Read an Excerpt
To Seduce a SEAL
A Sin City SEALs Novel
By Sara Jane Stone, Stephen Morgan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Sara Jane Stone
All rights reserved.
I saved the hostage.
Dante Raske clung to that thought as he pushed past the lingering pain in his knee. Three months since he'd rushed in and, working alongside one of the best SEAL teams in the U.S. Navy, brought a kidnapped aid worker home in one piece. They'd been outnumbered, but he'd made damn sure they weren't overpowered. And tore his ACL in the process.
But one surgery, and a few months on the sidelines, was a small price to pay for a woman's life.
"Is your knee bothering you or are you just taking in the scenery?" Ronan asked as he jogged back to Dante's side.
Kiss my ass.
But he had enough sense not to say those words to the Navy SEAL officer who outranked Dante's enlisted butt. Ronan wouldn't pull rank in this desert. Still, Dante stuck to his new mantra: "It's fine."
Ronan, the redheaded SEAL who'd maintained his Scottish accent despite being born and raised in the USA, slowed his eight-minute mile jogging pace and matched Dante's brisk walk.
"You're still grounded for how long?" Ronan said, his tone so damn understanding Dante wanted to put his fist through something. "Two weeks until the docs will even consider clearing you for active duty?"
"Yeah." He grunted, pushing through the pain.
"It was a bad tear, man. If you need more time to rest —"
"One more day at home, sitting on my ass watching my knee heal, and boredom will bury me six feet under," Dante muttered as he pulled a bandana from his cargo shorts and wiped his brow.
Ronan stopped and turned to him, his hands on his hips. "Look, I know babysitting a country singer doesn't come close to a real mission. Even if you're only at fifty percent I'd rather work with you than most of the clowns her manager could scare up. But this gig ..."
"It's important," Dante said. "I get it."
He knew Ronan needed the extra cash. And Dante wasn't going to turn up his nose at the money the singer's manager was offering for one weekend of work protecting a twenty-something starlet with a few too many adoring fans.
"It's not just about the money," Ronan said. After busting their asses together all over the freaking globe, Dante's teammate could read his mind. "I served with the star's brother before I joined the teams. It's important we do this right."
"I thought you barely knew the guy," Dante said. His knee hurt, but that didn't prevent him from giving Ronan a hard time.
"We went our separate ways. But you know how it is after you spend a long deployment with someone."
"Yeah," Dante said. "But I think this has more to do with your girl, Casey, being the lead singer for the opening act."
Ronan smiled. "I don't mind making a little extra money while working alongside my girlfriend. That doesn't happen often."
Dante shook his head. Their teammate Jack had thrust Casey, a down-on-her-luck singer, into Ronan's lap one night at Bottom's Up, the bar near their base in Coronado. Jack had been too busy trying to win over the bartender to have eyes for anyone else. And Ronan? Well hell, his teammate always gave 100 percent to his relationships. No one-night stands. He opened his heart to the woman in his bed from day one. The crazy son-of-a-bitch. Didn't he realize that their line of work was like a ticking time bomb for relationships?
"Just because I want to be here, doesn't mean you need to stay," Ronan added. "I don't want you to reinjure that knee. We need you out there, man. I can keep an eye on Chrissie, in her brother's memory and all, while you rest up in sunny California."
"I'm fine," Dante repeated. And compared to Chrissie's brother, the sailor who'd lost his life while serving overseas, Dante didn't have one goddamn reason to complain.
Sure, his family worried about his knee. His mother had flown out for the surgery. And she'd stayed for three long weeks, cooking up a storm in his cramped one-bedroom apartment. Finally, after she'd packed his freezer full of lasagna, he'd sent her back to Brooklyn.
But fussing over him while he recovered was a helluva lot different than mourning him.
"You sure? You don't look fine," Ronan said.
Dante grunted. "I can stand around and be the hired muscle, no problem."
Ronan nodded. "Good. I'm going to pick up the pace." He turned and jogged backward for a few steps. "I'm not going to break a sweat walking through this canyon. Meet you back at the truck?"
"Fuck off," Dante said, shoving the bandana he'd used to wipe his brow back into his pocket.
"Watch your language, man." Ronan turned and headed down the trail. "According to my girl, Chrissie is as sweet and innocent as they come."
"Of course she is," Dante murmured, attempting a slow and steady jog as Ronan disappeared around a bend in the trail. "Of all the country starlets, I get saddled with the Disney princess."
Dante made it to a section of the trail not far from the parking area before he slowed to a walk. His leg ached from hitting the hotel gym before the sun rose this morning. He glanced down at the red scar on his right knee. The surgeon had promised it would fade with time. But Dante didn't give a damn about the scar that disappeared when he put on his cargo shorts. He needed his knee working at 110 percent. Perfect wouldn't cut it. Not for his line of work. SEALs had to be the best.
