"Admiral. We're picking up a distress call from the Quest Labs. It's really weak, coming in on a low band." The communications tech called over his shoulder, his eyes closed while he fine-tuned his equipment.
"Put it on the speaker." I moved from the chart table to the con.
"Quest Labs ... attack ... 0200 ... parachutes ..." The static laden signal kept breaking up. My eyes went to the chronometer.
"It's 0300 now. How far away are we from Palm Key?" I asked the navigation officer.
"At this speed, three hours." He answered.
"Is there anyone closer?" My mind was already ticking off the variables.
"No sir, no one in the vicinity."
"Increase our speed by a factor of three and head directly for the island. That should put us there in a little over an hour. Put us on red alert and keep an eye out for underwater bogies. Just because they came in by air, doesn't mean they don't have a standby backup."
"Sir. Trouble?" The voice of Seaview's captain came from over my shoulder and I took a firm grip on my libido before turning with a lift of my eyebrow.
Lee Crane was dressed impeccably except for a little black curl that had refused to lay down while he was brushing his hair. I had to fight the urge to comb it into place with my hand. I knew he'd only had a couple of hours sleep but he looked alert and ready for anything.
"We were going to stop by Palm Key later but it seems they're under attack now. Perhaps you'd like to plan the counterattack?" I watched his eyes darken with concern then lighten with pleasure at the thought of creating a battle plan.
"Certainly, sir." He stepped past me and flipped the comm switch. "Kowalski and Sharkey to the bridge."
I took a deep breath and held in the spicy scent of my lover. We were on different shifts for a reason and that reason was our complete inability to keep our hands off each other while on board the Seaview. Protocol demanded our full attention to the ship and our mission but that was damnably hard sometimes when I was thinking about making love to the man who'd stolen my heart within five minutes of his reporting for duty.
"Two pronged attack, I think." His dark eyes flashed a warning look at me. "Water and air. I can take a small contingent in the Flying Sub and come at them from above while you're bringing in the big guns from below."
"Good thinking." I pulled myself together and headed for the chart table to pull up the maps of the sea around the Quest Island. "I hope they're all right."
Lee heard my muttered comment while following me. "If I know Race, he's got them caught in one of his little traps. When we get a little closer, we can comm them with an innocent query about our shore leave. I know we weren't supposed to be there until Saturday but ..."
I quirked an eyebrow at him and waited for him to finish his thought. My fingers still itched to smooth back that curl and I almost groaned when he ran his hand over the black hair. Mine. I wanted to say.
"This may sound paranoid but what if they knew we were coming and they've moved in to set a trap for us?"
"Hm-m-m, possibly. The timing would be right. We didn't make any secret of the fact that we would be dropping off research to Dr. Quest this weekend. But they've been attacked several times and I've heard that he's working on something quite revolutionary in the energy field."
Lee shrugged and grinned at me. "Just a thought and it will make a difference how we go in. Walk into their trap, if it is a trap but have several lines of defense going. Not just the Flying Sub but amphibious divers as well."
Kowalski and Sharkey hurried in, hastily dressed with expressions of concern on their faces. Lee beckoned them over and we had a conference of war over the charts of the waters of Palm Key. A half an hour later, Patterson said we were within communication range.
Lee made the call and got Dr. Quest's lab-assistant on the visiphone. She kept her right side to the phone and the unnatural way she held her head told me that she was probably hiding bruises. Her dark hair swung over her cheek and the pixie look she usually wore was gone.
"Captain Crane, what a pleasant surprise. We weren't expecting to hear from you until you were closer." Her voice was firm and calm.
"Now, Sandy, if you call me Captain Crane, I have to call you Miss Goodall. And we are closer. We got done with our sample gathering and decided to come a little early. Will that be a problem for you?" Lee joked with her but I could see the fists he was making behind his back. He too, could tell the signs of someone under duress.
"Very well ... Lee. We're all at sixes and sevens here but I know that Dr. Quest is looking forward to some brainstorming with the Admiral. And we've got a dance planned for you guys down at the marina. Only twenty couples or so." She smiled albeit a little stiffly as if it pulled sore muscles.
"I claim your first dance then. Do you think we'll be able to drag the scientists out for a little fun?" Lee smiled.
Her eyes slid to the right, just a little then she brightly exclaimed. "Oh, I hope so. The doctor has been a real bear lately. He could use a little loosening up."
"Any special instructions on where we should anchor? Or will the marina be all right?" Lee probed further.
"Well, it's a little torn up right now. The hurricane did quite a bit of damage last month. But that should be just fine."
"Great! Hey, is Race around? I need to ask him a question."
