Macklin, page 1
SEALs of Honor, Book 15
Books in This Series:
Mason: SEALs of Honor, Book 1
Hawk: SEALs of Honor, Book 2
Dane: SEALs of Honor, Book 3
Swede: SEALs of Honor, Book 4
Shadow: SEALs of Honor, Book 5
Cooper: SEALs of Honor, Book 6
Markus: SEALs of Honor, Book 7
Evan: SEALs of Honor, Book 8
Mason’s Wish: SEALs of Honor, Book 9
Chase: SEALs of Honor, Book 10
Brett: SEALs of Honor, Book 11
Devlin: SEALs of Honor, Book 12
Easton: SEALs of Honor, Book 13
Ryder: SEALs of Honor, Book 14
Macklin: SEALs of Honor, Book 15
Corey: SEALs of Honor, Book 16
Warrick: SEALs of Honor, Book 17
SEALs of Honor, Books 1–3
SEALs of Honor, Books 4–6
SEALs of Honor, Books 7–10
SEALs of Honor, Books 11–13
Table of Contents
About the Book
About Heroes for Hire
About the Author
Also by Dale Mayer
Macklin has tried to forget the one damaging relationship in his life and the woman who won’t believe their relationship is over. She makes his life hell – until she turns up dead – leaving evidence pointing to Macklin as her killer.
Alex, the new detective on the Coronado Police force, is determined to make a good impression. But Macklin soon becomes more than a suspect – he becomes someone she wants to know a whole lot better. And she can’t forget his last girlfriend is now in the morgue.
After being interviewed, Macklin is angry and…intrigued. Marsha is still making his life miserable but the detective on the case is determined to find the truth. He admires her grit and ethics. She’s fascinating and is the first woman in years he wants to get to know better.
Together they have to solve Marsha’s murder before Macklin is charged and before the killer…kills again…
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“There they are,” Macklin said to Corey as they sipped coffee at a popular coffee shop in Coronado. He watched Caitlyn and Ryder park outside the café and enter. He stood and waved. Caitlyn caught sight of him, and a big smile broke out across her face.
Macklin opened his arms, and Caitlyn raced into them, laughing.
Then she jumped back and exclaimed, “Oh, your shoulder. I’m so sorry.”
It was his turn to laugh. “Oh, no, you don’t. No way an injury will stop me from accepting a hug from you. Besides, I’m doing just fine. I’m heading back to work next week.”
She squealed. “Oh, that’s excellent news.”
He hugged her and stepped back. “I’m glad you think so.” He nodded at Ryder who stood behind her. “And I have you to thank for saving my life.”
Ryder shook his head. “No need to thank me. Besides, you can return the favor sometime. Although I hope the situation doesn’t arise.”
“It better not,” Caitlyn said. She spun to glare at Ryder. “That would mean you were in a really bad place.” She slugged him gently. “And I won’t have that. Not anymore.”
Ryder’s smile quirked, and he wrapped an arm around her, cuddling her close. “I’ll be fine.”
Corey motioned them to the seats at their table.
Mac was happy the two of them had settled their differences and appeared to be on a smooth path for the first time in years. They looked like they’d make it this time.
He, on the other hand, was avoiding all relationships. He was happy to be around his friends, but not one of them had had the horrible experience he’d had. And no way would he repeat it.
Marsha had been a bad mistake—but he’d chosen her. So what did that say about the decisions he made? It said, he was shitty at them. And the last thing he wanted was to make another bad one.
So it was abstinence for him.
Something he never thought he’d say.
A commotion at the entrance had the diners turning to look. A police officer accompanied by a woman—another officer, maybe a detective—stepped inside and surveyed the patrons. The officer closest to them stood tall, her posture commanding, powerful. Macklin had seen that in men but not so much in a woman. Despite himself, he was intrigued. For the first time he considered softening his stance on abstinence.
Ryder took one look and said, “Uh-oh, I hope she’s not coming over here.”
“Why?” Caitlyn asked. “I’ve seen Alex at the gym several times. She’s really nice.”
“She might be, but she’s also the hotshot new detective who just arrived at Coronado PD. She’s an ex-CID special agent from back east.” Ryder shifted slightly in his chair.
Macklin studied the tall slim woman who even now walked toward him. “I don’t think I’ve met her.”
“I have.” Caitlyn jumped to her feet as the agent approached. “Hi, Alex.”
A warmth lit up the thirtysomething woman’s eyes. She acknowledged Caitlyn’s greeting, but her gaze was locked on Macklin.
He raised his eyebrow and waited.
“Macklin Princeton, I need you to come with me, please,” she said in a low but firm tone.
Macklin frowned at the others at the table, then turned back to her. “Sure. Can you tell me why?”
“We need to ask you some questions down at the station.” She waited quietly. No pressure but not relenting. He would go with her one way or the other.
