Hot and Bothered
Out of Uniform, Book 1
Featuring three sizzling-hot stories
Give a SEAL an inch, and he’ll take your heart.
Heat of the Moment
For almost a year Shelby has lusted over swoon-worthy Garrett, but she can’t figure out why he’s not interested…until she overhears him saying she’s too vanilla for his taste. When a heat wave sends the sexy Navy SEAL into her bakery, she finally has the opportunity to show him exactly what he’s missing…
Heat of Passion
Holly has too much on her plate to think about a serious relationship. A hot fling with a SEAL, though, is the perfect way to take the edge off. The last thing she expects is to run into her gorgeous one-night stand weeks later, and to discover that Carson wants the one thing she doesn’t: more. In the face of his methodical seduction, her resistance is crumbling…
Heat of the Storm
Will has waited fifteen years for the storm that sends Mackenzie into his arms. He’s the one man not scared of her psychic gift, and their one night of passion is enough to convince this tenacious SEAL that they are much, much more than friends. Now he just has to convince her of that…
Warning: Contains dangerously hot Navy SEALS, and heroines not afraid to take them on one—or two—at a time.
Shelby peered past Carson’s impossibly broad shoulders, trying to catch a glimpse of Garrett. Apparently the game had ended, because most of the men in the other room were pushing back their chairs and heading for the door. A few approached the doorway, poking their heads in and thanking her for opening up the bakery. She just smiled, waved and wondered where the hell Garrett had run off to. Probably to find a woman who was into kinky sex and threesomes.
Too bad. Because if he’d ever bothered to ask her, he might be surprised to know that she was exactly that kind of woman. Just because she’d never acted out any of her fantasies didn’t mean she didn’t have ’em.
“So we’re taking off,” Carson was saying. “But we thought we’d help you clean up a bit before we left. Garrett took the beer bottles out to the recycling bin. I came in here to get a rag so I could wipe down the tables.”
She was genuinely touched. “You guys don’t have to do that.”
“It’s the least we could do. You didn’t have to open the café up tonight but you did. Might as well repay you with some clean-up.”
He shot her a crooked smile, and a flicker of heat sparked inside her belly. Carson really was an attractive man, she realized. She’d been lusting over Garrett for so long she’d barely noticed what any of his friends looked like, and for the first time, she actually took the time to look at Carson Scott, really look at him. And she definitely liked what she saw. Dirty blond hair, cut short but not short enough that he looked like all the crew cut boys who walked around Coronado. His eyes were blue, his features classically handsome, and he was as ripped as his friend Garrett. Obviously you couldn’t be a Navy SEAL without possessing one of those hard, sleek bodies that never failed to make a girl drool.
“Do I have icing on my chin or something?” Carson teased. “Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have eaten one of those cupcakes you brought out to us.”
“No, nothing on your chin,” she said, cheeks warm as she turned away and stopped checking him out.
She rounded the counter and grabbed a rag, then walked back and handed it to him. Trying not to stare at his ass, she trailed him into the café and watched as he efficiently wiped down all the tabletops. Carson had just finished when Garrett returned, the chimes over the door jingling as he walked inside.
Shelby’s heart immediately did a couple of jumping jacks. Damn it. Why did John Garrett always manage to make her pulse race?
“Thanks for having us,” Garrett said, his voice slightly gruff.
“No problem.” She swallowed when she saw him edge back toward the door, suddenly anxious for him not to leave.
She still couldn’t believe he thought she was vanilla, and maybe it was crazy—fine, it was crazy—but she got the feeling a golden opportunity was staring her square in the eye. That tonight would be her one chance to show him that she wasn’t the sweet freckle-faced prude he obviously thought her to be.
“Well…good night,” Garrett added.
Their gazes locked, and she could swear the air hissed and crackled with mutual attraction.
She broke the eye contact, slowly glancing over at Carson, who’d dropped the rag on one of the tables and was moving toward his friend.
Don’t let them leave.
The urgent voice inside her head caught her off-guard, but only for a second. Because after that second was up, she realized that she really was looking at a golden opportunity. A delicious, ridiculously tempting opportunity.
She’s too sweet. She’s definitely not the type who’d be uninhibited in the bedroom.
God, it would be so wickedly satisfying to prove them wrong. Show Garrett that his wild ways didn’t scare her and that she was perfectly capable of taking him on. Taking them both on.
Heat simmered in her belly, radiated in her limbs and made her weak with…desire. Oh God. She’d always imagined what it would be like. Two men. At the same time. The guys she’d dated in the past would have been aghast if she admitted to that particular fantasy. Even Matthew, who had seen nothing wrong with sleeping around on her, would have been horrified.
