The last thing hostage negotiator Ashe MacAvoy expected was to need a rescue herself, but it’s a game-changer when Detective Chase Weber offers his protection—and his bed.
UPPING THE STAKES
Ashe MacAvoy is Wilmington PD’s chief hostage negotiator. Using her infamous grace under fire, and the expertise of Detective Chase Weber, she frees a roomful of innocents from three armed captors. But the guy pulling the strings is still out there, and Ashe’s life is in danger. Chase wants to protect her. Can he also shield her from the broken heart at the end of this adrenaline-filled attraction?
Detective Chase Weber doesn’t mix business with pleasure. Well, not anymore. He’s learned his lesson and is happy with the world back on track. Enter Ashe MacAvoy, whose life he’s saved twice in less than twelve hours. Somehow he’s become her guardian angel—a role that’s giving him a devil of a time. She’s a pain in his ass…and a need in his heart. So maybe having the world upended isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Chase pulled into Ashe’s driveway and slid out of the car. Crouching, he sniffed the air and then he was running to the front door, pounding on it, calling her name. He slammed against the locked door with his shoulder once. It didn’t budge.
He slammed against it again, worrying with every blow that he might hit a spark that would ignite the air, laden down with the sickly smell of the additive they piped into natural gas.
Adrenaline pumping, Chase gave himself a few steps and ran at the door. The wood frame cracked under the onslaught of his mass, and he fell into the house. Afraid to turn on the light, he blindly fumbled through the hall. The first room he came to was the bathroom. The second room was her guest room. He finally found her room at the end of the hall.
He ran to the bed, not wanting to see if he was too late. She was lying tucked up in the bed, covered in a cocoon that hid her from sight. Chase pulled back the blanket and checked her pulse with his two forefingers. It was there—weak but present.
He gathered her up in his arms and took a step toward the door, then stopped. Her bedroom had a pair of sliding glass doors that opened to the backyard. Carrying her, he slid the door open and stumbled into the yard. His own breathing was labored now, his lungs protesting at the strain of the adrenaline and the contaminated air.
Spots started to appear before his eyes as Chase made it back to the street. He forced his legs to go faster, just a few more steps.
The blast of the shockwave lifted him off his feet and flung him and Ashe several yards through the air before crashing them down to the asphalt. The force of the blow knocked him dizzy, but he stayed conscious. He turned to see Ashe’s house in flames. A scream came from her neighbor’s house and then a woman was running toward him, a cell phone in her hand.
“I’m calling the police,” the woman called as she ran. “Don’t worry, I have a phone.”
Chase shook his head, cradling Ashe in his arms. She moaned, groggy, coming around. He tried to collect his thoughts. His own brain was still hazy and he felt like someone had sucker punched him in the back of the neck. Twice.
“What happened?” Ashe’s voice was shaky, the words slurred. “How did I get here?”
She looked up at Chase, her face shadowed. The fire caught highlights in her hair, now and then sparking glints in her gray eyes.
He couldn’t help himself. He clasped her to him, bending his face toward her, kissing her as deep and hard as he could.
Becca A. Miles is Rachel A. Brune's nom de plume. Rachel started writing as a military journalist for the U.S. Army. She broke into fiction by writing short stories that have been published in a variety of speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. Under the mentorship of Suze Winegardner, Rachel penned her first foray into romantic suspense.
Rachel continues to write, coach, and blog. Follow her on social media, she loves to hear from readers:
players break your heart. They are designed to break your heart. Especially
baseball players like Jacob Baird. Just drafted, just signed, just started in
the minor leagues. And he works like a horse out on the ball field, although
the rumor mill says that’s not the only reason they call him Horse.
date ballplayers because 1, they break your heart, 2, my dad’s the club owner
and that would be awkward, and 3,
good luck trying to explain my falcon to a potential boyfriend, ballplayer or
But why is
my falcon so jealous over this guy?
