I'm thrilled to have Red Garnier back today, this time giving away a copy of the very hot Men of Danger Anthology! Check out her excerpt below, and remember to leave a comment for a chance to win!
This month, I’m thrilled to celebrate the release of my first romantic suspense story, a steamy little novella called Reckless and Yours which is included in the MEN OF DANGER anthology along with sizzling stories from the talented Lora Leigh, Alexis Grant, and Lorie O’Clare!
Romantic Times BOOKreviews pointed Reckless and Yours as one of the ‘standouts’ and said these ‘Four hot and suspenseful stories make for a good read’!
I really hope you’ll enjoy cuddling up to these sexy tales bursting with love, passion, and danger.
There is no future without facing your past…
A lifetime ago, Paige Avery left town after witnessing the murder of her father: and she doesn't remember a thing. Now she returns after her mother’s funeral, oblivious to the fact that her life is in danger - until someone breaks into her house. Rattled by the destruction of the home where she grew up, Paige comes face to face with the stranger who has haunted her dreams.
Zachary Rivers may look like a felon, but what he really is is a cop: a very determined, very handsome cop, who stares at her with eyes that say I will protect you.
Paige may not fully remember what happened between them seven years ago, but she knows she responds to him like she's never responded to any man.
Desperately trying to stay alive, and fighting against a raging passion that threatens to consume her, Paige has to look into her past to get on with her future. And while some things are better left forgotten, others are impossible to forget . . .
Her name was Paige.
So sleepy. She could not open her eyes. Her arms felt as though a building sat on top of them, and an insect-like sensation crawled up her legs under the sheets.
But the sounds… The rhythm was strangely soothing, like a lullaby. A nice, sweet lullaby. Keeping company in the quiet.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
“Mrs. Avery! They said Paige was in a trauma and we had to come—”
“Ohmigod, we’re so sorry about the judge! But what happened? What’s wrong with her—”
“Shhh! Francine, can’t you see she’s sleeping?”
A voice rose above the others—ringing with maturity, authority, “Girls! Please. You can’t all be in here at once! Out in the hall please.”
Sleep called to her, drew her deeper into its spell even as she fought for consciousness. She didn’t want to sleep. She wanted…she wanted…she didn’t know what she wanted. Maybe she wanted to die.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
A knock came. “Mrs. Avery, I’d like a word with your daughter.”
Mrs. Avery. Poor Mrs. Avery was everywhere. Doctors called her name. Nurses. People. Friends. I’m so sorry, we heard, this is awful…
Mrs. Avery’s voice was tired now. Was she angry? She sounded strained and far away, shuffling to the door. “Officer, this is not a good time…”
The voices faded into the hall, still audible to some degree.
“…shock…head trauma…doesn’t remember…”
They were talking about her. Weren’t they? But she did remember. Didn’t she?
Her name was Paige.
Her mother said to pack. They would leave soon. No one would bother them again. But Father…Father was…
Father was dead?
Paige heard more murmurs out in the hall before she sensed the presence in the room. She could hardly believe the sneer in his words the instant they registered.
“I hear Daddy’s dead.”
Her nostrils flared at the pungent scent coming off his body. He leaned over her. The bed creaked with the weight of his arms, and a tendril of fear took hold in the pit of her belly. He thrust his next words into her ear, words that chilled down to the marrow of her bones.
“Remember what I told you, hmm? Be a good, good girl, Paige, and stay very, very quiet. If you dare open your mouth I swear to God I’m going to break your boyfriend into tiny little pieces. And then I’m going to break you.”
A sound welled in the back of her throat, a cry for help, but it died when he squeezed her upper arm hard enough to cut off her blood supply. He released her. “Good girl. Don’t forget.”
She tossed her head and moaned. Mother. Seconds passed, minutes. Hours?
He was gone—and she did not want to lie here. Felt restless. She needed to do something. Something important. Something she should run to, far and fast and hard, but her stupid legs—
The voice. It struck her like lightning. She fell utterly still, stiller than still. Her lungs froze in her chest and her ears strained for more of that hoarse, male rasp. First she heard footsteps.
Her body tensed at each of the five that brought the speaker closer, and her mind went blank while she frantically waited to listen. Her world narrowed down to that one whisper he uttered—
“Paige, it’s me.”
Unexpectedly, as though this voice was all she needed to set loose a well of emotion, her lips began to tremble. A hot fat tear leaked from the corner of her eye.
A second followed down her cheek, and the moment a flat, callused thumb gently began to swipe it, she impulsively turned her face into that hand. She ached to weep into it. Let "me" catch all her tears.
She began to sob in earnest, and a second hand engulfed her left cheek. She heard a gruff, “fuck,” while he furiously tried to wipe the tears away. He seemed as desperate to stop them as she ached to set them free. “Oh, fuck.” Long fingers spread open to hold her, heels of his palms cradling her jaw. His hands shook.
She willed her eyes to open but they stung. Her lashes felt stuck together with Super Glue and she hated that they would not obey her mind. A sound full of distress and frustration burst from her lips. He tilted her head back a fraction and his warm, ragged breath misted across her forehead. Soft dry lips brushed across one closed eyelid, then the other. "Shhhh. I’m here."
When the hot, moist flick of his tongue lapped the tears from the corner of one eye, her stomach exploded with emotion. The breath shuddered out of her.
His mouth trailed down the other cheek while he rained kisses on her.
A powerful tremor shook her body; that same shudder seemed to run through him too. His hands tightened reflexively on her face and he lowered his head, grazing the shell of her ear with his lips, whispering, “I’ll make it better. Whatever it takes, anything I need to—”
Her mother’s voice sliced through the room like an ice pick.
“Take your hands off her.”
A feeble protest tore out of her as she tossed her head in negation. No. But the hands slowly, hesitantly, left her. She could no longer smell the sun on his skin, the masculine aroma of sand and trees clinging to his clothing; instead the scent of medicine and plastic prevailed.
“I ask you to get out now.”
Her heart thundered in her breast. She could not move. She could not scream. Could not say, No no no. Don’t go, don’t go.
“You’re distressing her, leave now!”
His footsteps echoed on the tile floor. Leaving. Leaving now. And she could not do anything but lie there, afraid, in the darkness, with his fleeting touch imprinted somewhere deep and lonely inside her.
Her name was Paige.