Read With Honor Online

Authors: Rhonda Lee Carver

Tags: #Romance

With Honor

BOOK: With Honor
12.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
















To my inspiration, Chase.





Piper D., my editor. She worked hard to help me whip this story into shape.



Chapter 1


Jasmine Sinclaire tapped her booted toe, more from agitation than the upbeat tune playing on the jukebox. She glanced around the bar skeptically. Tonight she didn’t have much interest in the songs about cowboys, infidelity and beer.

Squeezing the bridge of her nose between thumb and forefinger, she hoped to stop the nagging headache from progressing into a migraine. Her patience thinned. Her trip here hadn’t been for pleasure. Otherwise, she might have been on the dance floor with the other patrons boot scootin’ to the popular songs. Good times just weren’t on her agenda at the moment.

With her headache not cooperating, she dropped her hand onto the table and blew out a long breath through tight lips. She tugged the hem of her shirt farther down her hips in irritation, hearing threads break. Glancing at the slender gold watch on her left wrist, she sighed. Ten-thirty PM. Definitely not night-owl hours, but she sure felt the effects of driving from Florida to Texas. She yawned and rubbed her eyes.

Jasmine could hear her friends now.
“What were you thinking? Have you lost your mind?”
The thought made her cringe. What
she been thinking by coming here? Maybe she should have thought over her actions with a realistic view.

The irrational and impulsive moves she’d made before hadn’t been as serious as this one. A few months ago she’d decided on a few things that had changed her life. Truth was, coming to Lackland hadn’t been easy and she’d given it a lot of careful thought. Deciding to put it all on the line and see where the future would lead her had taken weeks.

Throwing caution to the wind and having a one-night stand had been rash–also crazy and immature. Even as a teen she’d never had spontaneous sex. Two hours of charm from a stranger had lured her to bed. How could she have been so easy? Shame made her cheeks warm. The temperature seemed to rise to an unbearable degree. Damn! She had nothing to be ashamed of. People made mistakes. The consequences of some mistakes just lasted longer than others.

She glanced around the dimly lit open space. Stress caused her stomach to roll. The headache that had been hanging around inside her head for days had spread deep into her temples. A bitter taste rose in the back of her throat, but she managed to control it. Running wasn’t an option, although her emotions reeled and her palms were sweaty. Setting matters straight became top priority. Her stubborn streak was alive and well.

“Hello, darlin’.”

The rich Texas accent brought her head upward. She’d never met the man before and wasn’t in the mood for introductions. “I’m not interested.”

Her stop-in-your-tracks response didn’t deter the man in the too-cheap cowboy hat and too-tight Wranglers. “You’re too purty to be sitting over here all alone,” he said with a wink. “A thought crossed my mind to help you out. Mind if a fellow joins you?”

Jasmine blinked. “A thought crossed your mind?” That must have been a long, painful journey, she thought.

Pushing his hat back on his forehead, he smiled. “I’d like to get to know you better.”

“Sorry, but I’m sort of expecting someone.”

“Sort of? Sounds like you’re not sure.”

“I’m sure you’d do better by finding a woman who is looking for companionship.” Being mean wasn’t her intention, but at the moment, she had other things she needed to think about.

“Suit yourself,” he snarled. This man definitely had an easily-wounded ego.

“Thank you,” she said.

“What a waste of good looks.” The pitiful man waved a hand through the air, then went back to the table across the room. From his seat, he still stared at her, but at least he was out of her personal space.

The kitchen door swung open. The smell of pulled pork and grease billowed out. Bile rose in her throat and beads of sweat moistened her upper lip. She hadn’t eaten a decent meal since leaving home two days ago. The savory smell of barbecue didn’t do anything but promise her an up close and personal view of the bottom of a toilet if she ate.

Bringing the cool glass of water to her lips, she emptied its contents. Doing so immediately settled her queasiness. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could take the smell of stale beer and the thumping of loud music. Sleep had been MIA for the last month. As soon as she’d drift off, nightmares of inconsolable cries and body deformities crept in.

Her life, up until recently, had been uneventful.

Sighing in frustration, she tapped her foot one last time. Sitting at the table in the shadowed corner for the last two hours, she was unrewarded. Neither hide nor hair of Shane Conner. He’d told her every Friday night he and the guys played darts at Musky Joe’s, the popular country and western bar a few miles off base. There was only one Musky Joe’s in Lackland.

Setting the glass down with a thud, she scooted her chair back, determined to put the fruitless night behind her. The bed back at the hotel called her name.

