Thanks for stopping by to read more on Bravo’s story!
This story is currently a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share with you the same snippet I did with my team about a little slice of Bravo’s life that happened before Devil’s Tango starts. Hope you enjoy this intro to Bravo and his character as much as the team did!
A little background on the scene… Bravo, Dell, and Fox own an apartment complex together, Oak Haven. It’s a good investment for them. The property is older, secluded, and some of the apartments come with garages. They each have their own apartment and garage in a building that’s connected. The building next to Bravo (shares a stairwell and) used to remain vacant, but Dell made sure it was rented to Daisy. After Fox completed a thorough background check.
Dell is driving them back to the building and he’s just parked in the garage. Fox leaves his bag in Dell’s truck, but Bravo grabs his and heads out of the garage. Fox and Dell are right behind him… and this is where our snippet starts.
“You smell that,” Dell asked.
“Yeah,” Fox practically moaned. “Spaghetti with—no, wait.” He sniffed. “Lasagna. Homemade sauce and garlic bread.”
Bravo shook his head and kept moving toward his stairs. Apparently Daisy was home and she was cooking which meant that any second… Fox and Dell stepped around him and headed up the steps like the dogs they were.
Bravo followed at a much more leisurely pace up the steps.
At the top, both were in his way because they stopped and were staring into Daisy’s open door and… She was in shorts. Bent over the sofa. Vacuuming or… who the fuck cared. He could not tear his eyes off her ass.
“She do this often,” Dell asked.
“Often enough that I have trouble sleeping,” Bravo replied without thought.
“And you haven’t…,” Dell started asking.
“Crossed the threshold,” Fox finished asking.
Bravo was saved from having to answer when Daisy looked up and caught them gawking at her. She smiled. It was radiant and he was in so much trouble. “Oh, hey! Sorry about the mess and noise, I was just doing some Spring cleaning and…,” she trailed off. “Fox, are you okay?”
Fox stepped forward. “Depends. Are you about to offer me a helping of whatever smells so good?”
“Depends. Do you like lasagna?”
“Love it with every fiber of my soul.”
She laughed and stepped away from the couch and vacuum. “Well, then, come on in and grab a plate. I made plenty.”
Fox sent him an evil smirk before he started for the door. “Threshold is mine.”
Bravo didn’t respond. He was rooted to the spot, unable to take his eyes off her.
Dell stepped in his line of sight. “You coming?”
“Yeah, give me a sec to drop off my bag.” Bravo opened his door and carried his gear inside. He went into the bathroom to wash up and try and shake himself out of whatever spell she’d put on him.
Splashed water onto his face. She’s good. Deserves more. Kids. White picket fence. House in the burbs.
He’s got nothing he can offer her. No name of his own. Nothing but a life in hiding. Shadows of truths. Nothing she could write home about.
Other than a good time had with the neighbor across the hall.
And things start to settle back into place in his mind. “Much better.”
He can flirt, but not touch. If he touched, then it’s once and never enough.
What?! He froze, his hand on the faucet, and stared at his own reflection. No. He did not just slip up and think… no. Shit, he must be more tired than he thought. He splashed more water on his face all the while chanting in his head over and over again… No touch.
Bravo knocked on her door.
Daisy opened it and just glowed. Like fucking radiant glowed and he couldn’t take his eyes off her. Because she exuded some magical girl thing that made him feel like a fucking moth with a death wish. A stupid, tongue hanging out drooling moth that needed to get burned so badly that he’d willingly give her the moon, stars, and—
She interrupted his mental soliloquy of mushiness. “Hey, sorry about closing the door on you, but I wasn’t sure if you wanted any. I know when I get back from long trips sometimes all I want to do is fall into my bed.”
Damn, even her voice was sexy, cute with its cuteness and insecurity and… fuck, this was killing him. It’d be too easy to just… be him. Tap it and leave it. No strings attached.
Therein lay the problem. He couldn’t leave it. She was his neighbor. Every day of the year. And he was fucked in so many ways he was getting carpel tunnel just thinking about it. So he did the only thing he could do. He stayed silent and smiled.
When her pupils dilated and her nostrils gave a slight flare, he knew. He had this round. Yes, tonight, he’d make it out alive. Unscathed. Untouched. Unburdened by a relationship with his sexy little neighbor.
