He may be all brawn
But when it really counts… His heart is all gold
Former Marine Cash Griffith is a brawny beacon for trouble, always finishing a fight that someone else starts. Working at his family’s moving company, he does his best to keep a low profile, but he can’t help but tangle with the newest employee, Jordan Fleming.
When Jordan joins Vets on the Go! she has her hands full with her new job and her rebellious teenage brother, not to mention going toe to toe with the obnoxious, arrogant, incredibly hot Marine at work. Soon their battles turn to camaraderie, and one kiss leads to a connection neither of them expected. But when dark secrets come to light, will their bond break…or strengthen into a happily-ever-after they desperately desire?
Late June in Seattle sometimes delivered the heat.
Cash Griffith looked up. Just his luck—thick,dark gray clouds converged overhead, heavy with the promise of rain.
He rubbed the back of his neck, his nerves stretched thin on this particular moving job.
He forced himself back inside the large Miller house, now marked with a For Sale sign out front. The place would no doubt sell for big money, a posh spread like this in Madison Park just a few blocks from Lake Washington. Cash could maybe afford to rent a house a quarter of this size, and certainly not in this area. It gave him the jitters being around money and class. Both of which he had in little abundance.
And he was just fine with that.
Getting back to work, he did his best to avoid the problem areas in the home—namely, anyone connected to the name Miller.
“Yo, you ready?” he asked Hector, who stood at the other end of a heavy-ass curio cabinet that had to have cost a fortune. They carefully walked it out of the dining room and through the kitchen to the mudroom and then maneuvered it down the ramp they’d placed over the steps leading into the attached garage. They’d have to find a spot in there to regroup, where they could wrap the curio in blankets. Then they’d only have to take a few steps outside, leading up the ramp into the moving truck, which they’d backed in the Millers’ long, wide driveway. At least this way they didn’t have far to go when loading. The only plus Cash had seen thus far on the job.
Screams and laughter came from somewhere behind him, making him think of the telltale theme from Jaws as it grew nearer, signaling the return of a monster.
“Hurry up,” Hector warned as they paused inside the garage. “I think the kids are coming back.”
“Put it here.” Heidi waved them over before walking back outside to catalog the boxes and other items already on the lawn.
They moved the curio to where Heidi had indicated and set it down gently.
Hector bent over, panting. “Jesus, is this thing made of iron or wood?” Considering Hector had considerable strength, on par with Cash’s even, the mass of the cabinet was truly astounding.
Cash grunted and flexed his hands. “More like gold, considering what Judy Miller said it would cost to replace.” And she hadn’t been the least bit subtle about how important her dead mother’s things were to her.
Cash wished he could relate, but the only things his recently deceased mother had left him were nightmares and a house that caused tension between him and his brother.
A shrieking demon raced into the garage, circled around Hector twice, then ran away after shooting Cash between the eyes with a squirt gun. Damn it.
Hector laughed as Cash wiped his face. “Aw, ain’t that cute? Demon Spawn number 1 likes you.”
They’d taken to calling the kid that after hearing his own mother yell the same thing when said spawn destroyed an expensive vase on a tear through the house, trying to track down his bratty twin.
Something inside crashed, and he heard Jordan yell at the boy to slow down before he hurt himself. More power to her. If anyone could get that kid to slow down, it was the sexy ex-Army MP.
He frowned at himself, mentally removed the word sexy, and tried to focus on the job and not his recollection of the way Jordan filled out a pair of shorts.
He and Hector wrapped the curio and a few large dressers and chairs in blankets then brought a few more of the Millers’ more expensive pieces into the garage before Heidi rejoined them. Once satisfied the items had been properly protected, she started directing them into the moving truck.
Vets on the Go! employed military veterans and provided the citizens of Seattle exceptional service for their local moving needs. Business was booming, and in order to keep it thriving, Cash had been ordered to keep his big mouth shut and let his muscles do his talking for him. Difficult, but he’d been adapting.
Though Cash was the oldest, his younger brother, Reid, had taken their company from small and barely managing to a real success. So Cash did his best to keep his opinions to himself and packed, lifted, and moved.
