In Nicole Helm's newest release, Cowboy SEAL Homecoming, Alex Maguire struggles to readjust to civilian life back home on his family ranch in Montana. He doesn't realize how lucky he is to have Becca Denton by his side to help rebuild the ranch...and his heart.
Read on for an exclusive preview from the book!
The other guys had already passed out the sandwiches and drinks and had started eating. Alex didn’t feel hungry, but skipping lunch would either earn him looks or questions, so he decided to choke down a sandwich one way or another.
Hick nodded toward the stables. “Something about a rooster and a goat, and that’s about the point I stopped listening,” he said in the same smoker’s gravel he’d had since Alex could remember.
“Why don’t you go get her, Alex?” Gabe suggested innocently. Way too innocently.
Alex narrowed his eyes. “She’s a grown woman. She can eat lunch when she wants.”
“I’m done,” Hick said, tossing his baggie into the trashcan next to the bunkhouse. “I’ll get her. Girl gets lost in her own head sometimes, grown woman or not.” Then he strode off to the stables.
Alex slowly unwrapped his sandwich, glancing at where Hick had gone. Becca had stepped into the doorway of the stables and was talking to Hick. The sun teased red highlights out of her dark braid, and her smile was wide and pretty even this far away.
He couldn’t hear her or Hick, but somehow he could think of exactly how it would sound if she were standing next to him laughing, instead of yards away with Hick.
“I don’t know. Maybe we should cut her out,” Gabe said in an overloud voice that had Alex jerking his head back to the conversation.
“What?” he demanded. “What are you talking about?”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m not sure she’s cut out for this,” Jack said before polishing off his sandwich.
“Cut out for what?”
“I don’t know,” Gabe said with a shrug. “Ranch work. A bunch of guys hanging around. She’s a skittish little thing—maybe we should keep her separate. Cut her out of the ranch stuff. Let her handle the easier stuff. You know.”
“I do not know. She’s tough as nails and knows more about ranch work than you ever will,” Alex retorted. “Where the hell is this coming from?”
Gabe and Jack suddenly exchanged grins that didn’t make any sense to Alex whatsoever.
“How long until he breaks, ya think?” Gabe asked.
“I’ve got ten bucks on a month.”
“Oh, she’s going to get to him before the month is out. I take that bet,” Gabe said, holding his hand out to Jack, who shook it wholeheartedly.
Alex scowled at them. “What the hell are you two assholes talking about?” he growled.
But they got to their feet, walking around the picnic table on either side, then slapping each shoulder as they passed.
“Just proved a point for us, that’s all,” Gabe said jovially, heading for the house.
“What point?” Alex demanded after them, but they walked away laughing to themselves and Becca was approaching and…
What damn point?
“Uh-oh. The guys been messing with you again?” Becca slid next to him and dug through the cooler to get her sandwich.
“I don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” Alex grumbled, staring down at his untouched sandwich.
“Well, pissing you off, if your look is anything to go off of. Which I assume was their intention based on the way they’re laughing themselves hoarse. Is this a guy thing or a Navy SEAL thing or what?”
“The whole purposefully pissing each other off thing?”
“I think it’s a Gabe and Jack thing.”
Becca laughed, and though they’d been at this thing for weeks, cohabitating and working together, he wasn’t quite over the sound of her laugh. It was always so effortless and joyful. It always spiraled inside of him like a firework ready to go off.
But he never let it go off, because he was a little afraid of the man who’d be left.
“Here, have a Coke,” she said, sliding the red can his way. She gave him a sidelong glance. “You okay? You look…”
“I look what?”
“I don’t know. You look peaked—and don’t ask me what that means. I only know that’s what my mom said whenever she thought I was coming down with something.”
“I’m fine,” Alex muttered.
“You should try tea.”
“Yeah, there’s this sleepy-time stuff—”
“I’m not drinking something called ‘sleepy time,’ Becca. I’m a grown man.”
She smiled at that, but then she reached across and touched his hand. A brief brush of her fingertips across the top, nothing that should jolt through him like electricity. “Grown man or not, you still need to take care of yourself. We need you around here.” She gave his hand a little squeeze, then moved to leave, but before her hand could leave his, he grasped it, holding her in place.
He didn’t know why, but he couldn’t seem to force himself to let her go. This was some link to something that didn’t feel bleak and dark. Her small, strong hand in his—a lifeline.
To what, he didn’t have a clue.
“I told the guys about the name,” he said, his voice too rusty, his grip too tight. “They liked it.”
She held his gaze, though her pulse clearly fluttered in her neck. “I’m glad,” she returned, her voice sounding a little…whispery.
His skin prickled, as though he were neck deep in water on a freezing cold night. As though something important was waiting for him if he only held on to Becca long enough.
But he didn’t have his uniform, and he didn’t have his gun, and what could be waiting for him without those tools?
You’re not a Navy SEAL anymore.
He blinked down at this beautiful piece of civilian life. A cheerful woman with a heart the size of Montana and a smile that did unbidden things to some place in his chest he couldn’t name.
It might be your heart.
“I, um, better get back to work,” he said hoarsely, forcing himself to let go of his grasp on her hand. He got up and started walking toward the bunkhouse.
Walking or running?
Title: Cowboy SEAL Homecoming
Author: Nicole Helm
Series: Navy SEAL Cowboys, #1
Pub Date: January 2, 2018
Three former Navy SEALs
Injured in the line of duty
Desperate for a new beginning…
Searching for a place to call their own.
Alex Maguire never thought he'd go home again. The perfect soldier, the perfect leader, he's spent his whole life running away from Blue Valley, Montana—but when a tragic accident bounces him and two of his men out of the SEALs, there's nowhere left to turn but the ranch he used to call his own…and the confusing, innocently beguiling woman who now lives there.
Becca Denton's like nothing he could have imagined. She's far too tempting for her own good, but when she offers to help turn the ranch into a haven for injured veterans, he can't exactly say no. He'll just need to keep his distance. But something in her big green eyes makes Alex want to set aside the mantle of the perfect soldier and discover the man he could have been…safe and whole within the shelter of her arms.
The Prodigal SEAL has come home.
NICOLE HELM writes down-to-earth contemporary romance specializing in people who don’t live close enough to neighbors for them to be a problem. When she’s not writing, she spends her time dreaming about someday owning a barn. She lives with her husband and two young sons in O’Fallon, Missouri.
Find Nicole Online: