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A Few Good Men: Red Hot & Blue, #2

A Few Good Men: Red Hot & Blue, #2

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A Few Good Men: Red Hot & Blue, #2

5/5 (1 évaluation)
229 pages
3 heures
Dec 4, 2017


Army Sergeant John Blake is happy to ignore the romance novel he's seen his tank crew passing around, until he becomes the author's accidental pen pal, and her warm, caring emails make him look forward to checking his inbox. Maureen, aka Summer Winters Erotic Romance Author, has given up finding the last decent man on earth, until she finds him—halfway around the world.


THE RED HOT & BLUE SERIES: Red Blooded, A Few Good Men, BB Dalton, Model Soldier, A Prince Among Men, Smalltown Heat, True Blue, Red Hot & Blue Collection: Complete Series

Dec 4, 2017

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New York Times & USA Today bestselling contemporary romance author Cat Johnson. Sign up at catjohnson.net/news to get new release and sale alerts.

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A Few Good Men - Cat Johnson



Please note this story takes place in the year 2007. Given that, the technology and means of communication might seem a bit outdated. The war details, including camouflage patterns and war zone specifics, have changed over the years and are not current for today, but are meant to represent conditions as they were in 2007 when my Army consultants were actually deployed to Ramadi.


Ramadi, 2007

Eyes focused downward, Staff Sergeant John Blake set to devouring his chow as single-mindedly as he did everything in life—full speed ahead.

The members of his tank platoon chatted around him. It was hard for John to understand how they got any food in their mouths since some of them never shut up. Their chatter covered wives and girlfriends, kids and sports. Anything and everything.

As a tank commander, John took it all in. It might not look like it to the casual passerby, but he listened. Keeping a lookout for any possible issues was part of being a good leader.

John observed and absorbed it all—personal problems at home or friction between the men could distract them and possibly put every one of them in danger.

Make that more danger than they already were here in hell—or Ramadi—whichever.

He usually didn’t interject his opinion much. Instead, he kept his head down and his ears open as the others droned on.

Well, I’ll be. Looky here. Jazzy’s reading him some kinda chick book. John’s tank driver, Hector Morales, made that statement in his usual slow Texas drawl.

Yeah, and so what? Jazzy didn’t deny it. Don’t knock it until you read it, dude. It’s a good story, and let me tell you, the sex scenes are hot.

Jazzy always was one to march to his own drummer. It figured he wouldn’t give a crap if the other guys ribbed him for reading what Morales had called a chick book.

Still, John was intrigued at what had Jazzy, who read only when forced to, interested enough to hold his attention even at chow.

John raised his head, pulling his focus away from the less than appetizing entrée. It was no hardship to be dragged away from potatoes and meat that seemed to be the exact same shade of gray and peas that were a slightly grayish-green color not a whole lot different from the rest.

He noted Jazzy was indeed holding a book in one hand while shoveling food into his mouth with the other. The book cover displayed the well-oiled and equally well-developed pectoral muscles of a bare-chested man and not much else besides a boldly printed title and a name. He squinted and tried to see between Jazzy’s fingers.

Summer Winters. John read the author’s name aloud and laughed. What are the chances that name is real?

I can’t say I blame her. You read this and you’ll understand why she needs a fake name. Otherwise she’d probably end up having male stalkers lined up around the block outside her house. Jazzy shoved a napkin between the pages to hold his place and put the book down on the table so he could scrape the remnants from his plate using both fork and knife. It’s almost like porn, but with a good story and realistic characters. No pictures though. But it’s still pretty damn good. Now I know why my wife is always attacking me in bed when she’s reading one of these books.

John nearly groaned. Picturing Jazzy’s steamy romance-novel-inspired sex life with his wife was too much information for him at any time, but especially at chow.

The porn line, however, had Morales raising an eyebrow as if he was reconsidering his initial opinion of chick books. Really? Well, I’ll be . . . But isn’t there a lot of, you know, that mushy love crap?

Jazzy grinned, flipped through the book and then handed it open to Morales. Here. Read that page for yourself.

Morales’s eyes opened wide as he scanned the page until his ears started to turn red. Holy shit. Well, I’ll be damned. That’s just about as good as you can get. This thing’s enough to make a man want to go and clean his gun, if you know what I mean.

They all knew what he meant and that was definitely too much information for John while seated at the dining hall table.

Morales continued to flip through the book. I’ll tell you what, I might have to give this thing a go. Let me borrow it when you’re done?

Jazzy grinned. Sure thing. That’s what it’s for—sharing, not the gun cleaning—although that’ll work too. I was going to put it on the bookshelf for everybody anyway.

