A Deep Six Security Christmas Story
Thomas Griffin never thought he’d be a homeless vet at forty-six years old. But when he was no longer useful to the government he’d spent his life serving, they turned their back on him when he needed them most, costing him everything he ever loved. After that, he really didn’t care. Living his life on the fringe was safe and he didn’t have to worry about anything except his next meal. That safety remains until a beautiful socialite decides to come slumming for Thanksgiving on the wrong side of town and gets herself into trouble.
Over her fifty-five years of life, Lou Ellen Wells had received many blessings. To pay them forward and honor the men in her life who served her country, both living and dead, she cooked Thanksgiving Dinner at the Dallas Veteran’s Services Center every year. It was located in a bad part of town, but she’d never had a problem, until this year when she’s brutally attacked and can’t get to her gun. A bedraggled man with piercing blue eyes jumps to her rescue and saves her with moves out of an action movie. She gives him her card and offers him help, but he tells her doesn’t need saving and takes off like his tail is on fire.
A couple of weeks later, Lou is surprised when the man calls her asking for help of a different kind. A teenage girl he cares about has gone missing in gang territory. He’s afraid she’ll get killed if he doesn’t find her soon. Lou calls in the team to help him, but her price for that help is finding out why her Silent Knight, who is obviously skilled and educated, chooses to be homeless. But will satisfying her curiosity about Thomas Griffin put her in the crosshairs of a terrorist group even more dangerous than MS-13?
It’s rare to find a book where the heroine is an older woman. Lou Ellen isn’t young, nor is she a wimp. She is typical of today’s womaen, strong, self-reliant with the confidence and take no prisoners attitude that keeps all the Deep Six Security guys in line.
She is also an avid supporter of veterans, and seeing them homeless breaks her heart a bit. Volunteering at the Dallas Veteran’s Services Center is a way to help just a little.
Griff on the other hand has his own issues and reasons why he is homeless instead of on the grid. He’s not young, but he’s not old either.
This is one of my favorite scenes after Griff saves Lou Ellen from a sticky situation when she leaves the Center.
“Let’s find a table,” she said, ignoring him to take his arm and lead him to an open table near the end of the bar.
He pulled his arm away to slide a chair out and waited for her to sit. God, how long had it been since a man pulled out a chair for her? Too long, she thought, draping her coat over the chair beside her, before casting him a smile as she sat down. Griff took the chair to her left at the round table and huffed out a breath.
Lou Ellen reached out to put her hand on his forearm. “Let’s pretend we’re doing this before whatever happened to you, okay? Just relax and enjoy your meal.”
He looked at her out of the corner of his eyes. “How do you know there was a time before? Maybe I’ve always been a homeless, worthless bum.”
“Because I’m a good judge of character, and I’m not judging you based on what I see now. I’m judging based on the man who jumped into a situation that wasn’t his business to protect me. That man is a hero and worthy of respect.”
Griff laughed. “Jesus, woman, you’re making me blush.”
“But you sure didn’t hesitate to judge me, did you?” she asked, tilting her head as she pulled her hand back.
“What’s to judge?” His eyes dulled and his brows drew together, forming a crevice between them. “I see a beautiful, obviously wealthy, woman who’s showing mercy on a worthless bum. I’m still working out the why of it. Maybe I’m just another of your Junior League social projects. You’re wasting your time if that’s the case. I don’t want to be saved.”
Anger surged up to choke her as she folded her arms over her chest. “I haven’t offered to save you. I offered you a meal. Stop being an asshole and dig deep to find your forgotten manners, or I’ll leave you here to eat it alone.”
That muscle by his right eye ticked again and she imagined from the sway of his beard, he was grinding his teeth but Lou Ellen didn’t break eye contact.
“I apologize for being rude,” he said, looking away. “Thank you for the meal.”
Joe came around the end of the bar and set a mug of cider with a cinnamon stick in it in front of her, before placing a glass of iced tea in front of Griff. “Burger will be up in ten minutes,” he grumbled as he walked away.
“So, tell me about it,” Lou Ellen encouraged, as she stirred the cider with the cinnamon stick. She had a feeling getting anything out of this man would take patience, so she would go slow. “What was your life like before this? From your actions in the alley, I know you’re former military. Let’s start there.”
“I can’t tell you,” Griff replied, bringing his glass to his mouth for a long sip. He set it down, then looked at her. “If that’s the price of this meal, I’ll be going now.”
“There is no price for this meal.” It was her turn to frown at him. “Did you forget your social skills as well as your manners? This is called conversation.”
“I guess I have forgotten. Five years is a long time,” he replied soberly.
“At least tell me where you’re from, what you did in the military and for which branch,” she said with a sigh.
“Georgia, Army and classified,” he replied shortly.
“So you were spec ops,” she surmised.
Cade Winters, soon to be Dr. Cade Winters, who formerly worked with Deep Six, had the highest classification there was in the Army, then he served in Delta Force before he joined the CIA. She highly suspected this man had a similar background. All of the men she worked with were former special operators.
His head whipped on his shoulders and his eyes narrowed as he looked at her. “How in the hell would you know that? Why would you think it?”
“The way you move, your attitude. I work with a team of former special operators,” she replied and his eyes widened.
“Yeah, I think you’re definitely off the meds, Queenie,” he said with a laugh. “Or maybe you need to have your doctor up them.”
“I’m not crazy— I’m the office manager for Deep Six Security. We can help you with whatever problem you have, if you let us, then maybe you could come to work for us. We need operators for our new east coast office.”
Joe arrived with the hamburger right then and set the plate down by Griff’s arm. He looked up at him. “I need a go box now. I have to go,” he growled. With a nod, the barkeep left and Lou Ellen put her hand on his forearm again, but he pushed it off.
“What in the hell is wrong with you? I offer to help you get off the streets and you want to run away? Maybe you are the one who needs meds,” she snapped.
“I told you I don’t want to be saved— I can’t be saved. Just mind your own business, lady, so I can stay alive.” He picked up his tea and downed it then glared at her. “Now, I’m going to walk you to your car and you are going to forget you ever met me. Got that?”
Forget she ever met him? That was as unlikely as her forgetting it would be Christmas in a month and that this man would likely be celebrating it in a tent under a bridge, because he was too damned stubborn to let someone give him a helping hand. The scared look on his face said there was a reason for that, and she was going to find out what it was. With or without his help.
Becky McGraw. Silent Knight: Deep Six Security Christmas (Kindle Locations 316-361). Becky McGraw.
In a gripping tale of breaking down walls, kidnapping, coersion and more, Griff and Lou Ellen find love and a bond with two children that will keep you turning the pages until the end.
You will need some tissues, there was more than one tear that fell. Also keep something cold to drink on hand, these two sizzle.
5 Contented Purrs for Becky!
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New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Becky McGraw writes happily-ever-afters with heat, heart and humor. A Jill of many trades, Becky knows just enough about a variety of subjects to make her contemporary cowboy and romantic suspense novels diverse and entertaining. She resides in Florida with her husband of thirty-plus years, is the mother of three and grandmother of one. Becky is a member of the RWA, Sisters in Crime and Novelists, Inc.