Archive for 'excerpt'
Thursday, March 21st, 2019
Today is the spring equinox, which means spring is in the air. The snow is melting, the days are getting longer, and the temperatures are climbing. We may still get a freak snowstorm or two—a very likely possibility where I live—but the promise of warmer days is there.
What do you look forward to in spring?
One of the biggest things I love is shedding the heavy winter layers. I live in Canada, so that means I have to put on winter boots, a sweater, scarf, long coat, headband, and gloves before I even consider venturing through the door. I long for sneakers and a hoodie. I’m also looking forward to not having to navigate mounds of snow and sheets of ice on the way to the bus stop.
I love the sunshine, so the dreary winter days can be difficult. The longer days and more frequent sunshine really boost my mood.
Mother nature comes alive. Trees began to bud and the first flowers poke their heads out of the ground. We may get daffodils and tulips in late April or they might not show until May. Things move a little slower up here, but I know that summer is on its way.
And if spring hasn’t quite arrived and you’re looking to curl up on a cool evening with a book, you might try Wolf of her Own.
They don’t come much hotter or sexier than Mikhail Matheson from Wolf of Her Own…
Wolf of her Own
Salvation Pack, Book 9
Mikhail Matheson may be an outsider in Salvation, but he stays with the pack to be close to his sister. It has nothing to with the fact that Elise—the most fascinating woman he’s ever laid eyes on—is part of the pack. Mikhail has wanted Elise for years, but being with her could cost him his life. Soon he’ll have to decide if he’s going to leave the pack or risk it all to pursue a place at her side.
After escaping her abusive mate, Elise LaForge has made a home in Salvation with her sons. She never expected to have her emotions stirred up by the always serious and seriously handsome Mikhail. But can she finally put her past behind her and dare to move on?
When danger creeps into the pack, both she and Mikhail have to be willing to sacrifice everything to have a chance at love.
Entangled Publishing: https://entangledpublishing.com/wolf-of-her-own.html
He turned and got his first real view of her bedroom. This was Elise’s private domain. Sheer white curtains hung at the windows, allowing in light and giving the illusion of privacy. The bed was queen-sized and covered with a white comforter edged in lace. The quilt that she’d had wrapped around her this morning was folded and sitting on the edge of the bed.
Drawn to it, he walked over and ran his fingers over it. The colors were pale and feminine—pink, cream, green, blue, and peach. He noticed the other little touches—a pale pink bench at the end of the bed, a chest of drawers painted white with glass knobs, and a wicker chair in the corner with throw pillows in colors that matched the quilt.
It was totally and utterly feminine. There wasn’t a hint of masculine anywhere.
And wasn’t that the point? Her mate had probably had everything his way in the years they’d been married, so it was only natural she’d swing totally the other way when she was designing a space for herself.
It suited her—intensely feminine without being too fussy. There were only a few extra pillows piled on the bed and the only lace was a thin band around the edge of her comforter. He really felt like the big bad wolf standing here in her room.
A smile tilted up the corners of his mouth. Damned if he didn’t like it.
She really needed something masculine to ground the space—see, watching all those decorating shows with his sister years ago had taught him something—and he was just the something masculine that was needed.
About the Author
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Visit me at:
Newsletter Group: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/awakeningdesires/info
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/N.J.WaltersAuthor
Monday, March 18th, 2019
Whenever I think about what makes me lucky, I come up with a long list.
Today, that list includes stopping by Delilah’s blog to visit with you. This week, I’m grateful to celebrate a holiday that carries on the traditions of my family—and provides plenty of yummy leftovers! And every day, I’m extraordinarily lucky to have a career I love.
I can’t tell you being an author is the most fun job I’ve ever had, because it involves a lot of work, sweat, and tears.
The work comes from trying to bring the ideas in my head to life on the page.
The sweat comes from waiting to see how my editor reacts to those ideas.
And the tears—oh, the tears! They’re the best part of the job.
Sad tears. . . when I learn about my characters’ lives before the book begins, then when I discover what’s going wrong in their lives now. (As my books are romances, conflict is a given.)
Frustrated tears. . . when the hardheaded hero and heroine can’t see beyond those conflicts to realize they belong together.
