NY Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling Author
When Kinley Taylor witnesses what was possibly the last few minutes of a young girl’s life while in Paris, she realizes exactly how alone she is in the world. The only person she has to turn to for help is the one man who she feels is completely out of her league.
Gage “Lefty” Haskins liked the personal assistant the first time he met her. And after spending an afternoon in Paris with her, he likes her even more. But when she shows up in Texas, on the run, and desperately in need of help, he’s determined to keep her safe.
But the person after Kinley is patient, and determined to get to her no matter who is protecting her.
Gabe met Kinley first in Africa when her boss sent her for coffee and she ended up in trouble. They connected and although she agreed to keep in touch once home ghosted him.
Now Gabe’s in Paris and although his team is guarding another diplomat, he knows Kinley is there. He wants to know what happened and comes up with a plan to share the sights of Paris with her and have that conversation.
Kinley is surprised at the trouble Gabe went through to have time with her and does her best to explain what happened. They wandered around Paris’ sites and when they get to Notre Dame, Gabe calls his mother. I loved this, because his mother is obsessed with the Cathedral he wanted her to see it. It’s Kinley who actually gives her the tour though.
This is a favorite scene.
Knowing she’d probably be up, even as early as it was in California, he clicked on his mom’s number and put it on speaker. As it rang, he felt Kinley staring at him. He met her gaze as his mom answered.
“Hey, son. Everything all right?”
“Yeah, I’m good. I’m in Paris,” he said without preamble.
“Paris?” his mom breathed. “Please tell me you’re getting to do a bit of sightseeing.”
Lefty chuckled. “As a matter of fact, I am, which is why I’m calling. I’m going to FaceTime you, that all right?”
“Of course. It’s not like I’m standing here naked and decided I might as well answer the phone when my only child calls.”
Lefty chuckled, and he loved the giggle that escaped Kinley’s mouth. He clicked on the button that would let his mom see him.
“Hey, baby,” his mom said softly when she saw his face.
“Hey, Mom,” Lefty said. “You look great.”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Always the flatterer,” she accused.
“You know I never lie,” he said. “Before I get to why I called, I have someone for you to meet.”
“Gage, no,” Kinley whispered, but he ignored her.
“Mom, I’d like you to meet Kinley Taylor. Kinley, this is my mom, Molly.”
“Hello, Kinley,” his mom said as Lefty pulled Kinley into his side so her face would be on the screen with his. “I love your hair! The black color looks positively radiant in the sun.”
“Um…thanks. I washed it this morning,” Kinley said, and Lefty felt her stiffen as if she was embarrassed over what she’d just blurted out.
But his mom didn’t miss a beat. “Good for you. I swear I’m addicted to that dry shampoo stuff. Kaden, my husband, has to force me to get in the shower some days.”
Lefty felt Kinley relax next to him. “I haven’t tried it. Does it really work?”
“Oh, honey,” his mom said. “Yes. It’s amazing! I’ll have Gage give me your email, and I’ll send you names of the ones that I’ve found work best. They aren’t all made equally, you know.”
“Thanks,” Kinley said.
“Anyway, Mom, I wanted to call because we’re standing in front of Notre Dame right now,” Lefty said.
“You aren’t!” his mom exclaimed.
Lefty chuckled. “Would I call you from Paris and lie about something like that?”
“Not if you wanted to live to see tomorrow,” his mom retorted. “Lemme see! I get to see your ugly mug all the time. I’ve never seen Notre Dame in person.”
“Just for that, I don’t think I should show you,” he teased. He turned to Kinley. “My mom loves Notre Dame. As long as I can remember, she’s been in love with this building. There were times I thought she loved it more than me when I was growing up. For her birthday one year, I managed to get a buddy who was coming here on assignment to pick up a street artist’s drawing of the cathedral. I thought my mom was gonna die when she opened it.”
“Shut up,” his mom complained. Lefty kept teasing, drawing out the moment for his mom. “She’d planned to come to Paris with Dad one year, but she had to have an emergency appendectomy and they missed it.”
“Gage,” his mom threatened. “Turn the damn phone around or I swear I’ll tell Kinley about the time you peed your pants while you were waiting in line at Disney to see Mickey Mouse.”
“I was four,” he told Kinley with a wink. “And Mickey was my hero. Of course I peed my pants.”
“Gage!” Molly Haskins whined.
Before he could put his mom out of her misery, Kinley took the phone and turned the camera around, pointing it at the iconic building. “From this angle, you can hardly tell there was a fire,” Kinley told his mom. “Look, the stained glass is almost perfect still.”
Then, as if she gave tours of Notre Dame all her life, Kinley proceeded to give his mother the thrill of a lifetime by walking around and showing her every little thing.
Lefty didn’t mind in the least. He loved that his mom and Kinley were bonding over the building. He’d always thought his mother’s obsession with Notre Dame was a little odd, but seeing her love for it being nurtured by Kinley was a gift.
“And look, you don’t see this in any of the pictures of the chapel,” Kinley said, pointing the phone toward their feet. They were standing in the square in front of the church, looking down at a compass engraved into the stone. “Point zéro des routes de France,” Kinley said, then translated, “point zero of French roads. This exact spot indicates where all distances to and from Paris are measured.”
He heard his mom sigh in contentment. “Thank you for the tour,” she told Kinley after she’d brought the phone back up to look into the camera. “You have no idea what this has meant to me. I’m gonna get there someday, but seeing it today, and hearing you tell me all about it, was special.”
Lefty saw Kinley had no idea how to respond, so he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into his side, reaching out and taking the phone from her. “Anything you want to know about anything, Kinley can probably tell you,” he told his mom. “She’s super smart.”
“What I want to know is when my boy is going to find the time to come visit his parents,” Molly quipped.
Lefty chuckled. “Hopefully soon, Mom.”
Stoker, Susan. Shielding Kinley (Delta Team Two Book 2) (pp. 39-42). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Edition.
It’s what Kinley sees on her last night in Paris that causes all kinds of trouble for her. Fired from her job, nearly pushed onto the tracks of the metro, she makes the decision to run. Unfortunately her phone was in the box that was crushed by the train, so now she can’t contact Gabe.
Gabe was sure she ghosted him again, until they return from their mission and Gillian tells him she was there. Unfortunately Gillian hasn’t heard from her in days and is now worried. When the guys find her she’s burning up with a fever. All this is just the beginning.
This book is full of painful memories for Kinley, and Gabe, with the help of his team, is determined to help her do the right thing for that girl in Paris.
There’s fun, laughter, and so many tears as this story unfolds. That Susan bases what Kinley goes through on a real life story makes it even more poignant.
I can’t wait to see what’s next in this series!
5 Contented Purrs for Susan!
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Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army non-commissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, or find her on Facebook. Links below.