Friday, February 19, 2016

OMEGA Team: Precious Cargo

Precious Cargo
an OMEGA Team Kindle Worlds novella
– by Brenna Zinn

 When protecting innocents and fighting dangerous enemies are the easy parts of the mission…Precious Cargo.


Precious Cargo Blurb

Master Sergeant Duke Gunnison sucks at retirement. He has no intention of turning in his combat boots for golf shoes. His former life in Special Ops, where he protected innocents and fought dangerous enemies, provided the rush he continually craved. Without the constant missions to feed his adrenaline addiction, he’s lost his sense of purpose and he struggles to find meaning in his new life—until he gets a life changing phone call.

Grey Holden, a founder of the prestigious private security agency The Omega Team, offers Duke a chance at a second life doing what he was born to do—a special op to safeguard the daughter of an important Ukrainian diplomat. But Mila Bartosh is not only a special envoy’s daughter, sent to accompany her father as he negotiates the removal of troops in eastern Ukraine. She’s on a secret mission of her own—to exact revenge on a powerful Russian mob boss, guilty of unspeakable crimes.

Mila is determined to help protect her father and accomplish her treacherous undertaking at all costs. But as her tasks become more complex, she unexpectedly reunites with the man who stole her heart and then vanished into the night, never to be heard from again, until now. Her love’em and leave’em paramour is none other than her new American bodyguard Duke Gunnison. With innocent lives on the line, can she carry out her missions while avenging her broken heart?

Precious Cargo excerpt

 “Duke” Gunnison had seen his leg twisted at a gut-churning angle after his team’s convoy had run over a bomb in a Croatian field. His left arm had bled like red rain when two bullets from Serbian rebel forces made holes the size of dimes in his biceps. And after flying through a second-story window and landing on an old Volkswagen Beetle during a Special Ops mission in Sarajevo, his entire body had turned various shades of black and blue, plus a sickening green.

Yet for all he’d put his physique through during his Army career, he was pretty certain he’d never been rougher on it than he had in the last five months since retiring from the military.

He pushed aside a potato chip bag from his bare chest and leaned forward in his extended La-Z-Boy to examine the rest of his reclining form. By some miracle, the definition of his abs still managed to show under sun-darkened skin. His thighs remained toned, at least while he flexed them. Unfortunately, the best part of his view was the new red briefs covering his Johnson.

He’d promised himself to lounge around the house a while and figure out the next chapter of his life when he got out of the service. The steady climb of his weight and softening of his muscles attested to his success on the first half of his pledge. The second half was proving considerably more difficult though.

What did a crotchety ex-Delta Force soldier with skills in espionage, hostage rescue, explosives and the like do in the civilian world? His experience couldn’t be listed on a resume, no matter how good he’d been or the number of medals he’d received. Hell, the United States government barely acknowledged the existence of Delta Force. As far as any potential employer could know, he’d spent twenty years since the age of seventeen as a cryptologic linguist specializing in Slavic languages. Other than working as a translator—no thanks—what prospective jobs were realistic, not to mention personally satisfying?

He reached into the bag and pulled out another handful of chips, then, one by one, slipped the salty snacks into his mouth while pondering the question for the hundredth time. He was a smart guy. He could pick up and live anywhere, whenever he wanted. The world was his oyster. All he need do was make a decision and follow through to the best of his ability like he always did.

So why was making this particular decision so problematic?

Perhaps his sister’s idea of starting his own wilderness outfitter company in Colorado or Alaska wasn’t as crazy as he’d first thought. He had plenty of money. He had talent. He was still relatively young. Sure, he might not be the easiest guy to be around, but if he worked on being a little more pleasant and put his back to the physical demands of the business, he could be extremely successful being a guide out in the wild.

Maybe then he’d find inner peace.

Maybe then he’d feel fulfilled.

Maybe then he could even find a nice girl and settle down.

His hand froze, leaving a final broken chip stranded an inch from his lips.

Settle down?

Oh, hell to the no.

That was it. He needed to lay off the greasy foods. They were affecting his brain. After working almost half his lifetime in counterintelligence and dealing with people who spoke in half-truths or lied as easily as they breathed, he knew too damn well he’d never find a woman he completely trusted. Aside from his military buddies, who had pulled him from more scrapes than any man should have lived through, putting his complete faith in anyone else simply did not compute. Not one little bit.


His heart felt a pang, and a long sigh slipped from somewhere deep inside.

The woman from Crimea.

She’d saved his hide during that mission, plus a whole lot more. A whole lot more.

I’ve never felt this way about anyone.

I want to be with you.

I…I love you.

