Book #10 Sample #02
“Can you fit me in before you go?”
Neil nodded. “I’ve been expecting you. Come on in.” He closed the flap after she entered, ignoring the Marine who took up a spot in the shadows. Marc knew why she’d come.
Angela took off her gun belt and drew in a deep breath. No matter how many times she faced someone in hand-to-hand, she always had the fear. It was tiresome to never be able to conquer it.
“Would you like to pick up where we left off or just go through the basics for this lesson?” Neil asked. “It’s been a while. You could probably use a refresher.”
“Which do you recommend?”
Neil saw her clenched fists and steeled himself to say, “You need a full workout so when you leave this tent, you’ll be too tired to be scared.”
Angela stepped forward and swung.
Marc watched the violent battle on the walls of the tent. Angela’s shadow was no match for Neil, but she had heart and skill, there was no denying it. Her small size was a detriment, however. If her opponent got a hold of her, she was doomed to lose.
Neil knew that too. He had been training her to avoid being grabbed, but he had realized that wouldn’t keep her alive. At some point, the enemy would get hands on her and then she would be hurt or killed. He was now teaching her to free herself from ugly holds and that meant grabbing her, dealing with her pain and flinches, her gasps and little cries of near-panic. Neil was able to get through it because he wanted these women to be able to survive, to win the battles waiting for them. Eagles or not, all Safe Haven women would eventually face a foe and they would only come out of it alive if they knew what to do at the time.
Angela wiped away tears, not missing the chunk of hair in Neil’s shocked hand. She slammed her head into his hard stomach, taking his air. Before he could recover, she kicked his ankle and took him to the mat.
Neil rolled and kicked, catching her in the shoulder.
Angela staggered, but didn’t let it detour her. She had the advantage when Neil was down.
Neil knew it. He kept rolling, but she stayed on his heels, delivering punches to his kidneys and neck that would have taken him down if she had more strength. As it was, he could only avoid the blows, not return them as she kept chasing him around the mat.
Sensing a turning tide coming, Angela tackled him, rolling them up in a nasty pin that should have ended in a sleeper hold. Neil himself had taught her the move.
Neil let her wear herself out trying to put him to sleep, knowing she needed the release, but he was honestly proud of her for getting him there at all. None of his team could unless he let them.
Angela let go and slumped back on the mat. “Like you just did me, right?”
Neil chuckled, not even winded. “Of course. Most people won’t be as guarded against it as I am. You needed to know how to follow through.”
Neil grunted. Her blood was on his hands and he wasn’t eaten up with guilt. It was almost nice.
“Like old times,” she wheezed, pushing up to walk the mat with her arms above her head. “Does this really work?”
Neil shrugged. “I’ve always doubted it. I think gym teachers just wanted to know where everyone’s hands were.”
Angela laughed. Now that she’d had a release, she felt better. “What about you?” She met his eye. “What can I do for you?”
Neil thought of the list of things he and Samantha needed and then shook his head. “We’re good, I think. It’s material, not emotional. I can cover that while we’re scavenging.”
“I’ll take care of her while you’re gone,” Angela promised. “You take care of yourself.”
“And Jennifer,” Neil added.
Angela didn’t smile. “Yes, coming back without her would not bode well for any of us.”
“Have you seen trouble?”
“No. It looks like the teams make their runs and get back without issues.”
“And the camp, while we’re gone?” Neil guessed.
Angela sighed. “There are issues that still need to be sorted out before we leave. Samantha isn’t involved.”
Neil frowned, hearing the tone. “But I am.” He frowned at Angela’s grim expression. “She’s coming back.”
Angela nodded. “Seth and Becky will be here in a few days, along with a bus load of dangerous children and Jeff, who now has a new goal and it isn’t this camp’s survival. With them will be Doug’s group. None of them wants to be here anymore, but they won’t have a choice once the refugee wave gets here. If they don’t go with us, they won’t make it off this beach.” Angela wiped her hands down her sandy jeans and headed for the flap. “Hurry back, Neil. We’ll need you home before that wave hit.”
Neil immediately began working on ways to hurry his team through their chores.
“You didn’t tell him all the other stuff,” Marc commented, falling in step as she began a round of the settling in camp. Behind them, the ocean gave gentle roars as the tide went out.
“Becky is Neil’s only weakness,” Angela stated. “Once he finally admits the truth and starts making amends, he’ll be able to forgive himself and move on. Samantha and the babies need that from him. Unfortunately, it has to be fast-tracked because of everything we still have to do before we can set sail. He’s in for a rough few days and then all four of them can be free of that mistake.”
“Will they be?” Marc was curious. He didn’t care much for or about Becky, but he liked Neil and wanted the trooper to at least be content if he couldn’t be happy.
“So do I,” Angela said. “But it will be up to them. Seth’s jealous; Becky’s ashamed and still attracted to Neil. Neil will always want to fuck her and Samantha know it, so she’ll always want Becky gone. If that couple goes with us, things could be messy for a bit.”
Angela nodded. “Of course. Becky is the woman scorned. As I’m sure you know, we’re quite capable of causing a fuss when irked.”
Marc laughed, but inside, he wondered if it wouldn’t be better for Angela to refuse them entry. When it came to being useful, Neil and Sam would win.
“For life on the island, sure,” Angela agreed. “What about a final battle where magic determines the fate of humanity?”
Marc hesitated. Neil wouldn’t be useful in such a fight as more than a spotter or sniper, but his shooting wasn’t good enough for that. Seth’s was and he had gifts. “Damn.”
“Exactly. The redheads are wildcards in Safe Haven’s deck. We have to be careful of flipping them, but their value is priceless.”