To Love Someone (Baytown Boys #14) - Maryann Jordan
He pushed open the glass doors that led from the worn-tiled lobby of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Norfolk and stepped into the sunshine. He rubbed his hand over his beard as he tilted his head back, letting the sun beat against his closed eyes, the warmth knocking off the air-conditioned chill and sterile scent that had settled over him.
Dropping his chin, he pulled his reflective sunglasses from their perch, one stem tucked into the front of his T-shirt. With a flick of his wrist, he snapped them open before sliding them onto his face. A lock of hair fell over his face, and out of habit, he tucked it behind his ear. He jogged down the steps at the front of the building, his boots sounding out a heavy tap on the concrete.
A few people scooted out of his way, but most were used to the eclectic patients and visitors that spent time inside the hospital. Still, the expressions on their faces as they quickly moved to the other side of the sidewalk didn’t surprise him. Tall, bulky, tattoos. Jeans that were clean but faded and leather boots that were scuffed, broken in, and comfortable. The black leather jacket with patches sewn on the front and sleeves sat easily on his shoulders. His motorcycle helmet was held in one hand. His hair and beard were clean but long and shaggy.
And honestly? He didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought.
The news from the hospital had been good, and he felt like celebrating. By himself… he didn’t have anyone to celebrate with. That particular fact, he did give a fuck about. He might be a loner but didn’t always like being alone.
Continuing to stalk to the parking lot, he stopped by his bike, strapped on his helmet, unlocked the saddlebags to double-check his belongings, and swung a long, muscular leg over the bike, settling his ass onto the seat. He started the motor, revving the engine before pulling out of the parking lot. He had no particular destination in mind, not unusual for him. He often got onto the road and veered in whatever direction seemed to make sense at the time.
Now, the idea of heading to the beach, finding a bar with decent burgers and beer, and watching the sunset over the water appealed to him. Entering into traffic as he merged onto the interstate, it didn’t take him long to get to Virginia Beach. He shunned the main boardwalk area and continued along Shore Drive until he got to the less-commercial area that faced the Chesapeake Bay. He knew he was close to the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, but his time in the Navy had not been spent as a prestigious SEAL who trained there, instead having served as a firefighter on a ship.
Passing the family restaurants and ones catering to tourists, he found a no-frills bar on the beach. Stepping inside, he scanned the interior, satisfied with the evidence it was exactly what he desired. The patrons looked up, but after their first curious glance, no one paid attention to him. The back of the bar overlooked the water, and after ordering his burger, fries, and beer at the counter, he headed outside. There were high-top tables and chairs near the railing. Choosing one at the end of the deck, he was glad there were few people around, preferring to enjoy the sunset without the conversations of others interrupting.
It didn’t take long for the food to come, and he devoured it, realizing he hadn’t eaten since the previous evening. Bloodwork at the hospital required him to fast, so he’d had no breakfast. The testing lasted through lunch, and now he was sure the burger and fries tasted as good as any he’d ever consumed. But then, with a thick, medium-rare burger, crispy fries, and cold beer, how could you go wrong?
With his meal complete, he leaned against the back of the chair and propped his feet onto the rails of the fence around the patio. Staring out over the water, he spent several minutes letting his mind drift with the ebb and flow of the surf. The sun was setting, brilliant colors beginning to streak across the sky. He’d always paid attention to his surroundings. He liked the soothing motion and sounds of the ocean and wasn’t embarrassed to admit it. Well, if I had anyone to admit it to…
As he continued to drink his beer and stare out over the water, a long bridge that stretched into