EVAN, I THINK WE’RE finished for today.”
My head lifts quickly as I meet her gaze. There is a look of pity masking her smile. She can pity me. It’s understandable. If I were in her shoes I’d pity the person I am right now. I chance a look at the clock and see that I still have a few more minutes. Maybe she feels how broken I am and needs time to regroup or find someone else to fix me.
“Okay,” I say hesitantly. I’m not sure I want to go through this again with another doctor, and definitely not a military one.
The doc folds the page of her notepad over and slides it into her desk. She smiles softly. “I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Ryley this morning. My schedule has been cleared this week so I can help get things resolved, or heading toward a resolution. My plan is to see you and Ryley together in the next couple of days to discuss what methods need to be implemented for both of you. My concern is EJ. You need to be able to bond with him and she understands that.”
She stands, coming over to me. “My suggestion, and I didn’t tell this to Ryley, is for you to spend some time with her. She’s hurting, Evan. While you thought everything was fine, aside from the fact that you were gone for so long, she buried you and tried to move on with her life. She’s making neither heads nor tails of what’s happening right now, but give her time without letting her slip through the cracks.”
My body sighs as I stand, as if it knows I don’t have to sit in that chair anymore. My feet shuffle toward the door, leaving the doc leaning up against her desk. “Thank you,” I say before opening the door and leaving the room.
The sun is bright and penetrating when I step out of the office. I have to shield my eyes quickly before I walk out into traffic. Once my eyes adjust, I look across the street to the park hoping to see Ryley sitting over there. If she were, it’d be so much easier to talk to her right now, although the thought of bringing her to base makes more sense to me since she wouldn’t be able to run away from me. Somehow, however, I don’t think Ryley wants to be anywhere near the base – not that I can blame her. At this point, I don’t want to be there either, except it’s the only choice I have since I’m not really welcome in my own home.
With only one other destination in mind, I text the guys and ask them to meet me. We need to figure out what’s going on. Each of our situations is different, yet we’re all experiencing the same thing. I also need to bite the bullet and call my mother. I’m not sure why I haven’t yet. I guess I’ve been waiting to see if our unearthly return would make the news, but so far nothing has been reported. Every time I learn another factoid about this deployment, I’m more convinced that it was not legit.
Pulling in front of Magoo’s, it would be easy to go drown my sorrows in beer, but I need to keep a level head about the situation. If I ask the wrong person a question, who knows what could happen? As is, someone high up has taken away my life. It doesn’t matter that I’m standing here today or not. I’m not the same person and someone needs to pay.
It’s a happy relief to walk in and be surrounded by friends. The bar stools are full of patrons, men I’ve served with in the past. Tables are thrown together to make bigger spaces and the same chairs are still here. An American flag hangs on the wall with various pictures surrounding it. All these pictures have been given or sent to Rick, the owner, for display. I refuse to look at the wall that holds all our past SEALs. I know the four of us are up there or maybe Rick has taken them down. Either way, I’m not looking, at least not today.
I’ve spent many hours trying to figure out what happened and answering all the questions I could. It’s very unsettling to know that people thought you were dead.
EVAN, I THINK WE’RE finished for today.”
The thought reverberated around Willow’s head alongside the trance beat. Her trance beat. Eden Jade—better known by her DJ name, Bunny Descent, stood behind the decks on stage, one hand raised. The lights turned her white-blonde hair to pink and her ripped wedding dress was spattered neon by the leaking glow-sticks her fans were waving.
Her perfect face was screwed in concentration as she fiddled with something on the decks. The music transitioned from a hard, pulsing beat to something Willow recognised—‘Self Care’ by Mac Miller. The crowd cheered, more people rushing toward the stage, hands raised. It was three in the morning and the tiny dance floor was thrumming.
Willow had expected the crowd to thin as the night wore on, but the opposite happened. Bunny Descent was the seventh DJ of the night, and the audience was more hyped for her than anyone else. Watching the crowd dance, he felt a surge of pride. From what he’d read in interviews, Eden was scared of not breaking through, worried her sound was too erratic for main stages. But there was no way the woman in front of him wasn’t making it big. She oozed glamour and with each and every song, he grew more amazed she wasn’t famous.