The door opened. Sitting back in the chair, she focused on the man and woman who stumbled in. They were laughing and clinging to each other like butter and toast. The man, dressed in military uniform, had his face nuzzled in the blonde’s neck, hiding from Jasmine’s view.

Craning her neck, she wished the woman would move. Anticipation slithered up Jasmine’s spine until finally the man turned his cheek. A mixture of disappointment and relief eased over her. It wasn’t
. Thank goodness. No need to break up a cuddle session.

Disappointment edged its way through her. She’d come too far, geographically and mentally, to admit defeat.

Grabbing for her purse, she started to move from the seat but the door opened again, pausing her. This time, it was a group of men, all similarly dressed in green ABU’s, close cut hair and boots. She scanned each masculine, clean-shaven face and felt her heart drop–Shane wasn’t one of them. Another man came in, trailing behind. Through the dimly-lit room, she watched. He was a tall man, chisel-featured. If only she could see his eyes. Then he looked at her. Her breath caught in her lungs. It was
. Anticipating his greeting, her heart sank when he walked right by her.

She followed him with her interested gaze. There was something different about him. Heavier, broader maybe? Definitely Shane, though.

Jasmine didn’t take her gaze off him as he crossed the room toward the bar. He greeted the bartender with a handshake and a buddy slap on the arm. The two men laughed, as if they’d shared a private joke. Shane’s smile beamed. That smile had attracted her in the first place. And those eyes. They were like magnets penetrating her logical reasoning and turning it to mush. His sex appeal had drawn her in. Not that he was the dictionary version of handsome. More rugged than good-looking, he wore his toughness like a brand, a challenge. Seeing him now, she knew immediately why she’d come all this way. Coming had been the right thing to do.

Remembering to breathe, she sucked in air for her parched lungs. She scanned his features again, wondering what exactly had changed about him? One night, most of it with the lights off, didn’t make her recollection the best.

Jasmine followed the lines of the green uniform. Even under the loose fitting fatigues his body spoke volumes about his capabilities as a soldier…broad and muscular…all the attributes of masculinity. She knew his competence. The area between her legs hadn’t forgotten either. Her panties moistened now as proof of muscle memory. Enough of those thoughts.

Twisting in her seat, Jasmine reflected on the one night they’d spent in bed. Hours of hot sex. Her skin heated. Thinking about what they’d shared was useless because she certainly wouldn’t fall into his charm–or his bed–again. Their night together had been only physical. As a journalist for the magazine
Razor Hot Topic
, she’d been assigned to do a piece on sexy military bachelors. Shane had agreed to a reveal-all interview. His stories of valor weren’t the only thing that interested her. When he’d shot her with his alluring smile, she’d been lost, even if she’d known he wanted only one thing. During the last few weeks she’d asked herself over and over how in the hell she had allowed herself to sleep with him. Looking at him now, the answer was obvious.

Her cheeks burned. She’d walked square into the sex-with-no-strings, eyes wide open and body willing. He’d never manipulated her into believing he wanted more than a one-night fling. She’d been game, even when he asked to go back to her place. Loneliness had gotten the best of her. After a few rotten relationships had burned her, she guessed she just wanted a no-commitment good time.

Dragging her thoughts back on track, Jasmine reminded herself why she’d come. Not because of loneliness this time. Her brain was in charge now. Oh yes, indeed.

The bartender handed him three buckets of bottled beer. Shane then joined the group of men sitting together at one long table close to the jukebox. The men grabbed the beers and tossed them around into awaiting grips. A tall, scantily-dressed blonde walked by their table and several men whistled. Shane laughed.

Jasmine narrowed her eyes. Had he come tonight in search of another lonely heart?

Overcome with a strong, revengeful urge to march up to his table and re-introduce herself to Sergeant Conner, fighter pilot extraordinaire, she remembered to think rationally. Causing a scene wasn’t her style, and he probably wouldn’t appreciate it. Most men didn’t like their asshole mistakes thrown in their face, especially in front of their friends. And it might not be fair. After all, he hadn’t forced her into sex.

Shane had made no commitment to her, and neither had she wanted one. So why did she feel slightly jilted? He’d written a note saying:


I had a wonderful night, but duty calls. Last night was great. Thank you for the memory. Take care. Shane


Being thanked for sex had felt more like a slap in the face. She’d rather that he’d left without saying anything. Wasn’t that what people did after one-night stands? Especially when they had little in common besides sexual attraction. She’d known this once he started talking. He was a self-made bachelor and he definitely wasn’t family material. Her stomach twisted.

BOOK: With Honor
12.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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