Ryder:SEALs of Honor, Book 14(6)

By: Dale Mayer



Her heart and mind at war never led to anything good. Look at what happened with George.

It had taken her months to figure it out because she’d been so busy looking everywhere but inside. Finding out the truth had been shocking and delightful. Followed by her horror as she realized she’d let too much time go by. Ryder’s hurt had gone too deep by now, and life had never been the same after that. Not for Ryder. Not for her either.

The next few months had been really rough. He had been sent on mission after mission, training after training. Too much distance between them. As if he’d volunteered for every opportunity possible, hoping to get killed. And now she sat in a world she wasn’t terribly comfortable in, or wanted to be in, because this was Ryder’s world and the only way she knew to be a part of his life. Her plan had worked. They were both here in Iraq now. And that was terrifying enough.

Yet, she didn’t want to mess this up, her attempts to reconcile with Ryder.

Where was Mac when she needed him? He had proven to be a good friend. He understood her heart lay with Ryder, and Mac had threatened to take Ryder around back and beat the crap out of him until he was willing to listen to her. But she hadn’t wanted that. She also didn’t want Ryder to know she had cried all over Mac’s shoulder. Many times.

If there was one thing Ryder had, it was pride. She’d taken it and shredded it unintentionally. But, when he put it back together again, it was stronger and thicker and harder than ever before. And she didn’t want to tear it open. Again. She went back inside and checked her watch. Almost 1800 hours. She grabbed her jacket, put it on and headed for the mess tent. She had no patients at this moment, so it was a good time to eat.

Just then the area to the left of her blew up, and she was tossed to the ground. Coming to after momentarily being knocked out, she bounded to her feet and raced in the direction of the blast. The camp was heavily manned. There would be injuries.

As she ran, the smoke thickened. She was grabbed from behind, spun around and slammed up against a hard chest. She struggled to get free. “Let me go. Let me go. I have to help.”

Arms squeezed her tight. “You’ll go in a few minutes, not until the scene is secured.”

Ryder. She fell limp against his body. Of course it was him. She glanced up, but he wasn’t staring at her. His grim face was locked on the devastation behind her.

Moments later he let her go, and she raced into the chaos. She could see at least two dead so far, three more injured. It could’ve been much worse. As it was, she mourned the loss of those who died. She knew them both. They were good men and didn’t deserve this. Not for the first time it came home to her just how close she’d been to dying. Another few feet to the side, and she’d have taken a direct hit.





Chapter 2





The next four hours passed in a haze. She patched, swabbed and disinfected, then readied patients for transport while the camp disassembled and moved behind the new frontline. The attack had taken them by surprise, and now there was organized chaos. Between the gunfire and the orders coming from every direction, she kept her head down and worked.

With the last of the patients attended to, she was rushed to the last helicopter. High above, she gazed down at the turmoil below, fervently saying a prayer for Ryder and the others. No way would he retreat from such an attack. The fighting had been brutal. She glanced down at her patient who studied her face. She smiled, reached out and covered his hand with hers. “You’ll be all right, soldier.”

He smiled too and closed his eyes.

At the main base, she supervised the transfers of her patients, went through a debriefing and then headed for the showers. Everything hurt from the blast, and her headache, instead of easing, had gotten worse.

She finished shampooing her hair for the second time, then turned off the water, finding blood mixed in. With a towel wrapped around her hair, she stepped from the shower and dried off. She sat down on the bench with a second towel wrapped about her body and reached up to the back of her neck. Her fingers came away with more blood. She stood up to check in the mirror but couldn’t find the wound hidden in her hairline. A doctor would have to take a closer look.

She hadn’t told anybody she had lost consciousness at the site. They’d been shorthanded for medics as it was. But the headache she’d ignored up until now started to pound. After getting dressed, she folded some paper towels and held them against where she guessed the wound was.

One of the doctors stood outside her tent, calling for her, his schedule in his hand. When she approached, he took one look and nodded toward the medical center. He walked beside her. “What happened to you?”

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