This week’s Thursday teaser is from Book 2 of the Master Sergeant Harper series
By M.L. Doyle
I was afraid of him. It was irrational, I knew. He hadn’t threatened me. In fact, he’d tried to be funny, charming even. Still, his voice, his accent drenched me in memories that left my insides feeling liquid. Dropic was just a guy trying to do his job and had nothing to do with the brutal nightmares I carried with me after my time in his war-torn country. He didn’t resemble the men who had attacked me, the men who had brutalized me, held me prisoner and almost enslaved me.
He didn’t resemble the man I had killed.
My rational mind knew all these things, but it didn’t matter. Upon meeting him, his voice, his accent had stirred up memories still too vivid, too raw to ignore. It didn’t help that he smoked the same damn cigarettes they had smoked. The smell of the unfiltered Camels, the sight of the red package in his hands was enough to make me tremble. God, I hated the smell of those things.
The exhaustion I felt now, the exhaustion that seemed to have settled in my bones so deep I sometimes felt like I could curl up and sleep for weeks, stemmed mostly from the fact that, almost nightly, I’d jerk awake at three a.m. with the smell of horse, hay and those damn cigarettes in my nostrils, the nightmares so vivid I relived the experience over and over again.
None of that was Dropic’s fault, but every time I heard his accent, every time I smelled the cigarette smoke that seemed to cling to him like a second skin, I couldn’t help but blame him for it. Why the hell did he have to be Bosnian?
I moved to the back of the truck where Dropic hiked his battery utility belt around his waist and snapped the fastener in place. I steeled myself for the confrontation, freezing my liquid insides to hard ice.
“That is an American soldier. You will not shoot video of his body.” I said.
The steady and commanding sound of my voice surprised me and stoked my confidence. When he ignored me, some of that confidence leaked out. He continued to gather his bulky equipment. He attached a small light to the top of the camera and plugged the attaching wires in place. His glance flicked to me for a moment, then he reached into his bag and grabbed a handheld microphone. I crossed my arms over my chest, trying to still my shakes. He wasn’t going to make this easy. At a murder scene like this, I thought it unlikely that any soldier would be willing to talk to him, but evidently he intended to try to get them to talk. A dark smirk played at the corner of his mouth as he hefted the gear from the truck. I stopped him with a hand on his arm and felt his considerable muscles tense. His smirk became a glare. He looked eager and ready to argue his point.
“You can’t stop me,” he said.
“Yes, I can.”
“What happened to freedom of the press?”
“This isn’t America.”
He opened his mouth to say something, then stopped, realizing what I said was true. After a moment, he shook his head as if to brush an insect away and tried to step around me. I stepped in front of him, putting my hand in the middle of his chest.
“Shooting video of dead American soldiers is not permitted. Ever.”
“You can’t cover this up,” Dropic said in frustration. “This is news.”
“It won’t be in a week.”
About The Sapper’s Plot
The last thing Master Sergeant Lauren Harper needs is another difficult mission. Her ordeal in Bosnia left her traumatized and worn out. But a soldier doesn’t get to say no to official orders.
At least this time she’s embarking on a humanitarian mission. What could go wrong?
Turns out, just about everything.
Harper travels with a group of Combat Engineers, also known as Sappers, to the tropical jungles of a Honduran village, only to find a gruesome murder. Cut off from the main base because of the hostile weather, Harper and a man she hoped she’d never see again, CW4 Fletcher Mayes, are forced to take charge of the investigation. Lurking in the shadows are sketchy-looking locals, insolent Sappers and an aggressive TV news team looking for a steamy scandal.
In the midst of it all, the arrival of Sergeant Major Harry Fogg provides some much-needed solace but also muddles her concentration.
Harper begins to think danger will find her wherever she goes, even in the deepest jungles of Honduras. At times, she feels her slightest movement will send her tumbling over a cliff—and heights are about the only thing Harper fears.
Get it on Amazon.
calls on her years of serving as an Army Reservist to write about women in combat boots. She co-authored the memoirs of two brave soldiers to ensure their stories keep their proper place in history. Her work with Spec. (Ret) Shoshana Johnson, an African-American POW of the Iraq War, was finalist in the NAACP Image Award. She also co-authored with Brig. Gen (Ret.) Julia Cleckley the story of her rise through Army ranks from humble beginnings and despite great personal tragedy.
Mary has written the three-book Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, and Limited Partnerships, a four-novella erotic romance series. Her latest release, The Bonding Blade, is the second book in her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series.
Mary’s essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in The War Horse, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Goodman project and O-Dark Thirty.