NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
USA Today Bestselling Author
When Delta operatives Dash and Magic officially meet Holly and Stella—the women they’ve had their eyes on—it’s hardly a conventional moment, but the fireworks are undeniable. Both men fall hard, fast, and deep, each planning a Valentine’s Day their women will never forget. And they don’t…but for reasons no one saw coming.
These interconnected but separate stories were originally published in a Valentine’s Day Anthology. They have been expanded and now include an epilogue for each story as well as extra content!
This is my favorite scene. It’s in both books and had me laughing out loud so I’m putting it first.
“Stella!” Holly snapped, trying to get her best friend’s attention. But Stella was far too focused on climbing the stupid tree next to her neighbor’s balcony.
Stella and Holly had clicked the first time they’d met at their job on Fort Hood Army base in Texas. They’d both just been hired and had been going through new employee orientation. One of the presenters had said something stupid, Holly couldn’t remember what it was now, but when Stella had turned to her and opened both eyes wide as if to say, “Oh my God, was that a stupid thing to say,” Holly knew she was someone she wanted to get to know better.
And now, five years later, they were closer than ever—even if at first glance they seemed to be complete opposites. Holly was short whereas Stella was tall. Holly had dark hair, Stella light. Holly was more reserved, while Stella was outgoing and not afraid to try new things…like climb a tree to get onto her neighbor’s balcony so she could climb over the railing and break into her own apartment.
And not just any neighbor either. The hot-as-hell Delta force operative she’d been crushing on for ages. The day he’d moved in, Stella had texted Holly and given her a blow by blow of what was happening. As hard as Stella had worked to try to finagle a way to run into him by “accident,” their schedules just seemed too different to have a more casual passing-in-the-parking-lot kind of interaction.
It figured that today of all days, when Stella had locked herself out, Stella’s apartment manager was out of town and her friend had already borrowed the extra key she’d given to Holly for situations exactly like this one. A key that was currently locked inside her apartment, along with the one Stella had forgotten.
But like usual, Stella wasn’t going to let a little thing like not having a key slow her down. Stella swore the door to her balcony was unlocked and all it would take to get inside was her getting up there.
On one hand, they were both thrilled it was an unseasonably warm day for Texas in January. Stella had on shorts, as it was a weekend and she took every opportunity to wear casual clothes when they didn’t have to work. But on the other hand, shorts weren’t exactly great for tree-climbing.
“We have a problem,” Holly told Stella as she stood under her, attempting to balance with her friend on her shoulders. Holly had no idea what Stella thought she was going to do if she actually fell. There was no way she could actually catch her, but just staring up at her felt wrong. So after Stella actually got hold of the branch, Holly hovered under her like a nervous mother.
But they definitely had another problem at the moment. More than Stella’s shirt getting snagged on a branch and her flashing the entire neighborhood when she’d first attempted to shimmy up the tree.
“We don’t have a problem,” Stella grunted as she did her best to reach upward toward the thicker branch above her head. She had her legs and arms wrapped around the lower branch like a monkey. She hung there for a moment, then exclaimed, “I almost have it!”
“I told you to give me your spare key back,” Holly complained.
“Whoop-whoop, I got it!” Stella crowed.
Deep laughter sounded from behind Holly, and she turned to look again at the two men she’d seen approaching. She’d tried to warn Stella that they were no longer alone, but as usual, her friend was completely focused on the task at hand and oblivious to what was going on around her.
“Girl, you need a throat lozenge,” Stella said, apparently thinking the men’s laughter came from Holly, as she began to shimmy hand over hand across the branch that led right to her neighbor’s balcony.
“Abort mission!” Holly said.
“Are you crazy? I’m almost there!”
Holly gave up trying to warn her friend. How Holly always seemed to find herself in embarrassing situations like this when she was around Stella, she didn’t know.
When the two men laughed again, Stella finally turned to look down. She froze mid-swing and hung from the tree branch halfway to her goal. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she hissed.
