Rebecca Mayes glanced out the window of her office Friday afternoon, looking at Virginia Beach and the sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean glistening in the distance. She brushed a lock of her brown, wavy hair back behind her ear and blew out a sigh. It was a perfect beginning-of-summer day, the kind that begged to be spent at the ocean, and she was stuck inside.
Along with the rest of the working world.
“Rebecca, are you ready to head to court?” her legal assistant asked, poking her head in the doorway.
“Yes, I’m coming in a minute,” Rebecca said, gathering the papers and files spread out on her desk. “Let me just make sure I have everything.” She stacked the folders into a neat pile and slipped them into her leather briefcase before pulling her long hair back into an intricate twist. She looked older and more professional with her hair pulled back, not that she had a problem holding her own in the courtroom.
“Just keeping you on schedule.”
“And I appreciate it,” Rebecca said as she stood. “As does the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Miller.”
Her assistant chuckled. “That bad, huh?”
Rebecca strode toward the door of her office, poised in her heels and skirt suit. “This is the case where they’d been married for twenty years and the husband cheated on her with their nineteen-year-old neighbor.”
“Lovely. Exactly why I plan to never get married.”
“Never say never.”
“Easy for you to say when you’ve got a hunky Navy SEAL boyfriend who’s utterly devoted to you.”
Rebecca laughed. “Actually, I don’t think either of us plans to get married again anytime soon. We’re pretty happy with the way things are. Why rock the boat?”
“You’ve been spending too much time with Patrick and his Navy buddies,” her assistant said, referring to Rebecca’s boyfriend Navy SEAL Patrick “Ice” Foster and his SEAL team. “‘Rock the boat?’ Next you’ll be telling me to drop and give you twenty push-ups.”
“More like a hundred or so,” Rebecca said with a laugh. “That SEAL training is brutal. I kind of prefer sticking to my office and the courtroom, thank you very much. Patrick and his team are out drilling on the water today anyway. And I could definitely do without the whole jumping out of helicopters into the ocean thing.”
“I could go for a day at the beach—especially on a sunny Friday afternoon.”
“Yeah, just another day of simulated water rescues. They don’t exactly relax on the sand like you or me—not that I consider chasing after Abby or Logan the least bit relaxing.”
“Remind me never to have kids, either,” her assistant chuckled. “I wouldn’t mind working out with one of those SEALs though—in theory at least. I’m not going to pretend I could keep up with them. Or that I want to jump out of airplanes. But all that one-on-one attention with a smoking hot guy? A little mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? Too bad they’re all taken.”
Rebecca laughed. “The guys on Patrick’s team are. But there are other military guys over at Little Creek. Even another SEAL team. I’ll ask around—but I should warn you. Patrick’s not really the type to do any sort of set-up.”
“And do these single Navy men from base come to those infamous cookouts of yours?”
Rebecca glanced over at her assistant with a grin.
“Just asking for a friend of course.”
“Of course,” Rebecca said smoothly. “I’ll keep you posted. Patrick does love hosting barbeques. And fortunately for you, summer is here.”
“Not a bad time for weddings, either, if you don’t mind my saying.”
“Been there, done that. And Patrick has, too. We’re over at each other’s houses all the time anyway. Our kids are settled where they are—in their own house and school. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
“Well, you know what a wise attorney colleague once told me?”
“What’s that?” Rebecca asked, absentmindedly digging her keys from her briefcase.
“Never say never.”
Rebecca chuckled as she slid on her sunglasses.
Ten minutes later Rebecca was driving along the highway in Virginia Beach toward the courthouse. She wasn’t due in court for another hour but always preferred to arrive early to get her clients settled in and prepare for any last-minute problems.
Angry soon-to-be ex-husbands were known to roam the halls, attempting to intimidate their wives. Nothing like a contentious divorce to bring out someone’s true colors.
She was proud of the cases she handled as a divorce attorney. Many of her clients were women, and although some just wanted out of their marriage without any good reason, there were plenty of women that she was really helping. Some were leaving husbands who’d cheated on them or hurt them. Some men just up and left their families without a word. It felt good to get her clients and any children they had what they deserved in the divorce settlements.
Although her own marriage to her first husband had been happy, not every relationship was.
