Read Surrender: A Little Harmless Military Romance Online
Authors: Melissa Schroeder
Tags: #interracial romance, #romance adult, #romance erotic, #Romance, #harmless, #romance between friends, #wwbm, #melissa schroeder, #a little harmless military romance, #military romance, #multicultural romance
He needed to know she was okay. It was the same with his family. He couldn’t even fathom one of them getting hurt. Chris knew it and had ordered the family to keep quiet about Jocelyn’s problems a few years back. They had eventually told him, but he had been going through Hell Week at the time. Mal had been pissed, but he had understood. He knew his brothers in the Seals would be under fire, that there was always a chance he would lose one of them. One thing he needed was to know those he cared about were safe.
He leaned back in the chair and thought about getting a little catnap in. He hadn't slept much the night before. The doc had said Amanda would be okay, that the concussion wasn't that bad, but Mal couldn't keep from peeking into her room every thirty minutes to make sure she was still okay. It had been almost too tempting. She had a huge bed, and seeing her lay there snuggled against her pillows had made him want to slip in beside her, pull her close, and snuggle there with her.
But he didn't have that right. The need had been almost overwhelming, but Mal knew that his role was as a friend and nothing more.
He was dozing off when the front door buzzed. He glanced over at Amanda and noticed she hadn't budged. He padded to the door and looked out the peephole. Dylan, her brother.
Mal opened the door.
"She's okay?" he asked without saying anything else. Mal moved out of his way as Dylan stepped over the threshold of the apartment. The worry in his expression was easy to see. "Mom and Dad said it wasn't that bad."
Mal nodded toward the couch. He saw the man's shoulders relax.
"Let's talk in her bedroom so we don't wake her up," Mal said.
The major followed him in, and Mal closed the door.
"The doc said a mild concussion, although she lost consciousness for a few seconds after it happened. He took an MRI and everything looked okay other than that, but she needs to see her doctor next week. She rested all night."
"I appreciate it. Mom was going to fly up here, and Dad and I talked her down."
"You were in San Antonio?"
He nodded. "I had TDY at Fort Sam that I extended a few days so that I could spend some time with the folks. They've been complaining none of us come down there anymore, so I thought this would be perfect. Of course, I should have known something like this would happen. Amanda always did have the worst timing."
“Amanda didn’t cause this,” he said.
It wasn’t until Dylan gave him an odd look that he realized how mean he had sounded. He didn’t have the right to get pissed at her brother, but the thought that she had no one here to watch out for her when he was gone was irritating Mal. He had thought he could count on Dylan, but apparently his support was sketchy at best.
“No, she didn’t. You’re sounding like it’s worse than you let on.”
It wasn’t. It was a bump on the head. It was just the idea that if he had been deployed, she wouldn’t have had any kind of backup apparently. Amanda was the kind of woman who was always there for people, but when she needed someone, she hadn’t had anyone to call.
He pulled back his temper. She wasn’t his so he shouldn’t be getting so damned angry on her behalf.
"She's fine. She has some meds," Mal said as he slipped into the bathroom and then returned with a bottle of painkillers. "I gave her one about thirty minutes ago, so she should be good to go."
"Mom and Dad really appreciate you taking care of her. She thinks she doesn't need anyone, but she does."
He studied her brother for a moment, and then it hit him. "You took that horrible job because of her, didn't you?"
Dylan sighed and settled on the bed. "Yeah. Don't get me wrong. It will help my career, but I still would have taken the job if it ruined it. Amanda's...well you have to know how she keeps everything beneath the surface."
"Yeah," Mal said.
"Mom wanted to move up here, but then they were worried that if they did, Dad would be lured back in to the Pentagon and politics. He just can't resist it, and it isn't what they want now. So this job popped up and I got it."
"Amanda's doing fine."
"You think?" Dylan shook his head. "Then you don't know everything about her."
He rolled his shoulders. "Amanda had it tough being the youngest and a girl. We terrorized her so much. She just wanted to be one of the boys, and she thought by doing what we did, she would fit in. By the time she was seven, she rarely cried. I mean, what little girl doesn't cry when she breaks her arm climbing up a tree?"
Dylan snorted. "Yeah, and then some. Of course, Seth and I got in a lot of trouble for it, which she enjoyed."
"Why did you get in trouble?"
He smiled, and Mal saw even more of the resemblance between Dylan and his sister. The quick grin, the sparkling green eyes—he was the male version of Amanda. "We dared her."
Mal chuckled. "And Amanda can't deal with anyone daring her."
Dylan gave him an odd look and then nodded. "You do know her well. Anyway, she fell, we panicked, and during all the yelling and screaming, not to mention the smacks to the back of our heads, she never cried. Not once did she shed a tear in front of us. So I had to get the next flight back or you would have been dealing with my mother, and believe me, the no crying doesn't extend to Mom."
Mal smiled. "If you want to go back to your place and clean up, I can wait."
He shook his head. "I'll take care of that later. Maybe I can talk her into staying at my house in Arlington."
"Yeah, good luck with that, Major."
"Just what are you two plotting in here?" Amanda asked sleepily.
Both of them turned at the same time, but Mal knew Dylan's heart didn't turn over at the sight of her. Her hair was a mess, a tangle of silky locks tumbling over her shoulders. She was rubbing her eyes as if trying to wake herself up, and he could imagine she was having a hard time doing so. The pain killers were strong.
"What are you doing up?" he asked.
She frowned. "You guys aren't really quiet."
