Rules of Engagement

Rules-Of-Engagement 300
Army MP Janey Foster has been burned before, so when Captain Jake Tucker asks her out it’s easy to turn him down. He’s against all her rules. No officers. No one who jumps out of helicopters for a living. No sex on the first date. But when she runs into him at the local hot spot, can she resist?

Jake isn’t about to let Janey walk away from the best thing that’s ever happened to either of them, but can he convince her they’re perfect for each other or will he have to let her go?

AUTHOR NOTE: This is a 15,000 word short story that was previously published as my other penname, Loribelle Hunt. It is intended for audiences 18+ and includes an excerpt of my short novel Defending Serenity.

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Excerpt

“Hooah,” I whisper. “Talk about being all you can be.”
“Roger that.”
I flash a quick grin at my friend, Layla, before turning back to the field where a platoon is doing PT–physical fitness training. I snap my mouth closed so hard my teeth click. It isn’t as if I don’t do PT a few days a week with my own company. But none of them look quite like these guys. Or maybe they do, and I just haven’t noticed. They’re my friends, my co-workers and subordinates. It wouldn’t be appropriate to lust over them. Fraternization is frowned on, after all. Besides, my company doesn’t do PT in the middle of the afternoon, in the baking sun, shirtless, sweaty, and in ACU bottoms and boots.
I rake the tallest one with an admiring gaze. I just can’t help myself. He’s facing away from me, leading the formation. I figure him for the platoon sergeant. His back is broad and strong, his torso forming a perfect V down to a narrow waist. And that ass. Small and tight, made for grabbing. I wonder what he looks like from the front and stop the half-formed wish that he turn around.
Frowning, I turn away and stalk toward the building dispatch sent us to. It has obviously been too long since I’ve had sex if I’m lusting over a stranger. Maybe I should do something about that. Tomorrow is the beginning of my three-day rotation off. A night out with the girls is just what I need. Getting laid would be an added bonus.
We’re halfway to the building when I hear the formation being dismissed, and I can’t help stopping and turning. Drooling. The platoon sergeant is jogging toward us, and I steel myself against the sight of him up close, against the sound of his voice. That voice is so commanding, so sure. Such a turn-on. The closer he comes to my, the better the view becomes. The front is just as incredible as the back. Chiseled abs, hard, defined pecs and a face no one would turn away the morning after. He wears confidence like a glove, and everything about him screams alpha.
He’s watching me as he approaches and grins when he stops in front of us, appreciation gleaming in his eyes. My stomach flutters, and I try like hell to ignore it. That is not personal interest. I clean up fine, but in uniform, wearing the bulky vest and pistol belt that identify me as military police better than the small tab on the side of my sleeve, I’m hardly a knockout. I meet his eyes with a cool gaze of my own, reminding myself I’m on duty and all business, but my mouth is dry, and those damned butterflies are persistent. No one speaks for several seconds. Layla breaks the silence. Good thing, since I want to melt into a puddle at his feet just anticipating hearing his voice again.
“I’m Sergeant Banks. This is my duty officer, Sergeant Foster. We’re looking for Captain Tucker.”
His smile broadens. “You found him. Let’s go inside.”
He turns and leads the way. I hang back, trying to get a grip on my libido. As an officer, he’s off limits. Well, that isn’t exactly true, since he isn’t in my chain of command, but it goes against my personal rules. I broke them once and have an obsessive, asshole ex-husband to show for it. My gaze narrows on his back. This guy seems to be made of the same cloth. Definitely off limits.
The problem is as much as I repeat it to myself, my body stays revved up, hyper aware of his every move as he pulls a door open and waits for us to precede him into the cool interior of his company headquarters. I shouldn’t have tagged along on this call, don’t need to be here unless one of my MPs requests assistance or a major crime has been committed. But I’ve a long tedious week and I’m curious about what kind of case warrants dispatch sending out the patrol supervisor. I let Layla take the lead.
“So what’s the problem, sir?”
He looks at both of us, arching a brow and making a show of noticing the differences in our rank, the staff sergeant taking control while the master sergeant stands silent, but instead of explaining the situation to him, I remain quiet, waiting. Finally, he jerks his head over his shoulder and says, “Follow me.”
We walk through the building and out a back door into another parking lot. I immediately see the problem. Layla circles the car, a vintage convertible Corvette.
“Yours?” I ask.
“Yeah.” He stands with his hands on his hips and surveys the damage.
“Someone’s really got it in for you, sir,” Layla mutters.
That is an understatement. I can see it had been an awesome car. Before someone took a couple of cans of spray paint to it.
“Piss anyone off lately?” I ask.
I could so see him doing that. He frowns at me, his expression making it clear he doesn’t approve of… What? The person who trashed his car? Me? My questioning him? Pushy women? I don’t care. He isn’t anything to me, no matter how attractive I find him.
“No more than usual.”
I have no idea how to respond to that, bite back a laugh and just nod, turning to Layla.
“Call CID. See if they want it. If not, notify MPI and start questioning the area units.” I seriously doubt CID will want a vandalism case but I’m gonna cover my ass anyway. Hell, MPI probably won’t want it either. They’ll leave it in Layla’s more than capable hands. I reach for the radio mike clipped to my shoulder. “I’ll get a couple of patrols out here to help out.”
The other woman nods, already dialing her phone, and I turn to leave. There’s no reason for me to stick around. If I do, I’ll just spend my time salivating over a tall, dark, and broody man who is no concern of mine. He doesn’t seem to notice me leaving, but catches up with me out front before I can get back in my car.
“Sergeant! Where are you going?”
I arch an eyebrow at the demanding tone in his voice, and the one in my head responds run, Janey, run.
“I’m the duty officer. I supervise. I don’t do cases.” Not unless it’s much more serious at any rate. I nod my head at the building. “Sergeant Jackson and MPI will take care of this for you.”
Word has already come from dispatch to expect the Military Police Investigator, and there are more patrols en route too.
“Oh.” He takes a deep breath, and I ignore the way his chest fills out even more. Thank you, God, he’s put on a shirt, and I don’t have to watch all that smooth skin in motion. “So you’re done here. What are you doing tonight? Have dinner with me.”
I blink and struggle for words. I’m tempted. Too damned tempted, and that would break my number one rule. No dating officers. Also my number two rule. No dating alpha males, especially the infantry kind that jump out of helicopters for a living. And probably my third rule. No sex on the first date. I shake my head.
“Sorry. I can’t.”
“Tomorrow,” he pushes, and I have to smile at his persistence.
“No. I’m afraid not.”
He looks at my bare hands. “Are you married?”
“No.”
“Living with someone? Involved with someone?”
“No,” I answer, fighting another grin. Does he ever give up? And why do I like that so much?
“Then what’s the problem?” He gives me a crooked, sexy little grin that I bet gets him most women he throws it at. I almost sigh when I see saw it. Instead, I open the door to my car.
“I don’t date officers. Or men who jump out of helicopters for a living.”
“Technically, we rappel.”
I shrug, feigning indifference. “Same thing, really.”
He cocks an eyebrow obviously not agreeing but getting back on subject. “Never?”
“Never.”
“Well, then. It was nice meeting you.”
He steps back as I get in the car and start it, but he doesn’t go inside. As I pull out of the parking space and drive toward the exit, I meet his gaze in the rearview mirror. The confident, sexy smile is back, and he gives me a two-fingered salute against his forehead. I sigh, afraid I’m not seeing the last of Captain Tucker, and I’m damned certain I won’t be able to resist him a second time around.

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