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At the conclusion of the meeting, everyone emptied the room, but I remained seated, waiting for a chance to confront Lieutenant Parker. I pulled my cell from my pocket, pretending I had a reason to linger. The message notification startled me.
Ethan: My office. Now.
Me: Are you kidding? I can’t just walk into your office.
Ethan: We need to talk. Wait five minutes, and then knock on my door.
He stood and left the room without a glance in my direction. The sight of him in uniform made my heart flutter a little.
Several papers lay scattered on my desk. I stacked them, rearranged them, and stacked them again. Images of the days and nights I’d spent with Ethan flooded my consciousness. How could neither of us know the other’s military status? How could neither of us ask? Damn. Had it been five minutes yet?
I walked nervously to the other side of the building where the officers’ offices were. But not before stopping in the head to smooth my hair and blot the oil from my face.
The door to his office was ajar. Should I just go in? Should I knock? I figured I’d better follow standard procedure just in case anyone saw me. I knocked on the door and spoke immediately after. “Request permission to enter, Sir.”
“Granted.” He rose from his desk, walked past me, and shut the door.
Tension radiated through every muscle in my body. We stood for a beat, staring at each other. He had to be thinking the same thing I was: What. The. Fuck.
“Layla, what the hell is going on?”
Was he accusing me? Did he think I somehow planned this shit? “You tell me. You never said you were in the Navy. That you were an officer! That you work here. Do you know what this means?”
“Of course, I know what this means. I thought you were a student.”
“I am. I was.”
“But you’re one of the instructors here.” He started to pace. “You didn’t say that.”
“It didn’t come up. I had other things on my mind.”
“Like what?” Those vivid blue eyes held my gaze.
He was too smart to be that clueless. “Like you.”
His expression softened.
“You didn’t say you were the new Director of Training at one of the Navy’s best training facilities.”
The ring of his cell phone startled us. Without looking at the screen, he silenced it. “We’ll talk about this later at the hotel.”
“What are you? Crazy? We can’t meet at the hotel. We can’t talk. We can’t text. We can’t Anything.”
“We need to figure out what we’re going to do.”
“What we’re going to do? There’s nothing to do. This is it for us. I finally meet someone who’s intelligent, attractive, great in bed, absolutely perfect… and I can’t have him.”
A knock at the door startled us. We quickly backed away from each other and my heart beat wildly as a male officer opened the door and stepped in.