Book 1 in the Harmless Military Series
Part of the Harmless World
To prove her love and save her man, she has to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Francis McKade is a man in lust. He’s had a crush on his best friend’s little sister for years. There’s the Bro code. Plus, being a SEAL doesn’t always work with relationships. So he’s avoided her until one little wedding dance opens his eyes. When he’s called away the next morning, he promises to come back to her.
Shannon knows she loves Kade, but when he doesn’t contact her after the mission, she’s confused. That is until her brother drags Kade into Shannon’s bar and grill.
This is not the man who seduced her. He’s darker and a little more dangerous. When he pushes her to her limits in the bedroom, Shannon refuses to back down. One way or another, this military man is going to learn there is no walking away from love—not while she still has breath in her body.
Warning: This book contains two infatuated lovers, a hardheaded military man, a determined woman, some old friends, and a little taste of New Orleans. As always, ice water is suggested while reading. It might be the first military Harmless book, but the only thing that has changed is how hot our hero looks in his uniform—not to mention out of it.
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The sound of Hawaiian music drifted lightly through the air as Kade took a small sip of his beer. He stood on the side of the dance floor watching the wedding guests. It was one of those days Hawaiians took for granted he was sure, but Kade didn’t. The sweet scent of plumeria tickled his nose, and the sound of the ocean just a few hundred yards away combined with the music to ensure that the entire day seemed magical. The groom, Chris Dupree, smiled like a man who had just finished Hell Week with honors, while his new bride, Cynthia, glowed with more than that “happily just married” glow. Her gently rounded tummy was barely visible, but everyone knew she was pregnant.
“Never thought he would settle down,” Malachi, Chris’ brother, said from beside him. One of Kade’s best friends, Mal had dragged him across the Pacific Ocean to make the wedding.
“Really? He’s been with her for years. It only took him this long to convince her to marry, right?”
Mal laughed and took a long drink out of his bottle.
“Ain’t that the truth,” Mal said, New Orleans threading his voice. Their friendship was an odd one, that was for sure. Mal had grown up as part of a huge family in New Orleans, and was half creole. The name Dupree meant something in circles down there, especially in hospitality. Francis McKade grew up the child of Australian immigrants, both scientists recruited to work for the US Military.
“At least there are lots of lovely ladies here for the picking,” Mal said, his gaze roaming over the crowd. “There’s something about Hawaiian women, you know?”
Kade said nothing but nodded. He wasn’t particularly interested in most of the women today. The woman he wanted set off signs of being interested in him, but she had never acted on it.
“Are you two flipping a coin to see who gets what woman?”
The amused female voice slipped down his spine and into his blood. Before turning around, he knew who she was. Shannon Dupree, youngest sister of his best friend, and the woman who had starred in most of his most vivid sex dreams. He turned to face her, thinking he was ready for the impact, but of course he wasn’t. As usual, she stole his breath away.
She was dressed in red, the main color of the wedding. The soft material draped over her generous curves. Shannon was built like Kade loved his women. Full hips, abundant breasts, and so many curves his fingers itched to explore. Every time he was near her, he had to count backwards from ten and imagine that he was taking a shower in freezing water. Sometimes that worked.
“What makes you think we’re doing that?” Mal asked.
One eyebrow rose as she studied her brother. “I’ve known you for twenty-eight years, that’s how I know.”
Shannon turned to Kade expectantly, and he couldn’t think. Every damned thought vaporized. It was those eyes. Green with a hint of brown, they were so unusual, and they stood out against her light brown skin. He could just imagine how they would look filled with heat and lust.
He finally cleared his throat and mentally gave himself a shake. Staring at her like a fifteen-year-old with a crush wasn’t really cool. “Don’t lump me in with your brother, here. He doesn’t have any standards.”
“Except for that stripper last time you visited?”
There was a beat of silence. “Stripper?”
“Mal ratted you out.”
He gave his friend a nasty look. His last visit to New Orleans hadn’t gone that well. Shannon had gotten very serious about her current boyfriend, and there had been talk of them moving in together. Kade had done the one thing he could to ignore the pain. He got drunk and went out to strip clubs. And Mal had been the one with the stripper, not him.
“I think your brother had that wrong.”
She glanced back and forth between them. “Whatever. Just make sure you stick around for some of the reception before you go sniffing any women.”
“Don’t worry about me. Your brother has the impulse control problem.”
Mal grunted. “Both of you suck.”
“They’re going to be cutting the cake soon, so at least hold off until then, could you?”
With that she brushed past them, and he could smell her. God, she was exotic. Even with all the scents of Hawaii surrounding him, hers stood out. Spicy, sweet…
He took another pull from his longneck bottle, trying to cool his libido.
“So, who do you have in mind?” Mal asked, pulling him from his thoughts.
“Man, it’s a wedding. Women are always ripe for seduction at these things. You have to have someone in mind.”
His gaze traveled back to Shannon. She walked through the crowd, her hips swaying sensually as she moved from person to person. Her smile enticed everyone she spoke to. As the owner of a bar and grill in New Orleans, she knew how to work a room. And dammit, she had that perfect smile that drew every man to her. His hand started to hurt, and he looked down to find his fist clenched so tight around his bottle his knuckles were white. It took a couple of seconds to calm himself down. He didn’t have a right to be jealous. She wasn’t his to love, to protect. He’d learned a long time ago that being a Seal and being married just didn’t work out.
He noticed Mal looking at him, expecting an answer.
“Not sure, mate, but I have a feeling I’ll find someone to occupy my time.”
Shannon shivered as she took a sip of champagne. She tried not to wince at the taste. What the holy hell was she doing drinking it? She hated the drink. What she needed was two fingers of whiskey. It would clear her head of the sexy Seal that had her pulse skipping.
