All right folks here’s the first look at one of many deleted scenes from Until There Was You. If you like where this is going, make sure to preorder your copy today!
“What the hell happened, Captain Montoya?”
Claire Montoya stood at the position of attention looking at a point over the top of her brigade commander’s head and the smoke coming out of his ears. Okay maybe that wasn’t exactly true but Claire was trying to distract herself.
Otherwise, she might just piss her pants.
She’d had ass chewing before. Epic ass chewings. But never like this. Never this quiet fury mixed with utter disappointment from a man Claire admired and looked up to. He’d always been hard on her but she’d always performed. Always made him proud of her.
Now? Now she was ashamed. And humiliated because that Evan Loehr stood off to one side, looking completely self-righteous. She could not believe she’d ever thought kissing him was even remotely close to a good idea. The smug bastard had turned her in.
She should know better by now. Three years and two deployments had shown her exactly what Evan Loehr was made of. How could he stand there, looking so smug knowing he turned in one of his former platoon sergeants? Who knew Captain America was such a prick?
He was everything Claire wasn’t and the bastard made sure she knew it every time she walked into the room. He never laughed. He never took risks. He wouldn’t deviate from the plan if it meant he pissed down his own leg instead of veering off to find a latrine. How had the same war taught them both such dramatically different lessons?
Claire took a deep breath and tried to find the words to explain, in very simple sentences, the epic disaster at the weapons range earlier that day. “Sir, I had the wrong ammunition. It was my assessment that it was more important to get the soldiers qualified on their weapons than to worry about some civilian employee shutting us down because of the risk the tracer rounds held.”
There was that smoke again. Accompanied by a dark shade of purple creeping up Colonel Richter’s neck. It would probably be a bad time to ask him if he’s taken his blood pressure medication. Then again, he never really appreciated her sense of humor. Probably better to keep that question to herself.
“So you and the other Wonder Twin set Clear Creek Rifle Alpha machine gun range on fire because your assessment was that the troops needed to fire more than we needed to oh, I don’t know, not burn down Fort Hood?” His voice was deadly calm.
Claire felt two inches tall and covered in slime. Next to her, Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli, a man who had been her partner in crime since Claire had been a private more than a decade ago, shifted uncomfortably. The movement drew Colonel Richter’s gaze and his anger.
“Sarn’t Iaconelli, I’ve known you a long time and you’ve pulled some stupid stunts in the past but this is pretty much the dumbest thing you’ve ever done. What, were you drunk?” Colonel Richter shook his head and held up a hand. “Don’t answer that.” He took a deep breath. “I can’t believe I’ve got to do this.” He pinched the bridge of his nose then jabbed his index finger in their direction. “You two are going to Fort Carson. And you better not do anything to discredit this brigade or I will hang the both of you.”
Claire opened her mouth to argue. She had plans right here at Fort Hood. Plans that did not involve freezing to death in the dead of winter in Colorado Springs.
Colonel Richter slammed his hand on the desk, cutting off whatever she’d been about to say. “Not a word, Captain. I tolerate your flaws because you’re a natural tactician, but I have had it with your constant cowboy antics. You will go to Colorado and you will get our support company ready to deploy with the Palehorse Brigade and you will adhere to the plan for once in your life or I will personally end your military career. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes sir.” Her voice didn’t waiver but it was a close thing. Next to Colonel Richter, Evan lifted his chin. The only other sign of life was the slight flare of his nostrils as he inhaled slowly. Anger and humiliation wrestled in her belly at being dressed down in front of Evan.
“And you.” Colonel Richter turned his cold blue eyes on Reza. “You’re lucky to still be in the army.”
“Thank you, sir,” Reza said quietly. Claire wanted to punch him. Now was not the time for sarcasm.
Colonel Richter let the comment slide. “There are limits to what I’m willing to overlook. Do I need to say anything else?”
Beside her, Reza stiffened slightly. “No sir.”
In sync, she and Reza saluted and executed a rigid left face and marched from the office. The door closed quietly behind them.
“Well, that was fun,” she said as they walked down the hallway. “I don’t know about you but I lost about five pounds off my ass.”
“Meh. You’ve taken worse. Remember Iraq?”
Yeah, she remembered. That ass chewing had almost ended in court martial. Battalion commanders didn’t generally approve of captains violating orders in the middle of a battle. Good times. She looked up at Reza. He might not be standing there today if she had obeyed those orders. It was worth it then and it was worth it now.
Reza looked down at her. He’d been her rock her entire career and sure enough, he’d stood by her today. That kind of loyalty was hard to find. Claire didn’t do trust. Not easily anyway. The war had shown her too many people’s true colors.
But Reza had always been stalwart. No matter what.
“So. Looks like we’re going to Fort Carson,” he said.
“Pack your sweater,” Claire muttered. She was going to need more than her cold weather gear. She needed a full blown miracle because if Colonel Richter said he would end her career, he wasn’t kidding. She was like a cat on her last life.
And she was was well and truly screwed because for an officer, Claire was terrible at following instructions.