She pulled up to a stoplight, glancing in the rearview mirror at the cars stopped behind her. Traffic always backed up along Atlantic Avenue in the gorgeous weather, especially at the start of the weekend, but she couldn’t resist driving down by the water on this beautiful day. The scenic route to the courthouse it was.
It was hard to believe how much her life had changed recently. A single mom and a widow just over a year ago, she’d never expected to fall in love with someone again. And as an independent woman who was a successful attorney, she’d been surprised to be so attracted to an assertive, alpha male like Patrick. A man who commanded attention everywhere he went and no doubt had plenty of women fawning over him during his younger years.
He’d charmed her right from the start though—been protective of both her and her daughter. Tracked down a stalker set on revenge when one of her divorce cases had gone wrong. Been there anytime she’d needed him.
Throw that in with the inexplicable chemistry and draw they’d always had to one another?
She’d never stood a chance of resisting.
As a divorce attorney, she faced down fierce opponents in the courtroom every week. But none of them held a candle to him—six-foot-three inches of solid, muscular man. He led an elite SEAL team into battle and on secret missions all over the world. When those cool blue eyes met hers, though, she was lost. He was an aggressive, assertive Navy SEAL, but a caring father to his son. A protector to her and her daughter. An attentive lover.
And her boyfriend now.
She felt almost silly calling him that—she’d had a husband before and was thirty-one, not a silly teenage girl with a crush on a handsome military man. She had a house and a daughter, a career. But it’s not like she could explain to her young daughter that Patrick was her lover, she thought as her cheeks flushed.
She couldn’t even call or text him during the day like she did with her girlfriends—not when he was busy conducting drills out on the ocean with his SEAL team.
He had an entire career and life outside of their relationship—as did she.
It worked and suited them.
Her phone buzzed with an incoming text, and she glanced down to see a message from her best friend Alison.
Are we still on for drinks tonight? Virgin for me. Ugh.
Rebecca smiled. Alison was an ER nurse and was dating another man on the SEAL team, Evan “Flip” Jenkins. They’d recently moved in together, and she was pregnant with their first baby.
Rebecca speed-dialed her number as the light changed to green.
“Hi! Are you busy in the ER right now? I guess not or you wouldn’t answer.”
“No, hun, I’m on break. I thought you’d be in court this afternoon.”
“On my way right now. The hearing isn’t for another hour. I’m on Atlantic Avenue wishing I was at the beach instead of on my way to a courtroom.”
“Ohhh, I’m insanely jealous. It looks gorgeous outside from the window of the cafeteria I’m currently sitting in.”
Rebecca laughed. “I’m sitting in traffic, not on the beach. Aside from this, I’ve been stuck in the office all day.”
“Tell me about it. I’ve had back-to-back patients in the ER. Something about gorgeous summer days seems to bring out the daredevils. So far we’ve had broken legs, broken arms, and a kid that fell off his bike and needed ten stitches. I need some kind of new career where you get to spend days like this outside. Evan said they’re doing drills on the water today. Is it wrong to be envious of that?”
Rebecca coughed, trying to hide her laughter. “My legal assistant said the same thing—although I tried to explain that SEAL training isn’t exactly like sitting on the beach with a cocktail in hand.”
“And my days sitting and relaxing on the sand are numbered,” Alison said wistfully. “I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled about the baby. But sometimes a margarita in hand, chilling on the sand is exactly what you need.”
“Amen,” Rebecca agreed. “Those days are few and far between with kiddos. But hey, it just makes you appreciate it all that much more when you do get a break.”
A loud beep from the background sounded over the phone, followed by a garbled announcement. “They’re calling a code blue,” Alison said. “I have to get back to the ER and see what new catastrophe awaits. See you tonight?”
“Yes, we’re still on for drinks and dinner. I’ll see you later on. And try to stay off your feet!”
“Easier said than done when you’re rushing around an ER. All right, I’ll see you later.”
Rebecca said goodbye and disconnected the call, pulling into the court house parking lot a few minutes later. She blew out a breath, her wispy bangs fluttering in the air. A quick glance in the rearview mirror showed her hair had stayed back in the twist during her drive, so she grabbed her briefcase and opened the car door. Showtime.
Rebecca swirled the straw around in her iced tea that evening from the outdoor patio of Alison’s and her favorite seafood restaurant. Tourists walked down the sidewalk, loud music blared from cars passing by, and a block away, she could see the boardwalk and oceanfront. Families pushing strollers walked along, people leisurely peddled bicycles, and couples strolled hand-in-hand. She spotted a large group of teenagers laughing and joking, every once in a while pausing to take selfies or pictures of the ocean.
