Watch Over Me
When Deke Warrick accepts an unsanctioned detail to keep tabs on a congressman’s niece while she vacations in the Caribbean, he expects the only dangers he’ll face are sunburn and a rum hangover. Determined to keep his distance, his resolve is challenged by a chance encounter with the beautiful Nicky Martir—and then shattered when she’s snatched from their hotel room.
Read an Excerpt
Deke Warrick pushed his sunglasses down his nose to peer at the woman stretched on a chaise not five feet away. She laid face down, her head turned away, thick brown hair held in place by a clip. From the slowness of her breaths, he knew she was dozing. And since he figured she wouldn’t be leaving the beach anytime soon, he relaxed, forcing his fingers to stretch around the teak wood arms of his lounge chair.
After two connecting flights and a short leg in a specially chartered puddle-jumper, at last he had eyes on Nicky Martir. He knew the woman was her because a hotel staff member he’d bribed had pointed her out. Assistance he’d needed because at the moment she didn’t look anything like the air-brushed Facebook photo he’d been given. After finding her, he’d checked out the hotel’s parking and lounge area, all entrances and exits, the stairwells, and then greased the palms of the concierge and wait staff. His initial recon over, he now had time to focus on his target.
From his vantage point, he’d already determined his former commander’s “little girl” was all grown up. In fact, she was a very well-proportioned woman with lush curves above and below a narrow waist. Must have taken after her mother, he mused, because her father’s frame didn’t sport an ounce of excess flesh. At the moment, her bottom was most prominent—rounded, firm, and displayed all too well by the narrow thong bisecting her cheeks. Not that he wanted to notice, but hell, it was right there, and with more than enough curve a healthy, hetero man could well imagine his hands gripping each mound as he…
“Señor, would you like another drink?”
Deke jerked. No one had managed to sneak up on him in a long time, which said a lot about Nicky’s attractiveness.
The cabana girl’s voice held a note of irritation. Her dark brows were drawn into a frown, her lips pursed in disapproval. But not because he’d been ogling a sleeping girl. He’d claimed a spot beneath a thatched umbrella at the edge of the small tiki bar’s outdoor seating area, and he had yet to deliver on the promise he’d made with his smile when he’d asked for this prime piece of real estate. The seat with its attached table provided a perfect view of the beach, as well as the private gated entrance of the hotel parking lot. More importantly, the chair was situated near Nicky. Not close enough to touch, but from here, he could watch over her, amidst the other sunbathers.
Giving the waitress an equally irritated glance, he reached into his pocket and took out several bills, more than enough for five drinks and a generous tip. “Bring me a virgin mojito,” he murmured quietly. A ruse to disguise the fact he hadn’t had a sip of alcohol, because he was on the job—even if this mission was strictly off the books and a favor to a man he admired.
His gaze swung back to the dozing woman. She’d turned her head while he’d been talking to the waitress and was facing him now, a dark fringe of long lashes resting against her cheeks. Yeah, her photo hadn’t done her justice. Sure, he’d known she was pretty, but this close, he could see a smattering of freckles across her nose—a feature she must hide beneath makeup, but which he thought was cute. Made her seem more approachable. Her mouth was full, the bottom lip a little puffier than the top and wide. A mouth made for kissing.
Deke winced and glanced away, feeling guilty over lusting after Commander Martir’s daughter. He was here to do a job. Although Martir had retired from the navy and now held a seat in congress with special oversight of the administration’s war on drugs, he had maintained close ties with the SEAL community, working with his contacts inside the Drug Enforcement Agency to find positions for several of Deke’s friends when they’d started the next phases of their lives. Their special skill set had been a perfect fit for the spec ops work the agency did, and Martir wanted men he could trust working there—disciplined, honorable men. Martir had promised Deke he’d keep a spot open for whenever he was ready to leave DEVGRU/SEAL Team 6, something Deke had automatically refused a year ago. But after his last deployment in the sandbox, he was having second thoughts. Martir’s timing, approaching him the day after Deke set boots back on the tarmac at Oceana, VA, had seemed like a sign.
Deke answered a summons to his present commander’s office, and instead found Martir standing with his back to the door as he stared out across the green, hands clasped behind his back. Other than the gray at his temples, Fred Martir looked exactly as he had when he’d been the one in charge here.
Deke entered the room and shut the door behind him. “Sir,” he said, coming to attention—out of respect for a former officer who had been a SEAL himself.
When the congressman turned, he raked his gaze over Deke, dressed in a fresh uniform, but still looking scruffy due to the beard he kept while deployed and the non-reg hair he’d let grow well past his collar. “At ease, Deke. Callahan,” he said, referring to the team’s present commander, “tells me you’ve accumulated leave which you refuse to take.”
As he narrowed his gaze, Deke slid his hands behind his back and braced his feet apart, wondering where that statement was leading. “I didn’t exactly refuse, sir. I prefer sticking close to base.” That he didn’t have family to visit or a girlfriend to spend time with was no one’s business but his own. And no one needed to know how uncomfortable he’d come to feel wandering outside his close-knit community.
