By: Melissa Schroeder

She left, and he dropped his head back on the pillow. The scent of her was still in the room, and he probably would never smell that spicy perfume again without getting aroused. He knew she was still hoping for something, and dammit, he wanted to give it to her. But he couldn’t trust himself. Not with his issues, or with her.

With a grimace, he sat up and stood. He hobbled, ignoring the pain shooting through his leg and the cock stand she had left him with.

• • • • •

“Do you want to tell me what’s going on between you and Kade?” Deke asked.

Shannon choked on the sip of water she had just taken. She coughed a few times before gaining control.

“Sorry. I’m sometimes a little too blunt for my own good.”

She shook her head and patted her lips with her napkin.

“No, really, I grew up with a lot of men in the house. One of them is Mal, who is not much different than you.”

She took another sip of water and wiped away a couple of tears.

“Are you going to answer the question?” he asked just as bluntly as before.

She couldn’t help but smile. From her experience, military men were always much more tenacious than other men. “Why do you ask?”

He rolled his eyes and took a bite of his sandwich. “He didn’t look too happy when we left, and well, I feel like I’m poaching on his goods. We have a good working relationship, and I don’t want this to get in the way.”

She raised one eyebrow. “Poaching on his goods? I’m not sure I like that phrase.”

“Beg your pardon, but I didn’t ask.”

She threw her head back and laughed. From the moment they had left her house, she had been delighted by Deke. If she wasn’t in love with the surly idiot she’d left behind, she definitely would be interested in him.

“That’s a pretty sound,” he said, his gaze resting on her lips.

“Why thank you.”

“So, quit screwing around and trying to avoid the question.”

“I’m not sure what we are.”

He nodded. “I had a feeling.” He sighed. “Well, I was hoping that there would be a chance. I knew he was all moony-eyed over some woman when he returned from that wedding.”

She set her elbow on the table then settled her chin on her hand. “I have a feeling you don’t really want a chance. And it has nothing to do with me being Mal’s sister or the fact that I am somewhat involved with the other idiot my brother brought home. Sure, you’d flirt with me, have a little romance, even take me to bed. But I have a feeling that you’d be out the door and I would be out of your mind before your next mission.”

His lips twitched. “Well, why do you think that is, Ms. Dupree?”

“I do love a Georgia accent, Mr. Berg.” She took a sip of water. “Well, I think you’re carrying a torch for someone.”

He looked stunned and blinked at her, those ridiculously long eyelashes catching her attention. It was really a shame both of them were tangled up with someone else. He was a delicious man to look at.

His cheeks turned ruddy and she couldn’t believe he was blushing. He cleared his throat. “That’s not true.”

“Aha, I’m right. You’ve been here before, yes?”

He nodded. “On my honeymoon.”

Her heart did that little dance it did at the romance of it. “So walking around here with me has really bugged you, hasn’t it?”

He made a face, and she laughed.

“You still have the hots for your ex?”

He sighed. “God, don’t tell her that. We can’t be together.”

Shannon heard the longing in his voice, and her heart did that little jig again. Who would have thought that the Viking was such a romantic?

“Is she married again?”


“Had the change?” she asked.


“You know, decided she was really a man instead of a woman?”

“Good God, no.” He shook his head. “And I thought Mal was bad.”

“She’s not in jail, I am assuming. What’s stopping you, Seal?”

“Just one of those things.”

She shook her head. “It isn’t ‘just one of those things.’ Not if walking around here brought your honeymoon back to you. You still want her. I thought Seals had more balls than to sit around and say that it isn’t good?”

“We’re not good together.”

She frowned. “The sex is bad?”

“Lord in heaven, you have a mouth on you.”

She laughed again, delighted she’d made him blush. God, was there anything sweeter than a hardened military man who was still in love with his ex-wife? She didn’t think so.

“What I mean is we are...combustible. But not just in the bedroom.”

“Ah, the temperament. Comes with the passion.”

“If I had known I was going to face the inquisition while we were out, I would have made sure to not take the pain pill.”

“I guess Mal didn’t tell you about me.”

“Other than you were single, could handle yourself, and well, that you’re pretty.”

She narrowed her eyes. “You added that last one in.”

He smiled. “Okay, I did.”

“I guess Mal didn’t tell you the nickname my brothers gave me, did he?”

He shook his head.

“I was known as the informer.”

He waited for a second, and when she didn’t continue, he asked, “The informer?”

“Yes. We had a big family: four boys, two girls, and a mother who worked by my father’s side to get the business going. When my mother worried about the boys, she always let me go with them. And if I didn’t, she made sure I got to question them. I can get an answer out of anyone.”

“Is that why Mal let you go with me alone?”

She snorted. “First of all, Mal doesn’t let me do anything. I stopped answering to a man the day I turned eighteen. Secondly, I don’t think so. See, knowing my brother, he’s going to go catting around after a few of his lost loves. He’s not ready to settle down yet, so I know he will go to the women he knows won’t get clingy.”

Deke rolled his eyes. “Talk about someone who’s carrying a torch.”

She zeroed in on that statement. “Do tell.”

Deke’s eyes widened almost comically. “No. No way. I am not ratting out an officer to his sister. I’ll never live it down.”


“I would rather be called that than whatever the team would invent to pay me back for telling you something.”