She walked away from him once.
Now he’s her only hope.
Blackhawk Security weapons expert Anthony Harris has trained for any contingency. Except the return of his ex-fiancée. Glennon Chase walked out on the former Ranger five years ago. And now the CID Special Agent needs Anthony’s help with a deadly investigation into her partner’s disappearance. Dodging bullets he can handle, but partnering with his ex is flat-out dangerous. Especially when Anthony discovers the secret Glennon’s keeping could get them both killed.
Note: If you haven’t read Rules in Rescue yet, STOP! This bonus epilogue contains spoilers, so read on at your own risk.
Intense pain radiated from Anthony Harris’s gut straight through to his spine. A groan escaped up his throat as the air crushed from his lungs. He curled in on himself to counter the strike. In vain. Laughter filled his ears as the pressure on his chest eased, but he’d been in enough situations exactly like this not to give into the relief. Not to give into the fear. The longer he tried to fight the inevitable, the more damage his body would take. Forcing himself to focus on his attacker’s position, he was met with nothing but blinding brightness as overhead lights lit the room.
“It’s Christmas, Daddy! It’s Christmas!” Hunter’s voice registered a split second before his five-year-old landed another well-directed elbow into Anthony’s left kidney. “Wake up! There’s presents!”
“I’m up, buddy. Believe me, I’m up.” He couldn’t think. Couldn’t breathe. Sucking in a breath between his teeth, Anthony held onto his side as he rolled to protect his head from the next attack. Because if there was one thing he’d learned about his son over the last year was that the boy wouldn’t stop until he got exactly what he wanted. No matter who got in the way. An admirable trait, but not at… Anthony glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand to his right. Four in the morning? Oh, hell. The sun didn’t even come up for another six hours. “I’ll be right there, okay?”
Hunter jumped off the end of the bed, the floor shaking with his landing before he dashed into the hallway.
“He’ll come back if we don’t get up, won’t he?” Anthony collapsed back onto the pillows, resurrecting hints his wife’s scent in the sheets. He reached for her and slid rough calluses between her shoulder blades. Goosebumps prickled along the trail he forged as he lowered his mouth to the base of her neck. They’d been married a little over a year, but no matter how many times he’d woken at her side, he still couldn’t believe this was his life now. Didn’t know if he ever would. She saved the world one client at a time for Blackhawk Security as one of their elite investigators while Anthony battled a five-year-old for household domination until she walked back through the front door. And today was their first Christmas together as husband and wife, their first as a family. Slipping her hair over her shoulder, he pressed his bare chest against her back and lowered his mouth to the shell of one ear. “We’ve really got to start locking that door.”
“He wasn’t trying to wake me up. That’s all on you, Ranger. Just don’t open any presents until I’m up.” Glennon’s gravelly voice prickled goosebumps along the back of his arms as memories of last night—and nearly every night since she’d hired him to locate her missing partner last year—flashed across his mind. Although, it seemed no matter how many times they’d tried, they couldn’t replicate the night they’d conceived their only child. Despite the growing tension behind his sternum at the thought of failure, Anthony was beginning to accept having another baby might never happen for them again. Didn’t change the fact he had everything he’d ever wanted with Hunter and Glennon, that he’d found the only two people in the world who had the ability to make him whole. And they’d done a damn fine job. “And the lock won’t stop him. You showed him how to pick it a few months ago in case an intruder broke into the house while he was home.”
Regret pierced through the haze of pain still lingering in his side. He never should’ve showed Hunter the most sensitive locations to strike an attacker. At least not without planning for it to come back and bite him in the ass. Inky blackness darkened the three square windows above their bed. “Are you telling me I have to go downstairs alone?”
“You won’t be alone.” Her laugh shook through him. “Our son is waiting for you.”
He was a former Ranger, damn it. He didn’t accept defeat. Not even at four in the morning. Trailing his fingertips down her arm, he kissed the skin of her shoulder peeking out from beneath her tank top. “Aren’t you the least bit curious about what I got you for Christmas?”
“Doesn’t matter what you got me.” Glennon rolled in his arms. Those striking green eyes settled on him as she hovered her mouth above his, and every cell in his body hiked into awareness. She whispered against his lips. “I dominate the gift giving exchange.”
