Missing belt: The Peacekeeper’s Photograph

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Thursday teaser from the military mystery

By M.L. Doyle

“Can you take a look in here and see if there’s anything missing? Anything that might be wrong with the room?”

My breath caught in my throat. I did not want to go in there to see her and those hot pink toenails. I did not want to smell that smell again.

Ramsey, standing in the door of the trailer, saw my hesitation.

“We need your help, Sergeant Harper. Just a quick look.”

He held his hand out, like he wanted to help me up the stairs. I took the steps slowly, ignoring his hand, and stepped into the trailer. With Ramsey, Santos, Jenkins and the photographer in there, the crowded trailer could barely accommodate me. I stood in the doorway and looked around them.

“Everything looks the same as when I left this morning,” I said.

“What time was that?” Ramsey asked.

The foul odor reeked stronger now. My shallow breaths weren’t helping. I covered my mouth and nose with my hand and swayed, feeling dizzy. Santos steadied me, then handed me a small jar of mentholated rub.

“Under your nostrils,” he said.

My hands shook as I took the jar. The pungent ointment made my nostrils burn but presented enough of an olfactory distraction to cover up the odor partially. I wondered if I’d ever be able to eat again. They all watched me, sympathetic looks in their eyes, except for Ramsey. His blue eyes were icicle cool. I shivered.

“I left around zero six hundred to take a shower. When I came back from the shower, Delray wasn’t here. I’d assumed she went to shower herself,” I said. “I dressed, grabbed my gear and went to meet the EOD team. Everything seems the same as I left it. Even my towel there,” I added weakly.

The dry towel, draped over a hanger, hung from a nail next to my cot. Right next to that nail, sat another nail where my reflector belt should have been. My reflector belt wasn’t there. I clenched my fists, trying to stop the sudden trembling. I switched my gaze to the other side of the trailer, to the nail near Delray’s cot, where she hung her reflector belt to keep it handy for early morning PT. Her belt hung there, light glinting off the reflective material.

The door of the trailer gaped open. The air conditioner cycled full blast, but the frigid air wasn’t what had me feeling wobbly. My reflector belt wasn’t where it should be, but I knew exactly where to find it. Around Delray’s neck.

“Oh God,” I mumbled.

“Are you all right?” Ramsey asked, those frosty blue eyes not missing a thing.

“I, my, ah, reflector belt,” I said, hating how frightened I sounded. “It’s gone.”

Ramsey took a step toward my cot, pushing himself past the photographer.

“Where do you keep it?”

“On that nail there,” I said, pointing. I dropped my arm quickly to cover my shaking, then wrapped my arms around my chest. I wanted to tell someone to turn the air conditioner off, but couldn’t force the words out between my clenched jaw.

Ramsey looked at the empty nail, then over at Delray’s reflector strap. He motioned for the photographer to take pictures. The click and whir of the flash unit sounded loud in the trailer. 

“Okay,” Ramsey said. “Anything else?”

The Peacekeeper’s Photograph

A Master Sergeant Lauren Harper Mystery

The NATO mission in Bosnia is to broker peace between warring factions and help restore a devastated county. It’s a mission the world is watching.

But when Master Sergeant Lauren Harper makes a gruesome discovery, she has a new mission. Saving herself.

Harper, a career soldier, is innocent of the crime she is accused of, but she’s guilty of a lot of other things, like inappropriate feelings for her commanding officer, Colonel Neil McCallen and failing to lead a soldier who needed her help.

To get out of the mess she’s in, Harper must employ all of her wits and the help of an unexpected friend from across the pond, Sergeant Major Harry Fogg.

Her mistakes land Harper in the worst trouble she’s ever faced. She is forced to choose. Save herself and risk the lives of others, or stay, and face a life of degradation and slavery.

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M.L. Doyle

M.L. Doyle, military mystery, erotica and urban fantasy

aimed to prove her brother wrong when she joined the Army on his dare. Almost two decades later, she not only confirmed that she could, contrary to his warning, make it through basic training, her combat boots took her to the butt-end of nowhere and back countless times and she lived to tell about it … or write about it as it turned out.

A native Minnesotan, Mary lives in Baltimore where her evil cats force her to feed and care for them including cleaning up their poo. To escape from her torture, Mary loves to hear from readers. Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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