Navy SEAL, Finn Crandall, still reeling from his last mission, is desperate for a purpose to bring him the redemption he needs.
Landing in Austin Texas, he meets the feisty Angie Donatelli. She’s a private investigator on a quest to reunite a young girl with her stolen baby. Angie is tough, and doesn’t want or think that she needs help. When she’s confronted with a man who won’t take no for an answer, sparks fly and flames ignite. Angie finds herself falling for the sexiest and most stubborn man she has ever met.
When Finn and Angie team up to search for the missing baby, Finn’s fierce protective instincts kick into high gear. As they dig deeper into the baby’s disappearance, Finn’s old nightmares get tangled up with the new horrors they encounter. Will Angie’s unconditional love and Finn’s inner strength be enough to fight the demons of his past and conquer the evils they’re confronting today?
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About the Author:
Caitlyn O'Leary is an avid reader, and considers herself a fan first and an author second. She reads a wide variety of genres, but finds herself going back to happily-ever-afters. Getting a chance to write, after years in corporate America is a dream come true. She hopes that her stories provide the kind of entertainment and escape that she has found from some of her favorite authors.
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He pulled up to his mother’s duplex. He had thought about seeing her before the ‘bait-n-switch’ meeting with his teammates, but knew they would respect his privacy…for a while. He took a deep breath and headed for the door.
“Finnius? Are you even listening to me?”
Finn looked up from the kitchen table and saw his mother hovering over him. The last time he had seen her she had been by the counter chopping vegetables.
“You’ve been sitting at my table for over an hour with a long face, and the bread won’t be able to rise.” His mom put a plate of Norwegian butter cookies and a glass of milk in front of him.
“You must be worried,” he said indicating the treats.
“I am.” She sat across from him. She actually patted the pocket of her sweater, and laughed. He came close to smiling. If his mom reached for a cigarette, she was stressed. She hadn’t smoked in over fifteen years.
“Finn, honey, two years ago you had to pick me up off the floor when your granddad’s Alzheimer’s knocked me on my ass. All the while you were hurting as badly as I was. But you did what you always did, you cared for me, coaxed me into moving out here to be near you and make a new life. Hell, you dragged us both into counselling. You were a Godsend. But I know you have one of the most stressful jobs in the world.”
“Are you kidding me, Mom? This is the job I wanted more than anything. I worked my ass off to become a SEAL. It was my dream.”
“I’m not denying that, Finn. But you’re not going to tell me some of the things you do aren’t life and death.” His mother pushed the plate of cookies closer to him.
“Of course, they are.” Finn grabbed a cookie, took a bite and a long drink of milk.
“Then you came back two months ago, and you’re not you. You’ve shut down.” She stood up from the table and got the carton of milk from the fridge to refill his glass, giving them both time to contemplate her words.
“Can you tell me about it?” she asked as she poured more milk into his glass.
“I can’t.” The two words came out harsh and ugly.
“Can you tell me how you feel?” she asked gently.
He sighed. “The cookies help.” She gave him a ‘mom’ look.
“They do. They make me feel like a kid again when a cookie could solve all my problems.” He blew out a long breath. “Mom, things are pretty confused right now. I fucked up. I hurt some people.”
She didn’t immediately respond and it was one of the things that made Evie Crandall so special. Yeah, she was totally on his side, but she was a thinker like him. She contemplated her responses, so he knew when the chips were really down, she wasn’t just blowing smoke up his ass. At the same time, she’d have his back as fiercely as his team would.
“Did they deserve to be hurt.”
“So the ones that did, did you hurt them on purpose?”
“Fuck yeah.” He picked up another cookie and bit into it with relish.
“Well then that’s probably a good thing.” She smiled. “The ones that didn’t deserve to be hurt, did you hurt them on purpose?”
He didn’t answer. But that was as good as answering, wasn’t it?
“Would you do it again, Finn?” she finally asked.
“God help me, Mom. Yes, I would. I had to do it to ultimately help them.” His voice cracked, and he thought he’d throw up. He pushed away from the table. He had to get the fuck out of there.
“Wait, baby boy, what does Mason say? Does he say you crossed a line?” She looked up at him as he trembled, every one of his instincts said to run, but he hadn’t said his good-bye, so he couldn’t leave.
“He says he would have done the exact same thing. I don’t believe him. He would have found a different way to handle things. I don’t know how, but he would have. Any of the others would have. So Mason saying I did the right thing doesn’t matter.”
“No, it wouldn’t.” She sighed. She went around the table and grabbed him in a hard hug. He rested his head on her shoulder for a long moment before he pushed away.
Taking a step back, he cupped her cheek. “I’ve got to leave for a while.”
Evie bit her lip.
“How long is a while?”
“I don’t know.” And he really didn’t.
“Can you tell me where you’re going?”
“I’m not sure yet. Even if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you. The team is going to be dropping by, and they’ll be asking questions. I don’t want to put you in the situation where you have to keep things from them or lie.”
“Will you check in?”
“Eventually.” It pained him to see her pat her sweater pocket again, looking for an imaginary cigarette.
“You’re hurting her!” Rebecca ran into the kitchen. “You need to tell her where you’re going at least!” Finn stared in shock at the fifteen-year-old girl with her long brown hair swinging and her eyes blazing in anger.
“Rebecca, calm down, he doesn’t mean to hurt me.”
“It doesn’t matter, Evie. He is.” She turned back to Finn. “Don’t be selfish. You need to promise to call her.”
Finn was amazed that this girl, who had once been so quiet, was yelling at him and defending his mother. He was proud of the work his mother had done with her.
“You’re absolutely right, Rebecca. I’m sorry. I promise to call her every two weeks, no matter what. Will that work?”
Her jaw jutted out. “Once a week.”
The corner of his mouth lifted. “All right, once a week. Will that work?” Rebecca gave a short nod, then he saw her eyes fill with tears.
“Hey, hey, what’s this about?” He stepped closer to her.
“I don’t want you to go, Finn. I like having a big brother to talk to.” He looked at the young girl, and his heart twisted. Suddenly, the girl who had been on her knees was superimposed on top of Rebecca. He broke into a cold sweat, and gritted his teeth. He knew logically he was still in his mom’s kitchen and not in that farmhouse.
“I don’t want you to go.” Rebecca’s voice.
“I’ll do anything, please let me go.” It was that other girl’s voice.
Instead of brown hair and brown eyes, he saw blonde hair and blue eyes.
“Mom?” Finn called out.
“Finn?” His mom’s voice helped to steady him. He blinked and was once again able to see Rebecca. He tried hard to give her the best smile he could. He knew it was pathetic. She was looking up at him confused, but then he held out his arms, and she hit him like a freight train.
“I love you, Finn.” Her love floored him.
“I love having a little sister. You are one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I’ll make sure to talk to both of my best girls every week.” “You better.” His mom came over and wrapped her arms around them. He took comfort in it.
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