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A New Series Beginning with Two Books in One: Hope City Duet – Hope City Book 1 by Kris Michaels & Maryann Jordan


A Hope City Duet
One City… Countless Stories.
By
USA Today Bestselling Authors
Kris Michaels
&
Maryann Jordan

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Brock – Book 1
Kris Michaels

It had taken five years for Detective Kallie Redman to become emotionally and psychologically available after her cop-husband devastated their marriage and her career. The Hope City Police Department offered her a new beginning and over a thousand miles between her old life and her new. Being partnered with Brock King didn’t hurt either. He was smart, generous—and too sexy for words.

Placed under a microscope and intense pressure to solve a high-profile murder, homicide detective Brock King didn’t need or want a new partner. He managed his stress-filled life via sleep deprivation, a metabolism fueled by sugar and caffeine, and an all-consuming passion for his job. He had little time for anything else—and he was soul-tired of that wash-rinse-dry-repeat cycle. He’d written off finding a woman who’d put up with the odd hours, physical danger, and emotional stress of his job—until Kallie Redman. The woman was wicked sharp, ran on caffeine, and rocked one smoking hot body.

Unfortunately, the profession they chose had a way of grinding people into the ground, and the high-profile nature of this murder case guaranteed scrutiny from the press, the victim’s extremely wealthy family and politicians at the highest levels. He’d begun to question if he’d have a job at the end––or a shot at a life with Kallie.

Sean – Book 2
Maryann Jordan

The last thing arson detective Sean McBride expected while entrenched in the ongoing investigation of a serial arsonist was to meet a feisty insurance company fire investigator. But when she landed at his feet, breaking her wrist, he had more on his mind than just finding the elusive fire-starter. Picking her out of the ashes was easy. Needing to work with her…not so much.
Harper Walsh was stunned when the handsome detective insisted on taking her to the ER…even more stunned when he suggested they work together. But the stoic detective gave mixed messages…did he want her arson experience or something more?

Finding a woman who understood the demands of his job quickly had their partnership grow into love. He even introduced her to his large, crazy, but loveable family. But the arsonist was not as hidden as they suspected, and Harper gets too close to danger before Sean has a chance to smoke him out.

Will Sean be able to save Harper before the arsonist goes up in flames, taking her with him?

Note:
Scenes and language similar to an R-Rated movie. 18+ readers only.

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Brock by Kris Michaels

As this series opens we will meet many people with roles in future books. Brock King is a homicide detective and is called to the scene of a fire that is suspected to be arson. The body discovered didn’t die from the fire, he was already dead, his wallet nearby and though devoid of cash and credit cards contained his driver’s license.

The victim, identified as one Samuel Treyson. His family owns half the city, ensuring a media circus that would involve both the homicide and the arson. While Sean McBride the arson investigator calls his Captain, Brock calls his Lieutenant, then his father, Chauncey King, the police commissioner. While the brass head off the media, both Brock and Sean finish collecting evidence to go to the lab. Neither one of them happy with the pressure that was sure to be put on this case.

Brock’s partner, Jordan Wyatt had been working vice when the call came in, now he’s with Brock to follow some leads until the feds decide to pull him into a different mess of a case. They had just begun tracking Samuel’s day by receipts found in his wallet when that call came. Now Brock would be getting a new partner for the duration. He’d been assured his new partner would be a good fit but that remained to be seen.

I like the way we’re introduced to this partner. Not at the station but at the diner across the street. It’s a peek at the thoughts flowing through Kallie Redmond’s mind prior to reporting for duty. It also gave a glimpse her past prior to moving to Hope City.

Brock says goodbye to Jordan and assures him he will take care of his cat Fester, and check on his apartment and car while he’s working with the Feds. Then heads inside to meet his new partner.

This is a favorite scene.

They stood sheltered behind the precinct in a small walkway that led to the parking lot, neither one inclined to turn and go their separate ways. “You’ll probably get shoved onto another team. They won’t keep putting you with a slew of temps. Don’t let them assign you someone permanently.” Jordan shoved his hands in his pockets and looked up at the heavy clouds that hung over them. “It would fucking suck to have to break in a new partner when I get back.”

