Authors: Suellen Smith
Tags: #romance, #action, #dogs, #country, #military, #western, #cowboy
Manhattan suited Lily at this time in her
life with the big old shade trees and the wide streets that were
rarely congested unless it happened to be after a football or
basketball game. It was small town USA just like one of Norman
Rockwell's paintings, but because of the university, there was
always added excitement. This year had been particular exciting as
Kansas State had won the trifecta in the Big Eight. They got the
trophy for first place in basketball, football, and baseball – a
feat that rarely happens at any university in one season. It was
exhilarating to be part of the festivities. That was always the way
it was during the school year – fun.
Lily figured she'd eventually marry a
professor and live in a modest house in an old majestic part of
town in a neighborhood with a couple of children. She would have
2.5 kids and a dog like the rest of the nation. It would be a life
like “Happy Days”– happy.
Yesterday, Jade had called Lily. She had just
gotten engaged to a Stanford boy who was an attorney like herself.
They had met at college. She wanted to share the exciting news with
“Oh, Lily, I can't wait for you to meet him.
He is so dreamy. Even Dad and Quinn like him. The wedding is going
to be this spring. I want you to be one of my bridesmaids. Oh
please say you will, please, please!” Jade pleaded.
“Of course I will, Jade. You know I wouldn't
miss it for anything! Congratulations. Call me when you know all
“OK, mark the date for the first of May. Plan
on a bachelorette party in San Diego the middle of April. The
wedding will be on Paradise Island in the Caribbean. I'll give you
more details later. Love you.”
“Love you, too.” Lily said as she hung up,
happy for her friend.
After Lily disconnected, she realized that a
commitment to Jade also meant she'd be seeing her big brother,
Quinn. Her stomach immediately began to churn. She let her
imagination take off at a leap and a gallop as she wonder how he'd
act around her after the way things had ended that terrible last
night together at the twin's birthday party.
Would Quinn totally ignore her by
pretending she didn't exist like he did when she was young
? Lily wondered as she nibbled on her lower lip.
hadn't heard anything about someone special in his life from Jade
or Jasmine, but that didn't mean he wouldn't bring someone to the
wedding – a special someone. The rat, he'd better not! What a
depressing thought, but she wouldn't put it past him.
tried not to think about it, but her memories betrayed her and
became entangled in her thoughts of the past like a web that just
kept on weaving as it followed the thread that led directly back to
Quinn every time like it had been cut and short circuited.
How long had it been since that awful
night on New Year's Eve? Four years? Had Quinn changed? Was he fat
or bald? It would be helpful.
She doubted both as he was
still a SEAL and his father still had all his
Had she changed? Was she different? She certainly wasn't that
nave little girl of sixteen, but neither did she want to be.
She sat up and straightened her shoulders.
between then and now was that she knew how to be a woman – a
seductive woman. So just you watch out, Mr. Quinn, I'm ready for
you now! You don't begin to have a chance. Ha!
Jade's wedding took place on Paradise Island
in the Caribbean where history was rich and the sea was so clear
that it looked like swimming pool water – so translucent that you
could see the bottom and watch the colorful fish that nibbled among
the ocean floor formations. The white sands of the bay was like a
backdrop that set off things picture perfect with the cruising
boats, billowing para sailing, and skimming windsurfing as the fish
of many colors circled lazily around the activities.
Today, a private luxury cruiser held the
small wedding party of fifty sailing in the Caribbean. It was
evening and the sun was just beginning to set, signifying the end
of the day, but for the couple getting married abroad, it signified
a bright new beginning of their lives.
The cruiser was covered in island flowers of
all colors making it smell and look like a floating garden and an
extension of Paradise from where they had just sailed. The bride
wore a long gauzy wrap around that clung to her curves and blew
softly in the breeze with an arm full of the same exotic flowers
that covered the boat. She was surrounded by Jasmine and Lily on
one side who wore gauzy short strapless sundresses in pale lavender
and dusty rose pink. The groom with his brother and Quinn in their
tuxes were on the other side.
