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Wilder Mission

George H. McVey



A Wilder Mission















From the Author

About the Author

A Wilder Mission 

Wilder Ranch book one

Copyright ©2021 by George H. McVey All rights reserved. 

Cover by EDHGraphics.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote brief excerpts in a review. 

This book is a work of fiction. The author created names, characters, places, and incidents either from his imagination or using them fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental or used fictitiously.

This book was written by a human author, not an A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) This book cannot be used to train an A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) how to write a book.


There are several people that I want to say thank you to by dedicating the words of this book to them. First, April Wilson, your characters in your McIntyre Securities Series inspired me to try my hand at writing a few different books. This is one of them.

The next is a group of readers in my Authors Facebook Group who answered the call for names to kill off in this book their own names: Dawn O’Leary, Brenda Webber and Nancy all asked to be killed, so I did it I confess! Also to Rosie Glenn for helping me name Jaelyn’s nasty ex and his father. Misty Hazard for loaning me her name for a small character who will appear again I’m sure. 

Last but not least to Jane Fazenbaker who I promised to dedicate a book to for her birthday. I’m late but here’s your book Jane. Oh and surprise I made you a returning character too.


WARNING: This book is not a sweet and wholesome read. It deals with issues that may be triggering to some people. Issues like gaslighting, mental, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. It is rated PG-13 for some language, violence, and mild sexual relationships. 

Jaelyn Bench runs from an abusive relationship with only one thing on her mind: find her brother’s old army buddy, Ace Wilder. Her brother told her if she was ever in trouble to go to Ace and tell him to cowboy up! She never expected to find the hottest cowboy in Montana answering her plea.

Former Green Beret and Delta Force Commander Ace Wilder is back home after ten years of active duty. Now his days are filled with overseeing his family’s ranch, known as Wilder Ranch. With a case of PTSD that he's kept hidden, he needs something more. The Ranch keeps him busy during the day, but dreams of the terror he faced in the service fill his lonely nights. He needs a mission. 

When his old buddy’s little sister winds up in his barn beaten half to death, Ace has his new mission. Protect Jaelyn Bench from the crazy ex-boyfriend. Ace, with the help of some old friends, is more than ready to fulfill that mission. What he's not equipped for is the feelings Jaelyn stirs in his heart and other places.

Can these two overcome the danger chasing Jaelyn to find love in each other’s arms? Or is the darkness in both their lives too much for love to overcome? Ace has faced dangerous men before, but never a man like Jaelyn’s ex. He wanted a new mission, now he found one and, boy, is it "A WILDER MISSION"



I was stumbling down the road in nothing but a pair of flimsy pajama shorts and a tank top. I had to get away. If Edward caught up to me again, he'd kill me for sure. Just get away from Skyview and Edward. Try to find Ace Wilder like my brother told me the last time I saw him, before he went missing and was presumed dead by the army.

I still remembered Bryson telling me, “Jaelyn, if you need help and can't get ahold of me, contact Ace Wilder, my old team leader, and tell him Boomer said it was time to ‘cowboy up.’”

 My new mantra became: Escape from Skyview, find Ace, and tell him to cowboy up. I kept repeating it as I plodded down the highway. “Ace Wilder, cowboy up!”

Relief flooded me when I saw the lights of the truck stop just off the interstate. I'd hitch a ride tonight. In the morning, I'd find out how to contact Ace Wilder and tell him Boomer said to ‘cowboy up.’

There, close to the road, I saw a fancy Dodge Ram and a single horse trailer. I didn’t know where it was going. Anywhere would be better than being found by Edward again. 

I limped up to the trailer and saw it was empty. No horses, just a dirty horse blanket in the corner. I considered going inside the truck stop and finding the rancher and asking for a ride, but if I did, someone would remember and tell Edward about me. I decided to hide here in the trailer and try finding Ace once I escaped town. Just cover up and hitch a ride. I’d figure out what to do later. For now, I was exhausted and needed to rest a little.

