With: Heather Long
When Danger Bites, Bravo Team WOLF Book 1, introduces the wolves of Bravo Team and Kaitlyn Amador, the corporal suddenly assigned to their team. Though I envisioned it as the first book, as I wrote it, I began to wonder if I should have made it later in the series in part because I had so much world-building to do, and in part because maintaining character integrity consistent with military service while building out the passionate wolves proved a fine tight rope to walk!
I’m a huge movie buff, and one of my favorite things about new releases on DVD or Digital is getting to see cut scenes and bloopers. Unfortunately, in writing, we don’t get as many bloopers (though we do get some funny typos from time to time), but we do have cut scenes.
As much as I loved writing When Danger Bites some scenes (and some characters) just didn’t make the cut at the end of editing. They didn’t drive the story forward. It’s important to remember this series marries military and paranormal shifter romance, so scenes had to reflect both genres.
I thought I’d share one of my favorite cut scenes with you.
Every day seemed more intense than the last. Despite what personal time Jax assigned her, she was never alone. They kept watch over her and whom she spoke to, not that it mattered. She couldn’t find evidence of anything hinky about the team. A message from Taggart set her teeth on edge. A private had summoned her to the main office, where Taggart waited for her on the phone.
“I know you don’t have time to talk, but you’ve been there long enough to have something on them.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t.” Hadn’t been the answer he wanted to hear.
“Then if you value your future advancement, Corporal, I’d get to work.” Then he hung up.
Between the threats to her career that was Taggart and the threat to her heart that was Jax, she had to fight to maintain her focus. The team didn’t give her any indication of suspicious behavior. They worked hard. They played hard.
They were the best and they proved it every minute of every day. What stung, though, was that Jax seemed determined to wash her out. When she wanted to confront him on the subject, he’d brushed her off. For a split second after he ordered her to be quiet near the colonel’s office, she’d thought he’d been on her side. She’d been ready to confess Taggart’s assignment, then he shut her down. After, however, he seemed to have gone back on his desire for friendship and avoided personal contact.
She was the one who’d drawn the line the sand. They couldn’t take their attraction any farther. Agreeing to friendship had been a mistake, and yet she craved his company. Then again, she’d insisted on base they remain professional. It shouldn’t annoy her that he’d taken her at her word. That part doesn’t. Kat readied her weapon, waiting for the all clear to enter the shooting gallery. The fact he wants me to fail does.
They were working on close quarters insertion and extraction training. Ahead of her, Silver had gone in to clear. They’d worked the exercise three different ways that day, and she’d already played the role of sniper—taking out one of the terrorists from a vantage point two hundred and fifty meters away while Chaney cleared. They’d also gone in as a team, and it had been a heavy firefight with tear gas and the works.
Her damn mask had malfunctioned, but she’d made it out the other side and they’d taken out all the targets. Eyes still smarting, she’d seen the medic as the captain had snarled at her to do when she’d protested she was fine.
The bad mood he’d been in seemed to be growing steadily worse. It’s my own damn fault, she mentally castigated herself for what felt like the hundredth time. She should never have cornered him outside the colonel’s offices. Guilt combined with an almost pathetic need to verify his welfare contributed to her disgraceful lack of protocol.
“Amador,” the lieutenant called. “On deck. Check your weapon.”
They weren’t using live fire in this exercise. Dummy rounds would substitute, because the field inside the shooting gallery was adjusted for every engagement. Real Marines in combat gear, decked out to resemble the shoot targets while others would play the role of hostages or intel as don’t shoot. The combination of pop-up targets—shoots and no shoots—with live ones meant she had to be on her toes.
“Comms check.” Kurt’s voice in her ear bothered her. It should be the captain. He’d handled all the other primary exercises, overseeing her tests and training. Yet, since the shooting range, he’d been mostly absent. During the morning run, he’d taken lead, leaving Silver to pace her. Everything she’d learned about Jax suggested a sharp, gifted, and intelligent officer who genuinely cared about the men reporting to him.
