I am excited today to give you a sneak peek at Active Defense by Lynette Eason (I love this series & can’t wait to read this new book) – plus a chance for you to win your own copy!
ACTIVE DEFENSE by Lynette Eason
SERIES: Danger Never Sleeps #3
GENRE: Inspirational Romantic Suspense
RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2021
She’s used to life-or-death situations.
She just didn’t expect them to follow her home.
When former field surgeon Heather Fontaine returns from a party to find that someone has broken into her house–and threatened her friends–she assumes it is the stalker who has been creeping her out. She hopes to find safety and peace of mind by leaving the city and hiding out in a small town. But trouble follows her even there.
Luckily, a stalker isn’t the only one observing Heather. Travis Walker has been secretly watching out for her for weeks. As owner of his own security agency, it’s what he does. Together, Travis and Heather must figure out who wants her dead–and why–before it’s too late
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C H A P T E R
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Dr. Heather Fontaine strapped her feet into the sandboard and pushed off. There was nothing like the feel of the wind in her face and that peace-filled stretch of time from the top of the mountain to the bottom. It was a stress reliever like no other. With the Bamyan mountains located about three hours from Kabul and considered a relatively safe adventure, it had been a no-brainer to head there when they’d had the time off. She wasn’t a runner or gym rat, but she could hold her own when sandboarding or skiing.
An encouraging yell came from Gina Wicks, her nurse, and Heather grinned, happy to see the young widow enjoying a moment of fun. Gina’s husband, Brad, had been killed by “friendly fire” and she’d returned a couple weeks ago to finish her tour.
At the end of the run, Heather expertly shifted her body to bring the board to a halt.
“Way to go, Heather,” Gina said. “No one would know you hate to exercise.”
Heather laughed. “That’s not exercise, that’s sheer exhilaration.”
The other two friends who’d joined her and Gina grabbed their gear and they headed to the Jeep.
While Gina drove, Heather leaned her head back against the seat and shut her eyes. She was tired, but in a good way. Not in a twelve-hour-surgery-only-to-lose-the-patient way. She’d needed this. They’d all needed it. But now it was time to get back and her brain was already shifting into work mode, mentally reviewing the patients waiting for her in the recovery tent.
She must have dozed off, because the next thing she knew, Gina was poking her in the arm. Heather opened her eyes and realized they were almost back to base. “Wow.” She scrubbed a hand down her cheek and drew in a deep breath. “I must have sacked out.”
“Girl, you sawed enough logs to last all winter in Alaska.”
Heather rolled her eyes, but smiled. “Hey, can you stop by the hospital? I want to check on a few patients.”
“Yeah. If you don’t mind?”
“Um . . . sure.”
The other two ladies in the back groaned good-naturedly and guilt swept her.
“No, never mind. I’ll walk over after we drop everyone off.”
Gina swung the wheel and headed for the FOB hospital. “It’s okay. It won’t take you long. I’ll drop you off first and come back and get you when you’re ready.”
That seemed to work for the others and soon Heather found herself walking toward the surgery recovery ward. The huge tents that made up the hospital might look rough and ancient on the outside, but the inside held state-of-the-art equipment for those needing it. And so many did—Afghani civilians and American soldiers, both.
She’d enjoyed being with her friends and knew she needed the mental break, but her patients weighed on her mind and in her heart the entire time she’d been away. Not that the other doctors weren’t perfectly capable of caring for them, but . . .
Heather spotted one of the doctors caring for her patients while she was gone. “Hey, Hank, hold up.”
He turned. “What are you doing here?”
“We got back a little early so I thought I’d check in. Catch me up.”
He did, then patted her shoulder. “Glad you’re back, Heather,” he said. “It’s too quiet around here without you.”
She wrinkled her nose. “I’m not sure how to take that.”
He laughed. “Can I grab you a cup of coffee?”
“I’ll be right back.” He darted toward the cafeteria.
Movement in the distance stalled her. She stood between the tents—to her left was the operating suite, to her right the recovery area. She tried to get a better view of the approaching figure and noted he’d caught the attention of several others.
He trudged toward them, head down, T-shirt two sizes too big and flapping around his thin frame. He passed two of the Humvees, walked between two more tents, and headed for the recovery ward.
The closer he got, the more she knew. Certainty settled in her gut. “No,” she whispered. “No!” She ran toward him. “Please! No!”
He stopped and locked eyes with her. She could see his desperation even at this distance. For a moment, he stood motionless, half a football field between them. Then he yanked off the shirt, and Heather froze as she saw the bomb strapped to his chest.
“Help me!” He grabbed at the bomb, struggled with it, trying to rip it from his body.
“No! Stop! Don’t come any closer! Bomb!”
Heads popped out from the tents.
Heather’s focus remained on the teen. He’d managed to pull the explosive partway off, the duct tape loosening, some of it tearing. He held it out to the right side of his body, and for a moment she thought he might succeed, let go of it, and run.
The explosion rocked him, lifted him, then dropped him onto his back on the hard-packed dirt. Heather screamed. She raced toward him, pulling gloves from her pocket, hearing others yelling at her to get back, that there might be a second bomb, but she couldn’t leave him like that. She dropped to her knees next to him. His right arm was gone, his right side a mangled mess. Blood pumped from the shoulder where his arm had been, and she clamped a hand over it.
“Hold on!” she yelled at him. “Hold on!” He was conscious, his eyes never leaving hers. “What’s your name?”
“Abdul,” he whispered. “I am sorry. I—”
And closed his eyes.
Heather looked back over her shoulder. “Someone get over here and help me!”
Another doctor raced from the tent, and time blurred as Heather went to work on the boy, who couldn’t be more than fourteen or fifteen years old. “Please hold on.”
She was acutely aware of others arriving to help transfer him to a portable stretcher and then to the OR. She raced alongside him, keeping her hands clamped around his open wound. And finally, they were in the operating room. Minutes turned into hours as they tried to put the boy back together. Another doctor worked to reattach his arm. Heather did her best with his torso. She pulled the last stitch and sucked in a breath.
“That’s it,” she said. “Now, we wait.”
Two hours later, in recovery, Heather dozed in the chair next to Abdul’s bed.
The alarms on the monitor woke her and she bolted to her feet. His heart had stopped.
Feverishly, she pumped his chest. “Please, please, please, don’t give up. You asked me to help you and I will, but you have to live.” More pumping. Sweat rolled from her in waves.
She had no idea how long she worked until Gina laid a hand on her shoulder. “Heather . . .”
Heather stopped, panting, heard the flatline—and knew it was over. They’d lost him. She blinked up at her friend, trying to keep from breaking down. “What are you doing here?”
“I came back just after the explosion to see if I could help. To make sure you were okay. I’m sorry.”
Heather let out a low cry and swung away from her, stripped off her gloves, and darted out the door. The sun was setting, turning the sky all kinds of beautiful colors. But she didn’t want to see beauty when she was surrounded by death. Not tonight.
“Give me some space right now, Gina, please.”
The woman hesitated, then turned and went back inside with Abdul.
Heather paced near the trash heap, working hard to get her emotions under control. She wanted to weep, to scream, to lash out at the evil that had overtaken this country, but she didn’t. She couldn’t.
She took a deep breath and had turned to go back in when she spotted the full trash bag against the wall.
And the navy-blue T-shirt laying on top of it. She picked it up, noted the white paint stains on the left shoulder. Pictured it on the teen who’d come to kill them.
She buried her face in it and wept.
Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2020. Used by permission.
Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of Collateral Damage and Acceptable Risk, as well as Protecting Tanner Hollow and the Blue Justice, Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master’s degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.
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