The pain and dizziness overwhelmed me, and I passed out. I never realized when the truck’s owner came back and headed back onto the road. I only woke when the trailer bounced over some rough road. The pain of bouncing around caused every bump over the uneven road to feel like a thousand points of pain in my body. Then one massive bump caused me to strike my damaged arm on the floor of the trailer and the pain caused me to pass out again. 

When next I became aware, the trailer was stopped. I crawled slowly to the end of the trailer and got the door opened. The only light was the almost full moon. I could see they parked the trailer next to a large barn. 

It took all my energy, but I crawled inside and found an empty stall. I’d wait until daylight and try to get the farmer or rancher to help me find Ace Wilder. Again, the dizziness overwhelmed me and everything around me went black. My last thought was find Ace Wilder, tell him ‘cowboy up’.



I sat atop my horse, looking down over the family ranch. This was where I always knew I’d end up. I never imagined it would be this soon. It wasn’t supposed to happen for ten years, after I put in twenty years to my military career and my dad was old and ready to retire. But thanks to his lifestyle and a massive heart attack, here I sat ten years sooner than I thought. 

Still, I couldn’t complain. My dad had pulled through, but the doctor told him to slow down. He couldn’t run the ranch anymore. The decision hadn’t been a hard one for me. I resigned my commission, asking for a hardship discharge, leaving the Delta Force Alpha team for a different team, my family, and running Wilder Ranch. That had been a year ago, and we were doing fine. Dad and I had bumped heads the first few months, but we’d worked out the differences in our ways of running the ranch and I was proving to everyone that I could do what needed to be done.

Now, looking over the ranch my family had built, I felt at home. The stress and knowledge that the continued success and growth of the Rocking W Ranch sat fully on my wide shoulders. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in running the day-to-day operations. I had help. 

My sister Skylar divided her time between helping with the cattle and helping our baby sister Amber with running Amber’s dream of Wilder Stables and Training Center for her specially raised and trained horses.

 My adopted brother, Gray Wolf, was helping run the cattle and farming side of things. Along with occasional help from my famous siblings, three-time Rodeo Bucking Bronc champion of the world Vince and country music star Violet. Even my brother Taylor would help when his job as the town’s assistant pastor allowed. 

Not that I minded being in charge. I knew dad and mom were counting on me to keep the ranch running smoothly and the family together. I did everything possible to make that happen. 

No one on the ranch knew my big secret, not even my mom and dad, who normally were good at reading people. They saw me run the ranch, but they didn’t know about my need for control. 

My secret was the reason, when I’d come back home full time, I’d moved into the old foreman’s house. The one that had been empty since Gray’s father had lived there before his cancer had taken him from us. I needed to be away from my family at night. So when my tightly held control slipped, I didn’t subject them to the aftermath. 

I lived alone, so when the dreams and nightmares drove me up in the middle of the night, I didn’t scare them. When waking visions of the six months spent as a prisoner of war overwhelmed me, the shakes and the screams went undetected. 

Thankfully, so far, I had kept all that to myself. The doctor at the VA called it Post Traumatic Stress, but all I knew to call it was hell on earth. I held tight to my control during the day. Keeping away from things that trigger me: sounds of explosions, fireworks, the smell of burning flesh or gunfire. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with branding season. I’d figure it out before hell week. 

Maybe I could talk Skylar and Wolf into overseeing the actual branding and I’d do the roundup of strays, limiting my time near the screams of newly branded calves and the smell of searing skin caused by the branding irons. 

Almost a year home, none of the family suspected the hell I went through most nights. When the memories pushed into my brain and reminded me that I was broken. 

It hadn’t been this bad when I had the mission to focus on. Running the ranch was a mission, too. But one that left me a lot of time to think. When things slowed down, the memories fought to the surface.

 Now, a year later, the memories were more real than the actual event they reminded me of. As I watched the last of the sunrise getting my mind into the proper focus before the day’s work began, the walkie talkies we used on the ranch where cell reception was spotty beeped. My mother’s voice came over the line, washing over me in panic. “Ace, you need to get to the stables, double time soldier.” 

The double time got me. Double time was a code I taught everyone when I took over. It meant there was life or death situation. I wheeled my horse around and kicked it into a full-out galloping sprint while uttering a one-word answer into the mike. “Roger.” 

