The seventh installment in the Always a Marine anthology in 1Night Stand (1NS) line for Decadent Publishing. 1Night Stand is the business name of an exclusive online dating service run by Madame Evangeline who provides her clients with a possibility of happily ever after or happily for now.
The Marine Cowboy
Always a Marine #7
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Turning down a billet at Mike's Place in Dallas, Sergeant A.J. Turner left Iraq for Freewill, Wyoming with one goal in mind—to forget the last five years. Trading his MARPATS for jeans and his cover for a cowboy hat, he plans to work his ranch and pray the green grass, tall trees, and sweet mountains can wash away the taste of the desert.
The last thing he expected was a reminder of a promise made to his buddies: one night to help them all start again.
Sheri Vaughn quit her corporate job, sold her house and moved to Freewill on a whim. Six months after her divorce, she's hardly ready to put her toe in the dating waters again. One bottle of wine later, however, she signs up for Madame Eve's exclusive 1Night Stand service and lists a very particular set of qualities she wants in a man; he must be honorable, courageous, forthright, single, have served as Marine, but be a cowboy at heart. If she wants to dream, at least she can dream big.
But when local hero A.J. Turner arrives home, Madame Eve comes through, and Sheri has to find the courage to make her dream a reality…
Can one night, even a night arranged by Madame Eve, fulfill both a promise and a dream?
Holy hell in a hand basket. Her gaze tracked the rugged stranger as he left the café and crossed the street. The jeans he wore hadn’t been spray painted on, but they definitely gave her a great visual of hard muscle and male confidence. He walked like he owned the town, but without any hint of pretentious air. That was a man who belonged in Freewill. She didn’t know who he was. She thought after six months she’d met most of the locals, but she would have remembered him.
“A.J. Turner.” Bea poured fresh coffee into her cup, heating it up.
Sheri spent nearly every morning at the café reading before she walked one block down to open the library. Trading her job as a corporate executive at a Fortune 500 company to be a small-town librarian didn’t suggest upward trajectory, but the town of
broken empty place inside left by her ex-husband’s series of affairs. Freewill
“The war hero?” She blinked and glanced back at the window, but he’d already disappeared.
“One and the same. Boy hasn’t been home since he left and didn’t tell anyone he was coming back either.” Bea clucked her tongue and wrote out the check. The café preferred the old pen and paper method, and since Sheri ate fruit and drank coffee every morning, the price was always the same.
“What branch did he serve in again?” Curious, she glanced at the waitress. Bea had been born, married, gave birth to her children, and buried her husband in Freewill. The town fixture wasn’t going anywhere. She also took Sheri under her wing from the day she arrived, treating her like an old friend—or a daughter.
“Marines, honey. That young man is definitely one of Freewill’s proudest.” She winked and went back to work.
A Marine. A tremor raced over her and her stomach seemed to bottom out.
The message waiting in her email that morning from Madame Eve made so much more sense. Biting her lip, she strained to look down the street. She wished she’d paid closer attention to him when he walked in, but she only got one good glimpse at his face when he turned and caught her staring.
Her cheeks heated at the memory. He’d caught her attention the moment he entered the café. She hadn’t missed the corded muscle in his arms, tense and well defined even as he drank a cup of coffee. The man was gorgeous and wore his masculinity like a second skin.
But his smile.
Her heart squeezed. The polite smile creasing his rugged face transformed him from handsome to a full-blown heartthrob. Her body hummed in reaction. To a smile.
Wow. He just got home, Sheri. Dial down the hormones.