Monday, October 12, 2015

chapter reveal { BAND OF BROTHERS || LUCAS }

AL Publications | October 19, 2015 | Military Romance
Band of Brothers, book 1

Special Operator Lucas Shipley thought his living arrangement was temporary, since getting booted from the house by his wife. He sleeps on a couch in the apartment with four other divorced Navy SEALs, thinking he’ll get the call to come home any day. He ignores the not-so-helpful advice his buddies are giving him about marriage, women and romance. Until he gets served with divorce papers.

Realtor Marcy Gelland is hired by Lucas’ soon-to-be ex-wife to liquidate all their real estate holdings and help her orchestrate a speedy departure from Lucas’ life. Based on what the hot-headed SEAL wife has told her, Marcy understands Lucas deserves every ounce of pain coming his way.

But when Marcy and Lucas are left alone together in the remote Northern California woods, they ignite a personal bonfire that threatens to burn down the whole forest. Marcy is forced to see she is wrong about Lucas.

Amidst the backdrop of hardened bachelor SEALs with their unsolicited, anti-long-term relationship advice, and a terrorist training camp operating nearby, Lucas must do what he’s always done: be the hero and save the day. But will it be in time to save Marcy?

{ about sharon hamilton } .

SharonHamilton_72dpi_ColorSharon’s NYT and USA Today bestselling novels are almost-erotic Navy SEAL stories of the SEAL Brotherhood. Her characters follow a spicy road to redemption through passion and true love. All of her SEAL Brotherhood Series are available in audio book. She has maintained an Amazon top 100 author status in Romantic Suspense since the end of 2012.

Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany are not like any vamps you’ve read before, since they don’t have to go to ground, and can walk around in the full light of the sun. Honeymoon Bite, Book 1 of the Golden Vampires of Tuscany Series, has earned the Amazon designation of #1 Gothic Romance. It and Book 2 in the series, Mortal Bite are both available on audio as well.

Her Guardian Angels struggle with the human charges they are sent to save, often escaping their vanilla world of Heaven for the brief human one. You won’t find any of these beings in any Sunday school class. All three books in this popular series are also in print and audio formats.

A lifelong organic gardener, Sharon lives with her husband in the Wine Country of Northern California, where most of her stories take place. When she’s not writing, she’s getting verra verra dirty in the mud, or wandering Farmer’s Markets looking for new Heirloom varieties of vegetables and flowers.

{ chapter 1 reveal } .

Lucas woke up with the sun slicing daggers of light into his eyes.

Fuck me.

He rolled over to shield his face from the bright morning and fell off the couch, right onto his tailbone.

Goddamit. The sharp pain added to the bruise he’d already created from previous sleepless nights. His ass had made divots between the second and third cushions of the sectional, which was as equally uncomfortable to sit on. The couch’s grey scratchy fabric was Scotchguarded, making his back and balls itch. His buddies on SEAL Team 3 had picked up this wonderful piece of loungery for two hundred bucks four months back. The San Diego Goodwill had been so happy to get rid of it, they gave the team the matching loveseat without charging a penny extra.

From the floor, Lucas stared eye-level at the hunk of junk he’d battled with all night long and knew it would still go up like a torch regardless of the Scotchguard. As he pulled his body up, the matching loveseat veering off to the right gaped at him, its bent footrests looking like huge gumless jaws. The thing was laughing at him.

It was nothing like his king-size bed with the Egyptian cotton sheets at home—the home he’d been kicked out of a month prior. He hadn’t expected to have to sleep on his buddies’ couch this long. When he’d first been shown the door, he hadn’t been too worried, convinced Connie would soon change her mind and invite him back.

He’d envisioned that ‘welcome home’ party every day and night, in spite of the fact that his last vision of her was of her screaming at the top of her lungs, those delicious blue veins at the sides of her neck protruding like they were fat, blue birthday candles. His sobbing three-year-old daughter was burying her face in her mother’s thigh as Connie held the toddler in her arms, his horror-filled expression showed the pain and confusion of what he couldn’t understand.

That was one shitty day, but he knew in his heart of hearts that at any time, she’d soften and he’d be back home, in their bed, sliding against her smooth thighs and kissing the place between her legs, making her scream his name. Oh, he was the candy man, all right. His dick got hard just thinking about it. She’d never had a man go down on her before they got together. She’d been a good Catholic girl, and the nuns had filled her head with stories of how the germs from his hot tongue would poison her womb.

As if they knew.

His arousal meant only one thing: he’d have to finish it in the shower or he wouldn’t be able to get his jeans on without pain.

Someone swung open one of the four bedroom doors with enough force they nearly ripped it off its hinges. “What the fuck just happened?” asked Jake, his mop of black hair sticking straight up like an unclipped Mohawk. “We just have an earthquake, Lucas?”