He tipped his eyes up, too. It was going to snow, just a matter of when. He spoke to the clouds, “Never. I don’t think anyone else could put up with me.”

“Damn straight.” He chuckled when his partner immediately agreed.

“Seriously, you take care of yourself. Check in when you can.” Because they both knew it would be impossible for him to reach Jordan.

“I guess I’d better go.” Jordan glanced toward the parking lot and his car. “You sure you’re okay taking care of Fester?”

He shrugged. “Sure. That cat is chill. I’ll move him over to mine tonight.”

“You have to actually feed him, so you have to leave the damn precinct at least once a day.”

“Got it. Feed the cat. He survived me watching him when you went to see your folks.”

“That was a week, Brock. This could be… a lot longer.”

“Fester and I will be fine.” He’d enlist his little sisters to help cat sit if he needed to, but he’d make sure the thing made it through.

“Check on my apartment and car?” Jordan said.

“You know it.”

“Okay, so…”

“Yeah.” He extended his hand one last time. Jordan took it, and God help him if he didn’t feel like they were saying goodbye, not ‘so long’. He watched Jordan until he turned the corner before he entered the building. He nodded to people as he passed through the lobby and made his way to the sixth floor. The case and Jordan’s departure weighed equally on his mind. He wasn’t happy with either situation, but for now his focus had to be on the case. He glanced at his watch. If his new partner wasn’t a complete idiot, he could get him up to speed, interview Chloe and maybe Garrett, and make it to Miriam Treyson’s home by 3:30. He’d instructed patrol to bring both individuals to the precinct. He’d rather talk to them in their homes, but there was no time to waste. If it turned out his new partner was an idiot, well, he’d just tell the guy to shut his mouth and take notes. He didn’t have time to waste on an idiot partner. He had to solve this murder. The stakes were too damn high. His father’s career was on the line. Fuck, there wasn’t any time to waste.

He did a drive-by and snagged a tankard of coffee before he headed for Lieutenant Davidson’s office. The door was closed, so he knuckled the frosted glass and waited. “Enter.”

He pushed the door open. “Jordan punched out.”

“Ah, King. Come in. This is your new partner, Kallie Redman.”

A woman in the corner stood. Wow. She was tall and a fucking knock-out punch type of striking, not beautiful in the classic sense, but fuck him, he’d notice her in a crowd. Dark brown hair held away from intelligent brown eyes. He’d describe her vibe as… athletic. No makeup but vibrant and… striking. Oh, yeah, there was a feisty spirit in this lady. He could see the challenge in the way she sized him up. Not an idiot, either. Those eyes were sharp and inquisitive. She extended her hand.

“Brock King.” He introduced himself, grasping her hand. The woman had a firm handshake, and she met his eyes. Damn, she struck him as… razor sharp. “Have you been brought up to speed on the case we are working?”

She nodded. “The basics that the Lieutenant had.” She nodded at the case file on Davidson’s desk.

“Perfect.” He turned away from her and addressed Davidson. “We tracked down several key people in Treyson’s life. He was in a polyamorous relationship that his wife knew about.”

“Jealousy as a motive?” His new partner interjected.

“At this time, we don’t believe so. The interview we just had with a Miss Ava Dall suggested the wife has lovers, too. Patrol have brought in two of Treyson’s three lovers, and we have an appointment to speak to his wife at 3:30.”

His partner blinked twice. “Excuse me? Appointment?”

Oh, fuck, yeah. She was sharp but obviously not from Hope City. An accent was immediately distinguishable. Southern, but not in that twangy backwoods way.

He nodded and then chuckled, “The Treysons own half the city. I tried to talk to the wife this morning after processing the crime scene. Besides the horde of press at the residence, I was met with a wall of lawyers.”

“What time was that?” She glanced at her watch.

“About 6:00 a.m.”

She glanced at him and narrowed her eyes. “So…” She glanced at the lieutenant and then back at him. She shrugged and finished, “You’ve got a leak, and someone told wifey that the husband was dead—or she’s involved and knew you’d be coming.”

