She’s fighting to protect everything she cares about. He can’t resist a damsel in distress. But he has no idea how high the cost will be if they fail.
Clovis Honeybun is working undercover to catch an assassin targeting his uncle, Senator Brick Honeybun. But his search is waylaid when he spots a pretty woman being mistreated by a guy who looks a lot like his target. Going rogue on a dangerous hunch, Clovis plunges down a trail that might be the right direction but the wrong bad guy. Ultimately, Clovis discovers he could have to choose between saving the woman burrowing her way into his heart, or a man he’s loved and respected since he was old enough to crawl.
5 Stars: “This story is full of twists and turns, and just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize that you’re merely scratching the surface. But, underneath it all, is a budding romance and a man who is stubborn enough to do what needs to be done, to do what’s right for the woman he loves and the child she’s fighting to protect, even if it costs him everything.” Zarelle Shaw, Reviewer
She was turning from the mirror, one finger poised over the faint arcs of weariness under her brown eyes. Her eyes widened when she saw him. “What the hell?”
Clovis leaned back against the door and crossed his arms over his chest, fixing her with his Drill Sergeant look. The one that made new recruits quake in their boots. “Why did your boyfriend hit me over the head?”
She blinked in surprise and then seemed to gather herself enough to frown. “You followed us all day just to ask me that question?”
Clovis let his gaze slip over her, assessing her petite, disheveled but admittedly enticing form. She fidgeted under his perusal, her frown deepening. Finally, when he figured he’d gotten her attention he shook his head. “Who is he?”
The woman’s lips tightened and a muscle in her delicate throat jumped. His question had unnerved her. “That’s none of your concern.” She started past him, her hand reaching for the handle of the door.
Clovis half turned, his hand covering hers. “When someone hits me over the head I make it my business to find out about him.”
She jerked her hand as if he’d burned it, rubbing it with the other hand. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Shawn didn’t hit you over the head.”
Clovis lifted his eyebrows. “Shawn huh? Does Shawn have a last name?”
Her lush lips twisted slightly and she looked away. She appeared to be angry at herself for giving him the name.
Clovis wondered why. “I’m not going to hurt him. But I think he might be dangerous. You shouldn’t be with him if he’s who I think he is.”
She laughed but the sound held no mirth. “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
It was Clovis’s turn to get mad. He reached for her and she reacted. Quick as a wink she twisted his arm behind his back and slammed him up against the door, his legs spread wide and her small body pressed against him to keep him from regaining his balance. Cool metal pressed against his temple and Clovis smelled gunpowder.
He was a damn fool.
Clovis expelled a frustrated breath. “It was you who hit me.”
The gun jammed harder against his skull. “It was either that or kill you. I prefer not to kill innocent bystanders if I can avoid it. However annoying they are,” she murmured.
“Okay, let me rephrase my question. Why did you hit me?”
The woman leaned close, her delectable lips brushing his ear as she spoke in a harsh whisper. “Who sent you?”
Clovis frowned. “Sent me? Nobody.”
The gun pressed harder. “Don’t lie to me, dammit!”
The muzzle of the gun pressed against the goose-egg from where she’d pistol-whipped him earlier, and pain sliced his skull. Clovis braced himself against the sharp pain. “You gonna hit me again?”
“You weren’t at that bus station by mistake.”
“No. I wasn’t.”
“Why are you following us?”
Her question told Clovis more than she probably intended. He decided he’d had enough of answering her questions. She needed to answer a couple of his. “Look, I…” he shoved against the wall with his free arm and swung around, smashing her against the door hard enough for her to let go of his arm. Spinning, he grabbed her .38 and stuffed it into the small of his back, alongside Dael’s small pistol. He grabbed her hands and pressed close, his much bigger body crowding hers against the door.
She struggled against him, panic filling her pretty eyes as she realized she couldn’t move. “Get off me!”
“Where’s the gun you took from me?”
She wriggled harder. “I threw it out.”
Clovis’s jaw tightened with temper. That had been his favorite Glock.
The woman continued to twist against him, despite the fact that he had her well and truly pinned. She was small but soft in all the right places and her squirming was having an effect on Clovis that neither one of them wanted to deal with in that moment. “If I were you, I’d stop moving like that.”
