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He was done with missions…
but Charley wasn’t done with him.
After he left the Navy, stripped of his SEAL Trident and his pride, Andrew did a quick covert job for Charley before parting ways. As the Security Officer aboard a cruise ship, he invited several SEAL friends to travel as his guests through the Panama Canal. He never imagined he’d need his highly trained skills for another of Charley’s missions in the middle of the cruise.
Kendra had worked her way up the male-dominated bridge crew, first in the U.S. Navy then for Monarch Cruise Lines, to Staff Captain, second in command of a huge cruise ship. Her crew was well trained and respectful…except for the too sexy, bossy Security Officer who reported directly to her. After succumbing to him, she discovers she enjoys their life together.
When all hell breaks loose, and Charley needs both of them for her next mission, will Kendra be able to keep him in her life with all the odds stacked against them?
If you’ve been reading this series, you’ll know what happened with Andrew and the Navy before you read this one. Andrew Buchanan is now working as head of Security for Monarch Cruise lines. It’s a great job for him to begin transitioning to civilian life. This is the last cruise in his contract, and he’s invited a few SEAL friends to join him. He needs to do something for these men, and this is something special.
Kendra Benson was once Navy she worked her way up the ranks there and now is Staff Captain aboard this Monarch Cruise ship. Her next cruise will have her as Master Captain of her own ship.
There are a few interesting interactions before the cruise hits the approach to the Panama Canal but to be honest, I loved reading about the canal and going through the locks. It’s a dream of mine to do this.
Okay so as they are readying to go through to Gatún Lake there’s an explosion in the lock behind them. This is when all the excitement begins as Andrew rushes to the Bridge.
Before Andrew reached the bridge, there were several more blasts but since he was pounding his way down the hall, yelling at people to clear a path, he had no idea of the direction of the explosions.
At the top of the stairs Andrew stopped. Depending where people were standing on the bridge, someone might see him through the glass in the bridge door if he opened the staff stair door.
He cracked it a fraction of an inch, just enough to peek one eye.
Dammit. He couldn’t see anyone on the bridge. Not even a shadow.
Opening the door enough so he could slither through and plaster himself against the wall, he made sure the heavy-duty door closed with only a whisper. He bent and crab crawled under the window to the bridge so he could get a better angle. Peeping in, he saw that the two men who entered with the pilot had their guns pointed at Captain Phillips.
His men each had their tasers pointed at a Panamanian soldier.
Andrew needed to get in there and deescalate the tension on the bridge. He needed to enter in full view of his men, so he crawled back under the window and crossed to the other side of the ship. Opening the door without a sound, with the soldiers’ backs to him, he stepped in and immediately hand signaled to his men.
“Did any of you see that container ship blow up?”
The soldiers spun their heads and guns toward him. Both of his men pulled the trigger, sending the taser points directly into their targets. Within seconds the soldiers were writhing on the floor. In one large step, his guards grabbed the guns and had them pointed at the soldiers’ heads.
Andrew quickly took the pilot down to the floor, face first, his hands behind his back. He had zip ties around the man’s wrists then grabbed his ankles, lashing them together before moving to the jerking and drooling soldiers.
“Kendra, what the fuck happened here?” He knew she would give the most precise accounting.
“We were moving into our hold position when the first bomb went off. The percussive wave rocked the ship. The soldiers obviously didn’t have sea legs and stumbled. They must’ve thought we did it on purpose and pointed their guns at Captain Phillips. Your men immediately pulled their tasers and aimed them at the soldiers. The pilot spoke to the soldiers in Spanish, but I couldn’t understand them. I don’t believe Captain Phillips could either.” Kendra looked at each bridge officer. “Did any of you understand what they’d said?”
Everyone shook their heads.
The pilot rolled over onto his back and sat up. “As she said, they thought you had rocked the ship on purpose. They are very young, inexperienced soldiers who were awakened in the middle of the night and brought to the locks to protect us pilots. Neither of these two had ever even been on a ship.” He glanced at the soldiers before returning his gaze to Andrew. “What are you going to do with them?”
“Put them in the brig.” It was an answer to the pilot’s question as much as an order to his men.
He had a dozen questions for the pilot but waited until the soldiers were off the bridge. “What are your orders?”
