Tasked with finding and eliminating the source of terrorist pirate activities off the coast of Honduras, SEAL TEAM 10's Jack Fischer "Fish" goes undercover as a deckhand on a floating medical boat where he finds himself protecting and falling for the beautiful doctor who runs the show.
Devastated by an auto accident that took the lives of her husband and baby daughter, Dr. Natalie Rhoades, has dedicated her life to helping people who don't have access to good healthcare through her nonprofit floating medical boat. When she finds herself and her crew the target of a leftist guerrilla group, her new deckhand proves resourceful.
Jack and Natalie fight to provide the care needed to the underprivileged while battling an attraction neither thought possible as it heat intensifies in Central America.
“I wonder what you have to do to retire in a place like this?” Navy SEAL Corpsman Jack Fischer cut the engine on the jet ski, letting it slide across the crystal clear water and up onto the white sands of the beach.
“You have to either belong to a cartel or pay the cartel to protect you,” said a voice through the earbud. Swede, the computer guru and all-around electronic techie on SEAL Team 10, kept them connected through comm equipment.
“Just remember, Fish, we're not here on vacation.” Gator’s gruff voice rattled in Jack’s ear. Remy had been on SEAL Team 10 longer than Jack and had seen a lot more action. He’d taken Jack under his wing on his first day in the unit.
“It's hard to keep that in mind when the water's so clear I can see fifty feet down. I'd rather bust out my scuba gear and do some recreational diving." Jack adjusted his sunglasses. "You sure there’s not some old abandoned shipwreck we can’t blow up close by?”
“Save it for when we nail the pirates who've been stealing boats around here,” Gator said. “No doubt we’ll have plenty of action and opportunities to blow up shit.”
Jack stared out at serene blue waters along the coastline of Honduras. As smooth and calm as the bay was, this area had seen its share of trouble. In the past month, four expensive pleasure yachts had been hijacked and disappeared. Their rich owners had been taken hostage by leftist guerrillas operating under the name Castillo Commando. Most of the hostages had been ransomed and released, their ransom dollars used to fund the guerrilla activities.
In the latest attack, they'd stolen a yacht owned by wealthy American business owner William Bentley and his nephew. His high-powered political contacts included the Secretary of Defense, who called in the Navy SEALs to locate and recover the missing hostages and eliminate the leftist guerrilla pirates from the Honduran coastline.
Jack, along with a twenty-two-man team from SEAL Team 10, had been deployed to handle the mission labeled Operation Constrictor.
They'd located the scuttled yachts in a nearby island inlet, but hadn't found the hideout of the Castillo Commando. Their only lead was a few satellite images of a couple of boats landing on the bay of Trujillo around midnight the day Bentley disappeared.
The Secretary of Defense, along with Bentley’s wife, secured another yacht to use as a decoy loaded with Navy SEALs and complex intelligence-gathering equipment to help them recover the missing yacht owners and eradicate the guerrilla pirates. Four days had passed and no pirates had come or gone from the shores of the bay. They hadn’t taken the bait or even come out to sniff around.
“Some vacation, huh?” Jack said as he strolled along the beach, collecting seashells.
“At least you’re on the beach with half a chance of seeing women in bikinis,” Swede grumbled.
“All we have here are some kids playing and old men in fishing boats.” Jack stopped on the sand and performed a three-hundred-sixty-degree turn. In one direction were the old men and fishing boats. In the other was an empty skiff dragged up on the shore.
Jack lifted his hand to shade his eyes from the sun sinking lower over the jungle. At the edge of the sand in the shade of the jungle was a small gathering of dark-skinned locals. They seemed to be crowding around a group set up under a tent awning.
Curious, Jack set off across the sand to check it out, feeling a little naked without his combat gear or even a weapon as part of his attempt to appear as a bored, rich young man looking for something to do. Because he had the fewest tattoos of his SEAL brothers and he rocked a California surfer look that usually captured attention, he’d been chosen as the lure.
As he neared the gathering, he heard a voice call out in Spanish, “Please, wait your turn.”
