Major April Soames is spending her last days as a Marine soaking up the sun and dog sitting for her sister. Unfortunately, the troublesome canine has dug up the garden of the last person in the world April expects to see—sexy Gunnery Sgt. Robert Thorn. The man is a hundred percent male with a body that won’t quit and a hardass attitude to match. He’s unforgiving, and now the darn dog has made a mess of his tomatoes.
Gunny Bobby Thorn has seen the major hottie on base, but officers and enlisted don’t mix. Then he learns she’s on terminal leave, only a few more weeks until she’s officially a civilian. That makes her fair game, and she’s just what he needs to add a little pleasure to his life. Thorn finds himself falling for her. Hard. Between her sharp wit, snarky attitude, and gorgeous looks, he’s addicted and needing more.
But April has plans to move on with her life, and Bobby’s not all that great when it comes to maintaining relationships. But with a little mastery in the bedroom and some tactical planning, he’s going to find a way to storm her defenses. When it comes to the heart, this is one Marine playing for keeps.
(Previously released as part of the Danger Zone anthology)
- Release Date: January 20, 2015
- Publisher: No Box Books
- ASIN: B00SENN4Z8
- Length: Novella
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Gunnery Sergeant Robert Thorn glared at the repeat offender once again digging up his yard. “This is ridiculous.” He ignored the growls and large teeth flashing at him, grabbed the mutt by the collar, and dragged the freakishly large canine away from his garden to the side of the house.
After tying the dog up, where it sprawled in the cool shade as if it belonged there, Thorn stalked inside and dialed the number on the back of the monster’s tags.
Straight to voicemail, but at the end, he was directed to another number, one different from the last one he’d used. After dialing, he received a canned invitation to leave a message. Tired, aggravated, and beyond annoyed at another ruined tomato plant, he barked an order for whoever the hell had let the beast loose this time to come get him. Otherwise, Lobo would be taking a trip to the pound.
After disconnecting, he felt a measure better.
He walked back to the dog and stood staring down at the thing. “Jesus, Lobo, that makes four plants you’ve destroyed since Memorial Day. What the hell?”
Lobo grinned at him, a large pink tongue dangling from a huge mouth. He looked like a weird cross of German Shepherd and Wolfhound and easily weighed over a hundred pounds. A handsome dog, truth be told. But the thing needed discipline.
“Friggin’ Morrow owes me for this.” Captain Morrow, his old Operations Officer, was currently doing a stint in South America, that much Thorn knew. In the weeks he’d been gone, Lobo had apparently bounced from pet sitter to pet sitter. Not one of the morons Morrow had hired to watch the dog had kept Lobo away from Thorn’s garden.
The dog had a hard-on for his tomatoes and beans for some reason.
With a sigh, Thorn unbuttoned his uniform blouse and tossed it and his cover—what his mother still called a hat—onto the patio table. Then he grabbed a spade from the garage and tried to salvage his baby tomatoes. And green beans. And peppers. Damn dog.
Fifteen minutes later, he heard a car drive up and stop, then a door slam.
“I so don’t need this.” A woman’s voice. “What have you done now, Lobo?”
To his surprise, she sounded familiar. Thorn rose from the garden and rejoined the dog.
A blonde with long hair pulled back in a ponytail crouched by the canine, muttering under her breath while she stroked him. She wore running shorts and a light blue tee-shirt, and from what Thorn could see she had a kick-ass body.
“You the dog sitter?” he asked.
She looked up at him, groaned, and rose to her feet.
He laughed out loud. Talk about fate dumping a sexy headache into his lap. He knew this woman with the killer curves and long, long legs. She was gorgeous, a pain in the ass, and she liked to give orders.
He rocked back on his heels and crossed his arms over his chest with a mean smile. “Well, well. Major Soames. What a surprise to see you here at my house. And out of uniform.”
She flushed, and he chuckled, loving the sight of this assertive female on the receiving end of a situation for once.
