I enjoy writing novels in a series, something that seems to come naturally to me. I've created characters of SEAL Team 3 and then utilize secondary characters from one book and make them the hero in another. In real life, men join and leave the Teams all the time. So adding another member is not only easy, it mimics what happens in real life.
Though there is a real SEAL Team 3, the stories and the characters are purely fictitious. But, as one Team guy said to me, "If you can imagine it, it probably happened."
In SEAL Under Covers, I have a SEAL Sniper, SO Armando Guzman, who is unsure he is ever going to find true love in his life, like some of his other Brothers have. He has killed not only enemy combatants, but innocents, and this weighs on him heavily. Trust is an important issue to him. He tries to do his job without thinking about the mistakes he might have made. Thinking could get him killed.
On the heroine's side, I wanted to explore the realm of abusive relationships, where the heroine allowed herself to be charmed by and then caught in an abusive fling with a fellow cop. And what's worse, she has to work with this same man to complete the mission. In her own way, she is trying to do her job without thinking about how much this relationship damaged her. She's trying to prove to herself and her superiors that she is up to the task and can work effectively without letting her emotions interfere.
I have another five books plotted out in the series. We've planned a special vacation later this fall, on a cruise ship, which will be the setting for Book 4. But shhh, don't tell anyone, okay? Just between you and me.
The excerpt I've chosen today isn't from a love scene, about the hero and the heroine or even about the plot. Just a slice of life of some of the secondary characters. Gunny is a former Marine who owns an old run-down gym the Team Guys frequent, where the barbells are rusty and you throw them on the floor, not "place" them. Hope you enjoy this nibble from SEAL Under Covers:
Gunny greeted his son, Sanouk Wattanapanit, at the San Diego airport with Kyle and Armando at his back. Armando felt like they were standing in on the old former Marine’s wedding procession or an official award of valor citation. The tall well-muscled boy of twenty-two was handsome, with Eurasian features and smooth light brown complexion. But his ears identified him as one of Gunny’s offspring. The protuberances stood out and were probably as useful as large, flat handles on a bowling ball.
Gunny’s first words were, “Holy shit. You look just like your mother.”
Armando noticed the boy’s embarrassment as he bowed slightly and gazed down at his supersized feet, encrusted in torn canvas sneakers without laces. When he finally looked up, Sanouk’s smile became heartbreakingly respectful and contrite.
“Father, I have been waiting my whole lifetime to meet you.” His English was perfect, flawless, with just a hint of accent. He’d been well schooled, Armando thought.
“I’ll be goddamned,” Gunny blurted out. “I thought we’d have to be, like, doing sign language, and I was wondering how that was going to work out.”
Armando shared a smirk with Kyle, and knew his Team Leader had entertained the same thoughts. The sign language obviously hadn’t stopped Gunny from knocking Sanouk’s mother up, after he married her, of course.
As the awkward seconds drifted away, Gunny finally asked his son The Question. “So, how is she?”
“She is named Amornpan, and she is well. I have a stepfather she married soon after you left.”
This brought a scowl to Gunny’s face. He grunted acceptance and stepped back a bit when the boy came forward to give him a hug. The young man towered over Gunny by several inches, and though Gunny stiffly accepted the gesture, the boy tenderly held his biological father and patted his back. “Thank you for my life,” he whispered over Gunny’s shoulder.
Armando knew about the loss of a parent. His own father had been gunned down in the line of duty in Puerto Rico shortly before his mother moved him and his sister to L.A. Being the surviving family of a murdered cop wasn’t especially safe in Puerto Rico. Armando struggled with the loss all during his teenage years, years he did things he wasn’t proud of. He made it into manhood with an overwhelming need for revenge, and a desire to protect good people. It was stashed away in the back of the SEAL’s psyche along with his lost childhood. But, as limited as his own father’s time had been, he couldn’t imagine not having known his father at all, like this boy.
Gunny’s hacking cough interrupted his son’s hug. He pulled out a handkerchief with trembling hands, placing it over his mouth. “Sorry,” he mumbled, trying to hide bloody remnants of an earlier coughing attack.
Sanouk eyed the red stain on the handkerchief with alarm, and then drilled a worried look into the two SEALs. “You are my father’s friends?”
“Glad to meet you,” Kyle said as he extended his hand. “Perhaps you can talk some sense into your father. I’m Kyle.”
“And I’m Armando.” They both took turns shaking the boy’s firm grasp. Gunny continued to cough.
“You are unwell?” Sanouk asked his father.
“Rot of the flesh. Nothing more.” It was Gunny’s standard answer whenever he didn’t want to explain himself to a stranger. Armando hoped the coming days would give Gunny a new reason for living. He was hoping the boy could convince Gunny to go back to the doctor for treatment.
Crowds from the arriving planes were shifting all around the group. Sanouk picked up a computer case and slung it over his right shoulder. “I have bags,” he said as he started to follow the signs to baggage claim. Obviously, the boy was used to traveling.
Father and son walked next to each other in awkward silence as Kyle and Armando trailed behind. Sanouk carried himself like an athlete. His long limbs appeared powerful despite the lithe gait. Unlike other Thai men Armando had met, Sanouk had a western frame, not only in height, but thickness, too. And from the shape of his broad shoulders and long arms, Armando could tell he was in perfect physical condition and probably worked out on a regular basis.
“He’s not at all like what I expected,” Kyle whispered to Armando.
“Thank God he must take after his mother,” Kyle continued.
“Yeah. Except for the Dumbo ears.”
The two SEALs chuckled, causing Gunny to turn and give them a worried frown.
Armando thought it odd Gunny was suddenly lost for words. He noticed the side-glances the older man gave his son, checking him out whenever the boy looked elsewhere. Since Gunny had always been a loner, it was odd to see the early forms of attachment, the fatherly bonds Armando knew were unfamiliar to Gunny. He’d spent years making wisecracks about the women he had married and children he must have fathered.
The baggage turnstile coughed up Sanouk’s bags like one of Gunny’s attacks. Armando was surprised the two bags consisted of an overstuffed black duffel and a set of golf clubs, which Gunny tried to pick up but Kyle grabbed away from him.
Everything was piled into Kyle’s black Hummer. Sanouk rode shotgun admiring the vehicle. He was every bit the typical American kid, and when Kyle turned on some hip hop, Sanouk began to make some dance moves.
Gunny was breathing heavily as he sat next to Armando in the back seat. His eyes watered from the coughing or something else welling up inside. Armando guessed it was the latter. The old Marine couldn’t stop staring at his son.
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.