Darwin’s Evolution

Sometimes retirement is a helluva lot of work…

Retired Marine Master Sergeant Sadie Hawkins is ready for a quiet life with her mother in northern Arizona. No more recon, no more shots fired. Hell, she might even give romance a try if she finds the right guy. Like the one asleep on her shoulder on the train.

Cyrus “Darwin” Finch retired from the Navy SEALs and now runs Ultimate Recon, a security, surveillance, and rescue company employing retired members of the four branches of the U.S. military. He’s on “forced” vacation and is supposed to relaxing, dammit. Until he meets Sadie.

When they discover a foreign enemy setting up a domestic retreat in Sadie’s backyard, romance and vacations take a backseat. There are no calm seas or clear skies with bullets flying, and no time for a Happy Ever After. But SEALs never give up and Marines never surrender.

This title is a re-release of a KindleWorlds title associated with the Hot SEALs KindleWorld. It has not been altered more than a new cover.

The announcement from the PA startled the man sleeping on Sadie’s shoulder and he froze, taking a moment to assess his surroundings. She understood this form of waking up, and remained still to give him time.

Eventually he turned his head and looked up at her with the most glorious hazel eyes she’d ever seen in a man. Or ever noticed, Hawkins. Most men were just men to her. Big, small, skinny, stout, clean-cut, shaggy, lumbering or graceful, they were merely the male of the species. She didn’t notice them unless they didn’t do the job required of them, whatever it was.

But the hazel eyes staring at her from no more than eight inches away held intelligence, amusement, chagrin, and unconscious beauty. And she fell into them before she could stop herself.

“Beg your pardon, ma’am.” The voice belonging to the man held warmth and depth as he righted himself. “I hope I didn’t drool on your shoulder.”

She shook her head, struck dumb with the intensity of his focus and the beauty in his face. She rarely looked at men as anything other than people she worked with, but somehow this man had stepped inside her circle of awareness and she appreciated him as a heterosexual woman.

When he raised his eyebrows at her silence, she cleared her throat and brought her wandering libido to heel.

“No, sir, I think my shoulder has remained dry and you looked like you could use the rest. I didn’t mind giving a fellow serviceman a safe harbor.”

His attention on her sharpened and it stole her breath as he scanned her scoop-necked t-shirt and denim capris. Yeah, she hadn’t dressed like a marine, but she still wore her hair in the tight bun at the base of her neck and her dogtags on a titanium herringbone chain around her neck. The chain was her one concession to vanity.

“You’re in the service, ma’am?” His mild drawl did things to her heart and pussy she’d rarely experienced, and she allowed the feelings to bounce around inside a little.

“Yes, sir. United States Marine Corps…retired.” It seemed wrong to say that, but she’d served her twenty and elected to move on.

“I thought marines never really retired.” He gave her a warm smile, mellowing some of his intensity.

“Oh, we don’t. But we have to say we do to keep the administrative types happy.”

He laughed and her toes curled in boots. They weren’t standard issue, but they were strong, sturdy, and had Vibram soles, and gave plenty of space for curling toes.

“Good to know. I’m U.S. Navy, retired. Cyrus Finch.” He held out his hand and she took it, feeling the weapons calluses on his palm. “Pleased to meet you…”

“Masteruh, Sadie Hawkins, once a marine, always a marine.” She’d been introducing herself with her rank for so long it came without thinking. Time to start thinking of myself as more than just a Marine. “Good to meet you to, Mr. Finch.”

“Well hell, I’ve already slept with you, you might as well call me Cyrus.” He shot her an amused grin that caused the whole toe-curling thing again.

Sadie laughed. “Was it good for you?”

“Yes, ma’am. Best sleeping I’ve done in a while, truth be told.”

The low rumble of the train slowed as they came around a bend in the tracks. Sadie and Cyrus turned their gazes toward the window. They’d been following the freeway, but now houses and other buildings showed up outside. The forest gave way to the town of Flagstaff and they rattled across the bridge over Route 66 before slowing to a hissing stop in front of the cute single building station.

“Well, this is my stop. It was nice talking to you, Cyrus.”

Sadie rose and gathered up her gear. She hadn’t gotten used to carrying a purse yet, but a sleek and stylish nylon pack worked pretty well for her personal items, including the K-Bar knife she kept from her time in the Marines.

“My stop, too. You stayin’ in town?”

She raised her eyebrows as he handed her the pack and gathered his own gear. “No, I’m headed out of town, but this was the nearest train stop.”

“Aw, damn, that’s too bad.” He gave her a rueful smile as he accompanied her down the aisle and out the door to the platform. “I would’ve liked to take you out for coffee and talk to you more since we’ve slept together now.”

A few people around them turned their heads and smirked when they heard his words, but she snorted and headed toward baggage claim.

“That’s kind of you, but I really need to just get my gear, grab my rental car, and head out.” She wanted to take him up on his offer, but she didn’t know him. And appearances can be deceiving. She’d learned that the hard way when she’d just come out of basic.

Cyrus opened his mouth to say more, but one look at her face made him close it and nod. “Fair enough. But hey, I’ll be in town for the next week, so let me give you my card and number, and if you’re around, we could meet up.”

He fished a card from his wallet and jotted down a number on the back before he handed it to her. She read the card.

Ultimate Recon: Surveillance, Security, and Rescue beneath an elegant logo of an eagle, lion, and ram’s heads underscored by a snake. She raised her gaze to him.

“Ultimate Recon?”

“Yeah, my company.” He shrugged. “It was the only card I had for my number.”

“And the animals? They’re sharp.”

He nodded. “Chimera company. Basically, we’re made up of the four branches of the military. Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Army.” He pointed to each animal. “Something for everyone with the skills to match.” He picked up his bag and shoved a cowboy hat on his head shading his eyes from the summer sunshine. “It really was nice to meet you, Ms. Hawkins. Please give me a call. I really do want to share that coffee with you.”

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