He thought he left the battlefield behind.
Logan Stone should be happy. More than happy, in fact. Heâs Sutton Capitalâs newest executive, working side-by-side with Samantha Page, the sexy, brilliant woman of his dreams. Heâs no longer overseas in the line of fire, fighting alongside his brothers-in-arms as a Navy SEAL, but Logan is fighting a different kind of battle. One no one realizes heâs in. While he was focused on managing his PTSD, something much more sinister enters his world and he must battle to save Samanthaâs life and their growing love.
With all the heart stopping action and heartwarming romance NY Times bestselling author Lori Ryan has come to be known for, this stand-alone installment to the Sutton Capital Series wonât disappoint romantic suspense readers and fans!
Lori will donate 100% of her proceeds from eBook sales of this book for two weeks to the Semper Fi Fund and to Patriot Paws. Purchase this book from August 17-28, 2015 to help support these incredible organizations helping veterans and military service members.
They fought for us overseas. Letâs support them when they come home.
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About the Author
Lori Ryan is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes contemporary romance with a twist of suspense. Her books range from sweetheart to steamy in heat level. Lori published her first novel in April of 2013 and has fallen in love with writing. She is the author of the Sutton Capital Series; the Evers, Texas Series; and the Triple Play Curse Novellas, a set of novellas with sexy baseball players at their core as part of Bella Andre's Game For Love Kindle World.
She lives with an extremely understanding husband, two wonderful children (with another on the way!), two mostly well-behaved dogs, and a lone little cat in Austin, Texas. It's a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn't change a thing. She loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog.
Her SEALed Fate Excerpts:
âYou know I like you, right?â
Okaaaaay. Not exactly what Logan expected to hear from Chad Thompson, head of Sutton Capital Security and Jackâs best friend and cousin. Logan glanced over at the big man standing next to him and frowned. Theyâd gotten to know each other over the past few months, since Chad and Zach were friends, but he had no interest in talking about Chadâs feelings. And, Chad hadnât really struck him as the touchy feely type. The man had been an Army Ranger and he was built like a tank. He didnât scream big giant teddy-bear.
âUh, sure.â Logan took a step to the side, inching away from Chad. There was an odd glint to the manâs eyes.
âIâm just saying, I like you,â Chad said and then let his gaze move to where Loganâs had been moments before. Across the room, Sam stood talking to some of the other women who worked at Sutton. âBut, it needs to be said, if you mess with Sam, I wonât hesitate to implement a few of the more interesting techniques for dismembering bodies Iâve got tucked away.â
Andrew Weston, Sutton Capitalâs Chief Financial Officer, and the third in the trio of best friends who ran Sutton and owned the majority of its shares, sidled up on the other side of Logan. He sipped what looked to be whiskey or bourbon of some kind from a glass.
âHere, here,â he said quietly, raising his glass in a toast.
Logan rolled his eyes. âItâs not that I donât appreciate the sentiment, gentlemen, and let me assure you, I have no intention of messing with her, but please. Donât delude yourselves into thinking you can take me. Need I remind you of the fact that youâve been out of the action for, what, ten years Chad?â
Logan had to admit, the conversation might have turned a tad juvenile after that, with he and Chad throwing insults at one another under their breath. Andrew cheered one side or the other on as the mood seemed to strike him. It didnât have to be said that Logan had heard the warning and respected it. They loved Sam like a kid sister. Logan might be unreasonably attracted to her, but he was very well aware that his head was in the wrong damn place to be starting anything with a woman. Especially a woman like Sam. One who mattered. Given the fact that he wasnât even sure he should be walking around civilized people instead of locked up in a hospital somewhere talking about his feelings, he wasnât relationship material.
Jack joined the men where they stood still debating the training and prowess of the SEALs teams versus that of the Army Rangers. All three men laughed when Jack opened with: âSo, Logan, you know I like you right?â as his eyes cut across the room to Sam.
