Della Carter's not so secret crush on her next door neighbor has her plotting to get his attention. Operation Bang My Hot Neighbor is in full swing and Lt. Commander Noah Armstrong is in for an explosive night once he wises up to her little game.
Noah wants to settle down and have a family. A career Navy man, he's dedicated to serving his country but he's ready to have more than that to fight for everyday. His beautiful next door neighbor is exactly the kind of girl he has in mind.
Lt. Commander Jonah Armstrong was staring at his new lawn mower with a mixture of pride and trepidation. It was silly. He’d handled far more dangerous pieces of equipment in his life, and he’d gotten instructions on how to use the machine from the salesmen. He’d read the owner’s manual the night before, and the grass wasn’t going to cut itself, so he should just get on it and do what needed to be done. Never mind that the last time he’d been in a position to cut grass he’d been seventeen and pushing his father’s ancient mower around a half acre of land in the Alabama heat.
“Need help, Sailor?”
He turned and found Della Carter standing in his driveway. His too-hot-for-her-own-good neighbor first strolled across her yard and into his three months earlier, right after he’d bought the house while his former team had been helping him move in.
Jonah had traveled so much and had rarely settled down even in permanent barracks that he’d had to buy furniture for the entire house. He didn’t even know how to use half of his kitchen appliances. His coffee maker looked like it belonged on the space station. The instructions for it were three times longer than those for the lawn mower.
“Good afternoon, ma’am.”
Della grinned, leaned against his car, and crossed her arms, which put her breasts on display. Her white tank top and red shorts barely covered her rather lovely attributes as it was. “I’ve been watching you stare at that thing for fifteen minutes.”
Jonah flushed and felt like a fool for it. “No, I…umm was just thinking about the fact that I hadn’t used a lawn mower in about eighteen years.”
“Been in the Navy a long time then,” she said with a smile and pushed off his car to walk toward him.
There was nothing overtly sexy about her walk, she wasn’t throwing her body around like a teenager trying to get his attention, but she had it regardless. Della shoved her hands into her pockets, her lush breasts bounced a little, and Jonah swallowed back a few foul words. He just wasn’t that kind of guy—his Daddy hadn’t raised him to objectify women.
Della Carter was a beautiful lady. Her skin was a lovely nut brown, brown hair cut short, framing a heart-shaped face, and she had a fit runner’s body, which made sense because he’d seen her out every morning jogging with her dog. He glanced over to her yard and found the golden retriever lounging lazily on her neatly manicured lawn.
“Yes, I joined the day I turned eighteen,” Jonah admitted.
He had enough pride roiling around in his gut that he would be damned if he’d admit he was a little rattled by his new-found domestic life. Taking a training position at the Navy Yard had been his first step toward arranging his life so he had room for a family. Though he hadn’t really voiced the desires aloud, he was ready for a wife and kids.
“I was going to recommend the lawn service I use,” Della said, and Jonah shoved aside his mental musings to concentrate on his neighbor.
“I’m perfectly capable of cutting my own grass,” he protested and felt his face heat up a little when she just grinned at him.
“Well, it’s been a while since I saw your friend over here with his mower, and I’m sure the head of the housing association is trying to figure out how to tell you to cut your lawn without getting his ass kicked,” she offered with a little laugh. “You put all the men in the neighborhood in a dither when they heard you’re a Navy SEAL. Your badassness is freaking them out.”
“I don’t think badassness is a word,” Jonah said then frowned. “Is my badassness freaking you out?”
Della laughed outright. “Not in the least.”
Her gaze raked over his body in a blatant inspection that left him more than a little flustered. He just wasn’t used to dealing with many civilian women—at least not Della’s type. Jonah had done his share of womanizing, and bars close to the base were often full of women who wanted a ride and little else. She checked her watch and sighed. “I should get going. We’re short-staffed today.”
He suddenly felt a bit like an asshole as he’d never bothered to even ask her what she did for a living when she’d introduced herself on the day he’d moved in. “Work?”
“Yeah, I inherited my grandfather’s bar and grille,” Della explained and ran her fingers through her hair, “the house, and Riley.” She flicked a hand toward the dog. “So far, Riley’s been the best part.”
