Series: SEALs of Coronado, Book One
Release Date: April 12, 2016
When investigative journalist Hayley Garner is kidnapped by terrorists, she’s sure they’re going to kill her. But in sweeps handsome Navy SEAL Chasen Ward to rescue her. After getting her to safety, he disappears into the night before she can even thank him.
Weeks later, while covering a story on the local navy base, Hayley runs into Chasen again. Even though she didn’t see his face that night he rescued her, she can’t forget his beautiful blue eyes.
The attraction is immediate and intense, and Hayley finds herself falling into a fiery romance with the hunky hero out of her dreams. Guys like this aren’t supposed to really exist, but Chasen does, and damn is he hot.
But ever since she got back home, Hayley has had the feeling someone’s been watching her. Is it post-traumatic stress or does she have a reason to be afraid? Good thing she has a Navy SEAL to protect her.
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She’d thought he’d be easy to find, but the place was SEAL hunk central, with an awful lot of the fit, attractive guys in attendance. While quite a few of them flashed charming grins in her direction, none of them had those unforgettable blue eyes she’d spent the past four weeks seeing in her dreams.
Her earlier assessment had been right. This was hopeless.
Sighing, Hayley turned to go in search of Brad instead and almost smacked right into the broad, muscular chest of a guy in blue camo. She stared at his uniform up close, absently wondering why the Navy wore blue camouflage. It wasn’t like they were ever going to be in a blue jungle. She glanced at the rank on his collar—noting the three chevrons of a petty officer first class—then the nametag sewn on the right hand side of his chest, noting his name—it said WARD—before lifting her head to apologize for practically mowing him down. But when her gaze met his, all she could do was stare. There couldn’t be two men on the planet with eyes that blue. She’d found the SEAL who’d saved her life.
“It’s you,” she breathed.
Okay, that definitely wasn’t the most intelligent thing she’d ever said out loud. But the SEAL smiled anyway, flashing the cutest pair of dimples her way. Hayley’s breath hitched. She’d tried to picture what he looked like ever since that night, alternating between Chris Hemsworth and Henry Cavill and finally settling on a combination of the two. She hadn’t even been close. Petty Officer Ward was even more gorgeous than she imagined. Taller than she was by nearly a foot, he had broad shoulders, dark hair, and a square jaw to go along with those mesmerizing eyes. Now, this was what a superhero should look like.
“It is,” he said. “I’m glad to see you’re doing well, Ms. Garner.”
She’d been so caught up in the memory of the captivating blue of his eyes she’d completely forgotten how sexy his voice was. The deep, rich tones caressed her, making her feel warm all over. Just like they had that night in Africa. Wow, this guy was pure sexy, wrapped in blue camo. She had a crazy urge to ask him to say something else—anything else—so she could hear that voice again.
“Call me Hayley, please,” she finally managed.
She offered him her hand, pulse skipping when he took it. Wow, he had really big hands. A little part of her mind whispered something about the significance of that, but she ignored it. Instead, she focused on the overall sense of strength seeming to pour off him in waves. Being this close to him and getting a chance to take in how tall and muscular he was reminded her of the way he’d picked her up and carried her so effortlessly that night—all while using a weapon.
Hayley had never thought of herself as the kind of woman who wanted to be swept off her feet by a guy, but right now she was thinking this man could carry her anywhere he wanted to.
Damn, this guy was seriously messing with her calm, cool journalist exterior.
“Chasen Ward,” he said.
Chasen. Unusual, but it fit him. Gorgeous name for a gorgeous guy.
She wondered if the guy realized the kind of effect he likely had on every woman on the planet, especially the one standing right in front of him. Probably not, she guessed. Guys were usually clueless about that kind of stuff.
“How did things go over there?” she asked. “After you got me out, I mean.”
She cringed as soon as the words were out. Guess he hadn’t messed with her journalist mojo as much as she’d thought. Crap, now he’d think she was looking for a scoop. Nothing turned people off more than a nosy reporter.
But he merely nodded. The shade from the brim on his hat accentuated his chiseled features as he moved, making them seem even more angular.
“They went well,” he said. “My Team and I got back a few days ago as a matter of fact.”
Her inner Barbara Walters wanted to ask what else they’d done over there, but before she could decide if that was a good idea or not, two other Navy guys in blue camouflage sauntered over. Both petty officers second class, they were tall, well-built, and good looking.
“Hey, I know you,” the younger of the two men said with a trace of a Southern accent. Blond with brown eyes, he had that casual Channing Tatum-thing going on. “Though I hope you don’t mind me saying, you look a lot better now than you did the last time we saw you.” Hayley frowned in confusion at the two men, sure she would have remembered if she’d met them before.
