Oh yes, you think I’m joking? I did it this morning. Last night I needed something very light to wear because it was still near 100 degrees at bed time. So, I wore one of my black long lacy nighties worthy of any erotic Halloween. As I do these days, I get up and water my garden in whatever I’ve been wearing to bed. So, today I vamped in my black nightgown. I deadheaded like any good witch, picked replacement roses that had wilted last night beside my bed in the heat, checked my cucumbers and melons, pulled some bolted lettuce, clipped my coriopsis and daisies, and added extra sprinkler timers to the flower bed and part of the lawn that doesn’t catch water yet.
We have no neighbors so I can do this. My gown was muddy and wet, but refreshingly stuck to my body in cold ribbons in the hot breeze. Yes, I started about 6:30 AM and didn’t finish until nearly 10.
The story I’m finishing is a novella, and I’m in love with this couple. Yes, I know, I do say this every time, but I am in love with Trace and Gretchen, both second time arounders. Trace has just transferred to Kyle’s Team 3 from an east coast team, like Cooper did in the early books. Gretchen is Kate’s sister (of Kate and Tyler in SEAL Of My Heart that was just on a Book Bub special), Book 7 of the SEAL Brotherhood Series. She was married to a professional basketball player until he outed his womanizing on one of the tabloid TV shows and the marriage was over. So, Gretchen has some baggage, but nothing Trace can’t work out.
Many of you will remember that Tyler’s sister, Linda Gray, is a romance novelist, in her thirties, and Tyler modeled for the cover of her book. Linda has never married, but she’s one outrageous character. Like me, she wears red all the time and lives a life in her books she never gets to have in real life. So she and Gretchen are becoming acquainted and best friends. While they both go after Trace, from two different corners.
This is an unedited chapter I hope you’ll enjoy. This novella will be part of Tropical Tryst, an anthology of works from 25 of your favorite authors, releasing August l, and available for preorder now.
Enjoy the story. I plan on doing a full length book with this couple next year.
The scene takes place as Gretchen is getting situated in the room she’s sharing with Linda, in an old plantation-style Hawaiian home built in the 1800’s. It is up in the hills, with views of several of the Hawaiian islands and the beach and ocean several miles away. Linda thinks she going to use this as the location for her next novel, about a Hawaiian girl of royal lineage who falls in love with a Navy SEAL.
So, here’s a chapter (unedited) from SEAL My Love:
Gretchen avoided Trace’s eyes, but she could tell he was watching her every chance he had. She’d not had that much attention since the TV reporters who hounded her after her husband’s very public display of indecency. In that case, these heartless reporters even ramped it up when she was with her daughters. Clover even ran after one of them, and, thank goodness, didn’t catch up with the cameraman, or they’d have had a lawsuit for sure.
Even that landed on the tabloid TV show and her ex had the gall to call Gretchen up and ream her about not getting better control of their girls.
What an asshole.
But this kind of attention made her nipples knot, made her knees wobble a little, made her want to run her fingers through her hair and reposition her clip several times, always leaving a wisp or two of curls lapping down the back of her neck because it made her feel wanted and desired. She knew her cheeks were flushed and her panties were in a constant state of wet and cool, depending on if she was sitting or standing on the porch, hanging on to the pale yellow wooden pillar and marveling at the view below. She knew wood, especially painted wood, was not the way of the islands now. This house had obviously been built during the old plantation days, when the monarchy was in its glory. The old Queen was gone now for nearly a hundred years, but her legacy of grace, raising beautiful tropical flowers and her love of singing and watching the young dancers swing their hips and call to each other with their graceful arms and hands, was legendary. She herself had once been a beauty and had been an expert Polynesian dancer.
Maybe there was something to what Linda said, because the story of the Hawaiian princess and the Navy SEAL started fanning the flames of her heart, making the hairs on the back of her neck desire to be kissed.
She could tell he was staring at her, and that he knew she was aware of it, too. She gave him a smile and did not dare look for his reaction. All she could do was fan herself with the folder she was holding, and then take down and re-clip her hair again, for the tenth time in the past hour as they had been setting things up in the house.
They’d given her a room with Linda, one of the smaller ones, with twin beds. But she loved the privacy, and the little marble-topped writing desk in front of the gabled window. The flush of cool ocean breeze was something she was looking forward to inhaling all night long as she slept.
Trace was standing at the doorway, and of course, like a gentleman, would not come into the room without an invitation. She could imagine herself as the island princess and he, a pirate sea captain, not daring to touch her, for fear of losing his life. The tension was there, just the same in this century as it could have been way back over a hundred years ago.
“I think I’ve just found a prettier view. Too bad you can’t see it,” he said, casually, in a near-whisper. But she heard every word.
Turning, she snickered at his lack of uniform, no hat tucked under his arm, because he wore flip flops and shorts that came just to the tops of his knees. His well-developed calf muscles were covered withy dark hair. His white v-neck tee shirt was so bright she nearly needed shades, and he had a pair of sunglasses tucked into the bottom of the V. His day plus old stubble was distracting, as was the drip of sweat that trickled from under his chin, down between his collar bone to parts unknown. Part of the tee shirt had stuck to his chest and abdomen below.
