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In the midst of taking off his other combat boot, Captain Alex Mendoza froze at the sound of that familiar feminine voice. Bracing for the sight of the woman who'd been staying at his house while he was deployed overseas, he lifted his head and swiveled to look at her in the dimness.
In the faint light coming through the tall windows overlooking his backyard, Tianna McIntyre stood on the staircase, her honey-colored hair tumbling around her shoulders. She wore some sort of dark satin robe that hit midthigh, leaving her pale, well-toned legs bare to his gaze. A flimsy belt tied it closed around her waist, and he could see the outline of her full breasts pushing against the shiny material. His tongue pressed hard against the roof of his mouth, and his dick hit the back of his zipper.
As he stared at her, one of her graceful hands fluttered to the deep-V neckline, modestly holding the edges together. "Hi." Her voice was soft and husky from sleep. She'd obviously just climbed out of bed.
Ignoring the twinge in his healing shoulder as he straightened and faced her, he smiled. "Hey, Tia."
"I didn't know you were coming back" Her smile faded as her eyes focused on the white gauze bandages covering his left forearm beneath the rolled-up sleeve of his desert cammies. They went all the way up his arm. "What happened?" she gasped, and rushed down the stairs.
"Just some shrapnel. I'm okay though." The thought of touching her made the muscles along his spine stiffen when she approached, but she didn't try to hug him. She simply took his left forearm in her practiced hands and examined the bandages before looking up at him.
"How bad is it?" Her dark brown eyes were filled with worry.
"Not bad. I was lucky." Unlike the other two men seated beside him in the vehicle when they'd hit the IED. Those horrific images were forever burned into his memory.
She frowned, as though she didn't believe him. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"
"Took the blast on my left side, so there's more in my shoulder and my back's bruised up. Healing well though." It was true, and he couldn't figure out why the army thought it necessary to send him all the way home for two weeks. They'd decided his injuries and possible PTSD were reason enough for mandatory stress leave, but he hadn't left voluntarily. He still had men in the field back over there who needed him.
Tia's espresso eyes met his, and he felt an unwelcome punch of heat in his lower belly. This was his best friend's twin sister he was ogling, but somehow his brain didn't care and wouldn't let him forget she was newly single. Available.
And standing practically naked before him, her gorgeous curves and creamy skin hidden by millimeter-thick satin.
You're the last thing she needs right now. Another wounded soldier.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
He clenched his hands into fists to keep from stroking a lock of hair from her cheek and forced a smile. "Sure as I can be."
Some of the tension left her face, but she hesitated when she released his arm. "Can I hug you?"
Her tentative tone made him grin. He'd always loved her hugs, and her obvious concern touched him. "'Course you can." He slid his arms around her and gathered her up against his chest, despite the twinge of protest from the stitches in his shoulder and upper arm. The thin satin robe was cool beneath his palms, but the heat from her skin came through it, burning him, infusing the air with her scent. Something tropical, like a mix of lime and coconut. Delicious.