Authors: Bella Juarez
* * * *
Jack closed his eyes when Anna’s cheek brushed his. The feeling was like a whisper, soft and light. It was a good thing they were sitting because her touch and her luscious scent would have made him drop to his knees otherwise. The sensation of her hot breath against his ear was going straight to his cock. She knew exactly what to say and do to reach into his soul. This is what he’d been searching for in a woman, someone who would challenge him, take him on, and not back down. This was so unexpected and so very sexy.
Anna’s next move almost sent Jack off his chair. He fought the urge to grab her and kiss her again. His eyes flew open in surprise when she took his earlobe and started nibbling ever so gently. His cock twitched when her lips nibbled at him and he thought for a moment he would come all over himself. He closed his eyes again and exhaled as he melted. There was no hiding his reaction from Anna.
“Yeah, I’m that good,” Anna whispered as if she knew every sensation he was feeling.
Anna leaned back and calmly put her glasses back on. She picked up her coffee and took a sip. Jack was rooted where he sat. He couldn’t move and was stunned speechless. He stared at her for a long time before he moved. Anna finally looked at him, daring him.
Jack sat back and attempted to gain his composure. “Game on.”
Randolph Air Force Base, Texas
August 16, 2008/2356 Zulu
Jack and Rafe stood next to Dixie in dinner dress uniforms. It was full muster for the chairman’s welcome reception.
was what Mac had called it.
More like a three-ring circus
, Jack had responded.
Admiral Gunter and his wife arrived.
“Good job, Captain. I’d like a word with you as soon as you come inside. I’d like for you to sit with me at dinner,” the chairman said as he walked through the line.
“Yes, sir,” Jack said.
Jack knew he was being watched. He could feel it. He scanned the room and finally found the source of his irritation, a blonde, blue-eyed woman in the center of the room, standing next to Colonel Spivey. Jack was slightly intrigued. He turned back to the guests. He was glad he was detached from this service and from this base for the most part. Base politics wasn’t his strong suit. He finally took his seat next to Admiral Gunter. Dixie and General Kerney, the AETC commander, were on the other side of the chairman’s wife. The admiral turned to Jack and smiled.
“I’m surprised at how fast you got this up and running. Like I said earlier, great job,” Admiral Gunter said.
“Not me, sir. I have a great team. My XO and command master chief haven’t had a life since we docked here. Glad they brought me along,” Jack replied.
The admiral smiled at the familiar saying. “Yes, I know. How are things working out here?”
“We’ve had a few glitches here and there, sir. As you know, we do things a little differently than the Air Force, but all in all, it’s been pretty smooth.” Jack took a drink.
“No problems?” Gunter asked.
“It’s all a matter of communication, sir. Once we were all on the same page, there wasn’t a problem,” Jack said.
“Any problems, don’t hesitate to let me know. You call me directly. Do you understand, Captain?” Gunter said.
There was no way Jack would ever go around Dixie, even if he disagreed with him.
“Yes, sir,” Jack responded.
“No bullshit, boy. I mean it. You call me directly. I want you to have whatever you need. We need this group to be a success. I understand we’re well on our way.”
“Yes, sir, our training ops have been very successful here. This area is well suited to our needs.”
The chairman smiled.
was code for
“Glad to hear it, Jack. I’ll be expecting something from you within the next few months,” the admiral said.
Jack read quickly between the lines.
quit screwing around and get this cleaned up. My ass is on the line here.
“Understood, sir,” Jack said.
Jack turned away and glanced at the door. His heart skipped a beat.
At the door was a vision that made Jack’s jaw drop. It was a very statuesque woman wearing a red dress with a sheer red scarf that wrapped around her bare shoulders. The dress fit her perfectly, hugging every delicious curve. He could feel his mouth start to water. She looked familiar, but at the moment, he was having a hard time placing her. Every man in the room seemed to be staring.
She sure as hell knows how to make an entrance!