He uncrossed his arms and angled his head, waiting for a response. “You think I look funny?”
She gave him a graceful smile worthy of an island princess of great lineage. “No, Trace. I was thinking about—“
“How nice it would be to go down to the beach.” Linda interrupted, pushing the big hulking SEAL aside. “Are you game, or do my stories of sex on the white sand make you itch?” She wiggled her eyebrows, oblivious of the scene she’d just crashed. “I’m in the mood for an umbrella drink and some bare bodies to go gaze at.” She opened her red suitcase up and pulled out a red beach bag. “I’m changing into my bikini now,” she said as she removed her top and revealed a red bra with pink lipstick kisses on it.
Trace was out of there so fast Gretchen wasn’t sure he even got a glimpse of the bra.
“You like?” Linda fondled the satin cups of her bra.
Gretchen laughed. “You’re the only person I know who matches her luggage with her underwear. Very clever.”
“You have no idea, dear. I had to hunt and hunt. But thank God for Amazon. Now they show me everything pink and red with hearts and kisses.”
Gretchen watched through the window as another van pulled up to the front porch and several people piled out. Trace was greeting several of the guys and was introduced to a pair of very cute twenty-somethings and instantly she was disappointed seeing his wide smile and ready hug.
Linda peered over her shoulder.
“Oh, Gretchen. Here I was jealous of you, since you’ve obviously attracted Trace’s attention. And now we both have competition from those little sweet tarts.”
“Gretchen looked away from the window and walked to her bed. “No worries. I’m looking for a superrich investment mogul who owns his own island, and only likes women over thirty.”
“Good idea, Gretchen. SEAL’s don’t make that much, but I understand the sex is worth it.” She was examining her clothes, trying to pick out a combination. Most everything in her suitcase was red.
Gretchen was slightly irritated. “Is everything about sex with you?”
“Yup. Sex sells.” She held up a red and pink flowered sarong and examined herself in the mirror, holding the fabric under her chin. “You like this on me?”
“How do you feel wearing it?”
“Positively a cougar waiting to pounce. But the answer to your question is, yes, maybe. It’s called the law of attraction.” Her beautiful brown eyes sparkled. Gretchen knew she was about to get a lesson she hadn’t asked for.
“So let’s have it,” Gretchen said as she sat on the bed, rummaging through her own clothes.
“Everything is sales. We are selling each other right now.”
“Come again?” She was seriously concerned for Linda’s state of mind.
“We don’t know each other very well, just met today, right?”
“Yes. On the plane.”
“Exactly. Tyler and Kate met on the plane. They fell in love on that plane that day, remember?”
Gretchen frowned. “Linda, I hope you haven’t gotten the wrong message here.”
“Oh, silly. I love women, but not in bed. But I love getting silly drunk with my women friends. Just the best thing in the world. The funny banter and gossip. I can tell you and I could do a serious drunk together and wind up feeling like we’ve been sisters our whole lives.”
“You are close to Kate that way now?”
“No, silly. She has the kids, she has Tyler, and she’s not the same as me, temperament wise. Now Tyler? If he wasn’t my brother, OMG, OMG, he would be so much fun. And we did have fun in high school. He helped fix me up big time.”
“Not the other way around?”
“He never liked any of my slutty friends.” She gave Gretchen a smirk. “His loss, if you ask me. Those girls would have treated him fine, and worshiped the ground he walked on, too. But he fixed me up with tamer guys and I got what I could out of them. I mean, drop dead gorgeous, gentlemen, you know. Wouldn’t touch me until they thought it was right. Nice guys. Oh man, I bolloxed them up something good.”
“Messed with their brains. You know, stroked their ego, and then I just stroked them and I loved blowing their minds.”
“And they never called you back.”
Linda dropped another piece of lingerie and stared back at Gretchen. “Sadly, no. How did you know that?”
“Because I don’t think men like to be chased. They like to do the hunting.”
“But so do I.”
“Then hunt for something else. Don’t hunt a man. At least, if I did it, it wouldn’t work. You have to just be there, and you hope that they get the message. Nice guys are worth it.”
“I have no patience. But you see, that’s why we’re going to be great friends. You can teach me a lot about men. Have you had a lot of them?”
Gretchen looked at her hands folded in her lap. She would have to tell Linda the truth.
“I only had sex with one man, and I married him.”
“Gretchen!” Linda ran over to the bed, pulled her up to standing position and gave her a big hug. “You poor thing! Starved, absolutely starved! That’s so unfair, sweetie.” She raised Gretchen’s chin and looked at her sorrowfully. “My heart is breaking for you, Gretchen.” She actually produced tears, which Gretchen thought was miraculous.
Grabbing Linda’s hands, which still held her and pushing her away slightly, Gretchen got her composure back. “I’ve been raising three beautiful daughters. I’ve had boyfriends, and we’ve done some things, you know, but no sex. I just don’t want to have sex with someone I couldn’t marry. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the way I was brought up. Or, at least, that’s the way I thought I was.”
Linda stepped back. “There’s a story there,” she said, pointing to Gretchen.