Chasen chuckled. “This is Dalton Jennings and Nash Cantrell. They were with me when we rescued you that night. You’ll have to forgive Dalton for being clueless. He’s taken several classes on how to be charming, but unfortunately, he keeps failing them.”
She laughed and shook hands with both men. Dalton looked so chagrined, she couldn’t help but take pity on him. “Don’t worry about it, Dalton. I’m well aware of how much of a mess I looked that night. Thanks for being there with Chasen and the rest of your Team.”
The SEAL visibly relaxed, giving her another grin. “No problem. Just doing our job, ma’am.”
Dalton might have failed out of charm school—according to Chasen at least—but there wasn’t a woman alive who wouldn’t swoon over that Southern drawl.
“I know it was hard to tell with all the gear we had on,” Dalton continued. “But I was the one doing this.”
Dark eyes suddenly intense, he struck an action hero pose, arms lifted as if he were holding an imaginary machine gun. On either side of him, Chasen and Nash snorted in unison.
“You mean you were the one nearly running into every wall around you because the batteries in your NVGs were dying.” Nash pointed out drily, his dark eyes filled with amusement.
Dalton considered that a moment, then dropped the pose and shrugged. “That might have been me.”
Hayley laughed, unable to help herself. They were both funny—and seriously cute—but she had to admit she was glad when they took off a little while later, leaving her alone with Chasen.
“How is your ankle feeling?” he asked as his buddies walked off toward the pavilion.
“Much better, thanks,” she said.
He looked down pointedly at her foot where it peeked out from under her long skirt. She’d tried not to make it obvious, but she’d been standing with all her weight on her good foot so she could give the injured one a rest. Chasen lifted a brow as if he saw through the little white lie.
Hayley gave him a sheepish look. “Okay, you caught me. It still hurts a little. But it really is much better. Thanks to you.”
“If you hadn’t gotten there in time, a messed-up ankle would have been the least of my worries. I don’t know how I can ever repay you for saving my life.”
That playful grin returned. “I’m more than ready to call it even if you consider going out to dinner with me.”
If Chasen were any other guy, Hayley might consider making him work a little harder for a date. But she’d been more than ready to go out with him since he’d loaded her on that helicopter over in Africa. Heck, there’d been a time or two when she’d woken up from an especially nice dream involving the Navy
SEAL when she was ready to do a lot more than date the guy. Rip off his uniform and roll around on the floor with him being one thing that came to mind.
“Dinner sounds great,” she said, quite proud of her ability to maintain her composure.
“Friday night work for you?”
Hayley entered her number in his phone while he did the same with hers, then she gave him her address.
“I’ll see you at 1830 hours,” he said, then chuckled. “I mean, six-thirty.”
“I can’t wait,” she said, and meant it.
Touching his fingers to the brim of his hat in a causal salute, Chasen gave her another smile then strode off. Hayley let out a sigh as she watched him go. Damn, he made that blue camouflage uniform look good.
About the Author:
Paige is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy romantic suspense and paranormal romance. She graduated from The University of West Florida with a degree in education in 2000, but decided to pursue a full-time career as a writer in 2004. Since then, she’s written over fifty books in several genres, including paranormal, contemporary, western, sci-fi and erotica. She loves writing about strong, sexy, alpha males and the feisty, independent women who fall for them. From verbal foreplay to sexual heat, her stories of romance, adventure, suspense, passion and true love will leave you breathlessly panting for more.
She and her very own military hero (also known as her husband) live on the beautiful Florida coast with their adorable fur baby (also known as their dog). Paige graduated with a degree in education, but decided to pursue her passion and write books about hunky alpha males and the kick-butt heroines who fall in love with them.
When not working on her latest book, Paige enjoys reading, jogging, P90X, Yoga, Pilates, going to the beach, watching NFL football, watching movies and hanging out with her husband (not necessarily in that order!)
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The USA Today bestselling author of Outside the Lines once again explores love on the edge in an explosive new romance about obsession, betrayal, and a killer attraction.
Lee Delgado never planned on falling in love with the irresistible Oliver Savoca, son of a Chicago crime lord. Considering that their families are rivals, she knew it could never work. And now that both their fathers have been nabbed on racketeering charges, any real chance at a future with the man she loves has been shot to hell. But a greater blow is yet to come.
