Excerpt: Freefall

Book 1 : High Risk Series

Freefall (High Risk Series) by JoAnn Ross

Excerpt One

Swann Island, South Carolina

In her dreams, Hallie Conroy was married to a hottie heart surgeon who could have graced the cover of any of the romance novels she devoured like Godiva truffles. Together they lived with a pretty four-year-old princess who looked like her, a six-year-old ball of energy whose dazzling smile — an echo of his father’s — could make her forgive his youthful transgressions, and a shaggy English sheepdog named Nana who could have stepped right out of Peter Pan.

Her suburban home was tastefully furnished with pieces handed down through the generations of her family.  A family that, like so many others on Swann Island, traced its roots back to the American Revolution.

In her dreams, Hallie’s life was blissful.  Beyond perfect.

In her dreams, Hallie wasn’t in a cage.

She heard the crunch of tires on gravel.  The sound of a car engine cutting off.  One door opened.  Then a second.

Her heart sank.

Closing her eyes, she leaned her head back against the steel bars, and although it had been a very long time since she’d believed in that hell-and- brimstone vengeful God she’d been taught to fear as a child, Hallie prayed to survive this night.

Excerpt Two – from Chapter 24)

Plan A — which had been to land safely, climb the mountain and call in the bombers to blow up the tango stronghold — was shot.

Plan B — to use the helo as a shelter, was no longer an option, given the flames. Plus, there were so many holes in the metal sides, Zach figured the Chinook looked like a giant camouflage-painted colander

Which left them with Plan C.
Evacuate the bird before she blew.

If the enemy is in range, so are you.
There is no second place in a gunfight. Winners kill, losers get killed.

With those SEAL maxims ringing in his head, Zach leaped off the ramp.

And – damn – landed in a snowdrift up to his crotch.

They’d crashed in a clearing, allowing the bad guys to shoot from a hidden bunker dug into the mountain.

Hell, the day his team couldn’t take out one enemy bunker was the day Zach would trade in his kick-ass cammies for a school crossing guard’s uniform back home on Swann Island.

The air was filled with the fruity aroma of cordite and the overwhelming scent of pine oil from the bullet-shredded trees as he charged through the snow, unloading the magazine of his M4 in a continuous burst. . .

“Are you all right?” A voice managed to make itself heard through the gunfire.

Dragging himself out of the all-too-vivid memory, Zach found himself looking down into Sabrina Swann’s concerned green eyes.

“Sure. Why?”

“Because you seemed to sort of spaced out.”

Busted. He rotated his shoulders, which felt as hard as boulders.  Shit.  He was royally screwed.  Not knowing exactly what had happened, he figured there was no point in lying.

He rubbed the heel of his hand against his chaotic heart. “For how long?”

“Don’t worry.” Her hand was on his arm, her light touch soothing. “It was only a second. And since Harlan received a phone call at the same time, no one noticed.”

Across the room, the doctor was talking on a cell phone while his wife looked on, her expression resigned.

Zach might be in the library of a Southern mansion, but his blood was still as cold as if he were back in the Afghan mountains.

You. Will. Not. Disintegrate.

“You noticed.”

“True,” she admitted.

He looked for fear in her gaze. Or worse yet pity. What he thought he saw was, amazingly, understanding.

“But I’m not telling.”

Zach considered tossing back the rest of the whiskey he never should have tasted in the first place.  Instead, he put the glass down on the inlaid wood table beside the sofa.


“Don’t mention it.”

Wouldn’t it be cool if it were that easy?
If the entire incident could be dropped.

Zach figured the chances of that happening were about, oh, a gazillion to one. Because first of all, Sabrina Swann was a woman, and he’d never met one of her kind yet who didn’t want to talk a subject to death.

And second, if he was going to end up working on Swannsea, she had the right to know that sure, he ha d a few problems.  But he was getting help for them.  And she didn’t have to worry about him going postal and shooting everyone on the island.

As they went into the dining room, Sabrina’s sideways glance told him she knew he’d rather take on an entire terrorist cell than sit through an evening of politely inane dinner conversation.

“Don’t worry,” she murmured. “It’ll be over before you know it.”

“Yeah,” Zach muttered back. “I hear that’s what they say about firing squads.”