“Questions about what?” He pulled out his wallet and tossed a few bills on the table. Lunch was obviously not happening.
“A young woman. I believe you know her. Marsha McEwan?”
He froze. Caitlyn and Ryder’s gasps echoed in the café. Corey jumped up from his chair. “I’ll come with you, Mac.”
Macklin stared at the agent, hating that he wanted to drown in her clear-mountain-lake blue eyes, and stood, instantly dwarfing her. In no way did she appear intimidated. “I’d be happy to come,” he said calmly. “What’s the problem?”
At police headquarters, Mac was ushered into a room with two chairs and a small table. In a strategic move, Mac casually sat in the first chair, placing his back to the door. It showed he didn’t care who came and went, and forced others to walk around him. He didn’t have a clue what his involvement in this murder case was supposed to be but knew he’d be questioned based on Marsha’s death alone.
The tall woman sat across from him. She dropped her folder on the table and looked at him for a long moment.
He stared back. It was the oddest time to recognize a woman’s attributes, but he was male and had been celibate for long enough, and her mesmerizing gaze was the deepest, darkest midnight blue he’d ever seen. He opened his mouth to mention it to her, then snapped his lips closed. That comment would be foolhardy at best.
She raised an eyebrow. “Is there
He quirked a grin at her. “You wouldn’t believe me if I did.”
He chuckled, settled back, crossed his arms over his chest, and said, “I was just thinking how you have the softest midnight-blue eyes I’ve ever seen.”
He knew he’d surprised her, but she was quick to mask it. The woman was all about control.
She shook her head, opened the folder in front of her, and said, “Before we begin, please state your name.”
He leaned forward. “It’s hardly fair for you to know my name and to not share yours.”
She flushed. “I’m sorry. I should’ve introduced myself. I’m Detective Alex Carson.”
He reached out a hand to shake hers. “Nice to meet you. I’m Macklin.” Despite herself he could see her fighting a smile. “I’m harmless,” he said gently. “I would never kill Marsha. I haven’t seen her in at least six months—and it was just a glimpse of her—and all our meetings before that were unpleasant for several years. Not from me hitting on her but from her hitting on me.”
Alex settled back. “Can you explain?”
He launched into as honest an accounting of the strange relationship he had had with Marsha as he could. “Originally I invited her out on a date. We ended up in bed, an incredibly hot, wild weekend, but it only took until Monday for me to realize she was a crazy woman. As in, something was not quite right.”
Alex frowned. “Meaning?”
“I had to go to work that Monday. I needed her to leave so I could lock up.” He shook his head with the memories. “But she had no intention of leaving. Although she made it look like she did. We left together. I went to work. When I came home, I found her moving in.”
Surprise lit Alex’s face. “After one weekend?”
Macklin nodded. “Right? It made no sense. I was quite pissed off. I like my space.”
She nodded. “Most of us do, particularly if it’s a new relationship.”
He nodded. “She had her vehicle packed full and was unloading. Instead of going to work that day, she had gone home and packed up everything.”
“What did you do?”
“I told her that, as much as I had enjoyed the weekend, I wasn’t ready for a commitment.” He winced. “If I had been smart, I would’ve just ushered her out the door and left her like that. But it wasn’t to be quite so neat and clean. She broke into tears, said she’d made me a special dinner, and the least I could do was be nice about it. I felt like a heel. I kept going over our weekend, wondering where she would have gotten the idea we were moving in together, but I don’t think she needed any encouragement. The fact that we went to bed together was enough for her.”
“Did you talk about commitment in any way?”
“Hell no. That’s not really on my agenda, at least not for a while.” He stared around the small room, hating all the memories filling his head. “We had her special dinner. I managed to get her packed back up and out of the apartment. And then I had to go to a meeting. I had sent a text to one of the guys in my unit. Between us, we found somebody who could come that night and change the locks.”
She frowned. “You mean she got into your locked apartment?”
He nodded. “And, no, I don’t have a clue how she got back in. I didn’t want to take the chance she’d picked the lock, so I added a bolt on top. I know it sounds stupid, but I was paranoid.”
Alex nodded. “Carry on.”
“After that she seemed to back off a little, acting more normal. I was still wary, but I really wondered if I had made a mistake. Maybe I’d been the one at fault. … I didn’t really know or understand what I might’ve done, but she didn’t pressure me or try to move in again. All my friends told me to get the hell away and just forget about it. But I didn’t listen. I didn’t want to hurt her. I was also just beginning to realize what a drama queen she was. Anyway, we saw each other off and on for a couple weeks, and finally I broke it off. We were out one night, and I told her that I was heading overseas. I was letting go of my apartment, and I was starting a whole new phase of my life, and that was the end of us.”
He winced. “But of course it wasn’t the end. I went back home that night. It was true I had let my apartment go, but I still wasn’t due to fly out for a couple days. I woke up in the middle of the night to somebody trying to get in my door.”
