About Rank & File
Senior Chief Will Curtis is as straitlaced as they come. While his fellow Sailors have partied their way through their enlistments, he’s had his eye on the prize—making master chief and retiring after thirty years of service.
Lieutenant Brent Jameson is a Navy brat turned Annapolis grad. He’s lived and breathed the military his whole life, and he knows he’s destined for great things—once he’s done paying his dues at the bottom of the ladder.
When their paths cross, both men know better than to give in to temptation, but that doesn’t stop them. It also doesn’t keep them from coming back for more, even though being discovered would sink their careers. Something has to give—Will can retire, Brent can resign, or they’ll both face court-martial.
But there’s also the option neither wants to acknowledge: jump ship and walk away from each other instead of ending their careers over a fledgling relationship. And they should probably decide before they fall in love.
Now available from Riptide Publishing! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/rank-and-file
Excerpt From Going Overboard, Anchor Point #5
(This is an unedited excerpt and may differ from the final version.)
“You know, with as much money as the Navy spent to send your ass to coxswain’s school,” MA2 Rhodes said as she put on her police belt, “you’d think someone would actually let you drive the boat once in a while.”
“No shit.” I scowled and slung the M4 rifle over my shoulder. “As long as Chief Lasby’s golden boy is running our section, though . . .”
She frowned, but said nothing. What was there to say? Chief Lasby played favorites, Chief Lasby ran Harbor Patrol, and Chief Lasby thought MA1 Anderson was the Second Coming. The fact that Anderson was only a basic coxswain and I’d graduated Level II coxswain’s school at the top of my class and could drive that fucking boat in my sleep didn’t mean a goddamned thing because the dirt bag was our Lead Petty Officer. And the only reason he was our LPO was because he outranked us all, which was because Chief Lasby had given him a glowing eval he totally hadn’t deserved. Not that I was bitter.
Between the extra chevron on Anderson’s uniform and how deeply his nose was planted between Lasby’s ass cheeks, he got to call the shots when we went out on patrol. And his call was . . . he drove while I carried the gun.
I adjusted the sidearm strap around my thigh. “Think we’ll at least get the Metal Shark up and running soon so we don’t have to bring the rifle anymore?”
Rhodes snorted with laughter. “Senior Chief Curtis has been after Port Ops for months to fix that stupid boat. At this rate, we’re going to break the little boat too, and then we’ll have to . . . I don’t know. Patrol the harbor in a kayak or something.”
“Don’t even joke about that,” I groaned. These days, there wasn’t much I’d put past our command.
I gazed out the Harbor Patrol Unit building’s second story window at the boats below. The wind was brutal today, rattling the windows and even the walls of the mostly concrete building. The usually calm water of the harbor was rough as hell, waves slamming into the seawall and tossing our boats hard against the pier.
In the slip closest to shore was the Metal Shark—the biggest, most capable vessel we had. I loved those boats. They could turn on a dime and they hauled ass, and they were pretty stable even in rough waters. Unfortunately, ours had been out of commission for . . . hell, no one even knew anymore. I’d been here almost a year, and I was pretty sure I’d only seen that bad boy leave the pier twice.
With that boat still waiting for repairs, and the larger fast boat on reserve in case of emergency—and because it was too expensive to operate on a daily basis—we were stuck with the piece-of-shit smaller craft, which was currently out on patrol. It was tiny, rickety, and didn’t steer for shit. It could haul ass, which was good, but it didn’t maneuver nearly as cleanly as the Metal Shark. And that was in calm waters.
The best part? Since it was a small craft, it couldn’t support a mounted machine gun like the Metal Shark. Since we had to have at least one large weapon when we patrolled, we had to go with the next best thing—the hand-carried M4 currently hanging off my shoulders. All eight-plus pounds of it. On top of the heavy vest. And the trauma plates. And my loaded sidearm. And my boots. And my police belt. I didn’t even know why they bothered having inflators in our vests. Didn’t seem like they’d really help when we were weighed down like fucking anchors.
I shifted my attention out to the mouth of the harbor, and beyond. The green water was churning violently, the swells making me a little queasy even from here. I wasn’t prone to seasickness, but I knew what seas like that could do to a boat. My nausea was nerves, plain and simple.
We shouldn’t be out on the boat. Not tonight.
I shifted my attention to the sky. We had about an hour and a half of daylight left. Going out in this weather was dangerous enough. As our visibility faded with the sun, it would only get worse. Going out for night ops in these conditions on that boat was suicide. Plain and simple.
But the powers that be insisted. After all, what better time for terrorists or something to infiltrate our harbor than while we were hiding from the elements?
Rhodes appeared beside me, gazing out the window as she fussed with something on her belt. “You know, it’s actually a good thing you’re the gunner today.”
I glared at her. “Why’s that?”
“Because if I had the rifle, I’d probably club Anderson to death with it.” She nodded at the parking lot below us, where Anderson was having a cigarette with Chief Lasby.
I turned away in disgust and pressed my back against the window. “One more year, and he’s not our problem anymore.”
