Holiday Edition Book 5
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Navy SEAL who wants nothing to do with commitment, is forced to protect his neighbor and her unborn baby when her past comes calling.
Jack “Mars” Marsten lives in an apartment he never made a home. He made the mistake of marrying right out of boot camp to his high school sweetheart. When his wife left him during BUDS training, he vowed never to marry again. No entanglements.
Diedre Anne Tyler is pregnant and hiding from her ex-boyfriend who beat her when he found out she was pregnant. She told him she’d lost the baby, even though she hadn’t. She left him, changed her name to Anne Smith and is hiding in an apartment next door to a cranky Navy SEAL who barely says hello. Which is just as well. The fewer people who know her and where she is, the less chance of her ex finding her.
Until he does…
When trouble comes calling, Anne hides in her neighbor’s apartment. Jack wants nothing to do with the woman but can’t send her back to deal with her problem on her own. Stuck with the woman, he’s now responsible for keeping her alive until her baby is born. How hard could that be? Harder than he originally thought when he finds himself falling for the pretty mother-to-be. No-commitment Jack sinks deeper into his own kind of trouble where Anne is concerned.
Jack ‘Mars’ Marsden is looking forward to two weeks leave. He’s heading to Montana where Hank Patterson has offered him a fishing cabin. It will be just him and the fly fishing he’s been wanting to try, peaceful and quiet.
Dierdre Anne Tyler had finally escaped her abusive boyfriend. She’s managed to stay off the grid, using only her middle name and waitressing for only tips she did manage a small apartment. Unfortunately her ex is a hacker and finds her, probably using the cameras around the city. Her escape plan has her climbing over to her neighbors balcony and hopefully hiding inside his apartment.
Jack isn’t home when Anne enters his apartment, when he arrives she hides in his closet. Unfortunately hunger hits her while he’s in the shower and she sneaks to the kitchen to check out the fridge for something to satisfy her cravings. Finding pizza she gets back to her hiding spot only to get sick, the pizza not sitting well due to her pregnancy. She barrels into Jack as she runs to the bathroom. Quite frankly she is lucky he didn’t shoot her.
While Jack gets why she’s in his apartment as she explains her situation, he doesn’t know why she won’t accept at least a little help. He doesn’t particularly care for the surprise of her stowing away in the back of his truck.
His first stop is Vegas and he figures that’s a good place to leave Anne. That is until her ex shows up and actually manages to wound him as well as destroy his truck. No way is he going to let Anne deal with this alone, he’d get her to Montana and Hank and the brotherhood protectors would keep her safe.
This is a favorite scene.
As the miles passed and the monotony of the desert stretched before him, Jack thought about the woman who sat beside him. He wondered what her story was. Why she’d ended up moving in with Derek. “Do you have some family somewhere?” he asked. “Should you let your folks know you’re all right?”
The lights from the dash cast a soft glow over her face. “No,” she said. “My parents were older when I was born. They didn’t think they could have children, until I came along. Unfortunately, my father died just before he turned sixty. My mother died shortly afterward of a broken heart. I had just started college and had to drop out. They didn’t have much in the way of savings. I guess they were expecting to live a lot longer. Dad was still working when he died of a massive heart attack. Their insurance was only enough to cover his burial expenses, and then the rest of it went toward my mother’s and paying off their credit cards. I couldn’t afford the house payment, so I had to let it go back to the bank. Without a college education, I had to work doing the only thing I knew how to do and that was being a waitress.”
“Is that where you met Derek?” Jack asked.
She nodded. “Yes. He came in every morning for coffee. If it wasn’t busy, he’d talk with me. He’d seemed nice enough. When he asked me out on a date, I said yes. I was living in a house that had been divided into several apartments. It was the only thing I could afford on a waitress’s salary and tips. Derek was very attentive and pleasant when I was so sad over the loss of my parents. He took me out to eat and to the movies. It was nice not to be sad. Since I didn’t have any family, he kind of filled that void. The owner of the house I lived in ended up going to jail for tax fraud. The house was sold, and the occupants had to find new lodgings. That’s when Derek suggested I move in with him. I wasn’t able to find any other rental property or anything I could afford. His offer seemed to be a godsend. I packed up my stuff and moved in.” She laughed without mirth. “And that’s when everything changed.”
Jack’s eyes narrowed. “It’s almost like he targeted you. Did you tell him you didn’t have any family?”
