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Hot SEAL, Heartbreaker: SEALs in Paradise

Hot SEAL, Heartbreaker: SEALs in Paradise

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Hot SEAL, Heartbreaker: SEALs in Paradise

Longueur:
230 pages
3 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Feb 14, 2021
ISBN:
9781393169116
Format:
Livre

Description

When one Navy SEAL heartbreaker gets a dose of his own medicine on Valentine's Day, he realizes love isn't the enemy, but he has to convince the commitment-adverse woman he's fallen for of the same thing.

 

√ One match-making sister

√ One commitment-phobic woman

√ One hot SEAL heartbreaker

√ One fake relationship

√ Countless laughs

Éditeur:
Sortie:
Feb 14, 2021
ISBN:
9781393169116
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

New York Times & USA Today bestselling contemporary romance author Cat Johnson. Sign up at catjohnson.net/news to get new release and sale alerts.

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Hot SEAL, Heartbreaker - Cat Johnson

Bestseller

When a Navy SEAL heartbreaker gets a dose of his own medicine, he realizes love might not be the enemy after all, but he still has to convince the commitment-adverse woman he’s fallen for to give cupid’s arrow a shot.

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SEALS IN PARADISE TITLES

BY CAT JOHNSON

Hot SEAL, Dirty Martini (Clay/Tasha)

Hot SEAL, Tijuana Nights (Zach/Gabby)

Hot SEAL, Runaway Bride (Nick/Dani)

Hot SEAL, Heartbreaker (Brian/Alicia)

#####

ONE

I’m finalizing the guest list for our Valentine’s Day party.

Alicia’s hand tightened around the cell phone at her sister’s mention of the party she didn’t want to attend, but she hadn’t thought of a good excuse yet to get out of it.

Okay, she said slowly, not knowing what kind of input her sister was looking for.

Will you be bringing a date? Jenny asked.

And there it was. The real reason for this discussion.

It would have been a casual, even a logical question if it had been asked by anyone other than Alicia’s habitually matchmaking sister.

Jennifer, I don’t want you fixing me up, Alicia said, preemptively cutting off any Valentine’s Day matchmaking efforts.

I—

Jenny. No. Alicia’s chin dropped toward her chest as exasperation took over.

Frustrated, she knifed her fingers through her hair as one dark lock fell over her eye.

How many times had they had this conversation? The answer to that was the same number of times as her sister had ignored her and fixed her up anyway.

You need to learn to listen to other people when they tell you what they do and do not want, Alicia continued, glancing at the other patrons at the bar.

To anyone listening to her phone conversation, it probably sounded like Alicia was reprimanding a child. She didn’t care if it did appear that way.

No one would be paying attention to her here anyway. Besides it being bad manners, the loud group of guys—who were from the base at Coronado, if she had to guess—were too busy drinking and laughing to bother with her.

I don’t know why you’re so opposed to just meeting a nice guy—

Jennifer Consuela Maria Lopez Martin. Alicia employed one of their mother’s tactics and pulled out her sister’s full name, even her Holy Confirmation name, for maximum impact. She continued, "I’m warning you. Do not do it. Do not invite some single random guy to your party and then spend all night trying to push us together."

It’s what had happened on New Year’s Eve. And at Friendsgiving. Jenny had even tried to fix her up at a Labor Day barbecue. Apparently, no holiday get-together was safe.

Fine. I won’t invite any nice single men and you can live alone for the rest of your life, Jenny spat.

Sounds great. Thanks. Living alone for the rest of her life didn’t sound all that bad at the moment. Even if it hadn’t, Alicia wasn’t going to give Jenny the satisfaction of admitting it.

Alicia, I would think that you, as a professional psychologist, would know the importance of companionship.

I do. And I have companions, Alicia defended.

Jenny let out a huff. I don’t mean coworkers. Or even Shelly.

Why wouldn’t coworkers or her best friend count? How ridiculous. Jenny was obviously trying to scare her into dating one of the many guys she forced upon her.

Too bad for Jenny, Alicia had research and facts on her side. "As a professional, I know the criteria for companionship does not necessitate my marrying someone, living with someone or even seriously dating someone."

Besides, she could—and had—found male companionship just fine on her own whenever she craved it. But a casual date, or even casual sex, did not mean she wanted to do have to step over his dirty laundry or have to share the TV remote with him for the rest of her life.

Or, set herself up to have her heart broken. Again.

Are you sure you know what you’re talking about? Maybe you cut that day in class.

Alicia narrowed her eyes at the insult. I graduated top of my class, thank you. And I didn’t cut class. Ever.

