Home > SEAL Next Door (SEALs of Coronado #9)(8)

SEAL Next Door (SEALs of Coronado #9)(8)
Author: Paige Tyler

He didn’t realize he’d buried his hands in her hair until his fingers gently twisted into the long strands. Moans rippled from Poppy’s throat as he tugged her closer, kissing her harder. She nipped at the tip of his tongue in return, her way of letting him know she enjoyed everything he was doing.

The feel of her firm breasts pressing against his chest made him go hard in his jeans and it took everything in him to stop himself from backing her up against the door and kissing her until she gasped for air.

Sam broke the kiss slowly, lifting his head to see her standing there with a dazed but clearly pleased expression on her face. The look was adorably sexy on her.

“Is there a problem?” she asked, her voice low and silky.

If his cock hadn’t been hard before, it sure as hell was now. A fact that Poppy was obviously aware of if the way she was pressing against him was any indication.

“No problem.” He gave her another kiss, keeping it semi-PG this time as he tried to keep things under control. “Tonight was beyond perfect, but it’s getting late, and while I don’t know about you, I have to be up early again tomorrow.”

“On a Saturday?” Poppy frowned. “That sucks.”

“True,” he agreed. “But I was hoping we could pick back up with this tomorrow night after another date. I don’t have to work on Sunday.”

“I’m completely up for another date tomorrow night.” She gave him a sultry smile, grinding against him a little. “Speaking of being up for something, I wouldn’t be averse to you sleeping here tonight.”

Sam rested his forehead against hers with a groan. He should be in line for a sainthood after resisting this kind of temptation. “The offer is inviting, but this thing we have going is good enough to take our time with, and I have no doubt that if I stay here tonight, sleeping is the last thing we’ll be doing.”

Poppy seemed to consider his words for a moment, like she was solving some kind of mathematical equation. Which, considering Poppy, maybe she was. He hated that her previous experiences with guys seemed to put her in a place where she had to carefully examine everything a man said to see if he was rejecting her. The thought that she might ever consider him doing that made him want to say the hell with it and that he’d sleep here tonight if it made her happier.

But then Poppy was smiling again as she went up on tiptoe to kiss him almost chastely on the lips. “You know, I’ve never once had a guy tell me he wanted to take it slow before. It’s a new experience, but I think I like it.”

Turning, she opened the door, then kissed him again. “I’m looking forward to whatever you have in mind for our next date, but don’t think for a second that I’m letting you get out of here so easily tomorrow night.”

He slid a hand in her hair again, his fingers tightening possessively. “Don’t worry. I like taking my time, but that doesn’t mean I’m slow.”

After another kiss, Sam was out the door and across the hallway, half thrilled he’d successfully held himself in check and half sure he was an idiot for wasting the opportunity. One look back at Poppy standing there gazing at him with a look of pure heat, had him leaning toward the latter.






“If she’s so smart, why is she dating you?” Dalton asked in his patented southern drawl.

Sam leaned back in his chair at the conference room table and shook his head. The moment he’d brought up last night’s date, he knew it had been a mistake. But in his defense, he and his Teammates had been waiting in the conference room for over an hour for the after-action briefing on the Indonesian mission. What else was he supposed to talk about? And yeah, to a certain degree, he supposed he’d wanted to brag a little about landing a date with a woman as beautiful and intelligent as Poppy. But when the guys had ragged on him immediately, he realized he’d made a mistake. Dalton’s most recent moronic comment had only confirmed it. Fortunately, Sam hadn’t told them her unique name or they probably would have ragged on that, too.

Wes and Lane were mostly interested in where Sam had met her, while Dalton spent all his time trying to pin Sam down on whether there was any video evidence to confirm the existence of his so-called girlfriend. Sam was glad he’d refused to provide any details or Dalton would be looking her up on Facebook right now.

From where he sat at the far end of the table scrolling through something on his phone, Holden ignored the whole conversation—or at least refused to take part in it. Sam was grateful for that at least.

“What does this new girlfriend of yours do for a living?” Lane asked, this time actually acting like he was honestly curious, and not attempting to set Sam up for more ribbing.

“She’s a math professor at San Diego Mesa College,” he said. “She went to UC Berkley for her Bachelors, Masters, and PhD.”

His buddies all went still at that announcement. Even Holden looked up from his cell, a stunned expression on his face.

“A PhD?” Holden repeated. “Exactly how old is this woman you’re dating? Not that there’s anything at all wrong with dating an older woman, but how much older than you are we talking here?”

Sam’s first instinct was to tell Holden to shove it sideways, but he bit his tongue. He’d been a little confused about Poppy’s age and the whole doctorate thing, too. His friends had no idea Poppy had skipped so many grades in school.

“She turned twenty-four in June,” he said. “When I said she was brilliant, I wasn’t kidding. She started college when she was sixteen and got her PhD before she was twenty-three. So, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not dating an older woman. She’s my age.”

That answer seemed to satisfy everyone except Dalton, who clearly wanted to send more sarcasm his way. But just as the idiot opened his mouth to say something guaranteed to piss Sam off, the door of the conference room opened and Agent Keith Lucero, the CIA analyst who’d originally briefed them on the Indonesian mission, walked in. They’d worked with Lucero a couple months ago on that armed drone thing in Nigeria, so Sam and the other SEALs trusted him. Two other people in suits who had to be CIA agents, too, followed.

Before Sam could wonder why these new agents were at what had been described as nothing more than a simple after-action briefing, Chasen Ward, Noah Bradley, and Nash Cantrell—three of the most experienced members of their SEAL Team platoon—stepped into the room and grabbed seats at the table.

SEALs were usually assigned to missions based on the presumed level of threat, with four of them being used for most operations. The fact that five of them had been sent to that island a few days ago indicated there was something else going on, either in terms of the danger the Team faced or the consequence of them failing. Now, three more of his Teammates were involved, and all Sam could think was that the mission had gotten a lot more serious.

“I didn’t know we’d be seeing you on this op, Chief,” Holden said, regarding Chasen curiously while two of the CIA agents pulled up a file on the classified computer at the front of the room.

“I didn’t either,” Chasen said. “Commander Hunt called thirty minutes ago and told us to get over here for the briefing.”

“I guess that’s my cue,” Lucero added, motioning toward the large wall-mounted monitor now displaying a classified warning screen with the words, TOP SECRET…SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAM…PROTECTED INTELLIGENCE SOURCES. “Bottom line, the CIA has re-prioritized the Indonesian threat, based on the intel your Team collected, Holden. The situation is now considered to present a grave threat to national security and is much worse than anything we imagined when we first sent your team to that island.”

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