Author: Diana Gardin
Series: Battle Scars #1
Publisher: Forever Yours
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
For seven years he's fought for his country. Now he'll fight for her.
Army Ranger Dare Conners has been through hell. He's left combat behind, yet the memories that refuse to fade are proving just as dangerous. Ordered to take R&R, he joins his buddy for beaches, beers, and babes-if that can't cure him, nothing will. But when he meets Berkeley, a woman who affects him like no one else, a new kind of battle begins . . .
An Admiral's daughter, Berkeley knows her life has been planned since birth. The right school, the right boyfriend-and now that she's graduated-the right marriage. But after years of being right, Berkeley is ready to be a little wrong. And Dare Conners has wrong written all over him. The sexy soldier has a body built for sin and secrets he won't share. What starts as a fling quickly grows into something more. But summer can't last forever, and when the truth comes out, both Berkeley and Dare could be in for quite a fall.
I had wondered myself why someone like her would be working as a waitress. Hell, I would never knock someone’s job options or choices, and I don’t look down on any profession. Everyone has to make ends meet. But for Berkeley to be waiting tables when she drives an Escalade, I had to wonder. Now, seeing how put-together and affluent her parents look, I’m wondering even harder.
What makes this girl do the things she does?
And that question sets off a spark of intense interest in my brain. My brain is interested in Berkeley now, not just my body.
The tigress sends her parents packing, and by the time she makes it back to my booth, I’m chuckling. I rub a hand over the stubble on my chin and meet her eyes.
“That was interesting,” I remark, giving nothing away.
“Trust me, Dare. You want no part of my parents right now. I don’t introduce them to guys I date.”
“Never. They’re more trouble than they’re worth.” She blows out a frustrated breath, which sends that cute stray strand of hair hanging over her eye flying skyward.
“I’m going to want to know more about that at some point. But what do you want to do tonight?”
“Honestly?” She puts out a hand and pulls me to my feet.
I reach out and brush the stray strand behind her ear. Just the small amount of contact sends heat coursing through my body, landing with an aching twitch in my groin. “I always want honesty from you, Berkeley.”
I’ve been preparing myself for this all day. I’m ready to take her to see a movie, or to some swanky-ass wine bar on the oceanfront.
“Okay.” A mischievous gleam enters her eyes. “I worked a double today, and my feet kind of hurt. All I really want to do tonight is kick off my shoes and drink a beer. And look at the stars.”
I reach up and pull on my earlobe a few times, wanting to make sure my ears are functioning properly. She wants to…what the fuck? Finally, I speak. “For real?”
She nods firmly. “Absolutely.”
I grab her hand and begin pulling her quickly out the door.
“What are you doing?” Her question is blurred by giggles and squeals. All of which I like.
“I’m getting you out of here fast, before you change your mind and tell me that what you actually want to do is go wine tasting or see a chick flick.”
I stop in my tracks as I survey the tiny gravel lot. Cars are spilling out onto the street beyond. “Where’s your car?”
When I look at her, she’s smiling a coy smile that lets me know my guess earlier about her being an evil vixen siren was correct. “I had my friend Mea drop me off. I’m with you tonight, soldier.”
It’s way too soon for a first kiss. It’s way too soon for a first kiss. This is my mantra as I stare at her, my eyes wandering from her eyes, to her amazingly sexy hair, to her lips, to her cute button nose, back to her lips…
When she pulls the bottom one into her mouth, my gaze is stuck to that spot. I’m telling myself that if I kiss her right now, I’ll scare her away and ruin everything I suddenly want to build. I manage to tear my eyes away from the succulent lip and take her hand again.
“My truck is this way.”
I’m not a small guy, around six feet, three inches. Berkeley is about a foot shorter than I am. Rather than watch her struggle to simply make it up the step rail, I grip her around the waist and lift her up into her seat. Her eyes meet mine as she settles into the leather, and we remain locked as I pull her seat belt and cross it over her torso, sliding it into the buckle on the other side of her. When I pull back, I swear I see a trail of sparks that follow. Heat explodes in my gut, and I can’t remember the last time a woman made me feel like I needed to douse myself with cold water from a mere graze of skin. I close her door and take a deep breath as I walk around to my side of the truck.
When I’m seated with the engine running, I ask her where I should go. “To the 7-Eleven for our beer, and then…where do you live? Is it on the beach, by any chance?”
I smile and pull out of the lot. “It’s pretty damn close.”
“Perfect. Let’s go to your place.”
I drive. As I pull into the 7-Eleven parking lot, I glance at her. She’s lounging in her seat, perfectly at home in my truck. I swallow thickly, trying to dispel the ball of instant attraction still stuck somewhere between my chest and my dick.
This girl might be the slow, epically painful death of me. But damn, what a way to go.