Derick (Delta Forces #3) by Elizabeth Lennox

Derick

Delta Forces Series

By Elizabeth Lennox

Prologue



Carrie stood in front of the house, ignoring the crunch of the dead, brittle grass under her feet. The house was solid, although one wouldn’t know it from the outside. Sure, it needed a new deck and a fresh coat of paint. The craftsman style bungalow had been built back in the nineteen twenties with interior columns and storage cabinets built into the walls. The kitchen cabinets were tall and made with solid wood and, at some point over the past one hundred years, the plumbing and electrical system had been updated.

Carrie felt a kinship to the house. It was a little like her. She’d been shoved down and pushed around. Carrie knew that she looked a bit...ragged too. She tugged her baseball cap lower over her eyes, her hand brushing against her dark hair. It was growing long, which helped a lot. She ignored the scratch of her baggy jeans and looked around at the yard. It wasn’t much to look at now. The house wasn’t in a neighborhood, but was stuck out here on the outskirts of the town. There were only two houses on this street, which suited her just fine. Out of necessity, she’d bought another house further out in the more rural areas, but close enough to the city so that if she needed help…. She wouldn’t need it though. Carrie had learned to survive on her own!

Closing her eyes, Carrie took a slow, deep breath, filling her lungs with the fresh, country air, then holding it for a count of five. A moment later, she eased the air out of her lungs for another five count. Doing that five more times, the muscles along her neck and shoulders slowly relaxed.

Opening her eyes again, she looked at her new house, then at her only neighbor’s house. The grass there was green and freshly mowed. Several tree saplings had recently been planted. When those trees grew up, the house would be shaded from the hot summer sunshine. The house was similar to hers, in that it was a craftsman, but that’s where the similarities ended. The other house was beautifully maintained. The exterior of the house was freshly painted, the windows sparkled, and there was even a rocking chair and a swing on the front porch. But it was the backyard that captured her curiosity. Most of the grass had been taken up and replaced by a massive vegetable garden.

Carrie had seen small vegetable gardens in other places she’d lived. But this garden was huge! From what she could see, there were corn and tomato plants, bean stalks, and what she suspected were squash and zucchini but from this distance, she wasn’t sure.

Just then, a car came down the street, startling her. Over the past two years, Carrie had taught herself to be cautious, and to always be aware of her surroundings.

She jumped, startled, then twisted to watch as the big pickup truck drove down the street and pulled into the driveway next door.

“Go inside,” she whispered to herself. But she didn’t. Instead, she stood there among the brown weeds as a big…huge, really…man stepped out of the black truck.

Carrie gulped as she watched the man come around his truck, his eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses. He seemed to be watching her just as intently as she watched him. Coal black hair, tanned skin, and so many muscles! Good grief, the man had muscles on top of muscles! Hard, uncompromising muscles! He wore those nylon workout shorts that so many men preferred in the gyms, along with a loose tee-shirt that didn’t seem to hide anything! A moment later, he reached into the bed of his truck and effortlessly pulled out a duffle bag that would have toppled a normal person.

Carrie told herself to look away, but there was something about the man that held her attention. She was transfixed and…and she was sick and tired of being scared!

She’d escaped from hell two years ago. As Carrie watched the black haired man stare back at her, she wondered if she’d bought a house next to the devil.





Chapter 1



Derick watched from his window as the tiny woman in baggy clothes opened her front door. She eyed the paper bag for a long moment before warily approaching it.

His lips compressed as he watched her, wanting to go to her and demand the name of whoever had put that kind of fear in her! Derick knew when someone was in hiding. He’d seen it so many times over the years. In the past, though, the people he’d watched had been in hiding because they were evil and their survival depended on not being found.

In his new neighbor’s case, she was too small to be much of a threat. And she moved differently. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but her movements were that of a person trying not to be found – because being found might endanger their lives, not because being found would mean prison. Or worse.

With a cautious finger, the tiny woman pulled the paper bag open, peering carefully into its depths. When she discovered that it was filled with fresh, beautiful, red tomatoes that he’d picked just this morning, her tense features relaxed into a delighted smile. Immediately, her gaze shifted toward his house, but Derick knew that he was too far back from the window for her to spot him. He’d done this too many times and knew how to keep himself hidden.

He wasn’t hiding because he didn’t want her to see him. Derick hid himself because he wanted to understand what was going on with his new neighbor. For so long, he’d lived on this street alone and he’d appreciated the isolation. He preferred his privacy, preferred the silence and the freedom to do what he wanted, whenever he wanted. If he wanted to work in his garden early in the morning or late at night, he had the freedom to do that.