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Authors: Shelli Stevens

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romantic, #Romance, #Contemporary

Command and Control

BOOK: Command and Control
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Dedication

Thank you to my family and friends for your support of my writing, and to those who are my beta readers and critiquers. To my readers, whom I adore and who’ve picked up my books over the years. To my editor, Tera, for making my books all sparkly goodness. Special thanks to my friend Patricia for sharing your experience with the military and the time you spent in Iraq. And most importantly, for this book, thank you to all the military heroes out there who’ve given their time, and sometimes theirs lives, for their country. My characters are fiction, but you’re the real deal. And you don’t get thanked nearly enough.

Chapter One

What the
hell
?

Trevor Wyatt froze, one foot already outside the coffee shop, his mind echoing with what he’d just overheard.

Megan was getting married.

His chest tightened, almost crushing his ability to breathe as the blood pounded harder in his veins. He moved out of the entryway and back into the store, stepping to the creamer station to slowly add three packs of sugar he didn’t even want to his coffee.

“Bev, I swear to God I saw it with my own two eyes,” Lisa, Wyattsville’s most notorious gossip, proclaimed. “Not even five minutes ago Megan was picking out wedding cakes down at Kate’s Cakes.”

Five minutes ago? That meant she might still be there. Trevor didn’t need to hear another word, just strode out the door—coffee forgotten on the counter—and hurried toward Kate’s shop. The fact that he needed to be at his parents’ house in twenty minutes had just slipped on his priority list.

His fists clenched and his head pounded with sudden tension. How the hell was it even remotely possible that Megan was getting married? Damn it, he hadn’t even realized she was seeing anyone.

Maybe if you came back from Fort Lewis on the weekends as much as you used to, you’d have figured it out.

But coming back to Wyattsville meant facing Megan and the fact that he’d failed her. Failed them. Coming back drove a hot poker into another emotional wound he couldn’t seem to heal, that’d he’d begun to realize would probably never heal. He was a fucking mess. Megan didn’t deserve that. He’d kept telling himself that until he’d finally driven her away.

Right into someone else’s arms it seemed.

“Hey, Trevor, didn’t know you were back in town!” one of his friend’s called out as they passed each other on the sidewalk.

Trevor nodded, unable to form a response to his friend. With each brisk stride he took, familiar faces rushed to move out of his way, their eyes widening, even as more people called out a greeting or welcomed him back.

An image of Megan flitted through his head. The same vision that usually came to mind when he let himself really think about her. An image from two summers ago. She was lying in the grass over on Evergreen Hill, her red hair sprawled out with the wildflowers as she smiled up at him through her lashes. Her blue eyes twinkled with amusement and intimacy, her breasts rising gently with each seductive laugh she made.

Frustration seeped through his pores and into his blood until he let out a snarl of frustration as he spotted the shop with the pink overhang that was supposed to resemble frosting. The shop Megan was hopefully still in.

She was never supposed to marry anyone else. She was supposed to marry
him
.

He shoved open the door to the shop and strode inside, his gaze sweeping the small confines until he found her.

She stood by the display case full of cakes, dressed in a skirt suit that hugged her curves, laughing as she spoke to Kate, the owner of the shop. But the moment he entered the store, her laughter had died and her lush mouth had parted just enough to show her surprise, even as her gaze remained unreadable. She was always so damn good at that. Keeping her emotions under control. They were one in the same that way.

Longing slammed into Trevor’s chest, hitting him like a two-by-four, clenching his heart with an almost physical pain and stirring his blood with a hot arousal that had become somewhat a novelty.

Beneath his jeans his cock twitched, recognizing the only woman who could just about make him come in his pants when she gave him
the look
. The only woman who could affect him on such a primal, sexual, male level.

Megan marrying someone else?

Like hell.

Megan’s mouth went dry and her heart rocked against her rib cage, but she kept her features carefully schooled as she stared at the man who’d once captured—and then crushed—her heart.