Whatever. Jenny let out a big sigh. So, what are you up to tonight? Any plans?

Jenny sounded far less enthusiastic now that Alicia had put and end to her matchmaking plans and her lay-person’s misbegotten theories on relationships.

Shelly’s meeting me for drinks as soon as she gets off work. In fact—Alicia located the clock on the picture strewn wall behind the bar—she should be there any second.

Oh? Fun. Where are you two girls meeting? Jenny asked.

McP’s. I’m here now. Just waiting for Shelly to get here.

The Irish pub was close for both of them. About halfway between the medical group where Alicia practiced and the office Shelly worked out of for the production company.

McP’s Pub had great food and a lovely outdoor courtyard they took advantage of in the nice weather. Not to mention, after a hard day at work her best friend always enjoyed the steady stream of eye candy that came in from the base to drink and eat here.

Oh? McP’s in Coronado, huh? That sounds fun. Are you two going to have dinner there? Jenny asked, sounding a bit too inquisitive about Alicia’s plans.

Why does that matter? Alicia asked, suspicious. Or maybe just cautiously paranoid.

Um, it doesn’t matter. I just love their nachos, is all, Jenny stuttered.

Alicia narrowed her eyes. Why was her sister so interested in her dinner plans?

It was easy to be suspicious of the habitual matchmaker. But no, even Jenny couldn’t throw together a blind date on zero notice.

Alicia figured she really was just being paranoid. Matchmaking PTSD from her past experiences with her relentless sister.

She decided it was safe to answer the question. We’ll probably order something. We usually share a platter of wings and nachos.

Her stomach grumbled at the mention of food. No surprise. Lunch had been many hours ago.

Where was Shelly anyway? Alicia needed to call her.

She also should probably order a little something now before the beer she’d been sipping while she waited went to her head. Shelly would probably be hungry when she arrived too.

Some chicken wings should do it for now.

But first, she had to ditch this call. Jen, can I call you later when I get home?

Sure. No problem. Talk to you later. Jenny was back to her bright and sunny self as she disconnected the call so fast, Alicia didn’t even have time to say goodbye.

That quick reversal in Jen’s mood was strange. But Alicia couldn’t worry about it now. She was suddenly starving.

She saw the waitress headed her direction and lifted one hand.

What can I get for ya? the server asked.

Can I get an order of chicken wings, please?

Sure thing. Ranch dressing or blue cheese?

Ranch, please.

You got it. The twenty-something headed off toward the kitchen and Alicia was one step closer to getting what she wanted. Food to fill her grumbling belly.

While she waited, she lifted her pint glass and glanced around.

Lots of people filled McP’s but still no Shelly.

She was about to reach for her cell again to call her friend when the phone lit and Shelly’s name and photo appeared on the display.

Alicia swiped the screen to answer the call and lifted the phone to her ear. Hello.

Don’t hate me, Shelly began.

Alicia let out a breath. You’re not coming.

I’m so sorry. One of the producers sprung this last minute thing on me.

It’s fine. I understand. It can’t be helped. You’re in the exciting but unpredictable world of television. Meanwhile, Alicia lived by the clock and her schedule, as a new patient came through her door every hour, on the hour.

You know I’d much rather be there with you than here at work.

Alicia laughed. Oh, I know you would.

Ogling the guys from the Navy base was Shelly’s favorite pastime. And there was no place better to do it than McP’s Irish Pub in Coronado.

Shelly would definitely be drooling over the group seated at the bar tonight.

Alicia sent the rowdy bunch a glance. One dark-haired hottie at the far end of the bar looked her way at the same time.

They locked eyes and she panicked.

She’d been caught staring. She yanked her focus away and felt her cheeks heat.

Unaware of the drama playing out at McP’s, Shelly continued, I’m so sorry about this. I owe you a bunch of drinks for standing you up.

It’s okay. Really. You already did me a favor tonight.

How’s that? Shelly asked.

My sister is matchmaking again. Luckily, I could tell her I had plans with you so at least, for tonight anyway, I’m safe.

That Valentine’s Day party, however, was another story. Alicia still had to figure out a plan for that.

Jen’s been pretty relentless with the matchmaking lately. What’s up with that? her friend asked.

Shelly was right. Alicia’s sister was desperate for her to get into a serious relationship.

I honestly think it’s just so she can have us over and use all her wedding and shower gifts, Alicia said. Her getting married last year might have been the worst thing to ever happen to me.

I thought you liked your brother-in-law.

