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M. L. "Matt" Buchman

Take Over at Midnight

Take Over at Midnight

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They both came from the streets, now they must save a nation.
“Best 5 romance of 2013!” – Eloisa James, Barnes & Noble
Her father said Lola LaRue would grow up to be a stripper and a whore. Instead she became a top helicopter pilot for the Army’s secret Night Stalker regiment.
Tim Maloney ran from his family to work in a chop shop, parting out stolen cars.
Both their lives changed the day the planes flew into the World Trade Center. Little did they know that they’d have to come together to save their country from the next great attack.
“Buchman proves his military romance prowess.” – RT Book Reviews
“Buchman takes the military romance to a new standard of excellence.” – Booklist
[Can be read stand-alone or in series. A complete happy-ever-after with no cliffhangers. Originally published in 2013. Re-edited 2021 for improved reader experience but still the same great story.]
Buy now to join the military romance adventure.

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“Chief Warrant LaRue?”
Lola couldn’t see who addressed her despite the bright airfield lights driving back the nighttime dark- ness. The helicopter that had come to fetch her kicked up a whirlwind of fine brown dust.
The dust coated everything, everywhere in Afghanistan, and Bagram Air Base felt like the worst of it. It had taken less than ten minutes from arrival in-country for it to penetrate every pore of her being. Clearly you didn’t need to brush your teeth here, you just chewed the air and they’d be sanded clean in no time.
Now she stood, bathed by the whirlwind, duffel in one hand and her free arm wrapped across her face to block the worst of the chopper’s rotor-driven brownout with her uniform’s sleeve.
“Yo!” she called out in what appeared to be the right direction.
The turbines didn’t cycle down, the blades didn’t even slow to idle, they stayed at flight speed, and the dust continued to roil upward in a never-ending supply from the ground.
No previously imagined neat little meet-and-greet on the ground.
No “Welcome aboard! We’re so glad you’re here!”
entry to the innermost circle of U.S. military heli-aviation.
They had come to fetch her and return to base as if
she were as exciting as a new artillery piece rather than only the fourth woman in history to qualify for the 160th SOAR and only the second female pilot.
A hand appeared from the dust and wrapped about her upper arm, firmly but not hard, and guided her into the maelstrom. Clearly she should’ve pulled on her flight helmet rather than clipping it to the pack strapped on her back. And tied back her hair, which now beat her about the face and neck until her skin tingled with the stings of the wind-whipped ends.
A pause and a shout in her ear stopped her before she could bang her knees on the Black Hawk helicopter’s cargo deck. Considerate.
She was barely aboard before she heard the blades biting the air more deeply. Could feel the weight change as she was pressed heavily into the hard metal deck by the chopper’s accelerating lift.
The hand guided her to the rear cargo net where she clipped her duffel and pack. As she dragged on her hel- met, the hand snagged the D-ring on the front of her survival vest and snapped a monkey line to it. She was now attached to the helicopter by the three-meter-long strap, just in time before the chopper’s nose plunged downward and they roared forward. Only a quick grab of the cargo net kept her from sweeping forward and sliding right into the console between the pilots’ seats.
One tug by the unseen hand confirmed the line’s solid attachment to her chest. Decently, the hand didn’t use the opportunity to grab her breast. Even the heavy SARVSO vest and flight suit didn’t stop most guys in such a situation. She’d had to sprain more than a few thumbs during her military career, one she’d even had
to break before the jerk backed off. Sent him squeaking all the way to his commander, who’d thankfully booted him down two grades and shipped him stateside. It was the goddamn 2010s, but jerks still thrived. Or thought they did.
Despite no welcoming committee, she’d take the lack of a grab as a good sign on her first mission assignment with the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the Night Stalkers.
In the backwash of the airfield’s lights, with the dust now cleared from the cabin by the draft of the open cargo doors, she could see the man who’d guided her aboard. As much as anyone could see anyone in full flight gear.
Not a big guy, but clearly a strong one by how his grip had felt and the way his uniform’s sleeves were tight against the skin rather than flapping in the wind like most soldiers’ would. Definitely a weight lifter. She could appreciate that.
A lot of military time was spent waiting. Waiting for the next round of training, waiting for the “go” on a mission that could come in two minutes or two months. Different soldiers burned off the time differently. Some gals just stopped, lying on their bunk and reading or watching movies or something. That was fine for ten minutes at a time, but not as a lifestyle.
There was a whole generation of techno-geeks that were always tinkering with their toys, whether a smart- phone or a four-million-dollar Predator drone. Lola often wondered what the geeks had done in olden times before tech was such a big deal. What did they play with back in ’Nam, their FM radios?
Most troopers stayed active. U.S. Army grunts had left a string of jury-rigged basketball hoops at thou- sands of temporary bases around the world. She was tall enough and fast enough to do well in these games, but she wasn’t much of a team-sport gal. She did better in solo endeavors. Some soldiers ran. A lot of them, like the guy who’d helped her aboard, clearly liked moving iron up and down. Weights were her second choice. Her first choice was swimming long distances.
The guy’s helmet appeared black in the dim cabin with an incongruously crossed knife and fork painted on the side, oriented like crossed bones on a pirate flag beneath a large smiley face.
The only other thing she could see clearly as they left the last of the airfield’s lights was a smile. Not a leer, but a genuine smile before he slapped his visor down. Another point in his favor.

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