RULES OF LOVE (A Navy SEALs Romance) (10 page)

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Except I can’t because I’m not being me around him

Eddie put a smile on her face. She gripped her cane and walked into the kitchen with the rest of the gang following her. On the counter was an array of sandwiches and salads that she hadn’t put together. She looked accusingly at Shane, who shrugged as he fixed himself a plate. She frowned at the bags under his eyes. Whatever he was up to was not treating him well.

The hammering upstairs reminded her that Beau hadn’t eaten all day. She followed the noise of construction and cursing into the bedroom. Leaning in the doorway, she watched his lower half twist and turn as he attempted to do whatever he was doing up there. A loud bang echoed followed by a stream of curses, making her struggle to laugh quietly. He stepped down the ladder, favoring his right hand. Mid-curse, he turned and Naomi waved at him. He closed his mouth quickly.

“I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Are you alright?” She pointed to his hand.

He shrugged. “I’ve had worse. Is something wrong?”

“Oh no, I was just coming to kidnap you and force you to eat some food.” He opened his mouth to protest, but Naomi grabbed his left hand, making him flinch slightly in pain. “You don’t come, I’ll squeeze your hand and hurt it even more.”

“I’m not hurt,” Beau muttered as she dragged him out of the room and down to the kitchen.

She saw his surprise when he heard new voices in the house. No one was at the table except Shane, Jackie and Gareth. The latter stood, raising his hand to shake Beau’s and gripping it hard, a warning in his eye that caused Jackie to roll hers.

“I hear you’re the new handyman around here.” Beau nodded, glancing at Eddie, who smiled. “Don’t worry, we know what’s going on—or at least what these damn agents will tell us.”

Eddie saw Beau’s jaw tighten until Shane told him they were clean.

“I’m Gareth, and this is my soon-to-be, pain-in-the-ass wife, Jackie,” he said sarcastically, pointing to Jackie, who glared at him.

“Nice to meet you, ma’am,” Beau said politely. “I’m surprised you were cleared to be here.”

Eddie bit her tongue and looked at Shane. He coughed and shrugged. “Naomi threw a fit if she was going to have to be away from everyone she knew on her birthday.”

“Birthday? That’s what this is about?”

Eddie could’ve smacked Shane, but she restrained herself as Beau looked at her, one brow raised in question. “What?”

“I didn’t say a word. What exactly is happening on this birthday?”

“Nothing because I haven’t agreed to anything. Now shut up, sit down, and eat.” Eddie shoved him into a chair and slid a plate full of salad and two sandwiches his way. “You are not to get up from this table until all that food is gone or someone tries to kill me.”

“And what happens if I do?” Beau asked, laughing.

“I’ll punch you harder and lower.” She pointed to his plate, glaring at him before walking away.

“Too late for that,” he muttered.

Eddie hesitated at his words but kept going. She stayed with Jackie at the counter, talking about the wedding and other things that really didn’t matter to either of them but which were necessary to keep up appearances. She tried to look anywhere but at Beau as he sat with the guys. She could picture him living a normal life… for maybe three whole seconds. He was the mirror image of her, needing to be on the job, needing to be out in the field and doing what he did best.

She hadn’t realized how much she loved her damn job until she couldn’t do it anymore. Except for this, though playing babysitter was not what she’d call being in the field. For the moment, she’d push concerns for her career out of her mind. Beau Savage was her mission, and no matter how crazy those damn predatory eyes drove her, she would get through this and worry about what came next later.



Beau escorted Naomi to her room before he turned to his. He’d moved back in now that the roof was fixed well enough for him to sleep under it. The bed had been changed at some point during the evening, and he considered sleeping for a few hours. Ted and Shane were on watch for a while longer, but the second he lay down, Beau was wide awake, staring at the ceiling. That woman and her stubborn pride.

He wanted to get closer to her, needed to.
Why? So you can walk right out of her life when this is over? You don’t settle down, remember?

