Colonel Ben Davies was going out of his mind. Why was he having sexual thoughts about his best friend’s kid sister? Nothing could happen between them. No matter how much Mari tempted him.
Maribeth O’Malley admired the boy who hadn’t minded a girl tagging along with him and her brother. Over the years, those feelings turned to love for the man he’d become. Now she had to convince him that she was all woman.
When Mari comes across information she shouldn’t have she turns to the man she loves for help. Her life is in danger and Ben must find the person responsible without falling into bed with her.
Jambrea wanted to be the youngest romance author published, but life impeded the dreams. She put her writing aside and went to college briefly, then enlisted in the Air Force. After serving in the military, she returned home to Indiana to start her family. A few years later, she discovered yahoo groups and book reviews. There was no turning back. She was bit by the writing bug.
She enjoys spending time with her son when not writing and loves to receive reader feedback. She’s addicted to the internet so feel free to email her anytime.
Mari jolted out of bed. Something had woken her up and she was a bit disoriented. She threw off her blankets, stumbled to the front of her apartment and paused with her hand on the doorknob, still not all the way awake.
Something isn’t right.
She cocked her head at a noise coming from the other side. It was times like these she wished she’d listened to her brother and had that peephole installed. The rustling sound came again and the knob turned in her hand. That woke her up.
What the hell?
She backed away and looked around to find a weapon. The only thing close was an umbrella so she grabbed it and waited. It seemed like hours, though it was only seconds later when someone stepped through the doorway. She closed her eyes and swung the umbrella like a bat. It made a nice swooshing sound, then a whack as it connected and a thud when the person fell. She opened her eyes and her jaw dropped.
On her floor was Ben—all six foot three inches of him. Mari flipped on the light so she could see him better. He was dressed in blue jeans and a red T-shirt that showed off his dark complexion. His black hair was barely there with its short Marine high and tight cut. His full lips looked so inviting and she wanted to kiss him, but she was pissed off and he’d probably have heart failure if his best friend’s sister gave him a lip lock.
“God damn it, Ben! How many times have I told you to knock!”
Mari went with anger, it was easier than focusing on how much she wanted in Ben’s pants…or him out of them.
“Well shit, Jellybean, if you’d lock your door, I might just knock.” He looked up at her from the floor, rubbing his head.
Mari put her hand out to help him to his feet, not letting his big brown eyes distract her. She was upset. He’d just broken into her house and she hadn’t seen or heard from him in weeks.
“When are you going to realise I’m not a kid anymore and stop calling me by that ridiculous nickname?”
Secretly she liked Ben calling her Jellybean, but she’d never let him know that. Lusting after her brother’s best friend probably wasn’t the best thing she could do, but she couldn’t help it. She’d been in love with the man for as long as she could remember and he never saw her as more than a friend’s annoying sibling.
Mari thought things might go differently after they both attended a family friend’s wedding. The dance she’d shared with Ben had been wonderful, but he ran off right afterwards. This was the first time she’d seen him since the reception.
“What did you hit me with?”
Ben still rubbed his head and she chuckled at his hurt expression. She also noticed that he’d ignored her comment about the nickname.
“An umbrella, I couldn’t find anything else.” Mari shrugged and put the umbrella away.
“Just wait until I tell Fin.”
“What? That you broke into his poor defenceless sister’s house? And you leave my brother out of this. What are you doing here anyway?” It was nice to see Ben back to his old self. This was who she knew and loved. Not that man who had left her on the dance floor feeling so alone and confused.
Ben snorted. “I’m taking you out. Go get dressed, Jellybean.”
She liked how he dismissed the poor defenceless part. Of course it helped having an older brother and his friends teaching her ways to make sure her dates didn’t get too grabby.
“Why me? Isn’t Fin home?” Mari plopped down on her couch.
“He’s out on assignment.” Ben moved to sit down beside her.
Mari loved the way his cologne smelled and she liked having him here beside her. She really didn’t feel like going out.
“Shoot, that’s right. I forgot he was delayed because one of the pilots got sick. He’s due back any day. Can’t you wait?”
“Nope, I just got my orders; I’m off to Iraq day after tomorrow.”
Shit, it was bad enough when Fin went on assignment, but to have Ben leaving too ripped her heart out. If anything happened to them she’d lose her mind.
“How long will you be gone?” Mari hoped the fear didn’t creep into her voice. She’d become better at hiding her worries and putting on a happy face.
“It’s supposed to be a month hitch to help out and do some training, but you know how that goes. So go, get dressed we’re gonna paint the town.”
“Just where are you taking me?”
She needed to stop thinking about the bad and live in the moment. After all—she was going out with Ben.
“It’s a surprise.” Ben winked at her.
“I need to know how to dress. And I can’t stay out too late. I have work tomorrow.”
“I thought you were on summer break? One of the perks of working in a school.”
“I will be, in a couple of weeks.”
“You know, when I was in school, our librarian was a troll. I don’t think your students know how lucky they are to have a hot librarian.” Ben slapped her thigh and smirked.
Mari pushed his hand away and got up from the couch. She grinned down at him before turning to go to her room. This Ben wasn’t afraid to touch her. She wondered what had changed.
“You think I’m hot?” she said over her shoulder.
Ben smacked her ass. “Go get dressed.”
Mari paused for a second to take in this new, playful Ben. Maybe tonight would be her chance to show him she wanted more from him than friendship. With that thought in mind, she went to raid her closet for the right outfit.
Ten minutes later she walked out of her room to find Ben at her bookshelf gazing at old pictures of the four of them. Growing up, Ben, Fin and Joe, a family friend lovingly referred to as Magnus, had done everything together. Originally, she had always stayed on the sidelines. It wasn’t until she went to college that the boys let her into their little group. She didn’t date much and that could be because the three of them ran off any guy interested in her. Mari shook her head at the memories. They were great ones and she missed Joe, but he’d been gone from the group for a while now. Ben—he was her constant. The only exception was her twin brother. They shared a different kind of bond. She cleared her throat and put thoughts of her brother in danger out of her head.
Ben turned and the look on his face was priceless. His eyes widened and he sucked in a breath.
“You aren’t wearing that, are you?”
She glanced down at herself, “What’s wrong with what I have on?”
Mari had on a form fitting white tank top that ended at her belly button, showing off the loop she’d got pierced there on a dare from one of her friends last summer. Her jeans were black and fitted just right and she’d topped it off with a pair of sparkly red heels.
“What is that?” Ben pointed at her belly ring.
“I got my belly button pierced. It isn’t a big deal. Are you ready to go or not?”
“Do you have…ah…anything else pierced or tattooed?” Ben looked worried.
“That is for me to know and you to find out.” Mari winked at him and headed out of her doorway. She made sure to put a little extra wiggle in her walk. Ben Davies was going down.
Mari waited by Ben’s truck. He didn’t take long to catch up with her. She stood by while he opened the door for her, always the gentleman.
“Now will you tell me where we’re going?” she asked after Ben settled behind the wheel.
“No, and I want you to close your eyes. Like I said, it’s a surprise.”