This early it meant family, or a horse, was in trouble and my thoughts instantly went to Dad. Not today, any day but today. 

Because today was the one-year anniversary of the worst day of my life. Exactly a year ago, my commanding officer informed me my dad might die before I could say goodbye. The day my base commander handed me an emergency leave slip with “Ace, your mother called. Your father just had a massive heart attack on that ranch of yours. They don’t know if he’ll survive or not. Go home, deal with your family. Let me know what you need.” 

As if the mustang I was on wasn’t running full out, I gave him a kick to get more speed out of him. Praying to a God I wasn’t sure was listening to me as we tore across the field.



I arrived at the stables, leaped from the saddle before Cap had stopped. At a flat run, I ripped open the door to have mom halt my progress. “What’s wrong? Is it Dad?” 

She shook her head. “What?? No, your father is still in bed.” 

“What is the life-or-death situation? Why the double time call?”

She pointed toward a stall where my sisters, Amber and Skylar, stood. “Go slow Ace. There’s a situation that needs you, but you need to go slow and quiet.” 

“What are you talking about, mom?” 

“You’ll see.”

Just then, I heard an ambulance coming our way. Mom stood by the door. “That will be Craig and Gerri. I called them right after I radioed you.”

 Frowning, I walked over to where my sisters were standing in front of a stall. They moved aside and I could see someone lying on the ground shaking. 

“What the Fu…dge?” I finished changing the curse into something clean because of the women present. On the ground was a woman shaking, muttering something too quiet to understand. It was obvious she was a woman because the little bit of clothes she had on hardly hid anything. I couldn’t tell anything beyond the fact that she had long hair somewhere between blonde and brown. She had been so beaten; nothing was recognizable as human. 

“How the hell did she get in there?” 

“That’s not the question you should be asking.” Skylar said. I looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you hear what she’s saying?”

I shook my head. “Can’t make it out.”

“Well, she was yelling it earlier when I touched her.”

I got close and leaned down and tried to find a safe place to lay my hand that wouldn’t cause her undue pain. 

I decided her feet were probably the safest even though the bottoms were scratched up fierce. I laid a hand on her left foot and got an instant reaction. She screamed and started kicking and waving her right arm like she was trying to fight and started yelling. “ACE WILDER, COWBOY UP, ACE WILDER, COWBOY UP!”

Only one person still alive in Montana knew that phrase. I knew who this woman was, but we’d never met. “All hell. Boomer!”

“Do you know this young lady, Ace?” 

Mom asked from where she waited for the paramedics.

I shook my head. “Never met her, but I know who she is. My Army buddy, Boomer Bench, used to say that to me. When we got a new mission, he’d tell me to ‘cowboy up’. He stopped by the hospital after Dad’s heart attack. He told me he thought his sister was in trouble. She’d denied it, but he let me know he’d told her if she needed help to find me and tell me to cowboy up.

“What was her name, J something? Jaycee, Jaclyn NO! Jaelyn, that was her name, Jaelyn Bench. She’d be my guess.” 

“How’d she get here?”

I shrugged. “No clue. Boomer said she was living just an hour east of Missoula. A little town, I can’t remember its name.” 

“Skyview.” My baby sister Amber said. “I stopped at a truck stop just outside of Skyview for supper. She must have climbed into the empty horse trailer there.” 

Just then, Craig and Gerri came in. Craig looked at the woman, then at Gerri. “Holy hell! Better get the gurney. She’ll need to be transported. Get an IV and morphine prepped too.”

He looked at me. “This girl’s a mess, Ace.”

I nodded once, the sarcasm obvious in my voice. “You think, Craig? If you’re transporting her, then I’m riding with her.” I told him in my command voice. 

The minute she’d said my name and told me to cowboy up, she became my responsibility. Nothing these first responders could say or do would keep me from her side.

Craig looked from his patient to me. He must have seen my resolve, because he just nodded. “Yeah, okay. You know who she is?”

Even though I was certain who she was, I shook my head. “Not sure. I think I do, can’t tell by looking. She’s too out of it to tell us for sure.” 