Jonah glanced at the dog and found the animal had rolled over onto his back. He snorted. “He seems…fierce.”
Della laughed. “He’s really not, but he’s good company. Good luck with your lawn.”
“Thanks,” Jonah murmured and smiled when she offered a little wave before heading back toward her own house. The dog jumped up as soon as she crossed over into the yard and followed her into the house.
* * * * *
Della sat down on a stool in her kitchen with a huff in front of her laptop. Her Facebook page was still open so she clicked on the status box and typed in: Operation: Bang My Hot Neighbor Status: Still an Epic Fail. Her mission to get into her neighbor’s pants was an ongoing drama on her timeline, and it was so far the only amusing part of her campaign. She watched a mixture of friends from high school, college, and her last job respond with their condolences on her cock-poor life.
She’d left Atlanta and moved to Arlington, Virginia only a few years before her grandfather’s health had taken a turn for the worse. By the time the lung cancer killed him, she’d been running the bar full time. It wasn’t what she’d gone to college for, but it wasn’t the sacrifice her family made it out to be. They’d expected her to sell the place and go on with her plans after their grandfather died. The fact that she hadn’t was a bone of contention for all of them, especially after the will had revealed that she’d gotten everything. Various cousins, uncles, and even her own mother had considered contesting the will, but in the end they’d all backed off. Her grandfather hadn’t pulled his punches on his final wishes or the various letters he’d left members of their family who hadn’t shown up until it was time to bury him.
She changed into a pair of worn jeans and her good athletic shoes before putting Riley in the backyard. By the time she was sliding into her car, her fine ass neighbor was tooling around his yard on the riding lawn mower. He was so charmingly undomesticated that Della couldn’t help but grin at him. She slid her headset in her ear and plugged her cell phone into charge. It was almost dead and she should have charged it in the house, but she’d been too busy ogling Lt. Commander Jonah Armstrong.
Ten minutes into her drive to work, her sister Faith called just like always. She touched her headset and it activated. “Hey.”
“I saw your status,” Faith said with a laugh. “Mama’s positively mortified by the whole thing.”
Della had already been treated to a lecture about how unseemly it was for her to be discussing her sexual plans concerning her hot neighbor on Facebook. She didn’t care. “Well, I did offer to unfriend her!”
“Yeah, because that wouldn’t result in you being ritually disowned for the next six months. The last time I unfriended her, she spent months telling everyone I was dead to her.”
“That’s not a negative for me,” Della promised. “He was outside today in a pair of cut-off shorts and a wife beater, looking like something out of a porn video. Mrs. Rodgers nearly fell off her front porch trying to look at him without being obvious about it. I’d take pictures and post them, but I figured that would be crossing a line.”
“Straight from cock-starved fan girl to psychotic stalker,” Faith confirmed.
Della would’ve protested the description if it wasn’t true. “I bought a new vibrator on Amazon. It should arrive tomorrow.”
Faith sputtered and then laughed. “Didn’t you just buy one two months ago?”
Della flushed as she exited the highway and turned her car toward the bar. “I wore it out. You don’t have any clue what it’s like living next door to a real life wet dream. He leaves for work in uniform. Last week, for some reason I can’t fathom, the man left his house in dress uniform. I nearly came just at the sight of him. Dress blues should be illegal on the street.”
“Gawd, Della, you run a bar that is nearly always full of young, always horny college boys and sailors. You can’t tell me that dick is hard to come by.”
She sighed. Three years ago, taking a ride on a twenty-two year old wouldn’t have been unappealing. “I’m thirty years old, Faith. I’m too young to be a cougar and too old to be that foolish. Besides, watching that crowd get drunk and stupid every night does take the shine off of doing someone that young.”
“Young energetic cock is a terrible thing to waste.”
Della laughed softly as she pulled into the parking lot of Mick’s Bar & Grille. For nearly thirty years it’d just been a pub with a few snacks on the menu but she’d started adding food to the menu as soon as she took over and, three years later, they had expanded into a rather large menu full of mostly junk people shouldn’t be eating. She figured they had the best cheese sticks in the state.
“I’m here. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Yeah, have fun.”