Brock smiled. A real, show-your-teeth smile. Fuck, yeah, he’d drawn a winner. “Exactly.”

“The file listed the evidence gathered, and I saw the crime scene photos. What about your examination of the scene? Did the fire destroy evidence? Was there any indication as to why this guy was at the warehouse or how he got there?”

“None. Of course, the first responders annihilated any tire tracks around the building. There was little physical evidence on scene. No tracks. The floor was concrete, and it was dry ground. Fingerprints were nonexistent. The arson investigator on scene told me the accelerant used was probably gasoline. The person who torched the warehouse wasn’t a professional. More than likely the fire was an attempt to try to hide the crime. The ME has orders to push the tox and histology to the front of the queue, but we have a couple weeks minimum to wait for those. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a ping off of one of his lovers or the wife. We’ve got the techs downloading his phone information, and we are tracing his moves based on the apps and the receipts in his wallet to build his last twenty-four to forty-eight.”

“What does this guy do? Is he a socialite or a businessman? If he is a businessman, does he have enemies?”

“On the list of avenues to travel down and explore. Come on, I’ll show you where we work, and then we’ll head out and talk to his lovers.”

“Perfect, but I’m going to need coffee. How much is the coffee fund, and where did you get that thermos impersonating a mug? I gotta get me one.” She nodded at his cup. He glanced at Davidson. “Boss, I like this one.”

“Well, she’s not yours to keep.” Davidson moved a stack of paperwork toward him. “Jordan will be back, and we are finally getting Couch back from deployment. Get out of my office, and find me the bastard who killed this guy. Shut my door on your way out.”
Michaels, Kris. A Hope City Duet (pp. 55-59). KMRW LLC. Kindle Edition.

There are many ups and downs in this investigation, Kallie is sharp and as they work together they also find an attraction. It’s a good thing they wouldn’t be permanent partners and that their isn’t a policy in place to prevent them from seeing each other outside of work.

We meet the King family in this one, since it’s all about the police investigation and their family is mostly police. I anticipate seeing all these folks in future books of the series.

This is an edge of your seat tale and just when things are wrapping up, the past looms up to bite Kallie. Lots of action, suspense, a simmer to sizzle romance and a whole lot more!

I’m just going to keep reading now with ‘Sean’. I like that the first two books are together in one.

5 Contented Purrs for Kris!

Sean by Maryann Jordan

In this book we go back to the fire scene we saw in ‘Brock’. Detective Sean McBride is with the Arson Division. Hope City is one of few places fortunate to have that special unit of detectives. Especially now with a serial arsonist on the loose. This warehouse fire was different though. We get a bit of a replay as Brock, Sean’s best friend arrives at the scene before we settle into the Arson investigation.

After the initial evidence collection the lab requests some additional samples in different containers. When Sean gets to the site he’s stunned and angry to see a woman there.

Harper is the fire investigator for the insurance company, just like Sean she needs to collect evidence. She brings it to an independent lab for analysis and adds those results to her findings for or against policy payout.

Sean yelled at her causing her to startle and fall injuring herself. He immediately offers assistance and insists on accompanying her to the hospital to be checked out.

This is a favorite scene.

Harper Walsh focused on the task, never hearing anyone approach. She let out an undignified squeal when a man’s angry voice sounded out just behind her. Whirling around, she landed awkwardly amongst some of the concrete that she had stepped over. A sharp pain shot through her hand and wrist, reverberating up her arm as she stared up in shock.

She blinked for a second, noting that his dark hair and blue eyes, square, stubbled jaw, and tall, obviously fit body combined to create a gorgeous man. But as he towered over her, his eyes snapping and his hands planted on his hips, it was equally obvious that he was furious. Her gaze dropped to where his hands pulled his jacket open, and she saw a badge hanging on his belt.

