Sworn Navy SEALs, Book 1
Release Date:

Mar 12, 2024



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Sworn to Lead


Charlee James

She’s everything he never knew he needed – but off limits in every way.

Being a Navy SEAL gives Neo “Ransom” Godfrey purpose and escape from his cold, elitist upbringing. But when he learns his estranged mother’s dead, orphaning a medically fragile half-sibling he’s never met, Ransom rushes home. He’s committed to his brother, his team, and his career, but can he juggle everything? When he meets his brother’s protective, blue-eyed nurse with an Irish lilt, his solution is simple—she should move into his Virginia Beach home where they can care for Jacob together—strictly business.

Brynn Yarrow has been Jacob’s nurse for five years. She’s unimpressed and on-guard, when six-foot-six of solid muscle and bright green eyes swaggers in full of promises. Brynn’s slow to trust, and his proposal that she move halfway across the country sounds crazy, but impossible to refuse. She loves Jacob and could never abandon him, or hurt him, like her family did to her.

Ransom has never had anyone test his self-control like Brynn. She deserves his protection, but he longs to give her so much more.


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Chapter One

Neo “Ransom” Godfrey stared blankly at the death notification in his hands and felt nothing. Maybe if he were a better person, a better son, he’d have mustered a twinge of remorse. The stirrings of sadness, something a son should experience when informed of a parent’s death, were absent. There was just…nothing inside the hollow of his chest. For as long as he could remember, his mom had reminded him he was a cold bastard like his father. She hadn’t been wrong. So when his commander called him into the barracks from training to tell him the woman who had raised him overdosed and drove into a brick wall, he didn’t flinch.

His late mother’s lawyer had requested his presence in Boston to go over the terms of her estate. Returning to the wealthy Boston suburb of Weston was not on his list of preferred activities. He’d enlisted the moment he turned eighteen and hadn’t seen the woman who gave birth to him in fifteen years, let alone the place he grew up. Any money she’d left him was not wanted, especially if it would save him from visiting the lonely manor where he grew up. Tagging his phone off the bureau, he dialed the number at the bottom of the notice, content to tell the lawyer thanks but no thanks.

His SEAL team had been prepping for an overseas mission. One he wouldn’t derail because of his mother’s poor choices. Speaking of the Teams, his came filtering into his apartment. Julian “Joker” Desmond, Hunter “Branch” Green, and Archer “Silver” Ross were his brothers. Had saved his sorry ass more times than he could count, but damn if they weren’t homing pigeons zeroing in, wanting to know why he was pulled from their training exercise. The couch dipped when Branch sat at the other end. The fridge opened and closed. Glass bottles clanked together as Silver came into the room carrying four cold ones. Joker sat with his arms crossed and a typical scowl slashed across his face. None of the men cared that they were invading his privacy, or that he was on the phone. They cared, and that felt damn good.

“Sullivan and Fletcher.” He moved the phone away from his ear at the overly bright tone of the receptionist.

“Hubert Sullivan, please.” Manners and etiquette had been drilled in long ago by his grandparents. One of the very few lessons taught to him by blood. Once they died, their train-wreck daughter hemorrhaged their fortune partying with the elite while he languished away in a luxurious hell at the tender age of eight.

“He’s entertaining a client at the moment.” The click of nails on a keyboard was audible.

“This is Neo Godfrey returning his request.” He rolled his eyes at her quick intake of breath.

“My apologies, Mr. Godfrey,” the receptionist stammered. “He just became available.” That exact response was the reason he loved the fuck out of Virginia. No one knew about his family’s fortune. What was left of it anyway. He had his own trust fund from his grandmother, something he hadn’t dipped into much. His mother, on the other hand, well…a cocaine habit wasn’t cheap.

He switched his phone to speaker so he wouldn’t need to explain the conversation to his brothers and grabbed the bottle Silver had set on the table. Condensation iced his calloused fingers.

