Home > Cowboy SEAL Homecoming (Navy SEAL Cowboys #1)(7)

Cowboy SEAL Homecoming (Navy SEAL Cowboys #1)(7)
Author: Nicole Helm


   Alex ignored the bubbling urge to refute Jack’s claim. An argument would hardly prove his point. He was fine. Being organized and prepared for each next step was hardly a reason for censure or concern.

   “Alex. Just this one time—one time—couldn’t we play it by ear?”

   Alex hated when Gabe used that reasonable, careful tone with him. Alex had been the first one to heal, which meant he was the one most removed from the accident and the lingering effects of it. Gabe didn’t have a right to be careful with him.

   “You know as well as I do what playing it by ear gets you.”

   “Hardly going to die here,” Jack returned, an edge to his voice Alex recognized. It was half of why Alex and Gabe had worked so hard to get Jack on board with their venture. Jack needed an extra dose of healing, but he was never going to take it.

   Not unless it was under the guise of work.

   “I think we need a plan.” Alex glanced back toward the kitchen. “Becca? When you’re done in there, can you come in here?”

   There was a long pause before she offered an okay.

   “She’s a jumpy little thing, isn’t she?” Gabe murmured. “What’s the story there?”

   “Hell if I know,” Alex returned, his voice just as low so Becca couldn’t hear it in the kitchen. Alex focused on his binder. He’d spent the past year collecting information, making timetables, estimating cost and labor. Gabe and Jack had both been irritated with him for doing it in such detail, and for being so high-handed as to do it all himself.

   But Gabe and Jack didn’t seem to understand the necessity of a full, detailed plan of attack, and Alex was most comfortable with a situation when he was in charge. Being in charge had kept everyone under his care safe and unharmed.

   Except for that one time. Which reminded him of the time when he’d been a boy. In a car. Powerless…

   He shook it away. Neither accident was his fault. He’d been through all the required therapy. He had no guilt and no blame. None.

   How could he have known some guy was going to throw a grenade into their vehicle? How could he have planned for that eventuality in enough detail that he could have kept from crashing the DPV? He couldn’t. He couldn’t.

   His mind screamed one million possibilities, and he ignored them all. It tried to prod him with memories of his mom’s accident. He pushed it all to the back. Because that’s what he was supposed to do. Ignore the guilt, ignore the pain, ignore the lives that had been lost.

   “You okay?”

   Alex glanced at Jack, who was eyeing him with an all-too-shrewd gaze.

   “I’m fantastic.” He would make sure of it.

   Becca stepped into the living room, hands shoved into her pockets, shoulders still hunched as if that might protect her from them.

   “What’s up?” she asked, her eyes darting around the room and never staying on any one thing for long.

   “I had some questions if you’ve got a few minutes to spare?”

   She glanced back at the kitchen almost wistfully, but she nodded. “Sure, I’ve got time.”

   He knew he’d done nothing to make her afraid. Clearly she had some issues, and they were all her own, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t responsible for putting her at ease and making sure she understood they were all on the same team here.

   “I was about to go over my plans with the guys, but I definitely want your input. I had a chance to walk through the bunkhouse this afternoon while the guys were settling in, but you might know something that I didn’t notice.”

   “Okay.”

   “Here. Have a seat.” He gestured next to him.

   If she tried to hide the grimace, she failed, but she didn’t bolt. She moved around the back of the couch and sat down with a very large and safe distance between them.

   “Here’s my schedule for tomorrow. I want you to take a look and see if anything seems off.”

   She blinked down at the binder. “You already have a schedule for tomorrow?”

   “I have a schedule for the next six months.”

   Her eyes widened and she looked up at him. It was the first time she’d done that without looking like she was working very hard to meet his gaze. Her eyes were a dark, pretty green that reminded him of summer.

   “If we want to open by winter, we need a solid plan. A detailed plan. I know you probably have plans of your own. We can compare and contrast, compromise when necessary.”

   “I don’t have anything like this. I just kind of go with the flow. Address problems as they crop up. Figure out what I’m going to do in the morning based on what happened the day before.”

   Alex glared at Jack and Gabe as they made choking sounds in an attempt to swallow down laughter. Well, Gabe was trying to hide the laughter; Jack made no bones about it.

   Becca looked around the room at all of them. “Did I say something wrong?”

   “Not at all. You just uplifted Jack’s and my spirits beyond belief,” Gabe said with a grin.

   Her face scrunched into confusion. “I did?”

   “We are constantly telling Alex to play it by ear, take it day by day. Mr. Six-Month Schedule doesn’t listen.”

   “Just because you schedule something, it doesn’t mean you’re not flexible,” Alex returned. He wasn’t going to let Gabe or Jack give the wrong impression of him. “If something changes or something happens and we need to alter this, we can do it. I have it all saved on my computer.”

   Jack snorted.

   “Did you do this before?” Becca asked, poking at the binder much like Gabe and Jack did. As though it were some foreign object brought from outer space.

   “Before?” he grumbled, trying and failing to keep the irritation out of his tone.

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