Damn, I was told the police were finished with the scene. Trained to not get in the way of the police when collecting evidence, she was careful to always follow protocol. She placed her hands on the ground next to her in an attempt to stand. The stabbing pain in her wrist caused her to cry out, plopping back down on her ass, now cradling her injured wrist with her other hand. Shit, shit, shit!

The man dropped to kneel by her side, his large presence seeming to surround her. “Let me see.” No longer scowling, his voice still held an irritated edge.

Fighting the embarrassment of her clumsiness, she started to lose the battle of keeping her tears at bay from the pain. “Why did you have to sneak up on me and then bellow?”

“Sneak? I wasn’t sneaking.”

“Well, you certainly bellowed.” Still cradling her wrist, she looked up, stunned to see him so close. She could now see that his eyes were not just blue but a shade that reminded her of the water in the harbor on a bright, cloudless, sunny day. He did not just have stubble but had a neatly trimmed beard. His hair was dark, almost black, just as neatly trimmed. The breeze blew a few strands, but she wondered if his hair would not dare to mess with the commanding man.

“I don’t bellow,” he refuted, not as confidently as he had sounded a moment earlier. He reached out and took her injured arm in his hands, his touch gentle but causing her to wince. His voice softened. “It might be broken.”

She feared he was right. “Damn it, I don’t have time for this.” Tears sprang to her eyes. The back of the hand he now held was covered in burn scars from long ago, extending from her fingers to several inches above her wrist. Uncertain if he was staring at her new injury or old scars, she pulled her hand from his, wincing again at the pain.

“You need to have that looked at. I’m serious when I said it might be broken.”

Glancing toward her evidence kit on the ground next to her, she gritted her teeth. “My samples. I have to get my samples to the lab.”

Still kneeling, he looked down at the labeled bottles and bags. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

Breathing through the pain, she gritted her teeth. “I’m a fire investigator.”

His brow lifted as he cocked his head to the side. “And who do you work for?”

“Eastern Mutual Insurance Company.” She met his glare with one of her own.

“Okay, then answer the first question I asked you. Who are you?”

Frustration at her situation stabbed through her, almost as painful as her wrist. “My name is Harper. Harper Walsh. I’m a certified Evidence Collection Technician as well as working on my final certification to become a Fire Investigator. Eastern Mutual sent me here, and I had been given clearance to come to this site. I was told the police were finished with their evidence collection and that’s why I was here. I had no problem with the policeman letting me in.”

With a curt nod, he stood. “Here, let me help you.” He placed his hands underneath her armpits and with little effort lifted her to her feet.

“Oh, now you want to help?” Looking at her wrist, she observed the swelling as well as bruising and felt lightheaded. No, no! Always fainting at the sight of blood, she could not believe she was going to pass out, considering her injury was not bleeding. Her stomach roiled. God, don’t let me throw up on him. She tried to maintain her dignity, breathing deeply, but weaved, and her knees buckled.

Strong arms grabbed her shoulders to keep her from staggering, and she face-planted against his broad chest, her head foggy.

“I’ll take you to the hospital.”

The last thing she wanted was to be indebted to the grumpy detective. She sucked in a deep breath in an attempt to clear her head and pushed away from his support. “I’ll just gather my samples and leave. I can drive myself to have my arm checked out.”

“Nope.” He deftly bent, picked up her evidence bag in one hand, and with his other hand at her elbow guided her carefully toward the front of the warehouse, pointing out the rubble she needed to step over.

Ignoring his care, she focused on his one word response. “What do you mean by ‘nope’?” He looked down at her, and she tried not to stare at his lips, which were now very close to hers.

He held her gaze then sighed loudly. “Nope. No. Nix. Negative. Not going to happen. Not going to let you. Any other questions?” She blinked, her mouth opening but no words came forth, and he continued. “I feel responsible for your injury and would like to make sure you arrive at the ER safely to get your arm checked out.”

“I don’t even know who you are.”

He had the grace to look chagrined. “You’re right. I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself. I’m Detective Sean McBride. Arson Division. HCPD.”

“And are you always so bossy?”

“When I think someone needs help, then yes.”

