I don’t know about you, but every time I see one of those soldier homecoming commercials on television, I tear up. Dad surprising his son in the classroom? Check. Husband waiting for his wife and daughter in the new house they just bought? Check, check. Camo-clad mom waiting at the airport terminal for her loved ones to pick her up? Pass me the tissues. Every. Damn. Time.
Those heart-melting homecomings were the inspiration for my story in the anthology, DIVING DEEP. Except my couple’s reunion is not so sweet. Well, it is in the end, but at first…not so much. See, I started thinking about how it feels when your soldier leaves, instead of when they come home. The heartbreak and loneliness the person that’s left behind goes through in the wake of their departure.
My heroine, Katie, is a frazzled kindergarten teacher who’s spending the holidays with her boisterous, nosy, extended family. She’s desperate for an escape, anywhere to get a few moments of peace and quiet. When she spies her brother’s diving equipment in the laundry room, she thinks it’s a godsend.
My hero, Jake, is a Navy SEAL home on leave, and the first person he wants to see, touch, taste, is Katie. The last place he expects to find her is at the bottom of a darkened swimming pool. At first, it scares him to death, so he dives in to rescue her, not knowing she has a tank of oxygen down there in the dark with her. When he realizes she’s not actually drowning…
Poor Katie. She’s about to find out how one hot Navy SEAL doles out “punishment” for giving him a fright.
I spotted him looming above me on the edge of the pool deck, his body silhouetted by the landscape lighting surrounding the trees and shrubbery. The rippling water distorted his shape, but I’d still recognize Jake blindfolded. The wide shoulders tapering to a narrow waist, the imposing height and size of him.
He hadn’t yet arrived for the party when I’d slipped away. I should probably be flattered that he’d sought me out over the company of my brother, his best friend. I would be if I didn’t know that his visit was only going to lead to more misery for me in the end.
I remained very still while he put the puzzle pieces together, hands braced on his hips as he looked around, even going so far as to hold my breath so no bubbles broke the surface.
The water nearest the bottom would be dark since I hadn’t bothered turning on the pool lights. Soon enough, though, he would spot my discarded clothing and shoes. The air in my lungs began to burn before it broke from my mouth around the regulator, sending a shimmering cluster of bubbles floating upwards like millions of tiny diamonds.
Jake’s SEAL training immediately took over. I watched as he jerked his shoes off, stripped out of his jacket and shirt, and dove into the water. The realization that I wasn’t actually drowning took about three seconds. Even the near darkness at the bottom of the pool couldn’t obscure the expression on his face, anger rapidly chasing away worry. Then I was being dragged to the surface whether I wanted to go or not.
He tossed the scuba gear onto the deck as if it weighed no more than a marshmallow. The heavy chunk of lead strapped around my ankle kept trying to pull me back under until he unbuckled it and tossed it aside too. I stripped off the mask, adding it to the pile.
I was now trapped between Jake’s big body and the side of the pool. Long, muscled arms caged me in while our ragged breaths heated each other’s face. I tried not to stare at his chest, tried harder not to think about how badly I wanted to sip the water from his smooth golden skin.
“What the fuck, Katie?” He passed a hand over his wet face in agitation. “Were you trying to give me a heart attack?”
“You practically have gills.”
Jake glared. Tiny droplets clung to his obscenely long eyelashes and sparkled in the light. He was so handsome it gave me heart palpitations when I looked at him. “That’s not even remotely funny. You know what I meant.”
“I’m sorry,” I lied.
“No, you’re not. But you’re about to be.”
Want to know how Jake makes Katie sorry? Then point your mouse toward the button at the top of this page that says “Order Book” and grab your copy! Digital format is available now and print releases September 3rd.
Thanks for reading,
I started reading when I was four, thanks to a babysitter who found out the only way to get me to sit still was to put a book in my hand. By the time I entered kindergarten, I’d blown through just about every Little Golden Book ever printed. Ten years later, much to my mother’s dismay, I found her stash of paperback romance novels. She tried to divert me back to something more chaste by buying me Harlequins, but I still snuck copies of her Kathleen Woodiwiss’s and Johanna Lindsey’s when she wasn’t looking. Shanna, The Flame and the Flower, and Fires of Winter will always hold special places in my heart because they introduced me to roguish heroes, headstrong heroines, and the trouble they could get into together.
I live in a swampy little corner of north-central Florida with my family, both the two-legged and four-legged variety. I love to read, run hot and cold in regards to cooking, and I never miss an episode of Justified, Longmire, or Dexter. I guess I like justice in all its various forms.
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