I was sitting at my computer when my dive buddy Lieutenant JG Shaq Harman walked into my office.“What’s up, man? Are we still playing Ghost Recon tonight? Pizza or Thai?” Shaq asked taking the seat in front of my desk.
“Yeah, I’m up for it. You know Thai’s my favorite. I’m trying to figure out how to get into a computer so I can take a look-see and figure out what this tango’s up to.”“Who’s computer? That terrorist cell or those unfriendlies we’ve been watching for a few months?”
“Bella Juarez, she’s unfriendly all right. She’s spilling every damn secret we have here including what we do with our private playtime,” I said.
“Oh yeah,” Shaq smiled in understanding, “Captain, Badass and Master Chief start twitching every time someone says that name. Shit, I thought Badass was going to have a seizure a couple of weeks ago. So, what’s all the fuss? Some book she wrote?”“Some! It looks like from her website she’s writing a series, BlackOps Brotherhood. And twitching? Badass had a shit fit when he heard what she’d done to him in her second book. Apparently he’s the hero,” I said rolling my eyes.
Shaq started laughing. “Hero, huh? Ain’t we all? What was the scandal with Master Chief over all of that?”I laughed this time, “Master Chief has an account with BookStrand. They’re a romance e-book site, kind of like Amazon, only smaller.”
“Come back with that? An account did you say?” Shaq asked wide-eyed.“Apparently, Master Chief is a romantic, an erotic romantic.”
“Now that’s fifty shades of fucked up!” Shaq said screwing up his nose. “Hey! Hack his computer. Let’s find out what he reads.”“I’m miles ahead of you, buddy. I put a username and password capture program on his laptop when I did maintenance a couple of weeks ago. He hasn’t been anywhere interesting lately.”
“Check now,” Shaq urged.My dive buddy is like a brother to me but he gets me into so much trouble sometimes. I should’ve known better than to listen to Shaq. I should’ve listened to the voice in my head that screamed, STOP! ALTO! Danger Will Robinson! Did I listen? Nope! The temptation was too great and I just had to take a peek. One little peek wouldn’t hurt, I reasoned. It was just a peek…
“Bella’s book is supposed to be up for pre-order. I can’t remember when it was coming out, but I know it’s soon. I guess we could take a look and see if he’s ordered it yet,” I reasoned.“Well, yeah. You’re supposed to be watching her right?” Shaq said being a good enabler.
We managed to justify what we were about to do. Despite the voice in my head telling me not to go there, I opened the password capture program utility. I saw I now had the username and passwords for his bank and TriCare accounts, his personnel records, but nothing from BookStrand yet. I opened up the remote terminal window to his computer and watched him surf. He was reading his email and I wanted to stick hot pokers in my eyes when I saw what he was reading!
“EWW! Master Chief’s due for a colonoscopy on Tuesday!”“I could’ve lived my whole life without that picture in my head, Master Chief’s lily white ass sticking out, waiting to be probed. I’ve been traumatized. That’s some serious PTSD!” Shaq said shaking his head.
“Wait! He just logged into his BookStrand account! I knew her book was coming out soon.”Shaq jumped to his feet and stood behind my desk. We watched as Master Chief looked through the BookStrand site. Sure enough, he found Bella’s book and we found out it would be up for pre-order VERY soon! He logged out of the site and out of his computer.
“Did you get it?” Shaq asked with a wide grin.“Yeah, let’s log back in to BookStrand,” I said as I brought up the window with the password capture information. “Jasmine22?”
“What did you say!” Shaq roared.“Shush! Dumb ass! Shut the fuck up! He’s not that far away!” I snapped.
“Jasmine22, junkie4romance.” I said as I logged in not believing what I was saying.“Junkie4romance? Are you serious?” Shaq asked in shock. “Who knew?” He shrugged.
I looked around and found his bookshelf. Holy Shit, Batman! Master Chief was a FAN GIRL! And an avid reader! I guess all those lonely deployments had taken their toll after thirty years. He must’ve had a hundred books in his bookshelf. I shuddered when I found myself wondering if I would be this way in another twenty years? Gawd! I hope not!“Who’s that one there, Heather Rainier? He must have twenty books by her. What’s that one, His Tattooed Virgin? Divine Phoenix?” Shaq glanced at me with concern.