The older man’s gaze locked on Deke. “This last rotation—I hear things got pretty rough.”
Deke straightened his shoulders. Not a secret, but definitely not something he wanted to discuss. “We lost two good men. Happens.” And while his words were spare, maybe even a little too nonchalant, he couldn’t keep the gravel from his voice at the thought of Sting’s death, or the fact he’d been the one to gather what was left of Mark’s body before he’d humped it back to the helo.
“Callahan says your OIC would prefer you take a break. But since I know you’re a stubborn son of a bitch, I have a proposition for you. Something that’ll get your commander off your back. A job. Strictly off the books. Something personal.” He cleared his throat. “For me.”
Deke met Martir’s gaze, steady as always, but noted there was a hint of worry there, a tension reflected in the deepened lines of his face. Whatever his reason for being here had to be pretty important because he’d never seen that expression on the older man’s face. “I’m listening.”
Deke learned that Martir had received death threats from a drug cartel unhappy with recent crackdowns he’d helped orchestrate. And while his ex-wife and daughter lived well-away from DC and out of the public eye, he was worried about their safety.
“I have eyes on my wife, but my daughter…” He shook his head. “She has vacation plans she’s refused to postpone. And she wouldn’t accept my offer of a bodyguard.” Martir winced. “If you haven’t guessed already, we’re not on the best of terms. She tends to do the exact opposite of anything I suggest.”
A situation that almost made Deke smile—the thought that anyone would stand up to the tough old bird. And just as quickly, he decided this “job,” even if it was a boondoggle, was an assignment he needed. A purpose to focus on beside the sorrow and guilt that weighed him down. “What exactly do you want me to do?”
Just a day later, he’d managed to track down his former commander’s daughter on this little speck of an island in the Caribbean. Despite Martir’s fears his family might be targeted due to recent media leaks, Deke doubted Nicky Martir was in any serious danger of retaliation. Not here. The island was too small—both in size and in population—for any group to infiltrate undetected among the small tourist population. But Martir was picking up the tab for this working vacation, so Deke would keep frosty.
Not that doing so required effort. Deke had forgotten how to relax. The attitude was one he had to force himself to try because he knew his constant edginess wasn’t healthy. Might even be a sure sign of some nasty issues he’d never admit to, but that could wind up biting him in the butt if he didn’t handle them on his own. A vacation in the Caribbean should have fit the bill. Not that an island getaway would have been on his short list of places he’d want to chill after a long deployment. He was sick to death of heat, even if a light sea breeze made the hot sunlight bearable. Still, the view wasn’t bad.
Again, he shifted in his chair, trying not to stare too long at Nicky’s lovely ass. Dressed in Hawaiian-themed swimming trunks, the only style he’d found in the hotel gift shop other than skin-tight bikini Speedos, he worried he couldn’t hide his growing interest in the pretty brunette’s many assets. She was off-limits. Any woman would be, because he wouldn’t allow any distractions. Even if this mission was a cake-walk, he’d give the work a hundred-ten percent of his attention. He was a SEAL; after twelve years on the DEVGRU team, mission focus was part of his DNA.
A movement caught his eye. Small hands slid up the side of the chaise, going for the bow securing her bikini top.
Deke gritted his teeth. As the ribbons loosened and the bra fell away, he had a glimpse of pretty white breast, just the side, but the swell was generous. Now he was imagining a full frontal view. Would her nipples be pink or brown? Once he’d dated a girl with pale beige nipples that had turned a lovely rose when…
“Dammit,” he said under his breath and looked away again, breathing deeply as he willed his body not to tighten. He scanned the other chaises and then looked out to the ocean, counting through the approach of three sets of waves.
When he glanced back at the chaise, he spotted those pink-tipped fingers reaching to the ground and scooting a bottle of sunscreen across the sand. Toward him.
His gaze shot to her pretty cognac brown eyes, and he caught her small, one-sided smile.
“Do you mind?” she asked, her voice a little raspy, like a woman might sound when she first woke in the morning. Like maybe he was the first person she’d spoken to today.
What the hell? Some covert operator he was—he hadn’t managed to hide his attraction. If he didn’t act on her question, she might come to the conclusion he was a perv or a stalker. Better to make a move, but he’d keep it light.
Slipping off his chair, he strode toward her, bending to snag the bottle. “Just the back?” he asked, keeping his tone amused.
“And anywhere you think needs it,” she said, her voice breathier this time.
Deke blew out a long stream of air then turned back to where he’d been seated, carefully placing the rolled-up towel he’d brought that hid the compact Beretta Nano the pilot on the puddle jumper had provided beside him. Then kneeling, he dribbled creamy liquid that smelled of coconut and Shea butter across her shoulders and gently laid his hands on her hot, golden skin. Under his fingers were firm muscles cloaking her slender frame. And tension knotting her shoulders. “Relax. I can’t get too fresh. Too many people around, anyway.” He smoothed the thick liquid over her shoulders, fingers wrapping around the tops to give her a light massage. “How’d you know I spoke English?”
“I heard you talking to the waitress.”