Uncontrollable tears. . . when they—or a character who plays an important role in their lives—get hit with a heartbreaking dose of reality.
And the best tears of all. . . the ones that flow when the hero and heroine have finally reached their happy-ever-after.
No wonder I say I’m so lucky!
For this St. Patrick’s week post, I’m sharing a clip from one of my books, Family Matters, a romance that features a heroine from a large and crazy Irish family and a hero who would like to put half of them in jail.
Here’s a quick peek from their first meeting:
The man took a deep breath, which now strained the buttons on his immaculate white shirt, and traced his thumbnail across one eyebrow. “I only argue before a jury. As we’re not in court—yet—that doesn’t apply here.”
Kerry swallowed a wave of panic. “You’re a lawyer?”
Great. A lawyer who had just stood ranting at Uncle Bren. Things couldn’t get any worse. Or could they? And did she really want to know? “You look like you could use a little assistance with this…meeting.”
He smiled. Despite the situation, she couldn’t help but notice how it changed his entire expression, easing the hard frown lines bisecting his forehead, even lightening the color of his eyes from near black to a dark greenish-gray. An interesting transformation.
She didn’t trust the change in him for a minute.
Still, she squinted at him and found her head tilting slightly, her fingers curling around an imaginary paintbrush. With an effort, she blinked, bringing herself back to harsh reality.
“I could use a warrant and a padded cell.” He gestured over his shoulder. “If you think you’ve got any chance of knocking some sense into that scam artist, go right ahead.”
She squinted again, not in pleasure this time. “Wait a minute—”
“You’ve got no call to say that,” Uncle Bren interrupted, glaring at the man.
He sounded intimidating enough, but Kerry knew the real threat would come from her grandmother, always famous for jumping into any brawl.
Kerry looked over her shoulder. Sure enough, here Gran came, pushing her way through the crowd, barreling toward the lawyer and Uncle Bren.
Obviously, Kerry’s luck is about to run out! Still, she will do anything for the family she loves.
So. . . when it comes to luck, how about you? What good things in life make you feel lucky?
Find Family Matters:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/family-matters-barbara-white-daille/1100347286
Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom. Barbara also loves writing, reading, and chocolate. Come to think of it, she enjoys writing about those subjects, too!
Barbara wrote her first short story at the age of nine, then typed “The End” to her first novel many years later…in the eighth grade. Now she’s writing contemporary romance on a daily basis. Sign up for her newsletter to keep up with the latest in her writing life: https://barbarawhitedaille.com/newsletter.
Social Media Links:
Saturday, March 16th, 2019
UPDATE: The winners are Debra, Monica, and Colleen!
Post a comment and you’ll be entered to win a free download of this book!
“… This is one hot book. This is my first m/f/m, m/f/m/f, f/f, and m/m all in one book! And whoa nelly, this was a smoking hot story….” 5 Stars and Top Pick, Night Owl Reviews
“…Delilah Devlin has a scorching hot read on her hands with RAW SILK…Ms. Devlin gives her readers a sexually charged romance…Ms. Devlin turned up the heat with her intense love scenes and memorable characters. I loved Raw Silk, and I would recommend this story to every reader.” 5 Angels and Recommended Read, Fallen Angels Reviews
“…The always exhilarating author Delilah Devlin knows exactly what her readers want – daring, erotic and wicked delightful stories filled with amazing characters, exciting story lines, passion and an abundance of emotions that will keep them riveted to the pages and once again she delivers the goods with RAW SILK…” 4 Hearts, The Romance Studio
A wicked, no-strings one-night stand turns unexpectedly complicated when three lonely hearts collide…
Camille sacrificed romance for success long ago. Now that the lingerie company she and her best friend built is hugely successful, she has a few regrets. Wanting to let down her hair and explore the possibilities, she agrees to meet a man at a bar for drinks only to wind up needing help when she rebuffs his sexual overtures.
Jake and Daniel are two firefighters hitting the bar for a quick drink after a long shift when they see a classy beauty fending off an overzealous boyfriend. With a flex of biceps they chase him off then settle in to seduce the lovely woman whose eyes reflect a hunger they understand all too well. What starts as a simple, pleasurable one-night stand, quickly burns up the sheets.
