SEAL’s Command by Makenna Jameison
Ashleigh Moore squinted into the setting sun as she pulled onto the highway ramp in Seattle. She put on her sunglasses, flipping her blonde hair over her shoulder, and sped up to merge into traffic. She’d gotten a later start than planned for her weekend adventure, but lunch with her family had turned into an afternoon of drinks and laughter. She’d be flying back to the East Coast after a long weekend spent writing, and in the meantime, she needed to drive to her best friend Anna’s cabin an hour away.
Anna was married with kids and currently on bedrest due to a high-risk pregnancy. Although Ashleigh felt a twinge of guilt at visiting the family retreat without them, Anna swore up and down it wasn’t a problem. They couldn’t travel because of her pregnancy, her husband not wanting to leave her alone, and a mountain retreat near a few ski lodges wasn’t exactly practical when she had a new baby either. They probably wouldn’t make the trip at all this year. Ashleigh grabbed her cell phone, deciding to call her friend as she cruised along the highway. Even if Anna couldn’t be here this weekend, they could still chat while she drove. The phone rang three times, but Anna finally answered.
“Hey sweetie! Did you make it there yet?” Anna asked.
Ashleigh heard the shrieks of young children in the background and shook her head. She didn’t know how her best friend did it. She took a sip of her caramel macchiato, grinning. “Nope. I just left my folks’ place. I got absolutely no writing done while visiting them this week, but it was fun. We saw a huge aquarium, did a ton of sight-seeing, and ate at some awesome restaurants.”
“The aquarium, huh?” Anna asked with a laugh. “I guess that was the kids’ idea.”
Ashleigh smiled. Her sister was married with two little ones. It had been a fun-filled week of family time, but she was ready to enjoy a little solitude. “It was complete and utter chaos,” Ashleigh admitted. “I’d love to know how you and my sister manage with young kids. I don’t think I could do it.”
“Eh, you get used to it,” Anna teased. “I’ve got Jett doing all the heavy lifting right now anyway since I’m on bedrest.”
“But he loves your rug rats,” Ashleigh joked.
“Yep. He’s an awesome dad. Bedrest is the pits though. I just want to go out to dinner one night, go grab a decaf coffee at Starbucks, and run a few errands and buy some baby clothes. Instead, I’ve got to surf the Internet to get my shopping fix and keep myself amused. He’s been a saint though with cooking, getting carry-out, etc.”
“I’ll send you the draft of my next book soon.”
Anna squealed in excitement. “You promise?”
“Absolutely. I’m writing the last few chapters of one this weekend—a sexy cowboy romance. And then I’ve got a ton of other ideas for the next few books in the series.”
“So that’s still your plan for the weekend, huh? Hole up alone and write?”
Ashleigh laughed quietly. “Well, I am a writer. And I’m behind thanks to all that family time. Don’t get me wrong—it was awesome seeing my parents, sister, and the kids. I’m in need of some quiet time though after all that.”
“Quiet time? What’s that?” Anna joked.
“It’s exactly why I don’t have kids,” she said with a chuckle. Ashleigh took another sip of her coffee, enjoying the rich caramel taste. “I get to play with my niece and nephew and then hand them back over to my sister and brother-in-law. It’s the best of both worlds.”
“Well, you’d certainly get less writing done with littles. I can’t say that I miss the corporate world though.”
“I bet. You worked insane hours back then. How’s Jett’s business doing these days?”
Anna’s husband was ex-military and ran some sort of company made up of former military operatives. It was all very hush-hush, and Anna didn’t talk much about it. Jett didn’t either, for that matter. “It’s busy. He’s traveling less these days since I’m on bedrest. His men seem to be involved in a lot of operations though. Jett’s always taking calls and busy with various things they’re doing. I don’t even know the half of it.”
Ashleigh shook her head. She didn’t know much about the military and even less about whatever Jett and his team did. She got the impression it was off-the-books type of stuff since the men who worked for him were all former military as well. She was a novelist for goodness’ sake. She wrote romances. She didn’t know the first thing about missions and deployments or anything else.
“Huh. Well, I’m glad he’s there to take care of you.”
“His brother’s still in the military,” Anna commented.
“Yeah, Slate. He’s a few years younger than Jett and is in the Navy.”
“Okay. And you’re telling me this because….” She didn’t dare venture a guess. Anna had a reason for everything she did. Ashleigh had of course met Anna’s husband, but it’s not like they had a ton in common. No doubt she’d have even less in common with his brother.
“No reason,” Anna said, and Ashleigh rolled her eyes. “So anyway, like I said in my text to you earlier, I had some food sent to the cabin. I called up the rental agency we used to contract with and paid her to deliver the groceries.”
“Um…thanks? I could’ve swung by a store on my way into the town.”
“Well, there’s no need now,” Anna said breezily. “I sent some groceries and wine. You rented an SUV, right?”
“No, just a sedan. Why?”
“It’s supposed to snow a lot tonight. I know you’re from the East Coast, but I figured you’d realize you’d need a decent vehicle out here in the winter.”
“Well, I won’t be leaving all weekend. I’m planning to stay in and write, remember? You said there’s firewood already chopped, so that should be enough to warm the cabin. I mean it does have electricity, right?”
Anna burst into laughter. “Yes, it has electricity. No television though. And everything’s backed up with a generator, so you shouldn’t have any problems.”
Ashleigh nodded, biting her lip. What did the generator run on, though? She assumed her friend let her husband take care of everything at the cabin. He’d bought it years ago, before they were married. Anna might’ve been good in the corporate world, but would Ashleigh actually have what she needed this weekend? She wasn’t sure Anna knew too much about stocking a cabin in the woods for winter.
“I guess I’ll find out. I’ll text you when I get there, okay?”
“Sounds good. Let me know how you like everything.”
The two women said goodbye, and Ashleigh set her phone on the console. Clenching her jaw, she saw the exit she needed was in another twenty miles. And then she’d be headed toward a small town and driving on backroads up the mountain. The cabin wasn’t too far from some ski lodges, but she was definitely not the skiing sort. The sun was sinking even lower in the sky, and a brief sense of foreboding washed over her. That was silly though. She was about to enjoy a glorious weekend of solitude. She’d relax, write, and maybe get a little fresh air if the snow wasn’t too bad. She wasn’t about to hike in the woods or anything, but a little outdoor time might be nice.
Anna was just trying to make her nervous with the comment about needing an SUV. She wouldn’t really be “snowed in” if she wasn’t planning to leave for a few days anyway, right? Being snowed in implied you had somewhere to go.
Shuddering, she turned up the heat in her rental car. Her leggings and soft cashmere sweater were cozy and comfy for the car ride. Neither was exactly outdoorsy though. She had boots on, plus a parka and gloves beside her in the passenger seat. There was a suitcase full of warm clothes in the trunk. She’d be fine. More than fine. Her little mountain retreat was practically calling her name. She took the last sip of her caramel macchiato, humming to herself. She just needed to get there, unpack, and then enjoy her weekend relaxing in complete and utter solitude.