One Night with a SEAL(77)

By: Tawny Weber & Beth Andrews


Five years later, Gabe wasn’t sure if he’d ever given up the girls. Erik stopped confiding in him. And when they went out, he was friendly to the ladies but left alone at the end of the night. They simply never spoke of it.

“I should get back to the house,” she murmured. “Erik’s parents are coming for dinner and—You wouldn’t want to stay, would you? They love having you around.” She glanced over at him. “I like having you around. Right now, I’m having a hard time dealing with them.”

“Why is that?”

“They asked me the other night if there was any chance that I might be pregnant. I can hear the disappointment in their voices. It was my duty to provide a grandchild, and I didn’t get it done.” Annie shook her head. “I...I’m sure they’ll want to say goodbye before you leave.”

Annie stared into his eyes, and he could see the tears begin to fall down her pale cheeks. Gabe didn’t know what to do. They’d been talking about dinner, and suddenly tears. What could he say?

At a loss, he reached out and gently pulled her into his arms, holding her close as she wept against his chest. This round of tears seemed to be much worse than the previous few. Her tears soaked the front of his T-shirt, her fingers clutching at the faded cotton.

“It’s going to be all right,” he said softly.

“You’d think I’d be out of tears by now,” she whispered. “I think I’m finally done crying, and then I realize I’m all alone. He’s not coming back.”

“You’re not alone,” he said. “If you need anything, you can always call me.” He smoothed his fingers over her cheeks, wiping away the tears. “You’ll be all right. You’re strong and you’re smart. You’re the most amazing woman I know.”

Annie frowned, and Gabe cursed inwardly. He’d gone too far. He’d revealed too much. He wanted to turn and walk away before he made any further mistakes. But instead, he let his heart overrule his brain. Cupping her cheek in his hand, he bent close and kissed her.

It seemed like the only thing left to do, something he’d been thinking about since the moment they first met. How many nights had he imagined what it might be like to hold her in his arms, to be the one that she waited for day after day, to know that she loved him? And how many times had he flown a mission wondering if his last chance might be taken away by an enemy RPG or a laser-guided missile?

Her lips were soft and warm, and Gabe gently probed the crease of her mouth with his tongue, deepening the kiss. She moaned, then suddenly pressed her hands to his chest, pushing him away.

Sometimes, a guy didn’t get a second chance. Gabe knew that better than anyone. Hell, Annie knew it, too. You had to seize the moment. No regrets. And yet, by the look on her face, all that Gabe could feel was regret.

She stared up at him and a heartbeat later her palm met his cheek, stunning him back to reality. Gabe opened his mouth to speak, but she held out her hand to stop him.

“You need to leave. Right now. Just go, please.”

“Annie, I—”

“I don’t want to hear it,” she said, placing her hands over her ears and shaking her head. Her eyes flooded with tears. “Get out.”

As he walked out of the shed, Gabe cursed himself. What the hell had he been thinking? He’d spent his whole professional career as a pilot making decisions based on a cold, rational assessment of a situation. It had kept him alive in a dangerous world. And now, the first time he’d ever listened to his heart, he’d managed to screw the pooch.

He’d never see her again. She’d remember this moment forever and always hate him for it. He’d betrayed his best friend, and now he’d be left to suffer for it.

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