Forget Me Not is the first of what is going to be a knockout trilogy. Gabe and Helen are a dynamite couple that set off sparks galore along with the fabulous secondary romance and intriguing characters that are interwoven throughout this well thought out novel that doesn't let you go for a minute. Forget Me Not will make an excellent gift to stick in a romance reader's stocking and a super way to introduce readers to Marliss Melton, a stunning new author."
-- Suzanne Colburn, Reader to Reader Reviews/Bells & Beaux of Romance
"Marliss Melton delivers the goods in Forget Me Not with her riveting plot, engaging characters and most memorable love story. Forget Me Not is an unforgettable read that will linger long in readers' minds and leave them eagerly anticipating book #2 In the Dark (2005) and book #3 Speak No Evil (2006) in what promises to be a best-selling trilogy!
-- Patricia Rouse, Rouse's Romance Readers Groups
Gunfire rained down on the four man SEAL squad, ricocheting off the concrete floor and metal walls of the warehouse in Pyongyang Harbor, North Korea. Bullets punctured holes in the barrels of crude oil stacked between massive metal containers, spewing slick liquid all over the floor.
Lieutenant Gabriel Renault, codename Jaguar, ducked behind a barrel as a bullet chipped the wooden pallet beside him. Who the hell? he wondered, his heart beating fast beneath his wet suit. Local tangos—-terrorists--weren’t likely to shoot up their own warehouse just to ward off intruders. Nor could they have seen the SEALs in the dark, camouflaged as they were to blend into the shadows.
Yet there were at least four shooters, positioned at opposite ends of the warehouse on catwalks that crisscrossed overhead. To have spied the four-man SEAL squad, they would have had to have night vision goggles similar to Gabe’s. And if that were the case, they were either lousy shooters, or they had no intention of killing the SEALs, only scaring them, which didn’t make sense if they were terrorists.
The executive officer’s anxious whisper floated through Gabe’s earpiece, sounding as uncertain as it did on the other scant missions he took part in. “Fall back,” he told them.
Gabe grimaced in disgust. “We need to secure the rest of the cargo, sir,” he reminded his senior officer. Christ, there were only four shooters; it wasn’t like they were outnumbered. They’d faced more serious odds in the past and still fulfilled their objective.
“Negative. We’ll be good with what we have. Repeat. Fall back to the SDV. Westy and Bear, do you copy?”
“Copy, sir.” It was Chief Westy McCaffrey, who sounded as pissed off as Gabe was feeling.
“Roger, X-ray Oscar,” Bear confirmed on a growl, using the XO’s call sign.
“You two take the south exit,” Miller instructed them. “Jaguar and I will take the west.” The message ended with a hiss of static that made Gabe flinch. He tapped his earpiece, concerned that his communication system, faltering for the last twenty minutes, had finally crapped out on him. “X-ray Oscar, do you copy?” he inquired, hearing nothing but static. “Shit!” He tapped the microphone three times, but no response.
At least his NVGs were working. He scanned the catwalks with the thermal sensitive goggles, spying an arm as it emerged from behind a steel girder and fired rounds in a random pattern, wreaking havoc on the barrels of oil, which emptied their contents in sluggish streams. Cautioning himself not to slip, Gabe backed out of his hiding place.
Leaving behind the fourth surface-to-air missile left a bad taste in his mouth. He finished a job, no matter what obstacles impeded the mission—and there was always something. Quitting now was an act of cowardice. Westy was a good enough sniper to take the tangos out, one by one. They hadn’t even tried a distraction, for God’s sake! Why carry smoke grenades if they weren’t going to put them to use?
He snaked out of his cover, flattening himself against the crate that housed the fourth missile. The fact that this surface-to-air missile, or SAM, was bound for the Middle East tomorrow meant that it might ultimately be used against the United States. Leaving it in this North Korean warehouse was not an option, in his mind.
With great reluctance, he slid his hand along the crate, feeling the rough splinters prick his palm. He rounded the corner and came face to face with his XO, and drew back in surprise. Miller was supposed to meet him by the out point.
Even with grease paint on his face, Miller looked nervous. The whites of his eyes shone in the darkness. “Let’s go,” he muttered, jerking his head toward the exit.
Gabe tried to tell him that his headset wasn’t working, but Miller had already turned away. Gritting his teeth, Gabe followed. Every muscle in his body quivered in frustration.
Suddenly, Miller pivoted. The butt of his Heckler and Koch flashed before Gabe’s eyes and made stunning impact with Gabe’s right cheek. Pain lanced through him. He staggered back, losing his footing on the oil-slick floor, and went down hard, the air knocked out of him. He tasted blood in his mouth.
What the fuck?
Miller bent over him, grabbed him by the belt, and turned him forcibly onto his stomach. Gabe struggled to inflate his lungs. He struck out a foot, landing a blow to the XO’s knee. The man cursed and grabbed him harder.
The pain in Gabe’s head seemed to swell, making thought impossible. What the hell is happening? He couldn’t get beyond the question. Why was Miller turning on him? A tie-tie, a plastic cuff, snared his left wrist, then his right. Blood filled his mouth. He spat out a tooth and sucked a painful breath into his lungs. “What the hell are you doing, Miller?” he growled, thrashing as the man groped in the dark to latch his ankles together.
Miller didn’t answer him. Through the waves of pain beating at his skull, Gabe was aware that Miller had immobilized him. The gunfire that had compelled their retreat had ceased. That held some significance, but in his pain-filled haze, Gabe couldn’t fathom what it was.
Miller yanked his head back. Gabe could feel a tremor in the man’s hands as he fumbled with duct tape. A sticky strip imprisoned his mouth, making speech impossible. He gagged on the blood that had nowhere to go but down his throat.
Miller released him and turned away. Gabe watched with dawning horror as the man stepped into the open and gave an all-clear gesture to the men on the crosswalks. Over the pounding in his head, Gabe heard their approach.
But his eyes were glued to Miller’s back as he grappled with the realization that his own XO was the one stealing weapons worldwide. For months now, SEALs had gone to interdicts various armaments, only to find them missing. And it was Miller who was stealing them. Weak-willed, sallow-faced Miller!
He could hardly believe it. But there he was, telling the shadowy figures around him to take the SAM in its packaging out the side exit and be quick about it.
Gabe fought to remain conscious, to identify the other looters. But the darkness hovering at the corners of his eyes warned him that he was about to pass out. Miller turned, looking at him one more time before he, too, drifted away, presumably to rendezvous with Gabe’s unwitting teammates.
Gabe lay with his left cheek in a puddle of oil. The NVGs had been knocked askew and were lying across his right ear. His arms and legs were bound. His mouth continued to bleed. He would never have the chance to tell the world who was stealing weapons.
For whatever reason, Miller had left him here to die. Why? It took a moment for his battered brain to supply an answer. It had to be the memo he’d found on Miller’s desk pertaining to the requisition of an additional sub. He’d queried Miller about it, thinking the man was too inept to know that one sub provided sufficient cargo space for four missiles. He’d never suspected his XO was plotting to take one for himself.
With oil oozing between his eyelids and into his Kevlar diving suit, Gabe heard a noise that made every hair on his head stand on end. Someone somewhere struck a match. And he realized, if he couldn’t find a way to get out of there, he was going to burn like coal doused in lighter fluid.
He didn’t know what was worse--burning alive or realizing he’d never have the chance to tell Helen he loved her.