Her eyes looked frightened for a moment. "Sorry, he's working on some defective sensors. We had a bit of a wind come through late last night and most everybody is out cleaning up the damage."
"Well, don't worry, Sandy. We'll all pitch in and help when we get there. Tell Race that I'm collecting on the debt he owes me. He'll know which one." Lee shook his head. "He never could pass up a horse race."
I kept back a snort. Race Bannon had an abhorrence of gambling that was nothing short of pathological. Not too many people knew that but Lee did and so did Sandy if the relaxed smile was any indication. So, now she knew that we were coming in knowing there was something wrong.
"I'm really looking forward to that dance, Lee. Hurry up." And she giggled. Sandy never giggled. She had the sweetest chortle I'd ever heard but this high pitched laugh had nothing funny about it. I felt my own hands turn into fists.
"We're about an hour out, Sandy. Look for us at the marina. Lee, out."
"We'll be here. Palm Key, out." And her face faded from the screen.
"Damn!" Lee exploded and whirled to pace back to the chart table. His color was high and his velvet brown eyes practically sparked with fury. "She was holding herself so stiffly. I expect she's taken a beating. Twenty couples could mean that many invaders."
"We'll be more than a match for twenty guys, sir." Kowalski growled and Chief Sharkey nodded fiercely.
The plans were simple and we divided up the crew into air and water teams with six of us playing the part of sacrificial lambs to allay suspicion at the marina. I could see Lee wanting to protest my going in the first boat but he kept quiet until we were alone in my wardroom.
"I know you have to, Harri but be careful." He ran his hands up my arms and pulled me into his embrace. "At least you'll have Sharkey with you. It will take a tank to get through him to you."
I nestled there for a long moment, enjoying his strength. "I'm always careful, Lee. I could say the same to you."
He snorted and pulled up my head. "You are as reckless as every other redhead I've ever known. I shudder to think what you and Benton will get up to. These bastards don't stand a chance."
Kissing me tenderly, he pulled away briefly and I saw the pain in his eyes. Knowing it was echoed in mine, I reached up and kissed him again, putting all my love and faith in him into my touch. Receiving in return, all his devotion and strength.
I forced my eyes open when he drew away and watched him leave me without another word. Age has endowed me with a stoic sense of duty but watching him walk away took all my self-control. Sometimes, I hate being the one who gives the orders, knowing that I'm sending my men into harm's way. And sending Lee meant my soul had to be in two places at once.
Shaking myself free from morbid thoughts, I went back to the control room and our other plan. Executive Officer Chip Morton wasn't happy about being left behind but he understood that I had to leave the Seaview in capable hands that would protect her no matter what happened to us. I was blessed with a wonderful crew.
I chose the bait for the invaders with particular care. Young Patterson looked completely harmless but had a fifth degree black belt. Ensign Flannery was young but an extremely sharp thinker and was destined to go far in his career. Plus, his ability to misdirect was second to none. Chief Sharkey chose the other two sailors for their quick reaction time and our landing party was complete.
We hove to and exited the Seaview with a relaxed air. Patterson joked with Flannery whose wide-eyed innocent look brought a chuckle to even Sharkey. We rowed ashore to be met by a rigid marina manager who managed a smile and offered us a pair of golf carts for transport to the main complex. I let Flannery drive and held on with a death grip as he got the hang of the flimsy little carts.
Swooping around the last bend before reaching the front door, I found myself laughing in exhilaration. Whoever these guys were, they were in deep trouble. The marks of trouble were everywhere but I'd caught a glimpse of an arm extended from a hibiscus bush, making the okay sign then the number three so I knew that Race was on the job. I'd recognize that sapphire ring anywhere.
"Flannery, you've got a permanent job as my driver from now on. I haven't had that much fun since our last leave." I swung out from under the little canopy and stretched. "I wonder where our hosts are?"
A dark haired man with a military air opened the door. "Admiral Nelson, welcome to Palm Key. I'm Jenkins. If you would please follow me, Dr. Quest is looking forward to seeing you. He regrets not being able to meet you at the marina."
"Nonsense. He's a busy man and I'm looking forward to seeing what he's up to these days." I strode forward and genially reached out to shake his hand. "You're new since my last visit."
I saw the glint of a needle and managed to avoid the little pinprick that would have undoubtedly put me out for the count. Instead, I punched him out and let Sharkey catch the body. I continued forward as if still with him, commenting on the mosquito problem. My men fanned out and we took care of three others before hearing the sound of distant explosions.
Heading with speed towards the control room, we were able to surprise the pirate crew there while they were frantically trying to keep track of the problems outside the building. We disarmed them all and I set Flannery to looking for the prisoners while I enabled the island cameras to see what was going on outside.
