Here’s another excerpt from my upcoming release, Windswept Danger, Book 6 in my Blackthorne, Inc. action adventure romance series.
If you missed my earlier posts, you can find the first one here the second one here, and the third one here.
You can also read the first chapter here. Remember, if you leave a comment, you’re entered in a drawing to win a book.
In this scene, Olivia and Hotshot are trying to locate their target, Addison Willoughby, while pretending to be a wealthy adventurer who injured himself on his last trip, and his caregiver.
When Olivia had scraped the last crumb of the double-chocolate fudge cake from her plate and finished her coffee, she stood. “Mr. McAllister. It’s time for your evening walk.”
Hotshot’s brows lifted, but he wiped his mouth with his napkin and rose. “You’re sure I can handle a walk at this altitude? Wouldn’t want you to have to carry me to bed.”
So that was how he’d decided to play it. Snarky flirting. She went with her plan. Ignoring him.
“I’m sure there are plenty of strong healthy men who can handle that, should the need arise.” She motioned him to walk in front of her. “I need to assess your gait.”
“Not fair,” he muttered.
In the spacious lobby, another too-good-looking man stepped from behind a desk. “May I help you?”
“We’d like to take a walk outside,” Olivia said. “It’s part of Mr. McAllister’s therapy.”
He escorted them into the vestibule, and held the doors to the outside for them. “Doors are locked at nine,” he said. “If you need more time, there are treadmills in the fitness center, which is open twenty-four hours a day.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Hotshot said. “My evening constitutional should take half an hour. Isn’t that right, Miss Fairchild? Early to bed keeps a man healthy.”
Olivia played her ignore card. “Let’s go, Mr. McAllister.”
The man stepped onto the porch with them. “Sunset’s at about eight-thirty. Nice clouds. Should be a good one.”
She stepped outside and took in the clouds the man had mentioned. A stiff breeze caught her hair. Windswept Heights was well-named.
Olivia stayed close to Hotshot as they navigated the brick steps down to the yard, as if making sure he didn’t lose his balance. He moved slowly, gingerly. For show or for real?
“You all right?” she asked.
“Yeah. A little stiff. All that sitting.”
When they got to ground level, she said, “Let’s walk along the driveway. It’s level footing.”
“I’ll bet we’ll be on camera there,” he said.
“So, we’re proving that we’re out for a stroll. Not trying to sneak around. Not raising any suspicions.” She paused. “Walk ahead of me for a minute. Stand up straight, arms swinging naturally at your sides.”
“Checking my gait or my ass?” he asked with a smirk.
“You’ll never know. Walk.”
“Ah, the humorless Miss Fairchild has been replaced by the fun-loving Miss Fairbanks.”
“I believe I said ‘walk.’”
“And Miss Fairchild returns.” Hotshot strode away for about ten paces, then turned and ambled back. “Do I pass?”
“You’re favoring your right side a little,” Olivia said.
“I am?” He looked surprised, as if he wasn’t sure they were in character or she’d spotted a problem he’d been unaware of.
“I’m sure it’s detectable only to the trained eye of your physical therapist. Go again.”
“Must be these shoes,” Hotshot said. “I’m usually wearing less fashionable, but more practical footwear.”
He did, and she noticed he’d slowed down, making an apparent effort to keep things even.
“Better?” he asked when he came back.
“Looks like your lower back.” She touched him above the waist, then moved her hands lower, feeling for tight muscles. Some of her own parts tightened. “You’ve wrapped your ribs? Why?”
He shrugged. “I’m supposed to be injured, right? Thought it would give me more credibility if anyone checked.”
Why did she think there was more to his story? “I can have a look later.”
Hotshot leaned into her fingertips. “I’m sure a hot shower will loosen it up. You could join me. Make sure I’m doing it right.”
“Let’s finish our walk, Mr. McAllister.” But she was going to check him out. If this turned into more than a recon operation, he’d have to be fully mobile. And now what was she thinking? This was an eyes-on operation, nothing more. She’d been listening to Hotshot, letting him plant ideas about things going sideways.
After about fifteen minutes of make-believe therapy, which wasn’t all that make-believe, Olivia directed Hotshot to a nearby lounge chair. “Sit back. Take off your shoes.”
“Ah, now we’re getting into the good stuff.” He waggled his brows.
“Mr. McAllister, I need to check your flexibility.” She cocked her head toward a pair of men approaching. Employees, she guessed from their dark denims and beige polo shirts peeking out from black windbreakers. Spies?
Hotshot caught her unspoken message and toed off his loafers. She took one calf—one well-muscled calf—in her hand and raised his leg to a right angle, then grasped his instep. “Press against me,” she said.
“Careful what you wish for.”
The men continued past them with a nod, then marched toward the wall.
“Guards,” Hotshot said. “Wouldn’t surprise me if they’re armed.”
She went through a couple more repetitions of leg presses. “Does this hurt?”
“No, ma’am,” Hotshot said. “But—”
“That’s quite enough, Mr. McAllister.” She lowered her voice, continuing with the leg presses. “So, what’s our plan now that we’ve seen the place?”
“Keep searching,” he said. “I’ll mingle with the guests, you snoop around the staff areas. Do you think Addison might be working here?”
“From her files, she didn’t strike me as the working type.”
“Don’t tell me you think any of the staff look like the working type. Babes and studs, every one of them.”
She laughed. “You noticed that, too?”
“Hard not to.”
“Did you get hit on?”
His eyes narrowed. “Did you?”
“Nothing I couldn’t handle,” she said.
“You shouldn’t have to handle anything. Say the word and I’ll speak to the manager.”
The two men had apparently completed their trip around the yard. They came closer. “It’s almost nine,” one said. “You’d better get inside.”
From the other side of the house, dogs barked. Not Daisy-sized barks, either. Big dogs, from the sound of it.
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