USA Today Bestselling Author
Markus learned firsthand that love hurts when he lost someone who’d meant everything to him. Afraid to feel that deeply again, he’s buried his pain, believing his heart is dead. So certain that he’ll never be the same, he devotes himself wholly to serving others. Meeting Bree wakes him from a deep sea of grief, and he’s stunned to recognize his heart beating for the first time in so long.
Lost, alone and in serious peril, Bree reeled at how her life became such a mess, but, when she can finally breathe again without death on her heels, she wants nothing more than to wring every last drop of joy out of life again. But Bree had seen and heard too much and, for that, her enemy can’t afford to let her get way with her life intact…
I love that I can catch up on this series with collections of three books at a time. I am reading books 7-10, of which Markus is the first. I think this may be my favorite of this series so far.
The team is in Alaska for training when Markus gets hijacked by a local. Jake is a spec ops vet from before they were spec ops, and his daughter was kidnapped along with two other waitresses from Boomer’s diner.
As they check out the situation and tie up one of the men involved, the youngest waitress escapes and runs into the woods.
All Bree could think about was getting away as far and as fast as she could. Unfortunately she didn’t think about direction when she did and Alaska is not where you want to get lost in the wilderness.
This is a favorite scene when Markus catches up with her.
“I’m one of the good guys all the time.” He laughed. “Haven’t had an update on the situation at the cabin yet, but I trust my team. They will do what needs to be done.”
“I hope Betsy and Mary are all right. I hated to leave them.”
“I’m sure they hated to see you go, too.” He grinned, the smile lighting up the dark shadow on his face. “Especially if they know the country and understand the desolation of being out here alone.”
“Yeah, they probably think I’m a fool.” She tilted her face to the sky. “At least it’s not raining.”
Just then droplets hit her face. She gasped in outrage and glared at the sky. “Really? Haven’t I been through enough? Do you have to soak me too?”
The soldier in front of her chuckled. She turned to study his face. “My name is Bree Henderson.”
“I’m Markus Donner. And I’m part of a military operation training here. We just happened to be doing an exercise when Jake found me and asked for help.”
“Lucky for us. Or fate,” she added in a low voice, sending a wary glance to the sky. “Or a higher power.”
“Whatever works for you.” His voice deepened into neutral tones.
“You don’t believe.” She laughed. “Not sure I blame you.”
“I used to think about it. Then I didn’t.” But he didn’t offer any more.
“Sometimes I wonder if there is any point to this thing we call life. But I’m still here and don’t deserve to be. So I have to make the best of it.”
Markus stopped to look at her.
She smiled up at him.
“Don’t deserve to be?” he asked cautiously.
“I almost died a year ago. Surgery, aggressive medical treatment and a slow recovery, and lo and behold I find myself still standing.”
He reached out and tucked the jacket tighter around her shoulders. “Then we don’t want to lose you out here.”
“That would be a foolish way to die after all I’ve been through.” She gave him a perky smile.
“I’m afraid there are way too many foolish deaths out there.”
There was something in his voice that made her pause. She searched his face, the shadows of the night highlighting his cheekbones, the depths of that gaze obsidian. He was beautiful in a raw way. Not refined. But big, bad…and yeah…beautiful.
Then she realized what it was in his tone that caught her. The haunting. The memory. He had lost someone dear.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly, understanding his hurt.
“For what?” he sounded surprised but that gaze was wary.
“That you lost someone in a stupid way.”
His gaze dropped to the ground. “There is no smart death for those left behind.”
She reached up and stroked his steel cut jaw. “And some deaths are more stupid than others.”
He turned to look at the night around them. “Are you still sick? Do you need medication?”
“No, just food,” she admitted. “I have no energy these days. It was hard to get back to the business of life when still recovering, but I have no money so my choices are limited.”
“No medical insurance.” “When I had a job, yes,” she said lightly. “Then when I lost that job, I lost my benefits.”
“Did they know you were sick?” he asked, his voice harsh.
“They did.” She shrugged lightly. “They also expected me to die sooner than later.”
“They had no right to take–”
She placed a finger on his lips. “No, but that’s one of the things you learn when you hit a rough patch. Many times people would rather ditch you than help you. They didn’t want to see what I was going through. It was costing them and that was something else they were trying to avoid. If I died early, all the better. If I was around them while dying, it made it harder on them. It made them see their own mortality.”
“You could have fought back,” he said in a hard tone.
“Sure, but I was involved in a much bigger fight at the time.” She waved her arm. “One that took precedence over anything else. The treatment was all consuming. Healing was a full-time job. There was no option to fight the petty people looking to cut ties before I caused them any damage. Sad to say but there it is.”
“Yet they gave you treatment? Didn’t withhold it because you couldn’t pay?”
“I sold my condo, drained my savings account, and eventually my old car to clear up the last of the bills. I found myself standing on a street corner after they drove away with my car and all I had were the clothes on my back. Sure I could have kept the furniture maybe as I didn’t get much for it, and I got rid of all my clothes…voluntarily.” She smiled and glanced down at her frame completely swallowed in his jacket. “They didn’t fit away from filling them out properly and now that I no longer have a job like I did, I no longer have any reason to keep those kind of clothes.” She laughed and kicked out her foot, the old sneaker showing wear and tear. “I couldn’t even fit in my shoes. Who knew losing that amount of weight meant your shoes wouldn’t fit?”
“It happens,” he said, his gaze more distant.
Right. Back to that losing someone issue.
“Well, I’m regaining my strength and relearning a new appreciation for my life. It’s like being reborn. And I’m grateful for every day I have.”
Markus nodded slowly, then reached around to his pack. “I don’t have much but I do have a protein bar, if that appeals.”
“The packaging appeals I’m so hungry,” she whispered in delight. “I can’t get full and when I do, I’m hungry within an hour again.” She accepted the small bar and ripped it open, taking a bite immediately. It didn’t taste the best, but it was food and she needed that.
“You’ve placed a lot of demands on your body. Healing is hard, and if you lost muscle then the body is working to do twice the work with only half the strength.” He lifted the collar on his jacket and pulled it around her neck tighter. “Let’s get you back. With any luck, you might still sleep in a real bed for the rest of the night and have a big breakfast in the morning – or noon depending on when you wake up.” He motioned at her to step forward but she shook her head. “I need to finish the bar first.”
The bar was done in just a few bites and with her mouth lamenting the loss of food and her stomach resigned to accepting the little bit it received, she stepped out expecting him to follow.
Her arm was grabbed gently. She turned to stare at him, one eyebrow raised.
“This way,” he said and motioned to the opposite direction.
She sighed. “Figures.”
Mayer, Dale. SEALs of Honor: Books 7-10 . Valley Publishing Ltd. Kindle Locations (613-669). Kindle Edition.
Bree had run further than she imagined and this journey back was taking a toll. When they stopped to rest Jake shows up and then things take a turn for the worse.
It appears someone wants to clean up loose ends. Lots of suspense and action from here. With an overloaded police department and all sorts of chaos occurring, the team gets permission to help out.
A page turning read that leads to Bree becoming Markus’ keeper. I can’t wait to start Evan, the next in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.