Logan shook his head. âYeah, yeah. I got it. Youâll kill me in new and interesting ways. Weâve covered it. Chadâs most recent plan includes fileting me from head to toe and Andrew has promised to bring salt to the party.â
âHey, I said salt and margaritas,â Andrew said with a grin.
Jack laughed. âI thought weâd take you out on the boat, chum the waters, and see if a SEAL could swim faster than a shark.â
Logan had to grin at the creativity of the men who stood laughing around him. He saw Sam glance toward their group and his smile stilled. What the hell. He might as well be honest with these guys and let them know they had nothing to worry about.
âListen, Samantha Page may very well be one of the sexiest creatures to walk the earth, but Iâm not planning on dating her. You guys donât have toââ And, thatâs where he broke off, because heâd just watched Samâs eyes go wide and round with surprise, as though sheâd understood every word heâd said. Every damn word.
âJack. Would Samantha by any chance happen to read lips?â Logan didnât take his eyes off Sam as he asked the question, and she seemed to choke on her drink as he asked the question.
Jack could hardly speak and Andrew and Chad seemed to be completely useless as they laughed at his blunder.
âSure does,â Jack finally said as Logan continued to stare at a now red Sam across the room. âWhy do you think she sits in on every negotiation I go to? Real handy trick.â
Of course it is.
Diya Molov smiled as she looked at the image on the screen, but the smile was one of sad memories, not joy. She wiped at an errant tear under one eye and forced herself to look past her own feelings. She was happy for her ex-fiancÃ©, despite the fact that there was a new woman on his arm in the photo. It wasnât his fault their world had been torn apart, any more than it was hers. When her family had died, something inside of her had died with them. In that moment, her life had been irreparably altered, and there was no going back. Sheâd been forced to abandon all sheâd known, all sheâd loved. To give all of it up in search of justice. None of this had been fair to either of them, but she wanted his happiness above all else. She wanted at least one of them to be able to continue to live happily.
Well, that wasnât true. She wanted to avenge her familyâs deaths above all else. Then, sheâd be satisfied to sit down and die along with them. To let her life slip from this world onto whatever it was that waited on the other side. On to join her family. Her beautiful baby brothers and their smiling faces. Her mother and father.
Her hand went to the locket on her neck, where she carried pictures of her brothersâ smiling faces. Little cherubs. Her little baby cherubs. They had been ten and twelve when they were murdered, but in her mindâs eye they would always be little babies with chubby cheeks and pudgy little legs running toward her for sticky kisses. Throwing dirty arms around her after a day playing in the yard at their family home.
Hearing a noise outside the room, she clicked the window closed on her laptop and turned to face the door. Yoshi entered quietly, as he always did. He wasnât a leader, but he was a damn good soldier. She understood why her father had kept him so close all these years. Aside from the family connection, that is. Alyosho Kozlov was her cousin, son of her fatherâs long deceased sister, but he was also loyal and true. He would have gladly died alongside her father, had his arrival at their house not been delayed the night of the attack. And, now he served alongside her as she sought vengeance.
He had come with her from Russia to New York City, after theyâd buried her family. New York was where they had begun to collect the information they would need to complete their task. It was where they were calling on markers her father had held to seek the justice that had been denied to her family.
âYoshi,â she said quietly. âYou have news?â
He came and kneeled before her, pulling papers from his back pocket. âIâve located the two who are no longer overseas. Stone is one of them. He was sent home injured several months ago and is living in Connecticut now.â
Diya tilted her head to the other chair in the room as she took the photos from his hands. She glanced at the images of one man, before dropping them on her desk in exchange for the pictures of Logan Stone. The one who had led the ambush against her family. Rage washed over her as she saw the life he lived. The photos showed him entering a large office building, living a life that shouldnât be his. A life he didnât deserve. The injustice of it steeled her resolve. One simply cannot erase an entire family from the face of the earth and expect to move on. But, he hadnât erased them all. Heâd left her alive and that would be his mistake. Heâd underestimated her. And she would take advantage of that fact and make him pay.