And until I can prove that I'm mission-ready, I'm stuck here.
He paused on the trail and took a drink from his water bottle. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a couple near the wall of red rock that rose up like a mountain in the desert. His hand holding the water bottle froze in mid-air.
The woman wore a black wig that looked like it had been stolen from the Addams family set. But despite her Morticia hairdo, she possessed a body that up until a few months ago, he would have risked damn near anything to explore. Her sports bra hugged breasts that would easily fill his hands. And her abs ... another time and another place, he'd push aside his determination to steer clear of Vegas flings for a chance to run his tongue over her taut stomach — and back up to her chest.
His mouth. That body. He could have a field day. But ...
I didn't come to Vegas for the breasts.
Dante lowered the water bottle, his gaze still fixed on the couple who hadn't glanced in his direction. The man stood just out of arm's reach, and for a second Dante swore the guy was trying to execute some sort of dance move.
Maybe all the exotic dancers in Sin City bring their one-night stands here ...
Dante closed his eyes. A few months earlier, he'd visited Vegas for his teammate's wedding. He'd been ready to leave the memory of his cheating ex-wife behind him. And he'd fallen into bed with an erotic dancer who faked an orgasm onstage in her underwear eight times a week. The show was sexy as hell, and so was Summer when she'd driven him out to the canyon and pushed him up against those rocks ...
Shit, Summer had been a lesson in how not to rebound from a broken marriage. Sure, he wanted to get laid. But he also wanted to take a page from Ronan's playbook and hand over his heart to the woman in his bed. He wished to give the woman in his life 100 percent loyalty and love, the same way he gave his country his all when he was out there working alongside his team. And yeah, maybe that made him a bigger pansy-ass than his busted knee.
Dante opened his eyes and glanced down at his scar again. Right now, healing was the only thing he needed to focus on. And not dying of boredom in the process.
He shook his head and lifted his gaze to the desert path.
"Ahh!" came a scream. A woman's scream. From the direction of that couple.
He froze for a second and then zeroed in on the rock wall. Months ago, he'd heard Summer cry out with pleasure while pressed against those rocks, and it sure as shit didn't sound like that.
He broke into a run. His gaze remained on the woman in the black wig. He picked up the pace as the shirtless asshole crushed his hips against the woman he'd tossed up against the rock. The bastard had pinned her arms overhead, rendering her close to helpless.
Pain rushed through Dante's leg, but he ignored it. As he drew closer, he scanned the woman, only this time he wasn't checking out her body. He was trying to determine the best way to pull the man in the cowboy hat off her without causing further injury.
Five more steps.
His knee begged for mercy.
Later. I can't stop. I saved the hostage. And now I'm going to rescue the girl in the Morticia Addams wig.CHAPTER 2
As soon as she could breathe, Chrissie planned to kick Jared, the backup singer masquerading as a cowboy, out of the music video. Or maybe she'd wait until after the shoot. They couldn't afford the time it would take to find another backup singer ...
But I might never say those words. I might never inhale oxygen again.
Her backup singer's mouth claimed hers and erased any hope of regaining her breath. And his hips thrust against her as if he was doing everything in his power to prove he could ruin her music video. She tried to claw her way free from the train-wreck of a kiss. But Jared had finally decided to commit to his role.
If only you'd bothered to learn the choreography, you would know we're not shooting a domestic violence PSA.
She fought harder as black dots clouded her vision. One last push and ...
She was clawing at the air. The weight of Jared's body had disappeared. She could breathe. She could move.
Chrissie opened her eyes, still gulping for precious air.
Her jaw dropped as she watched a man twice Jared's size punch her backup singer.
Or former backup singer. He was still fired.
After the video shoot.
The tall, dark-haired wall of muscle drove his other fist into Jared's gut, and the smaller man crumbled like a wannabe cowboy who'd wandered into the corral and picked a fight with the real deal. Her backup singer doubled over and dropped to his knees at the larger man's feet.
Or maybe her savior was a body builder with a hero complex.
She turned her attention to the man who'd rushed in to save the day. Oh, he had muscles all right. But she suspected he didn't spend all of his time in the gym.
"Stay down." Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome growled.
Jared whimpered and looked as if he might cry.
The man who'd rushed in and rescued her turned to her. His expression softened as his deep brown eyes scanned her from head to toe. A lock of his wavy, dark hair fell over his forehead.
Her hero looked as if he'd stolen Patrick Dempsey's hair and Channing Tatum's muscles. And to her impromptu rescue she was wearing a witch's wig that had been on clearance at the Halloween store.
But without the ugly wig, someone might recognize her, and she'd be stuck signing autographs instead of rehearsing.
