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Milly Taiden
A Hero Scarred
Latin Goddess Press
November 7, 2013
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Jessie Tavarez doesn’t want to be set up. As far as she’s concerned she doesn’t even want to talk about men. She’s just gotten rid of one jerk and isn’t looking for another. But her good friend Kayla is hell-bent on matchmaking. What she thought was a quiet vacation turned into an unexpected first date with a soldier scarred by war. And the first man to make her realize not all men are the same.

Matt Payne knew his friends meant well when they tried to matchmake. But he’d been hiding his physical scars from the sympathy of women and his family. A sneaky set-up finds him having dinner with the first woman he physically and emotionally connected with since his injuries.

As the night wears on, they find that fear can override instant chemistry and force a person to choose fear over passion. But will Matt allow Jessie a peek into his world, to share his scars in the hope for more? Or will he ignore the fact she’s been scarred too?

Reader Warning: This is a super sexy short that contains: A scarred war hero, a Latin BBW, and some incredibly sizzling loving. Your e-reader might need some cooling.

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Chapter One

A Hero Scarred

Jessica Tavarez stared at her wine glass. If only it could solve all her problems. It didn’t even distract her enough to make her forget the hell she’d been living.

“Come on, Jessie. A getaway will be fun for you.” Kayla watched her from her seat on the other side of Jessie’s living room.

“I have to admit that she’s right.” Larissa nodded. “You need a vacation. And a nap. You’re cranky as hell.”

Jessie glared at her friends. “I’m not cranky. I’m just tired of the bullshit. I can’t believe I’m done with Dan. It feels like some other shit is gonna pop up at any moment.”

Larissa twisted a long, brown curl through her fingers. “Are there any other outstanding or pending items on the case?”

“No.”

“And all property is coming back to you.”

“Yeah.”

“So you’re done.” Larissa grinned. “I know with this hell you’ve been going through it feels like it’s too good to be true, but all evil, rotten things must come to an end.”

Maybe for others. It felt like she’d been dealing with this divorce way too long. “He has to move out of my house, and then it will sink in.”

“Yeah and then you won’t have to live in a rental when you own your own damn house.” Kayla tipped her wineglass and gulped down the rest of her drink.

Rissa nodded. “Now back to Kayla’s idea of a vacation.”

Jessie sighed. “I told you all I’m too busy.”

Kayla raised her brows. “You work with me. I already had some days scheduled for the new house. Come down with me again. We’ve been at the hospital a lot lately and I think you really need a break. Seeing patients day in and day out takes a toll on me as their therapist, I know it takes one on you as a volunteer.”

“The psychologist has spoken.” Rissa said.

“Fine. But no hooking me up.”

Kayla’s eyes went wide. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Rissa burst into giggles. “Oh, yes you do!”

“Kayla, please,” Jessie groaned. “I am not looking to get married when I just got rid of the slug I was with.”

Kayla had been actively hooking up all her friends on blind dates—or trying to anyway. Whether they wanted to or not didn’t seem important to their bossy friend.

A Hero Scarred

She watched Kayla refill her wineglass. “Who said anything about marriage? It took me and Ryan almost two years before we went that far. But meeting a nice guy never killed anybody.”

“Maybe not other women, but it’s likely to send Jessie into cardiac arrest.” Larissa snickered.

“You’re looking to get your ass kicked, Rissa.” Jessie didn’t care if Larissa was her sister. She’d still smack her upside the head when necessary. Being oldest had its perks. “I’ll come down to your house for a few days.” She gave in. Her system had taken a beating with the stress of her divorce and she loved Isla Dorada. “But no set ups.”

Kayla glanced down at the finger food Larissa had brought with the wine. She took her time picking a small beef patty before glancing up. Her smile was pure innocence. “I understand.”

That angelic grin put Jessie on defcon-five alert. “You do?”

She nodded. “I understand you don’t want the chance to meet a nice guy who may turn out to be a great person.”

“Kayla—”

“Matt is a sweetheart,” she added in a rush. “He’s nothing like your ex. But I get it. You aren’t ready.”

Larissa stared at Kayla, her glass midway to her lips. She studied Kayla with surprise. “Really?”

“Oh yes.” Kayla nodded. “I’ve been there. I know what that’s like.”

Guilt assailed Jessie. She wasn’t trying to be mean to her friend. Kayla only wanted to see her happy. “I know you know, K. I just… I don’t think I can handle that right now.”

“I don’t know why you have to see everything as getting set up for marriage,” Rissa threw in. “We meet people all the time. Maybe that’s what you need. New people that will bring some happiness or even a breath of fresh air into your life.”

“It’s not that simple.” Not anymore. She didn’t trust men not to screw her.

Emotionally or financially.

“You’re thinking too much.” Kayla leaned into the sky blue, plush sofa and sighed.

“I always think too much,” Jessie agreed.

“Come down to the house. We’ll have a few quiet days in the sun and on the beach.”

It sounded so good. Incredible, in fact, but the over thinker inside continued to hesitate. Jessie scrunched her face. “Won’t I interfere with your time alone with Ryan?”

Kayla grinned. “Nah. We’re good.”

“Well…”

A Hero Scarred

Rissa threw a balled napkin at her face. “Just go already. Dios. You’re going to make me paranoid.”

She laughed. Her sister was a free spirit. As far from paranoid as one could get. It drove Jessie insane most of the time. Where Jessie needed to plan and organize ahead of time, Rissa would rather do spontaneous things. Nothing got to her. Nothing worried her. Hell. Her whole relaxed personality stressed Jessie most days.

“Why don’t you come with me?”

Rissa grinned, her dark eyes twinkling. “I plan on coming down there in a few months. Right now things are too busy at the shelter.”

She nodded. Rissa’s work at the abused women’s shelter was never over. She’d rather not take a break than leave someone who needed her help.

“It’s settled then.” Kayla piped in.

“I guess. But I have to go through my schedule and ensure somebody can cover me for the time I’m away. Make sure all your appointments have been taken care of and then we can go.”

“This is why I love you,” Kayla sassed. “You never leave anything up to chance.”

“I’m your office manager. Besides, you’re way too busy to be left to take care of your office stuff,” Jessie said. “And in case you didn’t notice I’m the best at my job. And you know it.”

“True. This is why I want to find the perfect man for you.”

“Kayla!”

Rissa chuckled. “She’s not going to stop.”

Jessie threw the same balled napkin to Kayla, who was smiling into her wine. “I know. She’s incorrigible.”

“That I am.” Kayla winked. “I won’t stop until you find the right man for you.”

“Oh, brother.”

Rissa turned to her. “Well. I think your trip should be fun. Dodging all kinds of single men through the beach.” She giggled. “I hope they don’t try to hit on you while nude sunbathing. That would be epic.”

Yeah. An epic fail. She could only hope Kayla didn’t set her up with a bunch of guys. She was starting to act like her mom playing cupid. It was okay when it was directed at others. But when Kayla focused her efforts on Jessie, it wasn’t much fun.

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  • Other Books in the Wounded Soldiers

  • A Hero's Pride
    Book 1

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