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Beyond the Limit

Beyond the Limit

5.0 2
by Lindsay McKenna

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He's tackled tough military projects in hot spots around the globe...but Marine engineer Major Pete Trayhern has never faced anything as challenging as civilian Calandra Roland. Attractive and vivacious, she's definitely not the kind of person he thought would be in charge of building a crucial power station in war-torn Afghanistan. Since they have to work together


He's tackled tough military projects in hot spots around the globe...but Marine engineer Major Pete Trayhern has never faced anything as challenging as civilian Calandra Roland. Attractive and vivacious, she's definitely not the kind of person he thought would be in charge of building a crucial power station in war-torn Afghanistan. Since they have to work together smoothly, Pete is determined to ignore the instant sparks between them.

But Cali's courage and disarming directness are slowly making him drop his guard--and igniting feelings he'd given up trusting. Now, with day-to-day danger the only sure thing and a ruthless conspiracy fast closing in around them, Pete and Cali will put their future and lives on the line. But will their sacrifice destroy their chance for love worth a lifetime?

Product Details

Cengage Gale
Publication date:
Wheeler Romance Series
Edition description:
REV Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.03(h) x 0.97(d)

Read an Excerpt

"MAJOR TRAYHERN, YOUR orders to Afghanistan are either going to be a career killer or a career maker." Colonel Ronald Waskul laid down the olive-green file folder and stared across his desk at the twenty-nine-year-old Marine Corps officer. Waskul liked how the major's gunmetal-gray eyes focused like a laser as he absorbed every word. As it should be.

Tapping the report, the colonel added gruffly, "This construction project is important. You will be there for two years, laying the groundwork and facilitating the building of a historic building of a small coal-fired power plant in that country. Afghanistan has very little electricity and has no power plants inland because there are no lakes and rivers. The U.S. government at the highest levels of the State Department are working with an international consortium of construction companies to provide more energy to this region."

Pete Trayhern was sweating heavily in his dark green wool uniform. He could see it was snowing outside the window behind Colonel Waskul's gray head. A late and unexpected April storm had dumped two feet of the white stuff on Washington, D.C. Pete had just arrived off a transport that had flown him in from Germany. Despite the crazy weather, perspiration beaded his upper lip, and he had the wild desire to wipe it off with the back of his hand. But he didn't dare. According to his father, Morgan Trayhern, the colonel was a king maker in his own right. They had worked on many covert projects together over the last decade, and Pete knew his father idolized the rough-hewn Marine officer.

"Yes, sir, I got a briefing on it before I left my old construction job. I'm sure it shows in my personnel file.I served as an assitant company commander in Kandahar for a year, so I'm not unfamiliar with the country. I'm gung ho on these new orders, Colonel Waskul, and I'm the right man for the job." With his background as a mechanical engineer, graduating from Annapolis four years earlier, Pete had since made a name for himself as an assistant site-construction superintendent. And yet he wondered if his highly influential father, who ran a CIA covert group, had anything to do with this latest development. Pete had known that his two years at the German construction site were up and that he would be transferred, but he hadn't known where. Until now.

Waskul grunted and opened another folder. His thick gray brows turned down. "Yes, your assignment to Kandahar as an assistant company commander is part of the reason you're here. I've carefully gone over your construction record, Major Trayhern. We ran the requirements through the Pentagon computers and came up with five finalists. You were first on that list." Tapping the folder, he added, "You've got a background in bringing electrical substations online, and your last job was building a power plant in its start-up phase near Berlin. You kept that job on schedule and on budget. In today's environment, the U.S. government is very concerned about meeting all these goals."

He stared at Pete. "Colonel James Flint, your past supervisor, has glowing remarks about how effective you were in liaising with civilian construction companies and getting their work completed within the contract requirements."

"Yes, sir, the old carrot-and-stick routine." Pete started to smile, but quickly wiped it off his face when Colonel Waskul frowned even more. Pete hated these

"official" meetings with superiors. Truth be known, he'd rather be out clomping around in the field with D9 Caterpillars, growling earthmovers and noisy backhoes than sitting in the stifling, stuffy confines of a Pentagon office. He yearned to be out in the cold, crisp air, drawing it deeply into his lungs. Fighting jet lag and no sleep in the last forty-eight hours, Pete felt rummy. As he held the colonel's icy blue stare, he did his best to remain alert and appear interested.

