The last man she ever wanted to see…
Evie Baker’s luck just ran out. Thanks to an ex-partner with organized crime ties, she’s lost her restaurant, her money, and nearly all her self-respect. Forced to return to her hometown and work as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, she doesn’t think her luck can get any worse.
But then someone starts shooting at her, her sullen baby sister is suddenly missing, and the high school heartthrob who stole her heart—and her virginity—is the only man big enough and bad enough to help.
Might be the only one who can save her…
Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard can’t afford to get involved. He’s already on the verge of a court-martial after a Top Secret op gone wrong, and he’s been ordered to stay out of trouble while he’s home for his sister’s wedding.
But when Evie’s ex-partner turns up dead, staying out of trouble is the last thing on Matt’s mind. He failed Evie once before; he can’t fail her again. If he’s going to protect her from a killer, and find her sister before time runs out, he’ll have to risk his entire future—and both their lives—to do it.
“I think you lost your drink.”
Evie knew that voice. It slid over her like hot silk and she spun to find Matt Girard standing behind her, holding the bottle she’d just ditched. Why did her heart skip the second he showed up? And why did he have to look so delicious?
“I didn’t lose it.”
He stood there in faded jeans and a dark T-shirt that molded to his hard pecs and biceps. But it wasn’t his clothing that got her attention so much as his eyes. There was something in them, something she didn’t remember seeing when he’d been seventeen. He’d been part of this crowd long ago, much more than she had, but he no longer looked like he belonged—in spite of the longing looks some of the women cast in his direction.
His gaze dropped over her before rising again, slowly, and her body reacted as if he’d brushed his fingers over her. There was something hot and sharp and thrilling in that gaze—and she was way more susceptible to it than she wanted to be.
Once, she would have given anything for him to look at her like that. Now, she wasn’t certain she’d survive the experience.
“Great dress.” His voice was silky.
Evie swallowed. She was tingling and that wasn’t a good thing. The last time she’d tingled over this man, it had not turned out so well. “Thanks. I think.”
He grinned. “It’s definitely a compliment.”
Evie crossed her arms and tried to look cool. “Thought you weren’t coming tonight.”
“Now what made you think a thing like that?”
Her blood slogged like molasses in her veins. “I believe you said ‘probably not’ in response to Julie’s query.”
His teeth flashed. “Yeah, but that’s before I knew you’d be here.”
“What do you want, Matt?” Her heart thrummed like she was sixteen again.
His gaze dropped once more. “Maybe I might like to see what’s under that dress.” His voice sounded low and sexy. It pooled in her belly, sent hot waves of need spiraling outward.
“Forget it,” she said with a conviction she didn’t quite feel. “As I recall, the last time didn’t turn out so well for me.”
“I know, and I’m sorry.”
“You said that earlier.”
She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “So why’d you come then? I heard you the first time.”
He sighed. “Evie, Jesus.” He raked a hand through his hair, and her blood hummed at the ripple and flex of muscle. “I just got back from the desert. Life out there is…unpredictable. It makes a man think. And I’ve decided that I don’t like feeling like a shithead for something that happened ten years ago. I want to clear the slate.”
Evie let out a breath. She’d been so hurt, and then she’d been angry. But it was a long time ago and she couldn’t hold a grudge forever. Even now, she recognized that most of her feelings about the incident were still tied up with having her love so cruelly flung back in her face. The other stuff, while definitely unpleasant at the time, hardly mattered anymore.
“We were kids, Matt.”
“I hurt you.”
She didn’t flinch from his gaze. “You did. But I’m not sixteen anymore. And like I said today, it was my fault too. I asked you to do it. And I told a couple of my friends about it, so it wasn’t just you telling the boys.” She shrugged with a lightness she didn’t quite feel. “What happened was probably inevitable. The guys thought I was easy. The girls who were jealous said I was a slut. They made my senior year difficult in some ways. But what hurt the most was never hearing from you again.”
There, she’d said it. She’d told him what really hurt, and she’d given him a window into her feelings back then. He’d have had to be an idiot not to know, but it was always possible he hadn’t.
“I should have called you.”
The music changed, the beat slowing. Evie took a step backward instinctively, but Matt caught her hand and held it tight. She tugged once, and then stopped. They faced each other across a few feet of space. Around them, couples began to slide together, fitting into each other like pieces of a jigsaw.
Evie’s pulse beat harder. Her skin sizzled where they touched, his big hand engulfing hers, his palm calloused in a way that shocked her. He was a Girard, rich, entitled—and he had a workman’s hands.
Her insides melted a little more. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”
But what she really wanted to do was say yes.
His eyes were bright. “Why not? We’re adults now, Evie. No one’s getting hurt here.”
He said it like it was so easy, but was it really? Wasn’t she still vulnerable on some level? She was down on her luck right now, feeling like a loser, and here he was, the same gorgeous, cocky, beautiful creature he’d always been. Except, no, he was more than that, wasn’t he? There was something behind his smile now. Something dark and sad. Pain flared in his grey eyes and then was gone so quickly she wondered if she’d imagined it.
