When burglars try to break into her home, kindergarten teacher Hannah Brookes is lucky to have Sheriff Rick Grayson on her side. Especially when their mutual attraction leads to distraction...
Police detective Zach Rivers isn't the only man in Phoenix who's obsessed with the beautiful Paige Avery-but he's definitely the sexiest and, quite possibly, the most dangerous...
R&B star Anita has beauty, talent, fame-and her very own stalker-which is why she needs a professional bodyguard. But can she resist mixing business with pleasure when the hired muscle is to die for?
"Love Me 'til Death"
Homicide detective Ashley Jones hates working with the FBI. But Chase Reed is one special agent whose rule-breaking methods, razor-sharp mind, and rock-hard body make for one killer combination...
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|File size:||338 KB|
About the Author
LORA LEIGH is the author of Live Wire, Forbidden Pleasure, and Enigma, among many others. Writing is her passion, her peace, and her lifeline, and she can often be found daydreaming and plotting and planning with the varied characters that fill her imagination. When she isn't writing, she tends her flower gardens, watches horses romp outside her home, or spends time with the family and pets she fills her life with. She lives in the rolling hills of Kentucky.
RED GARNIER is the author of erotic romances including The Satin Sash and Color My Heart. She lives in Texas with her family and two very big dogs.
ALEXIS GRANT is a penname for used by Leslie Esdaile Banks, AKA L.A. Banks. She lived in Philadelphia, PA, where she worked as a comic script writer, a screenwriter and a professional speaker. Alexis Grant is the author of the romantic suspense novel Sizzle and Burn.
LORIE O'CLARE is an award-winning erotic romance author of more than 40 books, including Tall, Dark and Deadly; Strong, Sleek and Sinful; Long, Lean, and Lethal; Get Lucky and Play Dirty. Her stories range from the wild lives of werewolves to the passionate and thrilling world of romantic suspense. An EPPIE and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award winner, she lives in Kansas with her three boys and two dogs, a Boston terrier and a beagle.
#1 New York Times bestseller, LORA LEIGH is the author of the Navy SEALS, the Breeds, the Elite Ops, the Callahans, the Bound Hearts, and the Nauti series.
"Lora Leigh writes compelling, red-hot romance." --Sacramento Book Review
Alexis Grant was a penname used by Leslie Esdaile Banks, AKA L.A. Banks. She lived in Philadelphia, PA, where she worked as a comic scriptwriter, a screenwriter and a professional speaker. Her books include Sizzle and Burn and Locked and Loaded.
Lorie O’Clare is an award-winning erotic romance author of more than 40 books, including Tall, Dark and Deadly; Strong, Sleek and Sinful; Long, Lean, and Lethal; Get Lucky and Play Dirty. Her stories range from the wild lives of werewolves to the passionate and thrilling world of romantic suspense. An EPPIE and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award winner, she lives in Kansas with her three boys and two dogs, a Boston terrier and a beagle.
Red Garnier loves a good book and a great romance. Nothing brings a smile to her face faster than a happily-ever-after, especially once she gets to pen down. Red is living her deepest, most cherished dream today, thanks to a bit of luck, a lot of work, and a lot of support. She is a happy wife, mother, and a full-time writer. She is the author of The Billionaire's Club, starting with "Claimed by Him."
Read an Excerpt
Two Years Later
Hannah Brookes pulled into the parking lot of the Brewster County sheriff's office and sat staring at the glass entry door.
Texas heat shimmered off the pavement in waves as a hot desert sun beamed down with all its fierce summer rays. She could literally feel the warmth outside the air-conditioned comfort of the car and hesitated once again before shutting off the car engine and stepping out into it.
It was a typical summer day, she reminded herself. It shouldn't bother her now any more than it ever had. But it did. Because that heat on the outside reminded her of what was awaiting her once she entered that building and walked into Rick Grayson's office.
She breathed out heavily at the thought, wishing there was a way to buy an AC that could counter the effects that man had on her. He made her, a normally confident, self-assured teacher, feel like a teenager with her first crush.
She was thirty years old. She wasn't a teenager anymore, and she damned sure shouldn't feel like one. Her hands shouldn't be shaking and her heart shouldn't be racing.
She'd been married. Her virgin days were long behind her. She'd had a lover or two since her divorce. So why was she sitting here like a ninny that had no idea how to talk to a man like Rick Grayson?
