RULES OF LOVE (A Navy SEALs Romance) (5 page)

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The screen turned on, taking her directly to a log-in prompt, followed by a second and third one. She clicked through several documents before finding what she needed. Double-clicking on an icon of a small house, multiple screens came up of the house she was in now—blueprints and the outline of the grounds followed by several different surveillance camera feeds and security censors from the ones she’d put in. She flipped through each video feed, and once she saw nothing out of place, she checked all the motion sensors and the laser line surrounding the top of the wall. Everything seemed to be in order when a sensor started blinking frantically on the screen showing a layout of the upper floor. Beau had left his room.

Cursing, she quickly shut down the program and clicked the laptop closed. She turned off the light, hoping he hadn’t seen it yet, and waited impatiently for footsteps. When she heard none, she picked up her cane, locked her office door behind her, and snuck down the stairs into the kitchen. He must have stopped to check on her, which explains why it took so long for him to show. It was early, but not too early for a man of his career to be up.

Eddie’s bare feet found their way in the dim light of the house. If she stepped out front, she’d see the first rays of the sun poking over the trees, one of the few benefits of being stuck here.

She started the coffeemaker, and while she waited impatiently for the coffee to brew, she opened the back door and let the cool morning breeze blow across her face. She envisioned it blowing away her worries, taking them on the wind as she shut her eyes, enjoying its coolness. She tried to forget about the pain, but she couldn’t. After a few moments, she opened her eyes just in time to see the last bit of night sky disappear behind the wall as the sun rose.

A sound of a cabinet being opened behind her startled her. She turned around to find a shirtless, barefoot Beau, wearing low-riding jeans, poking through her cabinets. She leaned on the doorframe, enjoying the view, until he finally turned around with two coffee cups in his hands. He raised an eyebrow at her staring but went about his business all the same.

After he poured coffee into two mugs, he joined her at the back door. She thanked him and sat on a swinging bench on the back porch, pointing to the seat next to her, a silent invitation to sit.

“I hope I didn’t wake you. I have a tendency to get up before dawn,” Eddie said through a yawn. She sipped her coffee and smiled appreciatively.

“No, I have to do another security check soon.” Beau stiffened, and his eyes darted away for barely a second before returning to her body.

She tried not to notice, but her cheeks flushed at the attention. Her hair was in a messy braid, and she looked less-than-classy in her blue pajama pants and black tank. But for some reason, he didn’t stop perusing her body—not that she was much better. His rippling muscles almost caused her to drool until she finally forced her gaze away.

They sat in silence for a while, Beau watching her out of the corner of his eye and Eddie trying not to notice him looking so intently. He frowned at her, and a glint of worry shot through his eyes. Had she woken him with her nightmares? Her face paled as she wondered if the screaming in her sleep had started again.

Please, just be the obnoxious, arrogant jackass. Make everything easier on both of us.

She gripped her cup harder and prayed to God she wasn’t causing such a disturbance again. That would lead to a line of questions she was not prepared to answer. Once Eddie drained her cup, she stood, putting a hand on Beau’s leg to brace herself. It sent a jolt of warmth through her as she took her cane from the ground. His leg tensed beneath her touch, and she immediately removed her hand. Why had she done that?

“Got to get breakfast going. It’s like feeding my own mini-army here,” she smirked and walked inside, hoping he didn’t notice her wince with every step.

“Take your painkillers today? Looks like you could use them,” he asked innocently, and she frowned. Apparently, he noticed everything.

She didn’t meet his gaze when she said brightly, “Beat you to it. Took two this morning. Just a bit stiff this early.”

Beau crossed his well-defined arms over his chest, and Eddie forced her eyes to remain on his face as he stared her down. He could glare at her all day. She’d dealt with worse men than him. She waited for him to call her out on it, but he didn’t and finally relaxed his stance. “If you don’t need anything, I should probably get to work with the security situation.”