Hating every moment that I didn't know where Lee was, I studied the situation. A familiar voice from behind me brought my eyes up from the display screens.
"Not quite the way I planned on greeting you, Harri. But thank god, you heard our distress call." Dr. Quest looked a little rough around the edges and one eye had an enlarged pupil that signaled concussion to me. His other eye was a rainbow of colors that looked painful.
"Nonsense, Benton. We haven't had a good fight in ages. You know what blood thirsty savages we sailors are." I grinned at him and at the young woman who was helping to prop him up on one side. "Sandy, it's a good thing you were here to help keep him out of trouble."
"You've got that right, Admiral. Now, if you'd just wrap up this little party we can get on with the real party. After we treat all our bruises." She grinned up at me, her own bruises showing quite plainly. Flannery was staring awestruck at her quiet beauty and I could see a crush forming as we spoke.
Activating my wrist communicator, I quietly gave Lee a call. His answer came immediately amidst gunfire.
"All clear, Admiral? Damn't, Ski, could you take care of the grenade thrower?" A loud boom and then the beloved voice was back with a chuckle. "We're about done here, Sir."
"We've secured the complex and have all the personnel safe and sound. Is Race with you?" I could see the tension on Dr. Quest's face.
Another loud explosion and the sound of a chortle that could only come from Benton's bodyguard. "Nice work, Admiral. Even if your man here had to blow up half the island to do it. We'll be in shortly."
I chuckled and sent the doctor to sick bay with Flannery and Sandy to make sure he went. It was a busy half-hour while the outside forces mopped up the enemy and I called in the Marines. Literally. Dr. Quest is too important to leave under a threat. The first wave arrived while I was supervising the interning of the ten invaders from the complex.
Looking up, I saw Race and Lee heading my way with a Marine Colonel. They looked like gods with Race's blond good looks contrasting with Lee's dark beauty. All I could think about was how much I wanted to take Lee down to the beach and strip him naked so we could roll in the surf. But I had a lot of practice in hiding my real feelings so I concentrated on filling in the Colonel with what we'd discovered so far.
Race was limping so I sent him in to see Dr. Jameson who'd arrived from the Seaview after the shooting was over. And Lee and I worked side by side until the Marines took over completely. We walked back to the complex, looking for our hosts only to be told they were resting.
Sandy gave us the news while returning Lee's hug and leading us to the guest suite so we could freshen up before dinner. She promised us a meal fit for kings in about three hours and told us she was going to go have a bubble bath to soak away the tension. Leaving us with her familiar chortle, we looked around our temporary home away from home.
Lee nuzzled my neck while I was checking out the two bedrooms. "Just pick one so I can take you to bed."
My blood heated and I turned to take his lips in a passionate kiss that heated our blood to boiling. Hands stripped clothing in moments. I'd forgotten how much danger turned him on but since I was getting the benefit of his horniness, I could care less. We landed on the bed naked and rolled back and forth until he was on top, straddling me with his dark eyes gleaming and his hands running through the fur on my chest.
Tweaking my nipples, he smiled a sultry smile before raising up and impaling himself on my cock. We were both panting by the time he sank down and finished his impalement. Being inside of him is like nothing I've ever experienced before. Sure, I'd had other lovers, both male and female but that was sex. This was love. And that made all the difference in the world.
We took it slow and easy. His strong thighs rode me while I thrust up in perfect aim at his prostate. The look of ecstasy on his face was my reward, that and the tight hot channel that grabbed me with every muscle contraction. My stamina was gone and when I released into him, I milked him of his own climax. He sprayed across my chest and I licked my lips at the loss of my favorite protein.
Laughing breathlessly, he collapsed on my chest and smothered me with kisses until I slipped from him and we rolled to our sides. He pulled up the blanket and we dozed for a bit before heading for the shower. I decided this had already turned into one of our more interesting shore leaves.
Race rolled over and checked on Benton again. It had been too close this time. His lover's concussion was his fault. He should have been more vigilant. Laid out more sensors. Figured out some way to protect the island from a paratrooper assault.
"Stop it, Race. I can hear you brooding." Benton hadn't opened his eyes but his voice was strong and sure.
"We need to do better. This could have gone bad in a big way if Seaview hadn't caught our distress signal."
"They caught our distress call because you insisted on having three different sets at three different frequencies scattered over the complex." The emerald eyes opened and speared him with a look. "I think your forethought was just what saved us. Not to mention our guardian angel."
Race smiled a little at their old joke before sobering. "She shouldn't have to work so hard. Maybe it's time we got some newer help in. Technology is changing so quickly, maybe I've gotten behind the times."
