It Takes a SEAL
A travel agent visiting friends in the Bahamas is stranded on a desert island with a sexy ex-SEAL after their private pleasure cruise is interrupted by men who mistake her lover for a reclusive billionaire.
When Susan heads to the Bahamas, she thinks the sexiest part of the trip is that she can count it as a tax deduction. After all, her agency has new offices in Miami and the Bahamas, and she needs face-time with her partners, who also just happen to be her best friends.
However, her plans for a working vacation, emphasis on work, go quickly awry when she meets ex-SEAL now security specialist, Justin Walsh. His lead-footed, fast-talking ways creep beneath her cool reserve and make her yearn for the kind of relationships her besties have with their ex-military husbands.
When his billionaire employer comes under possible threat, the ever-crafty Justin organizes an op that will kill two birds with one stone. He’ll pose as his employer aboard his luxury yacht while he woos the woman who stole his heart from the first moment he met her.
However, even best laid plans have their hiccups. When Justin and Susan are stranded on a desert island, it’s up to Justin to keep them safe while he orchestrates the ultimate seduction.
Note: This story was previously part of the SEALS OF SUMMER box set.
Read an Excerpt
Susan Evers steeled herself against the sudden rush of lust that hit her the moment the blond god in the Hawaiian-themed swimming trunks turned toward her. Her cheeks felt hard, her smile stiff. Keeping her gaze on his face and not tracking wildly down his very nicely proportioned torso proved even more difficult. But she managed a small smile. Too bad she forgot to breathe. A salty, sea breeze ruffled her hair while she continued to stare.
The moment she felt him slide a large hand over her forearm to steady her, she wheezed inward.
“Did I hurt you?” he asked, dropping his hand immediately. “You looked like you were about to pass out.”
Spotting the concerned look in his dreamy, puppy-dog brown eyes, Susan cursed her lack of composure. The one thing she prided herself on was her ability to keep her cool. In every circumstance, whether staring down a customer who wanted to change their travel plans for the umpteenth time or facing off with a Chicago mugger, she maintained her game face, a neutral expression without a hint of sweat that had earned her a few unflattering nicknames over the years. Nevertheless, something about this man put her off her game.
She’d been struck dumb the first time she’d met him at the airport where he’d picked her up. Sure he’d thought she was stuck-up from her inability to answer in anything but monosyllabic words, she’d been surprised by his fortitude, keeping up a light banter throughout their trek to the Halloran estate. Perhaps he’d been forewarned that entering into a dialogue might leave him skinless and scarred. His one-sided observations allowed her time to study him and try to figure out why her reaction was so visceral. Not that she’d come up with any answers in the thirty-minute drive. Between his heavy foot on the gas pedal and the hairpin curves around corners that caused the tires to squeal, she’d been too busy bracing for a car wreck to ponder her attraction to the lead-footed SEAL.
When he’d dropped her bags inside her bungalow and given her one of what she knew now was his trademark, easy smiles, she’d felt a blush heat her cheeks, and still couldn’t manage more than a clipped thank you. And then she’d done something she’d regretted ever since, she’d offered him a tip-like he was bell hop at a hotel when she knew he was a friend to Dex Haygood, her BFF’s husband, and had done them a favor by picking her up at the airport.
He’d shown considerably more aplomb, chuckling and folding her fingers over the bills she’d offered, and then had done something that sealed her fate. He’d leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Welcome to the Bahamas, Susie Q.”
She’d been thunderstruck-that towering frame, those shaggy, golden locks of tousled hair, the scrape of his whiskers against her cheek, that whiff of sea-fresh scent intermingled with his manly musk. His brown eyes had twinkled down at her while her cheeks had heated, no doubt turning cherry red.
And then he’d winked. “We’ll continue this conversation about the method of payment I’ll accept when everyone gathers for drinks later.”
When he’d left, she’d felt as though a vacuum had suddenly been broken as air whooshed back into her lungs. She’d been left shaken and a little dismayed by her reaction to the hard-bodied ex-SEAL.
The boat dipped gently side to side, and she shifted her stance. Oh, she’d dated better looking men. And in her line of work, she’d certainly tasted her fair share of island Adonises, but this one was forbidden fruit. Maybe that was why he continued to fascinate her. And why she was wearing a demure one-piece swimsuit in sleek black rather than any of her barely-there bikinis, because she needed armor to resist the temptation he embodied. He was Lace’s friend. Dex’s best man at their wedding. No longer did she regret the fact she’d had to miss their wedding due to a nasty bout of the flu. She would have made a fool of herself, standing in front of their friends while Dex and Lace said their I do’s, because Justin Walsh would have drawn her gaze again and again, and in a very public setting.
As it was, this was a working vacation, and she was going to sea for the day with all of her friends aboard the Clementine, a luxury yacht-a large enough boat she didn’t have to run into Justin unless she really wanted to. So what was she doing aft on the lower deck when the tanning chaises were way up on the upper deck in the front of the boat?
Justin was still looking at her, questions in his eyes. “Sure you want to dive today, Susie Q? Maybe you should lie down in a cabin.”
The words to issue a set down were on the tip of her tongue, as was her usual M.O. when fending off unwanted male attention, but his attention wasn’t really unwanted. “I’m fine. And you don’t have to worry. My certification’s up to date.”
“No worries. I’ll be your dive buddy today.”
Really? Her heart rate kicked up a notch. She started to shake her head, but he stepped closer, his body dwarfing hers, an unusual sensation because she was five-ten and most men didn’t tower over her, and she wasn’t easily intimidated. Another rush of lust flooded her, and she drew a deep breath, her chest expanding and brushing his ever so lightly.