OK, so I
fell for the Falcons welcome-aboard prank: let the new guy hit on the hot
brunette before he finds out she’s the boss’s daughter. Off-limits? Fine, I’ve
got no problem playing the field.
But why is
my stallion set on playing Katie instead of the field? _____________
yourself as a shifter alone in a world that doesn't know shifting exists.
This is the
Solo Shift world: no packs, no guidance, no mates, and no prospects until
chance, luck, trust, and love all intervene.
you expect from a Solo Shift book? A standalone story with lonely shifters,
shifters who don’t know they’re lonely, love scenes, and no cheating. And at
least one HEA, sometimes more!
with my hot dog and ate it while Baird met the fans. From where I was, it
looked like he was handling the attention well. Smiling, happy to be there,
shaking hands, signing autographs, seemed to be the approachable type. Fit in
real well with the fans. Folks in Welkerville like to see that in theirplayers—and
Baird seemed to be delivering that. That was a good sign, and I knew Dad would
be happy to hear that. He also didn’t seem to be hitting on any of the women,
which was also a good sign.
I let the
fans have their time with him. Most of them needed to get home, and I didn’t;
besides, I was still working on my hot dog.
crowds cleared and my hot dog was gone, I came up to him, smile on my face, and
I shook his hand and welcomed him to Welkerville.
myself from jumping his bones on the spot.
surprised me too. It was like The Awkward Years all over again—hormones all
a-fire and everything.
had muscles. Sure, he had that glowing smile. Sure, he was big and brawny. But
so were the other guys, with the possible exception of the smile. Why were my
spidey-senses tingling—no, wait, those were my lady parts. Why were they
for me, I’ve gotten a lot better at faking normal behavior since The Awkward
fortunately for me, he answered by lifting a line straight out of Bull
Durham. At least, I think he did. The problem with that movie is that it
got minor-league life so right that you’re never sure if you're seeing
an intentional Bull Durham reference or just Life As Usual in The
So I just
answered back with another stock cliche while I tried to keep my tongue in my
cheek, or at least in my mouth. While trying to remind myself what an Executive
Assistant to the Owner was supposed to do—oh, yeah, that’s right, introduce
I could do that, he beamed at me again—oh my God, that smile—and asked, “Are
the stands always this full?”
Good. That was
good. He was talking baseball and the fans. I could talk about that all day
without making a fool of myself.
But then he
followed up with, “Where does everyone go after the game, anyway?”
Part of me
said this was a set-up to a pick-up line. Other parts of me—the tingling
parts—were ecstatic. Fortunately, my Executive Assistant to the Owner side
recognized this was a good time to educate Baird in Welkerville ways. “Home, mostly. Some of ‘em drive an hour or
two to get here, plus most of our fans have cows to milk or feed, or jobs to go
to in the morning. A few of ‘em hit the bars. A lot of folks hit the Taystee
Creem downtown; they’re open late.”
myself on the back. Very educational response, very responsible, very much not
an open invitation to check out that place behind the stands that’s been a
make-out spot for generations of young Welker County residents, get that image
out of your head, Katherine Joy Casey.
Wife of an
IT geek—his words, not mine! Mother of two kids, two cats, and two dogs.
What do I
want in my romance stories? Men who aren’t total asses. Women who avoid total
asses—either from experience, or by being smart enough to avoid them in the
first place! Men who survive just fine without a woman. Women who survive just
fine without a man. Men and women smart enough to know the perils of jumping
into love, and brave enough to do it anyway. And of course, a
At last, the highly-anticipated conclusion to William and Rose’s story is here!
When William Thorne meets the unassuming but beautiful Rose (Victoria) Wellington, he begins to unmask the true man he has buried for years under hired personal assistants and obsessive work behavior fighting the tobacco industry. But after another tragedy shakes him, all his demons resurface, awakened with ferocity. This time, he will leave Rose behind to protect her, and he will embrace the William that has kept him stable all these years.
