Undaunted - Shirleen Davies


Coronado, California

The surprise rainstorm broke loose five minutes after the admiral secured the one-star Senior Chief Petty Officer pin to Fuse’s lapel. He’d made it off the podium in time to help his teammates herd his family into a nearby building. Even so, the quick downpour had everyone brushing water from their clothes and shaking their heads. Within five minutes, the rain had stopped.

Scott “Fuse” McCall hugged his parents and brother, broad smiles on all their faces. He still couldn’t believe they’d made the trip from Banderas, Texas, to attend his promotion ceremony. They never left the ranch, not even to celebrate their own anniversaries or birthdays. It humbled him.

“We’re so proud of you.” His mother, Marion, swiped moisture from her face, her other hand cupping his cheek.

“Congratulations, bro. This is awesome!” Scott’s seventeen-year-old brother, Marty, shook his hand. “I’m going to enlist right after high school.”

“College,” their father, Vern, cut in.


“He’s right, Marty. Finish college, then sign-up. You’ll qualify as an officer.” Fuse glanced around, seeing his teammates waiting to congratulate him before heading out to continue their own celebration.

“You’re not an officer and you’re doing fine.”

Fuse’s thoughts went back a few years, wondering if he and Brittany would’ve had a chance if he’d been an officer instead of enlisted. Shaking his head, he gripped his brother’s shoulder.

“Give college a try. You might find you enjoy it. Think of all the girls.”

Marion lightly slugged his arm. “Scott! He’s only fifteen.”

“I’m sure Marty’s already considered it, Mom.” By fifteen, he was already well acquainted with those of the opposite sex.

One of the interior doors opened, drawing his attention. A couple he recognized emerged with the base commander, the men in deep conversation. A moment later, his worst nightmare happened. Brittany appeared, and as expected, fell in line behind her parents—Senator and Mrs. Harold Blackmore.

Stiffening, Fuse did his best to turn away, hoping to stay invisible. He felt his mother lay her hand on his arm and his heart sank.

“Scott. Isn’t that Brittany Blackmore?” At least she’d kept her voice low.

Doing his best to appear disinterested, he covered her hand with his. “Yeah, Mom.” He checked his watch, making a quick decision to head to the restaurant early. “It’s time to leave for our reservation.”

Before he could get them out the side door, a booming voice halted their progress.

“Senior Chief Petty Officer McCall.”

“Shit,” he muttered, ignoring his mother’s raised brows. Turning, he squared his shoulders, his gaze meeting the tall, broad-shouldered man he’d hoped to never see again.

“Senator Blackmore.” He held out his hand, relieved when the man gripped it.

“Congratulations on the promotion. I’m sure it was hard-earned.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“I wanted to thank you again for both times you came to my family’s rescue. You need to know my wife and I have the greatest respect for you.”

Fuse’s expression didn’t change, nor did he acknowledge Brittany and her mother, who stood a few feet away. “Just doing my job, sir. My parents are here and we have reservations. Have a safe trip home, sir.” Holding out his hand again, he bore the man’s touch once more before rejoining his family.

“All right. Ready to eat?” He nodded at the exit doors, ignoring his parents’ confused stares.

“Uh, Scott.” Marty nodded behind them.

He didn’t have to look to know who approached. Steeling himself, Fuse turned, coming face-to-face with Brittany.

“Ms. Blackmore. I trust you’re doing well.”

Her face fell, lips parting. The butterflies in her stomach were on the warpath and she couldn’t seem to calm them.

“Hello, Scott.” Licking her lips, she clasped her hands together, lifting her chin. “I’m doing quite well. Congratulations on your promotion.”

Fuse couldn’t recall Brittany ever acting nervous, fighting to display the poise of a princess. To him, that’s what she’d always been. Untouchable, which had turned out to be true.

“Thank you.”

“Will it change anything for you?”

“If you mean, will I change teams, no. A little more pay, but that’s about it. Are you still in D.C.?”

“I am. Do you mind if I say hello to your parents?”

Fuse looked behind him. “I’m sure they’d love seeing you.”

Passing him, she hugged his mother and father, making a big deal about how much Marty had grown. Fuse watched, his jaw clenching as his chest tightened. After all this time, he still missed her. At least he didn’t love her anymore.

A few minutes ticked by before she returned, shoving her hands into her coat pockets. “I should get back to my parents. It was great to see you.” She glanced around, meeting his gaze once