Meltdown by Gail Barrett - Fiction
"I'm in this thing until I decide I'm out. You got that?"
With terrorists hot on her heels, nuclear chemist Zoe Wilkinson races to elude capture. The last person she expects help from is her ex-boyfriend Cooper Kennedy. But when their plane crashes, stranding them in the desert, the stifling heat pales in comparison to the scorching desire Zoe still feels....
On undercover assignment for the navy, Coop can't believe the woman who ruined his life is back. Zoe's always been trouble. And nothing's changed--not even the consuming lust she sets off in him. But when Zoe's kidnapped, Coop must race against the clock to protect the woman he loves.
She'd stumbled into a nightmare.
Zoe Wilkinson clutched the steering wheel of her rattling Honda, her fingers numb, her breath coming in labored gasps, her gaze locked on the remote Nevada airstrip shimmering ahead in the desert haze. Her calm, orderly existence had exploded. The tranquillity she'd sought her entire life had been torn into shreds.
She jerked her gaze from the bumpy dirt road and braved a glance in her rearview mirror. Dust billowed behind her speeding car, obscuring her view of the black sedan. But those killers were back there, following her. They'd broken into her apartment, chased her through the mountains outside of Ely, pursued her into the wide-open desert where she couldn't hide.
She sucked in a reedy breath and slammed the gas pedal flat to the floor. "Come on," she pleaded to the car. "Go faster." She had to make it to the tiny airstrip and beg a flight to the ghost town where her grandfather had hidden that flash drive.
Before both she and her grandfather died.
Raw hysteria burbled inside her. She tried to swallow, but her throat was dustier than the sand stretching to the horizon on every side.
This shouldn't be happening. She was a nuclear chemist. She'd led a staid, quiet life for years. She shouldn't have the FBI monitoring her movements, rumors of espionage swirling around her, unknown assailants dogging her heels.
And her grandfather--a world-renowned physicist--kidnapped, suspected of treason.
Terror slashed her belly at that dreadful thought, but she forced the fear aside. He couldn't die. She wouldn't let him. He was the only family she had left. And no way was he a traitor, no matter what the FBI claimed. He would never sell nuclear secrets to enemy agents. This was all a horrific mistake.
The Honda jolted into a rut, snapping her head back against the headrest, and she nearly lost control of the car. She clenched her teeth, tightened her fingers on the vibrating wheel, her biceps and shoulders aching from the battle to stay on the road. But she didn't dare slow. Her pursuers had nearly caught up.
She had no clue who those men were. FBI? CIA? The kidnappers? They'd barged into her apartment wielding weapons, black hoods covering their heads. It was a miracle she'd escaped.
And she wasn't out of danger yet.
She squinted out the insect-splattered windshield at the airstrip a quarter mile away now--its listing, sun-bleached flight shack, the two geriatric Cessnas parked on the dirt runway, the peeling Winnebago squatting amidst the sagebrush like a decaying bug.
She frantically scanned the airstrip for Pedro, the reclusive old pilot who owned the place, but didn't see him around. He had to be there. He had to fly her to that ghost town. He was her only hope.
Keeping the accelerator flattened to the floorboard, she hurtled the final few yards to the airstrip, sparing another glance behind her at the swarms of dust. Too panicked to slow, she yanked on the wheel, swerved toward the airstrip's entrance.
But the car hit another rut, knocking her hands loose. She lunged for the wheel but couldn't regain control. The car careened through the sagebrush and smashed through the split rail fence. She shrieked, flinched, as the wooden rails crashed apart and bounced off the hood.
She twisted hard on the wheel and slammed on the brakes, her heart going berserk. The car fishtailed in the sand, flinging her against the door, then jerked to a stop in a spray of dust.
Shaking violently, she gasped for breath. Still panting, she pried her fingers off the steering wheel and...