With a confession about to go public in seeking atonement for his past deeds, deeds that very likely will land him in prison, William marvels at his Rose’s growth personally but saddens as she moves on in her love life and her career without him. He, too, tries to move on by hiring a beautiful, submissive personal assistant to fulfill all his salacious needs. Each time he sees Rose, his fight to stay away from the beauty becomes unbearable, but his impending future leaves little to change it.
The Thorne Series is a sensually erotic and deeply emotional story with twists that will make you go back to read from the very first page of the series all over again.
I removed her hands from her face and when I looked in her eyes, I saw so much pain in them, I realized I was acting irrational, like a jealous scorned lover. Jesus.
“Go. Or I’ll go. My behavior is unacceptable. I’m glad you’re happy. I’m sorry, Rose. It’s all I’ve ever wanted for you.”
She began to cry. “William. No. That’s not what I meant. That’s not what I mean. I love you. I will always love you. But you don’t love me. What do you expect? You can’t have it both ways.” She wiped her nose and her eyes and I grabbed a few tissues from the box on the sink.
“Here.” I passed them to her but she wouldn’t take them. “Here,” I said again.
She took them. “Thank you.”
“Look,” I said and ran my hands through my hair. I couldn’t look in her eyes. “The condo. I want you to have it. I really do. If after three months you can stand on your own two feet and you want to get something else, go somewhere else, whatever you need, do it. But just give it three months.”
“Three months, huh?” she said sarcastically through sniffles.
“Is everything always three months with you?”
“Come on.” I helped pull her up. Her scent drew me in as it always did, her blonde hair, the only true sparkle left in my life. I marveled at the shimmer of it as the tiny window let in a ray of light that fell on it just so.
Jesus, I wanted her. And Jesus did I know I couldn’t have her. Here she was, moving on, and I almost wouldn’t let her.
“Well,” I finally said before I kissed her for fuck’s sake.
“William,” she tugged at my shirt. “This hurts.” Another tear escaped her eye.
I wanted to admit that it hurt me too. It was as if the only time I felt anything in my adult life, anything at all, was with her. Even my mother’s death, nothing compared to this.
“So,” I changed the subject and unclasped her hands and pushed her away from me. “The condo? A deal?”
She pushed her hands down her cotton dress, looking down to pick at it and my smile spread. I couldn’t help it. Her eyes peeked up through the strands of her hair questioningly.
“What?” she asked shyly.
“You,” I said with a smile.
My eyes left hers to follow her neck down onto her chest, her dress, a rounded, scooped neckline, teasing me with the faint tan-line of her breasts.
“You’ve been out in the sun.” My fingers stretched out to lightly touch the top of one of her breasts and she sucked in a breath. “Beautiful,” I said and lifted her chin. “Kiss me, Rose. And then I’ll let you go for good. One last kiss.”
My lips met hers first lightly and then I grabbed the back of her hair and yanked. Our mouths met, tongues thrust, and we both lost our breath into the moment. I bit her lip in a passion I couldn’t control and then licked the tiny trickle of blood from it.
“William.” She panted my name and pulled away. “Tell me you love me. Tell me. Stop this. Now.”
I can’t remember not reading. Even now, I constantly toggle between two to five books on my Kindle in all genres. But I have always been drawn to the more taboo side of storytelling, even as a young adult, from hiding books from my strict Catholic parents as a tween, to getting lost in the erotic section of my favorite bookstore for hours as a college student, discovering such greats as Henry Miller and Pauline Réage.
In my own writing, which I can’t describe as anything but a “trance-like compulsion,” I like to explore the darker nature of relationships, those riddled with the reality of insecurities and human folly. I am drawn to expose the vulnerability, emotional turmoil, and occasional pain that can come from losing oneself in the heat of passion.
