Ross Wynton, leader of WEST Protection.
He’s got a head for the tactical and an instinct for danger.
Then in walks the one person who reminds him that he’s also a man.
After a big breakthrough with her gene editing project, Doctor Pippa Hamlin is neck-deep in danger and threats. On the run, she turns to the only person she knows who can protect her—the hot cowboy crush from her gawky teen years. While she still burns for the man, she hopes he’ll help her reach Seattle for a big conference without meeting more danger.
Discovering who is threatening Pippa becomes Ross’s number one priority. So does easing that fear he sees in her beautiful hazel eyes…and fighting to keep his hands off her tallies as a close second.
Ross fears he’s too distracted and missing something, while Pippa battles to keep her wits to fight for the medical discovery she believes in. Traveling with a sexy, alpha, muscled bodyguard who brings all the heat to places a nerdy doctor ignores is hard enough without wondering if Ross will save her—or break her.
West Protection is growing and as this book opens they are having their weekly meeting but not in a place conducive to going over any real agenda. Seriously who sets up a meeting in a strip joint. Ross wasn’t sure who had picked this place but he knew he couldn’t cover all that he wanted, apparently the guys just wanted to unwind, not discuss business. He was trying to at least talk about some of it when he’s interrupted by a phone call.
After finding the note threatening her life and suggesting something had happened to others who made discoveries, Pippa flees her lab. There’s only one place she thinks to go and quickly packs a bag and books her flight. She doesn’t even think to call the person she’s heading to until she’s boarding the plane. Clearly proving smart people sometimes have no common sense.
Ross didn’t hesitate to head to the airport. Knowing Pippa is being followed is enough to get him moving. They’d been friends for a long time and keeping her safe isn’t a question.
Now that she could let down her guard a little and put her safety in the hands of Ross Wynton, her adrenaline level dropped too.
She started to shiver, and by the time they hit the exit, her teeth chattered.
He shot her a look, two hard brackets appearing on either side of his tense lips. Wordlessly, he removed his coat, a thick canvas. When he settled it around her shoulders, she inhaled the scent of him and her stomach fluttered at his body heat trapped in the fibers.
As he steered her through the parking lot to a truck bearing the Wynton Ranch logo of a W inside a circle, her legs started to give out.
“Lean on me.” The rough grumble would have filled her adolescent heart with excitement at fifteen, but now it punched her with the realization that she was really here in Montana,
running for her life.
He unlocked the door and motioned her in. She managed to settle in the leather seat, aware that he locked her in with a flick of the key fob as he circled to the driver’s door. Why? In case somebody got to her while he walked around?
Her insides heaved, and she folded her hands on her laptop case to still them from shaking. Ross again unlocked the doors to glide into the seat with all the grace of the cowboy sliding into a saddle.
The door locks clicked once more and he started the engine. Her insides jittered. What if he thought her insane? She couldn’t blame him really. The number of times she questioned her sanity while in flight tallied in the double digits.
As he whipped out of the lot headed toward the parking pay station, he remained silent. At the gate, he held up an ID and the security officer waved them through without paying.
Pippa took all this in with her scientist’s mind. Observation was a major step in the process of an experiment, so she took note of the truck interior, the early morning Montana landscape of snow-covered mountains and heavy clouds banked on the horizon. She pulled in the scent of leather, an underlying hint of the ranch she remembered…and the spice of the man at the wheel.
That brought her to observing Ross. From the corner of her eye, she studied his same strong features and the white Stetson their family favored wearing like some kind of ranch family dress code. But his features appeared stronger. His jaw an angled slice of mountain rock brushed with a five o’clock shadow.
If he’d filled out in those areas, his body had doubled her expectations. His muscled chest stretched the black cotton T-shirt, and his biceps fought against the stitches around the sleeves. One had actually popped, and a short thread kept drawing her eye.
“All right. Talk to me, Pippa.” He cast her a look she couldn’t read.
Staring at her white knuckles against the black leather of her bag, she sucked in a stabilizing breath.
Without waiting for her to start speaking, he fired a question at her. “Why don’t you have any luggage?”
“I left it in the bathroom in Detroit. I lost my purse and jacket as well.”
He whipped his head to pierce her in his intense gaze. “Okay, start at the top, with when you decided to call me. What happened?”
She saw why his security company was climbing the ranks as one of the top in the US. He owned a situation—always did. When she fell off the horse into the thorn bush, he’d raced back to help her up, scolded his younger brother Josiah for laughing at her, and proceeded to pick thorns out of her arms.
“I’m not sure if you know but my work involves gene editing.”
“My father mentioned it.”
She nodded. “I work in a lab. Most of the time I’m alone, but I have some assistants working with me on various projects.”
“So it was odd when things started coming up missing in my office.”
“Such as?” He ramped up the speed on the open highway that would lead to the Wynton Ranch.
