Time for a third excerpt from SMOKING HOT, my Smoke Jumper novel that is part of the SEALs of Summer boxed set! (which releases tomorrow–soooooo excited!)
Excerpt – Smoking Hot
The firehouse door was propped wide open, so there was nothing stopping Tye Callahan’s forward advance. Intel said his target was indeed inside the building. Painting. He’d spent his first three days in Strong learning the lay of the land, where the exit points were. Katherine Lawson rented a bungalow on Spruce Street—and he must be getting used to the wholesome Americana feel of the place because the fact that all the side streets in Strong were named after trees barely made him wince now—and she drove an impossibly small Kia with a correspondingly large dent in the front fender. Surrounded by friends and family, she had plenty of bolt holes if he scared her and she ran.
So he wouldn’t scare her.
That’s an order, sailor.
He paused just inside the door, quartering the hallway. No visible hostiles, but the open door to his left led out to the garage bays. One fire truck was partially visible, the bay echoing with the cheerful din of men checking gear. Framed black-and-white photographs of the firehouse in its glory days lined the hallway to his right. The place had looked better fifty years ago, no surprise. He’d looked better ten years ago himself. A strong smell of paint wafted from his right and… bingo.
He moved out. The hall went straight for twenty feet, then bent ninety degrees. As soon as he reached the turn, he got his back to the wall. Going in blind wasn’t an option he favored, so he peered around the corner and—holy Mary. Targets in the good old U.S. of A. were a hell of a lot prettier than anyone he’d made in Baghdad or Afghanistan.
When the blonde at the bar had mentioned painting, he’d imagined a gallon of Behr’s finest and some roller action. Color him wrong. His target faced off against a large wall half-filled with an explosion of pinks, greens and yellows, although he had no idea what the mess was supposed to be. She fisted a paintbrush like it was a weapon, reaching out to brush another stroke of bright pink over the layers and layers of paint on the wall, her ponytail bouncing as she worked. The shoulder-length hair was mostly brown, but the southernmost end was pink and—he squinted—purple. Huh. He hadn’t spotted any purple in the monstrosity she’d splattered on the wall.
She brandished the brush at the wall. “You, sir, are supposed to be done.”
Tye looked at the wall again. Nope. The wall still sported a good fifteen square feet of empty space. Unless this was some kind of post-modernist crap, she was way behind schedule.
She sighed, cursed—was that French?—and bent over to dunk her brush in the paint can by her bare feet.
Color him a dirty old man because, sweet Jesus, in all his thirty-two years he’d never seen a sexier pair of legs. Katherine Lawson—and if this woman wasn’t Katherine, he’d eat his BDUs—wore some kind of itty-bitty romper thing where the top and the bottom were all one piece. One very short, ass-hugging, boob-clinging piece covered with yellow and white polka dots and held up by thin straps. A lacy scrap of ribbon traced her cleavage and outlined sweet curves his fingers itched to touch. Hiding a bra underneath that top was mission impossible, which had to be his favorite part of her get-up. Dip his fingers beneath the edge and he’d find nothing but sweet, bare skin.
Stand down, sailor.
As she crouched to daub more paint on the bottom of the mural-in-progress, Tye reminded himself he wasn’t on leave. The romper pulled tight, outlining the curve of her ass and hinting at a tantalizing strip of hot pink that definitely advertised thong territory. He wasn’t here to—Jesus¬—date or even one-night-stand Katherine Lawson. There was one reason and one reason only for his presence in Strong. To make sure she was as okay as she could be and do whatever he could to make up for his part in her fiancé’s death. That dose of cold reality took care of whatever else might have been stirring in his BDUs.
This was Kade’s girl? The letters she’d written Kade had been funny, although not half as funny as the wicked drawings she’d doodled in the margins. Little vignettes from Strong, poking gentle fun at the town’s residents and small town life. Reassuringly, blessedly normal news and chitchat while he and Kade had been parked in the middle of hell. He hadn’t realized how young she was. Kade had been twenty-eight to Tye’s thirty-two, but Kade’s Katherine… was even younger. No wonder Kade had worried about her. Had made Tye promise to look after her if shit hit the fan and he couldn’t finish the job.
Fall back, sailor.
Except then… the firehouse siren went off. With a startled shriek—Katherine Lawson had a pair of lungs on her, because he heard her over the siren’s ear-splitting wail—she toppled backwards. Tye sprang into action, swiftly closing the gap between them to crouch down behind her and cup her elbows.
Her headed thudded backwards, banging into his chest even as her back hit his spread thighs. He caught a glimpse of wide brown eyes before she twisted in his arms. Yup. He’d scared the shit out of her. Way to go.
Her foot lashed out and the paint can flew up. An Olympic diver would have scored full marks for the perfect somersault—and then lost every last point on the ultimate splat. He’d had no idea one small can could contain that much paint. There was paint on the wall, on the floor, and all over those long, bare legs he’d be fantasizing about later tonight… He tightened his fingers on her elbows, holding her above the rapidly spreading pool of red.
“I’ve got this,” she snapped, jerking against his hold. “Let go.”
No, she didn’t.
But, hey, he knew no when he heard it and he was turning over a new, gentlemanly leaf. So he let go and she ass-planted right in the small lake of paint. Right at his feet.
“That’s what I was trying to avoid,” he observed.
“Merde,” she said with the worst French accent he’d ever heard and tried to get to her feet.
He could see what was coming next, but there was no way he moved in time. She slipped—the paint was as slippery as it was red—and her hands shot out, grabbing for support. Her palm slapped against his crotch, painting his BDUs with a red X-marks-the-spot.
“Oh, my God.” She stared at her hand like she couldn’t believe she’d just pawed a total stranger. Which meant she also stared right as his dick, which decided her words had to be a compliment. “I mean, mon dieu.”
Pre-order today — read tomorrow ;)