"If you want to bring in a consultant, that's fine. But I won't feel safe unless you're the one guarding me. No security expert in the world wants me as safe as you do." Benton ran a gentle finger across Race's lips and he darted out a tongue to taste the salty digit.
In his heart he knew Benton was right. His motivation was the saving of the other half of his soul and he would die before he let anything happen to his friend and lover. "Just to be sure we've covered all the bases. Maybe the Admiral has some ideas. They say the Seaview is a marvel and all his own baby."
"You can tackle him tonight. Or would you rather tackle his good looking captain?" Benton gazed a little quizzically at him.
Race laughed out loud and rolled on top of his lover. "Not the kind of tackle I'm interested in, love. Pick his brains perhaps but you're the only one I care to go one on one with."
The scientist ran his hands down Race's broad back, massaging all the muscles on their way. "One on one is good."
Groaning at the stimulation, Race feathered a kiss across the rainbow colored eye before kissing the full lips that opened for him. Slowly, he mapped the familiar tastes until he'd filled his senses with his lover. Breaking away from the seductive mouth, he nipped his way down the long throat and on down to the furry pecs. Finding a nipple, he settled in to lick it to a hardened peak before moving to its mate.
Benton was panting now and carding his hands through Race's short hair. Disjointed phrases fell from his lips. Race loved hearing him babble. Knowing that he was the one who short-circuited all that wonderful higher reasoning made him feel ten feet tall. His hands pushed the long legs to either side of his body while he snaked down the furry chest to the hard cock that had been drilling a hole in his hip.
He was too hard himself to go slow so he deep throated the tasty cock in one fast swoop making his lover groan deeply and thrust up. He easily controlled the thrusts with his upper body while he ground his own cock into the linen sheets. A couple of fast slides up and down the shaft then he nibbled the flared crimson head and poked the point of his tongue into the weeping slit.
Benton shuddered all over and Race ducked down and sucked hard once before relaxing his throat and taking it all in. One swallow, then another and finally the third brought a strangled shout from the scientist and hot liquid against the back of Race's throat. He pulled back just far enough to suck and lick the aftermath from the pulsing cock.
"You are too good at that. Come up here." Benton tugged on his shoulders and pulled him up to cover him. His strong hand found the still unsatisfied cock with unerring precision and began a gentle milking motion that brought Race to almost instant release.
He buried his head in his spot between Benton's neck and shoulder while he shuddered into his lover's hand. "So good. So very good."
"You inspire me." Benton chuckled and kissed his ear.
"We need a shower before dinner. Need to be sharp if we're going to impress the Navy." Race sighed and raised his head to gentle another kiss across his lover's lips.
"Hm-m-m." Benton licked his lips and smiled up at him. "Did you see the way that young ensign was eyeing Sandy? Jonny just may have a rival."
Race rolled off him and out of the bed, reaching back to pull the scientist to his feet. "Oh, I don't know, Benton. A couple of the sailors perked right up when she came by while you were with the doctor. The one they called Ski got a blush while she was scolding him for taking out the hibiscus bush by the front door. He kissed her hand and she turned fire engine red before laughing with him. There's a boy with muscles on top of muscles and charm as well."
"I'll ask Harri if he's all right." Benton led the way to the shower.
"Already asked Lee and got an enthusiastic approval for the young man. It's up to Sandy now. Should be interesting." Race turned on the hot water and pulled his lover in after him.
"She'll give them all a run for their money." Benton laughed.
Well, that had to be one of the best shore leaves I've ever participated in. I ached pleasantly in places I hadn't had massaged in months. The Admiral and Lee were still chatting with Dr. Quest and Race while the next to last load of sailors rowed out to the Seaview. Ski was in that load and he waved one last time before ducking through the hatch.
He was a nice guy and one hell of a lover. It would be some time before this smile left my face. Not a forever kind of guy or that good a conversationalist but ... oh what he could do with that tongue. A wonderful lover. Tender and caring but even more importantly, he was tireless. Completely tireless.
I was going to sleep for a week after this weekend. Not to mention walk a little funny for a while. But after the terror of the attack and the fear that Dr. Quest might die from that head wound, I'd badly needed some reassurance. And Ski had made me feel alive and vital. Not to mention, sexy and beautiful.
We'd made love like the end of the world was coming and just thinking about riding that nice thick cock of his was making me wish they were going to stay for another day. Except, I was sore as hell and there was a bath full of Epsom salts calling my name.
So, I shook hands with the Admiral and his Captain and waved goodbye to the Navy with just a hint of regret. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this job?
End part fifteen