USA Today Bestselling Author
The terrorist plot discovered by the new assistant manager at the Dallas Guardian Security Center is real, but she’s not what she seems.
Jonathan O’Neil, new to the Dallas Guardian Security Center, knows a terrorist plot when he sees one on the tempting waitress’ computer. To find out the details of the plan and to stop them, he sets out to seduce her, only to find that nothing is what it seems.
Gwen Shaw overhears refugee teenagers discussing a plot to rival 9/11, but her Arabic is rusty. Besides, who is going to believe the sketchy information from an apron-wearing newcomer, even though she’d recently left the Army as a seasoned officer?
ELITE Justice, the second book in the Guardian Elite series, features the sexy men from KaLyn Cooper’s Guardian Elite series in a heart-pounding romantic suspense of mistaken identity of a strong heroine.
This book was previously published as Justice for Gwen. It has been deeply edited and expanded to become part of KaLyn Cooper’s rebranded Guardian ELITE series.
This book opens as Jonathan O’Neill enters the diner Up In Smoke, to meet up with Quin the manager of Guardian Security in Dallas. Jonathan is the new assistant manager, and they are having a ‘get to know you’ lunch. The atmosphere is light until a woman shows up with a gripe about credit cards not working, confronting Quin with the accusation. That gets settled by the police chief who was seated at the next table.
Then we get into the meat of this tale. A group of teenagers come in and settle at a booth, speaking arabic. Instead of the normal teenage complaints they were discussing their dissatisfaction with not being allowed to help plan or execute an attack.
Gwen spent a couple of tours in Afghanistan and she starts documenting their conversation. Although her Arabic isn’t the best she definitely got the drift of the conversation. The question was who to take it to.
Jonathan comes at around 10 PM late for some but for him it was breakfast. He gets a glimpse of her notes before she shuts the laptop.
This is a favorite scene.
Stepping onto the sidewalk in front of his hotel, the tall buildings cast long shadows, filling the street with the pretense of night. This was Jonathan’s fourth graveyard shift in a row. As the newest of the three assistant managers, he’d been assigned the twelve hours from ten at night to ten in the morning. He’d awakened several hours ago and hit the local gym since this Guardian office didn’t offer one yet. After showering and changing into his uniform, he’d headed out to find food.
A man-sized breakfast is what he needed. Steak and eggs, maybe. He remembered Up In Smoke served the meal all day and turned in that direction.
He couldn’t wait to move into the new building where he’d have his own quiet apartment rather than the outdated hotel with thin walls where he and Quin currently lived. He was sure the room above him had been rented to a knuckle-dragging gorilla who had bounced on a hooker for hours last night. She had to have been a purchased lay because no woman he’d ever fucked sounded so fake.
Thoughts of sex shot to memories of the unsuccessful pub crawl with Quin. They’d started at a strip club where the women were too skinny but all of them had nice racks. Fake, but huge. Next, they moved on to a hopping nightclub. A pretty little brunette had sidled up to him, but she was more interested in the gun Guardian required him to carry at all times— even off-duty since he could be unexpectedly called to an emergency— than she was in him.
Quin had danced with several drop-dead gorgeous women before he found a model-perfect blonde. When they had returned to the bar, Roxie had introduced Jonathan to her friend, Babs. He’d thought of her as Big-Boobed Babs when they first met, but after an hour of strained conversation, he had designated her Brainless Babbling Babs. He’d considered it a bullet dodged when she’d seen several other friends and joined them on the dance floor. He’d taken advantage of the opportunity and quietly slipped out.
Jonathan heard his boss return to the room next door around three in the morning, sure he’d scored given the satisfied look on his face the next day in the office. He hadn’t been envious of Quin, simply resolved. None of the beautiful women he’d seen and talked with sparked a flicker of interest in him.
As Jonathan strode toward the little diner, he realized why he’d slept alone that night. He’d compared every woman to the sassy, take-charge Gwen. Rich brown eyes, a no-nonsense haircut, and very little, if any, makeup was more beautiful to him than any of the scantily dressed women with overly-dramatic eyes he’d seen replicated in every bar he had visited. He quickened his steps, hoping she was there.
Gwen sat at the counter typing on a laptop as he entered. Jonathan let out a long breath, pleased at the sight of ass-hugging jeans and a tight t-shirt. His gaze instantly scanned down her legs. Strong. Toned. They would look perfect bare and wrapped around his waist.
Yeah. This was the image he’d jerked off to the night he’d gone out with Quin as he showered away the stench of beer, clashing perfumes, and raging pheromones.
Without asking, he slid onto the stool beside her. “Please tell me I can get steak and eggs this time of day, Gwen.”
Her initial look of surprise softened into a genuine smile that made the gold strands in her brown eyes sparkle. He wondered if they came to life or disappeared completely when she was aroused.
“You most certainly can.” She cocked her head. “You have an advantage over me. You know my name, but I don’t know yours.” As she scraped her gaze over him, the corner of her mouth twitched up before she controlled it. “Calling you New Guardian Guy, or Quin’s friend from work just doesn’t seem right. I like to know who I’m talking to.”