While Jake knows he can’t let Camille crush their relationship because of age differences, Daniel still thinks he can walk—until he gets a whiff of Camille’s best friend Lacey. Suddenly three isn’t enough.
Can’t wait? Get Raw Silk now!
Nothing was better than a lip-gloss kiss—sweet, silky, made for savoring.
Jake Lassiter picked up his beer and drew on the froth, imagining another kind of cream slipping between his lips while he stared at the woman’s shiny pout. She didn’t seem to realize anyone stared as she slicked her lips with a clear lube, tucked a stray blonde curl behind her ear and closed the mirrored compact. Or maybe she did and the performance was just a tease.
“Dayum, bro. Gotta have me some of that,” Daniel Parker murmured.
Jake shot him a glare, just to check, and sure enough, his best buddy was staring at the same honey-haired beauty.
“I call dibs.” Danny scowled, humor gleaming in his dark brown eyes.
“Can’t call dibs. I saw her first. I watched her come in the door while you were paying for the drinks.”
“Oh yeah? What color is her hair?” Jake asked, leaning toward the bar to cut off Danny’s view.
“Who gives a damn? Did you see her ass?”
Jake snorted, annoyed they were talking like two never-been-laid teenagers, but that’s what usually happened after a long week when both of them were too worn out to rub a single brain cell between them. That either had been able to lift bleary eyes past their beers said a lot for the woman’s appeal. She shone like a beacon in the badly lit bar.
“Why not let the lady make her own choice?” Danny drawled.
“Like she’d come near either one of us,” he muttered, his gaze sweeping the expensive cut of her navy suit, the sleek fall of her chin-length hair and understated makeup. She wore “class” like he did a pair of well-washed jeans—comfortably.
Still, it had been her expression that had snagged his attention. Something soft and wistful shone in her large, dark eyes. She wished she was anywhere but here. Read the rest of this entry »
Friday, March 15th, 2019
GIVEAWAY ALERT – ENTER NOW THROUGH MARCH 22ND
Win 1 of 10 Kindle editions of THE BETRAYER and/or 1 $25 Amazon Gift card
“Women—apparently even enemy women—rendered him awkward, nervous. Stupid. He lacked Nick’s charisma, and Dev’s bravado. Over the years he’d tried to emulate both and failed miserably. He was just Curtis, a blend of Keeper and computer geek.”
Yep, that just about sums up Curtis. But he’s going to have to rise to a challenge the likes of which he’s never seen before. Because his realm as he’s known it is about to get turned upside down.
“So then, this was it. This Keeper would finish the job. Forsaken, betrayed by her own people, he would put her down like a horse fallen lame, mercifully and unwittingly ending her misery. Was that some kind of warped, twisted justice, or not? Even if the Keeper didn’t kill her, without the dark energy, she would die.”
Jordan is in store for a journey of her own. In fact, I chose her name because it means ‘rebirth’ to me – The river’s name in Hebrew is (Yarden), meaning “descend” or “flow down”.
She tells Curtis: “Until I met you, my life felt like. . .” She seemed to search for words. “Like I’m dreaming I’m naked in a crowd but I never wake up.”
And she’s bewitched Curtis: “To his surprise, she grinned back briefly. It was enough to light up her face, and his heart. Had he honestly once thought no one would describe her as beautiful?”
And what’s the significance of the name Curtis? To me, it’s not a sexy or suave name. It’s the name of a hard working, no frills, practical Keeper, which is exactly what he is. But he’s got a sweet, sexy side too…
Plus, did you ever meet someone who just made an impression on you, for whatever reason? For me, as a writer, I guess that translates into the potential to be a character in a book. It was like that for me, when quite randomly, I was introduced to a Curtis, several years ago, and never have seen him again. But his look served as inspiration….
“All her faculties fully intact for the first time in days, she studied him intently. Tall, maybe six-two. Again, she noted his lean, wiry build, clad in jeans and a T-shirt, Vans on his feet. Not a body cultivated at the gym, but one maintained through a healthy lifestyle. Hair unruly around the edges. Inky blue, close-set eyes, which at the moment appeared perplexed and wary. A long, straight nose. Sculpted lips, drawn taut by a scowl. Shifting his weight, he crossed his arms, his stance matching his hard, uncompromising expression.”
