To Protect and Serve
Excerpt from book:
The Sierra Nevada, California
One point six degrees is all that stands between us and death."
There was complete silence from the nine snipers USMC Master Sergeant Tristan Michaels was training on a mountaintop in the Sierra Nevada. They knew all this information, but there was nothing like driving it home.
"At 97.0 degrees there's mental impairment, poor judgment. One degree is all it takes to lead you to death's door. At 86.0 degrees, there's no more shiveringthere's coma and lights out."
The frigid air and this trek into the clear, cold mountains drove home the truth of Tristan's lesson today. He exhaled, the heat from his breath fogging the air, and there it was again
that feeling, a heaviness in the pit of his belly and in his head, too, the backs of his eyes hot, a weight across the nape of his neck. As a member of Force Reconnaissanceknown as both Force Recon and FORECONTristan heeded his gut feelings.
He'd felt this off-balance sense right before a battle, right before an explosion, as if the molecules of air were bracing themselves for conflict. With the snow-covered trees and the heavy snowfall, these training grounds were far from a winter wonderland.
All of those millions of lace-patterned water drops piling up on top of each other
The sound of it had a way of impeding hearing, just a bit, with a tone that came from everywhere and nowhere while creating a strange sense of urgency.
It felt like a pent-up breath.
It felt as if something was about to happen.
The only worry on his mind right now wasn't that these guys wouldn't hit their targets. It was about survival, as they were going to be out in these conditions for the next three days with no tents in the middle of January.
Crouching in the snow, Tristan said, "You all face a unique situation when you're sniping in this environment. The cold weather acts as an adversary that can be as deadly as an enemy soldier."
The intent young faces hung on his every word and he emphasized enough the first day of class how he would be their savior, his words were gold and he was the god of winter. Freaking Jack Frost had nothing on him and Old Man Winter was just blowing smoke.
"Every time. Every time you pit yourself against the elements, it's about survival. Regardless of the job you do, staying alive is all that matters. When we started out, it was clear and sunny"
"Yeah, sir, it was downright balmy," one marine said down at the end of the line, and everyone chuckled.
"We can go skinny-dipping later," Tristan said, deadpan. "As I was saying, clear when we arrived, but always prepare yourself for blizzard conditions."
Jerking down his bark-colored cap covering his dark hair, he went to one knee and sighted his own scope across the tree-lined terrain. "Tell me why cold is a greater threat to survival," he said, his breath fogging the air.
"It decreases your ability to think," one marine replied. "It weakens your will to do anything except to get warm."
"It sucks moisture, and dehydration is a threat."
"Good answers," he said. "But remember this, if you forget everything else. Cold makes it very easy to forget your ultimate goalto survive."
Tristan didn't have to instruct these men on how to shoot a target. They were all seasoned snipers, but there was still a 10 percent washout rate for this class. One shot, one kill was their motto. His job was to teach them how to shoot in this terrain and at steep angles and how to survive against the insidious cold. He'd done both numerous times.
"Your target is the normaA battle-hardened marine and a driven NCIS agent join forces to survive
Though survival training is Master Sergeant Tristan Michaels's specialty, one of his students has been murdered. And sharing quarters with the ravishing NCIS agent sent to investigate is a challenge his expertise hasn't prepared him for. Tristan has his reasons for distrusting NCIS agents, but Amber Dalton is stirring unwelcome feelings of a different kind
Despite the fierce attraction between them, Amber is determined not to let it distract her from the mission. But when they're captured by the killers, escape means combining forces and daring to survive freezing mountain terrain.