Alex leaned forward and grabbed a pen and jotted down notes. “Was it her?”
He nodded. “It was. And I didn’t open the door. I could see her through the peephole. But she seemed to sense I was there and pounded on the door, screaming, kicking, and waking up the neighbors. The cops were called—I didn’t call them though. She was given a warning, but I would still be there for another two days. I woke up the next morning, and she was trying to get in through the living room window.”
He shook his head. “I told her through the window it was over, and I was leaving. The apartment would belong to somebody else. She started crying. I tried to calm her down and went to have coffee with her. I thought maybe it would make things a little better.” He shrugged. “But it was extremely uncomfortable as she made a big scene. I got up, walked out in the middle of it, and went back to my apartment. I finished my packing and cleaning. All I had to do was move my stuff outside to the truck coming to take it to storage. That’s when she arrived again.” Just thinking about what he’d gone through made his stomach boil all over again. He shook his head. “This time I had several buddies helping me. They knew about her. But she acted crazy. She said it was our stuff going into storage. That we were looking for a place together. By the time we were done, several of my friends took me aside and said, ‘Buddy, you need to get the hell out. Something is clearly wrong with her.’ I was just grateful I was leaving.”
“Where did you go?”
“Germany for eight weeks of training. And then another program I had deliberately requested in Iraq, so I would be gone for over three months. You can check my file. It’s all there. And my stay was extended several times. By the time I returned, about eight months had gone by, and, no, I can’t tell you exactly how many months it was. This was four, five years ago, remember? But, when I came back, she was not on my radar. I’d had a good time while I was away. It had been a nice break for me. New scenery, people, and activities. I ended up getting another apartment on my own off base and was going on missions steadily. I was in Iraq and then Afghanistan doing some training. I was up in Alaska for a while.” He frowned. “Then I came home from a long trip. I was tired and cranky. I went to my apartment, parked my vehicle in front, got inside, threw down my bag, stripped, and headed for the shower. When I walked into the bedroom, she was there in my bed.”
Alex’s face hardened. “Can any of your friends verify this?”
“All of them can,” he said in an equally hard voice. “Do you know how many times every one of them has told me to watch my back and to get the hell out?”
“What did you end up doing?”
“I picked her up, grabbed her bag sitting off to the side, put her out into the hall. I shut and locked the doors. I took a kitchen chair and jammed it up against the door so she couldn’t open it. I hadn’t slept in thirty-six hours. I was beyond exhausted. But I sent a text to several of my crew and my unit leader to let them know what was going on. And that, as soon as I caught six hours, I’d get back in touch.”
“What happened when you woke up?”
“She was gone, and I thought I was in the clear.” He shook his head. “But you know stalkers never leave that easily. She started emailing me. I changed my email account. Then I got letters in the mailbox. I was getting phone calls and little presents left on the front door. I did at one point entertain the fact that maybe it was somebody else, but I couldn’t think of anyone else who might’ve done something like that. It made no sense why anybody would. I did not have another lady friend at the time. I was not busy partying and having sex with nameless partners either. Since Ma
Alex’s hand flew across her notebook as she took notes. He appreciated her efficiency. “When did you see her again?”
“When she followed me.”
At that Alex looked up.
He nodded. “Yes, you can talk with my team members. They all saw her. She followed me to the gym, followed me through the coffee shops, followed me to the grocery store when I went shopping. She even followed me to a party. Several friends told her that she needed to back off. She came with the same sad story, that we’d had a fight and she was just making sure I wasn’t mad at her.”
“That’s hardly a tiny fight.”
“And I was mad at her. But I also didn’t know what to do. Over the course of my career I’ve bumped up against a lot of law enforcement, and some of them gave me insights and some tips as to how to avoid her. But she was determined. Anyway, it all came to a head when she followed me to a second party. I was sitting with a woman on each side. They happened to be partners of two of my friends, and we were celebrating engagements among the group, and Marsha lost it. She threw alcohol in my face and broke glasses. She threw furniture and bottles. Anything she could. It was just bad news.
“She ended up getting arrested, and we filed a restraining order against her. She broke it on the very first day. She was tossed in jail overnight. Somebody bailed her out. I don’t know who. Maybe she bailed herself out. I didn’t want to get involved. And it seemed like maybe she understood she had crossed the line, and this wasn’t getting her anything. So she backed off.”
He shot her a look. “Hell no. After that, she got ugly.”
The detective settled back and said, “Ugly in what way?”
“Instead of love letters, she sent hate letters. Then copies of hate letters cut into tiny pieces were stuffed into an envelope. Then she progressed to broken glass parcels. A wineglass was in the first one—not exactly sure what was in the second one because it was just shattered. A number of packages were delivered to my apartment, each containing something shattered.”
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