“Comms clear.” The reply left a bitter taste in her mouth. What the hell had she done to piss Jax off? The night they went to Abel’s had a few rocky moments, but they’d talked and reached a kind of understanding, one that dug the knife of her investigation even deeper into her gut.
Bravo Team was—
“Clear to enter, Amador. Check. Check. Clear. Bravo-1, take the building, extract single prisoner. Eliminate all other targets.”
“Copy.” Seek, rescue, and destroy. “Check. Moving in.”
Enough about the captain. Survive the exercise. With care, she breached the entrance and went in, weapon ready. Smoke occluded her field of vision, the lights flickered, and a fire crackled somewhere. Though her brain identified the different aspects of the exercise, the sensation of entering a real field of danger couldn’t be denied.
A target swiveled, and she drew a bead on it then fired. Clean shoot, but firing her weapon would give away her position so she picked up the pace. Three more targets down before she identified the room as clear. “Four targets down,” she reported in a low voice. The comms connected to her throat, so she didn’t have to yell to be heard—they would transmit vocal vibrations.
Neat trick really.
“You’re clear to continue, Bravo-1.”
All hell broke loose in the next room. A flash bang went off, and movement to her left had her pivoting. She acted, trusting her instincts and her training. Two shots took down the target—a shoot—then she ducked under a table, rolled, and took out the next two—also shoots. On her feet again, she barely managed to avoid the knife swinging at her face. A twist, then she used the butt of her rifle, did a wrench spin to disarm even as she freed her sidearm.
Two shots, center mass. Fourth shoot target down.
The two pop-up targets leapt forward, one a shoot the other a don’t shoot, but representing a corpse.
With care, she did a full sweep and increased her pace. Every other target in the house had to know someone had entered, no way to miss the level of noise. Her ears were still ringing from the flash bang and even rapid blinking wasn’t clearing the dazzle. Equilibrium rocked, she relied on muscle memory to remain steady.
“Five targets down. Clear to proceed.”
“Check, clear to proceed Bravo-1.”
If she didn’t get all the targets, she wasn’t sure what she expected from the command post. The absolute lack of targets in the third room concerned her, but not more than the stairs heading up. One access point, which meant it was also a choke point. She couldn’t grenade her way up—not when the prisoner still waited rescuing.
“Taking the stairs,” she informed over watch.
“Copy. Bravo-1, godspeed.” Not an ominous well wish at all. In every insertion or operation, a moment will occur where you are exposed, vulnerable, and you will have to make the choice to open yourself to the attack in order to gain the necessary advantage. The quiet advice from her first day of training with the captain flitted through her mind. Cost versus gain—it didn’t matter. She had a prisoner to rescue. She calmed her breathing and then, as she had when she took the rope climb, she took three deep breaths then several shallow ones.
Oxygen pumped and adrenaline flowing, she ascended right into a scene from Dante’s personal playground. It looked like a charnal house, bodies littered the floor along with several best not to be identified substances. She took two shoot targets out before she cleared the top step. A bang from below and booted feet warned her of reinforcements.
With no time to be deliberate, she cleared the first room to her right, then dove across the hall into the second. No shoot targets, but the prisoner lay on his side on the floor, back to her. Rounds exploded the wood above her head. Not for the first time that day was she happy she’d remained low. Firing blind for a moment, she called to the prisoner. “I’m here to rescue you. Can you walk?”
The prisoner didn’t answer, but he might have flinched.
Another set of rounds hit the opposite side of the doorframe. The prisoner had to be over six feet based on his frame, and easily over two hundred pounds. Shouts echoed outside the door. More reinforcements. How many men did this operation have?
No way she could carry him out and down the stairs, not without a clear field. A quick mental inventory and an assessment of the window gave her an idea. She fired in the direction of her assailants.
On the third, she lobbed a flash bang, and yelled, “Grenade!”
It exploded outside the room and she scuttled over to the downed prisoner. Face filthy and hair matted, she checked him for weapons while dividing her attention to the doorway.
“Hold tight,” she assured him. “I’m going to get you out of here.” A red scarf had been tied around his left leg—it designated an injury. Likely a broken leg.
