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Many years ago, triplets Lily, Dee and Holly Burton made this promise to each other. But three military hotties are ready to show these girls that some promises are meant to be broken.

Wounded Hearts by Karen Monroe

Lieutenant Holly Burton doesn’t have time for men … especially men in uniform. A top-notch psychiatrist, she can dissect the true nature of a person in mere moments. Problem: She can’t understand why her own emotions have gone haywire at the sight of one tall, luscious Navy SEAL. Dominant, overbearing and extremely good-looking, Commander Scott Gilcrist has managed to knock down every single one of her defenses. Problem: She’s supposed to be evaluating his mental health. If Holly isn’t careful, she may be the one laying down–for some serious sexual therapy!

Excerpt (from Wounded Hearts)

Chapter 1

“Ma’am your two o’clock is here.”

“Thanks HM2. Show the patient to my room. I’ll be there in a moment.”

Holly listened absently as the door shut with a resounding click before taking a moment to remove the reading glasses perched on the bridge of her nose.

Clutching her forehead in weariness, she inhaled and exhaled quickly.

God. I’m tired.

Today was supposed to have been an early day, but one of the other doctors called in sick at the last moment, and suddenly her schedule became over booked. Thankfully though, her two o’clock was the last one she had to meet with.

Squinting her eyes, Holly glanced at the front of the folder detailing the service member’s name and social security number. “Let’s see,” she murmured, flicking the file open so the pages smacked against one another. “Jeffrey Scott Gilcrist. DOB January 31, 1970. Wounded in Fallujah, Iraq. Complications with shrapnel, no infection detected.” Holly paused in the reading, paying particular attention to the next sentence. “Recommended for immediate review by MHS.”

MHS. Mental Health Services.

She laughed to herself. Such a nice, but determined, way of saying the man needed to see a psychiatrist.

Flicking through the rest of the red medical folder, she silently absorbed the contents. Aside from a host of injuries, in the last year alone he’d cracked three ribs, had his left shoulder grazed by the bullet of an M-16 and broken the metacarpal bone in his right hand.”

Holly chuckled. She knew of one sure-fire way to break that bone and it usually involved a closed fist hitting something hard.

Definitely a hell raiser.

It was obvious this particular sailor had been kicking up dust most of his life. There was not one year in the folder, dating all the way back from his acceptance to the Naval Academy seventeen years ago, where he hadn’t been admitted for one or more medical problems. Now, he was here to see Mental Health.

“Well, that’s certainly one for the books. I’m surprised he hasn’t been here sooner,” she muttered to herself.

Special Ops forces like the SEALs were usually required to make frequent visits, especially those directly engaged in battle. Judging from the type and nature of his injuries received over the years, this sailor had to be a warrior. And, from the looks of it, the Commander had seen a lot of action. She would have expected him to grace the vaulted hallways of Mental Health a lot sooner. Apparently though, he’d managed to escape all of his annual reviews.

Holly’s mind conjured up a picture of a gnarly-looking, tough-as-nails sailor, whose face was weathered and lined from many years of hard drinking. The ‘Right Spirit’ campaign had been in effect for a few years, but Holly sincerely doubted the Navy’s effort to decrease alcohol abuse in the ranks had reached this man. From all appearances, the Commander liked to live dangerously, probably enjoyed it more than he should.

Curiosity beckoned, and she turned toward her computer suddenly. Accessing BUPERS, the Navy’s answer to corporate HR, she logged into the confidential section. A few clicks and ticks later and Holly had all the answers she needed.

The first rule of a psychiatrist is to never meet with a patient unprepared. And, judging from what she read so far…she would definitely need all her ducks in a row.

The man was a warrior, through and through. She’d met a fair few Vietnam veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during her residency, and the one thing she learned from the jump was preparation was the key to success. There would be a fight on her hands if she approached him in the wrong way. Certainly, the last thing she needed was an altercation-physical or otherwise.