The ceremony was short with island drums
playing softly in the background adding their melody to the soft
breeze of romantic atmosphere. The celebration began immediately
after the vows with food and drink until very late; although, the
boat docked much earlier. The newlyweds went to their luxury suite
on the second level of the cruiser after eating, toasting, and
hugging all the guests. Everyone else departed as they felt like
There wasn't a huge space abroad the wedding
cruiser for avoiding anyone that you cared not to converse, which
made it easy for Quinn to corner Lily as she stood looking out at
the last rays of the setting sun before it disappeared into the
dark blue ocean. He watched Lily's hair glow with fascination when
the setting sun rays caught the strands of red and gold. He
imagined that he could smell her hair of strawberries clear across
the deck when she lifted her mahogany locks off her neck so that
the cooling breeze could sooth and tickle her smooth creamy
Lily had been standing at the railing for
almost fifteen minutes with Quinn watching her and absorbing every
detail before he went over to join her. He had been leaning against
the opposite railing several feet away talking with the groom's
brother enjoying the view as Lily's skirt would lift every so often
with the ocean breeze revealing a lacy pink thong to match her
bridesmaid dress and a tan shapely butt. It wasn't until he
realized that the groom's brother was enjoying the fabulous
spectacle as well, did he excuse himself to stand behind her so
that she did not become the sole entertainment for the other
groomsman of the evening, also.
Lily knew the minute that Quinn came up
behind her even before he spoke. His presence had been
“Dad paid for the sunset as well,” Quinn
commented hoping to coax a smile from Lily's lips, which he was
Quinn took a moment to inhale Lily's
strawberry essence before he spoke again. He looked up at the sky
with the evening star, Venue, named after the goddess of love
twinkling brightly just as the sun left the horizon as it became
the first to shine on the Caribbean night.
“I remember another evening like this a few
years ago. It was a night that held such promise.”
Lily said nothing as her memories took her
back to that night on New Year's Eve as well, which was the last
time she had seen Quinn. She shivered a little as things were
cooling with the setting sun and the ocean breeze that changed
temperatures. She began to rub her arms up and down.
“A little,” she answered quietly, but
secretly she suspected that it was much more than that.
Quinn pulled her against his chest wrapping
his open coat around her in an intimate jester like a lover. He
felt her stiffen before she relaxed against him and they merged
together as one.
This time it was Lily's turn to remember
Quinn's cologne. She loved the way he made her feel, the hardness
of his body, the warmth of his breath as he whispered in her ear,
and his exotic touch as he lightly soothed a wayward strand of
mahogany hair behind her ear before rubbing it between his fingers.
It almost was her undoing.
“Your hair always feels so soft and smells so
good. I can't eat strawberries without thinking of you.”
Lilly laughed, “That's because I use
strawberry shampoo. It's a left over from childhood called
“And all this time I thought you washed your
hair in a bowl of strawberries and cream,” he teased. He paused
before he added solemnly, “Don't ever change it.” He rubbed his
nose against the top of her silky hair inhaling its fragrance. They
stood there in companionable silence with Quinn's arms wrapped
around Lily looking out at the sea in comfortable camaraderie as
the boat rocked and rolled back and forth with hypnotic waves. It
was soothing and seemed so right.
“Where did you go that night after I left you
in the cabana?” It was a question that had been eating at Lily and
one that had haunted her every New Year's Eve for the past four
years. She needed closure, she needed an answer.
“I left on assignment,” Quinn answered
surprised at her question.
“For three weeks?” she asked solemnly turning
her head slightly and glancing up at him to gauge his reaction.
“Lily,” he said her name like she was a
little girl again and he was trying to make her understand
something complicated. It annoyed her. He felt her pull slightly
away from him not really comprehending why she did so.
“I was in Afghanistan being a soldier and
rescuing other military brothers. That what I do. That's the oath I
took when I signed up for the role of a SEAL.”
