Second in NYT & USAT bestselling author Julie Ann Walker’s new romantic suspense series featuring former navy SEALs
The former SEALs of The Deep Six return in a sizzling series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Ann Walker.
A COVERT MISSION
Maddy Powers’s life revolves around cocktail parties, political fundraisers, and charity events — but she can’t forget the daring former SEAL who appropriated her father’s yacht a few months ago … or the scorching kiss they shared before he disappeared into the deep blue sea.
SPARKS A FLAMING DESIRE
Bran Pallidino carries a dark secret behind his lady-killer eyes — one that keeps him from pursuing a serious relationship with Maddy. But when she’s taken hostage during a trip to the Dry Tortugas, the men of Deep Six Salvage drop their treasure hunt for a sunken galleon and embark on a dangerous mission to save Maddy.
WITH EARTH-SHATTERING REPERCUSSIONS
As they fight her merciless kidnappers, they discover this isn’t a simple hostage situation, but something far more sinister. Passion boils between Bran and Maddy, but what good is putting their hearts on the line if they don’t survive the dawn?
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Here’s an exclusive excerpt to enjoy
Her lungs burned. Her heart rate spiked, trying to push oxygen that wasn’t there through her bloodstream.
Did I take a wrong turn? Could the tunnel have forked?
She kicked and pulled, kicked and pulled, her motions becoming more desperate as oxygen deprivation set in. All her instincts yelled at her. Turn back! Turn back now! But she fought them off, pushing, pulling, propelling herself forward. Ever forward.
Where’s Bran? I took a wrong turn! Somehow I—
Big, beautiful, wide-open space. She was free-floating in the cistern. Finally!
She kicked toward the surface with all her might. Her fingers became claws, tearing at the water. The beat of her heart was a ferocious roar in her ears. Her lungs spasmed, desperate to suck in air.
Had she gotten mixed up in all that cool, wet blackness when she exited the fissure? Was she swimming down instead of up?
Oh Lord! Oh shit! Oh—
Her mouth opened in a silent scream. Briny water rushed in, triggering her gag reflex. Spots of light flashed in front of her unblinking eyes, but they weren’t bioluminescent sea creatures. They were hallucinations conjured up by her under-oxygenated brain as her synapses misfired.
She stopped to turn around. Surely she was swimming down. She had to be. She would have reached the surface by now! But before she could switch directions, a hard arm came around her middle.
Bran! If she’d had a voice, she’d have screamed his name.
In an instant she was propelled through the water. Bran’s muscled legs kicked. His free arm stroked. He was a human torpedo dragging her along for the ride. Good thing, because she was done.
Out of juice.
Out of air.
Out of time. And then…
“Uhhhhh!” They breached the surface just as her convulsing lungs overrode her willpower and forced her to suck in bright, brilliant oxygen…along with a fair amount of liquid.
She immediately folded in half, hacking and coughing and trying to clear the spray from her lungs. The sound of her struggle echoed through the cistern, bouncing around the brick walls. Bran slammed a wide-palmed hand over her mouth.
“Shhhhh,” he hissed, his lips moving against her ear, his hot breath burning along her cheek. “Just breathe, babe.”
Uh-huh. Breathe. Right.
Problem was, she couldn’t. Not without hacking up a lung. And if she did that, the resulting sound could resonate through the cistern and out into the parade grounds, alerting their enemies to their presence.
For Pete’s sake, Maddy! Could you be any more of a pain in the ass?
Going on instinct, she spun in Bran’s embrace, wrapping her legs around his waist and burying her nose in the crook of his neck. Her stomach contracted around the need to cough. Her lungs quaked. But she managed to execute a muted throat-clearing thing that she further muffled against Bran’s tough flesh. It wasn’t exactly a silent exercise. But neither was it sure to bring the bad guys down on their heads.
Again and again, she repeated the process. Each odd inhale and exhale felt gritty, like she’d pulled sand into her lungs instead of water. But after a few seconds, she was able to suck air through her nose without her diaphragm trying to send it hacking back out into the warm, dense atmosphere.
Her senses returned. She could hear the gentle slap-slap of the water against the sides of the brick structure. She could smell the clean, masculine scent of Bran beneath the thin layer of seawater that coated his skin. She could feel his heavy pulse beating steadily beneath her lips, a drumbeat she could set her watch to. And even though she couldn’t see—the darkness inside the cistern was complete—she knew at some point Bran had swum them to the edge. She could sense the tall, damp walls of the water tank rising overhead. With one arm still wrapped securely around her waist, he was holding on to something that allowed them to float freely, effortlessly in the water.
For a while, she allowed herself to revel. Revel in being alive. Revel in being able to breathe. Revel in feeling momentarily safe and secure inside Bran’s embrace—she’d stuck herself to him like a whole sleeve of plastic wrap; if there was a fraction of an inch of space between their bodies, she couldn’t feel it. She closed her eyes against the darkness and simply…was. No thoughts. No fears. Just her. Just him. Just being. Just touching.
And then it happened…
Bran’s pulse kicked up. His chest expanded on a deep breath. And he stilled against her, all his muscles contracting at once. She knew what caused the change. It was the same thing that happened any time they touched. Sudden, intimate…awareness.
The smooth firmness of his skin beneath her lips tempted her to taste. She fought the need for a whole two seconds. It was two seconds she was extremely proud of, just to be clear. But then she couldn’t stand it. She opened her lips over his hammering pulse-point and flicked her tongue against his hot flesh.
Male. That was the word that flittered through her brain as Bran’s sweet, salty taste exploded on her tongue. He was all man. From top to bottom. Inside and out. And when she was touching him, kissing him, she was every bit a woman. Completely aware that she had breasts and a womb. Both ached, throbbed, yearned.
Bran sucked in a ragged breath at the second pass of her tongue. “Maddy,” he rumbled, lowering his chin until his lips moved against her ear. The arm around her waist became a wide, warm hand that crept lower, lower, lower until he was palming her ass, kneading and caressing and moving her against him in that age-old rhythm that rubbed her swelling sex against the seam of her shorts.
We’re giving away five (5) copies of HELL OR HIGH WATER, the first in the series.
About HELL OR HIGH WATER
In a world on the brink Six men. One sunken Spanish galleon. Millions in gold and silver coins lying on the ocean floor. And a past that refuses to let the guys of Deep Six Salvage forget the Navy SEAL motto: the only easy day was yesterday…
There’s more than one kind of treasure The nation’s security has always been CIA agent Olivia Mortier’s top priority. But a mission-gone-wrong has begun to make her wonder if there’s more to life than risking hers.
And more than one secret at the bottom of the sea Only two things could make Leo Anderson abandon his hunt for the legendary lost ship, La Santa Christina, and return to the world of weapons and warfare he swore to leave behind: a capsule of enriched uranium, lost on the ocean floor, and a plea for assistance from the one woman he can’t seem to forget…