INSIDE THE INSPIRATION ~ The entire Crossing Realms series was inspired by some very intense, very vivid dreams I had about my father after he’d passed. I know now they were visitations, and I treasure them. Have you had a similar, or other psychic experience?
The Crossing Realms series ~ Sacrifice or salvation? A chosen psychic few may be both. As the city’s Keepers battle Betrayers to save the human race, all’s not fair in love and war.
THE BETRAYER ~ Can a Betrayer fight alongside a Keeper? ~ He’d betray his clan for her. She’s a soldier to the core – but for which side? As they battle to save the human race, how high a price will loyalty—and love—demand?
Find out in THE BETRAYER, available now on Amazon…
REBECCA E. NEELY, AUTHOR
~ Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.
Rebecca is a writer, storyteller, author and blogger. A sucker for a happy ending, Rebecca strives to write the kind of stories she loves to read—gritty, suspenseful and featuring authentic, edgy and vulnerable characters, smack dab in the middle of action that explodes from page one.
Careers, past and present, include freelance writing, accounting, mother, problem solver, doer and head bottle washer.
Rebecca is a member of Three Rivers Romance Writers (TRRW), a PAN member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and is proud to serve as a judge for several writing contests each year.
CONNECT WITH REBECCA
Mailing List http://eepurl.com/bqiDi5
Everything about being here with Jordan was diametrically opposed to what Curtis’ clan stood for. She repulsed him. Fascinated him. She was his enemy. Now, maybe his ally. Did she hold the key to saving his clan?
There was no way for him to explain or to prepare Jordan—or himself—for what he was about to do. Not only did he need the element of surprise, he didn’t want to give either of them a chance to talk themselves out of it.
“Well?” She planted one hand on her hip and waved the other impatiently. “What do you think about what I said?”
“Just . . . Ah, stand still.” What she’d told him, the way he saw it, gave him an opportunity to find a definitive answer. And that was his M.O., definitive answers. So, he’d do what he had to do to help his clan.
She was filthy dirty, and he wasn’t much better, since it’d been three days since he’d seen a shower. He figured they were evenly matched there. Writing off the thudding of his heart to nerves and lack of sleep, in one lightning quick move, he hauled her against him.
Understanding flashed in her eyes and her bottom lip curled in what most certainly was defiance. And maybe fear? Before he lost his nerve, he closed his mouth over hers.
Soft. That was the first sensation that leapt into his mind. For an instant, her lips remained motionless beneath his, then yielded, pliant, shocking him. Thrilling him.
Up to now, nothing about this woman had been pliant. Skinny as she was, the subtle curves of her breasts, the angles of her hips molded themselves to his body. His breath hitched, and his erection swelled in his jeans. Thoughts of stripping her bare, wrapping her legs around his waist and burying himself inside her where they stood possessed him.
A low moan stirred in her throat, further arousing him. His mouth a breath from hers, the taste of her lingering on his lips, she clutched his wrist. And, jerking away from him, she reared back and punched him in the stomach.
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Thursday, March 14th, 2019
Legends whose true tales are obscured by the mists of time can serve as inspiration for today’s stories, or hide creatures of the night. While dragons rule the skies, shipfish swim the depths and leap in a graceful arc between the deep blue and the air above.
The inspiration for the shipfish of the Windmaster Novels came from watching dolphins in both real-life and on television. The intelligence, loyalty and bravery demonstrated by Darwin from the television program Sea Quest and the iconic Flipper from the show of the same name helped create the fantasy creatures called “shipfish.”
Tradition stated the companionship of shipfish on a voyage meant good fortune and smooth sailing. Captains were known to keep a bucket of fish on the bow for a quick toss to any shipfish that crossed the vessel’s path. Sometimes it was for an escort through the harbor or for an especially lucky vessel, as company as the ship crossed the ocean. The tribute was to the creatures themselves and to the water gods they represented.
The crew of Sea Falcon and the other vessels that sailed the seas of the Windmaster Novels called shipfish, the “sailor’s friend.” The creatures earned the nickname because more than one sailor who had been washed overboard found their lives saved by shipfish towing them to land. This excerpt recounts a lesser known duty shipfish perform—carrying a sailor to their final resting place in the depths of the ocean.
