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About the Book
She lost a client once. She won’t let it happen again.
Blackhawk Security search and rescue operative, Sienna Kincaid, will do anything to protect her charge, even if it means putting her job—and her life—on the line. She can’t afford to let her growing feelings for her newest client distract her, but he’s gotten under her skin. Tempted to break her employer’s rule against relationships with clients, she fights the attraction between them…before it costs them both their lives.
Former JAG Corps prosecutor Major Patrick Barnes barely escaped with his life thanks to the dangerously sexy woman sent to protect him. A killer is picking off anyone involved in one of the cases he prosecuted on tour and he’s next on the list. But when Sienna is targeted too, Patrick realizes this killer doesn’t distinguish between who is innocent and who is guilty, and he’ll do anything to protect her.
As Sienna and Patrick work together to solve the investigation, the blistering attraction between them grows hotter, but will they follow the rules or follow their passion?
“Major Barnes!” The voice sounded close. “Major Barnes, wake up!”
Cold water crashed into his face, taking the air from his lungs and shaking his system awake. Patrick Barnes focused on the blurry face in front of him. Why the hell did he feel so heavy? The sound of rain pounding against asphalt pulled his attention away from that sweet voice. To the shattered windshield of his vehicle. His vision cleared in small increments. One second. Two. He struggled to bring his hand to his face, but every muscle in his body gave into gravity. “What happened?”
“You were in an accident. And by accident, I mean someone ran you off the road a few minutes ago. I didn’t see the driver, but there’s a chance they’ll want to confirm they got their target.” Target? Green eyes speckled with hint of brown checked out the back windshield. Freckles, dozens of them, peppered a creamy complexion. Thin hands worked at his seat belt as tendrils of light red hair brushed against his jaw. “We have to get you out of here.”
Bits and pieces of memory rushed to the front of his mind as she unlatched his seatbelt. Patrick wrapped his hand around hers and pulled her into him. He’d just gotten back into town, fresh off the high of his discharge from the army. Fourteen hours to get back to the states. He’d rented a car at the airport and driven the forty-five minutes straight into his hometown Mystic, Connecticut. Only he hadn’t made it home. The drawbridge connecting both banks along Mystic River had started rising to let one of the larger cruise boats through. Headlights had blinded him for a split second out the driver’s side window. Then nothing. Someone had hit him. That much was true. His head cleared as he caught sight of the Glock holstered beneath the woman’s long green trench coat. He tightened his hold on her hand and reached for the gun with the other, turning it on her. “Who are you?”
“Sienna Kincaide.” A bead of sweat fell from her hairline, her eyes wide as she studied the rest of the bridge. Looking for what? “I work for Blackhawk Security. Jane Reise sent me to find you.”
Jane Reise? He hadn’t heard from his JAG Corps prosecutor since he’d signed her relocation request to Anchorage last year. Blackhawk Security… Personal protection, surveillance, military contracts, private investigation. The security firm did it all, but that didn’t explain why his colleague had sent someone to find him. Or that Blackhawk had known he’d come back into town to help his aging parents run the family vineyard. “How’d you know I’d be here?”
“Because I’m good at my job.” Sienna reached out, faster than he expected, and swiped the gun from his hand. Creating distance between them, she aimed for his chest. Well, hell. His hand stung where she’d ripped the textured grip away. Droplets of rain dripped from her chin and long eyelashes. “Now you can either ask me more questions or you can get out of the car before the driver who ran you off the road realizes you’re not dead.”
Headlights illuminated the inside of the sedan, twisting her attention to the SUV screeching to a halt less than thirty yards away.
“Too late.” Sienna spun the weapon toward the vehicle, stance wide, shoulders dropped and locked into their sockets. She side-stepped enough to give him room to get out of the car then backed toward the raised bridge. “Time to make a decision, Major!”
Gunshots exploded from the SUV with the crumpled hood. Sienna returned fire as though she’d handled a gun and these kinds of situations all the time. She maneuvered herself behind his open driver’s side door for cover as Patrick dove for the Beretta he’d stashed in the glove compartment. Every muscle in his body protested as he reached for the weapon. Shoulder leveraged across the passenger seat, he dropped the fresh magazine and loaded a single round.
Trust had to be eared, but he didn’t have any other choice but to trust Sienna now.
Someone wanted him dead sixteen hours after he retired. Who? And why now?
Patrick army crawled across the seat and shoved the passenger side door open. He hit the asphalt hard, knocking the air from his lungs, but didn’t stop moving. He’d survived an IUD in his office parking lot in Afghanistan. He could handle a single shooter. He straightened, finger on the trigger, and returned fire. The shadowed figure taking cover behind the SUV disappeared.
“We’re pinned down and they know it.” Sienna rounded the hood of his totaled sedan and fisted her hand in the back of his T-shirt. Another shot ricocheted off the car and she pulled him to the ground before squeezing off two more shots. Her labored breathing filled his ears as she sank to the asphalt. The sweet scent of rain mixed with a deep, rich bite of perfume hit him hard, raising his awareness of her another level. Striking green eyes focused on reloading a new magazine into her gun. Drop. Discard. Reload. The woman was a professional and damn, if that wasn’t one of the sexiest things he’d ever seen.
“Any thoughts about the person trying to murder you?” she asked.
“They seem nice.” Patrick checked his own weapon. Two rounds left. No backup magazine he could access from here. Everything he’d brought home from duty was securely locked in a duffle bag in the trunk. Directly in sight of their shooter. She was right. With only the active drawbridge behind them and the person trying to kill him in front of them, their options were limited. “Think we could ask them to stop shooting for a few minutes so we could escape?”
Her smile caught him off guard and every cell in his body stood at attention. “I didn’t realize you were a comedian.”
Two more shots echoed over the sound of rain hitting pavement.