She squirmed again and then stopped, her pretty gaze widening. “Please let me go.”
Her husky plea nearly undid him, but it was the tears shimmering in her eyes that had him stepping back. “I don’t want to hurt you. I only want to know what the deal is with the kid.”
“Why can’t you just leave us alone?”
“Because I think he might be involved in an assassination attempt and I need to take him back to Indy.”
She stared at him for a minute and then did the strangest thing. She laughed. A genuine, breath stealing laugh that had her holding her stomach.
Clovis stepped back, crossed his arms over his chest, and arched a brow. “That’s funny, huh?”
She sucked in a breath and wiped a tear from her cheek, fighting to regain her composure. “If you knew that little asshat…” And she was off again, her amusement so consuming that Clovis found his lips twitching before he could stop himself. “Okay. I’m guessing this is your way of telling me Shawn isn’t the assassinatin’ type?”
His comment made her laugh harder, until she finally slid down the door to sit on the floor, holding her stomach as she succumbed to nearly hysterical laughter.
Clovis surmised that she was overtired and stressed. The laughter was a reaction to that stress, as uncontrollable as tears in that moment. He crouched down and grabbed one of her hands. She looked at him and hiccupped once before bursting into tears.
Clovis swore quietly. Not the damn tears. He skimmed a hand over her face, brushing the damp silk of her hair from her cheek. “Don’t do that now. Whatever this is I’ll help.”
She sniffed and laughed, shaking her head. “No, you won’t.”
Clovis cocked his head. “Why won’t you take my help? It’s obvious you need it.”
She dropped her head into her hands and sniffed, her small hands shaking. “I have to do this alone.”
Clovis frowned. The situation was becoming more interesting by the moment. “Is somebody threatening you?”
Her head snapped up and she skimmed the heels of her hands over her face, drying it. “It’s really none of your business.” She pushed herself to her feet and dragged a hand through the sexy twirls of hair. “Please just leave us alone. Shawn isn’t dangerous. He’s stupid and obnoxious and spoiled rotten.” She dragged a hand over her nose. “But he isn’t your guy. I can promise you that.” She grabbed the handle of the door and pulled.
It opened a few inches and stopped as Clovis placed his hand on it. “What’s your name?”
The question, so softly spoken, drove into her like a spike. She fought her awareness of him…struggled against his pull. He didn’t feel dangerous. He felt like…warmth and love and… Emma shook her head. She knew she couldn’t trust him. People’s lives depended on her not trusting anybody. Especially a stranger. But, though he was huge and obviously dangerous, he’d tried so hard to be gentle with her, even after learning she’d attacked him.
Emma expelled a breath. “Please?”
“Just a name. Then I’ll let you go.”
She breathed deeply, her chest stuttering in the aftermath of her tears. Licking her lips, she turned and looked up into his kind, blue-gray eyes. There was nothing there to make her afraid. No hostility. No cold threat. Nothing she’d grown accustomed to seeing everywhere she looked.
He held himself perfectly still, as if he were afraid of startling her. He obviously didn’t mean her harm.
Still… She reached her hand between them. “I need my gun back.”
To her shock, he reached behind his back and pulled it free. But when she reached for it he held it just beyond her reach.
She sniffed. “Emma Banks.” She bit her lip, berating herself for telling him her real name.
He held her gaze for a long moment as if he could see beyond it into her soul and determine if she was lying. “It’s my real name.”
Finally he nodded. “I’m Clovis Honeybun. He handed her the .38 and there was a card pinched between the gun and his warm fingers. “If you need help. Anytime. Anywhere. Call me.”
Sniffling, Emma pulled the gun from his hand. She pulled the door open and started out, then stopped, looking up at him. “It was nice to meet you, Clovis Honeybun.” She stepped through the door.
She stopped, turned back to him with a frown.
He held her purse over two strong fingers. “Don’t forget this.”
She reached out and took it from him. Her fingers touched his and awareness flared from the touch. Heat spiraled in her belly and lower, tightening between her thighs.
“Take care, Emma.”
She didn’t respond, didn’t look back. She hurried away from him like the hounds of hell were nipping at her heels.
Given the task she had ahead of her Clovis Honeybun might as well be a hell hound. His presence in her life had the potential to wreak every bit as much havoc.
And get someone she loved very much killed.
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USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.
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