"Well, you're going to need every carrot, stick and donkey you've got up your sleeve to coordinate this mission, Major Trayhern," Waskul growled, handing Pete the folder. "This time, you are going to head up the project. You're no longer the assistant. And this isn't Italy or Germany. Afghanistan is a third world country. You speak fluent German and Italian. But where you're going, Farsi and Pashto are the languages spoken, along with a multitude of tribal and regional dialects. Your workers are going to be Afghans, as well as other hard hats from around the world." His brows rose and he sat back. "You've got your work cut out for you."

Looking down at the overflowing file on the power plant project, Pete murmured, "Yes, sir. I understand this is a very different and difficult project." As he looked back up, he smiled just a little at Colonel Waskul's bulldog features. "I'm confident that I can handle it, sir. And I appreciate the confidence the Navy has in me to do just that."

Now the Marine Corps was a sub-branch of the U.S. Navy, although no Marine liked to admit it. Still the Navy construction branch was well known as a "can-do." Pete was sure this was partly responsible for him receiving this assignment. Pete was one of many officers from various military branches that were sent interservice, to projects around the world. Although he was a Marine, he had worked for the Air Force at his first job, in Italy, and for the U.S. Army in Germany on his second tour. Specialties such as his were shared among the branches. "That's youth talking," Waskul muttered, giving him a cutting, one-cornered smile. "You have seven days of leave, Major. I suggest you get a good night's sleep and show up here tomorrow morning at the Pentagon. Fill your Blackberry and laptop with information you're going to need and then your father is expecting you home."

"Yes, sir, I'll be here at 0800 tomorrow morning to pick up the details of the project."

"Give my best to your dad. He's one hell of a Marine, and it's always a pleasure to work with him and his companies." Standing, Waskul watched as the major sprang to his feet at attention. "At ease," he said, thrusting his hand across the desk to Trayhern. "I can't stress enough how critical this project is, Major. If you do this right, you'll be in one helluva position for early lieutenant-colonel's leaves. The Afghan government is hinging a lot on this power plant and it's political as hell. If people start getting electricity inland, the government feels the regional tribal sheiks will be more cooperative, rather than fomenting uprisings to tear that country apart again. Got it?"

Pete relaxed and shook the tough Marine's callused hand. "Yes, sir, I got it. I'll make you proud of me, sir. That's a promise."

Nodding, Waskul released his grip. "In my late twenties I thought I could conquer the world, too, Major. Just remember, you're going to be working with an international mix of construction companies. Everyone speaks different languages and does things their own way. You have to weave them into one machine, with one heart, one mind and one focus on the goals you set for them. Your father says you have what it takes. I'm counting on you...."

"PETE! WELCOME HOME!" Laura Trayhern's voice sang through the hall as her son stepped in the doorway.

"Hi, Mom." Pete grinned and opened his arms as she dashed toward him.

"Welcome home, sweetheart! We've missed you so much!" After hugging her second son fiercely, she planted several kisses on his clean-shaven cheek.

"Sorry I couldn't get home sooner," Pete said, pulling back so that he could get a good look at her. Simple and elegant in black slacks and a white blouse, Laura Tray-hern was in her fifties, but to Pete, she seemed so much younger.

He hung up his coat and lifted his nose in the air. "What's that I smell? My favorite meal cooking? Am I in time for lunch?" He grinned widely, his heart expanding as his mother took his arm and drew him down the polished, golden-red cedar hall and into the bright, airy kitchen.

"Yes, your favorite. Beef stroganoff. Your father will be here any minute. I decided to make it for lunch instead of dinner."

Pete felt the tension he'd been carrying in his shoulders dissolve. He'd hitched a ride on a commercial flight from D.C. to Anaconda, Montana. From there, he'd rented a car and driven to Phillipsburg, a very small town nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains. The weather had cooperated; it was spring here, with patches of snow left, but greenery and wildflowers popping up after a long, severe winter.

