Tag Archives: Military

An Unexpected Christmas Homecoming

Hope you’ll enjoy my Christmas short and have a Merry Christmas!

A soldier returning home after his last deployment at Christmas time receives an unexpected homecoming.

Vietnam War Tags (Fictional Names and Social Security Numbers)The living room echoed as Jake trekked along the hardwood, empty except for his recliner and the TV. Her chocolate lab, Hersey, had always been more excited to see him home from deployment anyway. He’d miss her most since his own dog had passed a few years ago. Being gone more than home, he hadn’t want to get another until he was home for permanently. He could start looking now.

He placed the fifth of Jack Daniels and his gear bag on the floor next to the recliner. Tomorrow, he’d grab his few belongings, turn in the keys of the apartment and head for the Outer Banks to help his brother as a guide on winter duck hunting trips.

Duck hunting dog hiding in a blind
Duck hunting dog hiding in a blind

Jake unlaced his boots and dropped onto the recliner. With remote in hand he pressed the button and the flat screen lit up to a scene of Ralphie from A Christmas Story. It was all the welcome home, he’d get.  He grabbed the bottle on the floor beside him.

The next morning he loaded his chair, TV and clothes into his pick-up and drove south. A little over an hour later he turned onto the beach road and passed the Black Pelican Restaurant. He’d broke things off with his high school sweetheart, Sammy, there before he left for boot camp. What had made him think long, painted nails and high heels meant a better woman? The empty apartment spoke volumes for the old adage looks aren’t everything.

Arriving at the Comfort Inn for the Ducks Unlimited Christmas auction, he was glad for a decent excuse to avoid one more night before bunking in with his brother, Dean, and wife, Katie, who seemed determined on matchmaking even before he’d made it back to the States.

The last woman had sufficiently drained his bank account, as if it was his fault the military extended his deployment. A dog was the only companionship he sought for the moment. If he hadn’t shown an aptitude in aviation repair, he’d have gone for the K9 division while serving.

The cold, salty breeze revived him as his eyes watered. Home in one piece. After checking in at the desk, he made his way into a darkened bar. Only a couple of patrons nursed drinks in a booth. Icicle lights illuminated the expansive liquor display.  A bartender in a crisp white shirt and black vest nodded and spun a red napkin on the bar in front of Jake.

Creative Commons TRombone65 PhotoArt Laatzen
Creative Commons TRombone65 PhotoArt Laatzen

“Double bourbon on the rocks.” He slid his Real Tree jacket onto the back of the chair, pleased the guy read his taciturn mood. While waiting, he checked the time and Ducks Unlimited social media page for a list of items being auctioned. Living a Spartan life style during deployment and coming home to an empty apartment had him seeking old comforts like a dog and gun. No dogs for sale, only a gun.

You going to the auction?” a woman asked, sliding onto the chair next to him.

Guess the hunting jacket was a dead giveaway. He slammed back the bourbon that had landed in front of him and turned toward her.

A brandy colored gaze burned into Jake as hot as the whiskey searing his belly. The combo nearly stopped his heart. “Sammy.”

“Dean said I’d probably find you here.” She smiled.

Ten years later, he found her western jeans and brown suede hunter’s vest sexy instead tomboyish. He hugged her and let her light citrus fragrance bring him home. “Thought you’d moved.”

girl_photo.com114254483“And moved back home a year ago.” She ordered a beer and another round for him. Brushing her dark hair behind her ear revealed purple highlights, hinting that her nonconformist nature remained.

Dean had probably told him of Sammy’s return, but then his brother was the one who also said he could do better than the woman sitting beside him who could out shoot most guys. If he’d meant better as in high minded and high maintenance then he’d been right. “Sorry, times slips away when you’re gone so much. Gosh, how old is your son now?”

She sighed and glanced down the bar. “Daniel. He’s nine and lives with his dad since we split.” She sipped from her iced mug. “He likes going to school with the cousins he grew up with. He spends summers with me because he likes the beach.”

“That must be tough,” It’d been hard enough for Jake to leave his dog when he first joined the military. He couldn’t imagine leaving his child.

She waved him off. “So, you’re going to help your brother on hunting tours this winter, I hear.”

The Outer Banks wasn’t really small town except for the spread of gossip that bounced among the born and raised locals. “It wasn’t you, you know…it was just―”

“You needed to see the world beyond this sandbar, Jake,” she said without a resenting tone.

At first, but by the end, it was only about serving his country. “And what I valued most, I left behind.”

Sammy arched a brow and slid a warming glance down his body. “What are you looking to bid on at the auction?”

He’d bid his last penny for another chance with her. “I need a second gun,” he said and shot- gunned the rest of his whiskey.

She laid a hand on his arm. Her warmth seeped through his flannel. “Tell you what, I’ll loan you one of mine, if you adopt one of the lab rescues at the shelter where I volunteer.”

Reading his heart had always been one of her talents. “I’d love to, but Dean’s wife won’t be happy if bring in another dog for the winter, especially since they already have two.”