Patrick wiped the water running down his face from his eyes. “Why did Jane want you to find me?”
“You remember the Blevins case?” That piercing gaze locked on him through the rain and his entire world shifted.
“Chief Warrant Officer David Blevins. Accused of murdering a soldier back in Afghanistan.” That case was closed. Blevins had been court-martialed and sentenced for life over at Fort Leavenworth almost a year ago. He’d prosecuted the man, given the CWO’s victim and her family justice. “What about it?”
“Everyone involved in the case is dead.” Sienna loaded a round into the chamber of her Glock. “Except you.”
She’d already lost one client. She wasn’t about to lose another.
Sienna Kincaid surveyed the area. It was late enough Main Street had cleared of pedestrians, but the damn cruise boat was still passing through the bascule bridge. They were surrounded by water. No easy way out without exposing themselves to a fatal dose of high-speed lead. Whoever’d come after Major Barnes had known exactly where to pin him down. The rain pounded on her shoulders, causing her hair to stick to the back of her neck. Rivulets of water tickled down her cheeks and she blinked to see clearly. She only had six shots left. Not enough to make a real difference once they made a run for it.
Patrick wiped at his face, a single stream of blood running down one side of his face from the gash in his hairline. His expression tightened then relaxed and she could almost read the thoughts running through his head. “Judge Larsen, the defense attorney—”
“Both dead.” She fought back the memory of Judge Tara Larsen’s blood staining her hands in the middle of the woman’s kitchen. Captain Jane Reise, significant other to the founder and CEO of Blackhawk Security, had sent Sienna to protect the judge after word of the defense attorney’s death hit the news cycles. She’d been too late. But the man crouched beside her wasn’t about to become victim number three. She’d make sure of it.
Another round of gunfire forced her closer to the pavement. Those shots registered over the rain. Louder than before. Sienna pressed her shoulder blades into the hood of Patrick’s sedan. The shooter was closing in. And they were out of time. “You’re the only one left.”
If she hadn’t studied his file before coming all the way across the country to find him, she wouldn’t have known his eyes were the perfect shade of coffee as they locked on her. Shadows sharped the angels of his cutting jawline. The thick five o’clock shadow and shorn brown hair screamed military man. Seventeen years of training carved valleys and ridges into his physique and suddenly, she couldn’t catch her breath.
“You got a plan?” he asked.
A bullet whizzed past her head and Sienna jerked in automatic reaction, hauling her gun over the hood of the car and firing off two more rounds at the shooter. Four bullets left. She ducked back behind the vehicle and sucked in a deep, humid breath. She could only hold the shooter off for so long. As head of Blackhawk’s new Search and Rescue division, she’d been personally hired and trained by the firm’s former army ranger and weapons expert, but real life was nothing like training.
All that training hadn’t prepared her for Patrick Barnes. Even with the possibility of death standing less than thirty feet away, every nerve ending she owned sang in awareness. Of him. She’d be lying to herself if she said he wasn’t attractive. Eyes dark enough to get lost in, muscles for days, and that dimple that appeared on the left side of his mouth when he talked. The man had a deep, powerful appeal that drilled straight through her. She’d done her research on him. Graduated high school right here in Mystic then enlisted straight into the army on his eighteenth birthday. The years spent overseas prosecuting soldiers as part of the JAG Corps had roughened him, but he was still so very handsome.
She blinked to clear her head. And so very off limits. There were rules in this business. Blackhawk Security didn’t allow operatives to get involved with their clients. Ever. Then again, in order to break a rule, she had to get him out of here alive. “Not get shot. That counts as a plan, right?”
Without hesitation, Patrick straightened, wrapped his free hand around hers, and wrenched her after him. She pumped her legs hard to keep up with him, ducking down when another round of gunfire exploded from behind. Rough calluses scraped against her hand as he directed them south. Toward the edge of the bridge. “Hang on to me and don’t let go.”
Two more shots echoed in her ears.
Sienna tightened her grip around his hand. One step. Two. Asphalt disappeared from beneath her feet then the horrible, gut-wrenching feeling of free fall. Gravity pulled her stomach apart as he took her down with him. She sucked in a deep breath. Her heels hit the water a split second after his and the sound of gunfire disappeared. A bite of pain flashed through her left side, but she kept hold of his hand.
Bubbles tickled across her exposed skin. Pulse pounding loud in her head, she gave into the pressure building in her lungs as Patrick hauled them away from the bridge. Powerful legs propelled them just beneath the surface, darkness closing in the further they dove. Her Glock fell from her hand and sank toward the sandy river floor. Her trench coat wrapped around her legs as she tried kicking, but they had to keep moving. No time to remove the coat. The shooter could still be above them.
How Patrick could swim hard enough for the both of them after just sustaining injury from a car accident, she had no idea. Her body was already screaming for oxygen and he’d probably burned through at least half of his supply already tugging her after him. Her hair dislodged from the bun at the back of her neck, cutting off her already low visibility, but sooner than she expected, her boots touched bottom.
Keeping hold of her, Patrick slid his other hand up the underside of her arm and hauled her above the surface. Her desperate gasp for air silenced the crickets and other insects around the shore and forced heat up her neck and into her face. She clung to him as they waded through weeds and mud onto steadier ground.
But she couldn’t ignore the pain as she crumbled into the sand. Clutching her side, Sienna clamped her hand over the location then studied her fingers in the dim light making it this far across the river. Dark liquid intermingled with the water on her skin. Blood.
“What is it?” Patrick crouched beside her, his T-shirt slicked to his skin, sand covering his jeans. His hand was on her back, supporting her, but it wouldn’t be enough.
A hollow laugh escaped from between her lips. She showed him the stain on her hand as a different kind of darkness edged in around her vision. “So much for sticking to the plan.”