Marrying Caroline (SEAL of Protection)

BOOK: Marrying Caroline (SEAL of Protection)
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Marrying Caroline

 

SEAL of Protection

Book 3.5

 

by Susan Stoker

Caroline and Wolf had a wild start to their relationship…plane hijacking, kidnapping, attempted drowning, and a terrorist plot foiled. Now things have calmed down and a wedding is in the works for the couple. By enlisting the help of Wolf’s teammate, Cookie, Caroline is immersed in plans for her dream wedding.

 

Of course, with their luck, things can never go off without a hitch.

 

Join Alabama and Abe, Cookie and Fiona, as well as the rest of the SEAL team, as Caroline and Wolf start the rest of their life together.
**Marrying Caroline is book 3.5 in the SEAL of Protection Series. It can be read as a stand-alone, but it’s recommended you read the books in order.**

 

 

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www.StokerAces.com/contact.html

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Susan Stoker

 

No part of this work may be used, stored, reproduced or transmitted without written permission from the publisher except for brief quotations for review purposes as permitted by law.

 

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please purchase your own copy.

 

Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

Cover Design by Chris Mackey, AURA Design Group

 

Edited by Missy Borucki

 

Manufactured in the United States

 

 

Chapter One

 

Caroline opened the door to
Aces Bar and Grill
and looked around for Matthew. Seeing him sitting at their usual table with his entire SEAL team as well as Fiona and Alabama, Caroline headed that way.

Waving at their usual waitress, Jess, as she passed, Caroline pushed her way through the crowd to her man. The bar seemed unusually crowded tonight, but as usual, Matthew didn’t wait for her to get to him. Caroline smiled as Matthew made his way to her. It was almost annoying how the crowd seemed to part in front of him magically, but Caroline couldn’t blame the patrons. Matthew was an imposing force.

Caroline analyzed her man as he came toward her. He was tall, around six foot three and had the look of a man that didn’t take any shit. Matthew was wearing jeans and a short sleeve T-shirt that was just big enough to give him room to move, but didn’t have any extra material either. Caroline could see his arms bulging as he moved. She stopped and let Matthew come to her. She’d never get over how lucky she was that somehow this man, this wonderfully handsome, sexy, brave, intense man, was with
her
.

“Hey, Ice. Missed you.”

Caroline smiled. “We saw each other two hours ago.”

“I know, as I said. I missed you.” Matthew “Wolf” Steel put his hand on the side of Caroline’s face and leaned into her.

“I missed you too,” Caroline admitted huskily. She loved Matthew’s hands on her. He always made her feel so cherished.

Wolf captured Caroline’s lips with his. Not caring they were standing in the middle of a bar and were being jostled by people passing them, Wolf showed Caroline just how much he’d missed her.

Caroline’s arms came up to clasp Matthew at the back of his head and she lost herself in his kiss. She could feel her bodying softening and readying itself for his loving, but luckily, before she did something that would embarrass herself so much she’d never be able to step foot in
Aces
again, Matthew pulled his head back.

“God, Ice. You’re amazing. Come on.” Wolf let go of Caroline’s face and grabbed one of her hands that had crept around to rest on his chest. “I ordered for you, everyone else is here.”

“Hi guys!”

“Hey!”

“Hi, Caroline.”

“Yo, Ice.”

The greetings were heartfelt and sincere. Caroline had never felt so lucky. Not only had she gained a wonderful man when she moved in with Matthew, but she’d gained his teammates as brothers. Now that Christopher had found Alabama and Hunter had married Fiona, she also had some sisters and best friends too.

Matthew settled Caroline into a chair next to him, and they both sat.

“What took you so long?” Fiona complained to Caroline, smiling to take the sting out of her words.

“We were having a breakthrough at work. There was this compound that we’ve been testing for-freaking-ever and we finally figured out how to…”

Wolf put his hand over Caroline’s mouth and stopped her words. “You’re off the clock, Ice. No shop-talk tonight. We’re here to relax, not to hear about your chemist stuff.”

Everyone laughed.

Caroline mock glared at Matthew at the same time she stuck out her tongue and licked his palm sensuously. She watched as his eyes went molten and she suddenly wished they were anywhere but there.

Wolf leaned into her, took his hand away from Caroline’s mouth and put it on her thigh. “You’ll pay for that tonight, Ice.”

Caroline could feel the goose bumps that rose on her flesh at the feel of his words against her ear. “I’m counting on it, Matthew.”