John watched Morales, leaned forward with elbows braced on the table and head buried in the book. The man was totally engrossed in what must be another pretty interesting scene.

Where exactly did you get that thing? John’s curiosity got the best of him.

My pen pal sent it. She wrote it actually. She’s Summer Winters. I know me a real live author. Jazzy grinned wide.

Across the table, their tank gunner, Gonzolo Barajas, finally put down the letter he’d been reading from that day’s mail call. That book’s from the pen pal you met on that military support website?

Jazzy nodded. Yup. She sends all kinds of stuff. We sure as hell got lucky the day she pulled my name off that list. She’s really nice too . . . and funny. I crack up when I’m reading some of her emails.

John nearly choked as the realization sunk in. Those websites were full of two things—Girl Scout troop leaders and little old granny do-gooders. One of them wrote porn under the name Summer Winters?

That too was more information than he needed at this point in his life. The image of a gray-haired granny in her rocker, knitting scarves to keep the troops warm, switched to the same woman, only now she sat in front of a computer, eating chocolate bon-bons with gnarled, arthritic fingers and penning sex scenes hot enough to make even Morales blush.

A chill ran down his spine. He shook it off and pushed his plate away. Suddenly he was no longer hungry.

You want the book after me and Morales are done, sarge? Jazzy asked him.

John’s gaze flew up when he realized he was being addressed and what exactly Jazzy was asking. Ah, no. That’s all right. Thanks anyway.

Jazzy shrugged and grabbed the book back from Morales, who didn’t look like he was giving it up willingly. And you, Morales, have to wait your turn.

Well, hurry the hell up then. Morales went back to his colorless food as John considered what it meant for the future of the Army that his tankers were fighting over a chick’s paperback romance novel.

It surely didn’t bode well.


New York

Do you have a date for this weekend? Maureen Mullen asked the question as low as humanly possible into her office phone.

What? I can’t hear you. Talk louder. The unnecessarily blaring response she received from her best friend, Peter, sounded like he was annoyed.

Maureen cupped her hand around the receiver, hoping it would muffle her voice enough her evil boss wouldn’t hear her. I can’t talk any louder. I’m at work.

I know. So am I, but unlike you I’m allowed to—oh my God, imagine the horror—speak on the phone. Peter’s comeback was delivered in an exaggerated and pretty bitchy whisper.

She was allowed to speak on the phone, but for work calls, not personal ones.

If she had her own office like Peter did, she wouldn’t have to hide when she made a simple phone call. But her boss, Pam the witch, had her shoved in a tiny cubicle where privacy was an illusion at best.

Maureen sighed. She hated this job. She hated it as much as she hated not having any plans for the weekend.

I’ll call you when I get home. She said it as softly as possible, but still glanced around to see if she’d been caught.

Fine. And I’ll go get a hearing aid on my break since you insist on calling me from the office and whispering. With a click that even managed to sound ill-tempered, Peter slammed down the handset of his office phone and was gone.

If he weren’t her best—okay, possibly only—friend she would consider getting angry at his constant crankiness.

Peter didn’t even have the PMS excuse. Maureen would be the first one to use that to explain her own bouts of occasional irritable behavior, but she’d be damned if she’d let Peter get away with it.

Although at times, she could swear he did have more female hormones than her, judging by the bitchiness.

Speaking of bitches . . . Maureen glanced around for her boss before logging into her personal email account. She was really not in any mood to do actual work, so she might as well check her email while the coast was still clear.

The message that popped up on the screen after she logged in informed her she had twenty-five new emails. She stifled a groan.

Judging by the subject lines alone, she began weeding out and deleting the two dozen spam messages. Get great buys on electronics. Meet local singles. Please her in bed with penis enlargement pills. Prescription medications for less.

Maureen hit delete until finally she was left with only one, but that one made her breathe a sigh of relief.

With another glance over her shoulder to make sure her evil boss wasn’t lurking, she opened the email. The time told her it had been sent the evening before. She just hadn’t had time to check until now.

It didn’t matter, she was simply happy to get it.

Hey there, Summer.

I’m so sorry I haven’t been in touch lately. Some stuff has been going down here with the baddies and they’ve been keeping us pretty busy. Fun and games in Iraq, you know how it is. That in itself is no excuse for not responding to your last few emails, but the fact that we’ve been under a total communications blackout here at camp for the last week is. There were no communications allowed out, not even to friends and families. There’s been some talk of troop extensions in this region, and the powers that be think the bad guys will intercept our emails and learn something secret. In reality, they’ll learn more from watching the news, and all we want to do is tell our families we love them, but whatever . . . Email is back up again, thankfully.

