Harlequin FREE Online Read: Special Forces Blind Date by Regan Black
While waiting on a blind date, Helen Rocco crosses paths with Alex Gadsden. He’s the Special Forces soldier she flirted with through their overlapping physical therapy sessions, but a relationship would never have worked with an adrenaline junkie like him. “Steady” is the main quality she’s looking for in a boyfriend these days. But Alex is determined to win over the woman he can’t forget. In this thrilling prequel to USA TODAY bestselling author Regan Black’s brand-new miniseries, The Riley Code, Helen and Alex must face down a threat from her past before they can even think about a possible future together.
Helen Rocco checked her watch. Whoever she was supposed to meet was already five minutes late. Not the best first impression he could make. She’d known better than to agree to this blind date, but her assistant Ellie Simms insisted it was time to get back out in the world again. Although she’d downloaded and agreed to use one of the popular dating apps, her friend had specifically set up this meeting. Tonight. No excuses or backing out allowed.
Of her two options for the evening, Helen supposed waiting here in the crowded, popular bar was better than waiting alone at home for…something more boring or far less pleasant to happen. Recently, she’d been receiving text messages and calls from an ex-boyfriend that veered toward obsessive and were riding perilously close to threatening.
The music pulsing through the speakers and the dull roar of conversation swelled around her. After another stressful day at the office, the tension gripping her shoulders and neck was starting to signal a headache. Helen considered leaving, although that meant dealing with a bigger headache tomorrow at work if she walked out before meeting her blind date. A minor headache beat abject fear any day. She’d give him five minutes more.
As she sipped her soft drink, her mind drifted back to Alex Gadsden, the last man to spark her interest. Spark? In reality he’d set her hormones on ablaze. He’d been a walking, talking fantasy and had taken all her willpower not to jeopardize that perfection with a dose of reality.
More than likely Alex still was all sorts of flawlessness, considering staying sharp and in shape was part of his job description with Special Forces. He was tall and lean, and she remembered the way his muscles flexed and the sweat of exertion left his shirt clinging to his skin. She also remembered his devastating smile and his perceptive gaze when he caught her staring at him. His eyes could flash from charming to challenging and back again during their shared time in the physical therapy gym.
He’d been recovering from a knee injury and she’d been… Well, she pulled her thoughts back from that gaping, dark place. Her shoulder was healed and it was best not to revisit foul memories when she needed to make her own good first impression soon. Hopefully.
Part of her still wished she’d given in to temptation and dared to ask Alex out for coffee. No doubt he would have been a sexy and satisfying rebound during a tough time in her life. Devoted to the work, soldiers like Alex didn’t stick around even when they wanted to. Their willingness to step up when summoned was a commendable trait, just not the steady-relationship material she longed for in her personal life.
On the skinny table barely wide enough for two drinks, her cell phone screen blinked with an alert. Her blind date had probably found something better to do. She gave him credit for having the decency to contact her. Sighing, she entered the unlock code to confirm what she already knew.
She forgot the phone, her attention zeroing in on the voice that never failed to send her pulse into overdrive. “Alex?” She gawked at him, hardly able to believe it. “What are you doing here?”
He held out a small bouquet of daisies. “Forgive me. It took a few minutes to work up the courage to come over.”
With flowers? Not even the Special Forces guys were that kind of prepared. Her phone flashed again with another alert she ignored entirely, basking in the unexpected pleasure of seeing her fantasy walk back into her life.
His eyes were the soft blue of a summer sky, framed by thick, golden eyelashes and laugh lines in the corners. Her speechlessness clearly amused him and his gaze brightened mischievously. “You don’t like daisies anymore?”
“Alex,” she repeated, struggling to recover with some dignity and grace. Oh, this was awkward. “I’m, ah, meeting someone.”
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