Heart Strike (Delta Force #2) - M. L. Buchman Page 0,1

hand, talked about women and nothing but. He thought women were great sport, and if he hadn’t been so successful with them, Richie would have discounted half of what he said. Chad somehow always ended up with the hot women and seemed to leave every one of them smiling; his successes were short-lived and he claimed that’s the way he wanted it. He just didn’t have the greatest conversational range on other topics.

Duane was the one most like Richie on the team. They came from professional backgrounds; they both had grown up in nice neighborhoods with good schools, corporate executive fathers, and involved mothers—Richie’s was a housewife who did a lot of entertaining in support of Dad’s job; Duane’s was a family-law attorney. It was almost like he and Duane were related, separated only by New York versus Georgia respectively and an entirely different hereditary line.

“I don’t know, brother,” Duane was saying. “How did Chad sweep up Mayra?” They spoke Spanish for both the practice and to protect their cover story.

It wasn’t typical of them to discuss women, but Mayra was the hottest, most-built Bolivian beauty they’d seen in the eleven coca farms they’d worked over the last six months. Their Delta team had been quietly roving the countryside, posing as itinerant workers—ex-pat Americans down on their luck. Their assignment had been to blend in, precisely map each field’s location, and then move on with no one the wiser.

“Chad makes it look so easy.” Richie didn’t exactly envy Chad’s insane success with women. It was too slick, too casual, and too easily forgotten. But he wouldn’t mind having at least a few of those skills himself for when the right woman came along—so she wouldn’t pass on by before he could untie his tongue.

“Maybe he is hung like horse,” a voice said out of the darkness. Rolando faded into view, a battered AK-47 over his shoulder catching the moonlight and an even more worn radio at his hip.

“You got patrol tonight. Sorry, amigo,” Duane said more easily than Richie could have. Rolando was one of the most dangerous of the coca farm’s guards. The others joked that he loved his gun more than his mother.

“No big deal. But I was mucho close to spreading Mayra.” He held up two fingers so close together the moonlight couldn’t slip between them. “Like so before he come along.” Then he shrugged. “Maybe when he gone.”

With Rolando it was hard to read if that meant he was expecting them to just leave or if Rolando was planning to accidently shoot Chad some night soon. Richie reminded himself to tell Chad to watch his back around Rolando—not that Chad was easy to surprise. He might be a complete womanizer, but he’d also grown up on the wrong side of the Detroit streets.

The first option was unlikely, because once a person came to work on a coca farm, it was very hard to leave. There were hundreds of booby traps set around the perimeter of the fields. They were intended to keep raiders and government men out, but the lethal wall was not far into the jungle and it did just as effective a job of keeping the workers in. The main road in and out was always heavily guarded, except for a few minutes around sunrise a couple days from now, which is when the Delta team would be leaving.

They traded some more sympathy with Rolando, all agreeing that it would help if Chad wasn’t such a good guy as well.

Richie knew better.

Chad was one of those guys who was everyone’s friend and most people assumed that’s all he was. But he had also come by his nickname, The Reaper, because he was a stone-cold killer when he needed to be.

Richie and Duane continued their walk, leaving Rolando to watch the night. They stopped and chatted with two more guards before reaching the one corner of the field they hadn’t had a chance to exactly locate yet.

“Anyone?”

He and Duane stood for at least ten minutes, talking about the backbreaking work of tending the vast plantings—which in truth wasn’t as tough as a typical day of Delta training—and watching over each other’s shoulders.

Duane finally shook his head in answer to Richie’s earlier question. They were alone.

Richie knelt quickly and pulled out a small, high-powered radio, unfolded a tiny parabolic dish antenna, and aimed it upward. He checked his watch, shifted the antenna to point toward the constellation Virgo, and pinged their full set of GPS data