Christmas Tree at Elizabethan Gardens
Christmas Tree at Winter Lights in Manteo

“Well…” She winked. “I’ve got plenty of room for a man and his dog.”

An unexpected Christmas, he’d never imagined. Jake smiled, leaned close and tasted her full lips, falling back in time like he’d never left.

Merry Christmas!

 

Sand and Sin – A Seaside Heat Romance

My sexy SEAL story, the second in the Seaside Heat Romance series, Sand and Sin releases today! Check out the giveaway link at the end of the post.

The heart has a mission of its own…

Wounded in more ways than one, Navy SEAL Jax Taylor only understands short-term commitments. And when he walks into the Trident Bar in Virginia Beach, beautiful bartender Peri Halstead sizes him up right away. But that doesn’t stop her from teasing him with her sultry sarcasm, or taking him home—after she finds him passed out cold in the parking lot…

Soon enough, Jax is recovering at Peri’s in return for doing some handyman work, and the sexy sparks are flying—in almost every room in the house. Peri tells herself she deserves some fun, especially now that she’s a single mom with a cheating ex to deal with. But when it’s time for her and Jax to go their separate ways, the miles between them—and the danger that’s about to touch both their lives—has them wondering if Jax can learn to love more than the mission…

Excerpt:

Jax climbed from the rental car. Stiff from the transatlantic trip, he limped a few steps but righted his gait before opening the heavy oak door. In his bar experiences, such an entrance usually led to a man cave.

Inside, darkness enveloped him, matching his mood. Pain meds and exhaustion made him irritable. He was still pissed about not being allowed to rejoin his team, and doubly so because TJ had a training op circumventing their party. So much for buddy reunions.

Behind the bar, a tall, lean beauty glanced up from the beer taps. The gnawing ache in his leg disappeared under scrutiny of wide, sea green eyes. Long, wavy hair surrounded her shoulders like a lion’s mane. His fingers itched to tangle in the strands.

Other more intimate visions flitted through his mind. Months without a woman made him a sick bastard. Probably in stark contrast to the public’s standard perception of a SEAL, but they didn’t know or understand a Special Operator’s life. What they did for love of country and their brothers in arms. For him, the best antidote after a gruesome mission was down-and-gritty sex.

Before he readjusted his sour expression, she stepped in front of him.

Her lovely gaze branded him with I got your number, sailor.

****

Peri Halstead approached her newest patron as he saddled up on a bar chair.

His steely-eyed glint hinted at danger. Most of the Trident’s patrons did. “Wow, I’ve only seen one other man stride into this place with a more pissed-off expression than yours.”

“Your ex?” Mr. Dark Blues matched her sarcasm.

She liked him already. The small scar on his chin kept him from appearing too pretty. “Insightful. Let me guess…vodka tonic.”

He narrowed his gaze.

“Martini?” She smiled and tossed her hair over her shoulder. “You’re too GQ for domestic beer. Heineken?”

He tightened his jaw.

She must have struck a nerve with the pretty boy comment. “Whiskey on the rocks?”

Raising a brow, he lifted his chin.

Such swagger. She slid a cocktail napkin on the bar in front of him. “You gotta be a Jack man.”

He grinned, revealing near perfect teeth.

Delighted at winning their little game, she winked and stepped away to fetch his drink. Usually, she went for the rugged variety of handsome, but his straight nose with slightly elevated bridge was sexy as hell. She poured him a double shot over ice and returned, planting it in front of him.

“My buddy, TJ, said y’all have the biggest and best cheeseburgers.”

“You’re Jax?”

“Damn, a psychic bartender? Guessed my brand and my name.” He winked.

Eyes as dark blue as a stormy ocean. Lord, she needed to keep her distance with this one. “Wish I was. I’d have more money in the bank. Actually, I’ve seen the picture he carries of you guys partying after BUD/S graduation. TJ talks about you often. Are you here for training?”

“Currently in a holding pattern.” With a roll of his shoulders, he scowled and thumped his glass down.

Not linebacker thick, he was more like a running back—built for speed. “They call you GQ.” A Texan not rugged enough to be branded Cowboy and too handsome for Tex.

He sipped his drink, then cleared his throat. “Did TJ share my birthday, too?”

“No. Just a story about you chasing some bad guys through the streets of a South American country in your birthday suit.” Peri grinned.

“Touché.” He held up his glass and shotgunned the remainder of his whiskey.

Usually immune to her bar patrons, she was blindsided with a lust she’d lidded since her daughter was born. “Where’s TJ? Shouldn’t your buddy be showing you the hot spots?”

“Jumping out of a C-130.” He fiddled with his napkin.

“So, you just returned stateside today?”

He checked his expensive, matte-black, multi-function watch that would have marked him special-ops without their previous conversation. “About two hours ago.”

“Long mission?”

“Months.” He glanced around the bar, then to her.

“It’s early. You still have time to remedy your just-back virgin status.” She smirked.

His gaze burned into her like a blue flame. “Is that an offer?”

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