She glanced over, seeing the policeman by the yellow tape staring narrow-eyed at them. Great, it looks like I’m being arrested. Bypassing her car, he continued toward a large SUV. He opened the door and placed her evidence collection bag onto his backseat, then reached into the front seat to grab a large paper sack, placing it into the back as well.

The scent of greasy sausage met her nostrils, and with the pain in her arm, another wave of nausea moved over her. Blowing out a deep breath, she battled the desire to throw up again.

He assisted her into the seat, his movements gentle. “Do you need help with the buckle?”

She reached over to take the seat belt, but pain shot through her left hand as she attempted to pull it down. He leaned over to buckle her, and she sucked in her stomach in an instinctive response to make herself appear smaller. Her gaze dropped from his eyes to his mouth. God, what would his lips feel like against mine? She tried to block out the idea and blurted, “Your vehicle smells like a diner.”

His lips curved into a grin, and his rugged good looks morphed into just pure handsome. Speaking softly, his breath whispering across her cheeks, he said, “That’s because I’ve got a dozen sausage biscuits in that bag.”

He leaned back, threw the door closed, and jogged around the front of his SUV. Calling out to the policeman still standing by the tape, he said, “I’ll take care of getting her vehicle later.”

They drove in silence for a moment, and Harper’s mind raced. How could everything have gone so wrong within a matter of moments? Following all proper procedures, she was almost finished with the evidence collection that she would need for both her certification and for her employer when she had suddenly landed on her ass with a possible broken wrist. And, of course, the cause of both had to be an infuriating—albeit gorgeous—detective.

Sighing, she knew that she needed to make amends. She had been sure that the police were finished with the scene or she would have waited. “While I had every right to be where I was, I’m sorry if I got in your way. I’m also sorry that you’re now having to take your time to drive me to the hospital. I’m sure I could’ve made the trip myself.”

“Apology accepted.”

His deep voice glided over her, sounding sincere. Twisting her head around to look at him, she asked, “That’s it?”

He shrugged. “You apologized. I accepted.”

She was quiet for a moment, wondering about the ease of his acceptance, and he continued, “I was taught that a heartfelt apology should always be accepted. If not, then it reflects on me, not the other person. And while we’re at it, I’m sorry to be the cause of your fall.”

She leaned her head back against the headrest and closed her eyes. His words were spoken in a soft voice, but the sincerity rang out clearly, something she had not expected considering his earlier arrogance. Her mother’s similar words ran through her mind. “Funny, I was taught the same thing… apology accepted.”
Michaels, Kris. A Hope City Duet (pp. 280-284). KMRW LLC. Kindle Edition.

Not exactly the best way to meet someone, but one that quickly spread to colleagues and friends providing a never ending source of amusement.

With the results in on the warehouse proving it wasn’t their serial arsonist, Sean and Jonas get back to work sifting through possible suspects.

Harper and Sean have an attraction that only grows as they continue to cross paths in there investigating. As much as he may try to avoid it, Sean can’t help but admire Harper’s tenacity and investigative instincts.

In spite of or perhaps because of the intensity of the investigation, Sean falls in deeper and deeper with Harper. Their attraction sparks into flame as things heat up with the arsonist. Yes, pun intended.

I enjoyed this book immensely and since I’ve already read and reviewed ‘Carter’, I have to wait for the release of ‘Brody’ later this month.

5 Contented Purrs for Maryann!

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Coming Soon!


Kris Michaels

USA Today and Amazon Bestselling Author, Kris Michaels is the alter ego of a happily married wife and mother. She writes romance, usually with characters from military and law enforcement backgrounds.

Kris was born and raised in South Dakota. She graduated many years ago from a high school class consisting of 13 students (yes that is thirteen, eleven girls and two boys…lucky boys). She joined the military, met her husband, and traveled the world. Today she lives on the Gulf Coast and writes full time.

Kris is an avid people watcher and dreamer. The stories she writes are crafted around the hopes and dreams of a true romantic. She believes love is essential, people are beautiful, and everyone deserves a happy ending.

When she isn’t writing Kris enjoys a full life revolving around family, friends, laughing, whiskey, and cold red wine. (Yes cold…don’t judge.)