Daisy held the door and looked up at him. John was silent. And staring at her. Like he’s waiting for her to say something or to… make a move. But she wouldn’t. Couldn’t. It was look all you want, but no touch with him. It was safer that way. For both of them. And she could live with that. She really could.
But gracious… she really didn’t want to keep her hands to herself.
He smiled. “Tonight, I’m hungry.”
She swallowed and forced her body to move and open the door wider. “Oh, well, then come on in.”
He took her invitation and moved closer. Into the entrance. Across the threshold. “But most nights I want exactly that.”
Too focused on the feeling of him moving closer and the heat of his body coming near hers and the beating of her heart, she almost missed what he said. “Exactly what?”
He stopped. In front of her. Near enough she could see the unholy flecks of gold in his dark blue eyes. “To fall into your bed.”
Blink. Blink. Her mind was supposed to work after that? “Uh. Okay.”
He gave her his bedroom smile. “That an invitation?”
She was a blithering idiot and she knew it. “To my bed or dinner?”
“Yes, no, I mean… wow, you are really good at this. Dangerous to someone like me.”
“That good or bad,” he asked, still staying in her personal space.
The filter in her brain had long since melted and the quality assurance department that normally censored her thoughts was gone. Long gone. “Your perspective.”
“From my vantage, it looks—” he leaned in and sniffed her hair. “And smells damn good.”
Ohmistars. He smelled good, too. So good that… she looked down. Her toes had curled.
He chuckled. “Close the door, baby. We don’t need any more riff raff interrupting our quality time.”
“We don’t have quality time,” she blurted out because the filter was gone. “Unless you count passing on the stairs and….”
“And…,” he prompted.
Snap. Her head popped up and a sliver of the filter slipped back into place. “How do you do that?”
“Make me want to do things I know I shouldn’t.”
He reached up and brushed aside a curl on her forehead. Technically he wasn’t touching her. Just her hair. Not her skin. Life was so unfair. “Honestly?”
“Please,” she said on a pleading sigh.
He hand fell away and she missed it already. “Practice.”
His answer swirled around in her head and didn’t sit as well as it should have. It was nice that he was honest, but… damn. Look, but don’t touch, she reminded herself.
She groaned. “I said that out loud, didn’t I?”
She shook her head and grabbed his t-shirt—again, technically not him and skin on skin—then pulled him the rest of the way in the apartment. “Dangerous.” She closed the door then turned around to find him right there. In front of her. In her personal space. “I will most likely regret this.”
He grinned. “Doubt it.”
“Oh, I will.” Deciding it was time for a little turnabout’s fair play, Daisy moved in closer to him. Until they were practically touching, chest to groin. “Because I’ve read enough stories that my inner hopeless romantic believes she can break the player in you.”
He moved closer. Still no touching. “Really?”
Pushing the envelope was never something she could resist. She moved the hair’s breadth of a hair’s breadth closer to him as well. “Yeah, really, because, baby, there’s nothing hotter than a reformed rake who’s found his garden.”
His eyes crinkled with what was no doubt a sexy smirk. “To hoe?”
“Not a hoe.” She smiled. “I’m Daisy.”
“So you are.”
“Say it,” she whispered in a throaty voice.
“Say what,” he replied in an equally affected voice.
A heartbeat went by. One. Two. The crinkle left his eyes and was replaced with heat. “Daisy.”
“Mmm, yes, that’s right. It may not have been the first flower you picked, but it’ll be your last.”
They stared at each other. Devoured each other’s soul. Fought an epic battle of wills between the rake and the one who’d been sent by God above to take him down.
She was the first one to break and blink. “Hungry?”
His reply was instantaneous. “Ravenous.”
She smiled and took a step back. “I totally won that round.”
He looked down at her chest and hardened nipples. “Think not.”
She glanced down at the front of his jeans and his erection. “Mine’s bigger. I win.”
He untucked his shirt and adjusted himself. “We play by those rules and you’ll win every time.”
“In the face of such talent, skill, and impressive evidence of clear victory, a lady must take every advantage she can get.”
He stepped aside. “You’ve been watching Downton Abbey again.”
“More like binge watching Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice while cleaning.”
He chuckled. “You win.”
Elated she’d finally won a round in their game of who could break the other’s control first or whatever weird game they’d started playing after their first flirtatious encounter, Daisy was too ecstatic to realize he wasn’t done and was totally unprepared for his breath tickling the nape of her neck as she passed by him and he told her…
“This round may be yours, but the next… is all mine.”
