All Quinn Lawson wanted was to find her brother. Separated after their parents perished in a drunk-driving accident, Quinn has been searching for him since she became eighteen. She is closer now than ever, but it is her last lead.
Captain Kevin McCaluson has a choice to make, stay in the military or step away and try life as a civilian. With no family and no prospect of one, Kevin wonders if he can leave the only family he has ever known for the life he’s always dreamed.
Low light, the dark wood, and color accents gave the place a warm rich feeling.It was clean and seemed friendly enough. “I’d like to see a menu, please?”
Quinn settled into a seat at the end of the bar. Leaning against the wall, she took in the rooms occupants, quickly determining from the sculpted muscles, buzz cuts, and tattoos she had stumbled into a military favorite.Not surprising with the base just west of there.Quinn ordered a Rueben, fries, and a beer.What are you doing here? She had no idea what the hell she was thinking, driving to Florida because of a form letter.Not a letter a lead, something tangible for her to cling to. Who was she kidding, there was nothing left to cling to, nothing could change reality. It chipped away at her stone heart. Willing it to feel something—It’s not worth it…
“So everyone is wondering what a pretty little thing like you is doing sitting in the corner of the bar when you could be partying with me?” His voice grated against her skin like sandpaper.Big, piled with rippling muscles, and smelling of beer, Quinn couldn’t even fake a smile. He was revolting, his clear intentions for her reflecting in his eyes. She leaned forward and he licked his lips.
“This pretty little thing is fine all alone, thanks for the offer though.”
Flexing his muscles like an alpha gorilla, he stepped closer, invading her space with the smell of sweat and alcohol.“You don’t know what you’re missing, kitten. Trust me you don’t want to pass this up.”
“I’m flattered really, but I think I am going to have to pass.” Her back straightened, keeping his eyes. His arms reached over her shoulders, trapping her against the wall. His hot breath pushed against her face, stealing her air.Her hand instinctively rose against his chest, trying to keep space between them.
“You need a good time. I can see it in your eyes. You want this…let go and I will show you the time of your life, baby.”
“I believe the lady told you she wasn’t interested, Sergeant.” Quinn didn’t move, keeping the burly Marine’s gaze. The man trying to intervene apparently had some weight, as her unwanted suitor turned his head.
“Nothing to see Gunney, the lady and I are just talking.” His lips curled into a crooked smile.
“Back off Sergeant, that’s an order.” His eyes hardened, and his focus on her severed with the order. He turned, facing the man who just gave him an order to stand down.The commentary from the football game became crystal clear echoing through the now silent bar. Four men positioned themselves around the end of the bar, arms at their sides, waiting.
“If you insist. No need to call in the heavy artillery, Gunney.” He raised his hands in defeat. “Just trying to have some fun.”
The man stepped between the line of men, and disappeared out the door.Quinn released a heavy breath glancing to the man who stepped into her defense.She gulped back surprise, recognizing the sergeant from the Marine office.Her food arrived but her appetite was gone.Asking for a to-go box, she settled the bill.
“Ma’am, excuse me?” Quinn turned seeing the Marine from the office.
“If you are looking for a thank you it is not going to happen.” His stance rigid, arms linked behind his back.
“No Ma’am. I would like to offer an apology.”
“There’s no need, we can call it even.”
“Why did you come to my office today?” She stopped, contemplating her response.“I was looking for information.” Quinn turned, facing the Marine, now a breath away.
“About Pete Granger?”
“Yes, but it doesn’t matter now. I am sorry to have bothered you, Gunnery Sergeant McCaluson.”
“You came a long way for it to not matter.” The statement sliced at her and she spun on her heel.
“What do you want?” She meant the question to be sharp, hopefully convincing him to go away. He stood staring at her, his deep eyes shadowed by the moon.
“I want to know who Pete Granger is.”She laughed aloud, and then covered her mouth to stop the ripples of hysteria from bubbling out.
“You and I both, when you figure it out feel free to let me know.”
“Ms. Lawson.” His eyes bore into her again, warmth bubbled into her stomach when he approached, the heat of his body falling waves around them. “If you want my assistance, I need to know your relation to the soldier you are inquiring about.”
She hesitated, but his gaze remained steady. “He’s my brother…I think.”
“You think? Is he your brother or not?” The statement was cold and Quinn stepped back.
“I think so, but I won’t be sure until I see him.” She raised her chin, and straightened her back. “My…our parents died when we were young and we were separated. I have spent the last fifteen years looking for him. Your letter was the closest I have come to finding him.”
“How did you know to look in the Marines?”
“A few months ago I got a break, finding his social security number. I did a search and he popped up in the Marines as Pete Granger. I sent a letter to the Marine Human Resources Department and that was the letter I received in return. It confirmed he was recruited ten years ago. I came here to see if I could find out where he was, an address, a phone number, something that could lead me to him.”
“Why should I believe you?” Quinn stepped back again, the statement hit her like a dagger and she could feel the emotion climbing the back of her neck.
“I have no reason to lie.”
“How do I know that?”
“Because it is the truth, why else would I be looking for him?”
“I don’t know, you tell me.” His eyes went cold, his chin hardening before her eyes. “Regardless there is no way I can release confidential information to someone that is not family.”
“But I am his family!”
“Ma’am you just said—”
“I know what I just said and it was the truth. I am so close, please, I am not out to hurt anyone.” The partitioned emotion broke through, cresting the bottom lids of her eyes. “I just need to find my brother.”