“She is a goddess,” a guy slurred in his ear. “I, like, actually fuckin’ love her.”
Willow turned and saw the guy was talking to his equally fucked up mate, but that didn’t change the fact he was vocalising his own thoughts about Eden.
I’m different, he told himself.
I just am.
That had always been the only reason he needed. People called him overconfident, but that implied he tried to be confident. He didn’t. He was just lucky. He got what he wanted.
As the music surged higher, Willow danced along with the crowd, working his weight from foot to foot. A few girls smiled, looking for someone to kiss—or maybe because they recognised him, but he only had eyes for Eden. On stage she leant forward, touching the hands of the people dancing in front of her. The second she made contact, the crowd screamed fit to burst the roof. Willow knew exactly how they felt.
He’d been scoping her Instagram for ages, but there was nothing like seeing her in real life. With her long blonde hair and big eyes, she looked like Sailor Moon—his first and most powerful crush. He watched as Eden put her hands behind her head and shook, her tits bouncing in her wedding dress. Attraction burred through him like an electric current. He’d never been so into anyone. Even Sailor Moon. What could that be but true love? As he watched her dance, he made himself a promise—come hell or high water, he’d talk to her tonight.
A hard elbow bashed his side.
“Oi,” Derek shouted over the music. “What are we still doing here? Everyone’s out of their minds.”
Willow danced away from his friend. “I dunno. I’m not tired.”
“You’re never fucking tired. Where’s the patient?”
Willow glanced around. Patrick Normal, better known as Psycho, was swaying softly beside the bar, apparently having forgotten he wanted a beer. “Psycho’s… having a time.”
Derek followed his gaze. “Fuck me, he’s maggoted.”
“Yeah, he’ll be up for hours. Better we’re still out with him, hey?”
“This is all your fault. If Mara was in town, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Yeah, yeah. You’ve made it clear you’ll be dogging the boys from now on, Hardo.”
The track Eden was playing bled into a remix of that Rasputin, love machine song. The dancers packed around the stage, jumping so hard the floor shook. Eden swished her white-blonde hair over her shoulder and his cock throbbed. He could see her doing that while she rode him—looking down her nose as he worked to make her come.
His side burst with pain. He rubbed it, glaring at Derek. “What’s your problem?”
“You. You’re making gorilla noises.”
“You could hear that?”
“Of course, I…” A look of barely concealed terror dawned on Derek’s face. A look Willow knew all too well. He backed away in case Derek decided to put him in a headlock. “What have I done now?”
Derek pointed at the stage. “Please tell me we’re not here because you want to fuck that DJ?”
Willow gave him a winning smile. “Do you want a drink?”
“I wanna know if you dragged me all the way to the city to watch you fail to pick up a DJ.”
Is it just me or are you hankering for the next Hollywood scandal too?
This town has become so dull, I can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning.
Enough with the plastic surgery mess-ups. Hard pass on who’s a pain in the bootay to work with—spoiler—everyone is.
Daddy needs some real drama, so somebody out there better give it to me before I shrivel up and die from boredom.
You know how you can have a nightmare so vibrantly bizarre that you’re one hundred percent certain there really is an axe murderer looming over your bed, about to serve you pigs in a blanket before he kills you? That’s how I feel right now, except in reverse. I’m currently trying to convince myself that what I’m witnessing is nothing more than a horrific dream.
Standing in the doorway of my Mediterranean-style living room—lovingly decorated in earth tones, with pops of orange and rust reminiscent of the Tuscan sunset—I’m watching my husband bone the nanny. I realize bone is a word that lacks class, but believe me, there is nothing classy about what’s occurring over the back of my cocoa-colored leather sofa. A couch I must now burn. Possibly while they’re still on it.
I should be devastated and rocked to my core, but sadly, this is not the first or even the second time I’ve caught my husband in a compromising position.
“Oh. My. GOD. Right there!” Justine yells.
Brett responds with, “You’re so tight I can barely hold back!”
I’m about to insert myself into the conversation with something along the lines of, “You give birth to two children who inherited your giant head and see if you bounce back to normal.” Instead, I glance outside to make sure my kids are safe in the backyard. Thankfully, they are.