Jack watched as the woman looked around the room, finally locking on to someone she’d been looking for. He watched her gracefully gait across the room to her host. She seemed to almost float.
Who is she with? Mac
Liz was seated at the table where Mac led the woman. Liz smiled in recognition as Mac introduced them and seated the woman next to his wife. He tore away from the sight when he heard someone speak.
“Wonder who that is?” a husky voice asked next to him.
Jack turned and looked at the voice. It was the woman he’d seen with Colonel Spivey earlier.
“She seems to be with one of your men, Captain,” she said.
Jack reached for his glass of water.
“I don’t know who she is,” Jack said dismissively.
“She’s not dressed for this occasion. Black or white. No one else is in red. She obviously doesn’t understand protocol,” the woman stated.
Jack thought that woman was definitely the most beautiful and graceful creature he’d ever seen. And that red dress was just the trick.
This woman in the red dress slammed it! He smiled at the woman seated next to him and turned to the podium where General Kerney was speaking. He sat patiently, looking at the woman in red as often as he could. Jack was trying desperately to place her.
Dinner was being served as the speeches seemed to go on forever. Thankfully Jack was the last to speak and he really didn’t have that much to add. After dinner, there was entertainment and time to mingle . He made a beeline for Mac as soon as he could get free. The woman in red and Liz were engaged in conversation. Liz seemed to genuinely like the woman. As he approached, Mac stopped him.
“Well done, Skipper. Short and sweet, believe me when I say that everyone appreciated that,” Mac said.
“Yeah, thanks, Mac.” Jack said, glancing at the woman in red.
Mac smiled and looked down. His blue eyes danced. As they were speaking, Rafe walked over and greeted the woman.
! You look beautiful!” Rafe exclaimed
“Thank you, Commander,” Anna said.
Suddenly it was clear. That’s why she looked so familiar. It was Anna! Jack had never expected to see her looking this elegant and sophisticated, not to mention stunning. He recalled their little interaction at the airport while they waited for their return flight. She really was full of surprise moves
. Game on!
“You didn’t recognize her, did you? She cleans up good, doesn’t she?” Mac asked.
Mac was thoroughly enjoying Jack’s reaction to Anna’s new look. Jack watched as all of his single men surrounded Anna. Liz was playing the part of protective chaperone, shooing away the undesirables and allowing the good guys a chance. Jack wanted to laugh because no one knew the real Anna. She sure as hell didn’t need Liz’s help with any man. He took a seat next to Liz and studied a master at work.
“Mrs. McGuire,” he said formally.
“Captain O’Malley,” Liz returned just as formally.
Anna looked at Jack and he felt a shock run through him when their eyes met. She wasn’t wearing her glasses and her big brown eyes seemed to sparkle in the light. He took in every inch of her, the detail on her dress, the delicate silver-and-pearl necklace that seemed to float against her skin, the bracelet that hung on her wrist. She’d even done her nails, and her light olive skin seemed to glow in the dim light. She was wearing heels, so when she stood she seemed much taller than she actually was. Anna was captivating.
“Captain, sir,” Anna said, acknowledging his presence.
“Anna,” Jack said, simply nodding.
Jack really wasn’t sure he could say much else. Liz was very much attuned to his attraction.
“I understand you’re seeing someone, Jack. Is she here? I’d love to meet her,” Liz said rather loudly.
Anna glanced at Liz.
“No one in particular, Liz, and I’m here alone,” Jack said.
“Oh? That’s not what I heard. What’s wrong, she couldn’t make it tonight? Was she working?” Liz asked a little louder than Jack thought was necessary.
Fucking Mac! He needs to learn to keep his mouth shut!
“She’s not here because she doesn’t exist, Liz,” Jack said.
“Forget it. She’s too good for you, and I mean
,” Liz dropping her voice.
“Liz—” Jack started.
“She’s not your
,” Liz said, cutting him off.