Craig nodded. “I’m going to give her the morphine first, then once she’s out, Gerri and I will strap her to a backboard. Who would do that to anyone?”

 Anger boiled over me. “I don’t know, but they better hope I never meet up with them.” 

Here was proof you needed to be careful what you wished into the universe. I’d been thinking this morning that I needed a mission beyond just running the ranch to give me purpose. I didn’t even have to hunt for one. This was a mission that had been dropped at my feet, literally. Finding out if I was right about her came first. But no matter who she turned out to be, I’d protect her. Hell, I would find the son of a bitch who hurt her and teach him a lesson he’d never forget, as well.

The two paramedics worked fast. Thankfully, she had passed out again. They got an IV in her and injected the morphine. Then they strapped on a neck brace and secured her to a backboard before placing her on the gurney. 

As they went to load her into the ambulance, I climbed in with them. Gerri started to tell me to get out. I wasn’t family. However, a slight shake of the head from Craig and the look of cold, hard determination on my face had her shutting her mouth without uttering a word. 

Wouldn’t have mattered if Gerri had said something. I wasn’t leaving her side. She had made it plain she was seeking me and needed my help. At present, all I could do was ensure she wasn’t alone and that her safety wasn’t compromised.  Nothing would stop me or stand in my way. I would stand watch over her as if she were the president of the United States and God help anyone who tried to interfere. 

Skylar stuck her head in the ambulance. “I’ll follow in your rig, Ace. Also, I called Linda Owings. She’ll meet you there. You might want her to do the medical stuff to keep the town rumor mill out of it. I also called Sheriff Colton. He’ll need to talk to her, document her injuries, get her to tell us who did this to her.” 

I nodded. “Good thinking, Sis. Thank you.” I turned to mom who was standing beside Skylar. “Mom, can you let Dad and GrayWolf know I’ll be gone until she can return?”

Mom nodded and looked me dead in the eye with the look I’d grown up seeing. The one that said she was seriously upset and would take no more sass. 

“You take care of your business, Ace. We’ll see to things here.” 

Just then, Gerri cursed, and my attention returned to the paramedic. Gerri keyed her mic and alerted the hospital they were in route with a female of undetermined age and started listing her injuries. When she said severe vaginal and anal tearing and bruising, I saw red. Not only had she been beaten, someone or multiple someone’s had violated her. Whoever was responsible had just earned themselves some Delta Force style justice.

We were moving as fast as Craig could drive over the rough road, lights and sirens blaring. Gerri looked at me, concern on her face. I couldn’t stop myself from asking the question. “She gonna be okay?” 

Gerri shook her head, then shrugged. “I just don’t know, Ace. It’s a miracle she’s alive at all. I’ve never seen anyone beaten this bad.” 

I had, but I couldn’t talk about that. The mission was highly classified, and I couldn’t talk about what they did to me and the handful of people held captive, anyway. Not that it mattered; they’d all paid. I killed my torturers one night, and we’d all escaped. 

“You’d be surprised what a person can endure when they have to.” 

“True, I’ve seen things on this job, but never anything this bad. Honestly, Ace, she isn’t out of the woods yet. It’ll be up to the doctor to figure how bad she is internally. But her pulse is weak and thready. If she lives, her recovery won’t be quick, and I suspect her emotional recovery will be even longer.” 

We both sat in silence after that. I remembered my ordeal and slow recovery, the one that still wasn’t finished almost two years later. It just made me more resolute to see Jaelyn safely out of her troubles.



I hurt everywhere. That wasn’t an exaggeration. My whole body was one giant hurt. I struggled to open my eyes. The lids felt heavy. My mind was clouded. I was having trouble focusing on anything. 

I tried to move and found myself restrained. Was I still in the cellar? Had Edward strapped me down? If so, just what horror did he have planned for me next? 

Tears streamed down my face. I’d dreamed that I’d escaped. I’d made it to the truck stop, hid in the back of a horse trailer. Then into a barn. Was it all a dream? Was I still under Edward’s control? Being strapped down made me think I was. 

