man revved his engine, bumped up over the curb and drove on the sidewalk, racing up behind her. Melissa ran faster, her lungs burning with the effort.
He kept pace with her, swerving to miss a woman who'd stepped out of a building. "Cord sent me," he called out. "Get on."
Not sure what to do, but quickly running out of steam, Melissa glanced behind her. One of the men stopped running, reached into his jacket and pulled out a pistol.
In that split second, Melissa made her decision. She hopped onto the back of the bike and grabbed the man around the waist. "He's got a gun! Go! Go! Go!"
A loud bang exploded behind her and a bullet pierced the no-parking sign beside Melissa's head. She ducked, pressing herself into the biker's back, hoping the men behind her were really crummy shots.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you are looking for a great book this is it. Great story it has everything that you could ask for in a book. Buy and read it you won't be disappointed.
When I pick up a book by Elle James I know I'm in for an adventure. Navy SEAL Justice is an awesome story that held me captivated from page one and left me wanting to read the next book in the series as soon as possible! Melissa Bradley takes a few days off from the FBI to do a favor for her childhood friend. She knows there is something going on so she takes plenty of precautions when she picks up the package she is suppose to deliver to her friend Cord later. Melissa is a tough chick that will do anything to help her friend. She knows how to hide in plain sight, how to kick butt when necessary, and when she should accept a little help when in need. James Monahan's first assignment for his new job is to get to his friend and offer assistance. This guy can also kick butt and ask questions later. He is determined, courageous, and is fiercely protective of his friends. When Melissa and James find out their mutual friend has went missing they decide to work together. They know something is wrong and they have to figure out what might be going on. Their mission is full of danger, plenty of drama, a whole lot of suspense, and some hot attraction to each other. They work really well together even when times get really tough and there is literal danger around every corner. Just about the time I would think these two might be safe they were once again in another dangerous situation. I found myself holding my breath a lot during Navy Seal Justice. This is part of the Cover Cowboys, INC series and is the first in the series I have read. I didn't feel like I was missing any essential information. I had no problem at all becoming fully engrossed in this book quickly. I think you could easily pick this book up and read it as a stand alone if you haven't had a chance to read the other books in the series yet. If you are an Elle James fan, like I am, I think you will enjoy this story as much as I did. It is classic Elle James with plenty of drama, action, suspense, and hot romance. The characters are well written and easy to become attached to quickly. I can not wait to read Navy SEAL Newlywed to see what happens next in this series. I was given the opportunity to read this great book so that I may share my thoughts with you. As always it has been my great pleasure to share my thoughts with you on Navy SEAL Justice.
Another AMAZING SUSPENSEFUL book in the Cover Cowboy series!!! Can it get any BETTER!!! I just recently started reading this Series because I have read some of Elle's other books. What a great choice of a series to pick! It has excitement, adventure, action, suspense, and romance that will keep you up to all hours of the night reading. This 5th book in the Series does not disappoint. It just adds another AMAZING book to an already great Series. I would recommend this book and this Series to anyone looking for a new author to read or for those already an Elle reader but haven't tried this Series yet.