Dante wasn’t exactly sure how he felt about Kaia, other than he couldn’t stop thinking about her when he wasn’t with her, and he worried about her brother pulling her down into his shit. On the one hand, Dante wished Beck would be more upfront with Kaia about the problems her father had faced before he died, and how much their dad had owed the Russells. However, Dante’s instincts were to protect Kaia, which meant keeping her in the dark about her father’s financial troubles and her brother’s involvement.
But when her father died, Dante had made a promise to Beck to never breathe a word to Kaia about how bad it had gotten. And Dante was nothing without his SEALs’ honor.
“She’s not the kind of person anyone messes with. I mean, she looks like a lady, all sweet and gorgeous, but watch out, she’ll eat you for dinner.”
“I’m married. You don’t have to warn me off. Now, Walli, he’s the one you need to worry about. Or maybe Morty. We know he’s got no shame.”
“When do they get in?” Dante decided to redirect the conversation.
“Around midnight,” Caleb said. “They will meet us at the docks before this shit goes down.”
Dante stared out the window. Having grown up in Seattle, he wasn’t accustomed to the bright sunshine pelting his eyes, but he loved how the warm rays heated his skin. There was nothing but tall palm trees stretching toward the blue sky. A few white, puffy clouds floated over the ocean as they got off Interstate 95 and headed toward the sleepy little seaside town. In the distance, Dante could see the Jupiter Lighthouse.
It almost felt as though he’d returned home.
“Does Kaia have any idea?” Caleb asked.
“I promised Beck we wouldn’t tell her anything, and he thinks she’s oblivious, but she knows more than she lets on.”
“She’s never talked to you about it?”
“Only that she’s worried about Beck, and I’ve shared the same concerns.” It’s hard not to when he shared a bed with Kaia. And he hated lying to her about what he thought was at the root of Beck’s troubled soul, though he did tie it to their father’s father’s financial problems and then his sudden death last year.
“I can’t believe how bad things got for Beck,” Caleb said. “He made it look like he had it all taken care of.”
“He got stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Beck said. “I’m just glad he finally called for backup.”
Caleb punched the gas, heading north on A1A past the Juno Pier. Beck lived in a trailer right on the Intracoastal a few miles up the road, walking distance from the marina where he kept his charter boats.
He’d also managed to purchase a surf shop, and Dante wondered where Beck had gotten the money for the third charter boat and the new shop. Things just seemed too good to be true, and Beck didn’t appear to be the happy-go-lucky man he’d been before he left the military.
Now, Dante knew why. H
is pulse got caught in his throat the second they pulled into the driveway.
The beautiful Kaia, her long hair pulled into a ponytail at the nape of her neck, sat on the front porch of the modular home. She’d twisted the tail over her shoulder and ran her fingers through the strands, her nose in a book. She glanced up and smiled, then set her reading material to the side and stood. Her toned legs went on forever. Her white T-shirt with a picture of a turtle on the front didn’t cover her stomach, showing off a taut midriff and a silver belly button ring.
“Seriously. Don’t say a single word to her about our plan. She’ll either want in on it, or she’ll be up my ass all night about it, and I’ll never be able to sneak out,” Dante whispered. “And I promised Beck she would be kept in the dark.”
Dante did his best not to let his gaze linger on her voluptuous breasts, but he couldn’t help himself. He opened his mouth to say something, anything.
But all he did was grunt.
He’d been all over the world and had had his share of beautiful women, but no one could hold a candle to Kaia— and she was way out of his league.
She lifted her sunglasses to the top of her head. “Look at what the cat dragged in,” she said.
“It’s been a while,” Dante finally managed, keeping up the ruse that he and Kaia hadn’t seen each other only a few months ago. “I hear you’ve never met Caleb.”
“I’ve heard a lot about the man— the legend. And I’ve had the pleasure of a phone call or two. But, no. Can’t say we’ve been in the same space.” She stretched out her hand and shook Caleb’s before kissing Dante on the cheek. Her hot lips scorched his skin. She squeezed his biceps.
“So, what’re the sleeping arrangements?” Dante asked, keeping up the ruse for her sake.
“Unfortunately, Beck only has two guest rooms. Caleb, you get the bigger one with the queen bed. Walli and either Andrew or Riker get the one with two beds. The other one gets the couch here, or the couch at my place. Dante, you get my guest room.”
“You are a lifesaver.” He smiled, dropping his rucksack onto the porch. He pulled his cell out of his back pocket and quickly sent Beck a text, letting him know that they had arrived and would head over to the docks shortly.
Beck responded immediately with a thumbs-up emoji.
“He’s done.” Dante waved his cell. “Why don’t you head over? I’ll drop my stuff at Kaia’s and meet you there.”
Caleb arched a brow. “Seriously?”
“I’ll be fifteen minutes behind you.”
“You better be.” Caleb slapped Dante on the back. “We wouldn’t want people to get the wrong idea.”
Dante waited until Caleb was out of sight before pulling Kaia into his arms. “I guess we haven’t been as discreet as I thought because it seems Caleb and the guys are onto us.”
“My brother acts like he doesn’t know.” She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and wasted no time slipping her tongue between his lips. “But I suspect he might.”
When it came to sex, Kaia was certainly the best he’d ever had. He couldn’t imagine it getting any better. And if he were honest, he didn’t want it to get any better— at least not with anyone else. If he never experienced anyone else, he would actually be fine with that.
A reality he struggled to accept.
He ran his hands up and down her back, letting his fingers dance over her soft skin. Whether she knew it or not, she’d helped him get through a few tough nights during his last deployment. “Does it bother you that I don’t want—?”
“I don’t want my brother to know. He gets weird when I have flings with his friends, so it’s best if we just keep things under the radar.”
Dante leaned against the railing, resting his hands on her hips. “Have you dated anyone while I was gone?”
Kaia shook her head. “A few friends have tried to fix me up, but I wasn’t feeling it.”
“You are allowed to do whatever you want when I leave. We don’t have exclusive rights or anything.” The second the words left Dante’s lips, he regretted them, but being in a full-time relationship wasn’t something he’d ever done before.
Not just because of his job, but because his heart started pounding at the mere thought of being with a woman for more than a few months.
Except for Kaia. All bets were off where she was concerned. If he could say he had any real feelings for a woman, it would be Kaia.
“That sounds like you’re having second thoughts.”
“No. I’m actually jealous of the idea of you being with another man. But I don’t have the right to tell you that you can’t.” Jesus, he sounded like a fucking lovesick idiot. “But I’m only in town for a few days, and I’ll be deployed again for months. I don’t think it’s fair to ask you to sit around and wait for me when I don’t even know if I’m…” He glanced at the sky. “I’m not very good at this.”
“No. You’re not.” She cupped his cheek. “Are you saying you want more?”
“I asked first.” He groaned. “Kaia, I want more, but I don’t know what that looks like.”
She smiled. “I like the idea of more.”
Jen Talty. A SEAL’s Honor: A Lady Boss Press Navy SEAL Novella (Kindle Locations 109-175). Lady Boss Press, Inc..