Release Date: May 16, 2016
Publisher: Jessica Scott
Back Cover: The Long Night: A Novel of Suspense
Whatever it takes, just come home to me. Promise me, Sam.
In eight months, Staff Sergeant Sam Brown will become a father. But first, he has to survive his fourth tour in Iraq. On his last night home, he tries to pretend that everything is fine, that the war is fine, that his life is fine.
But as he returns to the war zone, things are anything but fine and the promise he made to his fiancé takes on a desperate edge. As things spiral down, Sam starts to wonder about that promise.
How high is the price he will pay when the long night comes to an end?
"What the hell is that?"
The skinny kid stopped what he was doing and turned. "It's a coffee pot, Sarn't."
"A coffee pot," he repeated. Sam raised both eyebrows. It dawned on him that he didn't know the kid's name. He was a number on the mission. A butt to a seat. Not a name. Not a person. "And what generator are you going to use to power it?"
The kid's ruddy cheeks flushed. "I don't know. Major Whitman said to bring it."
Sam made up a few new creative ways to use profanity in a sentence. "Put that fucking coffee pot away until you've got the fucking radios working."
The kid's eyes widened quickly. "But Sarn't, Major Whitman…"
"I don't give a flying fuck what Major Whitman wants. Get the goddamned radios in system."
"Roger, Sergeant." The kid nodded and dropped the silver bullet coffee pot on a nearby table. His weapon bounced where it was slung across his back. Sam was honestly surprised the kid was even still carrying it. He'd lost count of the times he'd found commo guys setting up comms with their weapons stacked neatly and completely ineffectively in a corner.
He wondered where the kid had stashed his Bible. It felt wrong that he didn't know the kid's name. He shrugged off the feeling and headed up the narrow staircase, his shoulders nearly brushing each cement wall. He'd ask him in a little while. After the comms were up.
"What the hell is taking so long?" Sam barked as he came onto the roof to see two guys struggling to get the thin whip antenna erected.
Whitman slammed the hand mic against the radio. His face was a dark purple in the low light. "They forgot the connector."
"What connector?" Sam asked. He flexed his fingers to avoid bunching them into a fist.
"The connector that allows us to put these two hundred-foot cables together. We can't reach the truck without it."
Sam flushed with cold rage. "Are you fucking kidding me? You brought a goddamned coffee pot but you didn't check for fucking connectors?"
"Watch your mouth," Whitman snapped.
Sam was pushing his luck, but he was too fucking pissed to care. He flicked the good angel off his shoulder. "What the hell are you going to do about this?"
"I'm going to shit a connector, what the fuck do you think I'm going to do, Sergeant?" Whitman said. His use of Sam's rank was a cold reminder that Sam had crossed the line, a warning Sam ignored as the major continued. "You're going to move that truck to the bottom of this building so we can reach it with one cable instead of two."
Sam's mouth fell open. For a moment, he contemplated nailing the fat old bastard in his fleshy cheek. Faith would be thrilled by his court-martial. Instead, he snapped his mouth closed, stalked to the edge of the building and peered over the edge, smothering the pitch in his stomach as he approached the brink.
Still shrouded in darkness, a helo buzzed low overhead. It sounded more like a lawnmower than an instrument of airborne death. It distracted him, however briefly, from his fury. He glanced down the alley, briefly lit up by the lights overhead. Nothing but trash and shadows kept at bay by a lone vehicle.
"There is no way we can move that vehicle. It opens a massive gap in our perimeter," Sam said. "You were supposed to check the comms equipment, sir."
"And I said watch your fucking mouth, Sergeant. You'll move the fucking truck. Dismount the weapon and put the guard position down there. Problem solved."
Sam bristled. "Then your fucking commo guys are going to be the ones manning that position," he snarled.
"They're running the radios."
"Which any monkey with thumbs can do. And obviously, they don't do their job well if they forget the fucking connector."
Major Whitman glared, his jaw pulsing, his eyes lit with a terrible enmity that said Sam was in for it if they made it back to base. Pulling that truck back opened up a major hole in their perimeter. He hadn't been kidding about that. Whitman’s fists were bunched at his sides and for a brief moment, Sam thought he was going to swing on him.
A burst of rapid fire echoed down the alley, bouncing off the walls like the inside of a kettledrum. They both ducked at the same time. Sam crept to the edge of the roof and lowered his nods, trying to get a glimpse of the source of the gunfire in the darkness. Two men rushed past the end of the alley but did not turn toward the first position in the outer cordon. The guards didn't move or otherwise give away their location.
"We can't move the truck," Sam said again, his voice calm.
"Then we need to find a new location, because these comms aren't going up without that truck coming closer to the building, or we're not talking," Whitman said.
Major Whitman knew his team had screwed up. They had made the entire mission vulnerable, and that grated on the old infantryman's nerves. He should be embarrassed, Sam thought. He should be goddamned ready to kill himself for screwing up something as basic as pre-combat checks.
Sam had to move the truck. He swore viciously as he headed down the narrow staircase. A smell like burned sulfur seared his nostrils as he descended the cement stairs. Fear mixed with unease. Heat coated the back of his neck. He turned around, fully expecting to see someone behind him, watching him from the vantage point at the top of the staircase.
But there was nothing but darkness leading to the roof. He was alone with the sounds of the distant battle. The primitive fear that something was coming slithered up his spine. And he could do nothing to stop it.
About the Author:
Jessica Scott is an Iraq war veteran, an active duty army officer and the USA Today bestselling author of novels set in the heart of America’s Army. She is the mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, and wife to a retired NCO. She and her family are currently wherever the army has sent her.
She's also written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/New Dawn and has had the honor of serving as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas twice.
She's pursuing a graduate degree in Sociology in her spare time and she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.
Jessica is also an active member of the Military Writers Guild.