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Mar 25, 2017

Dress Blues by Lisa Carlisle

Dress Blues
Dress Blues
by Lisa Carlisle
Recalled to Love Book Two

Sometimes, it all comes down to timing…

Volunteering at a cat shelter is much calmer than the adrenaline-fueled skirmishes of Vivi Parker’s last deployment in the Marines, but her limp is a constant reminder of what she endured. The shelter is her sanctuary, her one relief from memories that haunt her. At a fundraiser, she runs into a man she could never have while she served, but had never forgotten.

Active duty had its challenges, but starting over as a civilian in Boston is more difficult than Jack Conroy anticipated. When his mom and sister drag him to a cat benefit, he never expects to see a woman he last saw wearing Dress Blues.

Vivi fears she’s no longer the woman Jack was drawn to, able to tackle rock climbing walls or other outdoor challenges. And Jack has decisions he must face.

Military rules forbade their burgeoning passion. But now, years later, the rules have changed. Yet, so have they. Is it ever too late for a second chance at love?

Note: Originally released in the Crazy Cat Ladies boxed set in October 2016. Updated for individual release.

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Content/Theme(s): Military, Second Chance, Cats
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Indie

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Excerpt & More

Purchase link(s):  Amazon
Excerpt:
The evening was going swimmingly. Vivi chatted with attendees and other volunteers about the cats and smiled whenever someone oohed and aahed over how adorable they were.

She froze. Holy shit. It couldn't be him. Not here. Not now.

It could. And it was.

She blinked. She wasn't fantasizing about this. This was the real, earth-shaking deal.

Run!

Although her initial reaction was to flee, her body responded in a different, pulse-rising way. Traitor.

He was still fine. No, better than fine. In a suit, he didn't appear stuffy at all; more like sinfully delicious. He stood over six feet tall, and his chiseled face was clean shaven, as she'd always seen him, but he'd let his hair grow in a couple of inches. He no longer sported the high and tight Marine haircut. The new hair style made him even sexier. Ooh, she could run her fingers through the sandy brown strands…

Sure, his date would love that.

Figured he'd be with some gorgeous blonde. Her pink chiffon dress showed off her killer body. In her spiky heels, she was only a few inches shorter than Jack. Ugh, she probably had legs as tall as the John Hancock Tower.

Oh no, they were walking in her direction. Must escape. Where to? She couldn’t duck under a table. And she couldn’t abandon her station, running away like a cat with its tail between her legs. Oh great, now she’d resorted to cat clichés.

If you turn your head, he might pass by unnoticed.

“Vivi? Vivi Parker?”

Shit!

The way he said her name in that deep velvet baritone made the colors of the ballroom swirl before her. In his Boston accent, her last name came out Pah-ka, sounding so damn rough and sexy. It never failed to send heated tremors rushing through her. She turned in what seemed like slow motion, fighting to keep her expression neutral. Her gaze locked with the twinkling blue eyes of the man that had consumed her thoughts while she’d been stationed in Okinawa. And if she was honest with herself, several times since then, wondering where in the world he'd ended up. Turned out, it happened to be closer than she'd guessed, and at a place she'd never expect. Even worse, it occurred while she stood next to an arrangement of cat photos, staring off into space.

“Lieutenant Conroy.” She forced a pleasant smile to mask her discomfort.

“Just Jack,” he said. “I'm surprised to see you here. The last time was on an island in the Pacific.”

“Small world,” she said. What she wouldn't reveal was that after her discharge, Boston had a new appeal for her. It was where Jack was from. She was from Portland, Maine, and had told herself Boston was a way to get a stellar education in a college town, yet be close to her family. Since she’d moved to his home turf, there was a possibility she'd run into him at some point. Hoping might be the more appropriate word. But here? Now?

“What are you doing here?”

“Helping out,” she replied.

He raked over her body with a slow, appreciative eye. He’d never seen her dressed up like this. Hell, she’d never even seen herself dressed up like this. At least, she looked good tonight. She'd scored a great deal on this dress at a consignment store. A woman from Beacon Hill or Brookline had likely paid a fortune to wear it once before tossing it in the discard pile.

He showed no sign of noticing her injured leg. Thank God. Why, would he? She was being paranoid. He wouldn't see her limping while she stood still.