“You could’ve ordered an actual drink,” Alison said, sipping her lemon water. “Just because I’m preggo doesn’t mean you have to abstain from alcohol.”
“I’m fine. I was actually a little tired earlier, so I could use the caffeine. We’ll do drinks after the baby’s here. Maybe even bring out some of the other women for a full-fledged girl’s night.”
“That sounds fantastic. Just a few more months!”
“It’s getting close. Are you guys ready for the baby?”
“Ready as can be I guess. We’ve got the crib, stroller, and car seat. Not to mention a million teeny, tiny baby clothes. They’re really cute, but I’m ready to ditch the maternity wear.”
“God, Abby’s only five, but it feels like a million years ago that I was pregnant with her.”
“I’m not sure I’d want to relive this,” Alison groaned. “I waddle rather than walk, none of my clothes fit, and my boobs are killing me.”
Rebecca nearly spit out her iced tea as an older couple walking by their table did a double take, the elderly woman frowning and shaking her head in disbelief.
Alison shrugged and grinned. “I have to admit, I don’t mind Evan doting on me hand and foot though. After twelve-hour shifts in the ER, he’s been amazing. Back rubs, foot rubs—and I’m telling you, pregnancy sex is off-the-charts.”
Rebecca burst into laughter. “I guess I forgot about that part—the whole giving birth ordeal is mostly what’s emblazed in my brain.”
“Ugh—I’m dreading that. But I’m also totally ready not to be pregnant anymore, so…this kid’s gotta come out of me somehow. With my luck, Evan will be deployed or something when the baby arrives. I guess it’s a good thing I work in the ER.”
The waitress came over to the table, and Rebecca ordered her favorite crab cakes. “Patrick’s going to be late tonight since the guys were doing that water rescue simulation today. That probably means Abby will be bouncing off the walls when I get home later.”
“Is your nanny watching her?”
“Yeah, and Logan, too. They went to McDonald’s for an early dinner, so you know the kids are on cloud nine tonight.”
“So both your kids are at your place with the nanny? Does that mean you finally gave Patrick a key?”
Rebecca flushed, feeling her cheeks turn pink. “That I did. He and Logan are over every weekend anyway. Plus Logan’s been staying with us now when the team deploys. It’s just easier this way.”
“Mmm-hmm. Interesting. Patrick has a key and spends nearly every weekend at your place….”
“Nothing’s changing. It just made sense to give him a key with us coming and going all weekend. What’s Evan up to tonight?”
Alison grinned, evidently not at all fooled by Rebecca’s attempt to change the subject. “Not sure—he might go out with some of the other guys after training. I just told him I’d be home later than usual since we had dinner plans. He was worried I’d be too tired to meet up with you.”
“He’s sweet,” Rebecca said. “And good for you. Those twelve-hour shifts of yours have to be grueling.”
Alison’s boyfriend Evan was the youngest man on the SEAL team. Although he was only a couple of years younger than Alison, she’d been reluctant to give him a chance when they’d first met. But now? It was hard to remember a time when they hadn’t been together.
“Exactly how all the guys love to be described. Sweet. Nothing says big, bad Navy SEAL quite like that.”
“It takes one to know one. Ha. I can’t see Patrick going for that description either. He’s more of the strong, silent type, and totally okay with everyone else thinking that as well.”
“It works for him,” Alison said, leaning back in her chair with a grin. “For you too, apparently.”
“Who would’ve thunk it?” Rebecca joked. “Do you remember a year ago when we were eating out here, watching some of the guys head over to Anchors?” she asked, referring to the bar popular with the local military men and single women.
“All too well. I think I said I’d babysit for you or something crazy like that.”
Rebecca burst into laughter. “You’ll have your hands full soon enough. Plus, I think you said you’d babysit so I could go out and meet someone. As in go on a date. Since Patrick has a key to my place, I’m pretty sure we’re past that point.”
Alison snorted into her lemon water. “Just a bit.” She leaned back in her chair and absentmindedly rubbed her belly. “But I’m pretty damn happy at the moment, so I sure can’t complain.”
“Let’s go out on a double date next time—bring the guys with us.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Alison agreed. “But since they’re not here right now, let me tell you about last night….”