"Are you all right, ma'am?" he asked.
"Fine." She gasped, still fighting to regain her equilibrium.
His brow furrowed as he reached into one of the many pockets lining his shorts. He withdrew a cell phone. "Would you like me to call the police?"
"No," she said quickly. "Really, I'm fine."
His concern deepened as if the word "fine" meant something altogether different to him.
She offered him her best smile, the one that won over audiences night after night.
"I saw what happened," he said. "I can give a statement. It won't be your boyfriend's word against yours."
"Chris —" Jared started.
"He's not my boyfriend," Chrissie said, cutting Jared off before he could reveal her identity to the stranger. "We're backup singers. Both of us. We're shooting a music video out here later today. And we wanted to get in some practice." She forced a fake laugh. "Clearly, we need it."
The man with the movie star muscles took a step back. "Music video?"
"Uh-huh. The song is about lust, love, and well ..." She bit her lower lip and glanced at her feet. "Sex. It's a country song."
He crossed his arms in front of his chest, drawing attention to his biceps.
One touch. Just one.
But she fought the temptation. She needed the handsome stranger to continue with his hike through the canyons before he recognized her. Or decided to call the cops despite her protests.
"I don't know much about country music," he said.
Shoot! I should have said hip-hop.
But he would have seen right through that excuse. She didn't exactly look like she could compete in Beyoncé's market. She had a much better shot at winning over the hearts — and wallets — of the fans who'd listened to Taylor Swift before she'd started shaking it off.
"But I thought it was about pickups, dogs, and honoring fallen soldiers," he continued. "Like the girl who wrote that song about her brother."
She'd written the mournful ballad the day someone from the Navy arrived at their trailer in Central Florida and handed her parents a folded flag and a thank-you for your son's service. Her lyrics had hit a nerve and propelled her to fame. But if she wanted to keep her place in the spotlight — and the paychecks that supported her parents and siblings — her label wanted a fun song. And they'd demanded a sexy music video shot in Las Vegas's Red Rock Canyon to go with it.
With a backup singer who'd probably fit in better on a Taylor Swift tour wearing sequins instead of a Stetson.
But she didn't have the time or money to waste on finding the perfect cowboy for her shoot. By eight o'clock tonight, she needed to be ready to walk onstage for the second performance of her Vegas tour stop.
"Some of country music is about those things," she conceded.
"And maybe tractors," he added. "But not the other stuff."
She pressed her lips together. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome was right. He didn't know a thing about country music.
"Country comes from the heart," she said. "Sure, maybe there are a few cowboys out there who sing about their favorite tractor. And I bet their heart is in it. But my —"
He cocked his head and studied her.
"My singer, the one I work for," she continued, stumbling over the words. "His songs are about love and loss and ..."
"Sex?" he said dryly.
She nodded and then looked past him to Jared. "Let's try that again. We want to get it right —"
"He's not going to try anything again." Her mystery man stepped in front of Jared.
"Look," she said, no longer bothering with her fake smile. "I need to nail this music video. It might seem silly to you, but this is my job. So unless you know how to stage a make-out scene against a rock, I'll have to ask you to move on and let us work."
"I don't know about staging." His arms moved to his sides as if he were preparing to pounce. His dark eyes met hers. "But I've had some experience kissing against this wall of rock."
Then kiss me.
Her lips parted as if she'd said those words out loud. She wouldn't ask the man who looked like he'd walked out of her fantasies for a kiss. It was tempting ... But she never gave in to desire. She'd fought the lure of the doughnuts on the catering table for the past year.
But his kiss might be better than a chocolate doughnut.
Still ... she didn't have a lot of experience with alpha males or kisses. She'd gone from helping her family make ends meet by working as a cashier, to a twenty-three-year-old country star. And she'd been too focused on her music during her grocery store checkout days to pay much attention to boys.
"And honey," the mystery man continued, his voice a low growl. "I know how to seduce a woman, how to kiss her until she's breathless. Without knocking the wind out of her."
Temptation, here I come!
"If you're such an expert," she shot back before her common sense locked the impulsive desire behind a door labeled "do not open." "Then show me."
* * *
Dante had thought he'd hit rock bottom in the weeks following his surgery. His SEAL team had left California for a training exercise. His ex-wife had remarried, promising to love and cherish his former plumber. And his Italian mother had invaded his home. He'd never felt so damn useless.
Until he'd rushed over to rescue the freaking backup singer who didn't need saving. Shit, the only thing the spitfire in the butt-ugly wig needed was a man who knew how to kiss.
Excerpted from To Seduce a SEAL by Sara Jane Stone, Stephen Morgan. Copyright © 2016 Sara Jane Stone. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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