Nodding, Eddie began pulling containers out of the fridge. “Yes. We don’t want someone trying to disrupt breakfast. The men would be devastated.”

Beau walked up the stairs, but not before turning back to watch her as she started to cook. She refused to meet his gaze again and waited until he disappeared to let out the breath she’d been holding. He was going to be more trouble than she thought. Watching him walk away had her biting her lip in longing… The way his ass flexed when he moved… The predatory glint in those eyes of his, and the way he held himself, ready for an attack, was so incredibly arousing. She knew he’d probably seen worse shit over the course of duty than she had, at least in some regards. But the longer she stared at him, the more she wondered if how she saw Beau now was how everyone saw her, minus the pity.

She was still picturing him in the kitchen, shirtless, when Shane walked into the room and clicked his tongue in disapproval.

Eddie turned to him, glaring. “What’s wrong now?”

Shrugging, he replied, “Nothing. Just hope you don’t fall for him. Might cause some problems, is all.”

“Would you like me to stab you?” she threatened in a candy-sweet voice, holding up the knife she’d been using to chop an onion. He seemed to contemplate that possibility and shook his head. “Then get over here and help with breakfast. After what happened with the last one, I’d be stupid to repeat that mistake.” She muttered the last part as Shane neared her.

He bit his tongue on what she knew he wanted to say, but his lips stayed closed on that matter. Or she thought he had until he opened his damn mouth.

“You know, that doctor called the other morning while you were asleep, checking up on you. Said there were some appointment openings this week if you wanted to talk—”

Eddie slammed the skillet onto the stove to cut him off. “By the way, what are we going to do about his patrols?” she asked. “He’s not going to just sit in the house like a good little boy.”

“I have Ted tailing him any time he leaves the house.”

“He’s going to catch him eventually.”

“Ted? Nah, he’s a natural at hiding in the brush.”

Eddie frowned but couldn’t argue with Savage upstairs. She dropped the chopped onions in the skillet and told Shane everything else was ready to be cooked, he just needed to get it out. Shane nodded, and she had started for the stairs when he called her back. In his hand, he held her bottle of painkillers. He glanced at it and down at her leg.

“You take any today?”

“Course I have. Do you mind putting them back?”

Shane slammed the bottle on the counter. “Damn it, Ed—” She shot him a look and Shane’s eyes widened. “Naomi, what did the doctors tell you, huh? Did you even listen when you were there last time?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I said I already took them.”

“This bottle has never been opened!” Shane yelled, pleading with his eyes for her to listen to him for once. “Do yourself a favor and put your pride aside for one damn minute.”

Eddie set her jaw as she stared back at him with the same pleading look. “I can’t,” she uttered and limped up the stairs, leaving Shane most likely doing what he always did when they argued: shaking his head and muttering under his breath. She knew he cared about her. So did everyone else, but if she couldn’t bring herself to face what happened, there was no telling how much longer she’d last. Shane was right, though she’d never admit it.

She was destroying herself, slowly, from the inside out.

As Beau left the kitchen, he heard Naomi humming and turned to see those damn hips of hers swaying as she leaned on her good leg. Not falling for her was going to be a problem, and he tried desperately to think of the consequences of his feelings—in all aspects of his body—but no matter what he thought of, he couldn’t get her smiling face out of his head as he disappeared upstairs.

Her lying, smiling face,
he thought.
She didn’t take her pills, and she lied about it. Why the hell would she want to be in pain?

He checked the Sig in his shoulder holster and the knife at his back, sheathed but readily available. He focused on gathering his gear and mapping out his route for the house and grounds. Months had passed since his last protection mission, but it was the same drill as any other mission. Protect the target at all costs and expect every scenario. He sifted through the files he’d been given once again, memorizing the details of the faces of those who were supposed to be there and those who might come for Naomi. Beau was always prepared, one of the reasons he’d excelled in his unit so quickly.

