Ryder:SEALs of Honor, Book 14(2)

By: Dale Mayer

“Looks like it.” Ryder settled at the sight of more men he knew. A break in the crowd showed they’d arrived with dates. “Figures. I think I’m the only one who came alone.”

“And you might want to prepare yourself. I could be wrong, but I think that’s Caitlyn on Mac’s arm.”

Ryder’s heart froze, then shattered. He shoved his beer can into Corey’s hand. “Here. I’m done.” He got up and walked down the opposite side of the house. He could handle a lot of things in life. But seeing the only woman he’d ever loved with another man—again—was not one of them.

Chapter 1

The silence was deafening.

Ryder shifted his gaze across the deserted buildings on his left. The intel was good. That just made this Iraq mission all the worse. This bomb maker had gone to ground now, pinned inside the dilapidated structure in front of Ryder. He wanted to make sure the bomb maker didn’t set booby traps to allow him to escape. The US military wanted him for questioning regarding the two bombs that blew up a stadium in Baghdad. Twenty-two people had died with another seventy-plus severely injured.

Devlin and Easton were on the far side of the building, tracking enemy movement. Corey watched Ryder’s back. Another four-man team checked out other buildings. Ryder’s headset crackled. “Beta team moving in.”

Ryder swept forward, silent and deadly. Nothing in front or to the side. He dropped low and did a fast sweep inside from the doorway. No trip wires. Good.

In sync, Ryder and Corey went through all the ground-level rooms while Easton and Devlin maintained surveillance of the perimeter. Ryder and his partner found … nothing. Ever aware, Ryder kept moving. This was not the time to drop his guard. Too much at stake.

Gunfire sounded in the distance. The other SEAL team. Devlin’s voice crackled in Ryder’s headset. “Watch your back. Bullies coming up on the outside.”

Instantly Ryder and Corey faded into the shadows. If somebody was coming, Ryder wanted to see them first. Anybody who knew the bomb maker was of interest to them. More wild gunfire sounded. Ryder exchanged a look with Corey. Ryder knew exactly what that meant. The other SEAL team taking more fire. But they couldn’t help. Not just yet. He and Corey had done a full sweep of the downstairs, but they had the rest of the building to check.

“Sweep completed,” Easton whispered in Ryder’s headpiece. “I’m on the other side of the front entrance. We have company.”

Silently Ryder signaled to Corey before slipping around the outside of the building, following the wall toward the front. He peered around the corner. One man stood guard, his back to the entryway. A second man crouched against the front door and placed something on the step. A bomb.

Ryder warned the others with the appropriate clicks of his comm.

Of course it would be a bomb. As a weapon they were so damn unforgiving. Ryder had no way to calculate the devastation this one could bring, and he had no plans to find out. At the single tap on his comm, he lifted his semiautomatic rifle and waited.

From the far side he heard, “Step back away from the bomb. Hands in the air.”

The crouched man spun, lifting a rifle.

A single shot clipped the air. Ryder sprang from his hiding spot, his weapon on the man still standing. The other man had collapsed on top of whatever he’d placed on the front step. From his position, Ryder could see the wires connecting to the doorknob. It was crude but effective. The questions of the moment were, did the bomber die with the trigger in his hand and was the bomb ready to go off?

Ryder returned his gaze to the other man. The guard inched backward as he stared at his fallen comrade.

“Everyone take cover,” Ryder yelled into his comm before diving to the ground. Seconds later the bomb exploded, sending clay and body parts flying. Ryder rose immediately, his weapon once again on his prisoner who’d been thrown down by the blast.

With Ryder’s alpha team now at the designated rendezvous spot, but earlier than expected, Devlin and Easton pushed forward to the far side of the town where the earlier gunfire came from. The beta unit hadn’t checked in on the comm. Ryder had to assume they were in trouble, and he wasn’t taking any chances. Shoving his weapon into his prisoner’s neck while backing him against a wall, Ryder asked, “Where’s the bomb maker?”

Black eyes flashed his way as the man stayed silent.

Ryder shrugged. “We’ll get the answers one way or another.”

He didn’t for a moment believe the man who had died in the doorway was the bomb maker. Men like him had a dozen faithful helpers who’d die to protect him. So many young men had died for nothing.

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