NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Jilted at 27, Kate Phillips focused on her career and left marriage and children to her twin sister. She’s on track to realize all of her dreams, until her sister disappears, leaving her little girl on Kate’s doorstep. Normally awkward with children, Kate has a lot to learn about childrearing and cuddles. The lively three-year-old teaches Kate how to open her heart to the possibilities. But someone wants to find Kate’s sister, and is willing to use the child to lure her out of hiding. Kate turns to the Brotherhood Protectors for a bodyguard with daddy skills.
Chuck Johnson lost his family in a car crash when his daughter was only 2 years old. Since then, he retired from the Navy, worked for the DEA and now works for the Brotherhood Protectors. He never intends on marrying again or having a family. Plans have a way of changing, and some families find each other. His mission is to keep the feisty, career-minded beauty and little girl safe while his team locates the sister. His challenge is to do so without losing his heart in the process.
Elle James does it again, finds the perfect way to find her hero the woman he needs.
Chuck Johnson is afraid to find love, he had it all once, a wife and daughter that he tragically lost. He doesn’t think he could survive that again, so he avoids the connection.
Kate Phillip’s twin sister Rachel drops off her child on Kate’s doorstep. Her goal is to protect the child. The only thing she tells Kate is to contact Hank Peterson at Brotherhood Protectors in Eagle Falls. Not one clue as to the reasons for this sudden disappearing act.
Now Chuck has decided not to take an assignment involving a child again, he is so attached to little Maya but knows he has to back away so her father can form a bond with her. When Hank presents his next mission he almost refuses, until he meets Lyla.
This is a favorite scene as Chuck struggles to decide.
In keeping with his promise to himself to steer clear of relationships, he shook his head. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to keep it on a professional level.”
Kate shot a glance toward Hank. “Perhaps Mr. Johnson isn’t so perfect for this job after all.”
“I can do anything,” Chuck protested.
She arched an eyebrow. “Can you do as requested? Because I need someone who can follow orders as well as give out a few of his own.”
His back stiffened. “I’ve done my share of following and giving orders, Kate.” If he put too much emphasis on her name, so be it. She’d questioned his ability to do a job.
Her eyes narrowed on Chuck, and then she faced Hank again. “My sister recommended you. Is this the best that you have? Because I need the best. I need someone who will lay down his life for us.”
Hank touched her arm. “It’s all right, Kate. With Chuck, you’ll be in good hands. And he has the perfect skill set for the job.”
Chuck frowned. “You keep saying that. I assume any one of your men has the same skill set I do.”
“They do…for the most part.” Hank grinned. “You have one more skill most of the others do not.”
Trying to figure it out himself, Chuck gave up. “And that is?”
Sadie said, “You have daddy skills. I knew you were the right man for the job as soon as Kate mentioned that requirement.”
“Requirement?” Chuck glanced from Sadie to Hank, and then to Kate. “I don’t understand.”
“Mama?” a little voice called out.
Everyone in the room turned toward the sound.
A little girl with bright, blond hair emerged from the hallway leading to the bedrooms.
Kate hurried toward the child. “Lyla, you should be asleep.” She patted the child’s back awkwardly.
“I can’t find Sid.” Lyla looked up at Kate. “I can’t sleep without Sid.”
“Who’s Sid?” Chuck asked. “Is there another child?”
Kate shook her head. “Sid is Lyla’s stuffed sloth.” She knelt on the floor in front of Lyla. “Did you look under the covers?”
She nodded. “I want you to look,” she whispered.
Chuck’s heart constricted. His Sarah hadn’t been much younger than this little girl. Seeing Lyla standing there in a T-shirt too big for her little body reminded him so much of Sarah. His chest squeezed so hard, he could barely breathe.
Kate took Lyla’s hand and faced Chuck. “This is Lyla. She’s the reason I need someone with daddy skills. I need to blend into wherever I land. And that means we have to look like a family. Mama, Daddy and Lyla. Anywhere we go, we have to pretend we’re a unit. No one can know she isn’t mine.”
Panic tightened his throat. Chuck held up his hand. “I can’t do this.”
