I’m excited today to give you a peek inside Word of Honor by Hallee Bridgeman – and a chance for two of you to win a copy of your own!
WORD OF HONOR by Hallee Bridgeman
SERIES: Love and Honor #2
GENRE: Inspirational Romantic Suspense
RELEASE DATE: October 4, 2022
FBI Special Agent Lynda Culter is investigating an ecoterrorist organization in the Alaskan wilderness when her partner is taken captive and murdered before her very eyes. The only person who can identify the key players, Lynda gets assigned to take part in a joint operation in Istanbul to take the organization down.
As a woman in a Muslim country, she’ll find it much easier to move around undetected with a fake husband. Unfortunately for her, the man assigned to play the role is none other than US Army weapons specialist Bill Sanders–the man who crushed her heart into a million pieces back in college.
With a cargo bay’s worth of hurt and baggage between them, these two consummate professionals must play their parts perfectly if they hope to stop those responsible for bombing oil pipelines, killing innocent civilians, and threatening to destabilize the oil markets. But love long buried has a way of resurfacing at the most inopportune times–and protecting Lynda has become Bill’s primary focus.
Lynda’s head pounded. Nausea rolled in her stomach. Why did she feel so terrible? She tried to roll over, to get more comfortable, but couldn’t move her arms. What in the world? Some of the fog lifted, and she realized she wasn’t in her bed. Instead, she sat on a hard chair.
In little flashes, she started to remember. Driving up to the house. Asking the man who answered the door about Damien Cisco. The flash of pain. Then . . . nothing. Her heart beat faster. Sweat beaded on her upper lip. With a rush of adrenaline, she pushed the grogginess to the background and every sense heightened. What to do now?
She kept her eyes closed and tried to assess anything that she could in her environment. The smell of damp earth in the cold air assaulted her nostrils. Something sharp and unyielding cut into the delicate skin of her wrists, keeping her hands clasped behind her. Maybe a zip tie? Her shoulders ached from the position of her arms. Shuffling noises came from her left, the click of a switch a split second before a flood of heat. Behind her eyelids, she could see a bright light.
Footsteps. Low voices coming from her right.
Movement behind her, against her.
Her arms were tied to someone else. Jack? It must be Jack. Relief almost made her cry out. She wasn’t alone. Praying desperately for courage and wisdom, she tried to listen to the low voices, tried to make out words. Jack started struggling, making her bindings dig deeper into her wrists. She fought back the discomfort and worked against the tight restraints to turn her hand, pressing her palm against his. He stilled at her touch.
Digging into her reserves for courage she didn’t know for certain she possessed, she finally lifted her head and opened her eyes. It looked like they sat in the middle of a barn. She could see bales of hay in a loft, wooden beams, a concrete floor. The doors stood slightly open to the dark night outside. How long had she been out?
“Well, that took a while. I was starting to get bored.”
The man who had opened the house door sat in front of her. He smiled. “I wonder how many training procedures you ignored tonight. No backup, turning your back on the men in my house. Tsk, tsk, tsk. It seems like the Federal Bureau of Investigation should train their agents better than that.”
“You’re wrong about the backup,” she said. “We called them.” She could hear movement behind her but kept her eyes on him. “Damien Cisco, I presume?”
He raised an eyebrow. “So you know my name. You get the prize.” He gestured at the tall black-haired man who had come into her line of sight and carried a camera on a tripod. She had seen him inside the house. “You’re going to read a statement from Green War.” He walked over to the wall and picked up a foam board leaning against it. Words were written on it in black marker, but from this distance she couldn’t tell what they said.
Jack’s muscles bunched behind her. He must have just come awake. He gave a small moan, and then his body stiffened.
Cisco walked around to face him. “Well, Agent Haynes. Good to see you. I wondered if maybe Antoine had hit you too hard.”
“This is a mistake,” Jack said, his voice hoarse. “You need to let us go right now.”
He chuckled. “I love how the fascist agent of our government just hands down orders to private citizens as if they’re going to be obeyed.” The humor left his voice. “Right now, you do what I say. I don’t do what you say. You might do well to remember that.”
“We have backup on the way. I called them before you attacked us.”
“Yeah. There’s no signal out here and you know it.” Cisco walked back into Lynda’s line of sight. She tilted her head to look up at him. “You’re going to read this statement on behalf of Green War.”
“We are federal agents. You need to let us go.” She tried to keep the fear out of her voice. “This will only end badly for you.”
He leaned down and put his nose close enough to hers that she could feel his breath. “You really need to quit worrying about my well-being and start worrying about you.”
Terror flowed through her limbs. She could barely breathe. Nausea swirled in her stomach. Her wrists hurt and her shoulders ached, and to her humiliation, her eyes filled with tears. She looked down, hoping Cisco wouldn’t see her distress.
“Leave her alone!” The chair rocked as Jack struggled against his restraints.
