Cowboy SEAL Daddy

By: Laura Marie Altom

CHAPTER ONE

“This team sucks! You look more like rubber ducks than SEALs. If it was up to me, I’d strip your Tridents and replace them with flight attendant wings!”

Navy SEAL Wayne Brustanovitch sat alongside the rest of his twelve-man team on the Mark V Special Operations Craft jetting past the Coronado coast at forty-five knots while their pissed-off CO handed them their asses on a platter. It was 0300, and they’d been running beach landing drills for the past eight hours.

It was late March. Cold, wet, tired and hungry, Wayne needed a beer, burger and bed. Hell—at this point, he wasn’t even choosy about the order.

Twelve hours later, they’d finally achieved an insertion time their CO deemed acceptable—at least good enough to earn a meal and hot shower.

“How’s your dad doing?” Logan Crenshaw served as the closest thing Wayne had to a brother. While they dressed before heading for the chow hall, Wayne welcomed the chance to run a predicament by his roommate and friend.

“Bad. Our last call, he said the doctor had basically given him a death sentence.”

“Damn…” Logan whistled. “That’s rough. Sorry, man.”

“Thanks. But that’s not the half of it.” He pulled on boxers, then gray sweats. “He told me that it’s his dying wish to see me married and to hold his grandchild in his arms.”

“Ouch. Way to pour on the parental guilt.”

“No kidding, right?” Wayne added deodorant, then a white T-shirt with Navy written on the front.

“Too bad you can’t rent a wife and kid, huh?”

“I wish. That’s the only way I’d take vows again.”

“Got nothing but love for you, brother. That sorry SOB can rot in hell.”

A fist bump relayed Wayne’s similar sentiment.

But the SEAL brother who’d broken ranks to cheat with Wayne’s ex wasn’t solely to blame. Like the old saying goes, “It takes two to tango,” and Chelsea had lied and schemed right up to their marriage’s official end.

Dressed, the two men joined the rest of their exhausted team in line for mystery meat and mashed potatoes. It wouldn’t have mattered what was served. Wayne was hungry enough to eat cardboard—a good thing, considering the potatoes’ dried consistency.

After another verbal lashing during their meal, the CO declared them officially dismissed until 0200 the next morning.

Since Logan was in an on-off relationship with a Hooters waitress who had apparently decided to be back on, they’d driven separately to base.

Most of the single guys drove Mustangs or Chargers, but Wayne stayed true to his country roots by maintaining his red 1976 Ford F-150 Ranger truck. Of course, he’d souped up the engine and cab, but the original body was pristine.

He might be a SEAL, but he was also a cowboy through and through. Next to him on the custom red leather seat was his trusty straw cowboy hat. The thing looked like it had been trampled by a herd of mustangs, but he never felt truly dressed without it. As soon as he put in his twenty years until retirement, he’d move back to the family ranch. Wayne knew his dad wanted him there now, but with eighteen months remaining on his current enlistment, even if he opted for early retirement, he couldn’t just tell his CO he was leaving.

Traffic was hell on I-5 and it took forty minutes to reach his apartment complex.

As he pulled into the lot, his neighbor Paisley Carter struggled to roll out of her friend Monica’s low-slung Jaguar convertible. The two of them owned an interior design business located in a trendy part of town. Monica, who was hot as hell, once had a thing with Logan, which made her off-limits to anyone else on their team. Whereas Monica was pure sex in her tight black dress and the red-soled shoes every woman on the planet seemed to go nuts for, Paisley was more the take-home-to-Mom type in weird pink pants and a white blouse big enough to be a painter’s smock.

She was adorable—even more so pregnant.

She was also a good girl who’d fallen prey to a two-timing bastard. The guy who’d knocked her up didn’t seem to be in the picture, which made Wayne want to punch him into the next county for leaving Paisley in such a rough spot—especially with her crap car apparently in the shop again.

He knew firsthand how much it sucked being cheated on. A nice girl like Paisley didn’t deserve that fate.

Like you did?

Squashing that old insecurity like the scorpion he’d found in his boot on their last Middle East mission, Wayne eliminated that line of thought.

After pulling into the first spot he saw, he killed the engine, then hopped out to help Paisley to her feet.

“Give me your hand,” he said, looking past her to wave to Monica. “Hey. How’s it going?”

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