The first installment in the Always a Marine anthology in 1Night Stand (1NS) line for Decadent Publishing. 1Night Stand is the business name of an exclusive online dating service run by Madame Evangeline who provides her clients with a possibility of happily ever after or happily for now.
Always a Marine #1
Fulfilling a favor and executing a business plan, Luke Dexter arrived at Dallas’ Sybarite Club for a one-night stand. He never imagined that in the darkened club with bluesy strains of jazz playing he’d come face to face with the woman he left behind a decade earlier.
Rebecca Rainier fell in love with Luke Dexter in high school and was crushed when he dumped her to join the Marines after 9/11. Now, waiting for a date her best friend and business partner set up, she’s unprepared when Luke walks in.
Can Luke and Rebecca bridge the pain of a decade long abandonment in one cold Texas night?
Read An Excerpt
Luke’s chest hurt, but he braced himself against it. Shock wrinkled the line between her brows, the emotion far more brutal to him than a firefight in Kandahar or Kabul. She didn’t turn to look at him. But her reflection in the mirror didn’t soften. The familiar, flirtatious smile fled from the cool, firm line of her lips. Color drained from the face of the woman who shifted on the bar stool. Movement to his right caught his attention. A man approached, intent on her, but meeting Luke’s iron expression, the would-be interloper diverted to another table.
Satisfied, his attention returned to the girl—no, the woman—gazing at him, pain etching the softness of her lips. The memory of her lips got him through Paris Island. He’d thought about them, about her smile, every single, damn day.
“Hello, Luke.” Her voice poured over him like warm honey.
Life doesn’t always offer second chances….
“May I join you?” He nodded to the stool next to her.
“It’s a free country.” And just like that, she turned her back and the warm honey chilled, hardening over his chest.
“Thank you, ma’am.” He tacked the ma’am on as an afterthought. But the steel wrapped in her velvety voice jabbed his kidneys. Perching on the edge of the stool, he motioned to the bartender. “Two more of whatever the lady is having.”
She watched him from the mirror. Hungriness reflected in the gold flecked, tawny brown eyes, a perfect contrast to the tight jaw and stiff fingers wrapped around her wine glass. She tossed back a third of a glass like a shot of vodka.
A shot of vodka sounded like a great idea. But he needed his wits about him. IEDs laced the battlefield in front of him and patience and procedure and about eighty-five pounds of protective gear weren’t handy. But the trick to survival was to examine what was right in front of him and to react to it. He could do that in the field, he could do that with her. It was what he did best.
After the bartender served the drinks and took his credit card, Luke sat sideways, intentionally brushing his leg against hers. She didn’t recoil—exactly—but did shift away after a few seconds.
Definitely treading in dangerous waters.