She had to die. Yoga instructor Ann Holloway’s sunny life is wrecked when a group of men break into her apartment and kill her sister. A rough, broody stranger snatches her from the killers’ jaw, but she has no clue who these people were or the reasons behind the attack.
He was too scarred inside to really live. Burned-out former Marine and leader of the Team, Mark Carson thought he was doing a teammate an easy favor by picking up a couple of girls. How wrong. When his friend is killed, shadows build over the Team’s loyalty, and Ann’s life starts meaning more than his own, Mark is thrown into a different game. Now it’s personal.
From New York to sunny Miami, Ann and Mark run into a maze of lie, betrayal, and death, where love is the only, terrifying certainty.
And when truth unravels, they will risk all to survive.
WHEN MARK OPENED the curtains, older memories mingled with what shone in front of his eyes. Light rose fast from the ocean, pushed by an overzealous sun; soon, that yellow ball would emerge and conquer the fading darkness.
He’d been woken up many times by it, and by the heat seeping through his body, rusted after a night on the beach.
Once again that morning, the Floridian sun-his sun-beckoned at him with its burning halo like an old friend. And like an old friend, Mark nodded with a little smile before turning his back to it.
“Ann?” he called gently, prodding at her calf with his knuckles.
She emerged from under the pillow in all her sweet languor, with hair that looked a lot like the sun’s crown of light, her frown still full of sleep. “Yes,” she murmured. “Gimme five.”
She waddled to the bathroom, a blond baby doe still learning how to walk.
Mark sat at the table, took the clip off his gun. He heard his own body shouting insults at him for the night before – enough with sleeping wrapped around her! Yeah, well, his body had better shut up, for he wasn’t gonna stop.
He punched the voice away and got on with checking the gun. It was a soothing process: the gentle friction of the slide coming off, the wiping, reassembling the pieces back together. The trigger clicked, clean and ready for action, the clip slid in place, ammo filled his pockets. He could have done it with his eyes closed. In fact, he’d done this in places so full of death, so empty of hope, that the hotel room was a paradise. Their mess was nothing compared to what he’d been through in the years of duty.
But Ann... for her it was all new. She’d lived a normal life, ups and downs, bad hair days, common tragedies and happiness.
In the past week she’d seen her sister disappear, coped with her death, saw a man murdered and almost died a couple of times. She found out that her sister had been lying to her all along.
And there she was, minutes after dawn, getting ready to go with him, not knowing what she would find next. Still able to smile, to hope, to fight without losing kindness and warmth. Feeding his own faith.
Ann walked out the bathroom, chased her tennis shoes out from under the bed with movements still awkward with sleep.
She made him want to believe her, believe the buzz in his brain droning that yes, he could see the end of this crap and lose himself in her. The thought enticed him, dangerous and sweet.
She stood in front of him, hair in a ponytail and a tight smile on her lips.
“You ready?” he asked without meeting her eyes. “Sure.” She wasn’t, as she hadn’t been from day one, but she would soldier through it all one more time. With the right training, she would have made a great Marine. Pride for his angel inflated his chest, made him feel stronger, invincible. “It’s not gonna be dangerous,” he said. Riding that wave of confidence, he dared looking at her.
“Good. I’m not eager to put your teaching to the test.” She took a long breath. “Let’s go?”
He nodded, but didn’t move.
She would be so beautiful on white sand, her ivory skin kissed by the sun, wearing a small red bikini and a white hat with a gigantic brim. He would take her to unknown paradises, stop at every secluded beach all the way up to Georgia. He remembered the spots where a boy and a girl could really turn the heat up on a summer night.
His fingers reached up for her, skimming the elegant neck and his thumb brushing her lips.
She froze. Her lips parted, waiting for him. Wanting him. All of his body tensed as the built-in alarms in his head went off. He stepped away, secured his gun in the holster and locked away all that useless dreaming and need.
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