He gathered the cameras that he intended to set up for house surveillance together and was ready to move out when he heard a thud and a loud curse from Naomi’s room. He moved quickly to the hallway and pressed his ear against her door, his hand on the holstered Sig under his left arm. He knocked, and when she didn’t answer, he knocked louder, cracking open the door just a bit.

“Naomi, what happened?”

“Yeah… I’m—I’m fine, really,” she answered distractedly from the other side of the room. “I’ll be right out, scout’s honor.” She cursed some more, and he scowled at the closed door.

Beau took his hand off his gun and walked in. Naomi held onto her dresser tightly with both hands. At first, from the dazed look on her face, he wasn’t sure she even saw him, but she turned and glowered at him, her green eyes colder than they before.

“I said I’d be out. You can leave now—” She tried to take a step towards him and fell. She would’ve landed on her face if Beau hadn’t rushed forward and caught her in his arms at the last second.

He pulled her upright and held her, loosening his grip when she flinched against him again. “I’m not going anywhere with you half-paralyzed in your room on the third floor of this damn house.” Before Naomi could yell at him, he swept her up in his arms, ignoring her protests, and walked her to the couch in front of the fireplace. He noticed the sudden stiffness of her body and the way she tried to distance her body from his chest. He pushed it aside because he didn’t want to ask her questions she probably didn’t want to answer. The cold look quickly turned to pure, icy hatred, so asking would only make it worse.

Not that you care because you are not getting involved with her.

As the thought passed through his mind, Beau found himself distracted. The wet hair from her recent shower dampened his shirt, but he didn’t notice. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. She wore a tight pair of jeans with holes in one knee and a green halter, showing off those damn curves that he wanted to run his hands over.

“You going to tell me what you were trying to do in here?” he asked hotly, trying to pull his eyes away as he sat down at the other end of the couch.

“I told you, I’m fine.” Beau rested a hand on her left knee, barely touching it, and she cried out, but she still wouldn’t give. “I didn’t do a damn thing. Let go.”

“Shane was right, you are stubborn,” he muttered, beginning to massage her knee like the night before, being extra gentle. Noticing the blue polish on her toes lifted his lips in a smirk as he glanced back up at her. “You going to tell me yet?”

She pushed her tongue behind her upper lip as she glared at him before she crossed her arms over her chest and sulked. “I was just walking from my bathroom and turned the wrong way. Wasn’t using the cane—don’t need it all
the time.”

He didn’t buy it, and from the glint in her eyes, she knew it. But instead of pushing further, he asked, “What happened to your leg?”

She hesitated, and he thought he’d crossed the line until she spoke. “A car accident…icy roads… The truck couldn’t stop, slammed right into me. My leg caught between the door and seat. Three surgeries later, and I still get to walk with a cane while the other driver walked away without a scratch.” She laughed bitterly. “Funny how those things always work out, isn’t it?” Using Beau’s arm, she hoisted herself up and took her cane from him. “Now, I expect to see you stuffing your face at breakfast.” Beau shook his head, saying he still had work to do. Naomi waved his words away, limping even worse than before towards the door. “Pity. I make a killer omelet.”

He rubbed his forehead, realizing very quickly how difficult this mission was becoming as he walked to his room. He couldn’t stop himself from feeling strong emotions every time he looked at her… The way she moved, the way she talked with sarcasm as if it would hide her pain. And it wasn’t just physical pain. Something had happened to her, and no matter what she said, she was not fine. Shouldering his duffel, he decided the best remedy for him would be to keep reminding himself about the last woman he fell for who said she could handle a relationship with a special agent for the military. What a joke that had turned out to be.

When he reached the back door, he noticed the men who had been stationed there last night were gone. He remembered the order Reinhart gave Shane, who had sent most of the other men home now that Beau arrived, because Reinhart believed he was enough to cover their absence while they worked on leads elsewhere. His priority was keeping her safe, but he couldn’t do it forever. Eventually, either the bad guys would come, or Shane and his team would track them down and take them out.

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