“Oh, yeah, Brett, you’re so … sooooo …”
“Scummy? Deplorable? Clichéd?” I suggest loudly.
Brett jumps off Justine and scrambles to pull up his pants. Unfortunately for him, there’s no blood left in his brain, which obviously messes with his equilibrium. He staggers around for a few moments before falling, his butt making a slapping sound against the terracotta tiles. I think of all the wonderful sounds I could make hitting him with an assortment of art pieces around the room.
Justine mumbles, “Oh, Mrs. Kennedy, I’m so sorry. I was just … I mean … I was choking … and Mr. Kennedy was giving me the Heimlich maneuver.”
“He needed his pants down for that?”
She opens her mouth, then closes it.
That’s right. Shut it. “Justine, you’re fired,” I say with a superhuman calm I do not feel. “Get out now, and don’t bother to pack your bags. I’ll have your things delivered to the agency.”
“Please don’t tell them,” she begs, pulling up her underwear. Which looks suspiciously like my underwear—Agent Provocateur, Taisia. At nearly $700 a pair, I’m pretty sure they aren’t in my nanny’s budget. And while I can certainly afford them, I would never waste that kind of money on underwear. They were a gift. “They won’t find me another position if they know that—”
“You needed my husband to give you the Heimlich maneuver with his penis?” This girl is about six eggs short of a dozen.
Brett finally gets to his feet. “It isn’t what you think, Harper.”
I’m pretty sure it’s exactly what I think. My movie star husband has a major problem keeping it in his pants. In the past, he’s assured me he was seeking professional help for his lack of impulse control, but I don’t even care anymore.
Every time he’s promised it’s the last time, he’s moved one step closer to being permanently expelled from my life. I’ve tried to forgive him for the sake of our children, but now that he’s brought his philandering into our home—my safety zone—it’s the last straw.
“You can go with her, Brett. You no longer live here.”
“You can’t kick me out!” He’s hopping around on one foot while he attempts to tug his jeans up. “I paid for this house.”
My spirit shoots out of my body and hovers somewhere around the ceiling. I’m seriously experiencing a Twilight Zone moment here. “I had a hit television show for six years, Brett. I assure you a good deal of my money has gone into this house as well.”
“What about the kids?” It’s a question that hits so close to the cavity of my heart that I feel an almost electric shock of pain course through me.
“Do you mean the two innocent children currently playing in the yard? The ones who could easily have walked in to watch as you dogged the nanny?” I’m pulling out all the unsavory terms now.
“I knew they weren’t going to come in,” he says, sounding surprisingly offended for someone still sporting a chubby.
“Because kids are so predictable?”
“Because I told them if they got an hour of fresh air, I’d buy them hoverboards.”
In lieu of launching myself at his neck, which, let’s face it, is just begging to be snapped, I let out a long, disgusted sigh.
“Sounds like an absolutely fool-proof—and highly premeditated—plan. Not to mention, stellar parenting there, Brett. Now get the hell out before I bludgeon you to death with my Emmy.”
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He picks me up easily, one arm lifting me and pressing me against him at the same time, the feel of his hand under my ass, the hard muscle against my side thrilling. He’s completely in control and I’ve never been more aroused. Never felt less inhibited. All I want to do is touch him. Kiss him. Connect and be connected, Hamish’s tongue finding new ways to explore me, his arms encircling my back, fingers at the nape of my neck, stroking the soft skin there as he kisses me. Until I am just movement, touch, caress. “Ye taste so good,” he whispers against my mouth as we come up for air. My body is suspended by his sheer strength, as if I’m nothing yet everything to him.Read More
‘Take it. It’s yours. Go have an adventure.’
Highland Games is a steamy, slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy, with no cheating, no cliff-hanger, and a guaranteed happy ever after (HEA)
Evie Alexander is the author of sexy romantic comedies with a very British sense of humour. She takes a method approach to her work, believing her capacity to repeatedly fail at life and love is what has given her such a rich supply of material for her writing.
Her interests include reading, eating, saving the world, and fantasising about people who only exist between the pages of her books. She lives in the West country with her family.