A young Marine shook Jared Armstrong’s shoulder. “Master Sergeant, sir, wake up. We’re making an unscheduled landing in the Caribbean.”
Jared came awake like a cat, fully alert and ready for anything. “Emergency landing? Or a change of plans?”
The Private shook his head. “Sorry, sir. I’ve no idea. The co-pilot just stuck his head around the cabin door and told us to buckle up for a landing.”
Jared gave a slight nod, stretched his long legs in front of him, and closed his eyes. His missions had taught him to snatch any moment of rest he could. “Probably not an emergency then.”
The engine whined and the military plane made a steep descent. Jared’s ears popped, but he swallowed and said nothing. A few moments later, they landed on a Military airstrip. The pilot dropped the rear ramp and Captain Randall, an officer Jared had served under in the Middle East, strode inside. “Master Sergeant Armstrong, front and center.”
Jared uncurled from the seat, pulled himself up to his full six-feet-six-inches, and saluted. With his dark hair, more muscles than most people could dream of, and a brown-eyed gaze cold enough to freeze water, he emanated danger and menace. The long flight back to Jacksonville had been uneventful, and he’d looked forward to being back on American soil. Ten years as a military sniper had left him weary.
Captain Randal returned the salute. “At ease, sergeant. Good to see you again. There’s a helicopter waiting for you. Don’t worry, your luggage will be delivered to your quarters in Jacksonville.”
Jared followed the Captain in silence, waiting for an explanation of why the military powers-that-be had pulled him off the transport. The driver revved the engine as Jared swung into the rear passenger seat. Captain Randal jumped in beside him. ”No time to brief you. The co-pilot will tell you everything once you’re airborne. Sorry to delay your demob, but it’s only for a few hours.”
The driver raced over the tarmac toward a waiting chopper. Jared guessed they needed someone to take a killer shot. His comrades on active duty had nicknamed “the man who never missed.”
After serving ten years in the Marines, Jared was ready to return to civilian life. He’d studied for a Business Administration degree in his downtime, and now he planned to use his knowledge to start his own business. For the last two years, he’d saved every nickel he could, only buying the occasional beer and renewing his membership of his BDSM club. He’d scraped together enough cash to buy some top-of-the-range carpentry tools and put down the deposit on a workshop.
Soon Armstrong’s Bespoke Kitchens would be a reality, not a distant dream. He’d be his own boss and create one-off high-end kitchens. Money would be tight at first, but he’d still manage the occasional visit to Masked Night’s BDSM club. Last time he’d been home, about two years ago, he’d spotted a sassy sub in in pale blue catsuit and mask. He’d fantasized about spanking her bare ass ever since.
The jeep jerked to a halt alongside a Cobra Attack Helicopter. It already had its rotors running. Jared nodded toward it. “My transport, sir?”
Captain Randal climbed out the jeep. “Get aboard, soldier.”
Jared jumped to the tarmac, saluted, and swung easily into the chopper’s backseat. An M27 assault rifle lay on the seat. Once he’d put on headphones, the pilot took the chopper airborne.
The co-pilot twisted in his seat and gave Jared a thumbs up. His voice came loud and clear through the headphones. “Welcome aboard. We’ve been tracking a couple of drug runners on a speedboat for about four hours now. We have a four Coastguard vessels in pursuit, but Captain Randal thought some overhead firepower might make boarding easier. It’s lucky you were passing by since the local barracks are down with the squits. Right now, their sharpshooters couldn’t take a shot to save their lives right now.”
Jared grinned. “Good job I’m here then.”
He took the rifle apart, checked over the pieces, and put it back together. “Everything looks in order here. How long until we engage the target?”
The pilot answered this time. “Half an hour, tops.”
Jared stared down at the Caribbean. After a tour in the Iraqi desert, the sun shimmering on the water was the most welcome sight he’d seen in ages. It made him think of the sub in the bright blue catsuit. Recently, everything reminded him of her. Rifle across his knee, he dozed with his eyes half shut.
When the chopper hovered over a speedboat, he sat up—all stillness and intense concentration. “Do you want me to put some warning shots across their bow?”
The co-pilot gave him the thumbs up. Jared unleashed a string of shots in a straight line, making water jump up and ripple in white-topped whirlpools in the speedboat’s path. As he reloaded the boat swung around and raced away. “Hold the chopper steady, I’m going to condition one.”
He locked and loaded. Staring down the sight, he targeted the boat’s engine. His breathing deepened. His eyes narrowed. Time stilled. He waited until his pulse slowed then exhaled and held his breath. Gently, as if caressing a lover, he squeezed the trigger.
A plume of fuel bust from the speedboat’s engine. It flew into the air like steam escaping a geyser. The boat engine stuttered and stopped. Two US Coastguard vessels approached it, but one of the drug dealers opened fire. Jared aimed again, but the shooter had ducked into the cabin.
Calm and still, his body on a hair trigger, Jared waited.
Gun in hand, the shooter raced from the cabin toward the rear. Jared fired again. The shooter clutched his shoulder as he tumbled from the deck. He fell in slow motion, hitting the sea with a splash. The boat slowed, gradually coming to a standstill. Its driver stepped on deck, his hands high in the air.
Jared settled back in his seat. “I thought you might want the shooter alive. The bullet won’t kill him, but his blood in the water might. Someone better pull him out before those sharks get him.”
As the pilot turned back toward base, the co-pilot gave him a thumbs up. “Great shooting.”
Jared unloaded the M27. “This’ll need a good clean.”
Through the headphones, the pilot told him, “That was one hell of a shot. Well, they both were, and they saved lives. It’ll be my honor to clean your gun, Master Sergeant. Good thing you were passing by.”
Mission complete, Jared relaxed. As tension flowed from his shoulders, he thought about his new business venture and that sassy kitty-kat he planned to spank soon.