"Where's Kammie?" Pete asked, looking around. She was the youngest of his sisters. The table was set to perfection with sparkling glassware, colorful china plates and glistening flatware. His mother was one hell of a cook, and Pete always appreciated the homey nest she'd made for all of them growing up.

"She's in school. Normally, she doesn't come home at noon." Laura smiled as she pulled the casserole out of the oven and placed it on a trivet in the center of the table. "You'll see her tonight."

"I've missed her. She's really grown up in the last two years." Kamaria Trayhern was the fifth child in their family. Pete recalled the infant girl being brought back from Los Angeles after a deadly earthquake had devastated southern California years earlier. Kamaria had been found beneath the body of her dead mother. Pete's own mom had suffered a broken ankle and been trapped in the rubble of a hotel for days.

After being rescued, Kamaria had been flown to the Camp Reed Marine Base to recover. Many children without parents had been cared for at the huge medical facility. Laura, who had been bedridden, had volunteered to help out by bottle-feeding little Kamaria. And had fallen in love with the little black-haired tyke.

Pete had been a teen then, and he recalled the phone call from his parents to him and his fraternal twin, Kelly, about bringing the baby home and adopting her. He'd thought it was a great idea. And through the years, as Kammie grew up, she'd been a continuous blessing to the family. Pete and Kelly had been especially close to their adopted little sister. He always appreciated the e-mails and pictures she sent from her computer. Kammie was a photo bug of the first order. Two years ago, Pete had given her a cheap digital camera for her birthday, and a photographer had been born. Ever since, Kammie took pictures of the family and routinely sent them to him so he wouldn't feel homesick. She wanted to grow up and be a professional photographer who worked for a major international news organization, wanting to follow in Kelly's footsteps and lead an adventurous life. Kammie idolized her big sister. Kelly had left the Marine Corps aviation as a helicopter pilot and had been flying the Sirkorsky Sky Crane for Shaheen Aviation. Kelly fought wildfires across the globe with her helo that could fly in 3000 gallons of water on a raging forest fire. Kammie doted on red-haired Kelly's brave acts and dreamed of an adventurous life when she graduated from college someday.

Meet the Author

Lindsay McKenna wears a few "hats" in her life including that of writer, homeopath and flower essence creator.

Because of her unique upbringing, Lindsay is very aware of human spirituality and her deep connection with Mother Earth. At the age of three, Lindsay rode her first horse and has loved horses ever since. At age fourteen she rescued a two-year-old mustang stallion from the chicken feed factory for $45 and brought him home. She proceeded to tame the sorrel stallion with love and affection. It's no surprise that later in her life she had an Arabian horse farm in Ohio for nine years. She and her husband, David, bred, raised, trained and sold Crabbet line (English) Arabians. Today Lindsay has one horse, a purebred Arabian mare, Cinnamon, which she tries to ride almost every day.

When she was sixteen, Lindsay picked night crawlers and sold them to sporting goods stores in order to pay for flying classes. She was the only one at her school of over 650 teenagers to hold a student pilot's license at age seventeen. By the time she graduated at age eighteen, she had logged forty hours of flying time.

She joined the U.S. Navy at age eighteen, following her father's footsteps--he was in the navy during World War II (and had one destroyer shot out from under him). After three brutal days of nonstop, eight-hour testing in boot camp, Lindsay was told that she had the highest mechanical score since the WAVES (Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service), a World War II-era division of the navy that was made entirely up of women! As no mechanical jobs were open to women in 1964, Lindsay was asked to pick another career field. She chose meteorology because it was aboutnature (once again!).

From 1980 to 1983 she was a volunteer firefighter in West Point, Ohio, taking on several types of training at the Ohio Fire Academy in Reynoldsburg. She was the only woman in a twenty-man volunteer department and did everything they did--very well, she'd like to add!

Because of her background in emergency situations, in 1996 she trained at Yavapai College, Cottonwood, Arizona, to become a registered emergency medical technician. Her background in knowing what to do in emergency and accident situations is reflected in her books.