Was she crazy? Perverted? Suffering from heat stroke?
Maybe, but who the heck cared? They were all adults here. And yeah, maybe she was a little tipsy from the tequila, but like Lieutenant Asshole had said, tipsy shmipsy. What was so wrong with acting wild and crazy every now and then?
If wild was what she needed to be to show Garrett she could rock his world, then why not?
“See you later, Shel,” Carson said.
Garrett’s hand was on the doorknob.
“It’s still early,” she found herself blurting. “You guys should stay and hang out a while longer.”
His hand froze and he glanced at her over his shoulder. “You want us to stay?”
She managed a feeble shrug. “Sure. Sleazebag Paul left his tequila bottle here. We might as well put it to good use.”
Both men just stared at her, but Garrett’s hand did drop from the door handle…
“Besides,” she added, “it’s so hot out there.”
“Pretty hot in here, too,” she heard Carson murmur.
She met Garrett’s gorgeous brown eyes and offered a little smile. “So what do you say?”
“I think…” She moistened her dry lips and met his gaze. “I think maybe we should have a fling.”
He raised his eyebrows. “A fling?”
Uncertainty tugged at her belly. “An affair then? I’m not sure what people call it, you know, not dating, but, um, spending a couple of weeks having sex with someone…”
“So you want to have sex with me, but not date me?”
A pained expression creased his handsome face. “Well, then, that might be a problem.”
She fought back disappointment. “Why?”
“Because I’m not really interested in flings anymore.” Carson’s jaw tensed. “After the night at the club, I decided I’m not that kind of guy anymore.”
“What kind of guy?”
He frowned. “The kind who screws random strangers in closets.” He shook his head, looking upset. “I’ve done the casual thing all my life and I think it’s time to stop it.” Something that resembled vulnerability flashed across his eyes. “I want to go on a date with you.”
He shot her a cute grin and shrugged. “Because I like you. You’re…well, you’re kind of weird.”
She bristled. “Thanks.”
“In a good way,” he added quickly. “I mean, you’re gorgeous, sure, but there’s something else that draws me to you. Maybe it’s that good girl image you’re determined to lose. And you’re funny, and interesting, and…I don’t know, I just wouldn’t mind getting to know you.”
She had no response. It was really sweet, everything he was saying, but she wasn’t sure she wanted sweet right now. The night she’d slept with Carson, she hadn’t been sweet. Naughty, maybe. Reckless, sure. But not sweet.
And a date? That was the last thing she wanted right now. She’d just gotten out of a six-month relationship, one she’d poured so much time and energy into—for nothing. At the moment, dating again sounded way too tiring, and she was tired enough as it was. Sex, she could handle. But not a new romance. Not when her heart was still recovering from Steve.
“So what do you say?” Carson asked, looking oddly nervous.
She felt awful, but she had to tell the truth. “I don’t want to start dating anyone right now. I recently got out of a relationship. I’m swamped with work and the culinary course I’m taking. I just want…fun.”
“You mean sex,” he said flatly.
She sighed. “Yes.”
He shoved his hands in his pockets and gave her a rueful look. “Then I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”
She rolled her eyes. “Sure you can. Just do me again.”
A faint smile broke through the serious expression on his face, but it faded quickly. “I’m serious, Holly. I want something different this time around.”
They’d reached an impasse. She could see it. But she could also see the glimmer of desire in his blue eyes.
Maybe if she gave him a tiny little push…
Licking her lips, she stepped forward and rested both palms on his impossibly broad shoulders. “Are you sure I can’t change your mind?”
He was a lot taller than her and she had to tilt her head fully to look into his eyes. The desire she’d seen there had deepened the moment she’d touched him. Fueled by the obvious attraction, she leaned up on her tiptoes and brushed her lips over his.
For a second he didn’t respond, but he evidently couldn’t hold back for long, because a moment later he parted her lips with his tongue and kissed the hell out of her. Heat rolled through her in waves, making her breasts tingle, her thighs ache. His mouth was warm and persuasive, his tongue so skilled she closed her eyes to savor each sensual stroke.
Carson’s hands slid down her back to her bottom, cupping it, stroking it, and then he moved one hand to her front, inched it down to the juncture of her thighs…and pulled it away.
She swallowed back a groan of disappointment as he ended the incredible kiss.
“No.” His features strained. “I meant what I said. I want more this time.”
Holly could see that she’d lost the battle. Fortunately, the war was still up for grabs.
Sighing, she asked, “Do you have a cell phone?”
“Can I see it?”
