Part of the Heart of a Hero series, available from Pride Publishing.
Home on leave, Cade Donovan isn’t looking for a hook-up, let alone love. Certainly not while he is out with his brothers. When Cade steps in to even the odds in a fight outside a bar, he is instantly drawn to the man being ganged up on. Acting on instinct, the Marine Corps sniper is drawn to the smaller man like a moth to a flame, refusing to give up until the man is his.
Being the younger brother of the school bully has made Jason Carlson’s life hell. When a man intervenes during yet another retaliatory fight, Jason knows his life and his luck have gone from bad to worse. Warned to stay away from his home, Jason accepts the invitation of his rescuer and soon realises that his life has been forever altered and he can have everything he desires, if he’s willing trust Cade with his heart.
When the reality of loving a man in uniform sets in, Jason must find the strength with in himself to believe and know that love is worth fighting for.
Patience and training have provided him with the tools he’ll need to fight for what he wants.
The plea—barely a whisper next to the loud music pouring from the Driftwood Bar and Grille—caught Cade Donovan’s attention. Senses flaring he listened again, weighing his options. His gut clenched and he turned to his brothers.
“Go on ahead, I’ll be right in.”
“Cade, where are you going?” his older brother Riley asked.
“Just need something I want to check out.”
“We’ll go with you,” his younger brother Christian said, nodding to his twin brother Riordan.
Cade smiled and shook his head. “Pretty sure I can take care of myself.”
It was rare for all of them to be home at the same time, but they’d managed it—everyone meeting at Parris Island for their sister Cheyenne’s graduation from Marine Corps boot camp three days ago. They had another two weeks before they all needed to be back to their respective bases. Earlier in the night, his sisters had gone to the movies, while their parents had gone to a couples-only party.
“Let us know if you need us to come rescue your ass.” Riordan laughed.
Cade nodded as his brothers headed into the bar. Aware of his surroundings, he made his way around the side of the building. Knowing the music would cover the sound of his boots on the pavement, he kept to the shadows as he scanned the area. At the far end of the parking lot, four men stood on the other side of a brown 1990 Cadillac Seville, kicking and shouting at an unseen person. He made his way along the side of the building and his heart dropped as his intuition was confirmed. Pulling out his cell phone, he sent a quick message to his brothers.
“Four on one. End of lot.”
Cade took a deep breath and hit send. Riley was with the SWAT team in the nearby city of Kalamazoo. Christian and Riordan were both Air Force Combat Controllers. It made sense to get their help, especially if any of the four men had weapons, but he had no intention of waiting for his brothers to show.
“Is there a problem?” Cade asked, striding over to the group then crossing his arms over his chest as he stopped.
“None of your concern, Marine,” said a man with dark hair and the beginnings of a beer belly that his faded University of Michigan T-shirt failed to hide.
“Please help me,” the boy on the ground sobbed out. “I didn’t do anything.”
“You’re breathing, Carlson, that’s enough,” a second dark-haired man sneered.
The four men looked to be around his age and seemed vaguely familiar but Cade couldn’t place them. They’d called the boy Carlson. As far as he knew, there was only one family of Carlsons—the family of the school bully Scott Carlson. Scott had been in his class, so that made the kid his younger brother or possibly a cousin.
“Leave the kid alone.” Cade stepped closer. Regardless of the kid’s relationship to Scott Carlson, four on one wasn’t remotely fair in these circumstances.
“Nobody asked you,” the first man said. “It’s none of your business.”
“Yeah, but seefour on one isn’t fair, unless the one is a Marine. What did he do besides breathing that warrants all four of you beating the shit out of him?”
“His brother made our lives hell growing up,” a third man replied.
“Pretty sure Scott Carlson made everybody’s life a living hell. That doesn’t mean you take it out on his brother. That could be suicidal,” Cade reasoned as the smaller man tried to pick himself up.
“Doubt it. Saw him using his brother as a punching bag a couple of weeks ago. Makes him fair game,” the second man said.
“Bullshit! Why don’t you grow a pair of balls and face Scott himself?” Cade exclaimed. “Stop taking it out on someone smaller than you. That makes you just as bad as Scott.”
Movement caught his attention. Cade turned and blocked the punch, before countering with one of his own, knocking the man to the ground. He stood his ground as the remaining three men stalked towards him. Turning slightly, he stepped forward with one foot and punched the solar plexus and the gut of the closest man. Shifting his weight and pivoting, he kicked a third man in the head, knocking him to the ground, before focusing his attention on the remaining man. The man had been silent during the whole exchange.
Cade returned to the modified fighting stance he preferred and waited for the smaller man to move. He stared into the other man’s eyes until the smaller man looked away and kicked out at him. Cade caught the heel of the man’s cowboy boot and lifted with all his strength, sending his opponent sprawling onto his back.
Ignoring the four downed men, he stepped into the circle of bodies and grabbed the kid’s hand. He spun around, pushing the kid behind him as the sound of footsteps approached.
“What the fuck?” Riley asked, dialling his cell phone.
Cade relaxed, stepped to the side and guided the younger man towards his brothers, positioning himself between the man and his attackers.
“You were supposed to wait for us,” Riordan whined.
“Be smart—stay on the ground,” Christian said, moving towards the four downed men.
“Go find your own fight. Four on one was unfair. Besides, you were too slow.” Cade shrugged.
“Quit your bitching, you three.” Riley pocketedthe device. “Police are on their way. What the hell happened?”
“The four of them were beating up on him for no good reason,” Cade explained.
“I…I need to go,” the smaller man stammered.
“No, you’re waiting for the police,” Cade said. “Well, the on-duty police. Riley is off-duty right now.”
The younger man shook his head and stared at the ground, kicking at a loose hunk of asphalt, holding one arm curled protectively around his abdomen. Cade’s instincts kicked in as he took a closer look at the battered man. Manoeuvring him towards the Cadillac, Cade used the nearby light to look for obvious injuries.
“How bad did they get you?” he asked.
“Just a few bruises.” The man shrugged.
“I’m Cade Donovan. These are my brothers Riley, Christian and Riordan.” Cade stuck out his hand to shake the other man’s instead of running it along his like his gut and cock were demanding.
** This book also appeared in the anthology - His Hero, which is no longer available.