Have you read Ruined by the SEAL yet? If so, you met Finn Callahan, the hero in Anne Marsh’s book, Sweet for a SEAL, the third book in our ASSIGNMENT: Caribbean Nights series.
If you haven’t, now’s a good time to catch up on the first three books in this series — Anne’s is a new release this week! And Kat Cantrell’s Claiming Her SEAL and my Ruined by the SEAL are both getting rave reviews from military romance and travel romance readers alike.
Explore the entire series at www.navysealromance.com!
“My dating life has starred cupcake men—sweet but more icing than cake and nothing that could keep my mouth busy for a more than a few minutes. Finn Callahan? He’s cake. A five-layer, lusciously frosted gateau.” – Valentina Fuentes
I’ve never met a woman I couldn’t love—for one night. I’m the bad boy, the player, the sexy heartbreaker you meet in a bar and take home. And after my last hellish tour of duty as a SEAL, sun, sand, and sex are my new mission in life. Happily ever after? Pass. I’ll give you the best twelve hours of your life, and then I’m gone because why settle down when playing the field is so fun?
All that changes when I meet Valentina Fuentes. Actually, I rescue her from a ditch, which should score me major hero points. She’s even willing to admit I’m hot—and she’ll fool around with me. But convincing her that I’m anything but a sun-and-good-times boy toy? That’s mission impossible. She argues I’m the loaner car girlfriends pass around… and, sure, she’s willing to take me for a ride. A short ride. And for the first time in my life, I’d like more than a twelve-hour relationship.
When did one woman make my smooth-talking bad boy self start dreaming of forever?
Trees grow in dirt—they don’t sprout out of a perfectly good highway. This palm didn’t get the memo, however, because it encroached on the side of the road… and that’s before it dropped a load of dead fronds. Right in front of me. Any other time, I’d chalk it up to plant kingdom weirdness, but this particular sighting absolutely goes in my oh chica, no category. Because I’m feet from pile.
And still traveling fifty miles an hour. Damn it.
Palms whip by my window as I jam my flip-flop onto the brake. The bright blue water that put the Florida Keys on the map winks at me through the trees, calm and tranquil. All adjectives that I’m most definitely not, because my cell phone flies in one direction, my coffee cup heads in another, and I start praying to every known saint.
Too little, too late. My VW Bug avoids the tree trunk by inches, sideswipes the pile of loose fronds, and then I’m flying left, left, left, nose-down into the ditch. Stagnant water sprays up, the car bottoms out with an expensive-sounding thud, and my hair flies over my face.
Not being able to see isn’t a bad thing—I’ve landed in shit enough times to know I’m in deep this time. I can fix the damage. It’s only a car, right? If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last eighteen months, it’s what can and can’t be fixed.
My phone buzzes with an incoming text. Automatically, I reach for it. Of course it’s Mami.
Are you okay? Do you need a doctor?
Mom Radar never breaks. Of course, she also sends me texts like this one almost hourly, which means she’s bound to hit me when things aren’t ideal. It’s sweet. Most of the time. And if occasionally I wish she’d just assume I’m fine and ask about something other than my health or my feelings? Oye, I mentally tell her, I’ve got this.
The green ditch water seeping in the crack of the door contradicts my attempts to stay positive. Houston, we have a problem. Drowning in a ditch seems difficult, even for me, but it’s not like I want to chance it. My vision board for this year did not include freakish death by drowning in three inches of stagnant liquid.
Shoving my phone in my back pocket, I pop the seat belt and roll down the window. Climbing out seems more prudent than throwing open the door and sticking my almost-naked feet into the (very) dirty ditch water. It’s alligator season, and ditches in the Florida Keys frequently double as critter nurseries. I suspect my toes would make the perfect gator snack. It takes a few seconds to figure out how to balance myself on the edge of the window because I’m not the world’s most coordinated person, and it turns out I’ve got the shakes—just a little—from my airborne-hitting-a-ditch routine. The window bites into my butt, reminding me that I probably shouldn’t taste test every dessert that I make.
Restraint isn’t one of my virtues.
A sharp bark from somewhere above me drags my attention away from my balancing act. An enormous dog bounds toward me, lips peeled back from an impressive set of canines. Dios. I hope that wasn’t the dog’s favorite tree I hit.