Justin grew still, his nostrils flaring, and again, there was that flash of heat in his expression, warming his brown eyes. “Is your problem with men in general, or just me?” he asked, his voice soft.
“I don’t have any problems with you,” she said, dismay growing inside because he was part of Lace’s circle of friends. The last thing she wanted was to cause a strain in her relationship with her bestie if she and Justin couldn’t get along. She lifted her face and cleared her expression, then after a deep sigh, decided to level with him. “This thing,” she said, waving a hand between their bodies, “is making me-”
“Am I making you uncomfortable?” His brows drew together and he dipped his knees to meet her gaze straight on.
“Yes.” Why couldn’t she draw in a full breath?
He raised his hands and took a step back. “I’m sorry. I thought-”
As much as she’d wanted him to back away so she could breathe again, she hated the confusion in his eyes. “No,” she blurted. “It’s me… I’m attracted. And this…isn’t a good idea. You don’t poo in your own back yard, and you certainly don’t have affairs with your best friend’s husband’s best friend, because things get sticky, and I don’t do sticky.” She jammed a hand on her hip.
“You don’t poo in your own back yard?” His lips thinned as he pressed them together.
The humor in his gaze made her blush even hotter. “You know what I mean.”
“Yes, I do,” he said, retaking the step that brought his body within nipple-rubbing distance again. “How about you stop worrying so much about problems we don’t have yet? Who says things are gonna get sticky? I’m a fun kind of guy. Ask anyone.” And then he placed a hand on her hip, gripping it to pull her closer, and brought her body flush with his.
A gasp escaped. She placed her hands on his chest to push him away, but her fingers curled, tips biting into hard muscle. Blood pounded through her veins. Anyone might see them, and the last thing she wanted to do was fend off her friends’ teasing. They were both deliriously happy in their marriages and wanted the same for her. Even though she kept reminding them she wasn’t the marrying kind, most of their after-business Skype sessions centered around Susan’s dating life-or lack thereof. She doubted Lace or Maya would be worried about her with Justin. If anything, she figured they’d been matchmaking when Justin had been tagged to pick her up at the airport.
He did seem like a fun kind of guy, which only made this attraction all the more mystifying. The men she dated either didn’t speak English and were good for only one thing, or they were the tailored-suit type-lawyers, stockbrokers-men with high-powered, busy lives who understood her drive to make her small company into something…bigger.
“This doesn’t have to be about sex,” he said, then gave a waggle of his eyebrows. “Or it could be all about sex. Whichever makes you more…comfortable. No pooing in your back yard at all.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Maybe we should drop that analogy.”
“I don’t mind a little dirty talk, Susie Q.”
A little moan scraped from her throat.
His eyebrows arched with devilish delight. “I’m getting to you, aren’t I?”
Maybe he was. His humor made her lips twitch, but she had the feeling that what was stirring between his legs was causing the most problems with her resolve. “Dive buddies?” she asked, silently telling him that was all they could be.
“And aren’t you lucky? We’ll be in the water this afternoon, and I have work tonight, so no tempting you into pooing is even possible.”
“Stop,” she said, a smile finally tugging at her mouth.
“Damn,” he said, staring down at her as his fingers on her hip tightened. “You had to go and smile.” His head lowered.
Susan held her breath, knowing he was going to kiss her. A knot pulled in her stomach and her lips parted.
“Hey, you two-get a room!”
Susan’s head jerked toward the sound of Maya’s voice. Her friend stood just a few feet away, her hunk of muscle, Angel, standing right beside her, a crooked grin on his face.
Justin laughed and his forehead pressed against hers. “Later,” he whispered.
“Later, you’re working,” she reminded him firmly.
“Fuck. Might have to figure out a way to ditch.”
She smiled up at him, a lightness of spirit sweeping over her. A feeling so foreign but also so delicious, she pressed her thighs together. Maybe they could keep this light and uncomplicated. No pooing at all.
Justin released her and stepped back, turning to adjust himself while she fought to smother a smile before she gave Maya a mock glare. “Terrible timing.”
Maya laughed. “Well, at least you’re not mistaking him for a bell hop.”
Heat bloomed in her cheeks. “I never…”
“Oh?” Justin shot her glance. “You thought I was a gigolo? I’m a lot less insulted.”
“Stop,” she said, holding up a hand because she was chuckling now, and afraid she’d burst into laughter, which she needed to avoid. She knew her laugh was a little horsey, not the least sexy, or so a boyfriend had told her once.
While he smiled, he studied her face.
A Cheshire-grin, so cute on his uber-masculine face, made her arousal tug again. Deep inside her core, she knew they’d end up in bed sometime during this week. And now, she no longer dreaded it. He understood her limits. No one would get hurt. They’d have some fun. Maybe find that refreshing friends-with-benefits balance she’d never managed, not once, in all her short-lived relationships. Because Susan wasn’t looking for love. She had bigger plans. Plans that didn’t include a cottage with a picket fence and babies in the nursery. Maybe this shaggy-haired, hard-bodied man-boy was just what she needed to clear the cobwebs from her lackluster love life.
And then she met his gaze again. His expression was sober, his gaze studying her again. And frisson of arousal mixed with a little feminine fear trickled down her spine, reminding her she’d be wise not to let down her prickly guard. Not all the way. Because there was more to Justin than his sultry, beach-bum good looks and SEAL’s tensile strength. There was an air of danger that clung to his broad shoulders. The kind of danger a woman with a penchant for kink found irresistible. “I think I’ll go find some sunscreen,” she murmured and gave him a little smile and glared at her friend to remind her to butt out of her business. Then she strode away, her shoulders straightening the more distance she put between herself and temptation in Hawaiian shorts.