What happens when the very men—trained to make the hard decisions—come up against the rules and regulations that hold them back from doing what needs to be done? They either stay and work within the constraints given to them or they walk away. Only now, for a select few, they have another option:
A covert black ops team that steps up
and breaks all the rules …
but gets the job done.
Welcome to a new military romance series by USA Today best-selling author Dale Mayer. A series where you meet new friends and just might get to meet old ones too in this raw and compelling look at the men who keep us safe every day from the darkness where they operate—and live—in the shadows … until someone special helps them step into the light.
USA Today Bestselling Author
Heading out on a last-ditch rescue mission to Puget Sound one day after two women go overboard in a sailing accident isn’t exactly what he’d expected …
But Keane is nothing if not adaptable. He can only hope the two women are alive and doing everything they can to stay that way. Hearing from the local coast guard that more may be involved than just a rescue mission, he and his partner load up and head out to search the waters around the smaller islands off the coast. They have the GPS of the missing women’s last-known location, but storms could have sent them anywhere …
Lost, alone—except for her best friend, who’s unconscious with a head wound—Sandrine wakes up in a small shelter to find they are locked in. When the door is finally opened, an armed stranger dressed in fatigues dumps a small amount of food and says they are on their own.
Finding the women was one thing, keeping them safe something else again. More is going on in this small island that any of them were expecting … or had planned for …
Keane and Lennox are assigned to look for two women, on of whom is a generals daughter. They were reported as going overboard when a squall hit. The major problem is this isn’t the first time people have gone missing in that area and when they were found they were dead. Not from drowning but from a bullet.
It’s a race against the clock as the Keane and Lennox start searching the many small islands in the sound. They searched several of the smaller ones, and found a spot to land and make camp for the night on the biggest of the islands. They start searching again in they morning and that’s when things change up a bit.
This is a favorite scene.
Lennox said, “Let’s give it today, and, if we don’t have any luck, then maybe tomorrow consider the search dog issue.”
“Good enough.” Keane passed that message off to Nico and kept moving.
“I don’t see any footprints,” Lennox noted. “I don’t see much of anything up here.”
“But that heavy rain would have washed so much away.”
“Sadly, that’s very true. And the cliff edges are almost completely impassable,” Lennox nodded, looking around. “I don’t remember this island.”
Keane looked at his partner curiously. “Do you know this area?”
“Part of the family camping trips. But I don’t remember this island.”
“Lots of them are fairly impassable,” Keane said. They kept walking, searching, but found absolutely nothing. They heard only wind and saw the odd bird. As they stood on the edge of what they had deemed the third quadrant, he said, “It feels empty.”
“I know,” Lennox said, “but that doesn’t mean it is.” He lifted his hands, cupping them around his mouth, and screamed, “Hello.” A massive gust of wind seemed to carry his voice forever.
Just when they were about to turn to head in another direction, Keane thought he heard something. He reached out, grabbed Lennox’s shoulder. “Do that again.”
Lennox looked at him, clearly surprised, but he willingly cupped his hands around his mouth and called again. And this time what they heard a response a little clearer. “Is that a person?”
The two men stared at each other and then quickly raced toward the sound. It wasn’t easy to decipher, and neither was it easy to find. They found nothing on this level, so they worked their way toward a lower plateau area.
Keane saw a large grassy spot and was hoping for their sake that the women had made it that far. It took the guys a good hour to make it down to the spot, and, when they arrived, he had Lennox call out again. This time the response was clearer but had an edge to it.
As he came over the top of the grassy area and looked down, he spotted a hollow, where the ocean had carved out a deep, circular area, completely surrounded by sheer cliffs.
Down in the center a woman stood, and, as soon as she saw him, she screamed and waved her arms.
He called out, “We’ll come down.”
She nodded and called back, “We need help. My friend is injured.”
“Radio the coast guard,” Keane said to Lennox. “We should be able to get her out of here.”
“I’m wondering if I shouldn’t go back to the Zodiac,” Lennox said, studying the lay of the land, as Keane brought out his ropes and grappling hooks.
“That’s not a bad idea,” Keane said. “Leave me the first aid kit, and, if you want, head back, grab the Zodiac and come around to this bay. I’ll make my way down and take a closer look. Then we’ll decide if the water exit is best and easiest.”
With that decision made, he hooked up his ropes, and slowly, while Lennox stood at the top, Keane made his way down the sharp cliff face. When he was almost down, Lennox called out that he was leaving. Keane gave his partner a thumbs-up signal and watched as his friend disappeared from the top of the cliff. Down below, maybe thirty more feet, he could see the woman still standing there, waiting for him to land. “I’m coming,” he said.
“Good,” she said. “I was afraid we’d been deserted again.”
He heard the word again but would clarify that with her later. And it was hardly the time to ask. Some of the rocks were coming loose as he descended. He stared up where he’d come from, and he could see rocks crumbling down over his head. As several bounced off his helmet, he swore, then ducked against the cliff wall.
She cried out and quickly ran, backing away from the rocks.
