She’s one of the few…
Jazz has been one of the guys for over a decade, serving her country with distinction, but she longs to explore her femininity, to be desired as a woman, to flirt, cavort and fulfill every sexual desire. When her mother of all people, signs her up for a 1Night Stand, she’s not sure whether to be exhilarated or pissed. Flying to Las Vegas on the promise of a total escape, Jazz plans to be Jasmine for just one night, because tomorrow, she plans to re-up for another five years.
They’re two of the proud…
Logan Cavanaugh grew up across the street from his best friend and brother-in-arms, Zach Evans. Inseparable, the two have shared everything, including women, until the year before when an IED attack during combat injured both of them. Zach suffered a concussion, but Logan’s injuries were far more extensive. After a year of physical therapy, he can walk, but he’ll never run or love a woman again, or so he fears. He’s ready to accept his impotence, but Zach has other ideas. He hopes a 1Night Stand date with the perfect woman will heal Logan’s confidence and masculinity.
They’re all Marines…
They’ll share each other, but will one night be enough?
The heels forced a hip-rolling saunter and despite a brief moment of discomfort, every step increased the aura of the illusion she’d sought to create. She felt almost desirable by the time she knocked on the door to 2106. One deep breath and a roll of her head later, she smiled when the door opened to a heart-stopping blond man in a white dress shirt and black pants.
The four top buttons of his shirt were unbuttoned, revealing a well-muscled chest decorated by sprigs of white-blond hair. His sun-kissed face broadened into a hesitant smile, but no words came out.
“Mr. Evans?” She had little to go on beyond a brief physical description of each man and their names. The blond was Evans. The brunet would be Cavanaugh. But she hadn’t caught sight of him yet.
“Zach, ma’am.” He found his voice and pulled the door the rest of the way open. “Would you like to come in?”
Ordering the butterflies in her stomach to don battle gear, Jazz slid past him, almost wishing he hadn’t stepped so far back. She wondered if he was as solid as he appeared. But whatever hesitation she experienced imploded when the second man in the room rose to his feet. A scar turned the left side of his mouth downward, but the right side tipped up. If she didn’t know better she would have read surprise in his expression.
“Mr. Cavanaugh.” She extended her hand, wanting to see if he would meet her halfway. Thankfully, he did. The weight of his hand closed on hers and a thrill skated up her arm to spread a wildfire through her insides. The mottled skin puckering his jaw and stretching down the side of his neck suggested an ugly burn, but did nothing to detract from his tanned, handsome face. If anything, it added gravitas to what might otherwise have been a sculpture of perfection.
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Zach stretched his arm and flung it back. He followed Logan to Mike’s Place for Logan’s therapy after their discharge from active duty. Initially, his focus was to get Logan back on his feet, but they discovered a calling here. Logan worked with the difficult P.T. patients and understood them in a way not even their therapists could—because Logan was one of them. The scars on the left side of his body were a mottled collection of hard ridges. Pins secured the major joints in his left leg and his elbow.
He’d learned to walk and function again, thanks to Mike’s Place. Now he paid that forward to the men and women who needed similar tough love. The final crown to his recovery, though, happened in Las Vegas and currently served in Afghanistan.
An image of Jazz’s sexy, sensual grin flirted across Zach’s mind and he clamped down on the heat that flooded through him. The last thing he needed was tented shorts on the field. The right corner of Logan’s mouth quirked upwards. Yeah, his best friend didn’t miss much.
“She didn’t call last night, did she?” They’d both worked late, crunching the last of the numbers for their estimates so the Captain could complete his report. The two shared a three bedroom apartment in the sprawling campus’ residential section. He’d left before dawn to pick up the uniforms for the team and then hit the field with them by mid-morning.
“Nope. But she and the FET were heading out for meetings so it could be a couple of days before she’s got a secure line to make a call.” Of all the women to meet, they’d fallen for a Marine. One, wild night in Vegas, they’d shared her. Zach signed them up for that one night stand to help Logan overcome a huge hurdle in his recovery—impotence. It more than worked.
They were both hooked on her. Logan got to see her in Germany over a long weekend while Zach covered his P.T. shifts. Logan repaid that debt three months ago, helping out with the kids sports teams while Zach jetted to meet her in Italy. Just thinking about those three nights were enough to set his blood on fire.
