Hunter (In the Company of Snipers Book 14)

By: Irish Winters

CHAPTER ONE


“I’m hit. Damn, I’m… I’m dead.” With a pain-filled groan, Ky Winchester fell to his knees. His weapon hit the dirt seconds before his face did. Instead of grief, revenge flamed to life in the deepest recess of Hunter Christian’s war-hardened heart. His buddy didn’t deserve to die like that, and shooting a man’s family jewels was as low as a person could get. Could a vengeful female shooter be in the enemy’s ranks? A sicko with a vendetta against men?

Adrenaline spiked. Fight or flight? That’d be the day that Hunter ran from the enemy. Women maybe. Bastards never. Camouflaged, Hunter faded into the verdant mesh of the Amazon jungle around him. It was early autumn and nights were chilly at home on the East Coast, but it couldn’t have been hotter here. Sweat beaded at his temples, stinging and his eyes. Buzzing insects annoyed at his nostrils, lips, and eyelashes. He brushed the distractions away. If only he could see the dirtbag who’d taken his buddy down.

Part of what was supposed to have been a joint exercise with McCormack Industries, Hunter and his three buddies had stumbled into an ambush. The enemy hadn’t let up since. Where the hell was the friendly landing party that should have been at this rendezvous point?

Hunter stifled another curse, a burdensome feat for a guy with a combat-honed vocabulary, crafted with explicit care and plenty of practice to artfully condemn a man to Dante’s Hell. Yes, he’d studied the epic poem back when he cared a fuck about literature. He’d even lived a few of the tortures within the concentric levels, from Limbo to the most rancid—Treachery.

He knew the warning at the gates of Hell: “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.” Translation: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

The story of his life.

A twig cracked to his left, jolting him out of his waste-of-time reverie. Crap like that could get a man killed. No sooner thought than…

“Shit,” his good buddy, Agent Eric Reynolds hissed—right before he dropped like a rock. Damn it. Eric was the agent-in-charge. He should’ve known better than to give his twenty away—even in death.

Two men down and within seconds of each other? Something’s not right. Was a rat on Hunter’s team? An informer? He hated betrayers with every last piece of his soul. God, how he hated them.

The need to kill something crept up his spine like a prickly spider with an attitude, compelling his number one rule of engagement. Stay sharp. Stay angry. Let it build. Then let it loose to obliterate the son-of-a-bitchin’ enemy.

Oddly, the weakest link on his team, and the one with the worst PTSD, Seth McCray, had gone silent. Go figure. Maybe Seth and he could win this war. Hunter backed into the good-sized tree at his rear. Another rustle, this one starboard, caught his attention, but he didn’t turn to look. Couldn’t risk it. Whatever joker was out there would have to get close and personal before he’d fire the short stock rifle pressed under his chin.

When a barely discernable ripple fractured the leafy scenery directly in front of him, he nearly cursed out loud. No wonder Ky and Eric had fallen so quickly. The enemy had cloaked themselves in the latest ActiveCamouflage System. They were invisible. Not anymore.

Barely flexing his index finger, Hunter lined up his shot and fired. The unseen shooter hit the dirt with a grunt and a muffled, “They got me.”

Finally. One down. Satisfaction added to the ferocious sense of competition that came with warfare. If I can kill one, I can kill ’em all. It didn’t take long. In minutes, Hunter took out two more invisible men. There was nothing better in combat than a pissed off Marine, and Hunter was one angry SOB. He would’ve felt better if another shot hadn’t boomed, and if Seth hadn’t called out, “Don’t… don’t let ’em get you, Hunt.”

Holy screaming shit! I’ve lost all my guys and the sun’s was barely up. He steeled his jaw. Rolled one shoulder. Hunkered own. The game had changed to the ultimate standoff, one gunslinger against an unknown number of assassins. Fine by me.



Come to Brazil they said. It’ll be fun they said. Yeah right.

This wasn’t Meredith’s idea of a good time. She could barely breathe in this bug-infested jungle, it was so hot. How could she be the last of her team alive? It didn’t seem real or right or—gulp—possible. But there she was, a single working mother and an engineering assistant—a trainee—now her team’s lone survivor. Yes, she knew how to shoot, even carried a concealed carry pistol, but to hunt another human being? To be faster on the draw? To kill a man before he killed her? Something else entirely.

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