Code Name: Ghost (Jameson Force Security #5) by Sawyer Bennett
I knew the risks of this job when I signed on with Jameson Force Security. Knew my time as a marine would prepare me for the danger I would face.
But no amount of training could have ever prepared me for the helplessness of watching my teammate die, the agonizing mental and physical pain of torture, or the despair of captivity.
Returning home to Pittsburgh following a mission gone wrong, I am riddled with guilt and haunted by nightmares.
I find solace from the last person I should ever seek such comfort.
I pull her to me just as tightly as I push her away.
Hoping this forbidden love will save me from the ghost I’ve become.
Excerpt Code Name: Ghost by Sawyer Bennett
“So… you work here now, huh?” I ask, which is about as lame a greeting as there could ever be. I know she works here because I asked Cage about her, needing to reassure myself that I hadn’t destroyed her when I let her husband die.
“Yeah,” she says with a light laugh, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear and setting her phone down. Her expression turns a bit sad, and she drops her gaze for a moment. “I just had to be a part of all this after…”
Her words hang heavy in the air, and a knot forms at the base of my throat.
“I bet that sounds silly, huh?” she replies, eyes coming back to me with an attempt at an easy smile.
“Not at all,” I reassure her, then figure this is as good a time as any to say the most important thing that needs to be said. I give a cough to clear my throat. “Um… listen… I’m really sorry about Jimmy. I can’t imagine how hard it’s been on you.”
I brace, thinking tears might be coming, but I’m surprised when her expression softens, her fingers playing along the edge of her phone as she averts her eyes. “It’s been tough on you, too. I’m really happy you’re back. It sort of makes all of this a little more…”
Again, her words trail off as if she’s not quite sure what any of this means. I know the feeling…the loss of direction and wondering what the hell fate was thinking when it cooked up these circumstances.
After what seems like an eternity, she lifts her head and meets my gaze again. I don’t know this woman at all, yet, because of what happened in the desert, she and I have a thread tying us together. It seems like a monumental moment, and I have no clue how to acknowledge that.
Instead of saying something vague or trying to redirect the conversation into safer territory, I have a moment of brutal candor. “It’s hard to talk to you.”
Anna blinks in surprise before she frowns.
I shake my head, holding a hand up to explain. “It’s just… I’m alive and Jimmy’s not. I hope you know that given the chance to do any of it over again, I would have traded places with Jimmy in a heartbeat.”
Straightening, Anna regards me with alarm. “I’d never ask that of you. Or anyone for that matter. And you can’t be thinking like that. Be grateful you’re alive. You have to celebrate that, Malik. I know I do.”
Yeah… that’s easier said than done. Poor Anna, who’s struggling with the death of her husband and raising a baby on her own, won’t ever understand how I’ll never be able to get past Jimmy’s death.
Managing to pull off a smile acknowledging her words, I punctuate it with a dip of my head, hoping it’s enough to put her off the scent of grief and guilt.
I nod down the hallway past the kitchen to where the individual apartments are located. “I’m going to be staying in one of the apartments for a while. Kynan just gave me the key, so I thought I’d get settled in.”
There’s a bit of finality in my tone, indicating the conversation is over. Nodding, Anna grabs her coffee. “Yeah… sure. I didn’t mean to hold you up, and I have to get down to work. Demanding boss and all.”
I watch as Anna grabs her purse, another donut, and her cup of coffee. Another smile, to which I lift my chin, and she’s gone.
And weirdly, even as difficult as it was to talk to her, it was the most honest conversation I’ve had since my rescue. A part of me wants more.