“Well then, what took you so long to call me
after New Year's Eve?” Lily persisted.
OK, now I get it – I think.
probably hurt and mad after that evening. He was busy doing his job
as a soldier and really didn't think about how Lily was looking at
things. So, when he finally did call, she wasn't about to give him
any satisfaction of answering his calls or emails. He assumed she
understood. After all, her dad had been a pilot in the Air Force,
hadn't he? Like she was supposed to remember? How old was she then,
anyway? Had she even been born, yet? Hmm, maybe not.
Quinn began to rub Lily's neck hoping to
convey his feelings to her as he began to touch her bare shoulders
with the tenderness of a lover. They felt so soothe and soft that
he almost forgot to answer her.
“They don't let us carry cells in the field.
I was calling you within fifteen minutes after I had my phone in my
Lily said nothing as she was just trying to
digest what Quinn had just told her.
Now, it was time for Quinn to ask Lily what
had been bugging him for four years.
“Lily, what happened that night? Jade thinks
you were raped?”
Lily turned slightly and looked him square in
the eye, “Now, I can't imagine why she would think that? Do you
think that maybe –just maybe – it was because you'd ripped my dress
to shreds and small pieces making it totally unwearable –
FOREVER?!!!” Lily commented with spunk and a hand on her hip as she
turned to face him completely.
Quinn responded with a surprised expression
on his face and arms crossed over his chest defensively, “I did no
“Yeah, you did. And by the way, you owe me
big bucks for that dress. It cost me plenty to make a replica of
Rita's dress with antique fabric and black lace for authenticity. I
loved that elegant garment!” she commented forlornly.
“I'm sorry, Lily. I'll buy you another one,
but only to be worn for me.”
Lily looked at him funny.
“I really didn't know I'd ripped it. I guess
my emotions were just exceptionally high that night and as I
remember right you were doing a pretty good job of yanking my –
That made Lily laugh, “I did?”
“Yeah, you did.”
“Well, at least I did something right that
“Oh, you did plenty right that night and now
I want a rain check.”
Quinn backed Lily up against the railing. He
wasn't going to wait any longer to taste her strawberry lip gloss
that was s special to Lily as his tongue pushed lightly to explore
the soft velvet, coaxing her mouth to open for his tongue seeking
entrance. His strong arms wrapped around her as he pulled her
against his chest feeling her soft beckoning breasts between them.
Passion flared almost out of control immediately like a match to a
Everyone was busy celebrating with the bride
and groom. No one noticed the exchange between Lily and Quinn
except the other groomsman. He had been hoping that he might have a
chance with the lovely redheaded bridesmaid, but it was obvious the
two had a history and he was not part of it. He would have to look
elsewhere for a mate tonight.
Quinn put his forehead on Lily's trying to
slow things down a little. Lily was breathing as hard as he was as
she griped the lapels of his white jacket trying to steady her legs
due to her sensual response to the awakening of her sexuality.
“Where are you staying?” Quinn asked
Quinn didn't think she was going to answer
for a moment, but after struggling for control, she squeaked, “I'm
not staying at the same hotel as the wedding party,” They told me
they were out of rooms there.”
Lily named another hotel not far away from
the other guests. Ten minutes later, they were in Quinn's rented
JAG headed for Lily's room, a luxury high rise that overlooked the
Lily and Quinn left before most of the
guests, but by midnight the love boat was empty of those that had
been invited. It immediately set sail with only the crew to
accompany the bride and groom that it would assist as it hopped
from one island to another in the next three weeks. The crew took
care of the newlyweds every need, which wasn't often as they spent
most of their waking time in bed.
Arriving at the hotel, Quinn gave the car
keys to the doorman. Quinn immediately helped Lily out of the JAG
enjoying her shapely tanned legs as her dress rode high on her
thighs. He tucked her arm in his and walked her to her room. He
took her key card and opened her door, but not before he landed
another very passionate kiss on Lily's beckoning lips. Then, he
mumble something about having to get back to the wedding.