“Mr. Godfrey, this is Mr. Sullivan. Please accept my condolences. Such a tragic loss.” The man’s voice was deep and muffled, like he was talking through a mouthful of cotton.

His jaw hardened. A tragic loss is one you didn’t expect. His mother had her fair share of chances and luck, and it had run out. “I’d prefer to tie up loose ends over the phone or via email.”

“I’m afraid this sort of information is best shared in person. Your mother left you—”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said, cutting the man off. Maybe the manners his grandparents had pushed on him weren’t that well honed after all. “I’ll have my lawyer draft up a request to donate any funds left to me to Boston Children’s Hospital.”

There was silence on the other end of the line. The lawyer cleared his throat. “It burdens me to share that your mother left nothing of monetary value to you or your sibling.”

His breath caught. A slug to the chest of his Kevlar tactical vest. Static roared in his ears, blocking the drone of the man’s voice. “Stop.” The command was sharp on his tongue. “Did you say sibling?” He glanced around the room at his teammates’ furrowed brows and troubled expressions.

“Yes. Your brother. You’re the next of kin, but given his medical complexities, it’s natural to look for other options. There are some state facilities—”

A growl of frustration ripped through him. “There’s nothing natural about abandoning your sibling. You’ve dealt with Shae Godfrey, so I’ll look past your mention of state facilities, but do not clump me into the same category as that leech. Where the hell is my brother right now?” God, had his mother stooped so low that she’d give away her own child because it was more convenient than dealing with whatever medical challenges he had going on? His stomach hardened to the point of pain.

“I don’t think you grasp the scope of those medical complexities. Mrs. Godfrey left him in the care of a live-in nurse, but the estate was sold to pay off a substantial debt last year. Jacob is thirteen years old and requires around-the-clock care due to spastic quadriplegia, a severe type of cerebral palsy. The school system reported that he was withdrawn from special education services due to a move. Several departments are trying to locate him.”

Bile burned up the back of his throat. His brother. His brother was missing.

“On it,” Silver muttered, crossing the room. One glance at Silver’s face and Neo knew his teammate was handling what the jerk on the phone couldn’t. He was calling in some favors from the tech guys.

“Forward me the guardianship paperwork. I’ll expect it within the next hour.” He hung up the phone without waiting for a reply. They’d find Jacob. A knot had twisted in his gut, churning and writhing with years of suppressed anger. Of all the rotten things Shae Godfrey had done to him, keeping the knowledge of his sibling from him was by far the worst. Thirteen years lost. Fuck.

Two days. Forty-eight hours. Two thousand eight hundred and eighty minutes. That’s how long it had taken to track down his brother’s address and catch a flight to Boston. He hailed a cab outside the airport, not bothering to check into a hotel first. He paid the driver and tried to tamp down his growing ire. His mom had pissed away millions, and his brother was the one who had paid for it by having to move into the shitty shambles of an apartment building looming in front of him. Now she was dead, and who the hell knew who’d been taking care of Jacob.

The kid hadn’t exactly hit the jackpot in the brother department either. He’d never been good with children. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t good with people in general. He cared about his team, but they’d been through hell together. Seen things the general population would never have to. Neo was cold and hard. Not exactly the caring role model his younger brother deserved, but the mere thought of not stepping up to provide for his own blood was abhorrent. He had a duty to his sibling. If one hair on the boy’s head had been harmed, he’d go nuclear. His commander had given him an emergency two-week leave, and he wasn’t wasting a second of the time.

There was a lot to do in a short period, but his first order of business was getting Jacob out of this monstrosity of a building. Anger clawed up his chest, gripping his throat when he opened the unsecured front door. More when the stairs nearly splintered beneath his weight. When he noticed the dangling smoke detector in the long hallway, he resolved to file a complaint with the city. He scowled at the door of the listed address before pounding his fist against the flimsy wood. He waited one moment, then two. There was music on inside. After knocking for the second time and receiving no answer, he twisted the knob. The door was wide open. Any predator could’ve barged right in. His jaw clenched, molars clamped together at the back of his mouth as he entered the apartment. Thank God it was neater than the corridors. The sounds stopped him in his tracks. A female voice singing, if you could call it that. The woman was not a songstress by any means. At the end of each verse came a belly laugh that further tightened something in his chest.