He shook his head and dropped the remaining chip back into the bag, refusing to think about his last Op, the woman or their time together. Right now, he needed to get up, put on some gym shorts and go for a run. Get some air and work his muscles. At the very least, he should throw on some clothes. A robe or something. A decent man wouldn’t lounge around the house all day in his underwear munching junk food and watching crap on television. He knew far too much about Showcase Showdowns, who was screwing who on the soaps and the latest celebrity gossip.

His cell phone rang, interrupting the disturbing realization. Duke brushed his fingertips on his briefs, cleaning off residual crumbs and salt before picking up.


“Duke Gunnison?”

“Who wants to know?”

“This is Grey Holden.”

Duke sat up and peered at the display on his phone, his lips turning up just a fraction. He recognized the name. How could he not? He might not have worked with Grey Holden, but he sure as hell had heard about the guy. The number, however, had a Florida prefix. Lots of retired military lived in Florida, but the only Grey Holden he knew about hailed from Montana.

“I don’t know any Grey Holden. You’ve got the wrong number, brotha.”

“I think you do. Does Operation Eastern Shield from two thousand six mean anything to you?”

A full-on smile took control of his mouth. “As a matter of fact, it does. Want to tell me why a man from Montana appears to be calling from a state crawling with lovebugs the size of hand grenades?”

Duke heard a long breath being pulled and then let out.

“I hate those fucking things,” Grey said.

“I don’t blame you. Nasty little critters.” Duke retracted the footrest of the recliner and stood. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this call, Lieutenant Holden?”

“Just call me Grey. Like you, I’m a civilian now.”

“A civilian with connections. How did you get my number?”

“Let’s just say I’m still in contact with people in high places.”

Little surprise there. Grey Holden has been one of the best, most respected Delta Force team leaders in recent memory. The man had skills, as well as balls the size of grapefruit.

“I’ve started a new business called the Omega Team, with a former Tampa Bay Police Detective. We’re a private firm doing special projects for people who need help and are prepared to pay for the best. Two days ago I received a call from a foreign dignitary who needs someone to watch his daughter. Based on the circumstances, I think you’re the best man for the job. You up for some work, or are you still in retirement mode?”

“A babysitting job?” Duke walked to his bedroom and grabbed a pair of cargo shorts from the floor. Holding his cell phone between his shoulder and his ear, he pulled the shorts up his legs. “I’m a soldier, not a nanny.”

“This is a precious cargo mission. The dignitary is involved in some high-level talks with Russia. His daughter was recently drugged at a nightclub and there was an attempt to remove her from the club while she was unconscious. Her bodyguard saw the situation unfolding after he’d parked and entered the building.”

“Her bodyguard left her alone?” Duke struggled getting the snaps of his shorts to connect. Jesus, he’d gained some weight.

No more chips and beer. Period.

“She had ordered him to stay in the car while she did her thing inside. Fortunately for her, he obeyed her father’s orders of sticking close. After parking, he’d given her a few minutes then he went in. He said he’d stayed in the background and tried to blend into the crowd. Not an easy thing to do, I’m thinking. The guy is fifty-five years old.”

“You’re kidding me?”

“No. He’s worked for the family for years. One of the only people they trust.”

“I know the feeling. So what happened?”

“He said she starting talking to a man at the bar. After a few hours of drinking and chatting, she started swaying and fell into his arms. Then another man came up and they tried taking her quietly out the back door. The guard stepped in, and it sounds like one hell of a fight broke out. In the end, he got the girl out safely, but ended up with two stab wounds, a broken jaw and cracked ribs. He’s currently in the hospital.”

“Do they know who the guys were?”

“Yes. She identified them both to the local police and the head of her father’s security team. One man, a big guy with a skull tattooed on his fist, is known locally as Crusher. He was the one who came in to help escort her out. The other guy, the one she was talking to, is Alik Ivanov.”

“The mobster?”

“You’ve heard of him?”

“Yah. From some of my many missions in the area. He was a piss-ant wannabe thug when I was just starting out in the Army. I’ve heard over the years he’s made a name for himself. There’s a lot of unrest and unstable governments in that part of the world. Perfect opportunities for corruption and organized crime for those with the right connections.”

“Ivanov now controls most of central and eastern Ukraine, as well as the Crimean Peninsula. He specializes in human trafficking, drug running and transporting illegal arms. He’s been busy fostering pro-Russia unrest and supplying pro-Russia separatists with guns and supplies. Apparently, he’s close to Kremlin officials looking to take back control of the area while making big money. The entire region is a hot mess. Although the local officials say they’re looking for both men, it’s a safe bet nothing will be done. Ivanov is one ruthless bastard with people in high places on his payroll.”

