Old betrayals, new enemies, and a second chance at forever.
On a mission to expose the crimes of a powerful man, Emma Gallagher’s informant is killed before he can hand over the proof she needs. When the man who once broke her heart gets the files instead, she’ll use their fierce attraction, his guilty conscience…whatever it takes to recover the evidence to bring a murderer to justice.
Former special operator Jason Chin was hired to protect his wealthy client’s interests, but when an assassin attacks Emma, he’s forced to rethink everything he knows about the job, the choices of his past, and the woman he never stopped loving. On the run with her, he risks it all to outwit a deadly enemy and convince Emma to be his future.
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“This is your chance at fifteen minutes of fame.”
“I’ve already had mine.” Turning away from Nat with a sigh, he gave Emma’s hand a quick squeeze before letting go, and she immediately missed his warmth. “It’s someone else’s turn.”
He’d had far more than fifteen minutes. She cocked her head and squinted against the low sun to look up at him. “Did you like any of it?”
He laughed without humor. “Of course I did. All that attention, being treated like a superstar, it feeds the ego hard.” Removing his hat, he ran a hand through his short hair and tucked the cap into a side pocket on his shorts. “But I also hated it.”
“How come?” She knew part of the answer. He’d once explained to her the unique pain of being wanted for his looks and what he represented—the fantasy he could fulfill—rather than for himself. Or just as bad, being wanted as a stepping stone to someone else considered even more desirable. Unfortunately, all of that had played into their breakup.
Rolling his lips in, he hesitated. Before she could withdraw the question for being too nosy, he said, “Because there’s no privacy, no anonymity. You’re not a person anymore, you’re a commodity, an idea. Dumb jock, playboy, pretty face. Every party you go to, every stupid thing you do, people who claim to be your friends are taking notes, taking pictures, and looking for a way to take advantage. And that was before social media and a smartphone in every pocket.” He shuddered. “I can’t even imagine now.”
“The dark side of fame.” She’d hated how much attention he got when they were out, especially from the women, many of whom had felt like they could touch him freely because he’d let someone put a picture of him in his underwear on a billboard.
He glanced at her, maybe wondering if she was being facetious. “Obviously, it was a privilege to play football, and to have my tuition and everything paid. But there are a lot of expectations. By the time you and I met, I was mostly done with it, but football’s a full time job on and off the field. It’s not all roses and sunshine, and the modeling gig only exacerbated things.”
“I remember.” As someone who now spent her life trying to go unnoticed, just the thought of being in the spotlight made her shiver.
“So, what’s your excuse?” he asked.
“For not wanting to be interviewed?”
She shrugged. “I’d rather write the story than be the story.” True enough. “And whoever was behind the shooting…I’d rather not be on their radar, you know?” Probably too late, but the sentiment stood.
They walked toward the Altstadt—Lucerne’s old town—in silence, skirting around the growing crowd of bystanders and media, her gaze skimming for familiar faces or watchful eyes. After three years in the business, counter-surveillance was becoming automatic.
Emma didn’t yet have a precise plan for getting the SD card from Jason, but she was surprisingly grateful for his presence.
She had sat in cars with lecherous old men happy to take money to betray their bosses, met informants in sketchy places, and been the only woman in a bar full of handsy trust fund bros. She could’ve dealt with today’s events alone too. But thanks to Jason, she didn’t have to.
They weren’t even talking about what had happened and she still felt better with him at her side. Guilty, and exhausted, and grumpy about having to lie to him, but…better.
Yet she couldn’t get caught up in the moment. She had to get the drive—preferably without him realizing he’d ever had it—try to determine if he or anyone in Renfro’s orbit was involved in Viktor’s death, and then she had to disappear.
With a sigh, she turned a corner and aimed for one of the less crowded cafés. Seconds later, a familiar face appeared in the reflection of a shop window and her pulse quickened.
Growing up, Gwen Hernandez never shared the stories in her head with other kids, but they usually involved intrigue and romance. She was raised in the Army and Navy, and married an Air Force engineer, so it’s natural that her Men of Steele series features military heroes and heroines who must overcome danger to find true love.
Blending writing with her tech background and love of teaching, Gwen has also helped thousands of writers all over the world find the joy in Scrivener through her popular online courses, in-person workshops, and books like Scrivener For Dummies.
In her off time, she likes to travel, read, jog, flail on a yoga mat, buy houseplants, and explore her current home of southern California. Find her online at gwenhernandez.com or scrivenerclasses.com.
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