On our blog today, in celebration of Armed Forces Day, we have an exclusive excerpt from Shot Through the Heart by Nicole Helm, which is out now!
Willa Zimmerman grew up as the daughter of spies, so she’s always known her life could be in danger. That’s why, when North Star undercover operative Holden Parker follows her to her home, seeking a lead on a hit man, she captures him. But soon they learn they’re actually on the same side—and they’re being pursued by the same relentless foe. Together, can they stop a deadly hunter before they end up as the next victims?
Holden Parker didn’t need a mission to make him feel alive, but boy, it sure did help. Six weeks of investigating and not one minute of fieldwork had left him antsy and ready for action. Real action.
He hadn’t joined the secretive North Star Group five years ago to wait around. He’d joined to do some good in the world.
For four years, he’d been able to stay in the field, con-stantly working to help bring down the Sons of the Bad-lands, a powerful gang that had run roughshod over the poorer communities in South Dakota.
In the past year, assignments had slowly dried up as the Sons had withered down to a noncriminal element. Holden knew he wasn’t the only one who’d been afraid that was the end of North Star.
But the head of the group had come through with a new assignment a few weeks ago, and even though Holden had only been backup on that mission, it had been good to be in the field again. He was ready for more.
After six long weeks, Shay had finally called a leader meeting for this morning. Which meant assignments were going to be doled out—real, in-the-field assignments. Holden practically skipped to the meeting room.
He met Sabrina Killian in the hallway and grinned, because next to a mission and a nice, cold beer, there were few things he enjoyed more than irritating Sabrina.
“You know it’ll be me next. Shay’s not sending you out on a mission when you’re still banged up,” Holden said, nodding at her arm, which had spent six weeks in a cast up until yesterday.
Holden himself felt much better with it gone. Then he didn’t have to feel guilty for not letting her finish off the guys who’d ambushed her on their last mission. He knew she could have taken them, but he’d also known her arm was seriously injured, so he’d stepped in.
Sabrina had not thanked him.
She scowled at him now, and he knew she hadn’t for-given him for it. Sabrina wasn’t the forgiving sort. He supposed, perversely, that’s what he liked about her. In a little-sister sort of way.
He saw too much of himself in Sabrina, which was why he’d convinced the old head of North Star to give her a job after she’d tried to beat him up in a seedy South Dakota bar years ago. He’d seen too clearly a person bent on de-struction, just like he’d once been.
“We’ll see,” she muttered at him, walking shoulder to shoulder down the narrow hallway.
“Hey, remember when I saved your butt a few weeks ago?” He slung his arm around her shoulder. She shrugged off the gesture before giving him a saccharine-sweet fake smile.
“Hey, remember when I kicked your butt a few years ago? Besides, if you’d given me a little more time, I could have taken those guys on my own. Fractured arm and all.”
“Must be losing your touch. Want to try me now?” Holden offered, spreading his arms as if to offer her a free punch.
She tossed her long, dark ponytail over her shoulder.
“When you’ve hung up your warped moral code about hit-ting women who were this close to being Navy SEALs, I’ll fight you.”
Before he could respond to that, someone cleared their throat.
Holden turned to see Shay standing in the entrance of the conference room, arms crossed, boss glare on her face. She’d been with North Star longer than any of them and had been tapped by their old leader to take over when he’d retired after a major injury almost two years ago.
Holden wouldn’t say he liked her better than Granger McMillan, as he didn’t really like having a boss, but what he did like about both his former boss and his current one was a shared desire to take down the bad guys. And a will-ingness to get the job done.
“Children,” Shay said blandly. “If you’d enter so we could get this started?”
Sabrina sent Holden a haughty look, then sailed into the room in front of him. She took her usual chair, so Holden took his. He glanced at the empty one next to him. Reece wouldn’t be coming to this meeting. Or any following meetings.
Reece Montgomery had quit. Left North Star for do-mestic bliss. Holden tried not to think about it, because the whole thing gave him the creeps. That a contained and hard man like Reece Montgomery could be undone by some innkeeper and her son was a bit terrifying.
Holden had no desire to be taken down in such a way. Ever.
Elsie Rogers sat at her computer in the corner tapping away, and at least some things would stay the same. As head of IT, Elsie barely ever left the digital light of her computer screen, and Holden doubted she ever would.
Shot Through the Heart by Nicole Helm is out now!