Shooting her a quizzical look, he pulled a slender phone from his back pocket and handed it to her. Without giving him time to object, she quickly programmed in her phone number and handed him back the cell.
“My number’s in there now,” she said with a grin. “So if you change your mind, you know how to reach me.”
Carson looked pained. “You really want this fling, don’t you?”
“You bet I do. So don’t keep me waiting long, okay, Carson?”
Still grinning, she turned and walked away.
“Let me in, Mackenzie.”
She slowly opened the door then stepped aside as a very wet Will Charleston pushed his way inside.
“What are you doing here?” she blurted. “It’s past midnight. And in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a hurricane out there.”
“Thunderstorm,” he corrected. “It was a bitch driving all the way out here from Coronado in this rain, but I needed to see you.”
Her mouth grew dry. “Why? What’s so important that you risked getting into a car accident over?”
“I think you know.”
Four words. Smoky with seduction and shrouded with erotic promise.
This couldn’t be happening.
And yet everything about the situation, everything about him, spoke otherwise.
His dark eyes glimmered with passion. His sensual mouth was set in a firm line, his defined jaw tight, as if he’d come here prepared for her to fight him. She’d never seen Will like this before. Raw masculinity seemed to ooze out of his pores. It teased her, taunted at her, wrapped around her like a lover’s touch and caused every nerve in her body to tingle.
He shrugged out of his navy blue windbreaker and tossed it on the wooden bench next to the front door. Next he kicked off his boots. Drops of rain slid from his dark hair, down his rugged face and dripped onto the floor.
He strode into the living room without invitation. Not that he needed one. Will had always been welcome in her home and he was there often, filling the house with his comforting presence.
Tonight she wasn’t comforted. Tonight his presence was…different. Masculine. Passionate. Dangerous.
“It’s time we talked about what happened last week,” he said in that rough voice of his.
She gulped. “Nothing happened last week.” Darn it, why did he have to bring it up? She’d hoped that during the past seven days, while he’d been traipsing around in the jungle, he might have forgotten about it.
He tilted his head, those bottomless dark eyes piercing right through the lie and glittering with challenge. “I beg to differ.”
He moved closer and the spicy scent of his aftershave wafted into her nostrils. She inhaled it, nearly keeling over backwards as the sexy aroma surrounded her and grasped her senses. God, he smelled good.
“You kissed me,” he said gruffly.
“It was a mistake.”
“We both know that’s not true.” Another step toward her. “Do you know that this past week has been torture for me? You kissed me, Mac, and the next morning I had to get on a chopper, without getting the chance to talk to you about it.” He visibly swallowed. “The entire time I was gone, I was thinking of you. Aching for you. So don’t try to shrug it off, or call it a mistake. Because we both know it wasn’t.”
Warm hands cupping her breasts.
A pinch to her nipples.
Her thighs squeezed together and a gasp escaped her lips.
He was at her side in an instant, stroking her temples with his long fingers. “Hey, you all right?”
“I’m fine,” she squeezed out.
“What did you see?”
Damn it, why did he have to know her so well? She wished she’d never confided in him about the visions. Past experience told her that most people didn’t understand the visions. Hell, she didn’t understand them either.
What she did understand was that it scared people. Men, especially. Her former boyfriends had never seemed to be able to handle the visions. They fled the moment a particularly upsetting one hit her, looking at her like she was the angel of death or something. Though they vehemently denied it, claiming they were dumping her for an entirely different reason, she knew they considered her a freak.
And hell, sometimes she didn’t blame them. Sometimes, usually after seeing the death of someone she knew, she felt like a freak.
“What did you see?” Will repeated.
Their gazes collided and the fire she saw in his eyes sucked the breath out of her lungs like a vacuum. He was so sexy. Magnetic eyes, chiseled features, and a sexy body that looked way too good in a pair of faded jeans and a snug T-shirt. His job as a SEAL assured that he always stayed in shape, hard, sleek, and muscled. He was the best-looking man she’d ever known, and the one man she’d never allowed herself to get involved with. Her lovers never stayed in her life long. Her best friend, on the other hand? Well, he was always by her side.
But would he remain there if he knew her intimately? If they shared a bed, if she woke him up from sleep with her screams and tears after a nasty vision? Not to mention her complete inability to lose control in the bedroom. She wasn’t one to give in to self-pity, but when it came to relationships, she was a mess. A freak.
And it would crush her, losing her best friend just because she’d been foolish enough to fuck him.
“Either we talk about what you saw, or we talk about the kiss.” Will’s brows were drawn together in a frown. “Your choice, Mac.”
Reissued by Elle Kennedy Inc (August 15, 2017)