He grunted at the voice, but it was right. Something told him if he did manage to get involved with Naomi, it’d either go well or they’d wind up hating each other. It wouldn’t be a calm relationship. A fire burned in her eyes, but damn, he wanted to be consumed by that burning because of a past she couldn’t get away from. Unless he made her forget it.

He sat up when he heard steps and the tapping of her cane in the hall. Guessing she couldn’t sleep either, he waited until she passed, got up, and followed her steps down. Jackie and Gareth were holed up in one of the storerooms-turned-guestroom, but their light was off. Laughter filtered out from under the door, and Beau’s cheeks flamed, wondering what Naomi would sound like if he ever got her where he wanted her.

The lamp popped on in Naomi’s office, and he followed her in. “Can’t sleep…” His question trailed off when she turned and he saw her in black knit shorts riding well above her knees. He’d seen her scars before, but this was the first time he’d seen her whole knee. The sight put him at a sudden loss for words.

“Did you want something?” she snapped, tapping her cane on the floor for emphasis. “Getting a nice long look, are you?”

“That’s from the accident?”

“Yes,” she muttered. “Now get out of my office, Navy.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned his hip against the doorframe. “No.”


“You heard me. I said no.”

The anger on her face slowly faded, and she limped towards him, her cane tapping the floor hard with every step. Beau frowned when she smiled the closer she came to him—until she reached for the door and swung it towards him. He stepped back just in time for it to slam shut.

“Goodnight, Navy,” she yelled from the other side. He heard her turn the lock.

He raised his fist to demand she open the door but let it fall to his side, grunting in frustration as he stormed down the stairs. He wasn’t going to sleep now. He stalked through the darkened house, running back over what he saw.

The scars… He couldn’t get them out of his mind—Naomi’s leg looked horrid and torn—but those scars didn’t look like a car accident had caused them. His buddy’s skin was scarred like that. Not as bad, but the same pattern. Bullet scars. Beau shook his head again, wondering how he could think something so ridiculous. She filmed documentaries, didn’t go on top-secret missions to foreign countries. Even if she didn’t do any of that, he knew she was lying about something.

Nothing seemed out of place in the garden. He passed Shane at his post on the back porch. He did his usual perimeter check, dialing Reinhart on his way around the front of the house to let him know all was well in hand at the safe house. He radioed Ted at the front, but all was quiet in that direction, too. He finally trudged back inside after Shane told him he should try and get some sleep while he could, but Beau wouldn’t sleep a wink.

He noticed Naomi’s office light still on when he reached the second floor and wanted to see if she was willing to talk to him since her door was open. He was struck by the sight of her instead. She had fallen asleep at her computer, her face on the keyboard, all curled up in her rolling chair. Papers were scattered all over the floor where they’d fallen out of her lap, and her computer had shut down by her elbow on the power button. For the first time since he’d met her, she looked peaceful. Beau fought the urge to brush her black hair out of her face. He picked her up in his arms, careful not to wake her, and carried her to her room.

She snuggled against his chest in her sleep, and he froze on the stairs, his hands tightening around her. Holding her so close put all his nerves on high alert. He never wanted to let her go. In her sleep, she could be close to him. After a moment, he forced himself onward, brushing his lips gently against her forehead and dying to do so much more with her.

He pulled back her quilt, lay her in the bed, and tucked it back up around her. She turned on her side, grabbing his hand in her sleep. He sat on the edge of the bed, watching her. He wanted to ask so many questions… Like what had really happened to her leg and if it had anything to do with the man from her past? Why, when she slept, she suffered from nightmares that tormented her, twisting her face in pain?

He stayed with her for an hour, watching over her in case she woke up screaming again. When she seemed to be fine, Beau stood to go to his room, but she shifted restlessly, muttering in her sleep. He dragged a chair over from the corner, placing it next to her bed, and held her hand well into the night until they were both deep in sleep.