âShould I make arrangements?â Yoshi pulled her out of her head and back to the present with his question. She knew what he was asking. Did she want him to arrange for their deaths? But, no. She didnât. Not like that. It would be too easy to rely on the connections her father had built over the years. To call on the favors owed her father and his empire, and have the men killed efficiently and without fanfare.
âNo. Each of these men must pay a much higher price than the simple cost of their lives. They need to suffer as we have suffered, Yoshi. To have it all taken from them. Everything they love. All that they value. They need to see it all destroyed. Then, and only then, will they die.â
Yoshi nodded as Diya looked back at the images in her hand. âWe start with Stone. He is responsible. He was the leader and it is he who must pay first. Find out everything. Where his family is. Who his loved ones are. If he has a dog, find out. I want to take it all from him.â
She glanced down at the photos again and turned one toward Yoshi. In it, Stone and a woman stood together by the same building Stone had entered in the previous picture. âWho is she?â
âIâm not sure yet. Could simply be someone he works with, but theyâve been seen coming and going from the building together a number of times.â
Diya murmured, then handed the photos to Yoshi. âFind out if sheâs more to him. If so, sheâll be taken away.â
Yoshi nodded and left the room, slipping out as quietly as heâd come and leaving Diya alone to remember all sheâd lost. All Stone had stolen from her.
âItâs Ernie,â Chad called down and Logan figured he had seen him approach through the kitchen window upstairs.
He still used caution when opening the door, checking behind Ernie to be sure no one else lingered. The reporters seemed to have given up, at least for the day.
Logan looked down to see a leashed dog by Ernieâs side. Some kind of lab mix, by the look of it. The yellow dog stared calmly back at Logan. Leave it to Ernie to have the worldâs calmest dog.
âHere,â said Ernie, thrusting the leash into Loganâs hand. âHold him for me.â
Logan looked down at the leash and took a few steps back. The damn dog followed him. He supposed that made sense since he was holding its leash, but his steps had been more of an attempt to get away than an attempt to get the dog to follow him. It wasnât that he didnât like dogs. He did, actually. He just wasnât at all interested in engaging with anything or anyone right now. And, that included Ernie and his dog. Sam invited him over. She could hang out with him.
âSamâs upstairs,â Logan said.
Ernie didnât answer him. He called up to Chad.
âWill you grab the bag from the back of my truck and bring it in. Parked outside, white Ford.â
Logan watched as Chad went out and lifted something from the back of Ernieâs truck. A heavy bag for boxing. What the hell was he up to now?
âWhat are you doing?â Logan asked as he stepped further back into the hallway. Ernie stepped in and locked the door behind Chad, then made a motioning movement with his head.
âMove, that thingâs freaking heavy. You gonna make your buddy carry this shit around all damn night or get out of his way?â
Logan stepped aside, the dog coming with him, but he turned to glare at Ernie. Ernie ignored him and walked into the basement room Logan had intended to take over as his own while he needed to be here. By now, Sam, and Zach had come down the stairs. Zach introduced Sam to Ernie, who greeted her like they were long lost friends.
Ernie looked up at the ceiling. âYou got a drill, Sam?â he asked. Adding to Loganâs annoyance, she nodded and walked into the utility room that housed the hot water heater and furnace and came back with a large drill case in one hand and a tool box in another.
âTake whatever you need.â She put the cases down and came over to pet the dog, who greedily pushed into her arms for more. âWhatâs your dogâs name?â
Ernie didnât bat an eye as he opened the drill case, sorting through bits for the right size.
âHeâs not my dog. But, his name is Billy.â
âWhose dog is he?â
Logan got a weird twisty feeling in his gut at Samâs question. Oh hell no. He wouldnât.
âNo heâs not,â Logan said, dropping the leash and taking a step away from Sam and the dog. The dog left Sam to go to Logan, pressing to Loganâs left side and shoving his head up under Loganâs hand.