“Oh yes, there really is. Sometime when we’re having those umbrella drinks, I’ll tell you the tale my mother told me about the time Tyler and Kate had decided to get married.”
“I’m not going to right now. But Kate and I have different fathers.”
“So your mother slept around.”
“Linda, I’ll tell you when I’m ready.” Gretchen was getting irritated with her again. “But no, it wasn’t anything like that. If you could get your mind out of the gutter, you might actually learn there are some really decent and cool love stories out there, and they’re way more about love than sex.”
Gretchen made a bee line for the hallway so she could hit the rest room before she was going to erupt into tears, and ran smack into Trace Bennett’s chest.
“Hold on there, darlin’” he said in that low growl. “I had no idea you wanted to dance so bad. You need to wait until I get my dancin’ shoes on. These don’t move.”
He looked down at his toes and they both watched him wiggle them. But while they were watching, he’d slipped his arms around her waist and her palms had spread out on his wet tee shirt. Her lips were close to his Adam’s apple and the dark scruffiness of his jawline. And they were so very close to his lips if she’d just raise her chin up, which she did. He was whispering something soft and she didn’t dare listen because her spine had gone all tingly and if she wasn’t imagining things, something was taking firm shape between them as he pressed her to him until their thighs touched through fabric.
“You smell like heaven, Gretchen. Like a starlit night on a beach.”
“I didn’t think stars smelled like anything,” she said as she waited, and let him angle down toward her mouth. She was hungry for him, but, just before he could cover her lips, the hallway was filled with chatty newcomers.
“Well, I can see some people are deep into their vacation already,” said Ollie. He was overflowing with suitcases and he dropped one, which was quickly picked up by one of the twenty-somethings accompanying him.
Gretchen immediately pulled away and she and Trace left a wide gap for the entourage to pass. The “twins” gave her a smile that hinted at warmth but was laced with something else. Ollie gave her a wink and sashayed between them all, one case above his head.
Trace had his hands in his shorts, checking out his wiggling toes. When their eyes finally connected, Gretchen saw the fire was still there and her pulse quickened. When he gave her a lopsided smile and rubbed his chin, she nearly fainted.
More people were coming up the stairs. Trace gracefully hopped across the hallway to stand next to Gretchen. He bent down and whispered, “To be continued, my dear.”
She watched him maneuver around suitcase-carrying well-built men and young women as he made his way down the stairs. Gretchen retreated to the bedroom, closed the door, leaned against it and closed her eyes.
She’d forgotten Linda was still in the room. With her breathing ragged and her embarrassment stabbing her stomach lining with little pitchforks, she felt exposed, and without defenses.
“You’ve got it bad, sweetie.”
She knew Linda was right. But she had to attempt to show she was casual about the whole thing—if she could. “Just not used to the guy flirting with me before I’m ready. I’m way out of practice.” She saw Linda nodding in response. Gretchen was proud of herself. Her comment was nearly 100% truthful.
“He’s a babe magnet all right. I’ll grant you that. I’m going to honor your territory.”
“Linda, no need for that. I’m a big girl. Just rusty.” Then she stopped herself. “Actually, that was a fib. I never was any good at it.”
“Well, make sure you have a case of condoms because I have a feeling you’re going to get all the practice you need, plus a little extra for desert. You’ll do fine. He looks like he wants to lead, so let him. Holy hell I wish I was in your shoes.”
“Might make it into you book, then?”
“Could be. Most my friends are in my books—not that they’d recognize themselves. I take a kernel of the truth and explode it into something they’d never think of. My guilty pleasure. But, if you want to share any details, I’m your gal. You sure you two have never met before?” Linda quickly slipped on a red polka dot bikini, turning her back so Gretchen could tie the spaghetti straps together at her shoulder blades.
“Just like the song, Linda.”
“Who was that who sang it?” she asked.
“Bryan something. Except it was a Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”
“You think they’ll notice? That’s the smallest thing I’ve seen. Mine’s a one-piece.”
“I like a little tummy help after three girls.”
“Yes, and my little tummy is all mine. No children to blame it on. A little lazy, I guess.”
“Well, I tried. But in the end, all I wanted to be was just a good mom. Not a movie star, or a celebrity like you.”
“Oh nonsense, Gretchen. You’re gorgeous. And you married a celebrity, so you know what that’s all about. What a total jerk, if you ask me.”
“I didn’t ask you.” She had tied and re-tied the strings together, and was finally satisfied the bow was straight. “There. I think that meets my high standards. And I double tied it, so in case you get the sudden need to flash your boobs on the beach, just understand your top may not fall to the sand gracefully when you pull the strings.” Gretchen fluttered her eyelashes for extra effect.
“You should be a romance writer,” said Linda. “You’re a natural. Flashing boobs and having things fall delicately to the sand. Oh my, what an imagination you have!”
“Don’t lie to me. I have none.”
“And you’re a very good liar too.”
So, tell me dear reader, do you water your garden in your nightgown and dream of love stories? I think for this book, reality imitates art, don’t you think? Am I Linda Gray?
Source: Sharon’s Blog