Special Operator T.J. Talbot, raised in a string of foster homes and nearly tossed from the Brotherhood, is forced to make a deathbed promise to care for his best friend’s wife and baby. At home, Shannon Moore wants nothing to do with the community or anything that reminds her of her fallen SEAL husband, until fate steps in to show her she is still connected, and needs the love of this flawed warrior who shares her grief.
Four other SEALs were in the wedding party, and he had to admit they’d make a wedding portrait which would look good on the cover of any bridal magazine, except for their dark glasses. Only Frankie, the groom, posed without shades. Shannon had wanted them all without the shades, but T.J. smiled at her and put his back on in open defiance, and the others followed his lead.
She’d flounced off in a huff, a flurry of white organza and chiffon, and her perfume that made him sneeze. He’d watched that hellcat streak she had, angled his head to the side and watched her march off to some mythical place brides hide when they go crazy. Lovely, though. Even he had to admit that.
Frankie was white as a sheet as they gathered. “I wanna pray first,” he’d said to his best buddies. Tyler was there, of course, and Kyle, Ollie and Rory were as well. But T.J. was Frankie’s best friend, and that meant he had to be best man.
“Fuckin’ going to need a lot more than fuckin’ prayin’. Gonna need a miracle, Frankie. Shannon’s had the evil eye on me all morning…yesterday, too, and that means I don’t think you’re getting any tonight, not that you haven’t—”
“Fuck sake, T.J. It’s my fuckin’ wedding and has nothing to do with how my bride looks at you. Get that fuckin’ thought out of your head.”
“I was just sayin’—”
“Not what you’re sayin’ I have a problem with. It’s what you’re thinking.” Frankie was so nervous he was seeing conspiracies behind every plant, guest and bouquet.
“Just be glad we didn’t send you to Alaska,” Tyler said, making it worse. Last year one of the young recruits had gotten time off from BUD/S to get married—a request which was almost never granted, and then the boys thought it necessary to save him from that quickie wedding in Las Vegas, and so got him stinking drunk and put him on a plane to Alaska so he missed his own wedding. They incurred extra wet and sandy for that one, and had the toilets cleaned so many times you could eat out of them.
This had worried Shannon, and her mother even more. Mrs. “I Want Moore” was one of the hottest women T.J. had ever seen, all toned and a marathon runner in her fifties. He had never before had fantasies about the mother of the bride. Mrs. Moore was twenty-five years his senior, but he knew she could clean his clock. He’d enjoy chasing her around a few places.
Turning to face Frankie again, he felt a tad sheepish about his lusty thoughts. He wiped his mind clean and decided to concentrate harder on Frankie’s day. His buddy was so crazy in love with Shannon, he needed extra protection to keep him from stepping out in front of traffic, or bumping into caterers, which he’d already managed to do several times today.
“Come on, Frankie. Lighten up.” T.J. slapped his cheeks to redden them up. “You need to stop looking like a dead man if you’re really gonna do this.”
“Yup. I’m doing this,” Frankie said to the auditorium full of people, the organ music now swelling up to the rafters. “I’m fuckin’ doing this.”
T.J. had a hunch he was looking for his courage and had come up short. He glanced down the hallway. Cindy was leaning against the wall right outside the bride’s dressing room, keeping sentry, but also giving him the long vacant look he knew only too well. He unabashedly scanned her entire body and let her see he couldn’t wait to get her naked.
She abruptly turned after blushing.
Several minutes later T.J. thought he might have to prop Frankie up he was so pale. “You okay?”
“Fuck you,” Frankie whispered a little too loudly. Mrs. Moore in the front pew frowned. Her eyes swept over the row of SEALs, but zeroed back in on T.J.’s face with an admonition he couldn’t mistake. Merely the little tilt of her chin down and the knotted brow told him he was on probation. Didn’t help he’d given Frankie more Tequila than he usually drank in a whole month. Right now Frankie was spacing out and losing track of where they were and what they had to do next. T.J. had never seen him so fuckin’ scared. Even in firefights overseas.
So he’d screwed up, been a bad influence on the groom. So what else is new? With a past of foster care home rejections and “repositioning” he was used to being on probation. It felt normal. Not until he got into BUD/S did he feel like he’d found home. A real home. Guys who finally shared his intensity for life and irreverence for batshit rules that everyone else thought applied to him. The SEALs ethos were the only rules he wanted to live by. And the beginning pretty much said it all:
In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.
…I am that man.
He thought about it while he watched Shannon’s white dress fill the aisle as she began her stately walk along the burgundy carpet to her willing but completely shitfaced groom. Her father was proud, as any father would be, to have such a radiant daughter, pink and soft in all the right places, and strong in the way she walked, her steady gait of a fearless warrior, full of a plan she was going to fully execute, just like any SEAL, her eyes fixed on Frankie, who didn’t have a clue what he was getting himself into.
That made T.J. smile and check out his shoes. She was the kind of woman who would call the shots, run the household, run Frankie, manage the hell out of his schedule and get her future soccer players up on time and off to everything moms did with a house full of hellions. He saw lots of them in their future for some reason. Kids with snotty noses and hair a bit too long. Band-Aids and skinned knees. All the things he never had as a child.
But he’d watched those kids play through chain-link fences. Watched their parents cheer. Watched the juice breaks and the encouragement he never got from a single coach or foster mom. He was never noticed. Never special.
And that was just fine.
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Sharon’s award-winning almost-erotic Navy SEAL stories of the SEAL Brotherhood, have consistently made best sellers lists and review sites. Her characters follow a spicy road to redemption through passion and true love. Her SEAL Brotherhood Series continues with books 5, 6 and 7 all releasing this year, as well as audio versions currently completed for the first four of the series. She has been an Amazon top 100 author in Romantic Suspense since last fall.
Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany are not like any vamps you’ve read before, since they don’t have to go to ground and can walk around in the full light of the sun. Honeymoon Bite, Book 1 of the Golden Vampires of Tuscany Series was recently named the #1 Gothic Romance by Amazon. It is now available on Audible.
Her Guardian Angels struggle with the human charges they are sent to save, often escaping their vanilla world of Heaven for the brief human one. You won’t find any of these beings in any Sunday school class.
She lives in Sonoma County, California with her husband, and two Dobermans. A lifelong organic gardener, when she’s not writing, she’s getting vera vera dirty in the mud, or wandering Farmer’s Markets looking for new Heirloom varieties of vegetables and flowers..