Cougar Christmas Calamity by Terry Spear

Prologue





Three former army rangers and two navy SEALs made up the Black Ops team that had the mission of rescuing a group of kids from insurgents in South America. The insurgents were waiting for a payoff that wasn’t coming—at least not the kind of payoff they were expecting.

The men were all eager to save the kids. Ex-army ranger and cougar shifter Girard Smith had given the men the mission. He’d worked with them before and Emerson Merriweather—though he went by the alias of Thor—and his team had no reason to believe that this would be different from any other deadly mission they were being highly paid to handle.

“Hey, Condor,” Kline, a former navy SEAL, said, as they were being helicoptered to the secret location, “I hear you’re up to number seven on potential wife choices.” He was the joker of the bunch, fun to have around, whether they were planning a mission, in the middle of a fight, or at the end of the mission.

Emerson smiled. Condor was a wolf shifter like Emerson was a cougar shifter, but the other three men on the team were strictly human. They wouldn’t know just how important it was for a wolf to find the right mate.

“Six,” Condor corrected Kline. They’d trained together in the navy and were the only two who actually knew each other’s real identities. “That other woman didn’t count.”

The guys all smiled.

“Hey, Gardiner, I heard you were in a club brawl last night. Kind of cutting it close to mission time, aren’t you?” Condor said to the former army ranger, getting the heat off him and his love life, and putting it on the team member who should have known better.

Gardiner shook his head. “I had to let off some steam.”

He was always letting off steam. He was a real asset on the mission, focused, dedicated, but when he was Stateside, he was a drinker, been through three wives already, but thankfully hadn’t had any kids. He was currently divorced and always eager for a mission.

Emerson didn’t like that Gardiner would start a fight at a club right before a mission though. Not when he could have ended up in jail and put the rest of the team in a bind. He was always the instigator of the brawls, so Emerson didn’t have to ask what led up to the fight.

Next mission, Emerson might have to bring on a different guy to replace him. The kind of jobs they went on were too dangerous to allow one person to jeopardize the whole team.

Robertson was quiet as usual. He only went with them on this trip to be able to afford Christmas presents for his children, otherwise he wanted to be home for them. His wife was a gambler and all the decent money Robertson made on these risky missions went to feed her addiction. Robertson was intending to sock this money away this time, divorce his wife, and take care of his kids, no more Black Ops. He didn’t trust that his wife was looking out for the kids while he was away.

But on the mission when Emerson and his men arrived at the school where they were to rescue the kids, they discovered the building was in ruins, rubble everywhere, partially standing brick walls, partially standing classrooms and roofs. It didn’t look at all like the reconnaissance photos Smith had shown them. The coordinates were correct, so that wasn’t the issue. Emerson had a twitchy feeling crawling around his skin. There were no kids here.

No one was here—they thought. Until the shooting began.

They’d been misled, misinformed, or sold out. Right now, all that mattered was that Emerson—as team leader—got his team out before they all were killed.

When the gunfire began, Emerson and his team ducked for cover among the ruins, trying to learn where the two snipers were and where the others who were shooting at them were situated.

Condor took out one of the snipers. Emerson maneuvered behind partial brick walls and finally reached the other. He shot the shooter in the head and the man dropped to the ground, dead. The rest of the team were shooting at the other gunmen, the firepower way too much for Emerson and his team to handle, he was afraid. Emerson and the team were outnumbered and didn’t know the terrain like the insurgents did.

It was a bad situation, but Emerson was determined to get his team out alive.

Gardiner tried to reach another wall, fire rang out, and he went down. Emerson fired at the man who had shot him, just as the gunman made a move to turn and hightail it to another location. The man dropped his weapon and did a face plant in the rubble and didn’t move.

Emerson made a low dash to Gardiner to see to his injuries and hurried to field dress the bullet wound on his leg. Condor raced to reach them and dropped in beside them. The SEAL shook his head. “I told you I had a bad feeling about this.”