From the book
Patrick Air Force Base, Florida
"Kill one. Screw one. Marry one."
Major Liam McCabe almost choked on a gulp of the Atlantic as his pararescue teammate's words floated across the waves. Today's two-mile swim was pushing toward an hour long. A light rain pocked the surface faster by the second. Still, there was no reason to think one of his guys had gone batty.
Liam sliced an arm through the choppy ocean, looking to the side. "Wanna run that by me again, Cuervo?"
Jose "Cuervo" James swam next to him, phrases coming in bursts as his face cleared the water. "It's a word game. Kill one. Screw one. Marry one. Somebody names three women..." Swim. Breathe. "And you have to pick." Swim. Breathe. "One to marry. One to kill. One to-"
"Right," Liam interrupted. "Got it."
He would have sighed and shaken his head except for the whole drowning thing. At moments such as these, he felt like a stodgy old guy more than ever.
"So, Major?" Cuervo stroked along and over the rippling waves. Storm clouds brewed overhead. "Are you in?"
On monotonous swims or runs, they'd shot the breeze plenty of times to take their minds off screaming muscles. The distraction was particularly welcome during intense physical training.
This word game, however, was a first.
A quick glance reassured him the other six team members were keeping pace with him and Cuervo. Each held strong, powering toward the beach still a quarter of a mile away.
Feet pumping his fins, Liam shifted his attention back to the "game." His body burned from the effort, but he had plenty of steam left inside to finish up. He was their team leader. Their commanding officer. He would not fall behind.
"How about I just listen first?" Water flowed over his body, briny, chilly. Familiar. "Let one of the others start off."
"Sure, old man," huffed Cuervo, spewing a mouthful to the side. "If you need to save your breath to keep pace. Okay, Fang, you're up."
Fang, the youngest of the group and the one most eager to fit in, arced his arms faster to pull up alongside. "Bring it on."
"Topic for first three. Brad Pitt's women," Cuervo barked. "Gwyneth Paltrow. Jennifer Aniston. Angelina Jolie."
"Jennifer's hot." Fang spewed water with his speedy answer. "I would do her in a heartbeat."
Liam found an answer falling from his mouth after all. "I'd marry Angie."
"Too easy." Cuervo snorted. "You've been married three times, Major, so that's not saying much for Angie."
Which just left... poor Gwyneth.
But then he'd always had a thing for brunettes. And redheads. And blondes. Hell, he loved women. But he really loved brunettes. One brunette in particular, the one he hadn't married or slept with or even made it past first base with, for God's sake.
Focus on the swim. The team.
The damn game. "Cuervo, are we playing this or not?"
"Next trio up... topic is singers," Cuervo announced. "Britney Spears. Christina Aguilera. And Kesha."
Huh? "Who the hell is Kesha?"
"Are you sure you're not too old for this job?"
"Still young enough to outswim you, baby boy." Liam surged ahead of Cuervo. Swims were a lot easier on his abused knees than parachute landings or runs. But a pararescueman needed to be ready for anything, anywhere. Any weather.
Thunder rolled like a bowling ball gaining speed, and his teammates were the pins.
All games aside, this little dip in the rain was about more than a simple training exercise. More than team building. He needed his pararescuemen in top form for a mission they usually didn't handle-the external security for an upcoming...