Some of you have asked to see an excerpt from my writing.  When I first wrote this book, it had a prologue.  As I learned more about writing I realized the prologue was back story and didn’t move the story along.  So I dropped it.  But it’s back story that really gives an insight into the characters so today I polished it up and am letting you see it.

The Turning Point

Dan Lawrence grabbed the pager vibrating on his hip.  His chest tightened when he read the number.  “I’ve got to call Lara,” he told the men gathered around the table.  “Something must have happened to one of the kids.”

“Use the phone in my office,” his commander said.

Dan nodded and ran into the next room.  His hands shook as he punched in Lara’s number.  “What’s wrong?” he barked as soon as she answered.

“What’s the phrase they use to tell the trainees in BUD/S they’ve passed Hell Week?”

“You sent me a 911 page to ask me that?  Are you out of your mind?  I was in a briefing.”

“I don’t give a shit about your briefing.  Joey and her band of Junior SEALs are sitting in the ocean and won’t come out.”  Lara’s voice shook.  “What’s the phrase?”

“You’re their mother.  Tell Joey you outrank her and to get out of the damn water or she’s grounded until she’s 30.”

“Didn’t work.  Tell me the freaking phrase.”

“Secure.  Tell them they’re secure.”   He sagged against the desk as he listened to Lara scream the phrase at their ten-year-old daughter.  It was November.  The Atlantic was too damn cold.  The kids would catch pneumonia.  What if Joey didn’t—

“They’re out.”

“You need to get them back to the house and into a warm tub.  Make sure they strip off the wet clothes—”

“I know the drill, Lieutenant.  Go back to your briefing.”  Lara hung up before he could say anything else.

Dan dropped the phone into the cradle and rubbed his eyes.  God, how many of the eight kids in Joey’s little band had followed her into the water?   He didn’t even need to ask to know their son Danny was one of them.  He followed Joey everywhere.

“What happened?  Are the kids all right?”  Commander Dave Crowther asked.

Dan straightened and turned to face him.  “For now.  Evidently Joey decided to take the Junior SEAL training a step further.  She had the kids doing surf torture.”

“Surf—” Dave’s eyes widened.  “Please tell me it was in a kiddie pool in the backyard.”

“Nope.  The ocean.  If Joey is going to do something, she goes all the way.  Too bad I didn’t remember that when she started building the obstacle course in the backyard.”

“Lara’s going to give us hell for telling the kids all those BUD/S stories isn’t she?”

“Oh, yeah.”  Dan blew out a breath.  “What am I going to do with her, Dave?”  He didn’t have to specify who.  Dave was Joey’s godfather.  He knew her almost as well as Dan.

“I bet she checked the water temperature, calculated how long it was safe for the child with the lowest body mass to stay in and based her plans on that.  It’s been a warm fall.  The kids probably won’t even catch a cold.”

“I’ll be sure to tell the other parents that.  Maybe they’ll just forbid their kids to play with Joey and won’t demand that the police arrest Lara and I.”

“I wonder what percentage of the kids who started the training with her six weeks ago made it through the course.”

Dan grimaced at his friend.  “I’m afraid to ask.”


“Did you get grounded too?”

Joey glanced up at her brother.  He sat halfway up the stairs clad in warm flannel dinosaur pajamas and a green robe.  His curly red hair gleamed in the reflected lights from the Christmas tree in the living room.

“Danny, Mom and Dad sent you to bed.  If they catch you out here, they’re going to add to your punishment,” she whispered running up the stairs to his side.

“I was waiting for you.”  Danny slipped his hand into hers.  “It’s okay, Joey.  A week isn’t too long.”

She sat down beside him.  “Three weeks.  I’m grounded until Christmas Day.”

“Three weeks,” Danny’s voice squeaked.  “That’s not fair.”

“Yes it is.  I’m the oldest.  I should have been setting a protecting you and setting a good example not leading you into a dangerous situation.”  She blinked back tears.  “Dad said a leader should make the safety of his men his first priority and I didn’t do that.  I’m sorry, Danny.  I didn’t meant to get you and the other kids in trouble.”