“My favorite earrings my mother gave me. And a photo of me and my best friend.”
“Could you have misplaced them? Or they fell off your desk and got swept up by cleaning people?”
He didn’t believe her. Hell, she hardly believed her own suspicions.
Shaking her head, she continued, “I received death threats.”
He whipped his head around, his expression masked. “What kind of threats?”
“Do you have them?”
“One, yes.” She started to reach into the zippered pocket of her bag.
“Don’t get it out. I don’t want you to touch it any more than you already have.”
“You believe there may be fingerprints on it?”
“I’ll have my guys run a check.”
“You can do that?”
He sliced a glance at her that reminded her this wasn’t the boy she once knew. Ross was a man of power and skill, and every word he spoke reflected that change.
Folding her fingers around the bag, she stared at the landscape and tried to pick up the pieces of her life. Her neck hurt from her attacker’s stronghold, and it was difficult to swallow.
“Do you have some water?” she rasped.
He removed one big hand from the steering wheel, leaned toward her and reached behind her seat. He withdrew a bottle, cold from the low temps.
She took it and sipped slowly, trying not to choke around the lump lodged in her throat that she knew from many classes in anatomy and health to be swelling.
“Better?” he asked after a minute.
She nodded. “I knew you’d carry water. I remember your family was always prepared for any circumstance.”
“Gotta be in this country. Now. Tell me how you got that bruise on your wrist.”
Startled, she looked down at the purple smudge blossoming across her wrist bone. Her stomach pitched at the memory of the fight in the restroom.
“I was attacked.”
“Jesus Christ. Where?”
“In the airport. It’s how I lost my belongings. I don’t even have my wallet or ID.”
“What the hell happened?”
Her stupid response to the question was to flush. “I had to…pee.”
He made a strangled noise in his throat, and she wondered if he really did still have more of that boy she’d known buried inside him than she first guessed. The one who chose horses over swoony, moony-eyed girls who believed him the boyfriend material of the century.
“Go on,” he muttered.
“When I opened the stall door, a man was standing there. He grabbed me around the neck.” She lifted a hand to trail her fingertips over her throat.
“How the hell did you get free?”
“The Japanese martial art.”
“I know what it is. But you know it?”
“I spent some years in Asia studying it. It…came in handy today.” Her throat clogged off more at the knowledge of what might have befallen her if she hadn’t been able to defend herself. “I took the man down and ran for it. I jumped on the plane and came straight to you.”
He glanced in the rearview mirror for the third time in a mile, which set her on edge. A peek at the side mirror showed her they were alone on this stretch of road. He was just being cautious. Doing his job. Using skills she put her faith in.
“Ross, what do I do?”
He let go of the wheel again and rested his hand on the back of hers. Some desperate need to feel the touch of a friend struck, and she twisted her hand up to grip his. He didn’t let her go, and she clung to the warmth and strength emanating from him.
“We’ll figure it out. You’re safe now, Pippa.”
Hearing her name fall from his lips in that rough rumble—rougher in manhood—flipped something inside her. Maybe neither of them had changed. She still held a flicker of a flame for the cowboy.
Now more than a cowboy. He was an entrepreneur, and judging by those layers of muscle stacked on his body, he’d trained to fight.
“Tell me how you got the idea to start your company,” she said.
He looked at her with a crease between his long brows. “Another time, Pippa. Let’s get you to the ranch first.”
He said to the ranch. What she heard was: to the safety of the ranch. She glanced in the mirror again. Nobody followed, but she had some distance to go to shake the person who wanted her dead.
Em Petrova. RescuedbytheCowboy (Kindle Locations 180-255). Kindle Edition.
There’s a lot that happens with Pippa’s situation, and I did find myself questioning some of it. For a security company to be near the top of the pile they mistakes I caught were a bit amateurish. Although they did seem to recover from them.
Pippa needs to get to Seattle to deliver a speech on her latest findings and it’s decided Ross would accompany her, with others on the team meeting up with them later.
Quite a bit of action, more than a little suspense, however I figured out the who long before the person was suspected.
A quick and fun read with plenty of sizzle between Pippa and Ross.
4 Contented Purrs for Em!
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Em Petrova was raised by hippies in the wilds of Pennsylvania but told her parents at the age of four she wanted to be a gypsy when she grew up. She has a soft spot for babies, puppies and 90s Grunge music and believes in Bigfoot and aliens. She started writing at the age of twelve and prides herself on making her characters larger than life and her sex scenes hotter than hot.
She burst into the world of publishing in 2010 after having five beautiful bambinos and figuring they were old enough to get their own snacks while she pounds away at the keys. In her not-so-spare time, she is fur-mommy to a Labradoodle named Daisy Hasselhoff and works as editor with USA Today and New York Times bestselling authors.