Erotic Military Romance
April 1, 2008
A woman craves. A man wants. Their collision pitches them into the hot zone.
Sometimes a woman craves what she shouldn't want...
Marisa Clyde wants nothing to do with the soldier acting as a temporary bouncer in her uncle's tavern, even though the stoic, six-feet-of-smoldering hunk rescued her during a tour gone bad in Mexico. While those few short moments sent their sexual tension screaming off the charts, a devastating hurt in her past now blocks her willingness to surrender to him. He'll only be in town a month. If she can just wait it out, he'll soon be out of her life.
Sometimes a man wants more than a woman is willing to share...
Jake Sullivan watches Marisa like a hawk, well aware his need to protect is messing with his mind and making him care way more than he should. Priding himself on clinical detachment in the game between man and woman, he figures once he's slept with her, she'll be out of his system for good. But that's before he experiences her at a deeper level-and learns she just might be in danger again.
The second Marisa Clyde saw the soldier she knew he was trouble.
He took Marisa's hand as she stepped off the old tour bus. Huge fingers and a big palm wrapped her much smaller hand. Her body shivered as warmth flickered in her stomach. In fact, her entire body quaked.
He looked like rescue.
He looked like safety wrapped up in one sexy, strong, powerful package.
She could blame it on the events of the last twenty-four hours. Danger and fear could rattle a person. Or just perhaps, it could be this man and the power he emanated.
Maybe the long, thick lashes framing the onyx eyes staring down into hers influenced her senses to scatter. She was nuts to go completely ga-ga over the man standing in front of her when she refused to find a military man attractive ever again. Maybe she could blame her reaction to him on the heat wavering upward from the washboard surface of the road and the relentless sun beating down. Or perhaps the humidity level coming from the Mexican jungle all around them had steamed her brains. Of course, the fact that her ribs had taken a bit of beating didn't help. Every time she breathed, a dull ache radiated outward from her left side.
Not what she expected to experience on a vacation, but she'd made it through worse and lived to tell about it.
As her Uncle Dexter back in Clarksville, Wyoming would say, the pucker factor for the last day had escalated way off the charts. She had a right to feel disoriented, hungry, and exhausted. A smear on her glasses irritated her, but she didn't bother to try and clean it. Face it, a smear was so not that important when she'd just survived what would amount in the news to an international incident.
Her ribs panged, and she winced.
"Are you all right, ma'am?" the soldier asked, his deep voice a husky sound that brushed along her senses like a feather tickling all her erogenous zones.
She couldn't answer him. Through her tiredness, her hormones registered that he stood around six three or four, his muscular build apparent through the camo wear. He wore no rank or insignia that could identify him.
His military short obsidian hair gleamed with blue highlights under the fierce sun. He topped the charts into unbelievably gorgeous. No. Not exactly. Dark and dangerous, a huge cliché, didn't explain the unique mix-and-match hardness in his features that added up to one handsome visage. Yet dangerous certainly described his aura, a kick-butt-and-don't-bother-to-take-names presence. His angular face defied description-his jaw formed a solid frame around his hard mouth. His nose was a smidgen crooked. Those intriguing, mysterious eyes didn't hide anything. Did he know how his feelings gleamed so starkly in his gaze? Probably not. Right now his eyes narrowed, as if he wanted to read her mind and excavate answers.
When she didn't answer him, his gaze turned dark, serious and concerned. "Ma'am?"
"Poor dear is a bit shocky," Ida Hambly said behind her. "She's had quite an ordeal."
"I'm fine," Marisa said. "There's nothing wrong with me."
"Right. Nothing wrong. You've just made it through a bombing, a robbery, and a broken down bus. All in a day's work for an accountant?" Ida leaned heavily on her cane, and when the soldier saw Ida hesitating on the bottom step of the bus, he released Marisa's hand and helped the elderly woman down and over to where Marisa stood. "And then the cavalry rides in on white horses and saves our butts. I'd say that's enough to rattle your sweet young cage."
Marisa smirked. "Ida, your sense of humor kept me sane."
That, and maybe Freddie Bodine. Freddie stood clasped in the arms of her boyfriend, another one of the soldiers who'd come to the rescue. Apparently he'd traveled from the U.S. after putting together this team of army men to look for Freddie when the tour bus went missing and didn't report back to the hotel.
Freddie's head pressed against her boyfriend's shoulder, and his hand cupped the back of her head. He touched his lips to the top of Freddie's head in a tender gesture. He looked drained with relief. What would it feel like to have a man love me that much?
Ten other soldiers who'd first appeared earlier like ghosts from the jungle entered the bus. People chattered in excited, relieved voices and the soldiers hurried to extract them from the vehicle.
Trauma of the last day worked into her sore body. The back of her neck ached, muscles in her lower back protested. She stretched and arched her back, as she sighed. She felt grungy, her long hair frizzing in the humidity, her khaki shorts and plain blue T-shirt rumpled. She regretted the movement as pain arched through her side again.
"You should have seen how Marisa and Freddie convinced those bastards to take nothing else but the cash," Ida said to one of the soldiers. "It was truly amazing."
Marisa's legs started to tremble, and her temples throbbed. As if he had radar for her emotional or physical changes, her soldier's gaze flicked her way and he frowned as he eyeballed her. He spoke into a satellite phone and ordered another person to bring their transportation. She rubbed the back of her neck and allowed her eyes to slip closed.
The soldier's voice rumbled nearby, and she opened her eyes to find him within her personal space. So close she should have rebelled. She never let men get this close-until now. He gripped Marisa's upper arm as if he expected her to collapse any minute. She'd never felt this fragile before, hanging by a single thread combined of liberation and leftover fear.
"Ma'am-Marisa, would you like some water?" He handed her a small water bottle.
It took her a few seconds to respond. She irrationally wanted to tell him to call her Miss Clyde or ma'am because she wanted the distance and formality.
Instead she said, "Thank you."
She took the water and slammed back a huge swallow. She knew better than to gulp the lukewarm liquid, but thirst compelled her to slug down half the bottle. Immediately her stomach lurched in protest.
"Whoa. Slow down," he said.
She glared at him. "I'm thirsty."
"Drink too much and it'll make you sick."
She almost stalked away. Not because she found him repulsive. Nope. She found him way, way too intriguing.
She heard the rumble of vehicles and two large vans turned the corner and progressed their way. Tension shot up her back.
"There's our transport," her soldier said.
Good. Lethargy weighed her down, as if she sank into her athletic shoes a few inches, quicksand sucking her into blessed darkness.
His voice sounded too far away, and then as her head seemed to float and her legs turned rubbery, she managed to whisper a plea, "Wait..."
He moved toward her quickly. "What's wrong?"
"I-I don't think I can-"
Her eyelids fluttered and suddenly his powerful arms encircled her. "Easy. Are you hurt somewhere and just not telling us about it?"
Marisa clutched at his shoulders. "My ribs. One of the bandits slung me into a seat." She touched her glasses, held together in the middle by some tape Ida had found in her voluminous tote bag. "That's how I broke my glasses."
"Son of a bitch." Her soldier growled the words under his breath.
He lifted her in his arms, and she said, "No. I mean, I'm fine. It's not that big a deal."
He carried her toward the vans. "Sergeant Clearwater! We need a medic."
Freddie, Ida, and Freddie's soldier followed, Freddie's and Ida's concerned voices echoing in her ears.