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Maryann Jordan

I have always been an avid reader. My early memories were of my mother taking me to the library and allowing me to check out as many books as I could carry. My favorite books were checked out numerous times and read over and over. I would use my Barbie dolls to play out the scenes in books (such as Nancy Drew!).

I have written as a hobby for many years (probably since childhood). I have written devotionals, autobiographical writings about having a severely handicapped, medically fragile child, about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, and other subjects that interest me.

I joke that I “cut my romance teeth” on the old historical romance books. In 2013, I started a blog to showcase wonderful writers. In 2014, I finally gave in to the characters in my head pleading for their story to be told. Thus, Emma’s Home was created.

I worked as a counselor in a high school and was involved in education for the past 30 years, until retiring in 2015. I have been married to a wonderfully patient man for 35 years and have 2 adult, very supportive daughters. When writing, my dog or one of my cats will usually be found in my lap!


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SEAL Forever – Silver SEALs Book 6 by Kris Michaels



Welcome to Silver SEALs!
The New Wave From The Suspense Sisters!

Retired silver fox US Navy SEAL Commanders who sign on with the Department of Homeland Security to lead missions to protect the homeland.

SEAL Forever
Silver SEAL Book 6
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Kris Michaels

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A career ending injury forced Creed Lachlan out of the Navy SEALs. Now he works as a freelance contractor for a highly classified sub-set of Homeland Security, the Bone Frog Division. His country calls when it needs his elite skills. His current mission is to identify the production site for emerging “dirty” bombs. If that dictate wasn’t enough, his team must locate the missing CIA agents who’d previously tracked the weapons, and that team’s last known location was Cuba. His contact in Cuba wasn’t the sixty-year-old man he’d been told to expect, but a sultry beauty hellbent on driving him insane.

Mariella Diaz’s uncle sat atop the largest black-market organization in Cuba. Outmaneuvering the corrupt communist regime to provide the people of her country with necessities was second nature. Even so, keeping the sexy American and his team out of danger would require extra diligence. In a game of cat and mouse played out in a deadly arena, Mariella faces a risk more perilous than capture, torture, and imprisonment. She risked losing her heart to Creed Lachlan.

Creed wanted Mariella. He wanted to ease the pain that peeked through her bravado, to love and protect the woman who defied and antagonized him at every turn. Creed’s only concern, could she love a SEAL, forever?

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Creed’s injury forced him to leave the SEALs rather than sit a desk. He loves his solitude in the Florida Keys. Then Si Branson approaches him, with a difficult task. Someone’s making dirty bombs and they think they are being produced in Cuba.

Creed’s team is an interesting bunch, one works for private security, two are retired SEALs and the other a scientist specializing in radiation. His contact is a shady character named Rafa, he is well respected in Cuba and his black-marketing is without competition.

However, the person he meets up with isn’t Rafa, it’s his niece. Not liking surprises, Creed is immediately on guard and remains so until he meets Rafa. Then he gets another surprise as they discuss the terms of this contract to find the warehouse where these bombs are being made.

One of the conditions is he is to marry Rafa’s niece Mariella. That was in part to get them where they needed to go without suspicion.

This is a favorite scene.

“Of course. You will marry my niece shortly.” Rafa’s head snapped to the window as the same man ran across the open area in front of the house. “Ah… your passports.” Rafa lifted off the couch and snubbed out his cigarette in a large ashtray next to the sofa. He strode to the door and took the envelope. Rafa examined the back of the large packet. He tossed it to Creed. The flap had been sealed with wax. Creed broke it and reached in to retrieve three red leather passports. Gold embossed wording of Union Europea España Pasaporte labeled each. He cracked one open. Whitehead’s picture was attached to the name Santiago Garcia. He flipped to the next. McGowen was now Alejandro Garcia, and Creed was Esteban Garcia. The holographic overlay covering the photo and typeset was in place and from what Creed could see, perfect. He flipped his to the back and noticed several entrance stamps. The latest of which landed him in Cuba as of two days ago. He glanced up at Rafa. “Your people do good work.”