"Yeah, like you can talk," her brother said as he rose from the bed and hugged her. "Mom wants to talk to you today. And I'll warn you, unless you want both of them here, you will make sure to ease her worries. She was halfway packed before Dad and I convinced her to stay in San Antonio."
She smiled as she kept her arms locked around her brother. They had a family much like Mal's. They were close, closer than most families, and he knew that came from being a military family, but there was more there. The love they felt for each other was never hidden.
"I can take care of her now, Dupree," Dylan said. "I was already scheduled for a few days after the TDY, so I'll stay here and take care of the invalid."
That earned him a punch from Amanda. "Suck it, Dylan."
He studied her for a second, a frown marring those movie star looks of his. "Get in bed or I will call Mom and tell her you want her here."
Amanda matched the frown. "You fight mean."
"You should know that by now."
She smiled at him. "Thanks again, Mal, for taking care of me."
“Anytime,” he said. “Call if you need anything.”
He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay and make sure she was cared for. He knew that Dylan would look out for her. Still, there was a part of him that wanted to make sure that everything was taken care of, and for some reason, he was the only one who had the right to watch over her.
He said nothing else as he stepped around the brother and sister. He just needed to remember the woman wasn’t his for the taking and he would be fine.
But as he was driving back to his room, he wondered just when his body would start listening to him.
* * * *
"What's going on with you and Dupree?" Dylan asked her.
Amanda had just taken a sip of water and choked on it.
"What?" she asked and tried to cover her dismay by patting her lips with a napkin. She didn’t need her brother embarrassing her with Mal. Sure, she had a little crush on him, but it was no big deal. Really.
Dylan was studying her like he was trying to put a puzzle together. And that was bad. Really bad. Dylan loved puzzles. "There's something going on there, and I’m not too sure I’m that happy with it."
"All those slaps to the back of your head Dad gave you must have knocked something loose. There's nothing going on. Mal thinks he needs to take care of me."
"No. Well, okay he does, but it has more to do with the fact that he wants to be here. When I told him he could go, you should have seen the look on his face."
She frowned. "What do you mean?"
"He was going to argue. I could sense it."
She shook her head and was happy that for once that day, it didn't send the room spinning around her. It meant that she should be able to handle work tomorrow.
“He wasn’t going to argue. He just disagrees with me that I can go back to the shop tomorrow.”
Dylan crossed his arms. "No."
"You are not going back to work until at least Wednesday. Addy's orders."
She made a face.
"And let's get back to Dupree. I thought you swore off military men."
She had. While her brothers and her father had always been faithful to their women, she knew a lot of them weren't. She knew that the faithfulness of men in the military wasn’t any different than civilians. She had proven that with a long line of cheating exes. But with the military, there had to be trust. More trust than civilian marriages. People outside of it just didn’t understand that. She had promised herself not to ever marry, but especially not military. Well, except for Mal.
She choked on her sip of water again. Oh, no. Dammit. She was losing her grip on reality.
"You're not getting sick are you?" her brother asked, panic threading his voice.
"You look a little green around the gills there."
She shook her head but it didn't really dislodge the thought of having Mal as a husband. Hell, what was she thinking? She couldn’t even handle someone like Kyle, keep him happy. Granted, he wasn’t Malachai Dupree, but he had been sexy as hell, and she had wanted him like no one before. Until Mal.
"He's a member of Capital Punishment,” her brother said.
That caught her attention. "What?"
"Capital Punishment, that BDSM club."
“Hmm.” Then it hit her that her brother knew of Mal’s membership. "How do you know that? You didn't go through his records, did you?"
He shook his head. "No. Even if I wanted to, I’m not sure I could get into them. He has one level higher security clearance than I do. It would raise too many flags."
“That means you thought about doing it.” She slapped his thigh. “Then how did you find out?"
He frowned, and she knew that he was unhappy with the direction of the conversation. He sighed. "Think about it, Mandy."
The only way he would know about Mal being a member was…"You're a member? Really?"
"No. Well, I am, but lately I haven't been able to get in there and away from work. I know the owner so I get in easily."
"Really?" she asked, unable to fight the excitement.
"No. I don't think so. I am not about to get my kid sister a complimentary membership."
She pouted at him, but she knew it wouldn’t get her anywhere. "Spoilsport."
He shrugged. "Either way, I don't think your Seal is looking for a Domme."
"He's not my Seal. And why do you think I'm a Domme?""
"Really? I mean, Mandy, you run everything. You run my life, Addy's life, the business...you always like to be in control."
That was true, but there had been a part of her that knew something was missing in the bedroom. Guys always expected her to take charge, and it was something that didn't always sit well.
"I'm going to call in and make sure the colonel knows I'm here in DC again. I left a message, but just to check in."
She nodded but barely noticed when he rose to leave her alone. Her mind was turning over the idea of herself as a Domme. She wasn't. Okay, maybe in the real world she was, but she had always wanted someone to take charge in the bedroom. Kyle had called her cold. She would get aroused but she couldn't seem to be that into what they were doing. And it had been because he wanted her to take charge.
The thought of Mal being in charge of her, of taking charge of the situation, had her pulse skipping a beat. Was that the important factor that had been missing in her marriage? There had been little time for them to figure it out. They met while she was in California, married in Vegas, and he was gone before she had unpacked from the trip. The few months they had spent together before that ill-fated mission had been…stressful. They barely knew each other, and even then they both knew it had been a mistake. But then he got called back for that last mission.
And maybe he expected more out of her in the bedroom. She guessed she had wanted someone who took charge, and marrying a Seal, she thought she had.