“Yeah.” She sniffed bitterly. “Assuming he doesn’t get an extension and stay here. And even when he transfers, we’re still stuck with Lasby.”
I shot her another glare. “You are one gigantic ray of sunshine today, you know that?”
She smiled brightly and patted my shoulder. “That’s me.”
I couldn’t help chuckling even as I rolled my eyes. “Come on. The boat’s on its way back in.”
We didn’t speak as we clomped down the stairs and went outside into the vicious wind. Being February, it was cold as balls even without the wind and sea spray, and it was just getting colder.
“Holy shit.” I almost choked on the words as I walked. I’d been out here an hour ago, and damn but the wind hadn’t been this strong. We both had to shield our mouths and noses just to breathe. At the edge of the parking lot, the American and Navy flags were snapping and whipping in the wind, the chains pinging loudly against the poles. In this kind of weather, the flags shouldn’t have even gone up, but as with everything, it wasn’t my call to make. I just hoped neither of them broke off and wound up in the water. The seas were way too rough to try to rescue anything, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out who’d be the one leaning over the side to fish out the ruined flag while Tweedle Dipshit was at the helm.
I shook myself and continued down to the pier. Up ahead, the boat was on its way back in, and I couldn’t help feeling a little better. My best friend was aboard right now, so we’d get a minute to cross paths while his crew turned over the boat to mine.
I stopped near the slip and watched them battle the waves to park the boat. As the ass end swung around, I caught sight of him, and my heart did a little flip.
There you are.
MA2 Chris Ingram and I had been close since coxswain’s school, and I’d secretly had the worst crush on him. Not just because he was the sweetest guy I’d ever met, but because dear God, he was gorgeous. Our base hadn’t yet switched over to the new green camouflage, so we were still wearing blue, and I loved how it looked on him. Something about the color made his black skin look even darker and brought out the warm brown of his eyes. The cut of the uniform made his shoulders seem broader and his arms seem bigger. The rest of us looked like shit in these things, but trust him to look good even when his police belt masked his narrow hips, which I’d memorized a long time ago anyway.
It didn’t hurt that he was built like a brick shithouse. He and I were about the same height—six-one, give or take—but he was definitely bigger. And so, so hot. Especially with that black vest over the top of his camouflage and the laced-up black boots and—
And I tore my gaze away before someone busted me. Last thing I needed was Lasby catching wind that I was checking out another MA. I was out and everyone knew it, but it didn’t hurt to fly under Lasby’s radar as much as possible. He was one of those homophobes who wasn’t obvious about it, but wasn’t all that subtle either. A few comments here and there about marriage equality, DADT, and our senior chief’s recent wedding had been enough for me to read between the lines. Besides, Chris was straight. I didn’t need him to bust me ogling him and get uncomfortable.
The boat finally lined up with the pier, and Chris tossed me a line. Rhodes and I helped him and his crew tie the lines, and in a matter of minutes, it was secured. The crew disembarked, and they were all a little unsteady on their feet. None of them were new to being out on the water, either—Chris and MA3 Powers had better sea legs than I did. If they were that wobbly, I was fucked.
Well, this is going to be a fun watch, isn’t it?
I smirked despite my nerves. “You boys doin’ a little drinking out there?”
“I wish.” Chris’s dark skin actually looked a tad green, and he eyed the pier like he was trying to find a spot to heave over the edge. “Man, those waves are no joke today.”
“Great. And Mario Andretti over there is driving.” I motioned toward MA1 Anderson, who was sauntering down the pier.
Chris’s eyes widened. “You’re shitting me. Again?”
Sighing, I nodded. “Yeah. God help us all when he gets back from Level II school.”
Chris snorted. “They’ll boot him out of there the minute he gets out on the water.”
I held up my hand, my gloved fingers crossed.
He didn’t laugh. Stepping closer, he lowered his voice. “I’m not kidding about those waves out there. And with as fast as he drives?” His lips pulled tight. “Don’t let him go out of the harbor.”
“In this weather, even I wouldn’t try open seas.”
“But you know how Anderson likes to do his outer harbor sweeps.”
I rolled my eyes. “Fuck. Well, hopefully even he’s not that dumb.”
The quirk of Chris’s lips told me he was pretty sure Anderson really was that dumb. “Be careful out there.”
Going Overboard is available for pre-order.
About the Anchor Point Series
Welcome to Anchor Point!
Nestled on the northern coast of Oregon, this small town is home to Naval Air Station Adams. On base, you’ll find freshly minted Sailors who’ve just graduated boot camp, salty officers counting down till retirement, grounded pilots who’ve landed behind desks, and everyone in between—and they’re all looking for love. Well, not all of them, but that won’t stop love from finding them.
So pull up a barstool, grab a beer, and get ready for some sea stories as these men in uniform—or not—navigate the waters of love and life in the military.
Anchor Point stories can be enjoyed in any order. Hop in wherever you'd like!
About L. A. Witt
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…
L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).
To celebrate the release of Rank & File, one lucky winner will receive their choice of two eBooks off L. A. Witt’s backlist (excluding Rank & File) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 30, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!