Today I have some US Navy SEALs for our A Contemporary Thursday! Author Marliss Melton is the feature author today and I've chosen her SHOW NO FEAR to share from today. It's the seventh book in her romantic suspense series, NAVY SEALs TEAM TWELVE. I'd also like to make note that the author has some very touching true stories to share on her site here that inspired many of her stories for this series. Definitely worth checking out!
Now for some romance reading!
Show No Fear
Back of the Book:
FEAR HAS A WAY...Lucy Donovan always gets her man. As a fiercely independent CIA agent, she's survived hundreds of death-defying missions. But her latest may just get her killed. Weighed down with a secret she's desperate to keep, the last thing Lucy needs is to be sent undercover with a man who brings out the best—and the worst—in her.OF GETTING YOU KILLEDNavy SEAL Gus Atwater never turns down an assignment, even if it means working with the only woman he's ever loved and lost. So with a volatile mix of desire and distrust, Lucy and Gus confront their tangled past. Pretending to be man and wife is risky enough, but now the clock is running out. As their mission escalates from desperate to deadly, will Lucy's secret expose them both?
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EXTENDED SNIPPET READING
“Lucy!” His hoarse, spontaneous use of her name made him even angrier. Jesus! He whirled her around, put his nose to hers, and ground out, in Spanish, “Don’t you ever sneak up on me like that!”
He could feel her heart hammering against his chest as fast as his own heart was racing. She shoved him with two hands, securing her freedom. “Why the hell did you sneak out without me?” she demanded.
“Because two of us would’ve been heard. We’ll be lucky now if we’re not caught,” he answered furiously.
“Oh, yeah? So much for teamwork,” she hissed.
“You were finally sleeping. What was I supposed to do, wake you up?”
Damn her, she was right. They were professionals first.
“Where’d Buitre go?” she added, peering around.
“I don’t know. He headed up the trail alone with a rifle and a lantern.”
“Did you find anything?”
“A map and a dagger,” he confirmed, patting his thigh. “Come on. We need to leave.” They’d stayed too long already. “I’ll go first. When it’s clear I’ll give a whistle.” Without thinking, he planted a distracted kiss on her lips. “Sorry,” he muttered as her eyes widened in surprise.
With a self-directed grimace, he let himself out, slipping from the building into a distinctly brighter environment. The jungle quivered with birdsong and monkeys leaping through the branches. He crossed the compound casually, heading toward a clump of trees where the men were known to relieve themselves.
The coast looked clear. Giving a low whistle, he ducked behind a bush and watched as Lucy stepped from Buitre’s hooch. At the same moment, a rebel rounded the long lean-to under which the soldiers slept. Shit! It was David. He spotted Lucy at the same time that she spied him. To her credit, she didn’t stiffen or flee. Setting her shoulders, she bore right down on him.
When caught red-handed, go offensive. Lucy had acted on her father’s advice more than once over the course of her career, and it had always paid off.
“Where is Buitre?” she demanded, stalking up to David while gesturing with annoyance at the empty hooch. “The Turkish woman has a fever, and I need the aspirin he took from my backpack. Where is it now?”
The suspicion that had creased David’s brow eased. “Your goods belong to the people now. I’m sure your aspirin was handed over to one of our doctors, who will distribute it equitably,” he said quietly.
“Equitably?” She propped her hands on her hips and sent him a dubious smile. “You mean everyone gets the same treatment?”
“Yes,” he insisted. “We are all equals. No one person should have more than another.”
“What about the hostages,” she inquired sweetly. “Do they get aspirin, or are they not considered people?”
He opened his mouth to defend his ideals, realized she had found a flaw in them, and closed it.
Didn’t think so. “So, there’s no aspirin here.”
“No,” he said with a shrug.
“No medication of any kind.”
She heaved a long-suffering sigh. “All right, never mind.” With that, she marched straight for the bungalow, hoping Gus had witnessed the encounter. Maybe it would erase any lingering doubts he still had about her.
Lucy Donovan could handle even the slipperiest situations.
“Hurry up,” Lucy urged. “Show it to me,” she added, casting a glance behind them as they slipped into the forest on a potty break. They weren’t being followed. Both the rebels and the UN team were still finishing their breakfast. Gus and Lucy had a minute to themselves.
“Ten more yards,” he answered, holding her tightly as they scrambled down the steep, wet slope. At last he pulled her behind a tree, withdrew a folded square of paper from his pocket, and handed it to her. While Lucy opened it, he fished the sat phone from his boot.