I hold a degree in English literature and my writing comes from some hidden, unrecognizable place, very different from the reality of my waking world. I am in love with E.E. Cummings and Anais Nin who continue to inspire me when I write.
“To write is to descend, excavate, to go underground.”—Anais Nin.
Sometimes you can’t help falling in love with the wrong
Successful art director, Brynn Callahan has had it in for
adventure vlogger, Paxton Mercer since he introduced her fiance to the love of
his life and caused her engagement to end. But when their group of friends
heads to the tropics for a fun getaway, an unexpected kiss to end all kisses
convinces her what she needs is a little adventure with a man who knows how to
But a vacation fling isn’t enough to build a relationship on
and Brynn is a girl who has her future all planned. Once they’re home it’s
going to take more than flirty banter or through the roof electricity for Brynn
to take a chance on someone who goes wherever the wind blows him.
Can a guy who lives on the edge convince a woman who loves
to play it safe to risk her heart with him?
I toss my suitcase onto the bed and unzip it. Unpacking gives me a reason not to stare at Paxton. Obviously he’s already settled in because he’s swapped jeans and a T-shirt for a ridiculously bright pair of swim trunks and nothing else. They ride low on his hips, showing off his ripped body. My fingers twitch as I pretend to be absorbed in my task, but I can’t stop myself from biting my lip as my pulse starts to race. Damn it. I can’t afford to be attracted to him. He ruined my life. I don’t like him.
It’s just a simple physical reaction to a gorgeous man. I haven’t had sex in a long, long time and there’s no question that he’s hot.
“Hey, I have those. They’re great.”
He’s referring to the travel cubes that hold all my clothes. Made of nylon and mesh, they come in various sizes and enable me to keep everything organized and wrinkle free.
“You mean you don’t stuff everything into a duffel and head out?”
“With all the traveling I do, I needed a better system than that.” He gives me a long, lazy look. “Hey, there’s something else we have in common. I bet we spend the weekend finding out that we’re two peas in a pod.”
I don’t like the way he’s looking at me. Heat begins to build beneath my skin and suddenly I’m imagining the two of us in that huge shower I can see in the bathroom beyond him, naked and going at each other. I’m almost overcome by the urge to moan.
I. Am. Not. Attracted. To. Paxton.
I can’t be. His actions resulted in my broken heart. How many times do I have to remind myself of that?
“Look,” Paxton says, “I want to be cool with you this weekend.”
Cool? I’m feeling anything but that. I grab my make-up bag and head toward the bathroom. He backs up just enough to let me by. Again I’m assaulted by the scent of him. Bittersweet citrus, mint, and something peppery for heat. Clean and manly. Faint enough to make it necessary to lean close. Almost before I realize what I’ve done, I suck in a deep breath. Sharp desire spears straight to my core, awakening a keen ache.
And suddenly I want something besides my lungs filled with him. My stomach drops as I imagine wrapping my legs around his waist as he enters me. Damn it. I hate carnival rides and that’s what being around Paxton is like. Pulse stopping dips and exhilarating twists.
As I scowl at his reflection in the mirror, it’s no challenge to pitch my voice into frustrated tones. “But that’s going to be really hard if you talk to me. At all. Why don’t we keep the distance of the house between us at all times and everything will be great.”
“So you need me to stay away from you to remain cool? What happens if I get close?” His voice is a self-satisfied purr. “Are you going to heat up?”
He demonstrates by setting his hand on the countertop and shifting in my direction. My heart hammers so hard, I’m sure he can hear it. There’s no missing the bright color that pops into my cheeks or the sudden glazing of my eyes. Despite the warmth of the room, goose bumps appear on my arms.
“Please.” My voice breaks on the word. “Don’t play with me. It’s not fair.”
“I’m not playing.” And he’s not smiling. His gaze is keen and probing as it meets mine in the mirror. “I’m deadly serious about you.”
My mouth opens to ask a question but nothing comes out. I don’t want to know what he has in mind or why. “We’re not a good fit, you and me.”