He took a step back and nearly fell on his ass when a skateboard slid out from underneath him. From the direction of the house he heard snickering. Those freakin’ kids. Cash swore, wishing Mrs. Miller had listened the first three times Hector, Heidi, and Jordan had politely asked her to keep her twins safely out of the way and pen up the damn dog. He’d have said something too, but it wouldn’t have been polite or pleasant, so he’d let the others say it for him.
Something licked his leg.
Cash grimaced and glanced down at an adorable yellow lab that didn’t understand the word no. “Crap. Not you again.” Helpless to stop himself, he leaned down to give the canine a pat behind the ears. The dog huffed and flopped to his back, exposing a fuzzy belly.
“Sucker.” Hector tried not to smile.
“Please. I’ve seen you wrestling with this little guy twice today.”
“Well, he’s loveable. And I have a heart.”
Cash straightened and managed to avoid an unpleasant canine nip. He looked down at Hector, and a petty part of him liked looming over the guy. By a few inches, but still. “You’re saying I don’t have a heart?”
“What you don’t have is a concept of time,” came the husky grouse from behind him. “Look, Cash, play with the dog later,” Jordan ordered. “It’s going to rain any minute now, and Judy Miller wants this stuff out of here today. She refuses to let us come back in the morning, when it’s supposed to be sunny, to finish. I think being here is hard for her.”
“It’s hard for me,” he muttered and nearly tripped over the skateboard again, which at least sent the dog racing away.
Jordan placed her hands on her hips and scowled at him. “Yeah? Suck it up, princess. And quit playing around.” She glanced at the skateboard and sniffed.
He heard Hector snicker but couldn’t take his attention from Jordan. “Playing around? I nearly killed myself on that thing.”
“All the more reason to keep moving so we can get out of here in one piece.” She cringed when the dog barked and peals of creepy childhood laughter echoed inside.
“Poor Judy keeps breaking down in tears.” She lowered her voice. “And you assholes keep sticking me with her. I feel for the woman, but her husband should really be the one here helping her. I feel like I’m making everything worse every time I tell her things will get better.”
Yet Jordan would do whatever she could to help Judy because Jordan was like that. Caring and concerned yet hard as nails when it came to dealing with him and the guys.
A more detailed study revealed feminine curves under her shapeless Vets on the Go! T-shirt. Something he shouldn’t notice of a coworker.
And besides, she clearly wasn’t his type. Jordan didn’t have blond hair and huge breasts. Wasn’t too tall and didn’t act all breathy, batting her eyelashes at him and making him believe he was a god. Which, in the sack, he sure the hell was.
Still, something about her had been on his last goddamn nerve from day one. A sizzle of attraction. A spark whenever they accidentally touched. And she made him laugh with that huge attitude stuffed in a tiny, appealing package.
He stared at her from under his lashes, pretending to be focused on the small but heavy butcher-block island he’d just wrapped while subtly cataloging Jordan Fleming’s finer assets. Five and a half feet tall, if that. Athletic, toned, with shaggy, shoulder-length black hair loosely tied back in a ponytail. The ex-Army soldier acted like everyone’s buddy and tolerated Cash more than most without getting her panties in a twist. He glanced up from her tanned, muscular legs showing under her knee-length shorts and saw more annoyance.
He bit back a sigh.
“Take a picture next time,” she growled. “It’ll last longer.”
Cash blinked, pretending innocence. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Jordan?” Judy Miller called, interrupting. She appeared in the doorway of the mudroom and smiled with relief. “Oh, there you are. Would you help me with Mom’s jewelry?”
Jordan pasted on a smile. “Sure thing. Just making sure we’re almost ready to add more to the truck.”
“Oh, lovely. We really need to—”
With a mother’s instinct, Judy hurried back inside, yelling, “Alex, stop that right now! Put your brother down before you hurt someone.”
Jordan turned, took several steps toward him, and poked Cash in the chest.
“Ow.” He rubbed the spot, impressed by the strength in that small finger.
“Hurry. Up,” she said between gritted teeth, but he saw the smile she tried to hide. She pointed to Hector.
