A SEAL's ConsentBy: Cora Seton
Three Months Ago
“I bet you’ll miss.”
Navy SEAL Jericho Cook smiled at the beautiful woman bracing her hands on the table across from him, waiting to see if he could sink his quarter into the empty glass set halfway between them. Given the circumstances, he could have been at one of the dive bars he’d frequented throughout his military career, but he wasn’t. He’d left the Navy twenty-four hours earlier, and now found himself back home in the town where he’d grown up—hiding in the kitchen at a formal dinner party given by an older couple who were by far the oddest people he’d ever met.
Barely twenty feet away in the Russells’ immaculate, antique-filled parlor, the other guests chatted and entertained each other by taking turns playing an impressive grand piano, as if they’d stepped back in time two hundred years. Their host and hostess were dressed in perfect Regency attire—as they always were. James and Maud had informed Jericho earlier they’d decided years ago to live a Jane Austen–style life, and their clothes, their house and the horse-drawn carriages they used to get around Chance Creek all fit the early 1800s time period.
Many of the female guests were in Regency dress, too, including Savannah Edwards, the blonde egging him on from across the table. She had taken her turn at the piano just minutes ago, and had impressed him with her considerable talent before slipping away with him to the kitchen. She’d come to Montana with her friends Riley Eaton, Avery Lightfoot and Nora Ridgeway to spend six months at Westfield, the ranch that had been in Riley’s family for well over a century. They planned to concentrate on the artistic and musical pursuits they’d given up since their college days—donning Regency outfits to remind themselves daily of their pledge to forgo anything that distracted them from their goals. When they’d arrived, they hadn’t known Riley’s uncle had already sold the ranch to an eccentric billionaire named Martin Fulsom—or that Fulsom had given it to Jericho and his buddies as a place to build Base Camp, their sustainable community.
They did now.
What they didn’t realize was that Jericho and the others had to pass a series of difficult requirements, or lose Westfield to a developer. One of those requirements was that all four men had to marry.
Jericho figured he’d just found his bride.
Savannah leaned closer, and Jericho stopped thinking about pianos, the Russells or the sustainable community he was supposed to help build. He stopped thinking of Boone Rudman, Clay Pickett and Walker Norton—the three other Navy SEALs he’d joined to launch this endeavor. He stopped thinking about Fulsom and all his ridiculous demands—and the reality TV show they’d all soon be a part of, although the women didn’t know that, either.
Instead, he focused solely on Savannah. The way she was trying to distract him.
Framed by her deep blue gown, plumped up by some old-fashioned corset contraption, her breasts were something to behold. When she leaned against the table, it was hard to look anywhere else.
“I won’t miss,” he assured her, even as his pulse beat a little faster. It had been a long time since he’d been with a woman, and Savannah was stunning.
Perfect wife material—now that he had to have one.
When they’d met, her lively conversation had drawn him in as she’d alternately enthused about Westfield, poked fun at her deadly dull job back in California and hinted about her aspirations to become a renowned concert pianist. Everything about her had intrigued him; especially her excitement about living in Chance Creek.
Which is why he needed to make this shot. Savannah had promised him a kiss if he did.
And he wanted that kiss.
“Big talk, sailor. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Her trash talk didn’t bother him. His prowess at quarters was legendary. His father had taught him to play the game—minus the alcohol—when he was nine, and Jericho had taken to it like a fish to water. He had a steady hand and good aim, and practice makes perfect, as they say. He rarely lost.
Savannah bent a little lower. She was trying to distract him. Jericho bit back the grin attempting to spread across his face. He was enjoying himself. And so was she. Savannah had already tipped back two shots of tequila after he’d sunk his first two quarters. He had a feeling she was celebrating her new life at Westfield as much as he was. He needed to focus.