“On the dirge’s final note, the crew tilted the board. A solitary ripple marred the surface of the lake when the body dropped into its dark depths.
A crewman’s cry of surprise at the two shipfish who rose alongside the ship broke Ellspeth’s inward focus. She felt the crew’s awe as the sea creatures’ whispery sounds repeated the funeral dirge. Their silver bodies surged upward to balance on split tails.
“Almost like the King’s Guard,” a grizzled crewman at the rail offered. His observation of an honor guard came true when two more shipfish surfaced—the body balanced between their large back fins. The Sea Falcon’s crew stood motionless while eerie whistles echoed across the lake. When the final note of the unusual dirge faded away, the shipfish and their cherished burden slipped out of sight.”
Besides the shipfish that swim the oceans of the Windmaster Novels, the creatures are also the heart of legends. The most notable is that of the star-crossed lovers Iol and Pelra whose story is told in the newly released, Windmaster Legend.
A wish to the reader – if you can’t fly with dragons, may you swim with shipfish.
Fate conspired to keep Iol and Pelra apart. Friendship is allowed between members of competing trading houses, but nothing more. He loves the sea and wants his own ship. She hates the deep blue and has worked too hard to allow her dreams to be sidetracked by the lure of magic. Despite a beautiful woman on his arm every night, Leod wanted the one he couldn’t have—Pelra. His kin on the ruling council did more than put him on the fast track to his own ship. It provided him the power to fulfill his desires, or to ruin those who refused him.
Exiled to distant posts, given impossible challenges, and subject to Leod’s machinations, Iol and Pelra only have the hope of a future together to sustain them. But can their love survive the accusation of witchcraft?
BUY MARK: https://books2read.com/windmaster-legend/
About Helen Henderson:
Although the author of several local histories and numerous articles on the topics of American and military history, antiques and collectibles, Henderson’s first love is fiction. Her work in the museum and history fields enables a special insight into creating fantasy worlds. The descendent of a coal-miner’s daughter and an aviation flight engineer, her writing reflects the contrasts of her heritage as well as that of her Gemini sign. Her stories cross genres from historical westerns to science fiction and fantasy. In the world of romantic fantasy, she is the author of the Dragshi Chronicles and The Windmaster Novels. In her books, she invites you to join her on travels through the stars, or among fantasy worlds of the imagination.
Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
Readers often ask where authors get story ideas. My romantic suspense Becker Circle is about two things I know well—moving past toxic relationships and starting fresh. It’s also a fast-moving, feel-good story. Thanks Delilah for letting me celebrate people with the courage to escape and start over.
Have you ever started fresh? I did in my early 20s, late 20s, and again in late 40s. Not much was different except for having a bit more wisdom and cash. We experiment, make mistakes and learn from them.
In Becker Circle, Gillian got away from her abusive college boyfriend. She promised herself to never let anyone treat her that way again. During her fresh start, she did the right things—good corporate job and earned her CPA certification. She also got a second job as a bartender in her local pub to earn extra money and fill her empty social life. There, she was the new girl. Adorable bad boys hit on her, and she fell for some.She learned to set boundaries and created rules for her new life to keep from repeating mistakes: figure out if they’re drunk before letting them in, violence is a deal breaker, and no one can mess with me.
I was lucky. Earning potential was my escape from toxic relationships. Nearly one in four women and one in seven men in the U.S. have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Gillian escaped and saved herself lots of pain by learning early. Like Gillian, we’re never alone. There’s always help from friends, family, co-workers, local police, and organizations like Hope’s Door New Beginning Center.
Here’s a Becker Circle scene from Gillian’s journey to rebuild her confidence and self-worth to move past violence.My goal is for Gillian’s courage to bring hope and inspire others to do the same. In recognition of Becker Circle’s first birthday, Becker Circle is $0.99 on Amazon through March 17.
BECKER CIRCLE EXCERPT
Walking into work the next morning, I replay last night’s bad dream. It seems like everyone in the lobby stares at me. They know. The people in our building’s deli where I grab coffee see the sign on my forehead, “Jerk magnet!” They must have all experienced the walk of shame with me.
