Series: Delta Force, #2
Author: M.L. Buchman
Pubdate: August 2nd 2016
SERGEANT RICHIE “Q” GOLDMAN: The smartest soldier on any team
SERGEANT MELISSA “THE CAT” MOORE: Newest on the team, determined to be the best
Rescued from an icy mountaintop by a Delta operative, Melissa Moore has never met a challenge she can’t conquer. Not only she will make Delta Force, she will be the best female warrior in The Unit, and woe to anyone who says otherwise. Technical wizard Richie Goldman is Bond’s “Q” turned warrior. A genius about everything except women, he takes point on the team’s most dangerous mission yet. When the Delta Force team goes undercover in the depths of the Colombian jungle, surviving attacks from every side requires that Richie and Melissa strike right at the heart of the matter…and come out with their own hearts intact.
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Few things are as much fun to write as group dynamics. When a character, or a person, is meeting someone new, they are typically far too aware, too self-conscious. It is when we know each other that communication gets interesting. Emotions travel closer to the surface, both the good and the bad.
Even better? Group dynamics under tension. The team introduced in Delta Force #1, Target Engaged, has been called back from the field to pick up a new assignment. That’s all good. But what they’re really waiting for is a new team member that no one asked for.
Kyle has gone to fetch them from the airport. And Carla, the first woman of Delta Force and Kyle’s wife, is not one to stand calmly by—especially not if some unknown bastard is being sent to replace her husband. It is a matter of conjecture, but it worries her.
Chad and Duane barely avoid becoming the target of her ire by pretending absorption in a competitive card game. Richie, the team’s tech wizard and the novel’s hero, isn’t quite so fortunate.
“You two are useless,” Carla snapped at them.
They both gazed at her blankly for several long seconds, grunted at each other, shared a shrug of confusion, and turned back to their game. It was well timed; she appeared to buy it.
Richie couldn’t help himself; he watched Carla as she stormed back and forth across the room.
It was a mistake.
“What are you looking at, Q?”—a moniker he’d been tagged with long before Delta. Which was too cool, because James Bond’s technical support wizard totally rocked. Richie had done okay identifying with Desmond Llewelyn, except that the guy had been old the day he was born. Richie had never clicked with John Cleese, but Ben Whishaw was awesome. Too thin and scrawny to go Delta, but still way cool. Richie checked online—no new trailer on the next film yet.
Besides, how was he supposed to not look at Carla? She was the first woman of Delta. She had long dark hair, a Bond-girl body honed fit by The Unit and half a year in the field, and features and skin tone that harkened back to her Cherokee ancestors. She was magnificent, way out of his league, and the most dangerous member of their team—with the possible exception of her husband.
Except Kyle wasn’t here at the moment to keep Carla from taking it out on the rest of them.
“I didn’t make any requests.” Richie recalled what he could of his handling-a-hostile-witness training. Not a witness, but definitely hostile in her current mood. Duane and Chad had chosen the dangerous tack of ignoring her. Yet it seemed to be working for them, perhaps because of the added variable of being members of her team, so they knew she wouldn’t hurt them without greater provocation.
Richie didn’t think the dumb-silent act would work for him, so he’d try interaction. Agreement with a witness may put them at ease, leading them to think that you are there to help them.
“It is puzzling though,” he tested carefully.
Carla stopped pacing and faced him directly, her dark eyes black with her anger, fist clenched where the butt of her sidearm would normally be.
Her attire was completely incongruous with her mood. She wore a light blue sundress that would fit in at the hotel and the local city streets, but still it looked damned strange on her. He was used to Carla in worn camo pants or jeans, boots, and a ratty T-shirt. The dress did look weird on her, but it also looked great. Once again he was left to wonder if he’d ever find someone so amazing for himself.
“The five of us”—Richie nodded around the room—offer the witness a supporting statement as if you are helping them. It is most effective when it is information they already possess. They will take their prior knowledge of that information as an internal recognition that they are the ones in control of the situation—“we were kept together after OTC graduation six months ago.”
Duane and Chad were eyeing him carefully from behind their cards. Ready to leap to his rescue if needed? More likely wanting to see just how much Carla might hurt him. Richie decided he was on his own and ignored them.
“It makes it hard to see why they’d bring in another person,” Carla finally spoke.
When the witness first speaks, you have developed a basic rapport. Pause to see if they will continue. Be prepared with another statement of support if they don’t. If they do, it will indicate a growing level of trust.
“If,” Carla bit at her words, “they try to put someone in charge other than Kyle, I’m going to murder them.”
Richie laughed in surprise.
Duane and Chad both came out from behind their cards now that Carla had finally revealed what was eating at her.
“What the hell, Q?” Suddenly Carla was right in his face and the pretty part of her now mattered much less than the dangerous part.
Breaking an initial rapport abruptly will increase a witness’s hostility by a factor of two to five times depending on the severity of your breach.
“Sorry.” Richie held up his hands defensively. “I just didn’t really expect our hostile-witness training to work on you. Now we get why you’re upset.”
“Hostile what?” The last word wasn’t a steam-whistle shriek, but rather low and dangerous. Then—the moment before Richie thought Carla was going to jump over the low coffee table and throttle him—she covered her face and screamed into her hands. She dropped back into a floral-brocade couch that completely clashed with her dress and groaned.
“Hey, Carla,” Chad spoke up. “Anyone tries to replace Kyle, I’ll send them down the garbage chute.”
Richie smiled—their second live mission as a team had required them to climb up one.
“I’m being a bitch, aren’t I?” Carla looked deeply chagrined.
“No more than normal, honey.” Duane made a rare dry comment.
“Sorry,” she mouthed at Richie.
He shrugged an easy acceptance. Carla’s rants rarely lasted long and they always had a reason behind them. It was one of her strengths in the field. Their cover would start to shred and Carla would just let herself go off, creating the perfect distraction and convincing the bad guys of her own authenticity right down to the core. Because she really did care that much. The bad guys just couldn’t read their own doom in her rants.
“Hostile witness?” Her wry tone brought some heat to his cheeks.
“Well, it worked.”
She tried to scowl at him but ruined it with a smile.
About the author
M. L. Buchman has over 35 novels and an ever-expanding flock of short stories in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year,” Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” and RT “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of the Year.” In addition to romantic suspense, he also writes contemporaries, thrillers, and fantasy and science fiction.
In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.
He is now a full-time writer, living on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing at www.mlbuchman.com.