I am super excited to share the cover for the upcoming Hell Squad book, NIKO!
Nikolai Ivanov is the leader of the Enclave and a sexy Russian artist…with a bit of a mysterious background. He’s going up against the second in command of Squad Nine, Mackenna Carides. Mac is tough and pretty no-nonsense.
So here is Niko’s cover AND if you scroll down below, you can read the scene from Hell Squad: Holmes where these two meet for the first time. Nothing like starting off with our heroine putting a gun to the hero’s head (-:
Oh, and Niko will be out in less than two weeks: Tuesday 28 June.
Nikolai Ivanov ran quietly through the trees. Beside him, two of his Enclave soldiers ran with him.
He crested the hill, careful to stay in the shadows of the trees. He made a hand signal and the soldiers stopped. Niko lifted his binocs, zooming in, and got a good look at the incoming vehicles.
It had been one of the Enclave drones that had picked up the huge illusion heading their way. He knew the Blue Mountain Base convoy was on its way here…but Niko had a responsibility to the people who called the Enclave home to protect them.
He’d snuck under the illusion with a small team. He needed to make sure this convoy was the Blue Mountain survivors and that they didn’t have aliens trailing them.
“Sir, it looks like the Blue Mountain Base convoy,” one of the soldiers said.
“Yeah, it does.”
But all their intel said the aliens were getting better at deception. At first, they’d used brute force, still relied on that, but Niko suspected they were starting to understand they’d need something else to beat good, old human grit and determination.
“Spread out.” He jerked his head at the man and woman. “Get a closer look. If anything seems off, and I mean anything, report back.”
The soldiers melded into the trees.
Quickly, stealthily, Niko made his way up the next hill. It had been a while since he’d had to use the skills of his past life. Before, stealth and sneaking had been his norm.
A muscle ticked in his jaw. He wasn’t that man anymore. Now he was a survivor, a leader, an artist, a community member. His top reason for being was to protect the Enclave and its people.
He shimmied down on his belly and crawled to the top of the hill. He lifted the binocs again.
A second later, he felt the cool brush of a gun barrel at the back of his neck. He stiffened.
“Want to tell me why you’re sneaking around here and spying on my people?’
Female voice. Tough. Cool. Meant business. Niko had no doubt that whoever was holding the weapon, she wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
“I’m making sure they are who I think they are,” he answered. “Making sure they aren’t aliens in disguise.”
A pause. “Turn around.”
Niko rolled over. Taking her in felt like a kick to his gut.
He’d thought she’d be tall. Instead, she was tiny. Dark hair was tucked under her combat helmet and he wondered if it would be a long fall of silk or short, sexy wisps around her angular face. She wore her combat armor and held her carbine in a way that said she did it every day. No newbie soldier here.
But it was the hard, steady look in her dark eyes and the tough tilt of her chin that he found most fascinating.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m from the Enclave—”
“We’ve heard that before. Name?”
Yes, this one had tough running through her veins. Damn, he found it sexy. “Niko.”
The woman touched her ear. “Roth? Come in. I’ve run into someone claiming to be from the Enclave.”
Niko straightened. “Roth? Roth Masters?”
His captor studied him.
“Tell him Nikolai says hello.”
She tapped her earpiece, then cursed. “Damn. The aliens are jamming everything.”
Holding his hands up, Niko got to his feet. “I’m Nikolai Ivanov.”
Her dark gaze drifted over him. “Mackenna Carides. I’m Roth’s second in command.”
So, she worked side by side with the tough, muscled Masters. “Looks like Roth has all the luck. I’ve met his beautiful and competent Avery, and now I see he works with a beautiful second in command as well.”
Mackenna lifted her carbine up an inch. “I’m not in this job because of how I look.”
“I don’t doubt it.”
She touched her ear. “Roth? Arden? Do you copy?”
Niko shifted to grab his own comms device off his belt.
A hard shove to his gut had him grunting. Mackenna kicked his knees out from under him and a second later he found himself flat on his back, a knee pressed to his sternum.
“You’re a bit twitchy, Mackenna.”
“It’s Mac. And after two weeks on the run, aliens dogging your every move, you’d be a little twitchy too, pretty boy.”
Niko was sick of being on the back foot with this woman. He slapped her knee away, surging upward.
She swung her carbine around, but he anticipated that and knocked it away. She threw herself at him and they shared a short, sharp scuffle. Fuck. She had an exoskeleton in her armor that made her stronger than him.
They ended up facing each other, on their knees. He had an elbow at her throat and she had a tight grip on his throat. One twist and she could snap his neck.
“Mac, you there?”
So close to her, Niko heard the tinny sound of Roth’s voice.
“I’m here. I caught a guy spying on the convoy. Looks human, says he’s from the Enclave and his name is Nikolai Ivanov.”
“Six foot, long dark hair, green eyes?”
Niko felt her relax a fraction.
“Sounds about right,” she answered.
“I can vouch for him. He’s an artist, and one of the leaders of the Enclave.”
Niko heard Mac mutter under her breath. “Roger that. I’ll bring him down to you.”
She released Niko and stepped back. Niko got to his feet. “Two of my soldiers—”
“Are with my squad,” Mac answered shortly.
He cleared his throat. “Are they unharmed?”
“They aren’t conscious but they’re breathing.” She cocked her head. “You are not an artist.”
He held his hands up. As usual, he still had streaks of paint on his fingers.
“You don’t move like an artist. I recognize combat training and experience when I see it.”
Niko shoved his hands in his pockets and mentally cursed that he’d given himself away and that she was so damned observant. “We all had lives before the invasion. I was…something else before the aliens came.”
“You mean we all have secrets.”
He inclined his head. “You have an intriguing face, Mackenna. Beauty edged with toughness. I’d love to sketch you.” Or paint her, sculpt her. Anything to be able to study her more.
“I don’t think so.”
He smiled. He was a persistent man and a patient one. “We’ll see.”
She jerked her shoulder. “Come on. I’ll take you to Roth.”
Niko moved up beside her. “We’ll be seeing a lot of each other. And Mackenna?” He waited until she lifted her dark gaze to his. “You don’t have to run anymore. Welcome to the Enclave. Welcome to your new home.”
Hell Squad: Niko coming 28 June.