It’s already tough enough to concentrate on my day’s task of file folders filled with financial spreadsheets to reconcile. Just as the numbers start to swim on the page, ringing from my purse startles me. It’s him.
“Gillian, I’m so sorry.”
This will be good.
“I know I fell asleep.”
That’s all I get?
“I hardly slept the night before,” he says.
Then why did you go out? Why did you text me? Why call me now?
“It happens.” I sink into my uncomfortable desk chair. “You were tired. I do have to say, what happened was a first.”
About five different flavors of apologies follow, and not one of them changes my mind. Twice now he’s humiliated me. Rule five of my new life—falling asleep is unacceptable. “I’ve got to get back to work, Joaquin.”
“I feel terrible, Gillian. Really.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“I’ll make it up to you.”
“Um, yeah. See you at the pub.”
I turn the phone off and toss it across my desk. “Nooo!” I bury my face in my hands to muffle the scream. I don’twant to see him at the pub! Also, there will be never be a chance to make it up to me.
About the Author
Addison Brae lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. She has been writing since childhood and continues today as an independent marketing consultant. She addicted to reading and enjoys jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, traveling the world, collecting interesting cocktail recipes, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing, and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy.
Connect with Addison Brae on her website, Tirgearr Publishing, Twitter, Facebook,Instagram, Bookbub, or YouTube.
Buy links: $0.99 on Amazon through March 17! Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords,iTunes,Kobo, B&N Nook
Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
UPDATE: The winners are…Ann and Michelle Levan!
I’ll make an announcement soon about a new SEAL story. Can’t share the news until I have a hard date and cover to share, but it should be very, very soon! In the meantime, I have lots of military heroes for you to enjoy, including several stories centered around a Navy SEAL or two or three… 🙂
Enjoy the excerpt I’ve included. I really, really enjoyed writing a story that featured a female amputee. And you would not believe the number of online articles I read and YouTube videos I watched to make sure I got the details right! I was determined to do Kylie justice.
Here are all my currently available titles in Uncharted series.
Peruse these lovelies…
Click on the covers to learn more!
I’ll choose two winners! Tell me whether you’re ready for more SEAL stories for a chance to win your choice of an Uncharted SEAL story!
Hard SEAL to Love
Former SEAL, “Big Mac” McLane, is sure he earned all kinds of bad karma somewhere when his first mission with Charter Group is guarding the “Love Boat” and its activity director. Okay, so the cruise line is sponsoring a special cruise for wounded soldiers and their families — a great cause — but Big Mac doesn’t do well around families and children, and Kylie Hammond is cute, but he feels like he has two left feet whenever she’s around. But he’s going to do his job, keep it strictly business, fade into the background whenever she’s around, but it seems Kylie has other ideas…
Kylie knows the big SEAL isn’t exactly gung-ho for his new assignment, but she can’t be more pleased. The big man’s the yummiest thing she’s ever seen, and coaxing blushes and glares from him becomes her favorite sport. But then things begin to go wrong aboard ship, people disappear, and then someone’s killed. The thing her charity most feared — a terrorist attack at sea — appears to be underway. Now, she has to trust Big Mac and his team to keep her wounded soldiers safe.
Mac stepped through the entrance of the Hampton Inn. The lobby was a study in orderly chaos. Suitcases were lined up and stacked against one wall. Men and women, some in wheelchairs or walking with crutches and walkers, and missing limbs—some multiples—filled the space.
Mac tamped down a feeling of guilt for being able-bodied and whole as he walked through the throng, nodding now and then as he passed the veterans. He headed to the concierge and asked where he could find Kylie Hammond. After being informed which conference room Soldiers’ Sanctuary had commandeered to hand out welcome packets to arrivals, he headed down a hallway, relieved he didn’t have to push through a sea of bodies. He was ready to start this op. Sooner the better. Five days would fly by, and then he’d have the down time he needed to get his head on straight before the next assignment.
Stepping inside the room, he noted two long conference tables filled with plastic buckets of folders. Three elderly men manned the table.
One of them who sported a gray buzz cut and a surprisingly muscular build glanced his way. He lifted his chin in greeting.