Then I realized something was different. The sounds I heard sounded more like a hospital. Where was I? Slowly, I forced my eyes to open. Even that hurt. I moaned in pain and a deep, warm voice spoke. “You’re awake, I see. Don’t struggle, you’re safe, Jaelyn. That is your name, right? Jaelyn Bench? You’re Boomer’s little sister?” 

I looked to the right where that voice was coming from. The most ruggedly handsome man I’d ever seen sat there. He looked like someone had taken my three favorite movie stars and combined them into one hot cowboy. He seriously looked like a mix of Chris Pratt, Chris Pine, and Chris Evans. 

The perfect mixture of Captain America, Star Lord, and Captain Kirk in tight wranglers and a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a beat-up brown Stetson in his hands. Then his words penetrated the fog around my brain. “Yes, I’m Jaylen. How do you know Bryson?” 

The cowboy smiled. “I’m Ace Wilder, Jaelyn, and I heard you were looking for me.” 

Instant relief flooded me. It wasn’t a dream. I had gotten away. But to have Ace here was a miracle. “The rancher knew you?”

He laughed. “I reckon you could say that, since it was my barn you hid in.” 

Just then, a wave of pain hit, making me gasp. “Hold on, let me get your nurse to give you some pain medicine and let the doctor know you’re awake.” 

“I need to get out of here. If Edward finds me, he’ll kill me.” 

Ace pushed the button on the side of my bed and shook his head. 

“You’ve been here a week, Jaelyn. You were so battered, the doctor had to put you in a coma. Your body needs time to heal some. Don’t worry about anyone finding you. You aren’t registered under your name but as Jane Doe. Officially, no one knew who you were because you couldn’t tell us.” 

“Why am I restrained?” 

“You kept thrashing and the doctor was afraid you’d undo all her hard work.” 

“How bad?”

Before Ace could answer, a nurse entered the room. “Oh good, you’re awake. How are you feeling, miss?” 

“Everything hurts.” 

“Well, let me get you some pain medicine and let Doctor Owings know you’re awake.”

 The nurse left to get me pain medicine and alert the doctor. I didn’t let that derail my train of thought. “How much damage this time?”

Ace turned red. I could see the burning anger in his eyes. “This time? That means there have been other times he’s beaten you. Why are you just now coming to me for help Jaelyn? Your brother told you to get in touch with me if you needed help a year ago. I would have stopped this before he almost killed you.”

I know my face was red with shame as I shook my head. “I couldn’t. You don’t understand Ace. I tried to get away several times. But Edward had spread rumors before he ever started hurting me. He told everyone that I was severely depressed and psychotic. Telling them I was okay when I took my medicine but would try to hurt myself when I didn’t. He slowly convinced everyone that I was crazy. He almost convinced even me. Everyone kept giving me back to him and when they did, he hurt me worse than the time before. I’d gone to the sheriff’s office and hospital several times. 

“The last time was the day I left. There was a new deputy there. I thought he might help me, but the other deputies showed him a file that said I was under psychiatric care and they called Edward.

“We returned home. I was tossed into the basement, he beat me several times and did other things to me. He told me the next time he’d kill me, and no one would even wonder where I went. He’d tell them I was in a mental facility and they’d believe him. After all, he’s the son of Congressman Paul Robinson and Skyview’s hometown former football hero. If he finds out I’m here, he’ll follow through on his threat and no one will know any different.”

Ace slowly reached down and took hold of my hand. “Jaelyn, sweetheart, I promise you, no one will ever hurt you again. They won’t even get close enough to attempt hurting you. Because I’ll destroy them before they can get close.”

The anger I heard in Ace’s voice and the determination on his face shocked me. Shocking that he directed it at Edward, the man who had hurt me. In all honesty, Ace knew nothing about me besides being Bryson’s little sister. Why was he so angry? Why would he care? 

The look on his face made me believe him. If Edward tried to hurt me again while Ace was around, the cowboy would indeed try to destroy him. That alone sent me into a fearful fit of anxiety. Edward was dangerous.

I opened my mouth to warn him how dangerous Edward was just as a woman with salt and pepper hair stepped into the room. “I hear my patient is finally awake.”