“My people do excellent work. It is what you are paying for. A botched passport could mean the difference between success and failure in this country. We’ve learned to make sure there are no mistakes.” Rafa stretched and yawned. “Forgive me. I was up all night working.” He glanced at the clock. “Come, Mariella will be here shortly. We need to make sure all four of you tell the same story when the priest shows up.” Rafa’s hand landed on Creed’s shoulder. “Welcome to the family.”

Creed rolled his shoulder and dislodged the hand. “Can’t say as I’m thrilled to be marrying into your family, Rafa.”

The man threw back his head and laughed. “Don’t worry about the entirety of my family, my friend. Mariella will be more than enough for you to worry about.”

Creed reached down and grabbed his coffee mug before he headed into the kitchen where he could hear McGowen and Whitehead talking. Creed had no doubt about that statement. Mariella was a concern and a distraction. One he shouldn’t have to worry about, but it seemed as if her life ass-planted in the middle of his op. He stacked all three of the passports Rafa had given him and slapped them against his hand. They had a mission to do. Surprise marital vows aside, Branson and the rest of the world needed to know if the dirty bombs were being made in Cuba.

He followed Rafa into the kitchen and grabbed the mug that McGowen handed him. There was a tray of meat and cheese along with bread. McGowen passed him a sandwich and Creed straddled a chair and devoured it. Lessons he learned early in the military were basic and simple. Eat when you can, every time you can. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down and never stay awake when you can get some shut-eye. He had no idea what the rest of the day had in store… other than getting married, so he reverted to the basics.

He watched Rafa talk with his men and made another sandwich. He drained his coffee and Whitehead refilled it.

Mariella opened the kitchen door, and all conversation stopped. Creed swallowed the last of his sandwich with a large gulp. The woman wore a cream-colored dress, knee length, and form-fitting. Her hair was swept up and pushed to the side. Her long lashes had been enhanced with mascara, and she wore a bright red lipstick that accentuated her pouty lips. Her nervousness was clearly visible. She frowned at Creed. “What? He told me to change. Wait? Did you say no?” Her face lit up in a brilliant smile.

“I said yes.” Creed stood and took the backpack out of her hand.

The smile she wore faltered before she dropped her eyes. “Oh.”

Fuck him. She didn’t want this any more than he did. Her hands fell to her sides before she elevated her head and straightened her back. “Then we have some information to go over, yes?” Her voice trembled slightly. She’d obviously hoped he wouldn’t go through with the plan, but it was the only way to move forward.

“My name is Esteban Garcia. This is Santiago”—he motioned to Whitehead and then to McGowen—”and Alejandro Garcia.”

Mariella wrinkled her nose and arched an eyebrow. “You do not look like an Esteban.”

Rafa put down his coffee cup and pointed at Creed. “The story is that your father arranged this marriage with me after you fell into some trouble in Spain. Santiago and Alejandro were sent with you to make sure you didn’t fuck up again.” Rafa shrugged. “It is a common thing, to make sure a miscreant of a son is chaperoned. You will be relocating to Cuba. Your father’s decision. Not yours.”

“I take it I’m not happy about that?” Creed crossed his arms and stood with his feet shoulder-width apart.

“Your story to tell, I don’t care. The marriage is one of convenience. Your father is one of my main suppliers from Europe, and it is well known that I want my niece married.”

“You make me sound like something to be passed off,” Mariella huffed.

“I’m using my concern for your wellbeing to sell the cover for these men. My people know I think you need a strong hand.”

“Now I sound like a dog or a horse.” She glared at her uncle.

There was the woman he dealt with in Havana. “Is there anything else we need to know?” Creed tried to put a stop to the bickering.

“I’m sure there are a vast amount of details, but we won’t be able to cover everything. Keep the story basic. Don’t elaborate and you’ll be fine.” Rafa shrugged. “The priest will be here soon. I have some clothes in storage. Come see if you can find anything better to wear.” He turned on his heel and walked away, expecting them to comply.