Mac decided he was as good a place to start as any and strode toward him.
The old man held out his hand. “Joe Olinksy,” he said, in deep, loud voice. Then he leaned against the table edge and whispered, “You with Charter?”
Mac eyed him then glanced at his two buddies who were moving closer. His presence as part of the security team was supposed to be on a “need-to-know” basis.
Grinning, Joe waved a hand. “We’re part of your support. Eyes and ears only. We’re a little too long in the tooth to be the muscle, but we’re here to help. We’ll be staying in the stateroom next to yours.”
Skeptical that this band of elderly brothers could be of any service at all, Mac drew a deep breath and gave Joe’s two companions another look.
“This is Morty,” Joe said, pointing toward a thin man with a round, pot belly. “And that’s Sly.”
Sly smiled, and his teeth were blindingly white and little too large in his mouth.
“Ex-marines, 3rd Division during Viet Nam,” Joe said. “You a SEAL like Wiley?”
“Semper Fi,” Morty said, grinning.
Mac grunted, revising his original assessment. These guys had seen real action. “I’m looking for Kylie Hammond.”
“She’s out in the atrium,” Joe pointed toward the windows behind him, “getting a cup of coffee. She’s been manning the tables since dawn. And don’t worry about us. We can handle ourselves. After all our help on the last cruise, Poppy made sure to add us to the team. We’ll have your six.”
The three elderly men hadn’t been mentioned in any of the briefings he’d attended back at HQ. Wiley for damn sure hadn’t said a thing, but then again, Wiley had looked a little smug when he’d heard Mac was being assigned to protect his wife’s best friend. He cleared his throat. “Mac McLane by the way,” he said, giving a nod to all three men.
“We’ll see you aboard the Oceanus,” Joe said.
Mac left them and thought about calling Wiley to find out why the hell he hadn’t mentioned his geriatric buddies. Just to bitch because he was already dreading the coming minutes. He didn’t have a lot of experience with Ms. Hammond’s brand of womanhood. He’d served with women in the field, and slept with the women who swarmed bars outside Navy bases, hoping for a hookup with a SEAL.
Women outside those two categories tended to make him nervous. In his experience, women had served only two purposes, as support and/or stress-relief for a SEAL. Not that he looked down on them. He liked the women he’d known. But he hadn’t had to think much about what kind of impression he made or how to talk to them. He could be gruff and blunt. What the hell would he talk about for the days and nights he and the princess would be glued to each other’s sides?
Entering the atrium, he glanced around for someone who fit the picture he’d made up in his mind. She’d be pretty, no doubt. He couldn’t imagine anyone who was friends with Poppy Shackleford and attending her social functions looking any different.
Most of the small round, brightly tiled tables were filled with men and a few women. Probably wives of the wounded soldiers, who’d be accompanying their husbands on the cruise.
One woman sat alone, her head bent over her cell phone which lay flat on the tabletop, a tall Styrofoam cup beside it. Her hair was a mass of dark brown curls. Her body, what he could see of it hunched over the table, was slender. Her bare arms and the tops of her shoulders, revealed by an olive tank, showed well-developed muscles. She wore no jewelry, save for a watch on an olive-colored web strap. Faux military-issue? And now he wondered whether she was one of those who was so enamored of military men she wore cammo pajamas. He’d met a few like that. As he moved nearer, she must have sensed someone watched her.
The woman’s gaze lifted from her phone and locked with his.
As he took in her features, he slowed his steps. Wide-set green eyes whose gaze never wavered, tan skin, rose-colored lips, cheeks that were prominent and high. She was lovely, but didn’t wear a hint of makeup. She didn’t need it. Unbidden, interest flared inside him, heating his blood.
“Are you Mac?” she asked, her voice even and little husky.
His tongue felt thick as he gave a crisp nod and replied. “You Kylie?”
Her smile was a little tight, but she pushed up from the table to greet him, her arm reaching forward.
When he looked down at her hand, with its long fingers and short bare nails, his gaze dropped to her legs. Another shock stole his breath. She wore shorts which ended at mid-thigh, revealing one long, nicely turned limb paired with a shapely thigh that disappeared into the black cup of a prosthetic limb.