Not only does Lee learn that a contract is out on her life, she has reason to believe that Oliver is behind the devastating betrayal. Now she’s working closely—very closely—with Federal Agent Sean Callahan to help bring her man down. But however she’s come to feel about Callahan, Lee is still deeply, hopelessly, unabashedly in love with Oliver.
Where that fearless love takes Lee next is beyond her control—but the risk is worth every beat of her heart.
I want Lee to know, no matter where she goes, I will find her.
At the thought of her betrayal, rage rises up and wraps like an iron cloak around my heart, threatening to crush any bit of humanity left there. I close my eyes and hold my breath until it passes.
And I see her as she was before everything that came after—that first day of business law class at Kellogg, nearly two years ago.
She was starting her first year. I was in my second. I was already seated near Angela Bagglio, who I had a passing interest in due to her loose family ties to the Delgado organization. Her brother was a wiseguy wannabe, little more than a glorified gofer within the Delgado machine. But I’d discovered, sometimes it was the smallest details that led to the largest victories.
When Lee Delgado sashayed into the classroom, I’d like to say I was unaffected. I’d like to believe I was in complete control of everything that happened then and after.
But I’d be kidding myself.
Her bright hazel eyes surveyed the room, and when they caught for a second as they passed over me, I felt a shift in gravity itself. There were times reading nuances in expressions and actions was all that came between me and a slug in my head. That hitch in her perusal of the room left no doubt she was aware who I was.
From that second on, I was helpless to take my eyes off her.
Her sandy brown waves cascaded over the shoulders of her cream-colored silk blouse to an open collar that hung loose, revealing a hint of cleavage. Her burgundy pencil skirt hugged the round curves of her hips and ass and ended above the knee, giving me a glimpse of a pair of toned thighs and calves. She had a killer body and knew it. I had to respect a woman who knew her strengths and wasn’t afraid to use them to her advantage.
She took a seat in my row, but on the opposite side of the classroom. I was barely coherent when the professor started lecturing. I couldn’t tell you the first thing he said.
As she listened, she lifted a hand and combed through her waves with her fingers, separating out a strand and twirling it around her finger. A rush shuddered from my tailbone up my spine to my brain, and even though I had no clue why, that was the moment I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay away.
The rest, as they say, is history.
If she thinks she can hide from me, she’s got another thing coming.
Mob controlled gambling has always been a huge racket, with better payouts because we don’t pay taxes like the legal betting sites. Back in the day, bookies were involved and actual cash changed hands. Now nearly everything is electronic. Bets are collected directly from our clients’ online accounts and payouts are distributed back into them. Payout is calculated after each event based on outcome versus the spread. It’s one of the parts of my job that I truly enjoy. I’m always in the program, tweaking and modifying. But, suddenly, the week before Christmas, two days after Lee and I returned from our weekend in Aspen, I noticed the spread didn’t factor anymore and our payouts went through the roof. I thought maybe I’d screwed something up and tried to get into the program to check it. Ended up throwing my laptop against the wall when my pass code wouldn’t get me in.
It took me the next two days, and the fact that Lee wasn’t answering my texts or calls, to put together what had happened. Though I’m not sure exactly how she managed it, I know it had to have been her who hacked into my program and changed the payout ratios. I’ve looked at it from every angle and there are no other feasible possibilities. And it makes sense. I had an ulterior motive when we started hooking up, and I had no doubt she had one of her own. But as we got deeper into each other, things shifted and I lost focus. I let down my guard and gave her too much, and she took advantage of the opening.
I knew I wouldn’t be seeing her over the holidays because her siblings were all coming back to the family home in Wilmette, just outside of Chicago, for Christmas. It took me another day to decide I had no choice but to go there.
But when I got to the house, the place was swarming with cops and Feds, and yellow police tape was strung across the pillars at the front door. The reports the next day said it was believed the Delgados had fled to Europe after a “gangland style attack” on their home.
The online gambling leg of our business has been bleeding cash at the rate of nearly a hundred grand a month since Lee fucked with the program. Every month it gets worse as word spreads of our big payouts. The guy who designed and encrypted the program is dead; a casualty of my father’s wrath when he made the mistake of telling Victor he’d corrected a system glitch that had cost us a couple hundred grand over the first year of implementation. I’ve done everything I can to break Lee’s pass code, but considering the illegal nature of the account, and the fact that I couldn’t enlist anyone who might report back to Victor what happened, my resources to resolve the issue have been severely limited.
So I put my time and energy into another avenue. Finding Lee.
Like everyone else in Chicago, I assumed that my father was responsible for the contract on Lee and her family. I talked to his guys. Tried to see if any of them had a bead on the Delgados’ location. I couldn’t find anyone who was even looking.
