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Someone Like Her(2)

By:Sandra Owens

 Jackson Kennedy Buchanan, in an attempt to be as honorable as his namesakes, opened his mouth to say no, not happening. “Are you home?” He pulled the phone from his ear and glared as if it were responsible for the decidedly inadvisable question. She’d probably had a fight with a boyfriend and needed a shoulder to cry on.

 Maria Kincaid—top-of-her-class law student at Florida State University and weeks from graduating—didn’t get in trouble. Maria Kincaid, the woman her brother had put off-limits by threat of death. The boss didn’t want his sister anywhere near a man known as Romeo to his SEAL buddies.

 “No, I’m at a motel. I can’t go back to my apartment.” She hiccupped.

 Jake flipped on his bedside lamp, squinting when the light hit his eyes. He stood and walked to the window. “Why not?”

 “Jake, honey, come back to bed.”

 The woman crooking her finger at him let the sheet fall down to her waist. Rose . . . no, Rosie, leaned over to the nightstand and picked up a condom, then waved it at him with a come-hither smile on her face.

 He strode into the bathroom and closed the door. “Why can’t you go home, Maria?”

 “I’ll explain when you get here.”

 Although he hadn’t agreed, they both knew he would go to her. “I can’t just take off without informing your brother.”

 “I know, but you have to promise you won’t tell him you’re coming here.”

 Did she have any idea the position she was putting him in? Of course she did, so whatever the problem, it wasn’t good. He weighed the consequences of hiding this from Kincaid against an image of Maria alone and in trouble. The decision took less than a second.

 “I promise.” A heavy sigh followed his words. He might as well accept he’d be dead meat when the boss found out.

 “I’m at the Bluebird Motel on Highway 27, south of I-10, room four.” She hung up.

 Jake was strong. He’d been a SEAL and was now second in command at K2 Special Services, a company his former commander, Logan Kincaid, had started. As K2 accepted black op assignments from the government, sometimes Jake felt like he was still in the military. Along with Kincaid and the others on their team, he still held to SEAL training methods. Before Maria’s call, however, he hadn’t known he was strong enough to crush a phone with his bare hand.

 He let the pieces drop onto the bathroom floor, went to his closet, and pulled out the always-packed duffel bag. It would take a little over two hours to reach her if he broke all the speed laws—which he would.

 After quickly dressing, he went to the bed and patted Rosie’s bottom. “Time for you to go home, babe. Up and at ’em.”

 As soon as he crossed over the I-10 bridge leading out of Pensacola, Jake pulled his backup cell out of his pocket and made the dreaded call. “Yo, boss,” he said when Kincaid picked up.

 “Is there a problem with the mission?” Like him, Logan Kincaid answered his phone as alert as though it were high noon.

 “No, everything’s proceeding as planned in that respect.” Delta Team was deep in Somalia; their objective was to rescue a tycoon and his wife hijacked by Somalian pirates when their sailboat had been blown off course in a storm.

 Jake swallowed hard and prepared to lie to the man he respected above all others. “Thing is, boss, I need some personal time. Don’t ask me to explain, because I can’t. I’d tell you if I could, but it’s not my story to tell. There’s just something important I need to do . . . that I have to do. I know this is coming out of left field, and it’s not good timing. I’ve never asked anything like this before and wouldn’t now if there was any other way. It’s important, boss.”

 Shit, he was rambling. He never rambled. Shutting up was the best option.

 A long pause. “Is it your mother?”

 “No, Mom’s fine. Just trust me on this, Logan.”

 “I always trust you, Jake, but you don’t sound like yourself. I’m concerned.”

 You should be. He clamped his lips together. That he’d used Kincaid’s first name—something he never did—was a mistake. Kincaid never called him by his first name, either. New ground there. “I’ll call Turner to let him know I’ll be gone for a few days. He’s up to speed on the operation.”

 “At least tell me where you’re going.”

 “I’ll touch base later.” Pretending he didn’t hear the question, Jake clicked off. There was only one person in Tallahassee of interest to Kincaid. If Jake told him that was where he was headed, the boss would be hot on his tail.