He wandered farther into the house and stopped in the living room. His throat squeezed, but not in anger, more like a wedge trying to keep a lid on the emotions bubbling to the surface. The owner of the voice danced a silly jig in front of a boy in a wheelchair, singing, twirling, stomping until he erupted in fits of laughter. Her hair was up in a messy bun, a few dark straight strands loosened around her neck. Black yoga pants and a blue tank top. A godawful voice with an alluring lilt to it. Just then, she spun and caught sight of him. Blue eyes—the color of a wide-open sky cast over the ocean—popped wide, and a shriek flew from her lips, making the kid laugh even harder. Shit, they were cute. His brother and this woman who was making the boy cackle like a hyena.

“Stay back!” He was right. There was a cadence to her voice. A hint of Scottish. Maybe Irish. The woman instantly stood before Jacob, shielding him with her frame. She wasn’t short, but he wouldn’t consider her tall either. Still, like most people, compared to him, she was tiny. Something akin to pride swelled in his rib cage. The fear that flashed in her eyes a moment ago was replaced by fierce protectiveness. Was this the nurse? A caregiver? “Who are you?”

“Ransom Go—” He started to say his last name, but a growl of frustration rolled over her lips. Her hands went straight to her hips.

“Ransom? That’s not a real name and certainly not what you’ll be doing here. Get out, or I’ll…” Her voice trailed off, and her stunning eyes narrowed. She took a step forward, then another, before circling her hands around her waist.

“Hey.” Without thinking, he closed the distance between them, needing to see what caused pain to flood her face. She looked a few shades paler than she had a few seconds ago. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Not Ransom.” She shook her head incredulously. “Neo Godfrey.” Her gaze sliced through him, expression murderous and terrified.

What in the actual fuck?

“Wanna explain why that makes you look like you’re going to vomit or execute me on the spot?”

She straightened, though she still looked as though she was going to be physically ill. “I think you should leave.”

“I’m here for my brother,” he ground out. “Who are you?”

“For the first time in thirteen years.” Her eyes welled, and she shook her head. “Go wait in the kitchen. I will not say what I must say to you in front of Jacob.” She turned her back and went to Jacob, murmuring to him. Neo silently moved across the room.

“I’m going to turn on a movie while I talk to this person. Everything will be okay. I’ll never let anyone harm you.” She ran her hand over his dark hair. The action was so nurturing, so maternal a brush of envy stroked through him. Never, not once had he received the caring touch of a mother figure. He was grateful to this woman, whoever she was, for treating Jacob with tenderness. He’d known Jacob had significant medical issues, but he hadn’t thought much about what that meant. His only focus had been getting to his brother. Now, standing mere feet from him, there was a pang in his heart. Life could be so unfair. He might not know Jacob, but he was still grieving for his brother. He should know the feel of his sneakers pounding on the pavement as he played with friends. Should know the freedom of crossing the room to get a toy he wanted. He was so small, muscles stiff, body leaning slightly toward the right. There was a bib around his neck and a pillow supporting his head.

“I’d never harm my own flesh and blood.” He stalked forward, hands at his sides, doing his best not to look imposing, which was damn tough at six feet six inches. “Jacob.” He sank to the floor beside the boy’s wheelchair. He wasn’t exactly sure how Jacob communicated, but he figured he’d want to be treated like anyone else his age. “I always wanted a brother, and it guts me that for the past thirteen years, I’ve had one who I knew nothing about. I’m so sorry. So incredibly sorry.” There was a burn behind his lids, and Jacob turned his head to study him. “If I had known, I’d never have left you with our mother. I would’ve wanted you with me. Jacob, I’m Neo. I’m your brother.”