So, as much as I dreaded it, I went straight to the source.
I was dead to my father. He’d made that clear. But that day, for the first time since I’d crossed him, Victor looked at me with pride in his eyes when he asked, “You purchase that special delivery for our friends up in Wilmette?”
And that’s when I knew it wasn’t us. It’s also when I knew I was a dead man unless I could find a way out of this mess on my own.
So I looked harder for Lee, dug a little deeper into the Delgado family tree. I didn’t find her, but I managed to stumble on some other useful information during my search. And then, finally, the stroke of luck that led me here: Rob showing up in Chicago.
I’ve been able to keep everything under the rug since she left, but underground betting has always been the Savoca business’s bread and butter. If Victor or anyone else in the organization discovers the hemorrhage of cash that our gambling ring has become, it’s my head my loving pop will want on a spike.
I told the guys I had some personal business in Vegas; gave Al a direct order to park his ass at my apartment and not to move until I got back. I took a flight to Vegas, and from there, traveled to Florida on an ID I pinched off of a guy we rolled in Little Italy for not making book. He’s dead now, courtesy of Al, so he won’t be divulging my alter ego to anyone.
My family doesn’t know this particular alias. They’d have a hard time tracking me. Once I find Lee, things should move pretty fast. But I have to find her first.
So here I am.
The Acquisition has ruled my life, ruled my every waking moment since Sinclair Vinemont first showed up at my house offering an infernal bargain to save my father’s life. Now I know the stakes. The charade is at an end, and Sinclair has far more to lose than I ever did. But this knowledge hasn’t strengthened me. Instead, each revelation breaks me down until nothing is left but my fight and my rage. As I struggle to survive, only one question remains. How far will I go to save those I love and burn the Acquisition to the ground?
“I know you feel guilty. I know.” He smoothed his hands up and down my back as I lay my head against his shoulder. “But you did what you had to. Everything else that happened isn’t on you. It’s on us. The Acquisition.”
“I can’t stop thinking about it. About how they looked at me. Brianne and Gavin, the way they screamed.” My lip trembled, and I hated my weakness, hated that I had the luxury of falling apart when Brianne and Gavin were the ones who’d suffered.
He wrapped his arms around me. “I know. Time is the only way to soften memories like that. Things you’ve seen that you can never un-see. They’ll still be there, but they won’t be able to hurt you anymore.”
I pulled away and took his hand, pulling it to my lips. I kissed the criss-cross of scars on the back of his wrist before putting his palm to my cheek. “You’re strong. Maybe I can be, too.”
He leaned in and kissed me with a gentleness I didn’t know he possessed. He rested his forehead against mine. “You are everything. If I could run with you, I would.” He closed his eyes, as if thinking through the possibility again. When he opened them, they were stark. “We can’t. They’ll find us, hurt us, and kill Teddy for spite.”
I pulled away and held his gaze. “I’m going to end it. All of it. We are. Together.”
The water splashed down my back, warming me even as goose bumps rose along my skin from the nearness of him, the heat that lit his gaze at my words.
“It won’t be easy. You’ll have to kill.” He pulled me to him roughly, his hands going to my ass. “You would have their blood on your hands?”
I bit his chest and ran my nails down his back. “Yes.”
He groaned, as if my assent pleased him more than he could stand. “This is a dark path. One I’m well acquainted with.” He pushed me against the tiles and met my eyes. “Are you sure it’s what you want?”
“I want to burn it all down.” I pulled him down to me and kissed him with every bit of fierceness I had.
Celia Aaron is the self-publishing pseudonym of a published romance and erotica author. She loves to write stories with hot heroes and heroines that are twisty and often dark. Thanks for reading.
Ten authors. Ten steamy romances. Fools in Love features alpha males and the women who tame them from ten of the hottest authors in contemporary and new adult romance!
Annabel Chant – Falling from Grace
Alana Leigh – Lies of Omission (NEW AUTHOR!)
Alana has been too busy writing to find a place all her own yet, but you can follow what she’s doing on her publisher’s Facebook page (please like the page while you’re there).
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1SqMeks
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1LEta32
My life isn’t going exactly the way I planned, but I can make ends meet and I have a fiancé I love. I’m one of those people who believes in working with what I’ve been given… I just never expected this kind of curveball.
When a run through Central Park sets in motion events that change the course of Sara Carr’s life, she never imagines that they will lead her to Dorian Forbes, a billionaire former fighter, and a new job as his personal trainer. A new job that comes with its own complications.