One of the things I love about writing military romantic suspense is the unexpectedness of setting. Instead of a blind date, there is a first operation together. Instead of getting a drink and maybe a meal, there is a mess hall, chow line, and group tables with hundreds of others eating at the same time. But also, to find a quiet corner on a busy base or ship leads to many interesting opportunities.
Delta Force Colonel Michael Gibson, the hero in my newest release BRING ON THE DUSK, grew up climbing the majestic redwood trees of Oregon and California. That is where he would take Claudia on a date if he could. Instead, they are aboard a ship in the Gulf of Aden, a part of the Arabian Sea off the Horn of Africa. Where to go for privacy on an eight-hundred foot long ship of war? Michael’s job in Delta Force is to think out of the box, no reason to stop just because he’s on a break.
Michael led her to the ocean side of the six-story superstructure, and they climbed the stairs past the first two levels. The gentle sway of the ship on the now-quiet sea could be felt here, but she’d spent too many years aboard ships to be bothered by such mild seas. She’d never climbed the ladder to the upper levels, but she knew the way.
Michael didn’t stop at the roof of the navigation bridge or the searchlight platform as she’d expected. She’d been unsure of those because of the possible arrival of personnel.
No. He continued right up to the top of the uptake enclosure. The uptake engine stacks and the thin radio main mast were the only things that continued above the small space. The enclosure itself was a maintenance platform that offered a narrow walkway and a handrail around the ship’s towering exhaust stacks. On the forward side of the stacks, only the forward radar platform was higher. To the rear of the ship, the space opened up to an area about five feet square. Astern—the view was magnificent, and very private.
She and Michael leaned on the handrail together as she drank in the view. All ship’s lights were below them. The moon had set, and only the stars and the two masthead blinkers were higher than their present aerie. The height and isolation were so liberating. They made her want to shout out, “I’m an eagle!” but she didn’t.
“We’re fifty feet above the flight deck and a hundred and twenty above the water. Some people can’t take the swaying motion even though they—”
She turned into his arms and kissed him to shut him up. The simple kiss grew and expanded to a level she’d never before experienced. Kissing Michael was better than sex with most men. It kept building. Okay, kissing Michael was better than sex with any man. And he hadn’t even moved his hands from stroking her back yet. He just held her as if she were somehow precious and important.
When she couldn’t take it anymore, she shifted to lay her cheek against his. She liked that they were nearly the same height so that she could whisper into his ear, “It’s magnificent, Michael.”
“It’s not the redwoods, but I like it.”
“Then you’ll have to show me the trees someday.”
His cloak of stillness, as she’d come to think of it, settled over him. He simply stopped moving, stopped vibrating the air with his energy. It almost felt as if he were going invisible in her arms. She pulled back, not out of his arms in case he could somehow dematerialize, but far enough that she could have seen his face if there had been more than the pale starlight.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “That was too forward of me. This whole thing is too forward. I just got caught up in the moment and how good you feel and smell, and now I’m babbling which I never do except to myself and—”
“I’d love to show them to you.” His voice stopped her run-on panic that had built out of nowhere.
“And you show them to…” She had to ask.
Her breath caught in her chest, trapped there trying to choke her. She wasn’t ready for this. She wasn’t prepared for this to mean something. Yet Michael had obviously just opened the vault closest to his heart.
And he’d opened it for her.
Title: Bring on the Dusk
Author: M.L. Buchman
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Romantic Suspense