Eddie screamed, waking up in a cold sweat, breathing hard. Her eyes darted wildly around the room until they landed on Beau.

“You alright?” he asked, gripping her hand gently.

She fought the urge to flinch but couldn’t stop herself and yanked her hand away. “Fine, just another nightmare. How did I get up here, and why are you here and not in your own room?”

“I carried you. You were slumped over your computer when I found you, and you… uh, you wouldn’t let go of my hand in your sleep.” His lips lifted briefly. Eddie shot him a look and rolled over in the other direction. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“What does it look like? I’m trying to sleep the last three hours before dawn like any normal person would,” came a muffled reply.

“Not until you talk.”

“And what would you like me to talk about—candy canes and sugar plum fairies?” she asked sarcastically.

Beau rubbed his neck and decided straight-forward was the easiest route. “Like what your nightmares are about, and why you flinch when someone touches you, or why the scars on your knee don’t look like they’re from a car accident.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Eddie whispered quietly, pulling farther away from Beau. Gently, he reached out his hand to roll her back towards him, but as soon as his fingertips hit her shoulder, she flinched and jerked away from him.

“Like that! What happened, Naomi?”

She sat up, facing him, her eyes cold as she ground her teeth in anger. “I don’t wish to talk about it with you.”

“Why not? Who hurt you?” he asked, holding her gaze sternly with his. He could see the emotions flashing across her face as she struggled with the truth. She was trying to hold back the pain, but the tears formed and fell through her lashes. Angrily, she brushed them away. “Naomi, who hurt you?”

“Someone I’ve been trying to forget for three years. I just can’t let it go…” She trailed off quietly, trying to burrow under the covers, obviously hoping to block out Beau’s face.

When Beau scowled at her, she sat up. Her eyes slipped to his hand on the bed as if contemplating what he would do to her. Ever so slowly, she reached her own out towards him.

“I can’t touch anymore. Every time I do”—her hand was inches from Beau’s fingers when she stopped and pulled her hand away—“the pain comes right back.”

Pissed, Beau’s jaw clenched. Naomi was so lost in the memories she’d been trying to suppress for so long. Her hair fell in front of her face, and carefully, Beau reached his hand towards her, tucking the hair back behind her ear. She wanted to pull away but fought the urge. She held his gaze as hers narrowed.

“You can trust me,” he whispered, trailing his hand down her cheek. Naomi reached up and, closing her eyes for a moment, took his hand in hers, squeezing it tightly.

“Trust the arrogant man who orders me around?” she asked with a falsely light tone.

He frowned. “I have my moments. What can you expect when I have to deal with a prideful woman like you?” His face fell as her shoulders hunched. “You can trust me, Naomi. I won’t hurt you, not like he did.”

“I’m trying, but I want to know why you’re doing this for me. Why should you care besides keeping me alive for your mission?”

When his body stiffened, Eddie knew she’d caught him. He had no reason to care like this, but he did and she wanted to know why before something started between them. Before they did something they might regret.

“Because, despite what you might think, I do care,” he said finally, the words rough with struggling emotions she knew mirrored her own. “You need rest, and I need to go on another patrol.”

Eddie watched him go, annoyed at the disappointment she felt and mentally yelling at herself that neither one of them needed any more complications with a killer on the way. Maybe, if they lived through this, there could be something—but what the hell was she thinking? As chaotic as her life was, the man would never understand, especially if she couldn’t let go of her past.

She shoved the quilt aside and reached for her cane when Beau walked back into her room and closed the door behind him. His eyes met hers and held her gaze with their sudden intensity. “Beau? Something happen?”

His steps were measured as he moved across the floor. “The second we met.”

“What are you talking about?” Her hands dug into the quilt. Heat moved through her body as she watched him stand there in his tight t-shirt and jeans. She knew what lay underneath that shirt, and the sudden urge to see it again overwhelmed her.

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