“Well, hell. It just figures I have to deal with you after my very long day.” She sighed and tugged at her ponytail. He had a sudden urge to touch her hair, to see if it felt as soft as it looked. “Look, I’m sorry for whatever damage demon dog did to your house. God knows he’s already ripped up my sister’s backyard.”
“I thought this was Captain Morrow’s dog.” He recalled that Morrow had recently become engaged. Was Soames the captain’s fiancée? The notion didn’t sit right.
She sighed again and planted her hands on trim hips. Thorn had run into her on the base a time or two since they worked in adjacent buildings. But even if he hadn’t seen her, he’d heard about her. All the guys liked to talk about Major Soames. Being a female Marine, and an officer at that, naturally brought attention to her. Add in the fact that she was smokin’ hot and everyone seemed to know of her.
Of course, he’d always seen her dressed in camouflage utilities, her hair braided and tucked away under a cover. Never in her PT—physical training—gear, with her hair in a sexy ponytail. Holy shit, the woman had legs. And breasts. And so much thick blond hair, pulled back from a face he’d thought of far too often for his peace of mind.
“…with him being deployed, Jane can’t handle the dog and the coming baby, so she went back home to see my parents for a bit,” she was saying. “My sister needed help, and I stupidly volunteered to dog sit.”
“So Morrow is your brother-in-law.”
“Technically he’s my almost brother-in-law. They’re engaged.” She frowned. “Weren’t you listening to me?”
“Yeah.” He just stared at her. What the hell was it about this woman that got on his last nerve and fascinated him at the same time?
“Jesus, Gunny. Take a picture. It’d last longer,” she snapped.
There was that sharp tongue. He’d only once been the recipient of it, and though she’d had just cause to tell him to get his Marines in line, he hadn’t liked it. Thorn wasn’t a big fan of officers in general. Most of them liked to tell him what to do without knowing what the hell they were talking about.
He raised a brow. “Well, now, Ma’am. I’m just not used to seeing you in PT gear, that’s all.” Nothing inappropriate about that, and though he liked rattling her, he didn’t want her crying sexual harassment or thinking he might be that kind of guy. He didn’t hate women in the Corps. Far from it. He respected all women, those who wore the uniform and those who didn’t.
Unfortunately, Major April Soames had landed on his radar months ago and refused to vacate. He didn’t have time for a woman like her, one who’d require his patience, attention, and focus. Yet… She’d prove a challenge, and he’d been bored with life lately. Except her status as an officer made her off-limits. He fought the urge to growl, feeling as temperamental as Lobo.
“Whatever. I’m taking the dog, unless you have a problem with that?”
“And you can drop all the major/ma’am stuff. I just started my terminal leave. One more month and I’m a civilian.”
“You heard me. I’m out. Done.” She didn’t sound happy about the fact.
Thorn heard an internal click from deep inside him. Major Soames had been unattainable before. The Marine Corps’s policy of no fraternization was a rule Thorn followed to the letter. He’d seen a few friends get burned. Officers and enlisted didn’t mix.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked as she grabbed Lobo by the collar. She untied the rope holding him and handed it to Thorn.
“Keep it. Use it as a leash to take him home.” He found himself smiling, more than pleased when she scowled back at him. Soames didn’t back down from much. She had a reputation as a ballbuster, and he could respect that. Nothing worse than an officer who couldn’t hold his or her rank. Thorn loved confrontation, and he had a feeling he’d be getting into some deep discussions with Soames in the near future.
The major was totally fair game now. He stepped closer and looked down at her, pleased to be a good foot taller. He liked his women smaller, and she stood at the perfect height for a kiss.
“Ah, okay.” She took a hasty step back, still scowling, and tugged Lobo with her. Then she turned on her heel and left, giving him the perfect view of her amazing ass.
He followed her to her car. “See you later…Major.”
“Jackass,” he heard her murmur as she hustled the dog into the backseat.
She drove away, and he let out the laugh building inside him. He now had plans for the weekend, plans that involved a stubborn woman and his upcoming empty weeks of well-deserved time off. Thorn moved back to his garden, strategizing all the way.