She was as beautiful as she was tough. She’d just taken the position with FET. He’d argued with her, she was safer in the green zone, running logistics and keeping track of the hundred or so who reported to her. But Jazz wanted to help the people they were working with and, as a woman, she was uniquely suited to reach out to the people most harmed not only by their oppressors but the war in general.
He didn’t like it, but he couldn’t fault her logic. She was fluent in six languages, a skill he certainly couldn’t boast. She could also handle herself, a fact she proved when she dropped him on his ass and had her way with him in the middle of an argument. Laughter fisted in his throat and he chuckled. The boys were at lap thirty, sweating, and not talking so much as grunting encouragement to each other.
They’d be fast friends again and too damn tired to throw a punch by the next day.
“Stop thinking about her, man. Your face is doing the gooey eyed thing.” Logan’s reminder was an easy jest, but his own guarded expression revealed similar thoughts. Jazz was not the kind of woman a man forgot—for either of them. “How much longer on her contract?”
“Eight months.” The ball zinged back and forth between them. “But she’s loving this new assignment.”
“Yeah, I get that. She likes helping and she likes working with the people.” What they didn’t say was they understood her need to serve, they shared it. They understood her desire to help, because they did, too. But they wanted her home and it was the unspoken thorn puncturing an otherwise great balance they’d found in sharing her.
“She can help people here.” Here, in his bed or Logan’s or their shared bed, however she wanted to work that piece out. He didn’t mind sharing with his best friend. Impatience itched between his shoulder blades. He did mind sharing with the sandbox. He didn’t like saying it out loud and on the one occasion he’d been drunk enough to mention it, Logan reminded him that she was still a Marine. They didn’t really have the right to demand she be anything else.
Didn’t stop a man from wanting, though.
“She can and if she wants—and when she’s ready, she will.” It amazed Zach that Logan could be so easygoing about the situation. It was like he didn’t care what she decided as long as they were included in the decision.
“When’s her next leave?” They should really change the subject, but like a dog with a bone, the need to hold onto her intensified. They talked nearly every other day, every day when she could manage it. Sometimes for five minutes and sometimes an hour, depending on how much time she had.
No phone call in forty-eight hours and his gut churned with worry. He tried to keep a lid on it, but it boiled into everything he did. Jace and Fin turned the curve on lap fifty and he paused from throwing the ball to whistle.
“Hit the showers, clean up. Be back here in the morning at oh-eight-hundred sharp.” The practice field emptied out rapidly with Jace and Fin walking and thumping each other on the back in good humor.
Nothing like a little ass busting to make the heart grow fonder. The tension in Zach’s neck wouldn’t go away nor would the nagging sense of worry. He hated being on this side of the waiting game. It would be easier if he were there, in Afghanistan, with her.
His phone buzzed in his back pocket and he waved Logan over. His shoulder burned from too many throws and he was going to end up icing it later. Tossing his friend the ball, he pulled his phone out. The number in the caller ID flashed familiar and he thumbed it on to answer.
“Yo, Brody!” Lieutenant Brody Essex, the last member of their unit and one of the Captain’s good friends, still served in the sandbox. A reassignment sent his unit to Afghanistan just two hundred clicks from Jazz. He’d checked in on her now and then just to give Zach the news that yes, she was fine. “How goes the south side of hell?”
“Hot and crispy.” The man’s voice was tinny, echoing the distance between the calls. “Look, man, we just got word. The FET unit hit an IED in Bamyan. At least one serious injury. I don’t know if it’s her…”
The late afternoon sun turned icy cold.
“Zach?” Logan braced him with an arm.
“IED, Bamyan. A FET team was hit.”
“I don’t have any more details, but the news is going to hit state side any minute. There were reporters there with one of the Army units. We’re on our way now. Hang in there, buddy.” Brody’s team was on their way now. Brody’s team specialized in recovery, alive or dead.
“Is it her?” Logan asked, a low growl thrumming his words.
“He didn’t know. But she’s in the field. She never says where she’s going, security.” The words popped out, one at a time, like bullets being emptied from a clip. “She didn’t call last night.”
“Don’t lose it.” Logan’s hand tightened on his shoulder. “We don’t know anything yet.”
She didn’t call.
Zach stared at his phone, willing her to call.
It didn’t ring.