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By Katherine Garbera
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneVictoria Patton held the phone away from her ear for a second and carefully covered the mouthpiece. "Hot damn!"
It looked as if all of her hard work had paid off. Of course, a good deal of luck was responsible for her being in the office when her boss had called in with the story. But he'd specifically asked for her, so she knew it was the break she'd been waiting for.
She pulled the phone back. "Of course, Tyson. I'll be ready to go by six o'clock."
Smiling, she hung up the phone, leaning back in her office chair. The halls of UBC, United Broadcasting Company, were quiet during the lunch hour. She spun her office chair around and stared out at the skyline of Manhattan. An office with a nice view wasn't bad for a girl from a cattle ranch in south-central Florida. Days like today made the hard work and separation from her family worth it.
She turned back around and took in the evidence of how much she'd already achieved. One wall of her office held her journalism degree in a frame that her father had given her. The other wall held awards and framed photos that she'd picked up during her career. Her low credenza had neat and orderly shelves, but the top was cluttered with photos of her friends and family.
The surface of her desk held a blotter that she used to jot notes on and a green alligator pencil cup her brother had sent her when she'd done a story on the Florida Everglades. She also had a PVC figurine of Buttercup from the Power Puff Girls, because her practical joker co-workers thought she resembled the steely-eyed, tough-as-nails girl.
Tory was an up-and-coming television news reporter who'd been proving herself on the national level for the past five years. At five feet two inches tall, she knew she wasn't exactly an imposing figure, but her insightful questions and keen ability to read between the lines had given her an edge few reporters had. She had black hair and green eyes that she'd been told were as mysterious as a cat's. She knew that line had been corny flattery, but it suited her image of herself. At the age of twenty-eight, she was poised to take the national news media by storm, following in the footsteps of her role model, Diane Sawyer. At least, once she completed this interview she would be.
She was young to be considered for the job that her boss, Tyson Bedders, had just offered her - an exclusive interview with Commander Thomas King, a navy SEAL who'd been presumed dead for the past six months after a failed mission in the volatile island country of Puerto Isla in Central America.
Bedders had received a call from Joe Peterson, a public-affairs officer with the U.S. Navy, inviting Tory to go to Puerto Isla and interview King. Tory was to contact the minister of foreign affairs once she arrived on the island. The minister would coordinate the interview.
The details of King's mission were sketchy, but she knew that the members of the SEAL platoon he'd been directing had all been killed and King had been declared dead with the rest of the troop. According to the information Tyson had, King's platoon had been ambushed when they went in to rescue a group of American hostages being held on Puerto Isla.
The phone rang before she could completely digest the fact that she was leaving for Central America in less than six hours. There was a lot to do, including contacting her favorite cameraman, Jay Matthews. She wanted someone with her whom she could count on to film the story the way she wanted it captured.
It was Perry Jacobs, her boyfriend. She smiled to herself. Perry said he was too old to be anyone's boyfriend. He always referred to himself as her significant other. She hated that term, because it suggested that there was nothing significant about her without that other.
Perry was a producer at UBC and they'd been working together for more than five years now. They'd been dating for the past four. He was nearly twenty years her senior and had more experience and knowledge of the business than anyone she knew.
Tory had been attracted to Perry from the first. At the start, she'd ignored the chemistry, not wanting to be fodder for the office rumor mill. Then they'd worked together on a feature story in Virginia, and the relationship had grown from there.
"Will you be home for dinner?" Perry had recently asked Tory to move in with him, and she still wasn't sure about the situation. Her relationship with Perry was one of the things in her life that she questioned.
Which was why she'd kept her own apartment and never stayed over with him more than once a week. She didn't want to encourage Perry to think too strongly in terms of permanency until she knew for sure that she really wanted to be with him for the man he was and not for the producer who had helped to make her into a top-rate journalist.
"Can't. I'm going to Central America on assignment."
"Where?" he asked. There was a note of resignation in his voice, and she suspected he knew that even without the assignment she wouldn't have come over tonight.
"Puerto Isla. Tyson got me an exclusive with a navy SEAL who'd been presumed dead."
"That sounds dangerous."
Perry was right. Puerto Isla was dangerous. The small island was still struggling to keep its new government in place after a bloody coup four months earlier.
Alejandro Del Torro, the new leader, had been cooperating with the U.S. government to get much-needed aid to his suffering people. He'd come to power after leading a rebel movement. The people of Puerto Isla were leery of following another military man, but Del Torro was only an interim leader and was organizing the government and preparing to hold elections within the next six months.
Excerpted from Exposed by Katherine Garbera Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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