Today we’ve got an exclusive excerpt of M.L. Buchman’s absolutely fiery By Break of Day! This book is available February 2nd, 2016.
A Note from M.L. Buchman
Captain Justin Roberts flies a massive Chinook helicopter. After a training, the team has returned to the helicopter carrier USS Peleliu and is debriefing about Captain Kara Moretti’s first mission as the Air Mission Commander. At least everyone else is. Justin is having a few issues with just what he’s concentrating on now that the flight is over.
Women didn’t make Justin Roberts feel like a yokel, nor men either. But Kara Moretti most certainly did. No way he’d have seen what to do with five aircraft in the fifteen seconds she’d had to retarget the attack.
Even feeling the fool, he wanted to get closer to her. Being near her was more important than… His mind was already lost. Either he should sit close by her, or he should step off the ship’s stern to soak his head in the ocean a while.
To see if there was a spot near her, he turned slowly so that it wouldn’t show quite where his attention was focused.
Don’t mind me. Just casually scanning the debriefing room and sipping my coffee—Crap!—black because I forget to put in cream and two sugars.
Kara watched Justin turn to face her with all the subtlety of a juggernaut, his white cowboy hat rotating with the rest of him like the top beam bar of a scanning radar. She wasn’t sure why, but she knew he was tracking in on her.
LCDR Ramis’s office was fairly crowded with the five pilots, six including her, plus Connie, the best mechanic in all SOAR; Barstowe from the Rangers; Gibson and Trisha’s husband, Bill Bruce, from Delta; and Sly Stowell, the Navy’s hovercraft pilot. Even though he hadn’t been part of this exercise, Kara had learned that Sly’s advice was always good. A couple of Navy officers and Ramis rounded out the crowd, yet Kara still knew she was Justin’s search target.
She ducked her head to pay attention to Lola and Trisha, who had taken seats to either side of her on the couch.
“It was awesome. I popped over that ridge crest you pointed me at.” Trisha had hands in motion imitating angles of attack.
Kara wondered how soon she’d be wearing the cranberry juice from the open bottle that Trisha was waving about like a baton.
“…easing way back on the collective. I was almost dead silent as I rode the ground effect down the cliff face. When I got to just one rotor from their hidey-hole, I spun to face them and hit them with the floods. Billy was riding copilot and grabbed the PA. ‘Bang, you’re dead!’ he told ’em. Just that. That man is such a crackup. You totally rocked it, Kara. You nailed their butts.” She glanced at Bill. If the D-boy ever put more than two words together, she hadn’t heard it. So not like Justin who always had a joke or a wry comment waiting. Bill was totally the strong, silent type. Also undeniably brave as he had not only married, but also rode with Trisha.
“How did it feel doing your first sortie as our AMC?” Lola asked her in the suddenly silent room.
Everyone looked at Kara intently, even LCDR Ramis. Except Justin who was staring at her as if she was a total screwup…or maybe a lost circus clown who’d wandered away from Barnum and Bailey at Madison Square Garden and onto a Navy ship in the middle of operations.
“Maybe you should tell me?” It wasn’t like her to be cautious, however it was the only way to mask her sudden nerves. She was mostly sure that the op had gone well, but only mostly.
“We’ve all heard Trisha’s assessment.” Lola offered a bit of a laugh. When Trisha was excited, her voice tended to expand to fill any space she was in. “Claudia Jean?”
“Captain Moretti offered clear instructions in a timely and accurate manner under difficult circumstances. It was neatly done.”
Lola nodded. “Captain Roberts?”
Justin was still staring down at Kara from where he stood across the room—concentrating fiercely on something.
The silence stretched long enough to be awkward. “Yo, Roberts!” Kara snapped at him when she couldn’t take it any longer.
“Uh.” He looked around quickly. “What?”
Trisha snorted, but her expression was unreadable when Kara turned to look at her.
“Chief Maloney asked for your opinion on Kara’s first op as Air Mission Commander,” Clint Barstowe offered helpfully from where he stood close beside Justin.
Justin shook himself, almost losing his hat.
Why a man who stood six-foot-two needed another six inches of hat was beyond her. It looked like a big, white, “shoot me here” target. Right in that thick head of his.
“Beautiful.” Then Justin snapped to, his deep-blue eyes raking over Kara once more before he looked over at Lola.
Trisha sent an elbow into Kara’s ribs hard enough to hurt for reasons she didn’t understand. Trisha widened her eyes as if that was supposed to communicate something.
By the time Kara turned back, Justin had finally shifted his attention to Lola.
“The timing and clarity of her direction really was as purty—”
He actually said it purty!
“—as could be. Now that’s what I call beautiful.”
He almost convinced her that he was talking about her job as AMC, but his eyes slid sideways just enough to once more catch her gaze.
Kara finally understood Trisha’s elbow. Mr. Too-Tall, Too-Handsome Texan had just called her “beautiful” in front of the entire top echelon of the USS Peleliu.
Death was too good for what she was going to do to him.
They Put Life, Limb, and Heart on the Line
Two new captains join The Night Stalkers with two different strategies in life, love, and combat. When Brooklyn-raised Kara joins the crew, she knows one thing as an absolute truth: to stay safe, keep everything and everyone at a distance. Born in Texas, Justin knows only one honorable way to make up for losing his first crew to a suicide bomber: he flies with all his heart. When Kara and Justin collide on a top secret mission deep in the Israeli desert, then the battle truly begins.
M.L. Buchman has over 35 novels and an ever-expanding flock of short stories in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year,” Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” and RT “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of the Year.” In addition to romantic suspense, he also writes contemporaries, thrillers, and fantasy and science fiction.
In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.
He is now a full-time writer, living on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing at MLBuchman.com.