Heather Rainier and Cara Covington were at the top of his list! He also had a Corinne Davies on his list. I watched the covers of the books scroll past.“What the hell is Steampunk?” Shaq asked and I shrugged, I didn’t know what the hell it was. It looked sort of science fiction-ish. I had to admit, it looked interesting. Steampunk I might be able to read. When I got a look at the cover of the book, I was really interested.
“How many guys is that chick with?” I asked turning my head trying to figure out what the hell I was looking at.“Looks like two or three guys to one girl!” Shaq exclaimed, “What kind of kinky shit is Master Chief into?” Shaq asked screwing up his nose. “That’s some weird shit!” He said pointing to the screen.
“I don’t know about that. I guess it depends on your definition of weird…” I said with a shrug. I started to think maybe I needed to read some of these myself, you know, for research purposes. I looked at Shaq and frowned, “Should you be criticizing the weird shit people are into? Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle, black?”“Seriously? I’m not weird, you are!” Shaq said.
We looked back at the screen and then each other. We still couldn’t believe what we were seeing in Jasmine22’s Bookshelf.
“Look in that deep archive, right there. Cara Covington? Man, he sure likes cowboys doesn’t he? Wait! Right there!” Shaq said pointing.“Love Under Two Navy SEALs!” We both exclaimed at the same time.
“What kind of no good shit are you two up to this morning?” A voice from hell said from the doorway.Oh shit! Shaq and I both nearly jumped out of our skins at the sound of his voice. FUCKING BUSTED! It was a voice we still heard in nightmares. Master Chief not only works with us, at one point he trained us during our initial SEAL Qualification Training or SQTs and had been one sadistic son-of-a-bitch.
“Morning, Master Chief,” Shaq said.“Morning, my ass. You two are up to no fucking good.” Master Chief snarled.
“No! Not your ass, please, Master Chief!” Shaq begged.“What kind of no good shit are you two useless fuck sticks up to this morning?” Master Chief asked. "And stay away from my ass! It's off limits to you!" He said pointing at Shaq.
As Shaq and Master Chief were talking, I had slowly moved my mouse and clicked to close the BookStrand window for Jasiman22’s Bookshelf. I moved to close the password capture window and noticed Master Chief was eyeing me.“Stop right there! What the fuck are you up to?” Master Chief growled at me.
Master Chief knew. He always knew when we hadn’t done what we were supposed to do or when we were doing something we shouldn’t have. It seemed as if he had eyes everywhere. Even now, after all these years he could still tell.“I was following up on some tangos, Master Chief. I have to brief the Captain later this afternoon.”
“Uh-huh,” Master Chief grunted, looking between me and Shaq suspiciously. “I know you two motherfuckers are up to no good, it’s written all over you.”“Master Chief, you busted us. We were looking at porn,” Shaq said hanging his head.
“You know that’s illegal on a government computer, boys. Don’t let me catch you doing illegal shit like that, again,” Master Chief said reprimanding us.“Yes, Master Chief,” I said closing the password capture window.
Master Chief laughed and shook his head. He turned around and called out as he walked away, “You cocksuckers are lying to me, don’t think for one second I don’t know what you’re up to. Bella’s book will be ready for pre-order QUICK. Keep an eye out. If you can pull your head out of your ass long enough to see.”Shaq and I exchanged nervous glances. Whew, that was close. I felt like I had just dodged a bullet. Believe me, I’ve dodged bullets and didn’t feel like I was feeling now. This time, I actually saw all twenty-seven years of my life flash before my eyes. I sat back in my chair waiting for my heart rate to get back to normal. Shaq resumed his seat.
“I don’t know why I let you talk me into shit like this. You get me into more trouble,” Shaq said, shaking his head.“Fuck you! Get out of my office! You’re the one that started it!”
Shaq laughed and before long we both were rolling because we were laughing so hard. I guess we should laugh now because it was going to get worse before it got better. If Bella’s book was coming up for pre-order, it meant the book would be coming out pretty soon. This was not going to be a Merry Christmas for some of us. Bella’s first book had become unofficial required reading for our group. The cat was out of the bag and Badass was already in orbit because he had made an appearance in book one. As a matter of fact, a few of us had cameos in book one, including yours truly. I shuddered to think about what was in book two, Hostile Home Front. Things were going to get hostile all right. Poor Badass…
Hostile Home Front on pre-buy from BookStrand