“Can’t, or won’t?” Kate hit him with that direct stare. “I need one hundred percent commitment.”
“Why do you need protection?” Chuck bit out. “What are you afraid of?”
“I’m afraid of whoever broke into my apartment and tried to take Lyla. I don’t know who they are or why they were after her, but I have to keep her safe. I promised.”
“Promised who?” Chuck asked. Her lips firmed into a narrow line. “That doesn’t matter. What matters is that we protect Lyla in the best way we can. I need everyone who comes into contact with her…with us…to think we’re a family. The people looking for her will be looking for a lone woman and child, not a family of three.”
Chuck studied Kate, his eyes narrowing. “How do we know you didn’t…” he lowered his voice to a point Lyla wouldn’t hear or understand, “How do we know you didn’t kidnap Lyla? Is she even yours to hide?” His gaze shifted from Kate to Hank. “Do you know?”
Hank’s lips quirked. “You have a good point, Chuck.” He smiled at Kate. “Kate is actually Lyla’s aunt. Her sister left her on her doorstep and disappeared.”
Chuck crossed his arms over his chest. “And how do you know Kate didn’t off her sister to steal her daughter?”
Lyla leaned her cheek against Kate’s leg. Kate’s eyes filled. She blinked several times and lifted her chin. “I love my sister. I wouldn’t off her.” She patted Lyla’s head, without picking up the child.
Chuck couldn’t understand why the woman wasn’t taking the child into her arms to reassure and comfort her. Impatience and concern for the little girl won out. Chuck bent to Lyla. “Hey, do you want me to hold you?”
The child stared up at Chuck, clutching her hands against her chest. Her big, blue eyes showed fear at first, but then she yawned and held up her arms.
Chuck lifted Lyla into his arms and held her close. He gently rubbed her back until she laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. She drew in a deep breath and slept.
Kate’s eyes rounded. “How did you do that?”
“Do what?” Chuck asked.
Sadie chuckled. “The man has a magic touch with small children. Emma took to him from the moment he held her in his arms.”
Hank nodded. “Exactly like Lyla just did. That’s why I knew he was the right man for the job.”
Chuck ignored them all and carried the sleeping Lyla back down the hallway.
“Second door on the right,” Sadie called out.
He found the door and entered the room with a full-sized bed in the middle of the floor decorated in light blues and grays.
A small child’s blanket lay in the middle of the bed. He’d found the right room.
Careful not to wake Lyla, he laid her down, covered her with the blanket. He found Sid, the sloth, hiding under a pillow, and slipped the stuffed animal beneath her arm. Then he backed away slowly.
At the door to the bedroom, Chuck paused to look back at Lyla and wondered what his own little girl would have looked like at that age. Sarah never made it to three.
His heart contracted, squeezing hard in his chest.
Lyla lay sleeping, her silky blond hair fanning out around her on the pillow, her stuffed animal tucked beneath her arm.
He’d just convinced himself the best course of action for him was to steer clear of women with small children. They reminded him too much of what he was missing, and he got too attached.
He still missed being with Maya every day, like he had when she and Daphne were under his care in witness protection.
But if he didn’t do this job, who would? He thought through the other men on the Brotherhood Protectors team. Only a couple had been around kids. And those were on other jobs.
Chuck stared at Lyla lying there, so innocent, so vulnerable, and he struggled inwardly.
James, Elle. Montana SEAL Undercover Daddy (Brotherhood Protectors Book 9) (pp. 17-21). Twisted Page Inc. Kindle Edition.
With no idea where Rachel has gone or what kind of trouble she’s in. Chuck, Kate and Lyla embark on the pretense of a family as Hank sets Swede to the task of locating Rachel.
Once they have some clues Kujo and his dog Six travel to do some recon, in hopes of spotting Rachel.
Curious neighbors create more suspense and the intrigue will keep you on your toes as you read. The attraction between Chuck and Kate is palpable and the desire for more haunts them both.
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5 Contented Purrs for Elle!
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Brotherhood Protectors BDRR Unit Book 1
Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin.
As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!
Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.