She hadn’t even known Trevor Wyatt was back in town. Had begun to wonder if he’d show up for his own brother’s wedding. There’d been a time when the oldest Wyatt brother would return every weekend from Washington State to spend time with his family…with her. But those days were gone. The citizens of Wyattsville—the town named after his ancestor—were lucky to see Trevor once every couple of months nowadays.

But he was obviously back now. He’d stormed into Kate’s Cakes, slamming the door behind him, with an expression on his face one that could make most people draw back in alarm. And Kate, the owner of the shop, was no exception, with her rounded eyes and gaping mouth.

Megan turned her attention fully on Trevor again, trying not to let her gaze meander over his tall, solid, soldier’s body. Telling herself it was better not to linger on the dark eyes or hard mouth that could reduce her to a puddle. Even if that mouth was taut with anger right now. The question was, what was behind that anger?

“Trevor,” she finally managed in a neutral tone that shocked the hell out of her. “Nice to see you back in town.”

But it wasn’t nice. Not really. Seeing him again had her heart twisting like someone wringing out a towel. It made her stomach bounce around like she was on an amusement-park ride. Seeing Trevor again made her take another step back in her attempts to get over him. And she was trying. Dear God in heaven how she was trying.

Trevor took a step toward her, but Megan held her ground, refusing to retreat any further, even as her pulse jumped with alarm. Was he angry with
her
?

She finally met his accusing gaze and her breath caught as the air seemed to sizzle between them.

“What’s this I hear,” he began, his voice low and unsteady, “about you getting married?”

Megan’s jaw hit the floor. Whatever she’d been expecting, it hadn’t been that. Behind the counter, she heard Kate gasp.

“Megan?” Kate squeaked. “You’re not seriously marrying
Henry
, are you?”

Trevor’s attention swung to Kate. “His name is Henry?”

Megan straightened and sucked in a breath. “Now hold on a min—”

“Oh no.” Kate shook her head and stepped back, lifting her hands. “I’m
so
not getting involved in this. In fact, I think I hear the phone ringing.” She nearly ran to the office of the shop.

Megan ground her teeth together.
Marrying Henry?
How had Trevor even heard she was dating anyone? Oh wait, that whole small-town thing. She’d only lived in Wyattsville for five years, and sometimes it was easy to forget how quickly news spread. She just hadn’t thought it would spread all the way up to the Fort Lewis army base.

“Is it true?” Trevor asked.

“No. I’m not marrying Henry,” she finally said, even as resentment rushed through her. Her fists clenched at her side and she lifted her chin, meeting Trevor’s steely gaze with one of her own. “Though I don’t see how it would be any of your concern if I was.”

Only the ticking of the loud cupcake clock on the wall broke the silence. As she watched, Trevor’s nostrils flared and a tiny tic began on his jawline.

“Who is he?”


He
is none of your concern.”

“Maybe he is.”

Was Trevor jealous?

Her stomach churned and she had to snuff out the tiny spark of hope that flared in her heart. This happened every time she saw him. The spark threatened to become an obnoxious flame that wouldn’t die—that would ensure she was miserable loving the one man who couldn’t seem to love her anymore.

“He isn’t,” she said resolutely. “You lost the right to be concerned about what happens in my life when you walked out of it.”

Trevor took another step toward her. “If I recall correctly, you’re the one who ended our engagement.”

Pain stabbed through her, tightening her throat with tears she couldn’t shed. Why was he bringing this up
now
? After months of shutting her out. Abandoning her and his family. After she’d finally tried to move on. Key word, tried.

She opened her mouth to argue. To point out that he’d ended their relationship way before she’d made it official. But why bother? If she argued that he was a year too late, she’d just end up crying. And she’d sworn she was done shedding tears over Trevor Wyatt. They just didn’t help anything.