“And you too, sailor boy. Or I’ll tell the twins about your twin. And gee, wouldn’t you just love to hang around with the boys while the rest of us finish this job?”
“Oh, uh, no problem. We’re moving.” Hector rushed past her into the house.
“You’re good.” Cash grinned at Jordan.
“I know. Now please, for the love of God, hurry up so we can get the hell out of here.” She left him to help Judy.
Cash needed to get past this—whatever this was—for the woman.
Firmly placing Jordan in the back of his mind, he worked with Hector to stage more furniture and boxes on the lawn, narrowly avoiding the demon twins and the dog time and time again. Cash liked to think of himself as a simple guy. He’d more than once been labeled nothing more than walking muscle.
At six four and built like a tank, he used his body daily, either working out or at the day job. Many found him considerably less refined—some said less intelligent—than Reid. Again, Cash didn’t mind, pleased to leave the running of the business to those better suited to it. He hated the thought of a desk job, preferring to get his hands dirty in their family-owned local moving company. Life in the Marine Corps had been all he’d wanted. Until the end, of course. Dicked over by some screwed-up shit he’d had the gall to report to the authorities.
The past two years in the civilian world had been…challenging. But now he had work he actually liked. A job he’d held onto for more than a year. And he had yet to strangle any of his coworkers or clients.
The dog nipped at his calf, finding flesh, and darted away.
Cash added under his breath, “Or dogs. I haven’t strangled any of them yet.” Cute and furry was one thing, but those teeth stung.
Next to him, Hector frowned. “You say something?”
Heidi walked by, muttering about the unwise decision to stage things on the lawn. He agreed.
“So Heidi,” Cash asked as he picked up a heavy box to load into the truck. “Did you see what Latoya did to Michele last night? Shoved her nearly off the catwalk.” A love of reality television had bonded them. That, and a love for the Marine Corps, since Heidi had done her time in both the Navy and the USMC.
Heidi grew animated. He could tell because she actually said more than two words at one go. “Yes. I watched that and the aftershow,” the tall blond said with enthusiasm, her German accent thick. “I can’t believe Roger lets her get away with that nonsense.”
Hector watched them with a grimace.
“How do you watch that crap?” he asked Cash. “And more, why do you admit it?”
Cash shrugged. “I’m not embarrassed to watch only the most amazing show on television.”
Hector smirked. “The Real Housewives of Seattle?”
Heidi frowned. “There is such a show? Because Cash is talking about—”
“What, are they arguing the merits of organic over GMO quinoa?” Hector was on a roll. “Next Level Burger over Mickey D’s?”
From what Cash knew, the vegan “burgers” were pretty damn tasty. Not real meat, but they’d fooled Reid a few times. “Well, actually, I like—”
“Did you see a fistfight over a line at Whole Foods?
Oh, wait. I know. Had to be a brutal disagreement between a Starbucks lover and some indie coffee shop junkie. Oh, the drama.” He started laughing but quickly moved out of the way as Jordan returned.
She handed Cash a box. “This is full of jewelry, so put this with the other things Judy’s taking home in her car tonight.”
They’d sectioned off a corner of the garage for those kinds of items.
Cash gave her a salute since she just loved bossing him around.
Jordan smirked at him. “Nice to see you can take orders.” He waited for it. “For a Marine.”
Heidi snorted. “For a man, you mean.” She left the garage as thunder rumbled, signaling the coming rain.
“Aren’t you two hilarious?” Cash could deal with less trash talk about his Corps, but Jordan had already turned to leave. And he sure did like watching her walk away.
“No, Cash.” Hector shook his head. “Just…no.”
He’d been hearing that from Reid for a while too. Cash shrugged. “What? I’m not doing anything. Just looking, man. Just looking.” He and Hector started walking the heavier items into the truck. Thank God for that ramp. “So do you want to hear about Charlene and Tara or not?”
Hector shook his head, saw that they were alone, and leaned in to murmur, “Okay, tell me. I don’t really care though. I’m just humoring you.”
Cash smirked. “Sure you are.”