Body Shot(9)

By: Amy Jarecki

She was tougher than bullets and Mike had learned firsthand she was about as stubborn as a curly nose hair as well.

He paged through her army report. Two could play the stubborn game and few could beat him once he dug in his heels. Besides, he’d made the bet with Moore, a wager Mike wasn’t about to lose. Once the woman agreed to go to Iceland, she’d be Garth’s problem, end of story. Mike could collect his hundred quid and leave her training to the fine folks at ICE.

Unfortunately, the one thing missing from Anderson’s file was what made her tick. Sure, she was hiding in the mountains because she’d been slighted by her country. Her aunt was a bit of a cold fish as well—didn’t come across as someone Henri might confide in, or even warm to. What did Henrietta Anderson love? What were her interests? At one time the lass would have put her life on the line for her squadron, but what about now? What kept her awake at night? What was her passion?

Mike needed to find a way past her rifle and past her badass facade.

Their interests were about as similar as her red desert was to his green Scotland. He liked fast cars. He owned a red Porsche 911 and an old, stone manor on the hill that overlooked Oban Bay. He liked nice things. He liked it orderly. Though he wasn’t home much, he kept his place tidy like a show home. And then there was Henri. She lived in a rickety mine shaft.

After reading until his eyes crossed, trying to find anything he might be able to use to connect with the lass, he decided the only thing they had in common was an appreciation of weapons.

With that decided, he drove to a gun shop, used an ID indicating his last name was MacLeod and he was a US citizen, bought a Remington 700 sniper rifle, ammo, a headlamp and a canteen. Not ideal, but it was the best civilian gun he could purchase without drawing attention to himself.

The next morning, Mike headed back to the reservation. This time, he parked the Jeep a mile away from the mine. By the way Henri had ambushed him, she’d been alerted of his approach long before he’d arrived.

The first rule of war? Strategy. And when the commander is strategizing, his greatest tool is the element of surprise.

Chapter Four

Mike treated the tire tracks leading to the mine as if they were a dusty goat trail in the Middle East filled with IEDs. Since the lass had obviously been alerted to his approach the day before, this time he intended to invoke the element of surprise. This was a mission just like any other and it was time he realized it. He must handle it no differently—just like he was in Syria slipping into an enemy camp and targeting his quarry. Somehow, he needed to get in Henrietta Anderson’s head and he couldn’t do that by reading her damned file.

Going bush, he climbed the hill across from Henri’s old Ford truck. If the condition of that heap of metal was any indication, she ought to pay more attention to what ICE had to offer—if she’d let him get a word in edgewise. Damn, he wasn’t a fan of tough women. Sure, Henri might be bonny with all the right female equipment, but Mike liked women who were a little flirty when they first met—who appreciated his, might as well say it, when they appreciated him for being a goddamned man.

But this wasn’t about a female piece of arse hiding on a Paiute reservation in the middle of nowhere. This was about a sniper, a Special Ops soldier who’d proven she had what it took to be in the field. And Mike wasn’t going back to Iceland without her.

Yesterday, he’d studied the satellite images before he chose his approach. Peppered with sagebrush, the place was desolate or some might call it pristine with no trees and little sign of human life. By the lack of tracks in the stills, it was clear few people frequented Henri’s mine intentionally or by accident. Besides, the barbed wire fence and no trespassing signs were a sure-fire deterrent for most of the locals.

The sun beat down like a blast from a welding torch. By the time Mike reached top of the hill over the mine, his face and arms were working up a burn. Stupid. He always wore a cap and long sleeves in arid climates, the same common sense should have prevailed in Utah.

Next time.

Stepping carefully to minimize his tracks, he circled the terrain on the hill. The first thing he found was Henri’s back door, the one she’d used to ambush him the day before. The ground was still streaked where she’d crawled to the edge of the cliff and watched him through her scope. Footprints surrounded the hole, covered with a bit of grill that had a big tumbleweed tied to it. Funny she hadn’t covered her tracks, though given the isolation of the mine, there was probably no point.

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