Oh, I love Jason. But I don’t like my sister so much now that she’s his wife and the happy matchmaking homemaker.

Alicia wasn’t going to let her love life be dictated by her sister’s obsession with china, stemware and her new air fryer.

Besides, Alicia continued. I think I’m going to take a little hiatus from men for a bit.

Her friend remained quiet.

Shell? Did I lose you? Alicia glanced at the display on her cell to see if the call had dropped before pressing the phone back to her ear.

No. I just don’t know what to say to that.

To what?

You giving up men.

Why? Alicia laughed.

Well, during the past few years I’ve watched you go from being a complete monogamist for a decade with you-know-who, to whipping through more men than The Bachelorette does in a season.

There was a reason for that, Alicia defended.

I know and believe me, I’m not judging. It’s just hard to believe that now you’re giving up men.

Not forever. Probably . . .

Why now suddenly? Shelly asked.

Many reasons.

That parts of her still felt completely broken inside after the break-up was the main one. One she didn’t talk about. Not with anyone.

She’d opened a steadily revolving door of rebound men while the fissure left in her heart healed. Low involvement, low risk, safe . . . unsatisfying encounters with men. . . But still, her heart hurt.

But also, she was just plain tired. Tired of it all. And that she had no problem admitting to her friend.

Honestly, Shell? It’s exhausting.

You mean your sister’s set-ups and blind dates? Shelly asked.

Yes, but more than that. Dating. Men in general. I’m tired of it all.

Alicia’s most recent encounters included one guy who wouldn’t stop calling her after their one and only date.

Another guy she’d met at this very bar was secretly married. She’d only found out about that when his wife had called him in the middle of his buying her a drink and trying to invite himself back to her place.

Then there was the real reason she was shying away from relationships. Statistically speaking, not seriously dating any one man was the best way to not get hurt. She trusted data more than people.

If she didn’t get seriously involved, she couldn’t get broken up with. Been there, done that, wasn’t looking for a repeat.

Yup. She was ready to be done with men for a little while. Or maybe a long while. She’d see how it went.

I’m just glad you’re coming to Jenny’s Valentine’s Day party so you can help run interference for any hook-ups she has planned.

Yeah. About that.

Alicia’s eyes widened. No. Shell. Please don’t tell me—

I’m so, so sorry. I have to work on Valentine's Day night for the live show. The executive producer just told me. I'm not going to be able to come to your sister's party.

Great. She scowled.

Sorry. I really am. Shell sounded miserable.

Alicia couldn’t blame her for what her boss demanded. It's okay. I understand. Work is work.

Text me if you need a rescue, though. I can get away long enough to call you with a fake emergency. You can say you have to come save me and have a good excuse to leave the party.

I might take you up on that. Alicia wasn't above faking her way out of this party and whatever hook-up her sister had planned.

Shit. The EP is calling me. I gotta go. But we’ll continue this discussion about your sudden aversion to dating later.

Great. With a sigh, Alicia said, Okay. Talk soon. Bye.

She disconnected the call and set down her cell.

Her love life was the last thing she wanted to discuss. Hopefully Shelly would have forgotten by the next time they got together.

At least that discussion wouldn’t be tonight. Her girl’s night out had turned to a party of one.

She glanced around, hoping to catch the server so she could ask her to box her order to go. She spotted her just as a man cut across the waitress’s path, almost knocking into her in a beeline that led directly toward Alicia . . .

TWO

Brian Anderson reached for the beer that Ray, McP’s old-as-the-hills bartender, planted in front of him.

He glanced down the bar where the rest of his team perched on barstools and raised the heavy mug. To being back on US soil.

"To not being in Nigeria, Liam Lucky" Jameson added.

Or in Ethiopia, Ted Bear Black continued.

And don’t forget our little side trip to the country-that-shall-not-be-named. Cole Joker Landry snorted.

That too. Brian let out a short laugh.

It was easy to laugh now that they were safely home from that one country they weren’t supposed to be in, but had been anyway. While they’d been in-country it had definitely not been a laughing matter.

Here’s to sleeping in a real bed. Gage Gator Fontenot, a Cajun from New Orleans, raised his mug, wisely changing the topic away from the taboo subject of that one mission.

And to cold beer, added Eli Miller, aka Wolf, short for Wolfgang because of his love of cooking.

To our favorite bartender Ray. Jack Mars Marsten glanced at the old Navy vet manning the bar.

Ray treated him to a rare tilt of his lips in an almost smile before turning to bark at the cocktail waitress standing at the end of the bar.

"Let’s not forget, here’s to Lucky getting out and becoming a civilian

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