Page List


“No clue. The mine, maybe?” Davis took the camera from her, turned it off, and tucked it in her case.

“Yeah, maybe.” She shook her head, then stared up at the hole like it might hold the answer. “But why the comment about snooping? I mean, an exploratory mining company has all kinds of regulations and inspections, so it’d be hard to hide anything worth snooping over.”

“Not necessarily.” Memories of the mission he’d lost his team on rose like a submarine surfacing too fast. “There are lots of ways to hide nefarious actions.”

“What do you mean?” She placed a hand on his, stilling his trembling fingers picking at nothing on his jeans.

He couldn’t explain without telling her what had happened. Dread swirled like cold, loose mud in his core. Would he lose her trust when she realized he was responsible for his team members’ deaths?

“When we were last stationed in the Middle East, we protected an area that was relatively peaceful. We didn’t even know why we were there. Figured the military had us wasting time, chasing goats again.” All the grief and pain balled in his throat. He tried to clear it free. “There was this young twelve-year-old boy, Faris Majid, who would come around almost every day. Well, there were a lot of kids, but he stuck out.”

Davis could still picture the boy’s face clearly, how intelligence and wonder always shone there. The other kids would get excited about the candies and trinkets. Faris never cared about that. He was more interested in learning, specifically English. When he’d asked Davis to tutor him so he could go to university, Davis reveled in the opportunity. Finally, instead of violence, he’d sow hope.

“His dad ran a learning institute for training young adults job skills. At least, that’s what they claimed.” Davis squeezed his eyes shut. “We didn’t realize the truth until Faris lured us in with a panicked plea for help from attackers. My team and another unit rushed from the base, only to be ambushed once we entered the institute.”

“What happened?” Her hand slid along his shoulder, and he opened his eyes.

“We’d been lied to, by Faris and the CIA.” He shook his head with a snort. “The boy was part of an extremist group infiltrating the area. That’s why we’d been sent there. Only the CIA didn’t think we needed to be privy to that intel. I should’ve known something was up. I’d been too lax, too trusting, and eager to see peace in all that violence. My foolishness cost so many lives.”


“No, Sunny, don’t say it wasn’t my fault.” He brushed her hand off his shoulder and stood. “In all the times we’d gone to that institute, we never saw what it really was. It was so obvious afterward, but before? We believed the lies spun to us.”

“Well, whatever is going on at this so-called mine needs to be exposed.” She stood and peered up the shaft, dropping the subject of his guilt like she knew he needed to move off the topic. “Speaking of exploratory mining, I think that’s what this was. See how there’s two half-circles on either side of the gap?”

He followed her pointed finger to the opening. Sure enough. Faint perfect lines could be seen among the jagged.

“I think whoever did this was drilling to test the soil.” She shrugged. “I’m not sure why they tunneled in from the cliff side instead of just bulldozing.”

“Maybe they wanted to make sure something was worth hauling the big equipment all the way up here for.”

“That makes sense.” She stared back up at the opening. “I’m going to climb up.”

After all he’d been through, he never thought fear would threaten to kill him.


“I’ve trained for this exact situation—”

“You’ve trained for falling down mine shafts?” He knew he was being contrary, but he couldn’t help the gruff tone.

“No, but I trained for free climbing up ice walls inside crevasses.” She trailed her finger along the seam above them. “Except for that vein of black sand in the middle, this fault runs along solid bedrock. The surface is jagged, not smooth, so there should be plenty of hand and footholds.”

“Sunny, this isn’t Denali where you are equipped with ice hooks and boot crampons.”

“Lucky for us, I packed my trusty rope and a bag of cams.” She winked at him and bent to her gear. “And with your injured shoulder, I get to play hero this time.”

“I don’t like it.” Fear snaked and bit up his throat.

“I know.” She straightened and stepped up so they were toe to toe. “But we don’t have any other option.”

“You sure?”

Without a doubt, her plan would work. Free climbing wasn’t a walk in the park though, especially not with a head injury. But out of the two of them, she was the better climber.

“Well, we don’t have time to find it.” She kissed him gently, then went back to inspecting her climbing gear.

He peered up at the fissure, his head spinning with their only solution. Yep, her stubbornness would give him ulcers. Her steady fingers inspected the cams throughly, her face beautiful in its intense concentration. Sighing, he kneeled to help her. If he couldn’t back her up with this, then any hope of a relationship was doomed.

Tags: Sara Blackard Alaskan Rebels Romance