A Hostile Operations Team Holiday Story

Twenty years ago, badass military commander John “Viper” Mendez lost the love of his life. But fate brought them back together when he discovered she was still alive. Now they live a happily married life – and Kat’s pregnant. As Christmas approaches, they’re more in love than ever and looking forward to welcoming their new baby.

But old secrets begin to resurface and old enemies might be coming back to haunt them. The only way to know is to hire rogue mercenary Ian Black to do some dirty work while Mendez stays close to his wife and keeps her safe – and keeps the investigation a secret from her.

Christmas is a time of miracles. A season of snowy promises and gifts from the heart. When the holiday lights twinkle brightest, Mendez will either go on the offensive to save his family – or discover a truth that’ll change their lives forever.

**This story is a sequel to the events of HOT VALOR, Book 11 in the Hostile Operations Team Series. If you haven’t read that book, you’ll probably be lost. I highly recommend you read it before this Christmas story!

Read an Excerpt

She laid her cheek against his chest and sipped her drink. “It’s been a great few months. I never thought I could be this happy again.”

She felt his lips against her hair. “Same for me.”

Beyond the tree, snow fell outside the window, coming down heavier than it had been earlier. It was nothing like the snows she’d grown up with in Russia, but it was still pretty. Not that she wanted snow like she’d had then. This snow was quite enough.

“I’m happy, but I’m sad too,” she confessed softly, staring at the twinkling lights.

“I know, honey.”

“I wish you’d gotten to meet him, Johnny. He was a great kid.”

His hand slid up and down her arm. She hated talking about Roman when they were so happy, but she couldn’t help it. And Johnny understood her need, no matter how much it had to hurt him. He’d never made her feel like she couldn’t talk about Roman when she needed to.

“I wish I had as well.”

Kat sniffled. “I’m not going to cry. We’re having a baby and we’ll give her all the love we couldn’t give Roman.”

A sharp pain rolled through her, making her catch her breath. Johnny stiffened as he shifted away so he could see her face. “What’s wrong?”

“A contraction.”

His face went pale. “Shit, do we need to go—?”

“No. I’ve been having Braxton-Hicks for days. It’s not labor.”

He didn’t look convinced. “How do you know?”

“Because Braxton-Hicks don’t follow a pattern, and they typically don’t cause much pain. This one was a little stronger, but unless I start having them regularly, then it’s nothing.”

“Okay, but you’d better tell me if they get regular.”

Kat ran her palm over his cheek. “Relax, General Mendez. It’s still nearly two weeks until my due date. I wasn’t even dilated at my last check up and Roman was two and a half weeks late. Dr. Butler says she has every reason to believe I will go full term.”

“But what if the baby wants to come early?”

“She could, I guess, but she’s not coming right now. I promise you. Now finish your drink and get back to work. I see an empty spot on the tree.”

“You’re a task master, Mrs. Mendez.”

She grinned. “I know. I do it perfectly, or I don’t do it at all.”

“Got it, babe.”

He sipped his drink. It was kind of funny to think that her badass warrior husband was sitting here in his Christmas pajamas, sipping cocoa, and yet he could order a task force into battle at any moment. It was also sexy as hell.

“Kat,” he began.

She turned her head to look up at him. “Yes, Johnny?”

“Do you miss it?”

It took her a second. “You mean work? The spy game?”


She shrugged. “Sometimes. When you’re off saving the world and I don’t get to be involved anymore, then yes, I do. But I won’t put our child in danger, so that’s that. No work for me.”

She’d been worried about old enemies with grudges coming after her, but with Dmitri Leonov dead and Sergei Turov in prison, the enemies’ list had lost its two most dangerous members. There was no one else with that strong a motive to look for her.

“And you’re okay with it?”

She stared at the twinkling lights of the tree. “I have to be, don’t I? And I am. I hated leaving Roman while I did Sergei and Dmitri’s bidding. If I’d been with him in Novosibirsk, maybe he’d still be alive. Maybe Peter and Ludmilla would too.”

Johnny squeezed her shoulders. “Don’t think like that, baby. You don’t know what would have happened. You might have been killed along with them.”

“I know,” she said, her throat tight.

“Damn, honey. I shouldn’t have asked.”

He was frowning hard. She hated seeing that look on his face, so she kissed him. “You love me. Of course you want to know how I feel about being at home while you go to work. We were in the same profession. Mostly,” she added since she’d also worked for the Russian mafia. Not willingly, but she had. “You know what it feels like to be involved in operations, the electric charge it gives you sometimes.”

“Yeah, but I don’t go on missions anymore. My last mission was the one I did with you.”

Kat laughed. “That’s right. You can’t top that mission, so why try?”

He took the cocoa from her and pulled her into his lap. She snuggled up to him, content. “Best damned mission of my life. Even if I wanted to kill you for some of it.”

“Ha. You weren’t exactly a prince yourself, you know.”

“No. When I think of that moment we drew down on each other…” He shivered.

Kat felt that shiver deep inside. She caressed his cheek. She could still see him standing before her with a pistol aimed at her heart. She’d been aiming one at his, too. “You wouldn’t have shot me, nor I you.”

“I wanted to.”

“I know, Johnny. But you didn’t.”

“I’d throw myself in front of a bullet before I’d hurt you.”

She nuzzled his neck. “I already beat you to that one, sexy man.” She’d thrown herself in front of Dmitri’s bullet to save him back in Moscow. It’d worked. She’d do it a million times over for that result.

“You did, baby. But you’d better not ever do it again.”

“I don’t want to, Johnny. But I would. For you and for little Elena Katharine.” She put a hand over her belly. The baby kicked and she gasped.

Johnny’s face instantly changed. “Hospital?”

Kat shook her head, smiling. “No, honey. Tree. Finish adding ornaments for me, would you?”

He kissed her soundly and set her on the couch. “Yes, ma’am,” he said, saluting her smartly before picking up an ornament. “Where does this go, ma’am?”

Kat rolled her eyes at him, then laughed. “Right there, General. That big, bare spot that’d bite you in the face if it were a snake.”

Men. They often didn’t see what was right in front of them. But that’s what wives were for….