It shocked her. She suddenly wanted to know what had happened to him. She’d heard about him being held captive by terrorists. How could he not be affected by something like that? Of all the things she’d expected Matt Girard to do with his life, putting himself into danger had not been it. He had everything. Why would he want to risk his life that way?
She remembered when his mother had died. He’d been twelve. Mama had taken her to the wake out at Reynier’s Retreat. There were so many people crowding the beautiful rooms of the mansion. The house was heavy with sadness and thick with grief and it had scared her. She’d escaped to run down the wide lawn. She’d known where to find Matt. He’d been curled inside the hollow of a tree they’d found a few years before.
He’d been dressed in a black suit, his dark hair slicked back carefully, his grey eyes wide and wounded as he looked up at her. Her heart had lifted into her throat then. She’d only been eleven, but she’d felt something in that moment that rocked her world—and would continue to rock her world until she was sixteen and shattered by his casual cruelty.
But not that day. That day, she’d slid into the hollow and sat down beside him. When she’d put her arms around him, he’d turned his face into the crook of her neck and wept.
Evie sucked in a breath. How could she walk away from him now, knowing there was something behind those eyes? Something that hurt him?
“One dance, Evangeline,” he said softly when she hesitated. “Make a soldier’s night. I just got back from the desert a few days ago. I’d like to dance with a pretty woman and forget about that hellhole for a while.”
Evie swallowed. “That’s not fair.”
He grinned. “Because you can’t say no now?”
“Good for me then.”
“Just one dance and we go our separate ways, got it?” Because she didn’t want to feel this tangle of emotions again. This tiny blossoming in her heart that said she was going to be in so much trouble if she didn’t shut it down quick.
“If that’s what you want.” His voice was rough.
He took her other hand then, ran his palms up her arms to her shoulders. Little sparks of sensation swirled in her belly, lighting her up like the fourth of July. He pulled her into his arms right there on the edge of the floor.
Evie braced her hands against his chest, pressed back when he tried to bring her closer. It was already overwhelming to be so close to him. To feel his heat and hardness next to her body.
To feel everything she’d once wanted so much…
Hostile Operations Team, Book 1.5
English professor Dr. Georgeanne Hayes has a problem. Her star pupil, an Army sergeant who works in a Top Secret government program, is missing—and someone tried to push her in front of a train last night.
Sam “Knight Rider” McKnight is used to looking out for Georgie. When they were kids, she was just his best friend’s baby sister. But Georgie’s not a baby anymore and Sam is getting some very male—and very dirty—thoughts about the girl he knows he can never have.
When someone threatens Georgie’s life again, Sam will do anything necessary to keep her safe. Even if it means spending the next few days locked up in a remote house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore with her.
Sam might be used to denying himself what he wants, but he’s about to find out that being cooped up with Georgie will push him to the limit. And maybe beyond.
A Hostile Operations Team novella, complete at 33,000 words. Spicy!
The car ride was silent. Or would have been if not for the incessant meowing of Georgie’s cat.
“You know something, Sam?” Georgie said, and he started at the sound of her voice breaking into his thoughts when the cat had almost become white noise to him.
He shot her a glance. “What?”
“Maybe I don’t want you to be good. Maybe I want you to be as bad as you can be.”
Sam gripped the wheel of his truck and stared straight ahead. Jesus. “Don’t say shit like that to me, Georgie. You know I’m not going there.”
She snorted. “Boy, do I.”
“No, don’t you Georgie me. When you stopped that night…” He could feel her looking at him, her eyes boring an angry hole into him. He told himself she was reacting to everything that had happened to her today and taking it out on him. This wasn’t really about something that had happened twelve years ago. It was just a convenient catalyst.
“When you stopped that night, I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought I wasn’t sexy enough or special enough for you. And that hurt.”
“Of course you were,” he bit out. “But you’re Rick’s little sister and I was the wrong guy for a lot of reasons. I stopped because you were special.”
“You were the one I wanted.”
He swallowed hard. “I couldn’t do it, Georgie. I couldn’t do it and look Rick in the eye ever again. Or your parents.”
She didn’t say anything for a long moment. “You know who was my first?”
“Goddamn it, I don’t want to know.” His voice snapped in the interior of the car. Even the cat went silent. Sam closed his eyes. He did not lose his temper. Not ever. But she made him forget all the vows he’d ever sworn to himself.
Georgie folded her arms over her chest. “Fine. But you know what you need to remember right now? Here it is, so put it front and center in that brain of yours and keep it there. I’m not your sister, and I’m not a kid anymore.”
Sam sat there in stony silence, uncertain what in the hell he could possibly say. No, she wasn’t his sister. But it was safer for him if he thought of her that way. He wanted to keep her in a safe place in his head, but in the space of a conversation she’d gone and thrown her grappling hook over the walls he’d erected and torn them right down.