“Go with him. See what you can find. I want a moment.” He addressed McGowen who nodded and ushered Whitehead out of the kitchen.

“I’m sorry.” Her whispered words barely made it to his ears.

For what? “Was this your idea?” Creed asked.

Her head snapped up. “What? No!”

“Then you have nothing to be sorry for. As this farce is an arranged marriage, I don’t expect anyone would believe us being happy with the situation. I’ll keep my distance.” He’d offer her that politesse at least.

Mariella stared blankly at him for a moment before she chuckled and then laughed. “Oh, you are in for a surprise.” She shook her head, still chuckling, and went to one of the three cupboards and pushed aside the curtain. She grabbed a glass and a bottle of clear liquid. She held up the bottle. “Courage.” She cocked her head at him. “Want some?”

He shook his head. She shrugged and pulled the cork out of the top of the bottle with her teeth. “Too bad.” The words formed around the cork sounded like “ooh aad.”

She poured a couple fingers worth of liquid courage and recorked the bottle.

Damn, dressed like a lady and chugging liquor like one of his men. Why in the hell did that impress him? He shrugged off the thought and brought his mind back to the conversation at hand. “Care to tell me what you mean by that?”

“Courage?” She glanced over the top of the glass at him.

“No, that I’m in for a surprise.” He watched her toss back the entire glass.

She blew out a breath and sucked another in. “Damn, that is strong.” She wiggled the cork out again and poured another glass before she looked up at him. “My uncle’s family is preparing a wedding celebration for us tonight. We will be forced into close company. Yes, this is an arranged marriage, but it is still a marriage that will be toasted, celebrated, and there will be certain assumptions made.” Mariella closed her eyes, shook her head as if she was trying to clear her mind of images she did not want to see, and then shot the liquor. She grimaced again and pulled another deep breath. “Whoa.”

“Assumptions are not my concern. Look, neither of us is happy about this event, but I need to get up there so we can recon the area. I’ll play my part.” Creed dropped his crossed arms and rubbed the back of his neck. “I’ll make sure you get your citizenship.”

Mariella’s eyes snapped up to him. “Excuse me?”

“It was part of the deal. You go to the States with me when we leave, and I stay married to you until you receive your American citizenship.”

Mariella slammed the glass down on the counter and screamed, “Rafa!” She spun on her heel and headed into the house. “Rafa, dammit! Where the fuck are you!” Creed hurried after her. Obviously, the woman had no idea of the conditions Rafa had put on their marriage. “Rafa, you bastard!”

The man in question opened the door that led into the living room. Standing beside him was a small, slight man wearing a black suit and white collar. “Ahh, Father Augustus, may I introduce my lovely niece, Mariella.”

“Yes, I heard her before I saw her.”
Michaels, Kris. SEAL Forever (Silver SEALs Book 6) . KMRW LLC. Kindle Locations (1485-1550) Kindle Edition.

This is a fast-paced story with many twists and turns, the attraction between Creed and Mariella just multiplies as the dangers increase.

I loved getting to meet some characters from Kris’ Kings of The Guardian Series, sigh, I have added them to my to buy list. I want to know more about these people.

I hope to see more of Creed and Mariella in that series, or perhaps in future releases of these Retired SEAL Commanders.

5 Contented Purrs for Kris!

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Kris Michaels

USA Today and Amazon Bestselling Author, Kris Michaels is the alter ego of a happily married wife and mother. She writes romance, usually with characters from military and law enforcement backgrounds.

Kris was born and raised in South Dakota. She graduated many years ago from a high school class consisting of 13 students (yes that is thirteen, eleven girls and two boys…lucky boys). She joined the military, met her husband, and traveled the world. Today she lives on the Gulf Coast and writes full time.

Kris is an avid people watcher and dreamer. The stories she writes are crafted around the hopes and dreams of a true romantic. She believes love is essential, people are beautiful, and everyone deserves a happy ending.

When she isn’t writing Kris enjoys a full life revolving around family, friends, laughing, whiskey, and cold red wine. (Yes cold…don’t judge.)

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