Someone is watching her…
Shannon Fabray’s career in the art world is on the rise thanks in no small part to her signature sculpture Her Marine. But with fame, comes fans and some like to get closer than others. Coping with the notoriety, Shannon doesn’t let the constant contact get under her skin until one night, it goes to far and to Shannon’s horror, one of them is making it very clear he wants the artist for himself and sees her as a possession that should be added to his collection.
He’s coming home…
After dozen years in service to his country, Lieutenant Brody Essex has lost count of the missions he’s run, the hours he’s spent in the field and the number of days he’s been out of the country. Budgetary issues freeze his promotion, and his unit is left on the ground in Afghanistan, but he makes it work because the only countdown that matters to him is the one that will bring him home—home to the artist that carved a niche in his heart. When bureaucratic snafus hold up his paperwork, he sucks it up until a phone call alerts him that Shannon’s loft has been broken into, and she was nearly kidnapped.
Breaking all the rules…
Now Brody will break the rules and go AWOL, heading home without permission because his girl is in danger and she needs her Marine bodyguard…
Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan
Lieutenant Brody Essex threw the baseball up and caught it, only to repeat the motion. For three weeks, he and his team had been stuck in a holding pattern waiting for the final orders to be cut that would send them to Bagram and from there, aboard a C-130 for Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, debriefing, psych evaluations, and finally he would discuss his terminal leave—if approved.
Of course, all of that required that he get back to the States. His unit’s exodus, like his promotion and so many other day-to-day issues, had been tied up in bureaucracy. Keeping the ball in motion, he concentrated on patience. Each day brought him a step closer to seeing Shannon again.
Maybe he’d even sneak up to Boston and surprise her at her show. She’d been so excited when she’d Skyped a month before—the last time they’d had to chat.
A rapid three-beat knock hit his door. Brody caught the ball and sat up. “Come.”
“Lieutenant, there’s a call for you in Coms.” The private wasn’t one Brody recognized.
Rising, he retrieved his cover from the shelf and set the ball in its place. The room—one he split with another lieutenant, remained bare of anything personal. He and his team hadn’t been planning on staying. The forced inactivity coupled with the transition state had him less inclined to make his mark.
“Dismissed,” he told the private and followed him out. Maybe the call included his orders. When he’d last checked, Colonel Jamison had told him his orders would get there when they got there. Until then—stand by. Like Brody, the rest of his unit waited, their patience dust-covered and grim-faced after months of dodging and delivering gunfire, seeing comrades killed, tracking targets across the countryside, and sleeping on dirt more often than a bed.
Marinestan had been an upgrade of sorts. Two sergeants stood having a smoke, and they straightened—saluting him as he passed. He returned the gesture and eyed the butts on the ground. One sergeant shifted and put his boot over them and nodded. They’d police the area before they left it. Noting their names, Brody kept walking.
In the building housing coms, he was directed to a black phone with a light flickering indicating a call on hold. The private moved away, tacitly offering him privacy.
Retrieving the handset, Brody hit the button. “Essex.”
“Brody, Luke Dexter.” The former Marine had been Brody’s commanding officer for his first three tours and his friend for longer. Also the absolute last voice Brody expected to hear.
Spine stiffening and his blood going cold, he frowned, but kept his voice low and controlled. “Sir? What’s wrong?”
Because Luke had no reason in the world to pull strings and get a call put through to Afghanistan. None except….
“It’s Shannon. She was attacked….”
What’s up next… Three Marines and a Baby