Issued to the Bride:One Sniper

By: Cora Seton

(Brides of Chance Creek Book 3)



Prologue







“General?” Corporal Myers leaned into the small, sparely furnished office at USSOCOM at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. “We don’t have a lot of time, sir.”

“Be there in a minute. You got Powell out there?”

“Yessir, should I send him in?”

“Give me a second.”

General Augustus Reed wasn’t surprised by Myers’s anxiety. He knew without being reminded that hot spots all around the world had gotten hotter in the last month. After all, he’d been with the Army for over thirty years and he’d seen his fair share of trouble. Unlike the corporal, he wasn’t worried, though. In fact, he’d never felt better. Trouble energized him. Made him sharp.

Distracted him from the mess he’d made back home with his daughters.

The General didn’t even want to think about that. But he supposed he had to, with Powell heading to Montana today. He was sending the man on a special mission. Had pulled a lot of strings last spring, plucked him out of a Navy SEAL team when he’d gotten into a bit of trouble and forced him into a special cross-branch task force with the sole design of using him for his own purposes. Luckily the General had amassed the rank—and, more importantly, enough favors—to get away with that kind of thing when no one else could.

With a grunt of dissatisfaction, he pulled open the bottom left-hand drawer of his battered wooden desk.

He supposed things weren’t such a mess at Two Willows anymore. Not like they’d been before, back in his daughters’ teenage years, when his girls had seemed to need to rebel against him constantly. They’d spent the last eleven years trying to shake off any restrictions he’d put on them, including the men he’d sent to run the cattle operation on his wife’s ranch after Amelia had died, and the women he’d sent to finish raising them. Now they’d all grown up, and he couldn’t send guardians to watch over them anymore.

So he’d started sending husbands.

He’d found two fine men for Cass and Sadie, and he was about to send a third to Two Willows to woo Jo. Hunter Powell, Navy SEAL sniper. Those girls might think they’d given him the slip, but he’d proved the old man had a trick or two up his sleeve. And a sniper would come in handy given the trouble hounding Two Willows these days. Some drug running outfit had tried to grab his land to use as a base of operations. His girls—and the men he’d sent to marry them—had fought them off. Twice. Time to send in reinforcements.

Still, he couldn’t squash the uneasy feeling in his gut when he reached into the drawer and pulled out an envelope.

It wasn’t that he was worried about his daughters, although he was; he had a feeling those drug runners would be back.

It was that there weren’t many letters from Amelia left, and when he’d read them all, he wouldn’t get any more. The General had come to depend on them, and he didn’t know what he’d do when they were gone. Only someone like Amelia could have foreseen her stroke and written so many timely messages for him to receive after she left him behind. Amelia was special. She’d always had a sense of what was coming next. The General hadn’t realized how much she’d foreseen until she’d died. Her warm, loving notes had guided him through his daughters’ teen years and into their twenties. Then she’d brought up the topic of their marriages.

As the General slit open the envelope, he knew she’d have more advice—more instructions—for him.

Knew he’d follow them to the letter.

Probably.

Lately she’d been telling him it was time for him to go home. He wasn’t ready for that. Not yet.

Dear Augustus, she began like always, and the General settled in for a comfortable read.

Her next words straightened his back again, however.

You have got to be kidding me. You didn’t go to Sadie’s wedding, either? It’s bad enough you skipped Cass’s. Is there still time? Can you book a last-minute flight and make it? Tell me that’s what you’ll do.

The General swallowed hard, fighting the knowledge he’d disappointed his wife—again. She was right; there was still time to get to Sadie’s wedding, but he wasn’t going to get on any flight to Montana. Amelia had to know why he’d stayed away.

It’s no use. I know that you won’t. And my heart is breaking—for my girls and for you. You have to make this right. You have to—

Oh, why bother telling you what to do? Since when have you listened to anyone? Fine. Stay away, but keep sending those men. Jo is next, and she’s in desperate need of someone to love her—and to understand her. I hope you picked a saint for her—

The General swore. Hunter Powell was as far from a saint as you could get. A Navy SEAL. A sniper, no less. A man as haunted by his decisions as the General was haunted by his demons. He’d hand-picked the other men for his girls with an understanding of exactly why they were meant for each other. Hunter, he’d chosen because his gut told him to. It was as if he’d had one of his wife’s supernatural hunches about the man.

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