Lucas grimaced. “No, that would be my ass hitting the ground.”

“Would you quit that? You’ll wake up the whole fuckin’ household.”

Lucas stood in his shorts, bare-chested and barefoot. He inclined his head to the side, arms outstretched, palms up as if listening for the complaints—which didn’t materialize—from the other three rooms. “And your point is?” Lucas asked, after a few seconds of silence.

“Geez, Lucas, would you put your fire hose away. I’ve seen it, remember?” Jake pointed to Lucas’ groin.

Standing at full attention, Lucas’ unit had found freedom from the hole in his American flag shorts and was ready to par-tay. He quickly tucked it back in, but it popped out again. That time, he turned his back to Jake, properly stowed his cannon then whipped around to find that Jake had disappeared back into his room.

Only two of the bedrooms had their own private bath with a shower, since the guest bath only contained a toilet with a cracked seat and a sink. Lucas didn’t want to wake anyone else up, so he headed for the half bath, looking forward to perhaps working on his aim while studying the raunchy posters pinned up all around the little room. They didn’t have to worry about entertaining females in the men’s club of a house, since most of the SEALs who lived there had sworn off any women, except professionals who would definitely not be looking at the posters.

He washed his hands twice, feeling more relaxed, then padded into the kitchen to make some coffee. He covered the coffee grinder with a towel to muffle the sound and inhaled the only luxury the boys allowed themselves: fresh ground coffee.

He paused his musing to glare at the coffee pot, performing its death gurgle. He surveyed his temporary ‘home sweet home’. The garbage can was overflowing—even the recycle side—with beer bottles, pizza boxes, and half-gallon plastic orange juice containers. A wet bath sheet and t-shirt hung over an old, paint-splattered folding chair, one of four, surrounding a square card table with coffee rings stained into it. Their big-screen TV sat on top of two pallets they’d hauled from the dumpster. The light beige rug was mostly dark beige from oil, food, and coffee stains and one plate-sized red stain from someone’s Hawaiian Punch spilled a week back. They’d been trying to clean up each little accident, until the punch mishap. After that, they understood that when they deployed, they’d not get their deposit back on the house. Ryan said they might even owe the landlord something.

Look at me…already considering myself part of this sorry band of bachelors.

Lucas chastised himself for even considering this to be the case. He’d be out of there so fast it would take them a couple of days to miss him.

Sorry-assed sailors. Unlike his Connie, the bachelor frogs had only themselves to blame for their poor choices. Jake had children littered all over the world, just like their old pal, Gunny, who used to own the gym they all trained at. He wasn’t exactly sure how many he’d fathered, but knew it would take two hands to count.

The coffee pot began to shut down, as he took stock of his friends.

Cory Brown was a preacher’s son, way too trusting, and had started dating girls from his father’s church after high school, until several parents complained he was deflowering the future generation of Sunday school teachers. And then he knocked one up, and that was it. Reverend Brown made sure the right thing happened. That marriage didn’t last more than a month after the baby was born, and then Cory was being sued for child support that would take over half his pay, including his SEAL bonus.

Ryan and Alex got married in a double ceremony in Las Vegas, and had similar stories of woe.

No, none of them had spent much time finding a fine, quality girl like Connie. Yes, she was a bit hotheaded, but Lucas kind of liked it when she got steamed up, as long as it was something he could wiggle his way out of. The unfortunate bachelor party in Vegas was the last straw, though. And the stripper he’d had his photograph taken with turned out to be a transvestite, not that it made any difference to Connie. Lucas had been hoping it would.

But all that would be over soon.

He turned off the coffee maker, poured himself a cup, added a shot glass full of real Half and Half and walked out onto the deck overlooking the valley below and Coronado Island in the distance. He considered getting the boys up because a Specialist from Virginia was coming to do some training with them, even though it was Saturday. The military didn’t observe weekends if the upcoming mission was urgent. This one apparently was.

Below him in the parking lot, a sweet brunette in an impossibly tight short skirt stepped out of a cherry-red VW convertible. She looked up at him, shielding her eyes with one hand and slinging her large bag over her shoulder with the other. Lucas straightened himself up and sucked in his gut, smiling as her gaze found him and gave him an appreciative perusal.

He told himself it wasn’t really a bad thing. One thing to look, another to, well, partake. He didn’t want to blow his chances of sliding back into Connie’s expensive silk sheets or being buried deep inside her sweet little jellyroll. But looking was okay. He’d just not chat her up. So he waved.

