Once a Marine (MF)

Etopia Press

Heat Rating: Sizzling
Word Count: 89,703
0 Ratings (0.0)

A one-night-stand, or the first day of forever?

BD James is on an upward career path. She works for a tyrant who has already cost her one fiancé, so the last thing she needs is another manipulating man. She’s tired, angry, and ready for a meltdown. What she isn’t ready for is Rafael Cruz—a retired Marine who lives a secret and dangerous double life.

Rafi Cruz is a man who makes things happen, but his timing couldn’t be worse. He’s leaving on a hostage rescue mission in two days, which means he won’t have time for a long slow seduction. He’ll have to work fast, or the hot little BD will slip right through his fingers. She’s the only woman in a long time who’s been strong enough to challenge him—a quality he values highly. He’s reluctant to change his footloose life, but he’ll do whatever it takes not to lose her. She’ll understand. Eventually…

But when BD learns Rafi has deliberately kept her in the dark about his black ops missions, she questions whether he’s the kind of man she can trust, and if he can be as faithful to her as he is to the Corps…

Once a Marine (MF)
0 Ratings (0.0)

Once a Marine (MF)

Etopia Press

Heat Rating: Sizzling
Word Count: 89,703
0 Ratings (0.0)
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Excerpt

Chapter One

Shari Grayson’s exaggerated, hip-switching model’s prance around the end of the runway was flawless, but BD James sensed looming disaster. She couldn’t do this tonight. Any other night, but not tonight. BD had only tonight to make things right with Nick.When she signed on as Shari’s personal assistant, negotiating a lucrative employment contract with upward mobility, she’d given up control of her life. Was it worth what she now had to put up with from both Nick and Shari? Why had she allowed them to make her decisions, to issue ultimatums?The grand finale soared from the orchestra pit, signaling the conclusion of the show. Shari and the other two Grayson Design models, tall, slender, haughty, and blonde like Shari, did the final fast walk around the horseshoe and accepted the thunderous ovation. The two models brushed past BD on their way to the dressing room. Shari lingered on stage a moment longer.The roar of continuous applause filled the cavernous, glitzy old ballroom. For over four decades the Grayson collection was eagerly awaited and enthusiastically received.The two models, Jaycie and Delphi, groused as they passed BD. “I’ve had it with Shari,” one of them said.“She can take this job and shove it,” the second said.Shari’s approaching footsteps were now as different from the “Shari Slink” as the moon from the sun. She pointed her finger at BD. “Let’s get out of here.”“OK. Sure. I have a change of clothes for you in the dressing room. The ones you selected for the reception.”“Forget those. Get my car.”“But—”Shari spun around. Fire burned in her eyes as she brought her lips into an ugly twist. “I said get the car. Is there something you don’t understand about ‘the car’?”“No. I’ll call Karl.” BD pulled the cell phone from her pocket and punched two digits. God, she’d like to smack the woman. “Karl? Bring the car, please.” She shielded the mouthpiece as she trotted behind Shari. “Yes, now. Shari has a change of plans. Hurry, OK?”At the elevator bank Shari turned. She stared at BD. “Why are you following me? Get my purse and coat. Meet me at the limo dock. Go!”BD headed for the dressing room at a fast trot. Go. She could think of a few choice places where Shari could go.The dressing room went quiet when she opened the door. Jaycie and Delphi were morphing back into themselves, blonde wigs off, Prada to Nike, Grayson silks to Lee Riders.They peeked beyond BD into the quiet hallway.“Where’s Her Royal Hind End?” Delphi drawled in a deep Texas accent.Jaycie smacked Delphi on the shoulder. “Careful, Del. You won’t have to quit. You’ll be out the door on your butt. BD is Shari’s little bitty lap dog. Aren’t you, honey?”BD grabbed Shari’s silver and mocha Grayson coat and her own jacket, purchased at Nordstrom Rack.“You know I’d never say anything, Jaycie.” She rummaged under a pile of newspapers on the bottom drawer and pulled out the two purses. “She’s got some kind of rod up her backside tonight. She told me to get the car.”Jaycie widened her eyes against her narrow face. “She’s not attending the sacred reception? What about all the supplicants who’ve come so far to fawn over her?”Delphi pulled a Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt over her head and fluffed up her short red hair. “That’ll be a first. Where’s she goin’?”“I wish I knew.” BD waved as she jogged to the service elevators. If she could get Shari into her limo without fuss, she might make it to Nick’s on time.Shari leaned out the rear door of the limo. “What took so long?” She slid over. “Get in.”Shari’s words stopped her short. Get in? BD’s brain whirled as she searched for words. She flashed a quizzical glance to Karl, who stoically held the door. His eyes rolled heavenward, his nod barely perceptible.Finding her resolve, BD blurted, “I’m not going with you. Tonight is important for Nick and me. He’s waiting.”Shari moved forward, her elegant long legs extended. If she’d been a reigning monarch her gaze couldn’t have been more imperial. “You’d like to keep your job, wouldn’t you?”“Of course, but—”Shari gestured impatiently. “Then get in. Nick will wait. He always does.”He always had. But no more. He’d given her an ultimatum when they set the time for dinner. Tonight was BD’s last-ditch attempt to repair their fractured relationship. She had a couple of hours yet. Nick had told her to meet him after the reception following the show, because he knew BD absolutely had to be there. She’d promised him she would be at his—formerly their—condo no later than nine. His sister and brother-in-law were joining them for a late supper.She had three hours. Whatever Shari had in mind, it better not take any longer than that.She slid into the limo. Karl was about to close the door behind her when Shari’s current fiancé, Mark Best, ran toward the car from the elevator. Resplendent in white tie and tux, he oozed wealth, elegance, and worldly sophistication.“Darling, where are you going? Everyone is looking for you.”“I’m on my way to the villa on Oahu. I’ve ordered the plane, and BD’s going to help me close up the house.”Close up the house? In under three hours? BD’s nerves couldn’t take much more tension.Mark straightened to his full six-foot-four, a puzzled look on his impossibly handsome face. “Oahu? But, darling, what about the reception?”“You may inform my parents that I have no intention of attending their reception tonight. They’ll know why.” She crossed her arms and legs in a huff of angry breath. “Close the door, Karl. We’re leaving.”BD glanced back when they pulled away from the loading dock. The disgusted expression on Mark’s face, the little shake of his head, and finally his hands thrown in the air told BD that he really didn’t care where Shari went or how long she stayed away. In fact, she knew far more about their relationship and Mark’s infidelities than she cared to.BD knew in her heart Nick loved her. He’d never cheat. They’d split up over the long hours and demands of her job. His patience had worn thin, very thin, and tonight was her last chance. If she didn’t show up on time, they were finished. She needed to make some serious career decisions, and soon. But she wasn’t ready to give up her job. She was going places in the trade. She made a very good living. BD resented Nick for constantly belittling her career choice and his endless attempts to control her. Three years. Three years she’d invested in him. Her stomach churned.

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