She wanted to cry out to him to stop moving because of the pain. To her relief, Cisco moved out of her sight and said to Jack, “Fine. Let’s focus on you, Special Agent Jackson Haynes of the Fascist Bureau of Investigation.”
A man with wire-framed glasses that shone against his dark skin came from behind her. She didn’t recognize him from the house. He picked up the light stand next to her and moved it. Suddenly, the light no longer blinded her, the heat no longer made her feel like she couldn’t breathe. She closed her eyes, a hated tear slipping down her cheek, and tried to figure out what to do next.
“Now, I have a statement here that you’re going to read,” Cisco said to Jack. “Only, don’t call yourself Lynda Culter, because that would be embarrassing. Just replace that with Jackson where appropriate.”
“Jack,” she said. “Don’t—”
He leaned back as if communicating with her, telling her he could handle it. “Fine. I’ll read your statement.”
“Jack!” she said again.
“Shut up, Lynda.”
“Yeah, Lynda, shut up or I’ll shut you up,” Cisco said.
She looked all around, desperately searching for . . . what? She sat with her hands tied behind her. So far, she’d identified three men in this room besides Jack. What did she think she could possibly do?
The light when cast onto Jack created a strange contorted shadow of the two of them tied to the chairs. “I am Jack Haynes, an agent of the United States government. I’m here under that authority, and you can all bite my—”
The sound of a hard hit and cracking bones came a split second before Jack’s howl of pain. Lynda sobbed, wishing she could see what was happening.
“You really shouldn’t improvise,” Cisco said. “Shall we go again? You have another kneecap.”
Lynda thought she had felt fear before, but it didn’t compare to what she felt now. When Jack responded with an expletive and they hit him again, little white dots appeared in front of her eyes and her mouth went completely dry. Then she heard a splash, smelled the undeniable odor of gasoline. Some of it landed against the back of her hand. When she realized they’d doused Jack with gasoline, she started struggling against the restraints, ignoring the cutting pain in her wrists.
“Read the statement. Word for word.”
Another expletive from Jack brought a scuffle behind her.
“No! Not in here,” Cisco said.
Something cold and metal bit against her skin seconds before her hands fell free. With relief, she brought them forward, rubbing her wrists one at a time. The other two men dragged Jack past her line of sight.
He looked at her as they went by. “Don’t give in, Lynda!” he yelled.
They went through a door into another room. Cisco followed. He paused near the doorway and picked up the shotgun leaning against the wall. The men who carried Jack threw him to the ground. He tried to get up but fell again, likely from his busted kneecap.
Cisco stood in front of the open door and lifted his gun. “You’re going to read a statement on behalf of Green War.”
Lynda struggled, but they had secured her ankles to the chair. Sobbing, she bent over, fumbling to access the knife sheathed against her ankle. She could barely feel her numb fingers, and she couldn’t lift her pants leg because of the zip tie securing it. “Jack!”
Cisco chambered a round in the shotgun. Somehow, she could hear the sound through the roaring in her ears. “Last chance. You will read a statement on behalf of Green War.”
“Here’s my statement, you dirty—”
The room exploded with the sound of the shotgun blast. Lynda froze, unable to believe what had just happened. Cisco turned back toward her. Jack lay just outside the door, unmoving. She could see only his legs and feet. One of the other men lit a match, fired up a hand-rolled cigarette, and tossed the match on Jack. His body went up in flames.
A sound came from Lynda—a scream, a yell, a guttural moan.
Cisco strode across the room toward her, aiming the shotgun at her face. He stopped close enough that she could see the wild look in his eyes. “Now, Agent Culter. Let’s have a conversation.”
Red and white lights strobed from her right. Through the open barn door, she spotted police cars coming their way. A sob of relief had her close her eyes and bow her head. She didn’t know if the man would kill her before help arrived, but at least she and Jack wouldn’t die out here where no one would know what had happened to them.
A sharp whistle from the black-haired man made everyone scramble. A thick, bound stack of papers landed at her feet.
“That’s our manifesto,” Cisco said. “Goodbye for now, Agent Lynda Culter. We’ll meet again.”
As two police cars pulled into the yard, a door slammed behind her. Sobs tore through her, feeling like they’d rip her body in half. The smell of gasoline-laced smoke filled her nose, burned her eyes, became all she could taste.
“Jack!” she screamed.
Hallee Bridgeman, Word of Honor
Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2022. Used by permission.
Hallee Bridgeman is the USA Today bestselling author of several action-packed romantic suspense books and series. An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee finally settled with her husband in central Kentucky, where they have raised their three children. When she’s not writing, Hallee pursues her passion for cooking, coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. An accomplished speaker and active member of several writing organizations, Hallee can be found online at www.halleebridgeman.com.
Revell is offering a print copy of Word of Honor by Hallee Bridgeman to TWO of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read Word of Honor by Hallee Bridgeman?