What was going on up there above him? Unless Lennox’s movement caused rocks to shift, Keane wasn’t too happy about it either.
Keane clung to the cliff and waited until the rocks stopped moving. When it finally appeared to be safer, he let himself swing back out and quickly descended. As he got down within the last ten or fifteen feet, he felt his rope jerking. He looked up to see his rope cut loose. He fell the last few feet, rolling clear of the rocks. As soon as he could, he picked himself up and raced back against the cliff’s edge. He motioned for her to run toward him.
She stared at him in shock but quickly joined him underneath a little dip where the rocks could continue to fall without hitting them. But the rockslide stopped.
“Who the hell is on this island with you?” he asked in a harsh voice. His mind raced with possibilities.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. I don’t know,” she whispered. “A man dropped off a container with a fish and a couple biscuits, but he wouldn’t give us any blankets or towels, and he wouldn’t help us get off the island. He just left us.”
Keane stared at her, shocked at the turn of events, but no doubt she was telling the truth. She had her arms wrapped around her chest and held her shoulder, which even now oozed blood. He leaned over to check it.
“I got hit by some of the falling rocks,” she said and reached up to touch her head.
He checked out both injuries. “At least they’re superficial. What I need to know is whether we’re facing one man or a dozen.”
“I don’t know,” she said, her teeth starting to chatter.
He wrapped his arm around her and tucked her up close. “Look. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to scare you,” he said, “but my rope was cut.” He pointed at the rope that now lay like a coiled snake on the sand amid the rocks beside him.
Her hand clapped over her mouth as she stared at it; and she just burrowed in closer.
He waited for a long moment and then said, “I need you to get ahold of yourself.”
She nodded. “I know. I know,” she said. “It’s been two very long days.”
“Start at the beginning, and tell me what happened,” he said, as he studied the area around him. “Tell me what you’ve seen. Like, where did you see this man?”
“He— well, we were locked inside that little space up there,” she said, pointing. “A two-by-four closes the doors. When I called for help, I heard footsteps, and somebody came and took the bar off, opening those doors. He brought us food, but he didn’t give us any water, and then he left. He walked down to the opening there to the ocean.”
“Did you hear a boat? Did you hear him leave at all?”
She shook her head. “I did see stairs going to a flatter spot up there, but I don’t know where else he could have gone. And he hasn’t come back. I looked all around at the top of this plateau, but I didn’t find anything.”
“Do you need water?” he asked, unclipping a bottle from his belt.
“We collected rainwater,” she said, “but, yes, if you don’t mind.”
He quickly popped the top and gave it to her and watched as she drank thirstily. He waited until she was done and then sagged back in place.
“My friend is hurt,” she said. “She’s got a head injury, and she’s delirious. I don’t know what to do for her.”
“Not a whole lot we can do except get her to medical help,” he said, looking around. “I want to make it to where your friend is, but, if somebody is watching us, we don’t want him to know that we’re alive. Especially me.”
“You’re hoping he’ll think you died in the fall?”
He nodded. “Yes, but I don’t know how long it’ll take for him to come down and check on me.”
“Oh, God. I don’t know,” she said. “We can walk around this corner, but, at one point, it’s exposed. And, if he’s watching us, we can’t stop him from seeing you.”
“So we’ll stand here for a moment and make sure he’s gone,” he said. “He could be on his way down, and, if that’s the case, I’ll have to find a way to capture him before he tries to hurt us again.”
“If it wasn’t for the cut rope,” she said slowly, staring at him, “I wouldn’t think that he was trying to hurt us at all. He did bring us food.”
“I get that,” he said. “Can you tell me what happened? Like, who you are, and why you’re here? Let me start, I’m Keane Lytton and I’m here on behalf of the coast guard.”
She smiled. “My name is Sandrine Coulter,” she said, “and I was out sailing with my friends. My girlfriend, Brenda, is hurt. We were out in her boyfriend’s catamaran. We’ve gone sailing with them several times before but never this long or this far away.”
“And what happened? How did you end up in the water and wind up here?”
“Brenda fell overboard,” Sandrine explained, her voice gritty. “We caught up to her in the water, and I threw her a lifebuoy, but she seemed unable to grab it, so I jumped into the water after her.”
He raised his eyebrows and stared at her. She nodded. “I know, not exactly the smartest thing to do. But I couldn’t do any less.”
Dale Mayer. Keane (Kindle Locations 493-555). Valley Publishing Ltd..
While Keane makes his way down to the woman, Lennox heads back to camp to get their Zodiac. Unfortunately Keane rapidly discovers they aren’t alone here when his rope is cut followed by a rock slide.
At least the women are alive although Brenda has a head injury. There’s nothing to be done about that until they can transport her to medical help.
Lots of action in this one as Keane and an injured Lennox take on the men setting up some kind of communication boosters. They have to wait out the weather for the Coast Guard and it gets pretty dicey. This book doesn’t end with the rescue either, and the attraction between Keane and Sandrine intensifies as the investigation continues.
I couldn’t put this book down, plenty of suspense and intrigue with that simmer to sizzle romance I love.
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.