Her military and emergency situation experiences became the backbone of her writing; she is credited with writing the first military romance novel (Captive of Fate, 1983, Silhouette Special Edition) and has created a thriving subgenre within the romance field. Her many experiences in the U.S. Navy are backdrops for her very successful Silhouette series, Morgan's Mercenaries.

A writer since the age of thirteen, Lindsay continues to hone her writing skills to this day. She sold her first romance novel in 1982, and since then, Lindsay has published more than eighty romances, historical and mass-market adventure and suspense novels. Usually she writes two to four books a year, depending upon the demands in other departments of her life.

But the most important part of Lindsay's identity is her Native American heritage, which has taught her to live in concert with nature and "all her relations." She lives her life according to this philosophy, and it shines through the different books she loves to write.

Her paternal great-great-grandmother was a pure-blooded Eastern Cherokee medicine woman from the Wolf Clan. Lindsay's father taught her the healing "medicine" skill that had been passed down his family line. A medicine is passed through generations, from an older member to a younger member of the family, so that the information is never lost. She is very close to nature, and being a homeopath, her second "hat," dovetails into her belief that all things are related and interconnected--nothing is detached from anything else. She believes all people are individuals and cannot be generalized. Homeopathy appealed strongly to her because of her training in the healing arts and herbology taught to her by her mother, Ruth.

In 1993 she received her doctorate of homeopathic medicine from the British Institute of Homeopathy in England. Lindsay practiced homeopathy in the state of Ohio from 1970 to 1990. When she moved to Arizona, she turned to writing books and articles on homeopathy. She was on the faculty of the Desert Institute of Classical Homeopathy in Phoenix, Arizona, for two years.

Her third "hat" is as a pioneer in the field of flower and gem essences. Lindsay discovered that gems and flowers are a very gentle form of alternative medicine. In 1994 she began to create her own essences and has gathered findings on them to uncover what healing qualities each has. She has two Web sites devoted to alternative medicine. Her site www.whatflowerareyou.com will reveal stunning aspects of people's favorite flowers, which can also become their healer. She gives five-day seminars on this topic all over the world. Another part of her philosophy is that personal experience is the best kind of education, and so she created a huge Web site, www.medicinegarden.com, in 1996 for people to help themselves when sick or who want to maintain wellness. It features a number of alternative medicine departments, including homeopathy and flower and gem essences.

Today she lives outside Sedona, Arizona. Her husband, David, a retired civil engineer, helps Lindsay and her mother, Ruth, run the fruit orchard, greenhouse and the many, many flower planters where Lindsay makes her healing flower essences. She has her horse, Cinnamon, a golden retriever named Rocky and nine cats.

Lindsay loves to hear from her readers and loves to know what they'd like to see her write next. Please visit her Web site at www.lindsaymckenna.com, and visit her blog at www. Talesfromechocanyon.blogspot.com.

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Beyond the Limit 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
Marine combat engineer Major Pete Trayhern is placed in charge of the construction project in Afghanistan where he will work closely with civilian construction companies. He expects the work to prove difficult as the Taliban wants the Americans to fail. However, after his mom lectures him about finding the right woman, Pete leaves the States to begin his project.---------------------- He is stunned when he meets his civilian counterpart, head of the Roland Construction project in Afghanistan Calandra Roland as he never expected to see a female civilian in this dangerous third world nation. As each ignores their attraction, danger mounts from what Pete thinks is a traitorous source. When Cali is injured Pete no longer can avoid his feelings for her. He loves her and she reciprocates, but first they must finish the project and uncover who is behind the destruction of their construction work. When someone abducts her it looks like the dirty work of the Taliban.-------------- Morgan¿s Mercenaries next generation (Pete is Morgan¿s son) is at its best when it depicts the struggles to build modern facilities in Afghanistan during a war in which the enemy will sabotage anything.-------------- Readers will appreciate this fine romantic suspense in which headline news serves as the backdrop as the military-civilian complex tries to reconstruct the war-torn country under hostile conditions.----------------- Harriet Klausner