He was in so much trouble. Sad part was he knew it yet kept trying to deny it. Deny it? More like run like hell from it.
Daisy was his one.
Yeah, sure, he was a red blooded, testosterone filled male who didn’t sit around all day analyzing his feelings, but he’d had a little sister and she’d decided shortly after they’d met that he was the perfect confessor for all her girly thoughts and… fuck, he was so doomed. Not only was Daisy messing with his mojo, but she made him think of things better left in the past. Buried deep in the past.
But was he an idiot. A glutton for punishment. Standing there, at the entrance to her kitchen, watching her move around, barefoot, in shorts, standing up on her tiptoes, straining to reach up in a cabinet for fuck knows what because his eyes were glued to her backside and the way her shirt rode up and exposed the sweet curve of her ass.
Yep, that cinched it. All rational thought drained from his mind and he was left with the certain knowledge that she was his one. She had to be, because the way he was feeling matched his little sister’s description of how she’d felt when she’d met her one and… damn. There he was. Thinking about Laurel again. He never thought about Laurel unless it was the anniversary of her death and he was beating himself up over surviving the fire when it should have been her and not him. If he could go back and change the course of Fate, he would have. But he couldn’t.
And neither could he stop the memories of his little sister and the day she’d enlightened him on the whys and wherefore art thous on knowing when he’d met the right girl. The only girl.
It’d been a lazy Sunday afternoon. He’d been home for the summer from college and trying to enjoy a nap by the poolside to cure his hangover when Laurel had popped up beside him to block his sun and announce, “I met my one.”
Not bothering to take off his sunglasses or open his eyes, he mumbled, “One what?”
“My one. You know. Theeeeee one.”
He cracked an eye and peeked up at her. “Are we talking about theeee one as in the perfect shoe for that prom dress you won’t quit sighing over or something else?”
She harrumphed. “Don’t be obtuse.”
“Fine, I’ll keep rocking my acuteness.”
She groaned and shoved his legs over so she could plop down on the lounge chair. “I met him. My one.”
That got his attention. His eyes popped open as the overly protective brother inside him sat up. “You’re forbidden from meeting ‘him’s. We had that talk and you signed the agreement.”
“And yet I met him.” She squealed with delight and jumped in her seat. “His name is Chase and he’s older than me, but not my much and a complete gentleman and so cute and—”
The jaded cynical player in him latched on to the most important bit and he held up a hand. “Stop. Breathe. Go back. Older? By how much?”
She gave him a dreamy smile. “Two years.”
She was seventeen and that’d put him at nineteen and… yeah. Not happening. Ever. Laurel may not be his sister by blood since she was his stepsister, but she was the purest, most innocently sweet thing he’d ever met and there was no way in hell he was gonna let her fall prey to a player like him. He sat up and slipped his glasses down to look at her. “Then he can’t be your one. He’s too old.”
“JEB, be serious. He is my one. I know it. Felt it in my bones.”
“That was indigestion. What did you have to eat?”
“It was not and you’re not going to convince me otherwise.”
“Is he a eunich?”
“No, I… how am I supposed to know that?”
“You’re not and that means he gets to live. Without you.” Glad that was settled, he pushed his glasses back into place and started to lay back down.
She executed another suitably irritated harrumph and stood up. “He is my one and he’s taking me to prom.”
“The fuck he is.” He sat back up. “He’s two years older than you and you’re not eighteen. That makes you jail bait and him a dead man.”
She did that cute pouty thing that never failed to make him feel like he was too jaded, too cynical, and unworthy of breathing the same air as her. “I told you. Chase isn’t like that. He’s a gentleman and he hasn’t even kissed me.” She let loose a dreamy sigh and drifted back down to sit next to him. “Not unless you count him kissing my hand when we said goodbye and… he totally could have kissed me. I would have been perfectly alright with that, but he didn’t and… there’s just something about him that’s so… he’s my one. I just know it. And nothing you say will change my mind.”
Sweetness laced with steel. That’s what she was like when she made up her mind to do something. So it was either fight the good fight and lose horribly or be in the know so he could cock block the douchebag from taking advantage of his little sister. He groaned to himself, knowing he was going to regret this. “Tell me about him.”