Shaking her head, she rose from her desk with quick fluidity, making sure to grab the medical folder along with a pen and a writing pad.

“Okay. Well it’s time to take the bull by the horns. Especially if I ever want to go home.”

***
“Here we are, sir. If you would just have a seat, Lieutenant Burton will be with you in a moment.”

Scott Gilcrist frowned before rolling his eyes around the elegantly styled office, taking in the understated pastel paintings lining the wall. “I thought I was meeting with Lieutenant Richard Carson.” He made sure to stress the male name.

“I’m sorry sir, but he’s SIQ today.”

“Then I’ll go ahead and reschedule.”

The Petty Officer smiled, flashing two deep dimples. “That’s not necessary, sir. Lieutenant Burton is already on her way. Just have a seat and make yourself comfortable.”

Scott opened his mouth to protest, but shut it when he glimpsed the look in the Corpsman’s eyes. He knew determined when he saw it, and he had a better chance of flying to the moon than he had of rescheduling this appointment.

Peering at the young woman, he retreated for the moment. “Anyone ever tell you that you’d make a great officer, HM2.”

“I’ve already put in my package, sir.”

“Good deal. I’m sure the next time we meet, I’ll be saluting you.”

“One can always dream,” she responded laughingly. “Just have a seat and relax, sir. You’re in good hands with the LT. She’s one of the best.”

Scott flicked his eyes around the room, declining to sit. “How long do these…things usually last?”

“It depends really. But, you’re the Doc’s last appointment and she’s been here since 0500.”

“So, I might be in and out?”

“One can always dream,” she repeated her words from earlier, before turning to exit the room, leaving him alone.

Scott growled deep in his throat, dreading the seconds ticking loudly from the nearby wall clock. Resisting the urge to pace, he clenched his fist and again allowed his gaze to wander.

An expensive Gem globe stood in the corner, seemingly standing sentry over a pair of thick, plush blue cotton chairs angled at each end of a low sitting mahogany-stained coffee table.

“At least it’s not a couch,” he mumbled.

He’d expected there to be a couch.

Don’t all shrinks have couches in their offices?

He lifted his shoulders slightly, refocusing his thoughts. Well, his first plan of attack had been to not lie down on a couch of any kind. He would have sat on the floor. Now that he knew he didn’t have to worry about carpet burn, he moved on to his next course of action-immediate removal from the hostile area.

Scott rolled his eyes again, frowning at the delicate, obviously female touches to the office. His nostrils flared and the faint, lingering scent of perfume teased his senses.

Okay…so most folks wouldn’t classify this as a hostile area, but then again most people weren’t like him.

Most people hadn’t seen what he’d seen.

He’d been briefed by several of his men as to what to expect from these…sessions, the thought of some person, a woman no less, trying to get inside his brain to determine what made him tick had a definite air of aggression. He would rather have single-handedly stormed Fidel Castro’s compound. Anything, absolutely anything, was preferable to this. It was just too bad he didn’t have a choice. Captain Martin, the Commanding Officer of his unit, had made that very clear when they spoke last week. He’d been compelled in the worst way to keep this appointment.

An order was an order.

Scott flicked his wrist, looking down at his watch. He’d only been here for five minutes, but his anxiety had stretched the time and his nerves. Breathing deeply, he reigned in his emotions, blacking out the insidious feelings so his mind went blank. It was a technique he often used before a battle.

The muscles in his face tightened and his jaw went rigid with tension. All of his senses came to life. Ambient sounds and smells careened around him. He could make out the voices coming from just outside the door. He could smell the brewing coffee from the lobby.

Primal.

That’s how he felt. Probably not the best way to greet a Navy doctor and a fellow officer but he couldn’t stop it. He was a caged animal-an angry caged animal.

