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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
uncrossed his arms and angled his head, waiting for a response. “You think I
gave him a graceful smile worthy of an island princess of great lineage. “No,
Trace. I was thinking about—“
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.
was out of there so fast Gretchen wasn’t sure he even got a glimpse of the bra.
like?” Linda fondled the satin cups of her bra.
laughed. “You’re the only person I know who matches her luggage with her
underwear. Very clever.”
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.”
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.
peered over her shoulder.
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.”
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
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.
was slightly irritated. “Is everything about sex with you?”
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?”
do you feel wearing it?”
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.
let’s have it,” Gretchen said as she sat on the bed, rummaging through her own
is sales. We are selling each other right now.”
again?” She was seriously concerned for Linda’s state of mind.
don’t know each other very well, just met today, right?”
On the plane.”
Tyler and Kate met on the plane. They fell in love on that plane that day,
frowned. “Linda, I hope you haven’t gotten the wrong message here.”
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.”
are close to Kate that way now?”
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.”
the other way around?”
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
with their brains. You know, stroked their ego, and then I just stroked them
and I loved blowing their minds.”
they never called you back.”
dropped another piece of lingerie and stared back at Gretchen. “Sadly, no. How
did you know that?”
I don’t think men like to be chased. They like to do the hunting.”
so do I.”
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.”
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?”
looked at her hands folded in her lap. She would have to tell Linda the truth.
only had sex with one man, and I married him.”
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.
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.”
stepped back. “There’s a story there,” she said, pointing to Gretchen.
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.”
not going to right now. But Kate and I have different fathers.”
your mother slept around.”
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.”
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.
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
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.
smell like heaven, Gretchen. Like a starlit night on a beach.”
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.
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
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
got it bad, sweetie.”
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.”
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.”
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
make it into you book, then?”
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.
like the song, Linda.”
was that who sang it?” she asked.
something. Except it was a Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”
think they’ll notice? That’s the smallest thing I’ve seen. Mine’s a one-piece.”
like a little tummy help after three girls.”
and my little tummy is all mine. No children to blame it on. A little lazy, I
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.”
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.”
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.
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
lie to me. I have none.”
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?