Holiday Op

Holiday Op

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Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard Army Five sweet romantic stories delving into the world of Special Operations from authors who were in the military or whose family and friends are part of the military community. The stories – MISSION MISTLETOE, CHRISTMAS TO THE RESCUE, and THE STOCKING – will bring intrigue, merriment, and joy while TIED WITH A BOW and ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A MARINE will engage your spirit and capture your heart. ~ In HOLIDAY OP, it's a pleasurable duty charged with love. Lori Avocato, Anne Elizabeth, Tara Nina, DC DeVane, and Lia DeAngelo

Lori Avocato, Anne Elizabeth, Lia DeAngelo, Tara Nina, DC DeVane
Holiday Op

The Stocking by DC DeVane

A Proposal Via Inflated Raft

DC made her debut in the Highland Press Spec Ops Military Anthology, OPERATION:L.O.V.E. with her story B &B BIVOUAC. THE STOCKING: A PROPOSAL VIA INFLATABLE RAFT marks her second story for Highland Press. You can look for her in the soon-to-be-released Highland Press Intelligence Community Romance Anthology: FOR YOUR HEART ONLY coming in February 2010. She writes the gamut from sweet to sexy but her favorite genres are spicy romantic suspense and sweet and funny military romance. And she is a member of the Heart of Dixie Chapter of the Romance Writers of America.

DC was born on Keesler Air Force Base and is the daughter of a lifer Air Force Master Sergeant father and a career Civil Service mother. Over the years she has supported the USO and multiple Veteran's organizations with her time and donations… and adopts several soldiers each year, keeping the post office in business shipping FRB's to Iraq and Afghanistan APOs. Her cookies and care packages are legendary (or is that infamous?).

A former evolution in her life saw her working for Porter Novelli, Omnicom's Public Relations arm, and McKinsey & Company Management Consulting in Los Angeles. She is experienced in the various facets of managing events and enjoys the wonderful world of marketing and promotion.

When she's not watching the sun come up over the rim of her laptop, DC enjoys spending time with her rocket scientist husband Charles and their two cat masters, Tiger and Angel. She is an admitted spa addict who is perpetually in search of the perfect massage, rich dark chocolate truffles and, most importantly, the ideal cup of gourmet coffee. She enjoys Fencing Epee with the Huntsville Fencing Club, riding her 800cc Vulcan Classic Softtail motorcycle, horseback riding, shooting, camping, cooking, painting, entertaining friends and family, and all forms of dancing and is working on her scuba certification.

Acknowledgements/Dedication

To my mom for her wicked sense of humor and all the stories of how she tortured Dad while he was in the military with ‘surprises at mailcall.’ And to my dad for surviving it all with grace and a blush. You guys were the best.

For Glen Kerley… my ‘soldier boy’ from long ago who, when threatened with a teddy bear during bootcamp, made me the ‘counteroffer’ of an 8-man inflatable raft with an auto trigger in return… if I dared. This one's for you, kiddo.

To Anne Elizabeth for your love, friendship, and support, and for all the incredible hard work you put into these collections. And also thank you for being my teacher on this journey. I've learned so much from you about life and about writing, especially about the art of the short story. Thank you for sharing your time, talent, and knowledge with me.

To Leanne Burroughs, our wonderful publisher, for believing in ‘our ongoing mission’ of writing these military and intelligence community anthologies to educate people about our military heroes and heroines. And to Patty Howell, our editor extraordinaire, for keeping my POVs straightened out (NOT an easy task) and for always making my stories so much better. Thank you, Ladies!

To Carl, Ed (K.I.S.A.), Dracos, and Thor for letting me pick their brains on ‘life in bootcamp’ and ‘inprocessing procedures’ for Spec Ops guys, and life in the Rangers.

As always, to my wonderful husband Charles for loving me and believing in me, for taking care of the homefront when I'm on deadline, and giving me the freedom to go into my cave and write without distraction and to follow my dreams. I love you, Dearest, more than you will ever know.

Most importantly, to our warriors and their loved ones. Thank you for your sacrifice and dedication. You give so much to keep us safe. We owe you more than we can ever repay. May this collection of sweet romances bring you a smile and warm your hearts while you're away from your loved ones and families… especially during the holiday season.

Chapter One

"Happy Holidays,” said the FedEx guy as he delivered the heavy box onto her front porch, scooted the handcart out from underneath it, and hurried down the walkway to his waiting truck.

"You, too,” Marcy called after him.

He waved without even looking back, stowed the dolly, and sped away.

Marcy Grayson looked at the package for several moments, wondering who in the world would have sent her such a huge, heavy ‘whateveritwas.’ She ran her hands over the box looking for the sender's return information, but only her name and address were on the top. Curious, she pulled at the twine and tape holding the plain brown paper in place and worried the container loose. After several minutes struggle, the last of the protective outer wrapping fell away to reveal a beautiful red and gold patterned foil package with a big card on top.

'Love, Paul'

She squealed. A Christmas present from her sweetie! Marcy quickly reached down and pulled the card loose from the package to look at it more closely. Awwww… Paul had signed it 'Love.' Funny, there was a string attached to the back of it.

***

Ahhhhhh unftummm pftttpant pant pantumfffft

"NO!” had been the last intelligible word she'd been able to utter before the air whooshed from her lungs. Marcy was stuck spread eagle, smushed up against the wall and not happy about it in any way, shape, form, or fashion. She pushed at the unwieldy black rubber blob that had become the entirety of her universe. It gave way in some places, pushed back in others. She tried again, only to be thrust back against the wall even harder. Being pinned into the corner of the small enclosed porch of her modest home was soooo NOT how she wanted to spend her holidays. She couldn't even manage to get her hands down by her sides to work her cell phone out of her pocket and call for help.

Okay, this was becoming less funny by the minute. Not only was it frost-butt cold out there on the porch… never mind that it wasn't supposed to be this cold in Huntsville, Alabama, winter or no winter… she was tired, and chilled, and it was getting harder and harder to breathe as the enormous rubber raft attempted to wrestle her into submission.

The end of the raft sticking out through the front door kept it open, giving the cold air plenty of room to seep in around its squishy edges. Marcy wondered vaguely why none of her nosy neighbors had come to see what monstrosity was sticking out of her porch door like an enormous hippo butt stuck up in the air. For once, just when she wished they would poke their noses into her business, they were strangely AWOL. Oh well, so much for ‘Neighborhood Watch!'

As she pushed again with all her might against the solid wall of black blobbiness, the absurdity of the situation set in and her irrepressible sense of humor began percolating up to bubble over. She giggled.

Paul was such a dead man! She was going to kill him when she saw him. He'd threatened her with this if she…

At that last memory. Marcy's giggle escalated into peals of laughter. Yep… she was just going to have to kill him. No way around it. Kind of like the raft holding her immobile at the moment… an inescapable fact of life.

***

That straightjacket-tight pantyhose made the derriere look better under a knit dress was an inescapable fact of life. Marcy turned to stare at her backside in the full-length mirror in her bedroom. She ran her hands down over her trim waist and hips, then turned around to enjoy the sight of her well-rounded breasts in the soft, clingy fabric.

She wanted to look especially nice tonight. Paul would be there shortly to take her ‘somewhere special’ for dinner. Since this was their usual date night, she wondered exactly what was up that he was making it into such a big deal. Hmmmmm. Well, there were a few things she could think of that might qualify. She reached over and got the pearl earrings her mother had given her for her twenty-first birthday and carefully hooked them into her ears. Her gaze came to rest on her hand, focusing in on her bare third finger. Was he about to? Her eyes widened, the breath catching in her throat as she bit her lower lip and let her heart hope.