Footsteps, delicate tapping from small feet clad in heeled shoes, echoed in the hallway. Scott narrowed his eyes, tuning in the sound so all the other noise faded away. He waited, breathing silently, and he wasn’t in the least surprised when a soft knock rapped against the door.

Was he supposed to say something? He figured he wasn’t, so he kept silent.

Another moment passed before the knob turned and the door opened slowly, bringing in a cool draft of air along with the strong smell of flowers.

“Commander Gilcrist?”

The Lieutenant had a voice like Lauren Bacall, husky and deep while being feminine and arousing at the same time. In his hyper state of awareness, he sensed things about the woman immediately without even turning around to face her.

She had to be tall for a female, judging by the pitch and direction of her voice. The slow, assured way she spoke his name told him she was confident in her job and abilities. And, the fact that she remained poised in the doorway, waiting for his confirmation before making a move told him she wasn’t stupid.

Good! He hoped she was scared enough to sign the forms needed to release him back into combat. He didn’t need therapy and she didn’t need the headache of him. If they could agree on that basic premise then this whole charade could be ended…ASAP.

The seconds ticked by. Scott kept count by using the skills of his training. Part of him remained focused on the woman, while the rest of his functions focused on the surroundings.

“Commander Gilcrist?” The beautiful voice asked again, this time there was a note of hesitancy. “You are Commander Jeffrey Scott Gilcrist…right?”

Smiling to himself, he answered slowly. “No one calls me Jeffrey…or Jeff. That’s my father.”

“Yes, your father…” the slight sounds of paper rustling against paper punctuated the silence, “…Admiral Jeffrey Bartholomew Gilcrist. He’s a member of the JC. Is that correct?”

Stunned, more so by the fact that she had accessed his service record than by the subtle sense of defiance in her tone, Scott regrouped as quick as he could.

The woman had no idea who she was tangling with. “That information is classified,” he growled, hoping to infect the silly chit with a healthy dose of fear.

“I have a level four clearance.”

Which meant she could only access his service record. His missions were off limits. “Good for you.”

A long pause of silence sliced through the room after his flippant response, and Scott found it strange how the quick of quiet always sounded more fatal than the most notorious clamor. During a battle, the hushed calm was the most dreaded noise. The haunting echoes meant death was approaching.

Something or someone lay in wait.

Gunshots, deathly screams, the sickening sound of gurgling blood in the throat-anything was preferable to…nothing.

Right now though something different aside from death and destruction invaded his mind. Thoughts much more pleasurable than the haunting screams of dying women and children.

Distantly, he remembered how long it had been since he last felt the slick heat of a clenching, tight pussy. Fifty-seven days, nearly to the hour, since a woman had screamed out his name in ecstasy.

His cock hardened in distinct response to the yet unseen woman standing in the doorway. If she could challenge him and he hadn’t even seen her, what would she be like in bed with her legs spread wide?

Interesting notion.

The very thought spurred Scott to turn around and face his…therapist.

 

Chapter 2
The cobalt blue eyes gazing intently in her direction made Holly realize three things immediately.

First, she had assumed wrong about Commander Gilcrist. He wasn’t gnarly looking. In fact, he was one of the most handsome men she’d ever seen in her life. Second, though he probably was as tough as nails, there was an air of civility that coated his surface. It was a thin layer, but it was there nonetheless. Lastly…she was going to be in serious trouble if she didn’t stop staring at him. The man reeked of dangerous, compelling sex appeal.

Clearing her throat, Holly made sure to keep her gaze on the painting behind him while in turn keeping her knees from knocking as she entered the room.

Absently, she closed the door behind her with a flick of her wrist.

The important thing here is to keep your cool.

The thought bolstered her flagging esteem, and she smiled, hoping a friendly gesture would ease the tension. Walking toward him, she drew her shoulders back and kept her spine ramrod straight. Clipping the pen to the breast pocket of her khakis and holding her notebook and his file in one hand, she extended her right in the universal sign of greeting.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Commander Gilcrist. I’m Lieutenant Holly Burton.”