He pulled back slightly, the space between his brows closing. “It’s not a competition.”
“That’s something losers like to say.” A smile tugged at one edge of her mouth before she shifted back onto her side.
Now he was curious, but Anthony had no plan to lose this battle. Or surrender. Maneuvering his wife onto her back, Anthony leveraged his elbows onto either side of her as he trailed his lips down the column of her throat. One way or another, he wasn’t facing their son downstairs alone. He’d use whatever means necessary to complete this mission. Okay. In retrospect, he might’ve been the one who’d taught Hunter never to give up. “Speaking of losers, I heard about the shot you missed from that rooftop when you were helping Elizabeth and Braxton on their case in January.”
“It was Elliot, wasn’t it? I knew he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.” Glennon growled the private investigator’s name as she planted her hands against his chest and pushed. Swinging her legs over the edge of the mattress, she reached for her robe at the foot of the bed and headed for the door. “Well, now I’m awake, and I’m mad. And hungry.”
He followed her down the stairs, the soft white glow of Christmas lights filling the entire main floor. And froze. Glittering shreds of wrapping paper, ribbon, and plastic packaging littered the entire living room. No gift left unopened. No stocking left dumped. And in the center of it all, their son pushed his brand-new garbage truck by hand through the mess. “Well, that didn’t take long.”
“Mommy, look! Santa came!” Hunter said.
“I can see that.” Glennon cleared a path through the carnage on her way toward the kitchen with that gut-wrenching smile stretching her kiss-stung mouth wide. “This is what happens when you try to seduce me instead of coming downstairs with your son. Serves you right.”
Anthony lowered his voice, spreading his arms wide as he crouched beside his son. “Hey, buddy, what happened to the plan? We were going to have breakfast and open presents with Mommy. Remember, we picked out her present, and we were going to let her see it together.”
“It wasn’t me. Armageddon opened everything.” Hunter buried his hand beneath the layer of ripped and crumpled wrapping paper and handed him a long, thin white box. With blond hair spiking in different directions, the son Anthony hadn’t known existed until a little over a year ago smiled up at him. “Except this one. I think it’s yours.”
Stainless steel met kitchen tile behind him as Anthony took the box. Straightening, he met Glennon’s gaze, noted the spoon at her feet she’d used to stir her morning cup of coffee and the fact she hadn’t reached down to pick it up yet. “What’s going on?”
“Merry Christmas.” Hesitation etched deeper into her expression as she lowered her attention to the box in his hand.
Anticipation tingled at the base of his skull. Slipping his thumb along the seam, he discarded the wrapping and pried the lid open. In that moment, the world dropped out from under him. Heat worked up his neck and into his face, his body struggling for oxygen. He forced himself to look up at his wife as she closed the distance between them. Inside the box meant for a smart watch sat a white and pink plastic device with two clear blue lines in the small window on the test. His mouth dropped open, every cell in his body suspended in disbelief. “Please tell me this means what I think it means.”
Glennon nodded as she slowly wrapped her arms around his neck, her hot mug of coffee still in one hand. “I warned you. I dominate the gift exchange.”
“Lesson learned.” She’d already given him so much, and now they were having another baby. They were growing their family. Together. She wouldn’t have to shoulder this burden alone again, and he couldn’t wait to be there every step of the way. The tension that’d been building over the last few months under his ribcage dissipated. Anthony dropped the box into the chaos around them and planted one hand at the back of her head to bring her into him. Unbalanced, he held onto her as tight as he could to stay grounded.
Right before the German Shepherd he and Hunter had adopted from the Military Working Dog School in San Antonio barreled through the room and disappeared down the hallway. Armageddon’s paws slipped out from under him when he took the corner too fast, his excited yips echoing into the living room.
“What the hell?” Glennon jerked out of his arms. Eyes wide and mouth parted, she pointed to the hallway leading to the garage and downstairs rooms. “Was that what I think it was?”
“Uh.” Anthony took in the destruction at his feet, looked to his son for help, and rubbed his hands together. “Is this a good time to tell you who really opened all these presents?”