Self-preservation had Megan closing her mouth again and adjusting the strap of her purse higher up on her shoulder. “I need to go. If Kate returns, please tell her I’ll just come back this afternoon.”

“Wait,” Trevor pleaded, blocking her exit with his large body. A body she was entirely too familiar with, a body capable of giving so much pleasure.

His gaze sought hers, and the mix of frustration, anger and tinge of desperation in his eyes had her throat tightening with emotion.


What?
” she choked out.

“If you’re not getting married, why are you looking at wedding cakes?”

Megan blinked. Was that where he’d gotten the idea she was getting married? Because she’d been looking at
cakes
? Of all the ridiculous…

“Because—in case you’ve forgotten, Trevor,” she sputtered. “Your brother’s getting married in a week. And seeing as I’m the maid of honor to your future sister-in-law, that puts me in charge of the bachelorette party this weekend. And at this kind of party, women like to eat cake. Got it now?”

“Got it. The cake is for Ellie,” he muttered, relief flickering in his eyes. He stepped away from the doorway to let her through.

Megan held her breath, moving past him. She was almost out of the shop when he asked, “So then you’re not serious about this Henry guy?”

With her back to him, she closed her eyes and drew her bottom lip between her teeth. She thought about being honest. Telling Trevor that Henry was just a guy from the next town who occasionally asked her to dinner. Seriously debated telling Trevor that
he
was the only man she wanted. Would
ever
want.

But she didn’t. Instead she walked away from him and got into her car.

Chapter Two

Trevor set the empty shot glass back onto the counter and savored the familiar burn of whiskey down his throat. It always numbed him a bit. His emotions, and the pain in his shoulder that was more phantom than real now. He tried not to drink too often, because he’d seen how alcohol could become a soldier’s crutch. And though many times he’d been tempted to just hit the bottle as a way out, he’d found the strength not to.

He reached for a peanut out of the bowl in front of him, snapping open the fragile shell and digging out the nuts inside, before placing them in his mouth. The crunch of him chewing seemed loud enough to echo in the quiet of the bar.

It wasn’t quite noon and he and Evan—the bartender—were the only ones inside the dimly lit Oceanside Tavern. The smell of beer and grease lingered in the building.

“Didn’t realize you were back in town already, Trevor,” Evan said, wiping down one of the beer taps. “Suppose you’re helping Tyson get ready for his big day?”

Trevor managed a nod, but that was all. It was the third time Evan had tried to engage him in conversation, and finally he seemed to realize it was hopeless.

“I’ll just turn on some music,” Evan muttered with a sigh. “We usually don’t get folks in this early.”

A moment later the twang of a country song came on, and then the bar filled with a soft crooning.

Trevor reached for another peanut. God, he hated country music. He’d always preferred the harder stuff. Give him Metallica any day over the latest Johnny Cash knockoff.

Megan had always been trying to covert him to
the dark side
, as she’d liked to tease.

His gut twisted and he closed his eyes, reaching blindly for the shot glass again.
Megan.
God he missed her. She’d always been the only one who truly understood him.

“Can I get another one of these, Evan?” he rasped.

“I think you’ve probably had enough, Trev.”

Trevor’s shoulders went rigid and he opened his eyes, drawing in a slow breath before swiveling on the bar stool to face the newcomer.

“Tyson,” he acknowledged with a grunt. “Is that your opinion as the town sheriff, or—”

“That’s my opinion as your brother.” Tyson gave a brief smile and crossed the bar to sit at the stool next to him.

“Little brother.”

“By two years.” Tyson grabbed a peanut and snapped the shell in half. “The parents missed you at lunch.”

Shit
. The air seethed out from between Trevor’s teeth and he shook his head. How could he have completely screwed this up? He was staying in their house while he was in town. He’d left briefly for coffee at one of the shops and then forgotten all about the scheduled lunch the moment he’d stepped into Kate’s Cakes and spoken with Megan.

BOOK: Command and Control
9.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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