Wolf kissed Caroline on the temple and straightened, not moving his hand from her leg. He was the luckiest son of a bitch in the world. He’d never forget how scared he’d been when he watched the video of Caroline being tortured. He’d never forget how he’d held his breath praying he wouldn’t have to watch her execution. The terrorists had hoped sending the tape would make the SEAL team lose their cool, but they were too well trained for that. If anything, it had solidified their determination to get Caroline back alive and to take the terrorists down.

Wolf knew he owed Cookie a debt greater than the man would ever know. Cookie had tried to tell Wolf the debt was paid when they had to cut short a mission to get back to the States and to Cookie’s woman, Fiona, when she was in trouble, but Wolf knew he’d never feel the debt would ever be paid in full.

Hunter “Cookie” Knox had been the one who kept Caroline alive when she’d been thrown overboard in the ocean. He’d been the one that had held the life-saving oxygen to her face and swam them away from the terrorist boat moments before it had blown up.

Wolf didn’t begrudge Caroline the close friendship she had with Cookie. And the two were close. While Wolf was a possessive man, he couldn’t bring himself to care in this case. In any other situation if a man dared to touch Caroline, Wolf would be all over him, but not Cookie.

There was only one thing about their relationship that bothered him, but Wolf knew he’d most likely never bring it up with her. It wasn’t worth the angst it would bring either Caroline or Cookie. Wolf would just have to suck it up and deal with it.

Tonight was the night Wolf hoped would be the night he’d make the first step toward making Caroline his, officially. He’d asked all his friends here tonight because he was going to ask Caroline to marry him. Wolf knew how much Caroline’s friends meant to her, and he meant to surround her with as much love as he could, before he asked her to wear his ring.

“How are you doing, Fiona?” Caroline asked gently, leaning toward her friend. She’d never forget how scared she’d been for her when Fiona had experienced a flashback of her kidnapping and had fled Riverton.

“I’m good, Caroline. I’ve progressed to seeing Dr. Hancock every other week now and honestly, I’m feeling pretty good about everything. I know I’ll never truly forget what happened to me in Mexico, but anytime it gets…hard, Hunter’s there.”

Caroline reached over the table and squeezed Fiona’s hand. “Good. Hunter’ll take care of you. I have no doubt.”

The two women shared a glance full of understanding. Fiona understood the relationship between her husband and Caroline, and supported it wholeheartedly.

“Hey, guys! You all ready for your food now?” Their waitress stood at the side of the table. Her long black hair was pulled back into a low ponytail that cascaded down her back.

“Thanks, Jess,” Benny said, looking up at their pretty waitress. “We were just waiting on Caroline, but we’re all here now.”

Jess nodded and turned and headed back to the bar, obviously to tell the cook their food could be served up.

“So, what’s the occasion?” Caroline asked, looking around the table.

“Can’t we all just get together and hang out?” Sam “Mozart” Reed asked with a smirk.

“Well, yeah,” Caroline said somewhat sarcastically, “but usually when we do, you guys,” she motioned to the unattached SEALs around the table, “bring some skank with you and pretend you’re dating her instead of just feeding her before you bring her home to...”

“Hey!” Faulkner “Dude” Cooper interrupted complaining. “That’s not fair. We
are
dating the women we bring to dinner.”

“Yeah, for the night.”

The men turned in shock at the words. Alabama wasn’t one to speak her mind, but every now and then she’d lay out a zinger, as she’d just done.

Christopher “Abe” Powers leaned into his girlfriend and chuckled. “That’s my girl,” he said with affection.

“Jesus, you women are lethal,” Kason “Benny” Sawyer complained. “You bitch when we date someone, you bitch because you don’t like her, then you bitch when we break up with her.”

“It’s because we care about you,” Caroline said seriously. “You all deserve better than people like Michele and Adelaide. If you’d just listen to us you’d realize we can see through those skanks in a heartbeat.”

“Just because you all,” Mozart gestured around the table at his teammates with their women, “have found each other doesn’t mean the rest of us are all fired up to do the same.”

“Bullshit.” Caroline said matter-of-factly. “I think you all want what we have, and that’s okay because you all deserve it. But if you continue to only look at women you meet in this bar and who only want to spend a night with a Navy SEAL, you’ll never find it. You have to open your eyes and see the other women around you. The good women. Take a look at the ones who you might never ‘see’ otherwise.”

Just as Caroline finished her impassioned speech, Jess came up to the table with a tray loaded down with food.  “Hope I’m not interrupting…” she said hesitantly.

