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When a Navy SEAL saved a doctor in Yemen three years ago, he never imagined that he’d find himself searching for her all over again. Nor did he imagine he’d fall hard for her curvy daughter. But there’s something about the sassy young spitfire that makes him crazy. For her, he’ll do what he’s never done before. He’ll turn and face the painful memories lurking in his past.
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My protective instincts come roaring to the surface, screaming for me to take care of her. She’s clearly in distress and in need of help. I don’t think the MC sent her. She came here on her own.
Oh, little owl. Bad, bad choice. If I catch you, I get to keep you.
“Constance needs to pee.”
I stop walking midstride, not sure if I should laugh or not.
She scrunches her face up, a blush staining her cheeks. “Well, that came out all wrong,” she whispers, practically squirming in humiliation. “I was trying to say my name is Constance Nayler, and then can I use your bathroom. But my mouth and brain aren’t on speaking terms today.”
“Say your name again,” I demand.
“Constance,” she says. “Um, Constance Nayler.”
Constance Nayler. Fuck me.
“Promise me something, Beckett,” Dr. Nayler demands, her green eyes steely even though her voice is reed-thin. “Promise to look after Constance if I don’t make it out of here.”
“You’re going to make it out of here, Jane,” I growl. One goddamn way or another, she’s making it out of here.
“I’m a doctor. I know my odds.”
“Maybe, but you don’t know me.”
“Slate, we gotta move, man,” Luke says as more gunfire erupts behind us. “Now.”
“Not until you promise,” Jane says.
“Fucking A,” Drake growls, his back to us as he watches the ridgeline. “Just fucking do it, Slate.”
“Fuck,” I swear, knowing she won’t let us move her until I give her my word. Dr. Jane Nayler is as stubborn as the year is long. “Fine. I’ll look after your daughter if anything happens to you. But you will be making it out of this fucking country, Dr. Nayler. Count on that.”
I shake the intrusive memory off, shoving it back down where it belongs—in the dark with all the others I don’t revisit. They belong in the past where I left them.
“You’re here to ask if you can use my bathroom?” I ask Constance, hoping—praying—she says yes, even though I know damn well she won’t.
“No,” she says, dashing that tiny sliver of hope all to hell. “Um, can I use your bathroom first, and then I’ll explain? I’ve been waiting for you to get home for a while.”
I hesitate for a long moment, my heart sinking into the soles of my boots, and then I roughly clear my throat and nod. “Yeah, angel,” I say quietly. “You can use my bathroom.”
I squeeze past her up the steps, gritting my teeth when I brush against her and catch her scent—warm vanilla. Goddamn, she smells edible. My hands shake when I shove my key into the lock, letting her in. I’m not sure if they shake because I want to snatch her up and kiss her so badly or if they shake because her being here now is sure to ruin my fucking month.
Her mother—Jane Nayler—was one of three civilian doctors we were sent to Yemen to rescue in 2019. She was in bad shape with a broken arm and a spreading infection before we ever got to her. By the time we dragged her out of Hajjah, she had a bullet in her side to match. But after killing her coworker, I needed something to do, some fucking way to work through the guilt. So I carried her through the fucking mountains to safety while our medic, Luke, fought to keep her alive.
She almost didn’t make it.
“Down the hall,” I mutter, pointing the way. “First door on the left.”
“Thank you,” Constance says, scurrying past me with her head down.
I watch her ass as she rushes by. I can’t help it. It’s round, plump, and sexy as hell. And then I shake my head, expelling a heavy breath. Fucking Christ. She’s barely nineteen.
If she’s here now, I’m guessing it’s not because her mom is alive and well. And I made a promise to look after her if anything ever happened to her mom. Back then, I meant it. She was just a sixteen-year-old kid, and I had a debt to pay. But now?
Little Constance Nayler is all grown up.
And I’m thinking maybe I’m just the type of motherfucker she should be protected from.