Her grin was fine. She looked like the kind of girl who had all manner of dirty little thoughts. She licked her lips, straightened her upper torso and smoothed over her tummy and hips with those palms of hers. One wrist had a charm bracelet that tinkled in the distance. Without an invitation, she headed straight for the entrance to the upper floors, right below him.

Holy hotness. Did she think I invited her up?

Inside, he found Ryan, Alex and Cory up and showered, making a barefoot line in the kitchen like old men at a rescue mission.

“I say strawberry waffles before we head over to the base,” said Cory as he poured his coffee.

“Ask them to leave the whipped cream can this time,” said Ryan.

Jake exited from his bedroom, followed by a cloud of steam, matching the shirtless wonders in the kitchen.

Cory nearly spit out his mug of Joe. “Dayum, Shipley. Good thing we’re not shooting this morning. I’m going to be shaking for a week,” barked Cory.

“Use more cream,” was Lucas’ answer. “Hey, guys, you know anything about this Thom guy? He’s some kind of security expert?”

“Something to do with a little pod of terrorists they encountered over in Mosul.” Alex sat down on the floor, back straight against the wall, his feet out in front of him. Ryan soon joined him.

“Kyle said they’ve got information the group plans to do something here in California. A retaliation,” added Jake.

“Helluva thing to do on a Saturday, haul us in there,” said Cory.

“What the fuck difference does it make?” Jake wrinkled his nose and forehead. “Not like I’ve got a date.”

Lucas snorted. “Oh, so you call those hookups ‘dates’ now? You really go on dates, Jake? Man, I must be rubbing off on you.”

“You should talk.” Alex and Ryan were punching each other in the arm, which escalated into a coffee fight. Alex continued, caramel-colored liquid dripping off his chin. “Don’t see you dating anytime soon, Shitface.”

Lucas hated the fact that his last name had taken the ugly moniker ever since the unfortunate bachelor party he didn’t remember.

“Geez. I hang around you guys too much and I might stop believing in true love.”

Lucas was pelted with coffee, one of the SEALs throwing the ceramic mug itself, which hit him at bicep level.

“Okay, okay. I get it. It’s just that I’m not ready to give up on my marriage like you guys. I may not have as many kids as you do, Jake, and I may only have known her a little bit longer than you two knew your wives, Groves and Nowicki, but I definitely know how to fuckin’ use a condom, Cory—especially if I’m gonna screw a girl in the back of my father’s sanctuary.”

“Hallelujah, praise the Lord,” someone shouted.

“A fuckin’ religious experience, I call it,” Jake said as he high-fived Cory.

“See, that’s where you guys go wrong. You don’t treat women with respect.”

No one said a word. Then the unofficial spokesman for the group, Jake, inserted his opinion. “So, if you feel like you don’t fit in, why don’t you fuckin’ leave?”

The silence that followed made Lucas nervous. He could sense more than a couple of his buddies felt he’d crossed the line. There were some hurt feelings they often didn’t verbalize, but he sure could feel it. He knew he had to be careful.

“You don’t know a damned thing until you’ve really walked around in another man’s shoes. Or, in Cory’s case, his high heels.” Lucas delivered it straight and for just one second he thought he’d made thing worse.

But then the catcalls began, which was a signal things were returning to normal. Lucas relaxed enough to apologize and make it sound like he meant it. And he did. The doorbell buzzed.

“You know,” said Jake, who walked over to Lucas and fist-bumped him. “You’re probably right. You’re the one who’s gonna make it in this relationship game. For us assholes, well, I think we’re pretty much fucked.”

All of them laughed.

The doorbell buzzed again twice this time, and Cory jogged over and opened it. Lucas couldn’t hear anything but a sweet voice asking if she could talk to Lucas. He didn’t know how, but he just knew it belonged to the lady in the red VW. She knows my name? He was flattered, until he remembered his situation, and Connie.

“Sure, come right in, ma’am,” Cory offered, showing her the way with his arm.

Her bright red lips were the same color as the VW. She had the whole ladybug thing going on—with her black skirt, the black and white polka-dot blouse that was a bit sheer, showing him she wore bright white, lacy underthings—his personal favorite. She kept her knees together as she carefully stepped over their dirty carpet, her spiked heels making her balance a little difficult. She extended her hand with the charm bracelet softly clinking, and he extended his.

“Holy crap, Shipley, you’ve been holding out on us,” someone said. The team separated and gave Lucas and the girl space like a drop of oil in water.

“So, you’re Lucas Shipley,” she said sweetly, and then gave him a devilish smile that made his shorts erupt.

He nodded nervously as she shifted her bag, which had fallen off her shoulder.

“Excuse me,” she said as she extracted her hand and unzipped her purse. Bringing out a large white envelope, she didn’t give him time to stop admiring her shapely form.

“You’ve been served.”

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