AJ Harwood is facing one of the most difficult times of her life. A chance encounter with Nick Slater is the last thing she wants, yet she is thrust into his world and trapped in its surroundings.
AJ is Nick's only hope as he tries to find out who is out to kill him. With each passing day, more secrets are uncovered, and the reason behind the attack is revealed. Nick joins forces with his former teammates to find the person behind the high-priced hit put on all of their heads. As precious time ticks away, Nick and AJ are faced with the possibility that after finding each other, they may lose everything in an instant.
Note: 10% of the author royalties on this book will benefit nonprofit organizations dedicated to providing educational assistance and support grants to families of wounded and fallen United States Navy SEALs.
It surprised her when his name came across her lips in a whisper. Her subconscious had betrayed her by saying aloud what her mind was thinking.
He took her single word as an invitation. His lips slid across her mouth and pressed against hers. It was impossible and pointless to try and fight something she wanted and felt so good. He surprised her this time. He didn’t slide his tongue inside her mouth and explore her mouth with urgency. Instead he kissed her with a tender patience. It reminded her of the kind of kiss a girl would get on her first date when she was sixteen years old, sweet and full of emotion.
The kiss lasted for maybe a minute, but even when finished he didn’t pull away from her. He dropped his forehead to rest against hers. She opened her eyes and was surprised to see his closed. Seeing him like this, so gentle and compassionate, so considerate of her feelings, was such an incredible contradiction. Just yesterday he was bold and aggressive with his actions, yet now he seemed like he would do anything to make her feel at ease. It was like he actually cared for her.
She tried to erase the thought from her mind. The notion that Commander Nick Slater, US Navy SEAL, could have feelings of that nature for her was ludicrous. Oh, but it would be so easy to lose herself in him, just for a day or two, and forget about all the pain she was feeling. She recollected her thoughts, refusing to get caught up in the moment. Just losing her father was enough. She couldn’t allow herself to fall for him and get hurt when he walked away from her. Losing two men she loved was too much, way more than even she could handle.
Her eyes widened, and she pulled away from him. Love him? What?
“AJ, what’s wrong?”
Why did he have to look so concerned about her? That wasn’t helping her rational train of thought.
“Nothing. I just…” Think, AJ. Distract him and change the subject. “Did you find the phone I bought?”
“Yes I did. You shouldn’t be worrying about that though. Let me fix you something to eat. Lie down while I…”
“No.” She scooted across the bed as fast as she could away from him, needing to break the feeling of safety he gave her.
“Where are you going?”
“I’ll make something to eat for us. You were on the computer before. Finish whatever it was you were doing, and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.”
She didn’t wait for his answer and all but ran from the room. A quick stop in the bathroom to freshen up was what she needed. She would wash up, brush her hair and teeth, and snap out of whatever she felt whenever he was too close to her.
She washed her face with first warm and then cold water, hoping to shock herself back to reality. Her hair was a tangled mess. After finally ridding it of the snarls, she wet the brush and smoothed out the bedhead look she was sporting. She ran her fingers under each eye. They were both puffy and red. If she had cried any more she might’ve looked like a prize fighter. The dark rings only added to her haggard appearance. Once her teeth were brushed she felt a bit better. At least she was more awake and ready to face Nick without feeling completely helpless to his touch.
She opened the door from the bathroom, and every thought she just had about reality and snapping out of the warm feelings of comfort he gave her diminished in a second. He stood there in the doorway. His large frame loomed over her as each one of his hands was on either side of the doorframe.
“Nick…I…is everything okay?”
He shook his head at her. “No, everything’s not okay.”
She tried to swallow the lump of nerves that was building in her throat but found it literally impossible.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, not entirely sure she wanted to know the answer.
“Yes, you. Damn it, AJ. I care about you. Please stop running from me every chance you get.”
She started to deny it, but the stern look in his eyes told her it would be pointless. This would be an argument she would lose. That and she knew he was right. She had run from him three times in the past two days. It was foolish to even try and claim she had no idea what he was talking about.
She sighed. “I guess I am. I just don’t know what to do.”
“What do you want to do? Right now, what do you want?”
He asked her the easiest question in the world. She didn’t have to think about her answer. She knew what it was. What worried her was what that answer would bring. She struggled with the words, wanting to say them but for some reason afraid of saying them aloud and bringing them to life.
“AJ, please. I’m right here. What do you want?”
His eyes. They were the deepest shade of blue, like the ocean on a moonless night. She could swear she saw the surf in them, calling to her and urging her to give in. How much she wanted to look into those eyes when they didn’t know they were being watched. She wondered what emotions she would find lurking beneath the tough exterior he tried to put on.
“I’ll ask you again. What do you want?”
His patient voice with persistent questions was just another example of the contradiction that was Nick Slater. Maybe that was what drew her to him. He seemed to be one thing but then appeared to be the exact opposite entirely. She wondered why she was even trying to deny the comfort he offered her.
“I want you to hold me.”