UPDATE: The winner is…Latifa Morrisette!
SEAL in Distress by Denise DeMarco
While dealing with an unwanted inheritance, a former SEAL confronts his toughest battle yet against an unexpected woman.
I’m one of those people who is plagued with curiosity. It seems like I wonder about everything. Is that a curse you share with me? You know, getting pulled into the rabbit hole that the Internet can become when you look something up… and then ending up spending hours going way beyond your original intention. Or asking Alexa (or your favorite AI device), so many questions that you swear it starts sounding annoyed when it answers.
On the plus side, endless curiosity means you find out lots of interesting information and fun facts. On the negative side, you baffle friends and family when you try to work those nuggets of knowledge into casual conversation.
When I saw the open call for submissions of stories to be considered for Silver Soldiers, I started wondering what I could write about. I always enjoy stories about Navy SEALs, so that’s where my concept began. Then I started thinking about what could cause a strong character enough distress to have a real impact on him. The answers to that question inspired his story.
I’ll always be grateful to Delilah Devlin for giving my story a place in this exciting anthology! I hope you’ll enjoy meeting my “SEAL in Distress.”
A snippet from “SEAL in Distress”…
It’s as hot in here as it is outside. Sweat is running down the back of my neck and under my shirt. What kind of crappy hardware store has broken air conditioning and a ceiling fan so poorly hung that it clangs and scrapes every third rotation? Floor tiles are scuffed and chipped, peeling in places. Ceiling is stained. Display racks look old. But the shelves seem well-stocked. Inventory doesn’t appear to be old, which indicates business is good. Rotating my head and neck to release some tension, I remind myself it isn’t my problem to solve. If the guy who owns this place wants it to be a ramshackle sweatbox, it’s his choice. Some guys just don’t take pride in anything.
The guy in front of me moves up a few steps. I watch as he shoves a bundled new extension cord and some other electrical-looking item under his left arm and uses both hands to smooth down hair that wasn’t messed up. In fact, from head to toe, the guy is dressed like he’s going on a date or something, not picking up stuff at the hardware store. He must’ve squeezed in this errand on his way to somewhere else.
I look past him to the man ahead of him in line. A long-sleeved dress shirt and tie? Who wears that to the hardware store? In this heat? I start looking up and down the line with increased interest. Usually, I’m very observant of my surroundings. For two decades, my life depended on it. But today, I’ve been so lost in my own head, I never noticed that everybody in line is a guy and that every damn one of them is dressed way too well for a quick run to the hardware store. The men of Appleton are a strange bunch. This place is even more boring than I originally thought if going to the hardware store is considered an event requiring careful clothing selection.
The line moves again, more this time. Two customers are in front of me, and the path of the line turns right and is hidden by other aisles of merchandise. The guy in the long-sleeved shirt is moving forward around the corner. He lifts his chin and grins big as he walks out of sight. A small sign dangling from the ceiling has an arrow pointing in that direction and says: Pay Here.
I look down at my dirty boots and focus my senses, particularly my hearing. I tune out the clunking of the ceiling fan and the general sounds of the store around me, focusing on sound to my right and in front of me. I hear a man speaking and a woman laughing. I suddenly realize I haven’t seen any women in the store. Strange, because women shop in hardware stores, too. Maybe not quite as often as men do, but it’s not the Stone Age.
The guy in front of me is staring straight ahead, shifting from foot to foot. Who the hell gets nervous in a hardware store? Suddenly, he rushes towards the register, clearly excited it’s his turn.
I take his spot at the front of the line, and immediately, it all makes sense. Slightly petite and much more than slightly curvaceous, perfect sense. The woman behind the payment counter is the kind of beautiful that makes you do a doubletake, and then probably sneak another look after that. Delicate features, big eyes, and full lips tinted a dark pink color. Or is that their natural color?
Her well-worn denim shorts are definitely worn well, with a dark blue and white bandana threaded through the belt loops. Her blue tank top has a round neck, not too low but low enough to highlight impressive cleavage. Long, dark hair is drawn up in a ponytail positioned high at the top of her head. She’s nodding in agreement with something the customer is saying as she turns around and climbs a track-mounted ladder to reach a high shelf on the wall behind the counter. The sway of her hair draws my attention to the bandana wrapped around the base of her ponytail, then the end of her ponytail draws my attention to the third bandana. Lucky number three is jammed in the pocket adorning the right side of her heart-shaped ass.
With a small box under one arm, she holds on with the other hand as she climbs down. I can’t help but notice how perfectly her legs are proportioned for her height and wonder how tightly she could wrap them around me. What can I tell you? It’s been a while. I notice she’s wearing small Timberland boots and has replaced the standard brown laces with bright blue ones.
She’s ringing up the other guy’s stuff, smiling politely, but her body language indicates she’s trying to hurry him up and move on to the next customer. She raises her voice to interrupt him, “Boyd, there’s such a big line today. Come back another time, and maybe it’ll be less busy, and we can talk more.”
Boyd obediently picks his bag up off the counter. “Why don’t we go out to—”
Poor Boyd never even gets to finish his sentence before she leans around him and signals to me, “Next!”
About the Author
Denise DeMarco, a lifetime New York resident, often uses her knowledge of the tri-state area in her stories. A genealogist, researcher, history buff, and collector of information about anything and everything, she creates stories from the heart from all that—plus lots of imagination and iced coffee!
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me whether you are the curious type, like me! Can you share an example?