Good, she didn't want to explain what had happened. Hated when people asked about it or worse, seeing that look in their eyes. She could tell when they were speculating about what might have happened. As long as she didn't walk, he wouldn't notice her slight limp. But Jack was sharp. Nothing would get by him, no matter how much time had passed.

His gaze lingered on her body before they returned to her eyes. Damn, that glance was bold. After all, he was here with a woman at his side. Vivi exchanged a quick glance with the woman.

“I'm Carrie,” she said with a smile.

That was odd. If Vivi had a man and caught him checking out a woman that way, she couldn't promise there wouldn't be a scene.

“Jack's sister,” the woman added in a deliberate tone. The way her eyes darted from Jack to Vivi indicated she suspected something had gone on between them.

“Yes, Carrie, my-uh-sister,” Jack stammered.

“Nice to meet you.” Vivi shook her hand.

“I'm guessing you know each other from Okinawa,” Carrie said. “Unless you were deployed to another island I don't know about?”

Jack turned to his sister in a sort of daze. “Island?”

Carrie laughed. “You okay, Jack? You said you hadn't seen her since you were on an island.”

“Oh, yes.” Jack shook his head and quickly added. “We did. We met over there.”

That was it. No further comments. No explanation about how they'd met, when they'd met, and why they'd lost touch. Probably because it was better that way.

* * *

She's here in Boston?

Jack blinked when he first spotted Vivi. It wouldn't be the first time he thought he'd spotted her, but this time, there was no doubt. Even with her head turned, he recognized her. He knew her profile; he'd sneaked glances at her countless times in the past and had committed her face to memory. She looked different tonight with her chestnut hair pinned up in a soft style and that dress showing off her knockout body.

It wasn't until after he’d called out her name that he second guessed his action. When she’d turned to him with vivid, wide eyes, signaling fear, his heart had pounded. His hands turned clammy, and he didn't know where to put them. Approaching her might not have been a good idea.

Too late now. They faced each other and had started a conversation, although he sounded like an idiot, a fact confirmed by his sister's smirk.

“So.” Vivi rearranged jars on the table, only to put them right back where they started. “You're home on leave?”

She was nervous, too. He read the signs. She was searching for something to do with her hands, while giving her a reason to avoid looking at him.

Not a bad idea. It gave him a chance to regroup without her eyes scrambling his brain, so he could converse like a normal person again.

“No. I'm home. Home for good.”

She knocked one of the jars over, spilling a few dollar bills from it. While she fumbled to stuff the money back in the jar, he stepped closer to help her. Instead, his hand landed on hers. In that moment, his fingers seemed to ignite, sizzling with the heat from the slightest touch.

“I got it,” she said, placing it shakily back onto the table. She backed into his chest. “Oh, I'm so sorry!” She jumped to the side. “I don't know why I'm so clumsy all of a sudden.”

From the corner of his eye, Jack caught Carrie smiling.

“I'll let you two catch up,” Carrie said. “Coming from a military family, I've heard one too many war stories over the years. But first, I need to look at these kitties.”

While Carrie viewed the photos, he caught Vivi's brilliant amber gaze and swallowed hard.
~~~~~~
Purchase link(s):  Amazon
Other titles by Lisa Carlisle:
Temptation
Returns
A Marine's
Proposal
Pursued
Better
Than Cake
Seth
Knights
of Stone:
Bryce
Knights
of Stone:
Mason
Knights
of Stone:
Lachlan
Tempted by
the Gargoyle
Darkness
Rising
Dark
Velvet
Dark
Muse
Dark
Stranger
Smoldering
Nights
Fiery
Nights
Rock Me
Tonight
Bloodlust
and Metal
Rock My
Senses
Gargoyle’s
Embrace
On the
Rocks
Betrayed:
A Ghost
Story
Shifters
Gone Alpha
Find Lisa Carlisle at:
LisaCarlisleBooks.com
Twitter: @LisaCBooks
Lisa Carlisle Pinterest page
Lisa Carlisle Facebook page
Lisa Carlisle Goodreads author page
Lisa Carlisle YouTube channel
Lisa Carlisle Amazon author page
More Lisa Carlisle on Cover Reveals

Be on the lookout for Lisa Carlisle's future release(s): Knights of Stone: Calum coming May 2017

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