NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
After her capture by rebels in the mountains of Timor-Leste, Kalee Solberg doesn’t think she’ll live to see her father, friends, or hometown again. What started as an adventure with the Peace Corp until she figured out what to do with her life has turned into a waking nightmare, every day a struggle to survive. Beaten into submission, Kalee guesses she’s been presumed dead by now. And she has been…by everyone but one man.
A childhood filled with abuse and neglect has turned Forest “Phantom” Dalton into the kind of man who finishes what he starts. The failed mission to rescue Kalee Solberg is no exception. After discovering she’s still alive, that he and his SEAL team left her to a fate worse than death, Phantom will stop at nothing to bring her home, with or without permission…no matter the cost to his career.
Neither Phantom nor Kalee could ever guess another, equally grave threat awaits them back home.
Securing Kalee is the 6th and final book in the SEAL of Protection: Legacy Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.
Ever since the team left Timor-Leste with Piper and the girls, I was waiting for Phantom to remember what he had seen. When he was injured in Avery’s rescue and remembered, I cried my eyes out. I thought they would all go get Kalee. Apparently that wasn’t what the government had in mind when Tex supplied the information of Kaylee’s whereabouts.
Without a doubt Forest ‘Phantom’ Dalton, wasn’t going to sit around waiting. Tex had given him all the information he needed to get Kalee back home where she belongs.
I held my breath as I read, Phantom truly is one. The way he got Kalee out was perfectly executed, but the after brought me to tears.
This is a favorite scene and the first one that made me cry.
Suddenly anxious to clean every inch of herself, to rid her body of the dirt that clung to her like a parasite, she reached for the used bar of soap sitting on a ledge nearby.
Not caring that others had used it—it was amazing how things that would’ve grossed her out a year ago didn’t even faze her now—Kalee quickly rubbed her hands together and worked up some foam. Then she ran her hands over her body, cleansing all the unwanted touches away. She felt almost giddy.
The dirty bubbles swirled at her feet before they disappeared down the drain.
But then the enjoyment and high of being free faded suddenly, and the realization of just what she’d escaped pressed down on her. Of what she’d endured. Of what she’d been made to do.
Tears formed in her eyes again. She hadn’t cried in forever, and here she was crying for the second time in minutes. It was as if getting clean washed away the armor she’d donned to protect her heart and mind from the hell she was living in, leaving her vulnerable and unable to function.
Kalee’s knees went weak, and she fell to the floor, not even feeling the pain from her knees hitting the tile. The hot water rained down on her back as she bent, her arms around her stomach, her forehead resting on the floor.
She sobbed. The unfairness of her situation hitting her all at once. She couldn’t breathe, images of what she’d seen and done flashing through her brain, sickening her.
One second she was lost in her memories, and the next the water above her turned off and she felt a towel drape across her back. She should’ve freaked out when she felt hands turning her. Lifting her. But deep down inside, she knew it was Phantom. He wouldn’t hurt her. Not like the others had.
She found herself sitting on Phantom’s lap, her face buried in his chest. His beard tickled her cheek.
After a few minutes, she barely registered the sensation of her body being lifted. Clinging to him, Kalee let her mind shut down. She couldn’t take any more. Not one thing. Everything was overwhelming. Her skin, which had felt so clean a second ago, now tingled and burned with the heat of the water. The dirt flaking from her body had opened a wound so deep, she wasn’t sure it would ever heal.
“I’ve got you, precious. That’s it, let it out. You’re safe now.”
She heard his words, but they didn’t really penetrate. Kalee felt him push open the door to the bathroom and stride toward his room. The cold air felt good against her overheated skin, and she didn’t even care at the moment that she was probably flashing anyone who might happen to come down the hall.
Phantom leaned over and sat her on something soft, but she refused to let go of him. The tears wouldn’t stop either. They coursed down her face as if someone had turned on a faucet inside her.
Phantom didn’t seem to have any plans to make her let go. She felt him shifting them until she was under a sheet, and he was sitting on top of it. He readjusted the towel over her shoulders, and she snuggled into his side as he leaned against the headboard of the small bed in his room.
Squeezing her eyes shut didn’t stop her tears. Nor did it stop the images running through her brain as if they were a movie on fast forward.
The bodies of the little girls she’d gotten to know at the orphanage.
The leering expression of the first man to rape her as she fought him with all her might, to no avail.
The screams of villagers as the rebels swooped into their small towns, shooting everyone who moved.
The drunken laughter of the rebels as they celebrated the day’s haul with beer and food, making sure she didn’t get any.
The pictures went on and on in her head. Taunting her with all she’d had to endure.
How long she sobbed on Phantom, Kalee had no idea. All she knew was that with his arms around her, the nightmares couldn’t pull her under. She was watching everything that had happened to her over the last months, but Phantom was there to make sure she didn’t get sucked back in.
When she finally realized where she was again, and that she wasn’t a captive anymore, Phantom was slowly rocking her back and forth. She was still naked, but at the moment it didn’t matter. She was being touched. More than that, she was clinging to Phantom as if she’d fly away if she let go.
But she wasn’t embarrassed. Mostly because of Phantom. He wasn’t telling her to hush. Wasn’t begging her to stop crying, as she figured most badass Navy SEALs probably would. Instead, he was murmuring for her to let it out. To cry as long as she needed to. To cleanse her soul…that nothing she did was her fault.
Feeling exhausted, Kalee tried to lift her head. Tried to get her muscles to obey, to let go of the man under her. But Phantom simply tightened his hold.
“Close your eyes, Kalee. Rest.”
But they needed to go. He’d said they had to get to the embassy and catch a flight.
As if he could read her mind, Phantom said, “We’ve got time. I’ve got you. Sleep. Just for a bit. I’ll wake you when we need to go. You’re safe, Kalee.”
Stoker, Susan. Securing Kalee (SEAL of Protection: Legacy Book 6). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Locations (470-511).Kindle Edition.
Phantom didn’t take her straight back to California, he knew she need to acclimate first. A beach house in Hawaii, becomes a place of healing for Kalee. She has an inner strength that just needed some prodding. Phantom was the perfect person to bring her through.
Their relationship is a slow simmer and we learn much about the grumpy Phantom. He knows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that when he returns to California he would be facing an Admiral’s Mast for disobeying a direct order.
We meet a new SEAL team in this one. Mustang, Midas, Aleck, Pid and Slate become pivotal in proving to Rocco that Phantom truly was in Hawaii and not Timor-Leste. Of course he’s already been there and returned with Kalee.
I loved every interaction between Phantom and Kalee as well as those with the Hawaii team. The love, the emotional support and so much more flew off the pages of this story of survival.
I laughed, cried and cheered as this story unfolds, there are than a few surprises, some good, some bad. Just don’t start reading at bedtime…there will be no sleep if you do.
I can’t wait to read the books Susan has planned for the Hawaii Team and of course the one coming soon for Commander North.
5 Contented Purrs for Susan!
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New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Tennessee where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.