By Geri Krotow
Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Books S.A.
“I didn’t hear you open the door,” Val said, trying to remain unaffected by Lucas.
“I like to be a bit mysterious.” He stood next to her, relaxed and smiling.
She laughed. “Doesn’t it feel like you’re being scrutinized like a bug when you apply for a new position?”
“It’s all part of the process,” he said with a shrug. “Nothing more than I went through for my security clearances. I wouldn’t want someone treating me or my family unless I was sure they were totally legal and qualified.”
“Still, it must be a little uncomfortable for you, since I know way more about you than you know about me or anyone else who works here.” She spoke to him as she tended the grill. Better than make eye contact with him.
“Are you trying to tell me you lead a double life as an assassin or something?” As she swallowed a giggle, he leaned against the deck railing. She felt his stare through the darkness. The deck light’s beams didn’t reach far in the winter night.
“Nothing like that, no.” She prayed that the night and the smoke from the steaming salmon hid her blush, or that he attributed it to the heat of the grill or even her glass of wine. Which she hadn’t touched.
“I suppose neither of us is the same person we were all those years ago, Lucas.”
“Not at first glance, no. But despite our life experiences, and everything that’s shaped us to this point, I’d like to think our basic personalities are the same.”
She looked at him.
“How could they be?”
“You sound like a woman who’s been through a lot.”
“No more than you.” She paused. “I read your résumé. I know you were in some tough places when you were a SEAL.”
“I was. And that helped me figure out that I wanted to be in a profession that gave back to others who’d served. It didn’t hurt to find something I could still practice when I’m sixty-five. I left active duty once my initial commitment was up and went to med school.”
“Yet you still work with wounded vets.”
“It’s in my blood at this point. It was also a matter of opportunity. I scored a scholarship from the National Health Services and then owed time at Walter Reed. This is, in fact, my first job away from a government facility.”
Val laughed. “Well, BTS isn’t Walter Reed, that’s for sure. But your clients will be just as traumatized, Lucas. I haven’t offered you an easy desk job.”
“I don’t want one.”
She studied him in the dim light. “No, I suppose you don’t.”
Lucas didn’t do easy. Never had.