Anne nodded. “I thought of that. But, by then, it was too late. I was living with him. I was getting an idea of what he was doing with his computer.”
“And if he was hacking into computer databases, he might have wanted you under wraps to keep you from telling anyone else about his nefarious activities.”
She nodded. “I didn’t agree with what he was doing. It was wrong. But, more than that, I really wanted to be free of him.”
“And now?” Jack asked.
Her jaw hardened. “I’d like to put him away so he can’t hurt me or anybody else again.” Her gaze went to Jack’s ribs where Derek had stabbed him.
“I’m all right,” Jack assured her. “I’ve had much worse injuries. Although that doesn’t make what he did right. You’re lucky he didn’t sink that knife deeper into your throat.” Jack reached out and touched her neck just below where Derek’s knife had nicked her. “If he had stabbed you in just the right spot, you would’ve bled out before I could’ve done anything to help you.” His brow furrowed. “I shouldn’t have charged in like I did.”
“But it worked,” she said. “It caught him off guard.”
“Yeah, but he could just as easily have slit your throat instead of turning that knife on me.”
“You can’t second guess yourself,” she said. “You got me away from him.”
Jack’s lips twitched. “Seems like you got yourself away from him with that jab to his ribcage.”
“Only because he loosened his hold when he went after you,” she reminded him.
“Then we’ll have to agree we helped each other,” Jack said.
Anne nodded, staring straight ahead into the darkness. “Doing something is better than playing the victim.”
“Yes, it is,” Jack said. “You’ve got gumption.”
“And you’ve got skills,” she said. “I wish I had those same skills. I would never have been in the situation I am now.”
“You need to take some self-defense classes.”
She snorted. “That kind of thing costs money. I was barely making enough to pay the rent and put food on the table.”
“Maybe Hank can help you out with that, too,” Jack said.
Her lips formed a thin line. “I don’t like being a charity case.”
“No, but you’d like it even less being dead. Sometimes, you have to accept a little help until you can get on your feet.”
She nodded, her hand going to rest over her belly.
Jack’s eyes narrowed. “Are you feeling all right?”
“Yes, why do you ask?”
“You’re holding your stomach like you don’t feel well.”
She shifted her arm to the armrest. “I feel fine.”
“Are you hungry?” he asked. When she didn’t answer he went on, “Because if you are, so am I. Either way, if there’s a place to stop, I’ll grab something.”
“I’m going to keep track of everything you spend on me,” she said. “And someday, I will pay you back.”
“You’re paying me back by keeping me company.”
Anne laughed. “Why would you want company on a vacation when you set out to be alone?”
He lifted a shoulder and let it fall. “It’s not so bad. I’ve been with my team so long I thought I needed a break from them. The drive up from San Diego was just a little bit…” his mouth twisted, “lonely.”
“Maybe you just needed a vacation with fewer people. Maybe not with no people,” she said.
“And I’m only with you until we get to Hank Patterson’s place,” she said. “Then you’ll get that peace and quiet you wanted so badly.”
He nodded. The thought of leaving her with Hank should have made him happy, but he felt somewhat responsible for her still and wondered what member of Hank’s team would be assigned to protect her. He trusted Hank because he knew him. He had served with Hank in Iraq. And though Hank was a good judge of character, Jack didn’t know the other members of Hank’s team, those that he might assign to protect Anne.
Jack would want to meet the guy Hank had in mind for the mission. He’d want to know his background and skillset.
Anne’s ex-boyfriend might not be a former SEAL or special ops soldier, but he was a sneaky bastard. Jack knew firsthand what he was capable of. He touched a hand to his ribs.
The guy was dangerous, and he was persistent. Though he’d gotten away, he wouldn’t give up easily. His misguided belief that Anne belonged to him would lead him back to find her. He’d wait for his opportunity and make his move when nobody was looking. Would Hank’s guy be ready?
James, Elle; Authors, Paradise. Hot SEAL, Independence Day. Kindle Locations (927-981). Twisted Page Inc. Kindle Edition.
Anne has managed to keep her pregnancy a secret but Sadie figures it out almost right away. With most of the Protectors on assignment, it’s decided that Anne would accompany Jack to the fishing cabin. It’s way off the grid with a satellite phone the only way to communicate.So no way for Derek to find them.
I love seeing Hank, Sadie and some of the protectors, they really do have most of the answers.
A page-turning read with a slow build relationship, fun, action and some sizzle.
5 Contented Purrs for Elle!
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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.