Heat of Passion
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“Aw shit, you said you quit,” Carson said, frowning with disapproval.
A pair of brown-bordering-on-black eyes glared at him. “I don’t need another lecture about my bad habits.” Will took a deep, defiant drag of his smoke.
“Another lecture? Who else was giving you grief about it?”
The two men left the course and strode in the direction of the gravel parking lot out front. It was just past three, and the sun was still high in the sky, a bright yellow canopy that warmed the air and made Carson squint as they walked to his Range Rover. Next to him, Will pulled out a pair of sunglasses from the front pocket of his golf shirt and slid them on. The mirrored shades made him look like the Terminator, or maybe a bad-ass cop. Carson always felt like a pretty boy next to the Lieutenant. He and Will both stood at six-three, but Carson’s dirty-blond hair and blue eyes had never seemed as macho as Will’s dark crew cut and that I’m-gonna-kick-your-ass black-eyed gaze he had going.
“A friend, huh,” Carson mused, focusing on Will’s last remark. “Would that friend be Melanie?”
“Mackenzie,” Will corrected, setting his square jaw. His eyes were covered, but his ragged sigh was clear confirmation that he still hadn’t managed to score with the mysterious woman he’d been hung up on for years. Carson didn’t know much about the situation, but some of the cryptic comments Will had made over the years led Carson to believe he was disgustingly in love with this Mackenzie.
“So you two went to high school together, in that zero-population town you grew up in?” Carson asked, trying to pry out a few more details.
“Hunter Ridge. It’s a few hours east of San Diego, and it has a population of five thousand, ass**le.”
“Gee, five thousand people. That’s like the seating of a Nickelback concert.” He paused. “Actually, I bet those concerts sell twice that, if not more.”
He jammed his finger on the electronic keypad and unlocked the Rover, then opened the driver’s side door. Will hopped in the passenger side, immediately rolling down the window. The car had air conditioning, but Will didn’t seem to care.
“So anyway, that’s the girl, right? The high-school sweetheart?” Carson prompted.
He wasn’t sure why he was pushing for details, but lately he’d come to realize he knew next to nothing about the other SEAL. He and Will had been part of Team Fourteen for four years now, and while Carson knew all the other guys better than his own family, Will remained a mystery. Garrett said some dudes were just like that, secretive to the death, but it didn’t seem right to Carson. Maybe it made him a pansy, this need to get to know another guy, but oh well.
“Best friend.” Will’s reply came out tense and strained, as if he’d rather pour hot wax over his body than say the words.
“Okay, best friend.” Carson started the car and reversed out of the parking spot. “So this best friend, what does she do, you know, for a living?”
“She makes jewelry.”
“Is she any good?”
To Carson’s extreme astonishment, Will let out a long, genuine laugh. “Actually, no. Her jewelry sucks. She knows it, everyone in town knows it, but people humor her because she won’t accept money for—” He halted instantly.
Curiosity trickled through him. “She won’t accept money for what? Oh man, is she a hooker?”
“She’s not a f**king hooker,” Will shot back, his features twisting with fury. “Jesus.”
“Then what does she do, aside from making bad jewelry?”
Silence stretched between them and Carson’s curiosity transformed into a spark of concern. Maybe this was why Will was so serious all the time. Maybe he was hung up on some nut job.
“She’s a psychic,” Will finally admitted, his voice rough. He glanced over at Carson as if gauging his reaction.
Having never been a big believer of paranormal junk like psychics, Carson had to swallow back his incredulity. This woman was obviously important to Will, and he didn’t want to step on any toes. So instead he kept his eyes on the road and said, “Is she the real thing?”
“Unfortunately. So what’s the deal with you and the waitress from the wedding?” And that was it. Subject dropped. Will was very good at that, changing topics before you could blink.
Carson turned on Harbor and onto the Coronado Bay Bridge, driving in the direction of Will’s house. Will was the only member of the team who lived near the base. All the other guys lived in San Diego. Well, except for Garrett, who’d been spending every night at Shelby’s Coronado apartment ever since the two had fallen madly in love.
“There’s no deal,” Carson said as he came to a halt in front of a stop sign.
Will grinned. “She refused to go home with you, huh?”
He bristled. “Actually, I refused to go home with her.”
“Why’d you do that?”
“Because…” Before he could stop it, the truth rolled right out of his mouth. “Because I want to date her and she just wants a fling.”
Will laughed. Jeez, two laughs in the span of ten minutes. Maybe he was drunk. “Since when do you date?”