And she did. Thirty minutes of total girl mushiness rained down on his sunny day nap by the pool. By the end of it, he wondered if his cock would ever rise again from the deluge of estrogen that’d been plopped down in his lap.
“Fine. I get it. He’s a gentleman and is playing slow.”
She grinned. Pleased with his response.
He dreaded asking his next question, but he needed to know. To be prepared in case this Chase fellow ended up being a fuckwad in need of a beat down. “Still doesn’t explain how you know he’s your one.”
“But he is and I know it.”
“Because when I’m with him… everything inside of me is alive. I feel whole and excited, yet calm and… safe. He makes me feel like…,” she hesitated as if struggling for the words, then finished in a soft voice, “He makes me feel safe like you do. Like I used to when my dad was alive and… I know it. In here. And here.” She tapped her heart, then her head. “When I’m with him, it’s like something inside of me wakes up and… I’m alive. Does that make sense?”
It hadn’t fully at the time, but after meeting Daisy…? It made sense. Too much sense and that was why he was in trouble. It wasn’t that Daisy was sweet and innocent like Laurel had been. No, Daisy was more like… a playful kitten who had claws and a sassy side that liked to come out and play with the big dogs, but didn’t push and try to be something she wasn’t.
She was… just Daisy. The girl next door—literally—who didn’t dig when they’d told her the reason Dell, Fox, and he were gone so often was because they were members of an international paint ball team and travelled frequently for tournaments. Sure, it was complete and utter bullshit, but she hadn’t called them on it and demanded they give her the truth. She’d accepted it. Hell, she even played along and asked them how the tournaments were going and… she was just Daisy. The girl next door who made him feel alive. Whole. Excited, yet calm.
Fox moved behind Daisy to help her bring down the rest of the plates.
He growled under his breath and added territorial as fuck to that list.
Fox’s head whipped around to look at him. Second later, dude was grinning. “Something caught in your throat?”
Dell interrupted before he could respond and slapped Fox on the back of the head. “Soon to be his fist in yours if you don’t quit poking the dragon.”
“But it’s so much fun,” Fox replied.
“Dumbass,” Dell muttered as he took the plates from Fox and carried them to the table. “Make yourself useful and get the silverware.”
Daisy gave a throaty chuckle and Bravo’s focus shifted back to her. “How long are y’all home this time?”
“No clue.” Fox.
“Can’t say.” Dell.
“Not long enough.” Bravo.
“Wow,” she said as she slipped on some oven mitts and opened the oven. “Never thought the professional paint ball circuit was that up in the air.”
Bravo opened his mouth to give her some line about something, but the thought evaporated as she bent over to pull the lasagna out of the oven. His mouth went dry. His fists clenched at his sides and it took all of his willpower not to reach out and cup the backside of her cutoff jean shorts that weren’t even that short, but were crooked as hell and frayed and… Fuck. Me. He was a lost cause.
Dell’s phone beeped. He pulled it out and cursed. “Team captain wants us at the spot at six.”
Fox groaned and slumped into the chair. “So much for putting off laundry until tomorrow.”
Daisy carried the lasagna to the table. “Six AM or PM?”
“AM,” Dell answered.
She hummed to herself and pursed her lips. “How long has it been since you’ve all had a full night’s sleep?”
“Last time you cooked for us.” Fox.
Bravo and Dell looked at Fox, who shrugged. “What can I say? I sleep like a baby when my belly is full.”
Daisy nodded as if coming to a decision. She tugged off the oven mitts then tossed them on the counter. “That seals it. Go get your laundry. All of you.”
“Why,” Bravo asked.
She turned to look at him. “Because you three have been on the road for two weeks and you deserve a good home cooked meal and a night off. I’m not on schedule until tomorrow afternoon and have plenty of time tonight to do your laundry, but you guys deserve a break.”
“I’ll get a break when I’m dead,” Bravo said out of habit. “We can do our own laundry.”
She stepped toward him. Closer she moved until she was right in front of him and he could smell the exotic fragrance of whatever she used in her hair that made him want to bury his nose in her neck and just breathe. “I know you can, but I want to do this.” She lifted her hand and pressed her palm to the center of his chest. “You three didn’t have to give me a job working here, but you did and, in case you’ve forgotten, it’s my job to take care of the residents of this facility.” She paused a heartbeat then added, “And that includes you. All of you. So go get your clothes and let me take care of the rest.”