“What are you doing drinking that?” her sister, Jocelyn, asked.
When Shannon turned, she couldn’t fight the smile. Seeing the transformation of her sister in the last year was amazing. Seeing her happily married with Kai added to the joy she felt for Jocelyn. Even if there was a little jolt of envy, Shannon couldn’t begrudge her the happiness. After the things she had overcome, Jocelyn deserved it more than anyone she knew.
“I thought it best. You know with the jet lag and all that, I need to keep my wits about me. Champagne should help, right?”
Her sister’s eyes danced with barely suppressed amusement. “It couldn’t be because of one hot Seal with a hint of an Aussie accent, could it?
Shannon closed her eyes and sighed. “That man gets my temperature up. All he has to do is smile, and I’m ready to strip naked and jump his bones.” She opened her eyes. “Is it that obvious?”
Jocelyn shook her head. “Just to someone who knows you like I do.”
And no two people knew each other better. As the two girls in a huge family of men, they had depended on each other. Only fifteen months apart in age, they were more like twins than just sisters.
“Are you talking about that hot Seal your brother brought with him?” May Aiona Chambers asked as she stepped up to the two women. After meeting her just months earlier at Jocelyn’s wedding, Shannon had instantly liked the sassy Hawaiian. Petite with the most amazing long hair and blue green eyes, she never seemed to have a problem voicing her opinion.
“Oh, May, please, could you join us in the conversation,” Jocelyn said with a laugh.
“As my sister-in-law, you should be used to it by now.” She dismissed Jocelyn and honed in on Shannon. “He’s been watching you.”
“What?” she asked, her voice squeaking. “No he hasn’t.”
“That Seal, he’s been watching you all day.”
Shannon snorted, trying to hide the way her heart rate jumped. “You’re insane. Does this run in the family? You might want to adopt children, Jocelyn.”
“No, really, he has. He does it when he thinks you aren’t looking.”
She turned around and found him easily on the other side of the dance floor. That erect posture made it easy. He always looked like he was standing at attention. Even in civvies, he looked like a Seal. The Hawaiian print polo shirt hugged his shoulders and was tucked neatly into his khaki dress slacks. He wasn’t the tallest man in the room, but he stood out. All that hard muscle, not to mention the blond hair and the to-die-for blue eyes, made him a gorgeous package. Everything in her yearned, wanted. Of course, he wasn’t looking at them. His attention was on the other side of the room. Probably on some damned stripper. Shannon turned back to her sister and May.
“Are you drunk?” Shannon asked.
May rolled her eyes. “No, really he has. You know what those Seals are like. He can do surveillance without you knowing. It’s his job. But you should see the way he looks at you.”
She couldn’t help herself. “Like how?”
May hummed. “Like he wants to take a big, long bite out of you.”
She couldn’t stop the shiver that slinked down her spine or the way her body heated at the thought. Since she had met him five years earlier, she had been interested in him. He was quiet, unlike her brothers, and the way he moved…God, she knew for sure he was good in bed. But it was more than that. Kade was sexy, that was for sure, but there was something more to him than just a good-looking man. There was an innate goodness in him, one that made a woman know he would take care of her no matter what.
“If I were you, I would make use of the event to get him in bed.”
Shannon snorted again, trying to keep herself from imagining it—and failing. “Please, May, tell me what you really think.”
“Believe me, I know about waiting, and it isn’t worth it. I waited years for some idiot to notice me. I think of all the time we wasted dancing around like that.”
“Did you just call your husband an idiot?” Jocelyn asked.
May rolled her eyes. “He overlooked me for years, then waited forever once he did notice me. Of course he’s an idiot. But in this situation, you have to be strategic. I saw Evan almost every day. This guy, he’s going to be gone again with that job of his. You have got to take advantage of the wedding and get him into bed. Get a little wedding booty.”
She should be mad, but it was hard to be. May looked so innocent with her sweet smile, and her voice sounded like something out of a movie. Shannon just couldn’t get irritated with her. Before May could say anything else, they announced the cutting of the cake. She turned to face the banquet table, and as she did, she caught Kade looking at her. It was the briefest moment, just a second, but even across all that space, she saw the heat, the longing, and felt it build inside of her. Her breath backed up in her lungs. In that next instant, he looked away.
It took all her power to turn her attention back to the event at hand, seeing her brother and her sister-in-law beaming at each other, she took another sip of champagne. May was right. She had to take a chance. If he said no, if he ignored her, then she could drink herself in a stupor and have months before she had to face him again.
But there was one thing Shannon Michele Dupree did right, and that was being bold. She chugged the rest of her champagne, set it on the table next to her, and headed off in Kade’s direction.
That man wouldn’t know what hit him.
End of Excerpt
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Jun 6, 2012
Infatuation is overflowing with passion and fire!
This is a really great read and it comes with a book cover that will hold many in thrall, to be sure. Mixed with humor and heat, this story carries the reader from Hawaii’s beaches to the energy and pulse of New Orleans. And through it all runs that sense that in spite of the dark and miserable penchant human beings have to destroy one another runs the sure and certain truth that human love will survive. This is a book that romance lovers won’t want to miss and won’t be able to put down once they begin reading. My kind of book!!
Good gorsh! I was waiting for my screen to melt into a puddle of goo and then go up in flames. Sexy, holy hotness doesn't even begin to describe this book. Thigh clenching pretty much sums it up. This story is a balance of fun, flirty and panty melting sexiness with the realities of war. I love how Ms. Schroeder gave Shannon some meat to her bones and it doesn't hurt that Kade is Australian. (Imma sucker for accents and kept picturing Alex O'Loughlin the whole time.) Bring on Deke's story!
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