“Oh.” He’d tried to keep his voice lowered so he wouldn’t attract her attention. Either he was slipping, or she had super-power hearing.
“You here on vacation?” she asked.
Why would she think otherwise? He pressed his thumbs against the knots at the back of her neck. “I am.”
“My dad send you?”
His hands stilled, then he massaged again, but he figured she couldn’t have missed his immediate response. So, the question hadn’t been stupid after all. “How’d you guess that?”
“You have a SEAL’s body.”
He grunted, not giving her verbal confirmation, but then, he didn’t have to. Nicky Martir was as smart as she was pretty. Now that his cover was blown, he wondered how far she’d let him continue his casual massage. Irritation at having been made so quickly gave him an itch to turn the table on her, make her squirm, but only just a little. He rubbed her back, moving downward, fingers wrapping around her sides, touching the sides of those creamy breasts.
Her breath hitched, lifting her body a scant inch. “Careful there.”
“Just being thorough.” A smile tugged at his mouth, but he moved down again, leaning over her, kneading the small of her back.
Her breaths deepened. So did his. When he paused to drizzle more hot lotion over the tops of her exposed buttocks, she chuckled—a soft, choked sound. But she didn’t reach back to shove away his hands, so he guessed she was okay with him getting fresh.
Her ass was toned, the skin a smooth tan. When he shifted the top of the sea blue thong, a pale line betrayed the fact her immodesty wasn’t something she reserved for only when she was on vacation. Something he liked in a woman—courage, confidence, and an animal sensuality.
He kept his hands on the tops of her cheeks, fingers well away from the crease bisecting her anatomy…although the temptation to follow the deep curve was there.
“Don’t be shy now,” she whispered. “I’ll have a pink stripe down my butt.”
He shook his head, his grin widening. “You this bold with every stranger you meet?”
“Since you’re here at my daddy’s request, I figure you’re safe to flirt with.”
“Think I won’t take advantage?”
Her head turned, one eye raking his frame, then clinging to his face. “It’s not taking advantage since I asked.”
The thing he’d fought from the moment he’d first spotted her nearly nude body happened. His cock stirred, thickening. “Damn,” he said, his fingers curving, smoothing lotion into the sweet divide. “I’ll have to borrow your towel.”
“You could always lie down beside me, seeing as you have to keep watch over me anyway.”
“Gonna rub lotion on my back?”
“And anywhere I think needs it,” she said in an amused drawl.
“Lady, anyone ever tell you you’re a tease?”
She smiled and came up on an elbow, rolling onto her side and exposing her lovely breasts. “I don’t tease.”
Pink. Her nipples were pink. “You trying to get us arrested?” he whispered due to a suddenly dry throat.
“No one cares.” Her glance went to his rigid cock. “No one except you.” And her mouth curved into a cat-like smile. She reached for the bottle beside him and drew a line of cream across her chest, then smoothed both hands over her skin, fingers skimming her lush breasts as her nipples drew into hard little points.
Deke cussed under his breath. His cock was hard, aching. And if fifty people weren’t lounging nearby, and if he wasn’t on the job, he might have leaned in for a kiss. The sly curve of her mouth was that tempting.
She lay on her back, an arm draped over her chest. A token of modesty she didn’t really mean. The twinkle in her narrowed eyes told him she was waiting to see what he’d do next. So he picked up the bottle and drew a line up her long legs, across her belly and up to her arm. Then he turned in profile, letting her see exactly what she was doing to him.
Her indrawn breath filled him with satisfaction. But he didn’t dare look at her face, because if he’d read arousal there, he’d have tossed her over his shoulder and to hell with the mission.
Instead, he rubbed the lotion over her long, silky legs, moving upward, fingers providing a clinical, light massage, bypassing the mound barely contained by the tiny triangle of fabric hugging her to perfection. Her sex was outlined, the fabric riding the center. But he didn’t dare touch her there. He smoothed over her stomach, his fingers pausing to tease her belly button which caused her belly to quiver, her indrawn breath sinking her stomach and lifting her chest.
If they’d been alone, he would have bent over her to nuzzle away her arm and lavish her full breasts with kisses and nips until she was panting hard. Over a year had passed since he’d been intimate with a woman, and the lack of sex play was pressing hard on his good intentions.
Her breaths were already shorter, sexy little gasps intermixed with laughing moans. “You’re cruel,” she whispered.
“You started this game.” One that raised his heart rate with lusty anticipation.
“It’s not a game,” she said, her voice huskier now.
Incredibly sexy. Her eyes were wide, her mouth moist and round. His control snapped. He reached for the scrap of material she’d discarded, which was caught beneath her body, and pulled it away. Then he held it up, dangling from a single finger. “Time to cover up. You are not walking through the hotel lobby naked.”
“You’d mind?” She batted her eyelashes and grinned.
“Hell no, but I can’t promise I wouldn’t bend you over the first sofa I found. That would raise a few eyebrows.”
A hint of heat flashed in her liquid eyes. “I think I like you.”
“Like” was not the word he’d hoped for. He dropped his eyelids to half-mast. “Since I’m about to kiss you, I’m relieved.”