“Are you so sure?” The light kiss he drops on my shoulder make my toes curl. “You’ve never given me a chance.”
I gape at him. “Why should I after what you did?”
“I mean before. Back in high school.”
“High school?” We’d barely known each other. We hadn’t had any classes together and I’d hung with my own friends. I didn’t know who he was before Julie started dating Zach. And I don’t think I said two words to him after that. “We ran in completely different circles.”
“You with the future leaders of America,” he says with the lightest touch of sarcasm. “Me with the future losers?”
“I’d hardly call you, Paul, or Zach losers.” In fact, they all owned their own businesses and had done exceptionally well. “And I’m no leader.”
In fact, when I allow myself to think about it, I’m disappointed in both my career and personal life.
“Besides,” I continue, “From what I remember of you then, I wasn’t the sort of girl you were interested in. You liked to party and that wasn’t me.”
“That doesn’t mean I wasn’t interested.”
“We would have been a terrible fit.” I don’t know why I’m so insistent that he agrees with me. “It’s no better now.”
He doesn’t say anything for a long moment and then shakes his head. “I disagree.”
I gave up everything for her, and she never even knew it. When I saved her from the mafia, I traded my freedom for hers. I’ve never regretted it. Never looked back. I cut her out of my life to keep her safe.
I did everything I could to protect her from the retribution of the Italian Mafia, but it wasn’t enough. They’re after her again, and all that’s standing between her and the darkest fate imaginable is me.
It’s scary the things you can close your eyes to. Even after I was rescued from men who wanted to do the worst things to me, I went on with my life. I forgot all about the threats of the mafia, about what they forced me to do, and even the man who saved me from them.
But now, my hero has returned, and just in a nick of time. Because the mafia is coming for me, and this time, I don’t know if we’re going to get out of this alive.
The orange afternoon sun is on my back when I bring my car to a stop about a block away from the well-to-do little store on the corner of the street. When I turn my ignition off, I lean back and just stare at it, letting out a deep breath.
How long has it been?
The light playing off the glass window panes make it impossible to see inside the shop, but the sign outside is clear as ever: Bathing Beauty. I feel a smile on my face. As many mixed memories as it stirs up in me, there’s something comforting about knowing it’s still there, unchanged as ever. Maybe even a little nicer.
All thanks to her.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the car mirror. I’ve changed so much over the years. It feels like a lifetime ago that I was just a teenager, freshly landed in America. I kept my hair cut short back then, and my face was clean-shaven. I run a hand through the long locks that hang nearly to my shoulders now. It’s grown out thick and wavy. Even I have to admit it’s unkempt, and the short, coarse black beard on my face matches.
My voice sounds different, too. I think back to the thick accent I had in those years that I was still learning English, fresh from the old country. I’m so used to it now that English almost sounds as natural as my native Italian on my tongue. I might as well be a different person.
Better that way, I think. When I look into that mirror, I’m not sure I even see myself anymore. What I do see is the face of a man who’s done terrible things. A “made man,” they call us in this country. Mafioso.What are you really doing here, Bruno?
My mind flashes back to her face, that gorgeous face that’s kept me going all this time. A bright candle in the darkness.
That face doesn’t need to know fear ever again. It doesn’t need to know me.
So why am I here, coming to risk dragging the past back? I don’t dare turn the ignition and drive off. I’ve made my decision, and I’m a man of my word.
After all, I tell myself, I’m not here just to see her, to remind myself that she’s alive and living happily, that what I did for her was all worth it. I’m here to make sure she’s safe.
Alexis Abbott is a USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author who writes about bad boys protecting their girls! Pick up her books today and find yourself transported with super steamy sex, gritty suspense, and lots of romance.
She also writes as Alex Abbott for her erotic thrillers and contemporary romance.
She lives in beautiful St. John's, NL, Canada with her amazing husband.