“Same as always, coordinate with the fore and aft tugboats to get you into position in each lock, make sure they keep you straight from one lock to the next, then guide you into Lake Gatún so you can anchor close to the dam. We always anchor cruise ships over here because it’s close to the marina where you can dock your lifeboats and they can get the buses close.”
Andrew had done a lot of interrogating during his time as a SEAL. The man seemed to be telling the truth. Besides, they needed him. He knew the lake.
“Do you know if the locks received any threats in the last twenty-four hours?”
The pilot shook his head. “If they did, they wouldn’t tell me. I’m just a local pilot. I wondered if they weren’t overreacting, but it seems as though calling out the Army was necessary.” He held Andrew’s gaze. “Did you say the bombs were on that Chinese container ship?”
“All I know is that a plume of smoke came from the container ship.” He wondered how much he could say in front of the pilot. “Captain Phillips, Captain Benson, a word, please.” His gaze returned to the pilot. “Navigate us to the usual holding spot.”
Once again, the three of them went into the glass office.
“What aren’t you telling us?” Kendra asked as soon as the door closed.
“Shortly after the explosion, hundreds of armed Chinese soldiers threw ropes over the side of the ship and started shooting Panamanian soldiers and lock workers.” Andrew wasn’t going to sugarcoat it. “This is an act of war against the Panamanian government.”
He knew he’d better call Charley fast. Given how many cruise guests were taking videos of the explosion, and most likely posting them to every social media possible, she probably already knew. Andrew also knew what he wanted to do next.
“Sir, with your permission, I want to take one of the lifeboats and check if we can still get out on the Pacific side. I have no idea where the other explosions came from.”
“Sir, I’m going with him,” Kendra announced. “As master of this ship, you are responsible for all the souls aboard. As a former Navy officer, I’ll be of more help to Andrew. That way I can stay with the boat if he has to go overland to get a better look.”
“Excellent idea.” Captain Phillips glanced to his bridge. “I’m not sure what to do next.”
“Drop anchor. Act as if none of this ship’s plans have changed,” Kendra said with authority.
The three of them stepped back onto the bridge. “Prepare the lifeboats as though we’re going to take people ashore for their excursions. We’re going to pretend as though nothing is wrong,” Captain Phillips announced to the bridge crew.
“Sir, we can’t send people ashore until we know what’s happening back there.” Lieutenant Commander Adams stood in front of Captain Phillips with his hands on his hips.
“Lieutenant Commander, I do know what’s happening back at the locks. I am the one who is responsible for every person on this ship, and I do not take that obligation lightly.” He looked over at Andrew and Kendra. “That’s why Captain Benson and Commander Buchanan are the only ones leaving the ship in a lifeboat. But we want all our guests to believe that everything will be fine.”
“You’re going to lie to our guests?” Lieutenant Commander Adams huffed.
“Hell, yes.” Kendra got in his face. “The last thing we need is a ship full of people panicking, guests and staff. We want to keep them doing normal things.”
Captain Phillips picked up the ship wide intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Phillips coming to you from the bridge. It looks as though there was a little excitement at the locks but we’re not going to let that disturb our enjoyment of today. Everyone going on an excursion, please check your ticket at this time for the meeting place. While the crew gets the lifeboats ready to tender you to the marina to meet your buses for your excursions, I suggest that you enjoy an early lunch. Please meet at your designated time and place for your excursion. For those staying on board, it may be several hours before we are assigned our return time to go back through the locks. We’ll keep you informed.”
“Excellent job,” Andrew told his boss. “We’re going to go change while they lower our lifeboat.” And Andrew would make that call to Charley.
KaLyn Cooper. Shadow in the Daylight (Kindle Locations 1115-1173).
There is pretty much nonstop action from this point, from the bridge to the locks, to lifeboat recon, to an aircraft carrier, and back again.
I love Kendra and Andrew their relationship which is already sizzling grows stronger throughout this harrowing experience.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this multi-author series!!
5 Contented Purrs for KaLyn!
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KaLyn Cooper’s romances blend fact and fiction with blazing heat and heart-pounding suspense.
Twenty-two years as a military wife has shown KaLyn the world, and thirty years in PR taught her that fact can be stranger than fiction. She leaves it up to the reader to separate truth from imagination.
She, her husband, and Little Bear (Alaskan Malamute) live in Tennessee on a micro-plantation filled with gardens, cattle, and quail. When she’s not writing, she’s at the shooting range or on the river.