A person could only wait for a handshake for so long. The silent Commander obviously didn’t have time for pleasantries, and neither did she. Motioning toward the desk, she dropped the corner of her lips, frowning. “I know you were expecting to meet with Rich Carson, but he caught a touch of the bug that’s been going around.”

Holly waited impatiently for him to respond. She’d given him two good opening lines for communication, but still he stood quiet…like a Greek statue. The man unnerved her, which was why she felt the need to place the desk between them instead of leading him toward the chairs where she normally conducted her sessions. Shaking her head, she sat down. If the fool wanted to stand there then he could. Going home early was now a distant memory. She would wait him out.

Shuffling some papers, Holly did her level best to ignore the stoic stranger standing in the middle of the room.

“Are you afraid of me?”

Unsure if she heard the deep, soft-spoken voice correctly, she intoned, “Excuse me?”

“You’re not hard of hearing are you? I asked if you were afraid of me?”

Insufferable didn’t come close to describing him. “No, Commander. I’m not afraid of you. I was concerned that you might be hard of hearing and I was wondering how you got into the Navy,” she taunted.

He laughed richly. “Cute. Yet, I would think that a psychologist would have a better come back than that.”

“Sir. I’m a psychiatrist. There’s a difference.”

“Pageantry and insults at the same time. I don’t think I’ve had that before.”

Holly exhaled slowly. This guy was rubbing her the wrong way. And, to make matters worse he was doing it on purpose. Sighing, she wished she could release the bun securing her hair. Already she could feel a headache of the worst sort coming on. This dude was absolutely the last thing she needed.

“Sir, if you would prefer to meet with Lieutenant Carson then I’ll be happy to reschedule your appointment. Though, I’ll have to report your…uncooperative behavior to Captain Martin.” She paused before her coup de grace. “I’m sure your CO will understand.”

Cobalt slits of fire glared at her and if looks could kill then she was sure to have been incinerated on the spot.

Luckily, harmful glances were benign.

“Touché Lieutenant.”

“I’m glad you think so, Commander. Now if you would like to get started then please have a seat.” She gestured toward the chair near him. “If not, then let me know a good time for you and I’ll set up another appointment with Rich.”

“Rich?” he inquired, his voice deepening slightly.

“Lieutenant Carson,” she corrected, not sure when the patient/doctor relationship had been compromised. He was the one who was supposed to be on guard.

When had she lost control?

From the first moment you stepped in the room.

“Now that I’ve met you I don’t want to meet with…Rich. I want to ma-meet with you.”

Holly picked up on the slight stutter. At last, here was the gateway she needed. “You were about to say something else, but you stopped yourself. What was it?”

“I don’t think you want to know what I was about to say. Actually, I’m positive you don’t want to know.”

She could believe that, but if she was to regain control of this meeting then she had to step forward and assert her authority. With a controlling, domineering man like Commander Gilcrist it would be a necessity to set the boundaries. So far, he had reigned supreme.

He’d thrown her off her guard with his stoic, unnerving posture and he’d pushed her into a corner with his veiled taunts. Emphasizing her power would be a step in the right direction. There had to be an understanding and if she didn’t take this chance then she might as well pack it up.

“I want to hear what you have to say.” Again she gestured toward the seat nearest him. “This is what we are here for, Commander. I don’t want to discern your every secret, but I do want to know you. Help you if I can.”

“Know me. That sounds ominous. But, if you’re sure that’s what you really want, then I’ll tell you what I was about to say.”

Holly narrowed her eyes, and repeated the mantra she learned in med school. No patient is unreachable. “I want to know,” she dared.

The calm and cool Commander, didn’t even flinch before he said, “I was going to say that I wanted to mate with you. And, of course, I meant that in the most traditional sense of the word.”

Holly nodded robotically. More than a little stunned, she couldn’t even lift her jaw up to seal her lips.