Jack winced slightly at the jab. How many times had
said that very same thing about Anna?
“I was alone with her in San Diego. Didn’t Mac tell you? We just got back and we had a hell of a weekend,” Jack said in a low, mischievous voice.
“Obviously she has good sense. Or else you wouldn’t be sniffing around here,” Liz quipped.
“Don’t be so sure. Don’t you think a man can change?” Jack asked, turning on the charm.
“When they’re twenty. You’re way past that,” Liz said.
“You know, there’s no other woman for me but you,” Jack said, turning up the charm another notch. Liz rolled her eyes. “I guess I’ll just have to settle,” he said, nodding over at Anna. “I won’t give up that easy anymore. If I want it, I’ll just take it this time.”
“In this case, you’d better not even try,” Liz responded.
Jack chuckled. He’d fallen in love with Liz the day they’d met. He loved her like a favorite sister because he could always confide in her. Liz had to turn away to someone who had just approached. She was shooing Rafe away again. Jack observed Anna as she dealt with the men who were stepping over themselves to be within arm’s reach of her. He recalled their little
conversation. Anna didn’t need Liz’s help. In fact, Mac would be in some real trouble if Liz ever went to Anna for advice. He watched how she played the men that were attracted to her. It was like putting an instrument in the hands of a master musician. Jack took advantage of Liz’s momentary distraction and moved next to Anna.
“I didn’t know you were coming,” Jack said.
“Mac told me this was an all-hands event and I had to come.”
Jack disregarded the daggers Liz was staring his way as she was engaged with Rafe.
to come. It was optional for civilians,” Jack said.
“Well, then I guess since I’m the only civilian, it would have really stood out if I hadn’t attended,” Anna said as Dixie approached Jack.
“Rock, I need to get going,” Dixie said. He paused momentarily and sized up Anna. “Anna, you look stunning. Have you thought about that job offer?”
“Yes, Admiral. I have a phone interview next week,” Anna said.
Dixie was hanging on a little longer than Jack liked. He watched his boss run his eyes up and down Anna.
“You’re taking it?” Dixie asked.
“Yes, sir,” Anna said.
“Good! I’m looking forward to working with you. So, are you willing to move to Coronado?” Dixie asked.
In Jack’s opinion, Dixie was getting a little more enthusiastic than was necessary. He knew his boss and by the way he was looking at Anna, she would be working at Coronado so fast it would make her head spin. Dixie would find every formal occasion he could, just to see her back in that red dress.
“Too bad you have to leave, Dixie,” Jack interrupted.
Dixie smiled at Anna and winked. “I could almost be talked into staying.”
Campbell I said hello,” Jack replied.
“I’ll do that, Rock, good night,” Dixie said with a smile.
“I probably should get going, too,” Anna said.
“I’ll walk you out,” Jack said.
“No need for that. I’m sure Billy would be glad to walk Anna out,” Liz interceded.
“I insist. Besides, why interrupt, him? He’s talking with Admiral Gunter,” Jack said.
“Clearly somewhere you should be.” Liz snorted.
“Nah, we talked enough at dinner,” Jack shot back. “Come on, Anna.” Jack extended his arm to her.
Jack decided he’d had enough of watching his poor men being played. It was embarrassing. To the protest of the men Anna was holding court with, she allowed him to steer her from the room. As they walked, they made polite small talk. Jack was about to say something that he knew would get another fight going between the two of them when he felt it. Suddenly the hair on Jack’s neck stood up. He stopped in midsentence and started to scan the parking lot. Something was wrong.
“Captain? Is something wrong?” Anna asked.
Jack redirected his attention to Anna.
“No, I thought I heard something,” he said, distracted.
Jack hadn’t heard anything. He’d
something. Someone was watching. Something was very out of sorts as Jack’s
sharp battle-honed senses kicked into hyper vigilance.
He didn’t know why but he suddenly became very concerned for Anna’s safety.