“Jonathan O’Neil.” He held out his hand. “And I am Quin’s friend, but I’m also his employee. I’m the newest assistant manager at this center.”
She took the proffered hand and gave it a firm shake. “Nice to meet you, Jonathan O’Neil. How would you like that steak cooked? And the eggs?”
She reached down to her waist and confusion was chased by the realization that she wasn’t wearing an apron. With a self-deprecating smile, she stood and slid around the corner of the counter. Grabbing an order pad and pen, she looked at him expectantly.
“I like my steak rare and my eggs sunny side up.”
“Home fries, French fries, baked potato, or one of those?” She pointed to a list of sides on the board above the kitchen window where a Latino man watched them carefully.
Jonathan didn’t bother looking. This was breakfast for him. “Home fries.”
“Coffee?” Gwen’s raised eyebrow was one of the sexiest things he’d seen.
“Definitely.” He looked around for a coffee cup, but they sat ready only on the set tables. She reached under the counter and pulled out a mug.
Leaning back, she reached out to the machine behind her, then turned around to him. “Leaded or unleaded?”
“Fully leaded, please.” He smiled when she grabbed the black-bottomed pot and filled his mug. “Sweetheart, you have just earned my undying gratitude.”
Just as she slid the order under the clip and spun it toward the kitchen, the restaurant phone rang. She snatched the portable handset from beside her computer. Frowning at the display, she said, “Excuse me.” She disappeared into the back, leaving him alone to enjoy his surprisingly delicious coffee.
Jonathan glanced around the nearly empty diner. A middle-aged couple sat in a booth along the back wall, hardly talking, concentrating on their pie. They’d probably been married for over a decade, catching a late supper together after a long day at work if he had to guess given the man’s suit jacket lying on the seat next to him and her dress pants, flattering blouse, and short heels. He’d been taught to sum up people and situations quickly. They were no threat.
As he swept his gaze over the restaurant, his eyes fell on Gwen’s computer. Three words jumped out at him. Big like 9/ 11.
What the fuck?
Put Ams in their place.
Holy shit. What was she into?
The lid suddenly closed, and very feminine fingers splayed over the blue case.
“Your order should be up soon.” At Gwen’s terse words, his eyes met hers. Yeah. He’d been snooping, and he needed to dig further.
He hoped his smile put her at ease. “Writing a book?” It was a plausible explanation.
She slid the laptop off the counter, placed it underneath, and drew out a mug. She turned her back on him and poured a cup of decaf. “I’m no author.” She came around to his side and, once again, took her seat. “I hated writing papers in college.”
“Where did you go to school?”
Any information she was willing to give him would help. She just stared at him for the longest time, as though trying to read his mind or decide if she could trust him.
To start the give and take necessary to build a solid foundation for a friendship, he offered, “I graduated from the University of Florida.”
“You’re a gator.” She smiled.
“Yes, ma’am.” He sipped his coffee. “I wanted to get out of Miami but not too far from my folks.” He shrugged. “Besides, the school had Navy ROTC and I had a scholarship.”
“You were in the Navy?” There was more than a spark of interest in her question.
“Marines.” He was used to women gushing at this point and mentally prepared for the onslaught of military questions.
“I was Army.”
She couldn’t have shocked him more if she’d said she was an alien. He set the cup down and stared at her. Really looked at her, as though seeing her for the first time. It was there. That hard edge that said I’ve seen too much.
Jonathan wanted to take her in his arms and protect her. He’d hold her until all the sharp angles melted into smooth, round curves, erasing the bad things she’d seen, replacing those memories with the sweet life she deserved.
And, maybe she’d do the same for him.
“When did you get out?” He managed to ask.
“Six mon—” Her gaze flew to the door as a bearded man all but fell through. “Kane.” Concern saturated the single word.
She jumped up and grabbed the man around the waist and placed one hand under a bent elbow. Half-carrying, half-guiding him to the back, the two spoke so low Jonathan couldn’t hear.
KaLyn Cooper. ELITE Justice (Kindle Locations 390-459).
He also meets Kane who will be important later. For now though Jonathan is concerned because he’s unkempt and smelly and appears to be in some kind of withdrawal. What’s really going on surprises him.
He and Gwen have a definite attraction and he uses that to get information off her computer. Bad move, sneaky move, but he gets what his company needs. It’s just a small part of a big picture.
I love the way things twist and turn and the romance that sneaks in with just the right amount of sizzle.
I can’t wait to read all of these newly revised books.
5 Contented Purrs for KaLyn!
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KaLyn Cooper’s romances blend fact and fiction with blazing heat and heart-pounding suspense.
Twenty-two years as a military wife has shown KaLyn the world, and thirty years in PR taught her that fact can be stranger than fiction. She leaves it up to the reader to separate truth from imagination.
She, her husband, and Little Bear (Alaskan Malamute) live in Tennessee on a micro-plantation filled with gardens, cattle, and quail. When she’s not writing, she’s at the shooting range or on the river.