Posts Tagged ‘military amputee’

Wrangler’s Challenge by Lindsay McKenna — exclusive excerpt!

October 23, 2017

Hi Readers!
On Halloween, Wrangler’s Challenge is released! As a gift to you, Chapter 1 excerpt to get you in the mood! I hope you enjoy it.

Healing, like love, takes time . . .
For Noah Mabry, it’s easier sometimes to relate to the dogs and horses he trains than to other people. Ever since his marriage became a casualty of the war in Afghanistan—torn apart by the PTSD he brought back with him—he prefers to be on his own. At the Bar C Ranch, where he works with a crew of fellow military vets, his gentle patience helps tame even the rowdiest mustang—but he’s about to meet a woman who needs a healing touch he’s not sure he can give.

Dair Wilson, a half-Comanche ex-Marine who lost a foot to an IED, has been hired on to assist Noah, but her deepest wounds aren’t visible. Growing up in an abusive home, she learned not to trust men, even ones who seem nothing but kind. After a wild horse sends her sprawling, the attentive care she receives from the Bar C family—and especially from Noah—is enough to convince her she’s found a place she can finally breathe easy. But one angry, damaged man poses a threat not only to Dair and Noah, but to everyone who’s built a new home at the Bar C . . .

LINKS:

Amazon

Kobo
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wrangler-s-challenge

iBooks/iTunes
https://linkmaker.itunes.apple.com/en-us/details/1203066954?country=us&mediaType=books&term=Wrangler%27s+Challenge

BN.com
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wranglers-challenge-lindsay-mckenna/1125683978

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from Wrangler’s Challenge by Lindsay McKenna
Wind River Valley series, Book 4

CHAPTER 1

A bad feeling snaked through Army Sergeant Dair Wilson. The late October Afghan night chilled her to the bone. Wind cut against her face where it was exposed. Zeus, her Belgian Malinois combat dog, strained at the leash she had double wrapped in her gloved fist. Without NVGs on, night vision goggles, she wouldn’t see where the hell she was putting her booted feet as her dog plunged ahead.

Behind her, eleven men of her Army Special Forces A-team, were strung out with plenty of room in between them. It was ass-freezing cold, and she thinned her full lips, sensing Zeus as he sniffed ahead of her. They were on a rocky, icy slope above a valley where the Taliban were trying to take over an Afghan village. The CIA had picked up chatter that a Taliban HVA, high value target, was going to be meeting local soldiers and confer with them on assault strategy to take over the village.

Over my dead body. She and her A-team lived in that village two thousand feet below them. Dair knew the chief and his wife, and the two hundred villagers there. They were simple farmers who had no guns or weapons to defend themselves. This A-team had taken up residence three years earlier and stopped the incursions from the bloodthirsty Taliban, who were now making a late autumn attack on the village before the snows fell hard and deep, stopping all such warfare.

Her boots slipped on the icy rocks. She mentally cursed. Zeus had his head down, his sides moving in and out like a bellows as he inhaled and exhaled the many scents. A path led up the six-thousand-foot slope filled with nothing but rocks and a few scraggly bushes hanging on, barely existing in this harsh environment.

They all knew that the Taliban would bury IEDs along the trail to kill the goats and young goat herders from the village below. Goats meant survival. Their skin and fur was used for warmth, their milk for the children, and their meat for food. The Taliban knew goats were the only survival, other than agricultural endeavors, for the people of this village. And they were trying to decimate the goat herds to force the village into starvation this coming winter. It would, from a strategy standpoint, make it easier for the Taliban to attack next spring and find little resistance among the starved populace.

Not on her watch. Their A-team was beloved by the unarmed Afghan farmers and their grateful families. They had lived for years in that village and become part of the everyday fabric of it. Her captain, Davis Ackerman, had brought a well-digging outfit from a global charity named Delos, and now the village had a clean water supply. Children stopped dying as a result.

The whole team had helped build a huge irrigation pattern in the agricultural fields where many types of vegetables were now being grown. The military team worked alongside the Afghan men every day with shovels, hoes, and pickaxes.

And tonight, they were going after the head of the snake. Dair was their specialist with a WMD dog. Zeus was intrinsic to their team because every morning, Dair went out around the walled village, and her dog sniffed and often found IEDs planted overnight by the Taliban, who had sneaked close beneath the cover of darkness. Zeus had saved countless lives and she fiercely loved her six-year-old Belgian Malinois.