She eyed the crude ink drawing with puzzlement. “These must be the names of the camps,” she determined, noting the words written over four X’s. “Ki-kirr-zikiz,” she pronounced slowly. “Do you think that’s an Incan word?”
“Doubt it,” said Gus. As he powered up the sat phone and waited, his look of hopefulness faded.
“No signal,” Lucy guessed.
“No,” he corroborated.
“So if it’s not Incan, what is it? Cecaot-Jicobo,” she added, making a face at her poor pronunciation of a second camp.
“I think it’s an encryption,” he said shortly.
She glanced at him sharply. “Really?” she asked, intrigued. Looking back at the names, she tried to see a pattern in the strange words but couldn’t. “I wonder if that’s the river we crossed,” she mused, noting the drawing of a waterfall.
“You can’t make that assumption. There’s water all over this mountain,” Gus refuted, angling the phone in the chance of getting a signal.
“How come this camp’s not named?” she wondered, pointing to an X near the top of the mountain.
“I don’t know,” said Gus, giving up on getting a signal. “Maybe that’s the radio station.” He accessed the phone’s internal camera. “Hold the map against the trunk so I can get some clear shots.”
“How can we upload pictures without a signal?” she asked, holding the map against the tree.
“We can’t. The pictures won’t go anywhere till we can get coverage.”
“Do you think they’re worried that we haven’t checked in?” she asked as he snapped off several close-ups. She was getting anxious. Their assignment wasn’t exactly going according to plan.
“As long as they have us on radar and we’re moving around, they won’t worry,” he assured her, stepping back. “Fold that up for me, will you?” he asked, bending to put the phone away.
“When are you going to shred it?” she asked, folding it the way he had.
“Not until I know the JIC got the pictures. I may have to break the code myself.”
Remembering how incredibly smart he was, Lucy gave him a nudge. “You can do it,” she said with confidence.
“Thanks,” he said, quirking her a smile as he struck the heel of his boot, shutting it. “We’d better get back before we’re missed.”
When a shout came out of the jungle hours later, Lucy’s first reaction was relief. She hadn’t agreed to this assignment just to sit around and wait for something to happen. The morning had been a lesson in boredom. At last, there came a distraction.
But the rebels responded with alarm. The youth manning the machine gun let loose a stream of bullets that sent leaves and bark flying. Lucy hit the dirt, just in case.
Buitre flew at the youth, shaking his fists in the air and roaring for him to stop.
One minute Gus was playing cards with Carlos and Bellini in the shade of the orange tree. The next he was hauling Lucy off the ground and pulling her behind the brick hooch, where he pinned her between the wall and his bigger body.
A taut quiet fell over the camp. Even the chickens seemed to listen. As Gus peered cautiously around the corner, Lucy eyed the pulse in his powerful neck. Having a partner wasn’t all that bad, she reflected. This defensive positioning wasn’t necessary in her opinion, but it was fun dodging bullets together.
“Who is it?” she asked, reading puzzlement in his golden-brown eyes.
“I don’t know.” He loosened his grip so she could see what he was looking at.
A band of men in solid green fatigues led four mules into the clearing.
“I hope that’s food,” said Lucy, eying the sacks on their backs.
“Check out their uniforms,” urged Gus. “Those aren’t FARC.”
“Then who are they?”
“I don’t know. ELN, maybe?” Colombia’s National Liberation Army was a notorious rebel faction, smaller than the FARC but equally ruthless.
They watched as Buitre waved his own soldiers over to take the sacks and carry them to the kitchen lean-to that housed the cooking utensils.
“Why doesn’t he just bring the mules over?” Lucy asked.
“Good question. Maybe he doesn’t want us rubbing elbows with those guys. Let’s see what happens when we wander closer,” he proposed, grabbing her hand.
Together they walked toward the newcomers.
They hadn’t made it past the fire pit when David stepped into their path. “Stay back,” he warned as he lowered a sack marked “Frijoles Negros” onto the growing pile inside the lean-to. Black beans.
“Perhaps we can help,” Gus inquired. “I can carry two at once.”
Rebels ran back and forth, huffing and puffing under their fifty-pound sacks.
But David just shook his head. “No,” he insisted. “Stay over here.”
“Who are they?” Lucy called as David turned away. “Are they ELN?”
With a resolute set to his shoulders, the youth ignored her and plodded back to the mules.
In minutes, the foodstuffs were all unloaded and the little entourage turned and melted into the forest, leaving Gus and Lucy with more questions than answers.
So where do you stand on hunky Navy SEALs? Love to read military romantic suspense? Who is your favorite author? Have you read Ms. Melton's Navy SEALs series? Talk to me! :)