Ace nodded. “Linda, I know you need to ask her questions. Could I ask a huge favor of you?”

The older lady looked at Ace. “Depends on what that favor is Ace.”

 “I would like to ask that officially this patient remains in the records as Jane Doe. Or if you need to give her a name now that she’s awake, you call her Jane Wilder. The man that did this to her has threatened her life. While I’ll keep her safe, the best way to do that is to keep her real name off any publicly accessible computer.”

“Ace, you know that according to HIPPA regulations, they can‘t share anything we know outside of what the patient tells us can be, right?”

He shrugged. “If someone calls and asks what room so and so is in, they will be given a room number. Maybe even connected to the phone in the patient’s room. This is also a small town. If her name gets out there, I’ll end up having to deal with this man physically. I will probably anyway before it’s over. You want me to do so here? In the hospital? Because I will keep my vow to both your patient and my friend, her brother. I promised to keep her safe and not allow anyone to hurt her again. That’s the mission now, Linda, and I will see it through.”

I watched as the older woman stared at the handsome cowboy. “Fine Ace, for the records we will make her Jane Wilder and use your address for hers. But would it be possible for me to know her name? So I can talk to my patient?”

I smiled. I liked this doctor. She obviously knew Ace well. Yet she wasn’t worried about upsetting him. 

“My name is Jaelyn Bench, doctor.”

The older woman smiled at me. “Thank you, Jaelyn. and how old are you?”

I don’t know why, but I looked over at Ace before I answered. He nodded his head. “I’m twenty-two.”

“Good, can you tell me what year it is?”

I looked at her. “Seriously? Why all these mental health style questions? Do you think I’m crazy?”

The doctor shook her head. “I know some of these questions sound silly, honey. But I’m not sure you understand how badly you were hurt. We almost couldn’t save you. You had two skull fractures, your nose was broken, and your brain was swollen from the beating it took. We had to watch that closely and almost had to drill a hole to relieve the pressure.  

“You also have five broken ribs. Your left arm was broken in two places, thus the cast from elbow to hand. Your left lung was bruised, as were your spleen, kidneys, and bladder. You have major bruising covering ninety percent of your body and your more personal areas were torn and bruised as well.”

The doctor looked toward my lady parts. I could feel my face heat from the blush, but I nodded. “Yes, I know what all he did to me.”

The doctor patted my arm. “Honey, I’m sure you do. The questions I’m asking you are because of the damage to your skull and the swelling in your brain. Both can lead to complications such as memory loss and confusion, among other things. There is a small likelihood that you might encounter some seizure activity from the damage as well. I’m just trying to get a baseline so we can gage you over the next few days. I had to induce a coma to give your brain time to heal, and that also can lead to some long-term memory issues. So don’t be offended. I’m trying to see just how healthy your brain is.”

I nodded. “I’m sorry, it’s just that the townspeople weren’t the only ones he made doubt my sanity. I was beginning to doubt it as well. About a year after I’d moved in with him things started changing. Things weren’t where I’d left them and when I’d asked about them, Edward would help me find them and mention how forgetful I was becoming. 

“Then my truck broke down, and I didn’t have the money to fix it. When I’d mentioned needing to get it fixed, he told me I shouldn’t have stopped working if I knew the truck was in that bad of shape.

“I reminded him I’d stopped working because he asked me to quit saying he was going to help me get into school. He looked shocked. ‘Jaelyn honey. I never asked you to quit work. What are you talking about?’ 

There were other conversations like that where he would tell me something and then later deny having ever said that. It happened so often that I started doubting my memory. Between nothing ever being where I remembered leaving it and his comments about conversations never happening, I started doubting everything I thought I knew.” 

Ace’s face was angry, and I could see his jaw was clenched. Doctor Owings nodded. “Sounds like this Edward was gaslighting you. It’s a type of mental abuse that conditions the subject to doubt their own memories and come to rely on the abuser to make decisions for them. When did he start physically abusing you?”

 I blushed. “About the time I was notified that my brother was missing in action and presumed dead. That day was the first time he smacked me. He said I was in shock and it was the only way he could get me out of it.”


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