Green eyes, so much like his own, lit with interest. Jacob studied his face, sizing him up. He could respect that. Then a smile broke over his face, and it shocked him more than an unexpected punch to the gut. The softness reflected in his brother’s eyes was staggering. Fucking beautiful. With one smile, the kid welcomed him and invited him in.

So much expression in one glance, in the depths of those bottle-green eyes that communicated more than words ever could. Jacob’s response encouraged him to continue. “I don’t know who this lady is pulling out all the stops to make you laugh, to care for you, but I hope she knows I’m grateful.” He glanced up from his crouch on the floor to find her staring at him. Another blow to the gut. His lungs were stripped of oxygen. Unlike Jacob, there was no acceptance on her face, but fuck if it wasn’t the most gorgeous face he’d ever seen. For some inexplicable reason, he wanted her to want to know him, too.

“I’ll speak to you in the kitchen.” The woman gestured toward the hallway, and Jacob chuckled—a laugh that came from deep in his belly and made him want to grin ear to ear.

“You think it’s funny when she’s bossy? Or maybe it’s because you know she’s gonna give me an ass-kicking.” More giggles. Something warm and soft spread in his chest.

She stomped into the other room, muttering about using curse words in front of a teenager.

“Okay, Jacob, be right back. Now that I know you exist, I’ll always come back. Always.” He stalked into the other room, noticing a pile of boxes in the hall in various stages of being shipped out. Jacob’s nurse must have an online business or a side hustle of some sort. The apartment was tiny, so it didn’t take long to find the proportionately small kitchen.

The woman had a kettle on the stove, and her back turned to him. He tried not to notice how well she filled out those yoga pants, but his gaze kept drawing down at all the perfection in front of him.

He cleared his throat, and she spun around. “You know my name, but I still don’t know yours.”

She glanced away as though contemplating how much to tell him. Working for his mother couldn’t have been easy, and that alone gave him patience. “Brynn Yarrow. I’ve been your brother’s nurse for the past five years.”

“I owe you a debt that can never be repaid. When I tell you I didn’t know of his existence, I swear it on everything I am. It guts me he’s been displaced because of our mother’s irresponsibility. That he had to move out of the manor.”

Brynn tilted her head. “We were never in the manor.” Her back was against the cheap laminate counter.

“Come again?” His gut twisted and he took a step closer.

She straightened, pushing her shoulders back. “We were in the carriage house.”

“You’re telling me that bitch put her own son outside the manor?” He clenched and unclenched his hands.

“She was constantly entertaining.” Brynn tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Trust me when I tell you we preferred to be away from the parties and visitors. I didn’t think it was safe for Jacob with people waltzing in and out at all hours of the night.”

“And that’s exactly the kind of statement a mother should make, yet I guarantee the thought never crossed her mind. She was never any kind of mother.” No wonder Brynn looked like she’d swallowed acid when she’d placed him. Soon she’d know the kind of man he was. He may not have much capacity for emotion or warmth, but he lived by a moral code. He was a man who didn’t break promises. One who was honorable. He’d have to earn her trust, and rightfully so after she’d had to work for his cold, spoiled mother. “Safe or not, it was wrong not to have you and Jacob in the house. And then the estate sells to pay her debts, and she moves you into this shithole apartment.” He shook his head. They’d be out of here this evening if he had his way. “This neighborhood is not safe. The building completely unsecured. The fire detector is out of order in the corridor. Everything about this makes me sick to my stomach.” Brynn’s cheeks flamed, and he instantly wished he could rephrase his statement.

The expression on her face was one of shame. This couldn’t be her apartment, could it? He needed to sort this cluster and fast, without insulting the angel who’d been caring for his brother. Especially if he was going to convince her to come back with him to Virginia.

End of Excerpt

Sworn to Lead is available in the following formats:

ISBN: 978-1-961544-37-6

March 12, 2024

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