The wind was erratic. A cold front was coming through. Dair worried about such times. If the wind blew away from Zeus’s sensitive IED-trained nose, he would not pick up the scent of the deadly explosive buried just beneath the ground. If the wind blew toward his nose, he would pick up the scent.

She felt her spinal column crawling with danger. Dair thought it was because they were going to try and capture the HVT on the other side of this ridge at a small mud and stone house that Taliban often used as a stopover and meeting place.

She’d like nothing better than to get this bastard who was responsible for the repeated attacks on the Afghan village. No one wanted him more than she and Zeus did. The villagers knew the team was armed, and as they watched them troop out beyond the huge wooden gates, shutting them behind them at dusk, they knew something deadly was up. Dair had seen the worry in many of the men’s eyes. They relied on their A-team for medical services, for extra food, clothing, and shoes for their children given by U.S. charities. They did not want the team being killed by the Taliban. Dair had seen it written silently in their expressions.

She wore a level three Kevlar vest, the weight of the ceramic plates making her breathing harder as they continued the steep climb toward the ridge line. It weighed thirty extra pounds upon her frame. Her M-4 carbine was hanging across her chest. Her drop holster with a .45 pistol was strapped to her right thigh.

Her friends, the rest the A-team, moved like silent ghosts behind her. They trusted that Zeus would find any IEDs buried on the only path up this slope, before one of them stepped on it.

She loved her black-faced, fawn-colored dog. They were a tight team. Zeus slept with her in her small mud-and-rock hut. He kept her warm in the winter with his seventy-five-pound body curled tightly next to hers. He was a guard dog and would send up a warning growl when Taliban were lurking outside the seven-foot, mud-and-rock wall that kept the village safe. Often, she and some of the other sergeants would get up, armed, and with their NVGs on, let Zeus lead them to where he heard the enemy outside the wall.

Over time, the Taliban lost too many soldiers skulking around, looking for a way to infiltrate the village at night. They knew there was a WMD dog within the walls. And, after losing twenty-five soldiers at night to the sharp-eared dog, they stopped coming.

This was her fourth deployment with her team. They were all like big, doting brothers to her. And she was like a little sister to all of them. Dair earned her position on the black ops team because she was very good at what she did. She was five foot, ten inches tall, and at a distance, most people thought she was a man. Until they got closer and saw her half-Comanche face, the black braids she always wore, and her cinnamon-brown eyes. Then they were surprised, because the villagers hadn’t seen many women soldiers before. She was an anomaly in their world.

The wind slapped at her back, and Dair slowed Zeus. The scent would be gone and he wouldn’t find it. The dog halted, the leash taut between his collar and her gloved hand. Her mic was resting against her lips. “Take five. Wind is the wrong direction.”

“Copy that,” Davis said.

Dair knew the team would be glad for the momentary rest. They were all carrying at least fifty pounds of gear and ammo on them. They knew what it meant when the wind was cooperating, at the right angle for Zeus to properly scent the area. Because of the dog, they’d gone four years as a team without any IED injuries. Dair wanted to keep it that way.

She keyed her hearing, the edges of her ears freezing and numb. The tip of her nose was also numb. It was below freezing on this miserable slope. The sky was thick with clouds, promising snow at some point. She hated the white stuff because IEDs became even more troublesome to locate. Watching Zeus through her NVGs, the dog’s ears were up and he was panting heavily, his ribs bowing in and out.

The wind shifted again, this time coming directly at Dair. She gave Zeus the unspoken order to start sniffing again. Instantly, the dog lunged against the leash, nose just above the surface, moving it from side to side, trying to pick up the scent of a buried IED.

Dair’s whole focus, her whole world, relied on her brave dog. They were the point of the spear. If Zeus found an IED, he’d instantly sit down, a signal that one was nearby. Then, Dair would have to halt the column and the two explosives-trained sergeants from their team would come up and locate it and defuse it. Then, they’d move forward once more. Her mouth was dry and she pulled the tube to her CamelBak, sucking deeply. Staying hydrated was important. Soon, she’d have to stop and give Zeus water as well.

The wind shifted, slapping her on the right side of her face. Dropping the tube that was held in her shoulder epaulet, Dair tugged on the leash to stop Zeus. The wind was taking away the scents he needed to pick up.

Suddenly, there was a flash of red and yellow light. Dair heard Zeus yelp. Burning heat swept across her as she was flung off her feet, tumbling through the night air. A thousand impressions assailed her as she felt her arms windmilling and she cartwheeled end over end. The sound of the explosion broke both her eardrums. Simultaneously, a sharp pain assailed her left foot and ankle. And then, she lost consciousness.

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