“Of course not,” Benny told her gruffly, obviously glad for the break in the conversation.

Food was passed around the table and everyone dug in. After thirty minutes of good food and good conversation, everyone was relaxed against their chairs.

“So no one ever answered me. Is tonight a special occasion or what?” Caroline smiled at her friends. She didn’t really care why they were there, she was happy being around her friends. She turned to look at Matthew as he stood up from the table. His hand had been on her leg throughout dinner. Of course he hadn’t been still either. His thumb had caressed her thigh rhythmically and had Caroline squirming in her seat.

Caroline watched in surprise as Matthew went to his knees next to her chair.

“What the hell, Matthew? Get up.”

Wolf swallowed hard. He shouldn’t be as nervous as he was, but he couldn’t help it. “I love you, Caroline Martin. More than anything in my life.” He took both her hands in his and brought them up to his mouth. He kissed the back of both hands before putting them back in her lap. He didn’t let go, and could feel Caroline trembling.

“I love you too, Matthew, but what…”

Wolf cut her off. “I’ve had great role models in my life. You know my parents are still together after forty years of marriage. I’ve seen how important it is to find the right person to spend the rest of your life with.”

Caroline gasped, suddenly realizing what was happening. “Matthew…”

Wolf powered on. “I’ve been in a lot of shitty places. I’ve seen horrible things. I’ve done some awful things. Deep in my heart, I know you’re too good for me, but I don’t give a shit. You make me a better person. Every day. Every single day I think to myself, ‘Would this make Caroline proud of me?’ If the answer is yes, I carry on, if it’s no, I try to analyze how else to get through the situation.”

Caroline was opening crying now. “Matthew, seriously…”

Wolf let go of Caroline’s hands and brought his hands up to either side of her neck. He caressed her jawbone with his thumbs and lowered his voice, so he was talking just to Caroline. “I love you, Ice. I love you with everything I am. The best day of my life was being seated next to you on that plane. I can’t imagine my life without you, and I don’t want to. I brought you here tonight to ask you to be my wife. My partner. My everything. I wanted you to be surrounded by all your friends, and my friends. I want to see my ring on your finger so every other man knows you’re taken. That you’re
mine
. Will you marry me, Caroline?”

Sniffing, and holding on to Matthew with a death grip on his T-shirt at his side, Caroline said, “Can I talk now?”

Wolf chuckled and leaned in and kissed her once, briefly, then leaned back. “Yes, Ice, you can talk, but the only word I want to hear is, ‘Yes.’”

“Yes.” The word was soft, but everyone at the table could feel the emotion behind it.

Wolf tightened his hands and leaned in to seal the deal, but Caroline put a hand on his chest and stopped him.

“Yes, I’ll marry you. I’ve dreamed of this moment for a long time, but I want you to know that I’m proud of you every damn day. You could sit on your ass all day, every day, and I’ll still be proud of you. You haven’t done awful things.
Other
people are the ones who do the awful things, you and your team prevent those awful things from continuing to happen to good people.”

Caroline spared a glance at Fiona, and gave her a watery smile, when Fiona smiled back, Caroline turned back to Matthew.

“So yes, I’ll marry you. I love you so much. I’ll wear your ring with pride. I can’t wait to become Mrs. Caroline Steel.”

Wolf crushed Caroline to him as the table erupted with cheers and words of congratulations. Jess was suddenly there with champagne for the entire table. The rest of the patrons were also cheering for them.

Caroline pulled back and amidst the chaos, looked into Matthew’s eyes and said, “I love you.”

Wolf didn’t say anything, but reached into the front pocket of his jeans and pulled out a ring. He took Caroline’s left hand and kissed the base of her ring finger, before sliding his engagement ring down it.

Caroline looked down at her hand and gasped. The ring was beautiful. Her eyes immediately filled with tears again. Matthew had obviously paid attention to her taste in jewelry. She didn’t wear a lot of it, and had often complained to Matthew about how most jewelry, rings, bracelets, and necklaces, got in the way when she was trying to work.

The platinum ring was inset with an emerald cut diamond in the middle. It was surrounded by two princess cut diamonds. All the stones were mounded so they didn’t stick up at all. Caroline wouldn’t snag the ring on her clothes, or anything at work. While the ring wasn’t ostentatious, the diamonds were large. Caroline wasn’t an expert, but the middle stone had to be at least a carat and the two side diamonds weren’t too far behind it.

BOOK: Marrying Caroline (SEAL of Protection)
8.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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