“I know all about it.” Duke rummaged through a pile of clothes at the end of the bed. He found a relatively clean T-shirt and sniffed it. “So was the girl a specific target because of her father, or was this a random pick for trafficking?”

“As of this time, no one seems to know for sure. But I can tell you, if Ivanov didn’t know who she was, he certainly does now. Most likely she’s pinging hard on his radar. She was a big fish who got away, which doesn’t look good if you’re supposed to be a smart, tough guy. I’m sure the Russians would love having her in their hip pocket.” 

“So the dignitary is Ukrainian.”

“Yes. He’s been tasked with going to Budapest to negotiate with Russia to keep the Reds out of Ukraine. As far as many Russians are concerned, Ukraine is still theirs. Just recently, they regained control of Crimea.”

“I heard about that too. The story was all over the news.” Duke jostled the phone between both hands while pulling the shirt over his head and poking his arms through the sleeves. The stretchy material molded to his biceps and chest a little tighter than when he’d bought it a year ago. Either he had to get back into shape or buy a damn new wardrobe.

“There are so many Ukrainians who support rejoining Russia, the government is having a time of finding loyal Ukrainian military and local law enforcement. In the past five years, eight Ukrainian officials have been murdered. That’s why The Omega Team is involved. We’ve been contacted to provide a small but capable security detail for both the diplomat and his daughter during the talks, to bolster what protection they already have. Once the talks are finished, the job ends. I’ve hired former CIA agent Burton Laramie for twenty-four/seven eyes on the diplomat. He’s already on his way. I’d like to send you to shadow the daughter.”

“Why not just move the girl to another country? France or Great Britain? I know Ivanov has influence locally, but surely not all the way across Europe.”

“I asked that as well. She refuses to leave her father’s side. From what I’ve been told, she’s quite the ball of fire. Sounds like you’ll have your hands full if you agree to this mission.”

“Why did you choose me to babysit the daughter instead of protecting the diplomat? Safeguarding him is a much better fit for me. I’m not cut out to be a glorified nursemaid.”

“You have extensive precious cargo duty experience. There are few people out there with better records for extracting less-than-cooperative targets.”

“We both know that’s not a good reason. Watching the diplomat is precious cargo duty too, but you’ve given that job to someone else. Try again.”

“The diplomat’s name is Yure Bartosh.”

Duke’s feet rooted to the ground.

No. It couldn’t be.

Ukraine was a big country with plenty of Bartoshes running around. No way Yure Bartosh could be connected. No fucking way.


“His daughter is Mila Bartosh.”

He grimaced as though he’d taken a sucker punch to the gut.

“My sources tell me you may already know her. Is that true?” Grey asked.

Grey Holden had incredible sources if he knew about Mila Bartosh.

Letting out a long sigh, Duke considered how best to answer the loaded question.

“Yah,” he finally replied as he ran his hand through his hair. “You could say that’s true.”

Brenna Zinn Bio and Links

I remember reading about Texas in an Illinois grade school and thinking I probably would never see the great state where real cowboys ride their horses to work every day and everyone wears western hats and boots. Then again, I never dreamed I would elope in Gibraltar with a Navy man who hailed from the Lone Star state. But here I am, smack dab in the middle of Texas, still married to the same wonderful man and boasting not only the greatest daughter on the planet, but three dogs who are as big as long horns.

In between grade school and now, my journey through life has taken me all over the United States, as well as many places throughout the world. Using my travel experience as a guide and peppering in interesting characters I’ve met along the way, I love nothing better than weaving tales of romance and leaving readers yearning for adventures of their own.

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Welcome to a series that combines high danger
with intense passion and heady romance.

A series so BIG it takes 5 days to introduce to you to it!
Are you ready to play?
Former Delta Force team leader Grey Holden came from a long line of military who believed the important thing was getting the job done, not your ego. They called themselves Omega Men. Athena Madero, left the police department angry at all the restrictions she faced as she tried to fight crime. They collided, literally, when both were working a covert investigation, the resolution of which resulted in the birth of The Omega Team. Others will join them as the agency expands its scope of activities, everything from hostage negotiation to hostage rescue to industrial espionage to fighting drug cartels to threats to national security. They will be led by Grey and Athena, whose passion for their work is only rivaled by their passion for each other.

Return Feb 18-22

to learn about more Omega Team books
by 10 more authors!!!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you VERY much for hosting my new book. I truly love this book and I think it shows in the writing. For those of you who read Precious Cargo, I'd love to hear from you at . I'm giving thought to writing another story, a sequel of sorts, for Mila and Duke. Perhaps Dangerous Cargo? What do you think? Do they deserve another story?