“Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce our new intelligence analyst, Lieutenant Brianna Turner.” The team’s commander of operations, Judd Black, strode into the cargo bay followed by the most beautiful woman Monroe had ever seen.
She also happened to be the woman Monroe had hit on at the bar forty-five minutes prior. Bree, short for Brianna, short for Lieutenant Turner, short for the woman he could never hit on again for the rest of eternity. No two members of the same team could date, flirt with, sleep with, marry. Relationships between team members were strictly forbidden.
Commander Black continued. “I would have liked to have more time to work together before heading out on a mission, but this is too important, and we can’t wait.” Even as he spoke the cargo doors of the plane started closing.
Lieutenant Turner glanced around at the group of guys with her chin raised in confidence and a light smirk. Monroe saw that Bree knew in advance who was on her team and she bit her lower lip. Was that humor? How long had she known? Probably the minute everyone’s phones lit up while they were at the bar.
There were murmurs, chuckles and snickers around the group when they all recognized her as well.
“Ain’t that y’er little chickee pie who you got naked with earlier tonight at the bar?” Stone stage whispered to Monroe.
“I have not seen her naked,” Monroe said, a little too loud. Conversations halted all around him and he glared at Stone for implying he had.
Commander Black, the man they all feared through a healthy dose of respect, lowered his clipboard and raised his eyebrows. “Thank you for clarifying that, Captain. Didn’t realize you were dating anyone, but your personal life stays outside this airplane.”
“I’m just sayin’,” Stone said through his drunken stupor. “If you hadn’t kissed her, we wouldn’t be havin’ this conversation.”
“I didn’t kiss her!” Monroe threw his hands in the air, exasperated.
“You kissed her, man, I saw you,” Raymond said with a gleam in his eyes. Traitor.
“On the cheek.” Monroe pointed to his own cheek, then glanced across the room at Bree. “That was before I knew who she was.” His voice lowered with remorse and he sighed.
“Is there a problem here, gentlemen,” Commander Black asked. No one jumped up with an answer and Monroe took it upon himself to explain.
“Sir, a few of us met Lieutenant Turner at the bar earlier this evening.” Monroe took a breath and blew it out slowly. “Not realizing she was our new intelligence analyst, a couple of the guys… hit on her.” He mumbled the last few words.
Commander Black turned around to look at Bree with his eyebrows raised. “Will this be uncomfortable for you, Lieutenant Turner?”
“Not at all, sir,” Bree glanced at Monroe then back at their boss. “For the most part, they were gentlemen. And they didn’t know who I was any more than I knew who they were. I have faith that we can all be adults, and nothing will jeopardize our mission.”
Monroe’s shoulders softened and he fought every primal urge not to wink at her in response to her declaration. She was so beyond off-limits they could both lose their jobs if they so much as looked at each other wrong.
“And none of you have seen each other naked?” the commander asked.
“No!” Bree and Monroe insisted at the same time. Monroe pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. This was going to be harder than he thought, and they’d only known each other for an hour.
Stone stepped closer and wrapped his arm around Monroe’s shoulders. “I see Cap’n naked almost every day in the shower.”
Monroe shrugged out from under Stone’s arm and pushed him away. “You drunk idiot. Go sleep it off somewhere. We’re jumping out of this airplane in six hours whether you’ve sobered up or not, so I’d suggest you sober up.”
“I’d suggest we have a listen to whatever Commander Black has to tell us about this here mission,” Stone said, sounding more sober than he probably was. “Then I will find a hammock and sleep until y’all strap a parachute on my back and toss me out the side of this here air-o-plane.”
“Thank you for permission, Lieutenant Stone.” Commander Black’s sarcasm hung in the air.
“Y’er welcome, Commander.” Stone swayed a little as if they were already in the air and had encountered some turbulence.
“A captain from the 20th Special Forces Group is stuck behind enemy lines along with a small group of volunteer soldiers from a local Mayan tribe near El Pilar along the disputed border between Guatemala and Belize,” Commander Black said. “Tensions are high, and a rescue team would have to drive through Belize and past enemy combatants in order to reach our stranded brothers. We’re going to drop in on them and get those boys out.”
“What are our guys doing in Belize?” Monroe asked, folding his arms across his chest. The minute he asked the question, he knew exactly who was with the Mayan kids and his heart sunk. How could Henry be this stupid?
Bree interjected. “The local Mayan tribe has been terrorized by insurgents who have been stealing their women and children to sell them as sex slaves.”
“The boys from the 20th SFG are trying to break up a human trafficking ring?” Raymond asked.
“How did these guys even get on the radar?” Blake asked. “The National Guard doesn’t usually get involved in operations in Belize.”
“One of the Sayid princes went down there to meet up with a girlfriend and she told them about the tribe and the human trafficking,” Bree said.
“Those pretty boy princes who abandoned their country to become playboys in America?” Blake asked.
Monroe’s stomach plummeted. None of his team knew about his affiliation with the Sayid’s. He had a feeling they were all about to find out.
Bree continued as if Blake hadn’t interrupted. “That prince has an uncle in the United States Senate and pulled some strings to get the U.S. involved.”
“Senator Alejandro Cohen is their grandfather, actually.” Monroe spoke loud enough that most people in the room turned to him.
“Cohen? Any relation to you, Captain?” Commander Black asked.
“Senator Cohen is my grandfather as well,” Monroe said. “The Sayid princes… are my cousins.”