She thought he had trouble remembering she wasn’t his little sister. No, what he had trouble remembering was that he was no good for her. Because damn if he didn’t want her. He wanted her every possible way he could have her.
Hot, Sexy & Bad
Hostile Operations Team, Book 1.6
This Holiday Season grab the gift everyone wants. Eight BRAND NEW novellas by Eight Best Selling Authors that will light your fire and warm your heart. But be warned, unwrap this collection with caution!
HOT, SEXY & BAD: A Holiday Collection features original novellas written by New York Times, USA Today and Bestselling Authors!
including Lynn’s novella HOT PACKAGE (coming March 1, 2014 as stand-alone novella)
When public relations expert Olivia Reese stumbles onto evidence of a conspiracy right before Christmas, there’s only one man she can call for help. Billy “The Kid” Blake is a Hostile Operations Team soldier—and Olivia’s former lover.
Billy never forgot the woman who walked out on him, and he’ll do anything he can to keep her safe. But as time runs out and the snow piles up, can Billy and Olivia work together without getting involved again?
Olivia halted in the door to the kitchen. Billy was sitting at the table with three computers open and that distant look in his eyes that he got whenever he was engrossed in some cyber puzzle. She cleared her throat and he looked up in surprise. And then his eyes narrowed as they dropped over her form.
She was wearing one of his T-shirts, his socks, and no bra. Or panties. Geez. She’d taken them off and washed them in the sink before hanging them near the heating vent to dry. Olivia crossed her arms over her chest and walked over to the fridge. The T-shirt covered her ass, but if she bent over or reached for something, it definitely wouldn’t. Why hadn’t she rummaged around for a pair of his sweat pants at least?
Because she hadn’t expected him to be here. Then why did you get his attention instead of turning around and going back to his room?
“Sorry to interrupt,” she said brightly. “I couldn’t sleep and thought I’d get a snack.”
He leaned back in the chair and stretched. His pectoral muscles bunched and flexed beneath his T-shirt and her mouth nearly went dry.
“You’re not interrupting. I couldn’t sleep either. Thought I’d go through some things.”
She opened the fridge and found a package of mozzarella sticks. She grabbed two and turned around to lean against the counter and peel the plastic off the first one.
“Anything to do with Titan Technology?”
He looked at the computer again. “Yeah. Can’t find a damn thing that indicates Alan Cooper left the CONUS for a trip to St. Thomas. Or anywhere else for that matter.”
Her heart thumped. “Maybe he’s hiding out somewhere.” She hoped so anyway. She didn’t know Alan well, but she liked him. He’d always been nice enough. Quiet, studious, a bit nerdy. A typical engineer.
“Could be. He’s not using his credit cards, if so.” Billy tapped something on the keyboard. “His last known location was a gas station in Alexandria two days ago. He filled up and bought a bag of chips and a bottle of water.”
Olivia shook her head slowly. “I don’t know how you do it, but I’m sure glad you’re on the good guys’ side. Think of all the mayhem you could do if you were willing to be bad.”
He looked up, his eyes sparking with something that set up a thrumming deep inside her belly.
“I’m willing to be bad,” he said, his voice low and dark with promise. “As bad as you want me to be.”
USA Today bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris burst onto the scene when she won a writing contest held by Harlequin. A former finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award and the National Readers Choice Award, Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome former military husband and two crazy cats. Lynn writes about hot military heroes, sizzling international billionaires, and the women who dare to tame them. Her books have been called “exceptional and emotional,” “intense,” and “sizzling.”
Ten Random Things About Lynn You Might Find Cool:
1. I’m a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This makes my husband a HODAR (Husband of DAR), which I find hilarious.
2. I used to ride show jumpers when I was a teenager. Other teens were going out with their friends while I was riding horses every evening after school.
3. I’ll try any kind of food once, unless it’s really weird (like scorpion-on-a-stick). I have eclectic tastes and I believe life is an adventure! Why not try the food, right?
4. I got married in Germany and I have two anniversaries. The first is the civil ceremony, performed by the Burger Meister, and the second is the church wedding, which was the next day.
5. I used to live in Hawaii. This was every bit as cool as it sounds.
6. Though I lived in Hawaii, I am not a water sport kind of person. I do not surf. I do not snorkel. I do not like sticking my toes in an ocean in which sharks also swim. I did it on occasion, but it’s not my favorite thing to do. I’d rather look at the water from the beach.
7. Flying used to terrify me, and now I like it. Except for the long lines and security and all that stuff, of course.
8. I’m an introvert, which is pretty typical for a writer. I love going to events and meeting readers, but I’m kinda scared too. What if you don’t like me?
9. I don’t eat dessert very often. I’m just not a sweets kind of person. I’d rather have the savory than the sweet. Chocolate is good, and I like it, but I don’t have to have it.
10. I will read just about everything. Except horror. It scares me.
Make sure you check out Lynn’s website – http://www.lynnrayeharris.com/. You’ll find a lot of fascinating stuff, including a free short story (Maddie’s Marine) and behind the scenes info about her books.