So yes, I am alive and well. Thanks for your email of concern. Thank you also for the recent care packages you sent with the book for our ever-growing library (I might have to give it a read) and the coffee (which I have already begun to drink). You are the best and do way too much for us, but everything is much appreciated. I will put everything in the MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation Room) for all to share. The guys are very appreciative and send their thanks as well.

Sirens—Woo hoo, here we go again. Gotta go!


Maureen finished reading, exhaled a long, slow breath and closed the email window.

Her relief that Jazzy was all right was washed away by the last sentence that he’d been called out again mid-email. Being pen pals with soldiers deployed in the war zone could be a heart-wrenching experience. She couldn’t even imagine what dating or being married to one would be like.

A whole week without any communications. Jazzy’s wife must be a strong woman to not lose her mind. Stronger than Maureen, anyway. She was a natural-born worrier.

Who the hell is Summer?

Maureen jumped, startled nearly out of her rolling desk chair. She’d been so involved in Jazzy’s communication she hadn’t even heard her coworker approach.

Now she had something to really worry about. She swallowed away the lump in her throat. Uh, Summer is me.

Still seated, she spun to face Tiffany in time to see the woman’s eyebrow rise. You’re Summer?

It’s my online name for that soldier-support website I belong to. Maureen hoped she looked casual as she told the half-truth.

She didn’t add who else Summer was. That when not reading submissions or editing manuscripts for her employer, Peterman Publishing, she, Maureen Mullen, had secretly contracted with a small independent publisher to write an erotic romance novel under the pseudonym Summer Winters.

Since Maureen hadn’t wanted her church-going, old-fashioned mother to know she wrote steamy romance any more than she wanted her boss to learn about her writing for another publisher and fire her, she’d made up the fake name.

Oh. Tiffany gave a knowing, smug nod. I see.

No way was Maureen going to allow her secret literary persona to get outed by Tiffany of all people. Time for damage control.

You see what? You have a cool name. I’ve been stuck with a boring old name my entire life. So when I signed up and had to choose a screen name, I thought I would get creative. Can I help it if the guys call me Summer?

"Guys, plural? Exactly how many men are you writing to, Summer?" Tiffany crossed her arms and stressed Maureen’s fake name with more force than was necessary.

I send stuff to a lot of the deployed troops, both male and female. Sometimes they write back and say thanks. It’s all perfectly innocent.

And what about this guy from the email? Jazzy. Do you have something going on with him?

Jeez. How the hell long had this nosy bitch stood reading over Maureen’s shoulder? How rude. At least Tiffany had gotten off the screen name thing, but this subject wasn’t much better.

Jazzy is married . . . Maureen realized that really didn’t mean much these days. She was fairly certain Tiffany had dated a couple of married men, so she added, Very happily married and totally in love with his wife.

Yeah, sure. Tiffany looked positively, gleefully evil. I think he’s looking for a little cyber affair if you ask me.

Cyber affair. Ugh. Only Tiffany would think of that.

Maureen frowned. She was going to have to stop checking her personal emails at work if this was the result.

There’s nothing going on. Can’t an adult male and female have an innocent platonic relationship?

Tiffany shook her head. No.

Maureen let out a breath of frustration. This is ridiculous. I’m supporting our military. That’s all.

Sure. You’re just a one-woman USO. So why don’t you fix me up with one of these guys? Or are you hogging them all for yourself?

It isn’t a dating website, Tiffany. It’s a troop-support site.

Hey. I just want to do my part to ‘support’ the troops too. So get me a few email addresses and I’ll send some letters of ‘support’ myself. Tiffany smirked and actually made air quotes with her fingers each time she said the word she so easily mocked with her double entendre.

Maureen pictured her own tiny, cluttered apartment.

The stacks of old paperbacks she had purchased at the library’s used book sale waiting to be sent to the deployed troops. The empty cardboard boxes and padded mailing envelopes waiting to be filled that cascaded out of the closet whenever she opened the door. The fact a roll of packing tape and a stack of shipping forms resided permanently on her kitchen counter, and her postal clerk dreaded seeing her coming through the door with an armload of packages to be sent overseas. The sad reality that her bank account was much emptier since she’d begun spending a small fortune on postage as well as books, snacks, rubber shower shoes, phone cards and toiletries that the troops needed but couldn’t get where they were deployed.

And Tiffany expected to simply be handed a list of addresses so she could meet some soldiers and flirt with them?

Gorgeous Tiffany with her blonde hair, long legs and perfect everything else in between. Tiffany, who sometimes juggled two dates in one day when Maureen more often than not had none . . . or had one

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