“Works for me,” Fox said as he stole a bite of lasagna then bolted for the door. “You coming, Dell? Left my bag in your truck.”
Dell shook his head and headed for the door. On the way, he laid a hand on Bravo’s shoulder and squeezed. “If you don’t, I will.”
Bravo didn’t need a dictionary to translate his meaning. They’d had enough discussions during missions to know that if he didn’t make a move and claim Daisy soon that Dell and Fox would step up and make a play. Their play would fail miserably, because neither one of them knew how to handle a girl like his Daisy, but damn if it wasn’t the motivation he needed to get his head out of his ass.
The door clicked shut behind Dell and Daisy said, “You, too. Go get your clothes.”
He shook his head. “I objected to hiring you.”
Her eyes widened with hurt. “You did? Why? Did I do something wrong?”
He kept his eyes on her as he said in all seriousness. “No.” Decision made, he sealed his fate and broke the rule he’d set out for himself. He lifted his hand and pressed it over hers on his chest. “You did everything right.”
“Then why object to hiring me?”
“Because you’re the dangerous one. Not me.”
Her mouth parted. “I’m not dangerous.”
“Yeah, you are.” He curved his fingers around her hand. “To me.”
Her mouth parted in surprise and a little ‘oh my’ passed her lips.
He smiled and lifted her palm off his chest and brought it to his lips, then pressed a kiss to the heel of her palm. “That a problem?”
Her eyes widened in surprise. “No but… you touched me.”
He pressed another kiss in the same spot. “Want me to stop?”
Nothing would make him happier than to steal a kiss right now, but girls like his Daisy… the little things were important to them. First kisses. First touches. First everything. So he eased back. “You’re not doing my laundry.”
“But I offered.”
“And I refused.” He leaned in close as if he were going to kiss her, but veered off at the last second and slid his cheek along hers, then whispered in her ear, “But you can come help me do mine at my place.”
She shivered and grabbed his shirt with her other hand. “Ohmigod, that feels too good to be healthy and… you’re not playing fair.”
He chuckled and she shivered against him. “Say yes and I’ll behave.” For now.
She groaned and dropped her head to his chest. “You behaving is not an incentive at this particular moment.”
He kissed the side of her neck and worked his way up to suck the tip of her ear lobe into his mouth. At the same time, he slid her hand down his chest then wrapped her fingers around his erection through his jeans. “That enough incentive.”
“Only if it’s not a game.”
“Only one way to find out.” He bit down gently on her lobe. “Say yes.”
“Tell me why I’m the dangerous one and I’ll… give you my answer.”
He left her hand in place and lifted his hand to the back of her neck. “Because you make me want things.” He sifted his fingers up through her hair and slowly pulled the pony tail holder out, releasing her long hair. “Things that I never wanted before.”
“Basic things.” He gently massaged her scalp, releasing more of that fragrance from her shampoo that with one whiff made him hard as a fucking rock. “Complicated things. Things I don’t deserve.” He pressed a kiss to her neck. “Things I want to spend all night doing with you.”
“Is it bad that hearing that makes me happy?”
He smiled. “Only one way to find out.” He eased back. “Say yes and after the kids are down for the night I’ll spend all night showing you the things I shouldn’t want.”
“The ones stomping loud enough to wake the dead coming up the stairs.”
She lifted her head and bit her bottom lip while she thought through his offer. “Yes.”
It wasn’t until after he heard her answer that he realized he had been holding his breath waiting for her decision. “Good, now release your trophy so I can go get my clothes in the wash.”
“Is it really?”
The insecurity in her voice mixed with the hope in her eyes had him leaning forward to gently brush his lips across hers. “What do you think?”
“I think…,” she trailed off as her fingers massaged his cock then slowly slid up his jeans and released him. “That I just won round two.”
His head fell back on his shoulders and gave a soft groan. “Fucking dangerous.”
Behind him he heard the front door open and the territorial bastard inside him demanded he make it damn clear who she belonged to. He slipped a hand around her waist and pulled her close, then swooped in and kissed her.
Her lips parted underneath his and he took all she offered.
Footsteps came to a halt behind him and he heard a chuckle followed by a muttered, “About time. Pay up.”
Fox grumbled in the background and Bravo ignored him.
Slowly he ended the sensual assault and waited for her eyes to open and give him that dreamy stare that meant she was his. All his and only his. “Not a chance, baby, because by that look on your face… round two is mine. All mine.”