“We all agreed to the plan.”  Danny patted her on the arm.  “If we hadn’t finished this week out we would have failed.  But we all made it, Joey.  Nobody quit.  We all made it through Hell Week, how many kids can say that.”

Joey tried to smile.  “As far as I know, we’re the only ones.  But it wasn’t the real Hell Week.  We were just pretending.  There is no such thing as Junior SEALS.”  She stared into the lights of the tree.  They flickered and ran together as tears again filled her eyes.

“There is now.”  Danny folded his arms over his chest and frowned at her.  “It doesn’t matter what Dad and the rest of them say.  We did the training and Hell Week and we’re Junior Seals.  Someone has to be the first.  Isn’t that what you always say?  We’re the first Junior SEAL and you’re going to be the first girl to get into the SEALS.”

Joey dropped her head onto her knees to hide the tears running down her cheeks.  “I’m not going to be a SEAL, Danny.  Dad said that I’m old enough now to understand that.  In America, women aren’t allowed to go into combat.”  She scrubbed at her face.  “It’s a dumb law. You don’t have to be physically strong to serve your country.  And I will serve my country.  Somehow.”

“Joey, Danny.  What did your mother and I tell you to do?”

They jumped up.  Joey looked down at her father.  His auburn hair was mussed where he’d raked his fingers through it when he was in the office with her.  Lines framed his mouth and creased his forehead.

She straightened her shoulders.  “You told us to go to our rooms, Dad.”

“You do realize the length of your punishment is contingent on good behavior don’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”  They said quickly.

“Then I would suggest you both go to bed immediately.”

Joey took Danny’s hand and started up the stairs.

“And lights out.” Their father called after them.

“Lights out?”  Danny cried.  “But it’s only—”

Joey shook her head and he sighed.  “Yes, sir.  Lights out.”

“Sleep tight, Danny.  I love you.”

“Love you to Dad,” Danny said and trudged into his room.  “But it’s too early to go to sleep.”

Joey glanced at her father in time to see him hide a grin behind his hand at the grumbled words.  She put her hand on her doorknob.

“Joey, your Mom and I love you very much.  You know that don’t you?”  His voice was soft and gentle.

Tears filled her eyes again.  “Yes, sir.  I love you too,” she said without turning around.”  She walked into the room and started to close the door.

“Door open, Joey.”

Her dad sounded tired.  That was her fault.  She left the door ajar and crawled into bed.

“She’ll forgive us eventually, Dan.”  His wife wrapped her arms around his waist.  “She had her dreams shattered.  We need to give her time to adjust and find a new dream.”

He turned and took his wife in his arms and laid his cheek against hers.  “She scares me, Lara.  She’s so smart and she cares so much but she has no fear, no concern for her own safety.  And I never know what she’ll do next.”

Lara kissed him and led him to the couch.  He dropped down and tugged her hand to pull her into his lap.  She snuggled against him.

“She cares about other’s safety.  We made our point when we told her that the other children trusted her and would follow wherever she led.  She’ll watch out for them if not for herself.”

“After this stunt, I think their parents are going to make sure they don’t come anywhere near Joey.”  He stroked his hand over her reddish-gold hair.


They sat quietly for a few minutes watching the flames dance over the logs in the fireplace.  “Dan, what percentage of candidates usually make it through BUD/S?”

“It varies but usually between twenty to thirty percent,” he answered absently his mind busy assessing the possible repercussions of the children’s dip in the water.

“Joey brought one hundred percent of her group through their version.  That’s pretty remarkable when you think about it.”

Dan let his head fall back against the couch.  “It wasn’t anything like the actual course.”

“True, Joey made adjustments and concessions based on the kids age and size.  That chart she had ready to give the parents showing the water temperature and the research into body mass and reaction to cold was pretty impressive.”

“You sound like you think she should be rewarded not punished.  She broke the rules, Lara.”

“Which rules did she break, Dan?  She got Lauren to go to the beach with them so there was an adult present.  Every child had a buddy and every child was wearing a life jacket even though they were sitting in only seven inches of water.”

“And the rule about not going in the water in the winter?”  he snapped.

“Did we ever make that rule?  I seem to recall a couple of polar bear swims in February.”

