No way. No how. Never.
And if he calls me darlin’ one more time…
He pushes buttons I didn’t even know I had.
Gabe freaking Barin.
Fire to my ice. Walking mountain. Growly, alpha, and achingly kind.
Last man on earth I want in my life.
But I’ve got three heaping problems:
1. My baby niece is missing.
2. Some psycho just slashed up my car.
3. My boss made Gabe my personal protector.
I’m a big girl in a tiny package. Sharp claws. Perfectly capable.
So I’ll ignore the jaw-dropping banter Goliath drops.
I’ll ignore how his Louisiana drawl melts damn near everything.
I’ll ignore how he’s five times my size.
I’ll even ignore the night hate gets complicated.
Then our battle moves between the sheets.
Gabe gives me a hundred new toe-curling reasons to curse his name.
But there’s one nagging thing I can’t fight.
What if Gabe freaking Barin is more than a gorgeous bad habit"
What if he’s the hero I never knew I’d need"
From Wall Street Journal bestselling author Nicole Snow " enemies-to-lovers to dynamite. Watch this lovable giant tear the world apart to claim his Pixie. Full length romance novel with fireworks aplenty and the grand finale Happily Ever Afters should be.Books by Author:Nicole Snow Books
Don’t Back Down (Skylar)
The first thing I do in any room is check for the nearest available exit.
It"s part of my job, considering the tactical planning and logistics required to work for Enguard Security.
But it probably says a lot about me, too.
No matter where I am, no matter what I"m doing…I"m always looking for the quickest, safest way out.
Guess that"s just the kind of girl I am. Skylar Szabo, escape artist extraordinaire.
Right now the only available exit is the office door, and I can"t take it. Not until I"m done with this route planning and escort strategy for our firm’s latest VIP client.
I rub angrily at my gritty, aching eyes and force myself to focus on the computer screen, clicking through Google Maps and using Street View to scope out any prospective dangers along the proposed route. I study every little area where concealed assailants or snipers might take advantage of exposed stretches of road.
Go ahead and snicker. It might seem a little far-fetched, violent ambushes in sunny, affluent NorCal, but I can"t take any risks with the Duke.
Yes, a freaking Duke.
We’ve moved up in the world, and now the company is invoicing royals.
Four months ago, it was a big deal when Enguard managed to land pop starlet Milah Holly as a client. Now, after my boss " Landon Strauss, Grade A grump and complete slave-driving hard-ass "
saved Milah"s life in some huge dramatic internationally televised event"
Everyone on the planet with a seven-figure paycheck is beating down our doors. I have more money than I know what to do with piling into my bank account.
And I"m officially going completely cray-cray trying to keep the heck up.
It doesn"t help that my home life is a minefield, and I"m at the end of my rope.
I don"t want to be here, mapping a convoy route for the Duke of Sealesland, no matter how well it pays.
The Duke is fine. The Duke is safe. The Duke doesn"t need me.
My family does.
More specifically my grandma, my sister, and little Joannie.
My throat tightens just thinking about my niece. I haven"t seen her in months.
No one has.
Not my sister, not the police, not the Feds " not that anyone but my sister is really trying to find her. You know all those truisms about how every day a child is missing exponentially reduces the chance of finding them alive"
What they don"t tell you is, every damn day exponentially reduces the interest law enforcement has in the case. In their minds, your missing munchkin is already a dead lost cause.
I know Joannie"s not dead. I need to believe that.
Not just for my sake, but for my family"s. Maybe the police and FBI have given up on her.
And I know who really took her: the asshole deadbeat she shares half her DNA with.
I just have to find a way to prove her father’s the culprit, and I"m not going to do that by sitting here in an air-conditioned office, staring at a computer screen, wondering if someone with a good scope could take a shot from a tree that might not even be in a years-old Street View photo.
The Duke will be fine.
It"s almost midnight. I"m the last person at the office.
Even Riker left hours ago, murmuring something about his daughter " who he thinks hung the moon " and math club and regional semifinals or something else I don"t quite understand when I don"t have kids yet. A little part of me in the back of my mind wonders if I ever will.
If I"d even be able to stand the idea, after losing Joannie. She might as well be my daughter with the special, forever cozy place she has in my heart.
But she"s not lost. She"s not.
And it"s time to go home and do my real job.
I"m so used to being the last woman standing at Enguard that there"s really nothing all that unsettling about the darkened silence and haunted gloom of our late night office, though I suppose it would spook others.
I"m not easily spooked. I"m not easily anything. And if my coworkers think I either don"t hear, or I’m oblivious to the whispers wondering if I"m dead inside, a robot, whatever, I don"t care.
I don"t need emotions for this job. Being emotional leads to mistakes. Being emotional leads to trouble.
Being emotional leaves you vulnerable, and I can"t remember a time in my life when I was ever anything like vulnerable.
That"s not how Grandma raised me, or my sister, Monika.
But vulnerable or not, I can"t help deeply ingrained habits. Call it situational awareness.
As I sling my case over my shoulder, lock up with my little laminate RFID badge-card stamped with Skylar Szabo in big, black block print, and step outside into the balmy evening air, my senses range over the parking lot.
It"s all gold shadows of faded street lamps against concrete, turning everything a sort of dusty shade of half-night.