It’s been a year since Ryan O’Connor buried his wife. He was in Afghanistan as a SEAL medic when the call came that she’d been killed during a robbery. In that time, he returned home, nursed his grief, and joined his former brothers-in-arms in the K2 Special Services. After a bad breakup with her ex, Charlene “Charlie” Morgan finds happiness only when flying the friendly skies—as an aerobatic stunt pilot. But the skies aren’t so friendly when her plane troubles turn out to be the work of sabotage. Looking to forget their worries, Charlie and Ryan run into each other at a bar. The chemistry is instant and intense. It’s only supposed to be a one-night stand. But the memory of their passionate kiss lingers, and when Ryan shows up at Charlie’s flight school, their romance takes off. Yet the route to love has its own turbulence—secrets, lies, and danger. Can one night lead to something lasting?
There were no clouds overhead, and as Charlie peered up at billions of stars twinkling in a velvet black sky, she pulled her T-shirt over her head, and then slid her jeans down her legs. Too chicken to remove her bra and panties, she turned and walked down to the water, feeling daring. She had never done anything like that before and wondered why not.
Walking into the surf until she was thigh deep, she laughed when a wave almost knocked her over. The water was cold but not freezing, and she turned so that the oncoming wave would hit her in the back. In front of her, Ryan stood in water up to his knees, not a stitch on. As if she were metal to his magnet, she went to him.
“You’re like a sea goddess, here to bewitch me,” he said when she was inches from him.
“You have a glib tongue,” she answered.
“I’m Irish. Glib is in my blood.”
“I’m good with your being Irish, but I’m really fond of your tongue.”
The white of his teeth gleamed in the moonlight when he grinned. “I think you should prove to me just how fond of it you are.”
She took a step closer. “You have no clothes on.”
“I’m doing something wrong if you’re just now noticing that, Charlie.”
“Oh, believe me, I noticed.”
Taking her hand, he led her deeper into the gulf, past where the waves were breaking. Although his chest and head were above the water, she was on her tiptoes. When he realized she was struggling not to swallow salt water, he laughed.
“Climb up me, little girl, before you drown.” As she grabbed his shoulders, her feet leaving the ocean floor, he deftly slid off her panties.
She punched his arm. “You’re a sneaky one.”
“You’ve no idea. You know, the knights of old would be given a token from their lady before going into battle,” he said, tugging her panties up his arm. “I think I’ll keep these as my good luck charm.”
“Ha! I don’t think they gave them their panties.”
“Actually, I don’t believe they wore panties back then. A good practice, that.”
“Men,” she said. She wrapped her legs around his waist, and her arms around his neck. His arms circled her back, and they held each other as the water swirled around them. Without him to anchor her, the current would have swept her away, but he was so strong that she felt safe and protected. The heat from his body kept her warm.
“Kiss me, Charlene.”
They kissed and petted and kissed some more under the moonlit night and the stars twinkling above. With him holding her close, she thought she could spend all night there in the Gulf of Mexico, doing nothing but loving him.
When the cold finally penetrated her skin and she shivered, he carried her out of the water and up to the dune where he had spread the blanket. With his large body covering hers, warming her again, he made love to her there on the sand, which was still heated from the daytime sun. His touches and kisses were tender, and as he whispered her name softly into her ear, she felt cherished. She squeezed her eyes shut against the tears burning in them and loved him back.
It was the most beautiful night Charlie had ever known.
A best selling, award-winning author, Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity, but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She’s jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed thrilling stunts, has flown Air Combat (two fighter planes dogfighting, pretending to shoot at each other with laser guns), and rode a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing. Sandra is a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance, CRAZY FOR HER. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.