“We’re adults.  And Dave and I only dipped Joey and Danny in for a second because they kept begging us to take them.  We wanted them to understand how cold it was.”  He didn’t meet her eyes.  Maybe they hadn’t ever spelled it out as a rule.  But Joey had a genius IQ.  She should have been able to figure that out for herself.  “You don’t think we should have let them keep going do you?  The next step in training after Hell Week is the Dive Phase.  And after that is demolition training.  Thank God, we stopped her before she came up with some version of that.”

“Is that why you told her she could never become a SEAL.  So she’d stop training for it?”

“I just told her the truth.  Even if the laws change about women in combat, they will never be admitted to the SEALs.”

“She could still join the Navy when she’s old enough.  With her leadership abilities, she could become the youngest admiral in the history of the Navy.”

He pulled back and stared at her.  “Only if they give her admiral’s rank on enlistment.  Otherwise, she’d be facing a court martial before she finishes OTC.  If our daughter thinks an order doesn’t make sense, she’s going to find away around it and you know it, Lara.”

“Yeah, heaven forbid anyone question some of the obsolete and ridiculous rules on the Navy books.”  She stood up and held out her hand.  “Come on into the kitchen.  You can pour us some wine while I grill the pork chops.  I’m starving.”

“Let me check on the kids, then I’ll come and help.”  He squeezed her hand and headed for the stairs.

“You know honey, with the kids in bed and asleep before their usual bedtime, we have a couple of empty hours to fill.  Got any suggestions on what we could do to pass the time.”

He grinned.  “Oh, I can think of one or two things we might do.”

“Only one or two?  You must be tired.”  She turned and walked toward the kitchen her hips swaying seductively.

“Ah, but you don’t know which one or two things I have in mind,” he called after her.  He ran up the steps and went into Danny’s room first.  He was sprawled on his stomach, a stuffed dinosaur clutched in one hand.  Dan pulled the covers up around his son’s shoulders and kissed his cheek.

He paused outside Joey’s door.  A faint glow showed beneath the mound of blanket and comforter.  He sighed and walked over to the bed.  “Lights out means flashlights too, Josephine Elizabeth.”  He held out his hand when she stuck her head out from under the covers and she handed him the flashlight.  “Book too.”  He stuck the light and the paperback she handed him in his pocket and sat on the edge of the bed.  “What am I going to do with you, Joey?”

“I’m sorry, Dad, but I couldn’t go to sleep.  It’s too early.”  She scooted up and put her head on the pillow.

“Did you try?”

“No.”  She shrugged.  “ I never go to sleep this early so I figured I wouldn’t be able to tonight.”

“You don’t usually spend the afternoon doing surf torture,” he countered.  “Hell week usually includes sleep deprivation.  Have you guys been doing that part of it too?”

“Just getting up a couple of hours earlier than usual.  I was afraid some of the kids might get cranky or fall asleep in school if we tried to get by on less sleep than that.”

“Good call.”  He brushed her unruly curls away from her face.  Her hair was the same glorious color as her mother’s.  “I think you’ll find it won’t take much effort to fall asleep tonight.”

She obediently closed her big green eyes.  He wondered how long that would last and if another flashlight was hidden under her pillow or in the drawer.  But he’d made his point and would make sure he and Lara made noise when they came up the stairs later.  He didn’t want to have to extend her punishment and hell, he’d read under the covers when he was a kid too.  He kissed her forehead.

“I’m sorry I upset you and Mom.  I’m going to make you proud of me, Dad.”

“I’m proud of you already.  I love you sweetheart.”

“Love you too, Daddy.”

He walked out of the room and pulled the flashlight and paperback out of his pocket and laid them on the hall table.  Profiles in Courage by John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  He shook his head.  Courage she had in abundance.  It was common sense she needed to work on.  He walked back downstairs.  As he passed the Christmas tree, he looked up at the angel on top.

“Dear God, You better send your best guardian angel to help keep Joey safe.”  He thought for a minute.  “Better yet, you better send her angels plural and you better make sure they are Navy SEALS.  No one else could keep up with her.”

One Response to “”

  1. Merry Says:

    Wow. That must have been hard to look at this section dispassionately and decide that it was not needed as part of the story.

    Quote du jour:
    Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out. – Samuel Johnson

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