“I told you we had a problem,” Holly insisted.
Stella began to mumble under her breath, something about the scrapes she’d gotten on her knees and tearing her shirt, but all of Holly’s attention was on the two men.
Figured it was none other than the sexy neighbor and his equally gorgeous friend. Why couldn’t it have been the maintenance man—the guy with the huge paunch and who smelled like bacon all the time?
Holly hadn’t really admitted to Stella that she was interested in her neighbor’s friend. If she had, her friend would’ve been relentless in trying to set them up. For some reason, Stella felt it was her goal in life to get Holly a boyfriend.
So Holly had admired the other man from afar. It seemed as if she saw him all over post too. They apparently liked to eat lunch at the same place in the PX, a small sub kiosk inside the lobby of the post exchange building. She’d smiled at him a few times but had never worked up the nerve to actually talk to him.
And now, here he was, laughing at them.
“Are you open to suggestions?” Stella’s neighbor asked, but Holly couldn’t take her eyes off his friend. He was tall, but not too tall. Muscular, of course. Had brown hair that was longer than most soldiers were allowed, most likely because he was a special forces operative. His hazel eyes were locked on hers, which made Holly’s heart speed up until she was afraid she was going to have a heart attack.
Her attention was jerked back to Stella when she screeched. But her neighbor stepped forward and caught her friend before she hit the ground. It was like a scene from one of the romance books she loved to read.
“Gotcha,” he said in a deep, rumbly voice. “You’re bleeding,” he added.
“Yeah, that happened when she said she knew how to climb a tree. Obviously, she’s not very good at it,” Holly explained helpfully. It felt better when she concentrated on her friend and tried to ignore the handsome man now standing next to her.
“Let’s get you upstairs and get your knees cleaned up,” Stella’s neighbor said.
“She’s locked out,” Holly blurted. Stella turned and gave her a shut-up face. In return, Holly widened her eyes and gave her a small headshake.
Both men chuckled once more.
“Come on, Lucy and Ethel, we’ll go to my place then and get you cleaned up.”
Stoker, Susan; Edwards, Riley. Falling for the Delta. Kindle Locations (59-110). Kindle Edition.
From this point the books go off to the individual and intertwining stories.
Dash & Holly
Instead Dash leads Holly off, and assures her Stella is in good hands and safe. Then proceeds to inform her she’s safe as well and she could a text of his license plate to Stella for good measure.
As these two start getting to know each other, they stay in the car in the parking lot of her apartment complex. This leads to an interesting encounter with law enforcement.
However, they find they have much in common. Holly is not only beautiful, she’s intelligent and has almost as high a security clearance as he has, maybe even higher.
Meeting for lunch at the PX becomes a staple as these two get closer. Then one of these lunches isn’t calm and fun at all.
Plenty of romance, a bit of action and a touch of heat.
5 Contented Purrs for Susan!
Magic & Stella
Magic was more than a little amused at Stella’s antics in the tree outside his apartment. He takes Stella to his apartment, more than a little curious as to how she was planning on getting into her locked apartment from his balcony. He has a lot to say on the subject as he’s cleaning her scrapes.
He wasn’t quite prepared for her to identify him as Delta, and even more surprised to learn she’d been in on OPSEC briefings. He’s also very relieved to find she’s a civilian contractor and not military. It makes life easier.
They too enjoy the ritual of lunch at the PX together, until that one fateful day.
Lot’s of laughter, romance, some action and a touch of sizzle.
5 Contented Purrs for Riley!
New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Tennessee where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.
Riley Edwards is a bestselling multi-genre author, wife, and military mom. Riley was born and raised in Los Angeles but now resides on the east coast with her fantastic husband and children.
Riley writes heart-stopping romance with sexy alpha heroes and even stronger heroines. Riley’s favorite genres to write are romantic suspense and military romance.
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