SEAL of My Heart
Book 7 of the SEAL Brotherhood Series
Kate Morgan is engaged to the most eligible bachelor in Sonoma County, the son of a wealthy wine family in Healdsburg, California. On a flight to visit her sister in Portland she is seated next to a young hard-bodied elite soldier who ignites her insides in a strange attraction she cannot deny.
Navy SEAL Tyler Gray plans to spend a weekend home before deploying to North Africa with the rest of his SEAL Team 3. But the conversation with Kate has him rethinking his future.
The encounter has both of them feeling fate has stepped into their lives and altered their course. Unable to just say goodbye as lovers, they agree to carry on a correspondence. Kate becomes the girl Tyler wants to come home to while she is pressured by her family to reconsider her broken marriage plans.
Family secrets are revealed from the past regarding a young Marine and Kate’s mother which brings both heartache and a sense of clarity as old loves are unearthed. From the grave, a Marine’s love letters from the past affect the new love between Kate and Tyler in the present. And when Kate’s life is endangered, will Tyler be the man to save her without sacrificing his own?
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Kate waited on the front porch of Gretchen's home, watching the waterway below and listening to the sounds of late afternoon boat traffic. The constant commercial noise and the way the river meandered on its way out to the ocean was comforting. Life was in order and would go on as planned, even though her life felt, after this morning's plane ride and adventure at the donut shop, chaotic.
Gretchen waved as she maneuvered her car up the steep driveway along the side of her house. Kate heard car doors slam and the voices of Gretchen's three girls. The back door bang and she heard the patter of little feet racing towards the front door. Angela, the youngest, barely four years old, struggled to open the heavy wooden door of the large two-story bungalow. Her face was streaked with smudged Indian war paint.
“Auntie Kate!!” the little one squealed as she ran to her and embraced Kate's knees. Clover and Rebecca, Angela's two older sisters, hovered in the doorway, waiting for the hug fest to end. Clover appeared to have grown nearly a foot, and resembled her handsome basketball player father.
“What's the matter with you guys? Clover, Rebecca, get over here,” Kate commanded. In two long steps, Clover had traversed the distance between them and bowed her head, giving Kate a tentative hug. The girl was nearly Kate's height. Rebecca pushed Angela out of the way and took her place at Kate's knees.
Gretchen appeared next and walked over to complete the group hug.
“Sorry about the mix-up. Angela's preschool had an event I forgot about.” She turned to her daughter. “Angie, you need to wash that face now. Part of your war paint is already somewhere in my car or in the house or—” she checked Kate's pants to be sure she hadn't been slimed. “Oh good, you're unscathed.”
Kate shared a grin with her sister. Despite curly hair that went everywhere—something she'd inherited from their father—her lack of makeup, and the ripped jeans/fluffy sweatshirt ensemble, Gretchen looked happy. Happier than she'd appeared in years.
“Looking good, Gretchen. You have your spark back,” Kate said.
The comment didn't get past Clover. “Mom's got a new boyfriend,” she said around her braces.
Good for you, Gretchen. “Ah, so that's what it is.” Kate examined Clover for evidence the new man was a problem for her. It had been a very public divorce after her dad, the awesome professional basketball player, had been outed doing shots and disco dancing with a coed about half his age. Up until his indiscretion, if it could be called that, he'd been the golden boy of the family. She was proud that her sister refused his attempts at reconciliation and only accepted a minimal amount of child support, even though he had at least a seven-figure income. Gretchen had told her she wanted him to feel as useless to their lives as she had felt when she saw the newspaper photos of him, bare-chested, dirty dancing with the blonde.
“Come on in. We have so much to catch up on,” Gretchen said, wrapping her arms around her girls, who lovingly hugged her back. Kate was glad to see again that her sister had the family she'd always wanted, even without the guy. In fact, she was a bit envious of her sister's happiness.
“Let's get Aunt Kate's bags up to the room,” Gretchen said, and immediately the bevy of girls took everything and preceded Kate up the carpeted stairway to the top floor.
They had moved her into Clover's room. A poster of Justin Bieber was prominently displayed on the wall, along with some posters of her dad in a Trailblazers jersey. Kate noticed a number of ribbons and small trophies. “Way to go, Clover!” she said to her niece as she pointed at them.
Clover stared at the ground and shrugged, embarrassed.
“She plays basketball, but loves volleyball even more,” her mom said.
Before she could stop herself, Kate blurted out, “Thank God.” The girls snickered and her sister handed her back a smirk.
Kate felt the need to explain. “I was just thinking she's her own woman. Not to be following along in her dad's—” She realized her slip and began to shake her head, angry with herself.
“Kate, best to stop digging now you've gotten that hole started.”
“I'm sorry, Clover,” Kate said.
“It happens,” she said with a shrug “I'm used to it.” Her voice wavered and Kate could see she'd hurt her feelings. She put her arm around the lanky preteen. “You're nothing like your dad in all the wrong ways, and everything like him in all the right ones.”
And that seemed to make things okay.
© Sharon Hamilton