âSure he is,â Ernie said, âjust look at him.â He waived a hand at Logan and the dog and damned if that dog didnât press even further into Loganâs leg.
âNo. Heâs not.â
Sam started to laugh and Loganâs scowl only made her laugh harder.
Ernie was knocking on the low basement ceiling with his fist, and Chad joined in, searching for a beam to hang the bag on. They nodded at each other a few times, and Ernie marked a spot with a pencil. As he turned the chuck to fix the bit into place on the drill, he glanced up at Logan.
âYeah, heâs your new service dog. You got lucky. Thereâs normally a very long wait. He was working with another veteran nearby but for a number of reasons, the match wasnât the right fit. The guyâs kid is allergic to him. The service dog organization I work with is going to get him a poodle instead. Thereâs usually a one year or longer wait for a dog. I talked them into letting you have Billy since youâre in the area. That way, he doesnât need to get shipped back to them in Massachusetts. You will need to attend training with him, though, but that can wait for a while.â
The drill started up as Chad began setting up the heavy bag, and Logan remembered that Ernie and Chad had been friends. Maybe he shouldnât have chosen Ernie as his counselor after all. Logan yelled over the noise.
âI donât need a service dog. I donât need any of this. I need you all to get the hell out and leave me alone.â
He saw Samâs flinch, but he just kept going. He started to pace along one wall of the room, turning when he hit the end to go back to the other wall. He needed to get out of here. He needed gone. Now.
âI donât need pity jobs or ââ
He stopped and looked down. The dog had moved himself in front of Loganâs legs and was pressed up against him. He rubbed his head up and down Loganâs leg.
âWhat the hell is your dog doing?â Logan yelled, but the whine of the drill stopped halfway through his question and the room went silent as his too loud words met the emptiness.
âYour dog,â said Ernie calmly. âYouâre getting upset. Heâs responding to it.â
The dog placed his mouth gently on Loganâs arm. Not biting or clamping down. Just holding his hand.
Logan stared at the dog.
âIf youâre having a nightmare,â Ernie continued, âheâll place his paws on your shoulders and lick your face to wake you. If you need him to, heâll crawl right up in your lap and just let you hold him for hours. Some of it is trained and some just comes naturally to him. Heâs really quite good at his job.â
Despite Loganâs dumb founded expression, Ernie just smiled down at the dog. âHeâs got a natural aptitude for this work.â
âHeâs fantastic,â Sam said, beaming at the dog. âIs he a rescue?â
Sam hadnât batted an eye at Loganâs sour mood, and he wondered how many times heâd have to kick her before sheâd give up and leave him alone. He didnât know if he could stomach much more of it, so he hoped sheâd give up soon. It wasnât in him to be cruel to her, but he needed her to stay away from him.
âYup,â Ernie answered. âThe organization works with shelters. The shelter calls if they think a dog will pass the screening. If they take them into the program, they get training and are placed with someone needing their skills. If they fail the training, the group adopts them out. By then, the training theyâve had usually makes them great family dogs.â
While Sam and Ernie talked, Chad lifted the heavy bag up while Zach affixed the chain at the top of it to the large hook Chad had just installed. Ernie nodded and turned to Sam.
âWhatâs for dinner? It smells fantastic.â
âPaella,â she said with a smile and they all walked upstairs, leaving Logan and the dog watching after them.
He looked at their retreating backs, then up at the heavy bag, and down at the dog. Billy looked up at him with open brown eyes. Logan grunted at him and picked up the gloves Ernie had left against the wall. Slipping them on, he chose a position that allowed him to watch the door and beat on the bag at the same time, and started up a rhythm, letting the steady sound of the punches roll over him. Billy watched for a minute, then chose a spot in the corner and laid down. He rolled over on one hip, but his shoulders and head remained upright and alert. A sentry, Logan thought, and kept on pounding on the bag.
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