When the pink Volkswagen Bug drifts left the first time, I debate honking. The second time it crosses the divider line and the crazy-leaning palm tree pops into my field of vision, I know it’s too late. I have that all too familiar moment of clarity when time slows down and I can catalog the individual seconds. My memories start speeding up to fill in the wait, images of my last accident flickering through my head. The Abrams in my mental playlist shoots off the Iraqi highway, five-thousand pounds headed for a canal at sixty miles an hour in my least favorite director’s cut of that particular day. As if reading my mind, the pink car hits an enormous pile of dead palm fronds and then speeds up, bumper aimed for ocean and palms instead of asphalt.
Keep it together.
Now’s not the time to get lost in my head. The fuckwit driver of the Bug needs an assist, not a former soldier with a bad case of the PTSDs.
The Bug disappears into the canal. Mentally, I calculate its trajectory. Four feet down and then another four or five feet of muddy water. The local kids like to jump in using the drainage pipe as a launch pad. When the afternoon temps hit triple digits and keep on rising, I want to shuck the commando gear and join them. No. Wrong canal. That canal’s a lifetime and a continent away in Iraq.
The Bug. Keep it together, Callahan.
People drown if they don’t get out in time.
I need to reach the canal, need to get my boys out this time.
I pull in, throw the Jeep into park, and swing onto the ground. Good thing I took the doors off. It makes exiting that much quicker. Rex One barks longingly from the front seat, and I gesture for him to join me. We’re training him for search and rescue, and he can use the practice.
The palm trees rustle as I sprint across the road, scanning for hostiles. Wait. I’m not in Iraq. I’m in the fucking Florida Keys, dumbass. Rex One nudges my thigh, pointing me in the right direction. He’s got his mind on our search-and-rescue job.
“Seek,” I order, and Rex One lunges into action. Unlike me, he doesn’t fucking hesitate. He knows what his job is, and he’s doing it.
Pussy. That’s what I am. I force my legs to start moving. I won’t step on a landmine. I won’t find B.B., his legs crushed and his eyes begging for a rescue I can’t provide because I’m a SEAL and not Jesus or fucking Superman. This is a ditch. It’s only five feet deep, and maybe six inches of brackish water floats around the bottom. No dying today. I scan for gators, not insurgents. See? Nothing.
The Bug’s driver is already half out of her car, and she’s also okay. Really, really okay. She’s got gorgeous sun-kissed skin, generous curves, and dark hair currently headed in a half-dozen directions from her airborne seconds. She assesses the ditch water like she expects sharks or killer piranhas to launch out of the green ooze to eat her, huffing out a breath as she picks an entry point. Rescue her, I tell myself. Rescues are always good for gratitude—and gratitude can easily lead to sex. A guy can dream, and I’m pretty fucking good at making my own dreams come true. Plus, when I’m having sex? My mental playlist stars porno fantasies about the woman in my arms (or on top of me, in front of me, or sitting on my face, because I’ve got lots of favorite positions) and not Humvee crash landings.
My maiden in distress exhales and intones one of those weird yoga mantras women love, a husky ommmmm that also makes me think of sex. Of course, pretty much every action leads to sexy times inside my head because when my brain’s focused on getting some, it doesn’t have the bandwidth to remember what happened to B.B. in Iraq. Orgasms trump nightmares anytime, and right now I’d really, really like to get my ommmmm on with the woman half out of the Bug. Her mouth is purple, or maybe violet, the slick color sparkling in the sunlight. My dick immediately volunteers a few really dirty fantasies of what we can do with that mouth. To that gorgeous mouth.
Vow of celibacy, I remind myself. One million dollars. Twelve days until fun time.
She swings her legs over the edge of the window, teetering as she eyes the dry spot on my side of the ditch.
Focus, soldier. She doesn’t have to jump in. I’ve got her.
“You want a hand?” I call.
Please say yes. And then list your top ten favorite places to be touched.
After ten years of graduate school and too many degrees, NYT and USA Today bestselling author Anne Marsh escaped to become a technical writer. When not planted firmly in front of the laptop translating Engineer into English, Anne enjoys gardening, running (even if it’s just to the 7-11 for slurpees), and reading books curled up with her kids. The best part of writing romance, however, is finally being able to answer the question: “So… what do you do with a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures?”
She lives in Northern California with her husband, two kids, and four cats. You can visit her online at http://www.anne-marsh.com