Christmas with a SEAL

By: Tawny Weber
1

IF SHE HAD a fairy godmother, Frankie Silvera would be sending her a big ol’ thank-you bouquet for giving her the perfect opportunity to make some of her naughtiest dreams come true.

Or maybe it was her creative muse.

This was the kind of place that definitely inspired creativity. The Las Vegas penthouse was a kaleidoscope of sensations. Neon lights glinted off sparkling chandeliers, sending colorful sparkles over the crowd of partyers. Dressed in everything from sequins to plastic, denim to silk, bodies filled the room, covering the leather couches, perched on chrome stools around the horseshoe bar and flowing onto the dance floor.

Accentuating it all were intense music, free-flowing booze and men. So, so many men.

And, oh, baby, they were gorgeous.

It wasn’t just knowing that most of these muscular, sexy men were Navy SEALs that made Frankie’s insides dance. It was knowing that somewhere among them was her dream hottie and the answer to all of her problems.

She just had to find him.

“Frankie!”

Frankie had barely turned around before a pair of arms engulfed her.

“Lara, this is so fabulous.” Frankie leaned back to take a good look at the other woman. “Not as fabulous as you, though. Wow, you look great.”

Not a lie. Lara Banks had always been gorgeous. Tall and exotic with big green eyes and a body that made men drool. But today, she actually glowed. Her white satin dress was short and sassy, her auburn hair cut at a wicked angle and her Jimmy Choos put her a couple inches over six foot.

“You look good, too. Thank you for being here,” Lara said, as if she really meant it.

Not that Frankie would blame her for just being polite. Despite having practically grown up in Lara’s backyard, it wasn’t as if the two women had been close. Lara’s parents had been high-society snobs with very specific ideas of whom their children could associate with, and the granddaughter of their housekeeper wasn’t on their list. Not that that would have mattered to Lara. But Lara had been totally absorbed in dance, running away at seventeen to dance on Broadway.

It wasn’t until a few months back, when Lara paid her first visit to her family’s estate in eight years, that the two women had gotten past that awkward “I know you but don’t remember much more” stage.

“Thanks for inviting me to the wedding,” Frankie said. “I have to say, when you do things, you definitely do them your way. This is amazing.”

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you,” Lara murmured, pulling Frankie close for another hug.

“Sure, you would. I just got you drunk and let you talk,” Frankie said with a laugh. All it’d taken was a bottle of Patron and a tray of Nana’s brownies to finally break through Lara’s defensive shell.

Frankie envied the woman, blown away by how much in love she was with her SEAL. She liked to think she’d be able to pull that off someday. True love, happily ever after, lifelong sex. Maybe in a few years, after she’d reestablished her business, rebuilt her credit and lost five pounds.

Maybe.

“You were wonderful. A friend when I needed one.” Lara squeezed Frankie’s arms before stepping back and fingering her necklace. “And thank you for the early gift. It’s my something new, but I’ll be wearing it all the time.”

Frankie tilted her head and tried to smile. A couple of years ago, she’d been celebrated in various circles, written up in magazines and on her way to building a stellar reputation as a gifted silversmith who specialized in quirky elegance. People had been lining up for her jewelry, and she’d been doing great. She’d had a fat contract from two national jewelers and more orders than she could handle. She’d invested in new equipment and leased a studio so she wasn’t working out of her apartment. She’d even treated herself to a hot-off-the-showroom-floor Mini Cooper S convertible.

She’d had the dream. Then she’d blown it.

Nine months ago, she’d gotten the dreaded block.

All of her creative juices had dried up. Everything she made turned out hideous. She’d lost clients, she’d lost contracts, she’d lost her lease.

Six months ago she’d moved in with her grandmother.

Now she was making quirky customized Christmas ornaments to pay the bills. She’d told everyone she was exploring a new phase of art, when in reality all she wanted was what she’d had before.

She eyed the necklace, seriously proud of how it had turned out. With its edgy geometric shapes of copper, silver and bronze, it was perfect for Lara. Apparently she could only create great jewelry if she wasn’t getting paid for it.

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