“But for now, I’ll settle on just talking to you,” he interjected, finally dropping his long frame in the seat across from her desk. “There’s just something about you that I can’t put my finger on. But, it makes me want to fuck you…hard.”

Bits of wetness gathered in the region of Holly’s white cotton panties at the crude description, and in the back of her mind she could envision her loose headboard banging against the wall.

Good Lord! The man was like some sort of carnal God.

She’d read his jacket and she knew the particulars. Six foot four, blonde hair, blue eyes, allergy to penicillin. Yet, cold hard facts didn’t do the man justice.

The short cut of his hair emphasized well-defined, strong cheekbones. The curve to his jaw was manly, and the barely-there scar on his chin added that hint of strength to a face that would never be defined as classically beautiful.

Rugged. All of the Commander was rough around the edges.

Sputtering, she finally found the strength to speak audibly. “I-I think we should establish some boundaries, sir.”

“I’m more of a free thinker.” He smiled slowly. “Occupational hazard.”

“I can understand that, sir. But, we’re going to need to set some ground rules before we can begin. First off, I would appreciate if you didn’t talk to me like that. I know colorful euphemisms are widely accepted in the Navy, but please refrain from using them in this office. ”

“That was phrased very nicely. I’m sure you wanted to say something different though. That’s okay, I’ll abide by your rule, but I’ve got one of my own too. Since I’m here for…therapy then why don’t we dispense with the titles and formality? You’ll call me Scott and I’ll call you Holly.”

She smiled slowly. “I’ll call you Commander Gilcrist, and I’d prefer for you to call me Doctor Burton. Only in my practice with children do we use first names. You don’t consider yourself a child do you?”

“I can show you better than I can I tell you, Holly.”

“That’s great, but in this office you will call me Dr. Burton.”

“Sure thing, honey.”

The muscles in her face tightened, and her cheeks hurt from holding the smile in place. This was going to be one of the longest sessions of her life, no sense in holding off the inevitable any longer.

“How long have you been a member of the Special Forces?”

“You have a level four clearance. Why don’t you tell me?”

Antagonism-the first true sign of therapy. “A little over thirteen years. You joined straight from the Academy-.”

“I see you’ve done your homework,” he interrupted. “So, why ask me how long I’ve been a SEAL?”

“Commander Gilcrist, you’re here because I have to evaluate you and make sure that you’re fit for duty.”

“I am fit for duty, Lieutenant. The sooner we get that out of the way. The sooner you can invite me to your bed.”

One blink. Don’t give him more than one blink. “I can’t help but notice the numerous amounts of sexual references that come with your comments. Do you feel too distracted right now for us to continue?”

“Nothing distracts me, but I can’t help the fact that you are a beautiful woman.”

Holly nodded, keeping her expression blank.

Flattery wouldn’t get this man anywhere in her office.

“Well, maybe it’s me being a female that distracts you, so I’ll transfer you over to Doctor Carson and I’ll be sure to let him know that you have issues controlling yourself in the presence of a woman.”

“Hmmm…I didn’t expect you to give up so easy. I thought you were going to make this hard for me,” he murmured, rising from his chair.

So this is what this was all about. He wanted to get rid of her. No doubt he figured Rich would be easier pickings. Sad thing though, he was probably right. Rich loved the SEALs. He thought they were cool. He let his personal feelings interfere with his professional ones.

Holly didn’t like it one bit, but she would give the Commander his full money’s worth if he thought to toy with her.

Shaking her head, she leaned forward to peer across the desk. “Be sure to have Doctor Carson inform me when you two are done resolving this issue…so we can resume our sessions. I’ll then evaluate you for combat duty, sir.”

The look her gave her could have frozen a roaring fire. “You’re very brave, Lieutenant.”

Jeffrey Scott Gilcrist didn’t know the half of it. “So, are you ready to resume our session, or should we involve Doctor Carson?”