Yeah, let’s not make it easy on the newbie. Sliding back over to the door, she tossed another flash bang even as she fired. “Grenade!”
Another explosion of light and sound, but at least they weren’t firing back. Unable to clear extraction through the house. She decided to go outside the box—literally.
Pulling rope from her combat ruck, she tied it around the cast iron radiator and secured it. Two stories, she couldn’t be more than twenty, possibly twenty-five feet up based on the construction. The cast iron would hold long enough. Using her sidearm, she blew out the window then used a covered arm to clear the glass. One glance out, she checked the field below and ignored everything past the markers.
Careful of the man’s injured leg, she hoisted him on her shoulders and then jumped, using his weight and gravity to accelerate even as she trusted the rope. The snap of it slowed their descent and it took every muscle she had and some she didn’t, but they made it and she winced as her knees protested the hard landing.
She didn’t drop him but only barely. Staggering to her feet, she twisted to face the house and managed to get her sidearm out again. No way she could manage her rifle in this position. Still clear, she turned and staggered the twenty feet to the all clear. One step from the line a pop hit her back and burned like hell.
It thrust her forward and she dumped the prisoner across the line as the horn went off.
Her “prisoner” hit the ground, and rolled back to his feet even as he turned to look at her. “Bang, Amador. Your dead.”
Rising, she rolled her right shoulder. Dummy rounds or not. The damn things hurt.
“She completed her mission,” the lieutenant said as he joined them. “We prefer that our Marines come back alive, but mission success works, too.”
“Aww, it’s only a shoulder wound,” Silver called from the doorway. “She could still make it.”
Laughter went up, but it wasn’t their approval she’d wanted. The captain raked his fingers through his unkempt hair. If not for his eyes and his stature, she wouldn’t have recognized him. Hell, she hadn’t even inside. He glanced from her to the window then back.
“Interesting exfil method.”
No longer interested in his prissiness, she stiffened her spine. “It worked, best field for clearance and got the prisoner out of the fire zone. Mission successful.”
Silence blanketed the gathered as more of Bravo Team exited from the building. Damn, had they all been in on it? They’d stacked the deck against her. She wasn’t imagining it—Jax did want to wash her out. Well screw that and screw him. She’d still succeeded.
“Well done, Amador,” Jax said, finally, though it was a grudging acknowledgement.
“Thank you, sir.” She saluted, then glanced at Kurt.
“Dismissed, Amador.” The lieutenant wasn’t looking at her, though. He stared at the captain, his expression almost…disappointed was the only word she could think to label it. “And, Amador…” He stopped her before she’d even taken a step. “Twenty-four-hour furlough. Rest up. Survival exercise is next.”
Twenty-four hours to rest before survival training? She could hardly wait. “Yes, sir.”
Turning, she headed out of the fire zone. The others were all staring at the captain, and, like the lieutenant, they didn’t look thrilled. Maybe they’d hoped he would wash her out.
Maybe that was the problem. Too bad for them.
Once she checked her gear, she headed directly to the barracks. She wanted fifteen minutes in the showers to herself. Bastards weren’t going to ruin her hard work.
Bravo Team might be the best, but right now she’d have been happy washing out to get away from their inconsistent attitudes where she was concerned.
That pissed her off more than their behavior.
Thanks for hanging with me! Do you love cut scenes and do you have a favorite one?
Buttoned-up Corporal Kaitlyn Amador is dangerous on every level. As a human, she poses a threat to Marine Captain Jax Raymond’s special Force Recon unit. Though the team has a reputation among the other recon units, only their commanding officer knows their secret. As a woman, the danger posed is entirely different. Jax can survive the temptation for only so long before his wolf takes over and pursues what it wants.
Military intelligence specialist Corporal Kaitlyn Amador is the first woman in the Marines to be assigned to a recon team. And everyone’s watching her. Her mission? Not only prove herself worthy of her place in the group, but uncover the mystery of why Bravo Team is so successful. A mission that gets more difficult every time she’s near Jax…
When Danger Bites is available now: https://books2read.com/WhenDangerBites
About Heather Long:
National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.