Standing at the edge of the gathering, Jack noted a woman holding a child with a skin rash over his belly. Another woman held a little girl with long black hair who cried softly against her mother’s breast. A long jagged gash in her leg looked like it wasn’t healing properly.
A narrow gap opened in the throng, giving Jack a view of the focus of the locals’ attention. Three men and two women wearing scrubs sat on campstools with a folding table between them. One by one, they examined each patient, cleaning wounds, stitching lacerations and prescribing cleaning techniques. Some of the patients received shots, others pills, but they were all treated with a smile and gentle words and gestures.
A bald man in scrubs led a woman and a small child to a pretty medical worker with light brown hair and green eyes. She wore green scrubs and had her hair pulled back in a messy bun with tendrils falling around her cheeks.
“Dr. Rhoades,” the man said in English. “This child needs your attention.”
The woman smiled at the dark-eyed little girl who limped toward her followed by an older woman. When they got close, the child buried her face in the old woman’s skirt, crying.
The older woman spoke in rapid Spanish. “My granddaughter was bitten by a spider. Her leg is swollen and painful, and she is frightened of the doctor, afraid she will take her away from her family.”
Smiling, the woman with the soft brown hair and gentle face rose from the campstool and dropped to her knees in the sand, putting herself on eye-level with the little girl. She spoke quietly in halting Spanish, smiling gently.
Jack couldn’t hear her words, but he fell under her spell just as easily as the child.
The little girl nodded.
Dr. Rhoades spoke again.
The child and her grandmother both laughed.
When the doctor held out her hand, the little girl took it and allowed the doctor draw her onto her lap. She let the child listen to her own heartbeat through her stethoscope before she listened. Then she set the girl on the table beside her and examined her leg. By the time she’d cleaned and bandaged the leg, the little girl was smiling. Then she and her grandmother both hugged her and thanked her for helping them.
As Jack watched the line of locals slowly dissipate, he noticed the sun had slipped lower in the sky, making the shadows thicken on the edge of the trees. A shout caught his attention, drawing it away from the medical team.
Pushing his way through the remaining patients, a scrawny teenager spoke, waving his hands toward a dirt road. He grabbed a woman’s arm and dragged her in the opposite direction. He let go and took another’s hand and pulled her along, leading her away from the medical team and the dirt road that had him so upset. He turned back and ran toward the doctor, shouting hysterically.
Jack stiffened and glanced around, realizing he’d zoned out while watching Dr. Rhoades work with her patients. To keep the teen from reaching the doctor, Jack stepped in front of him.
The boy tried to dodge him.
Jack grabbed his arms.
The teen shouted something in Spanish but he was so distraught, Jack had a hard time understanding him. Two words stood out in the rest of his hysterical shouts. Castillo Commando.
As if someone pulled the plug on a sink, the remaining locals disappeared into the trees.
Frantic, the boy twisted until he broke loose of Jack’s hold and raced into the trees.
The doctor and the others wearing scrubs quickly packed their medical kits, folded tables and chairs and hurried toward the boat on the beach, glancing back over their shoulders.
“What’s going on, Fish?” Gator spoke in his ear.
“Not sure, but I think the Commandos are coming.” He stared at the shadowy woods, shocked not a single local could be seen. If he hadn’t observed them for himself, he would have thought the beach had always been deserted.
The sound of gunfire from the dirt road at the far end of the beach jerked his attention to the north. A truck sped toward the medical personnel.
Jack bolted for the jet ski. His gaze shot to the doctor's small group.
One man dropped back to get behind the female doctor. No sooner had he let her go ahead of him, he jerked and grabbed his leg. He dropped the chair he’d been holding and limped as fast as he could, leaving a trail of blood in the sand. The rest of the crew ran across the sand to the little boat and threw in the chairs and tables. They turned and helped the injured man into the boat and then pushed off as, one by one, they jumped in, landing at odd angles.
The doctor and the bald guy were the last to climb aboard and the water was getting deep.
“Go! Go! Go!” The bald guy yelled as he pointed toward the open water.
Dr. Rhoades dragged herself over the side of the boat and fell into the bottom.