Probably because she didn't know how to talk to a man who made her heart race and her hands shake, she reminded herself. It had never happened before, even when she had been young and inexperienced.
"Dumb," she muttered as she shut the car off, pulled the key from the ignition, and pushed the door open.
Standing to her full five feet three and three-quarter inches, she hit the remote lock on the door, clutched her handbag tighter, and strode to the door.
She was not a ninny. Her heart might race, her hands might shake, but she could come up with a very, very good reason for it this morning.
Pushing through the door, she strode, shoulders straight, head high, to the receptionist's desk.
"Carl Dee, how are you doing?" she greeted the officer standing behind the desk with a smile.
Carl Dee had always been Carl Dee. No one called him Carl or Dee, it was always both, and he was quick to remind anyone that called him otherwise.
"Hey, Miz Brookes." His wide grin was slightly awry as he ran his hand over his frizzled red hair and glanced at the computer he'd been typing on. "Sheriff's making me learn a new program here. Save me, please."
She laughed at the playful teasing in his expression. His five-year-old daughter looked just like him. The same grin, the same playfulness.
"It looks pretty complicated." She shook her head with mock seriousness. "I don't know, I might mess it up for you, then the sheriff will lock us both up."
"The mood he's in this week, I wouldn't doubt it. He's grouchy as a sore-tailed bear coming out of hibernation," Carl Dee grumped, shaking his head. "What can I do for you?"
Hannah grimaced. "Well, I need to talk to the bear, if you think he'd see me?"
"Poor Miz Brookes." Carl Dee chuckled. "Let's hope you're not here to yell at him. He yelled back at the last pretty girl that stomped in here on him."
Her lips twitched. "Mona was here today?"
Mona was the sheriff's sister. Those two had been arguing and yelling at each other since they were kids, from what she had heard.
"In the flesh, pretty as she can be, and raging hell and brimstone down on his head again." He picked up the phone on the desk. "Give me a sec here and I'll see if he's calmed down some." Carl Dee winked at her, his brown eyes twinkling in laughter as he punched the line into the sheriff's office.
Hannah turned and surveyed the lobby of the new sheriff's offices as he talked. Slate-gray tile floors blended nicely with the pale cream walls. Photographs of the county were displayed on the walls, and the chairs in the waiting area looked reasonably comfortable.
Arrangements of dried desert flowers filled pots on metal and glass tables, while a television droned quietly in the background.
"Miz Brookes, the sheriff's secretary will be out in a minute to get you." Carl Dee drew her attention back to him. "Just give her time to bring him fresh coffee so he'll be sure to be nice and polite."
Hannah laughed at the aside. She remembered a time, though, when Sheriff Grayson's good humor had been the norm. When he had smiled, even laughed some. A time before his wife had been murdered by homeland terrorists who had been friends.
"Hannah, how good to see you again." Mae Livingston came down the hall, immaculate as always in black dress slacks and a light gray cotton shirt and two-inch heels.
She envied the other woman's svelte figure. Short blond hair brushed against her neck and jaw and framed a heart-shaped face and gray eyes.
Hannah had had all three of her children in school. They were just as easygoing, and as frighteningly self-confident, as their mother.
"Hello, Mae." The hazards of a small town, Hannah thought. She knew just about everyone.
"Come on back, dear," Mae hooked her arm with her own and began leading her back. "Are you enjoying the summer without all those kids yelling back and forth?"
Summer vacation had just started the week before.
"I'm still missing them." Hannah shook her head with a laugh. "Those are my kids, too, Mae. Their parents have all taken them away from me for the summer."
In part, it was the truth. There were days she prayed for summer vacation, but once it arrived, she missed all those young minds and amazingly adept personalities.
"Lord, child, you should remarry and have your own kids," Mae told her as they reached the sheriff's office. "You'll change your tune."
They were still laughing as Mae opened the door and they stepped in. Hannah almost came to a hard, pulse-pounding stop at the sight of the sheriff, dressed in his customary jeans and dark gray shirt as he laid a file on Mae's desk.
He had a brooding, wary look as his eyes narrowed on Hannah. The golden-brown gaze was disconcerting, probing, and she often feared it saw more than she ever wanted it to see.
"Hannah." He nodded shortly.
"Good morning, Sheriff." She clutched her purse tighter. "How's Kent doing?"
Kent had been in her class two years before, just after his mother's death. He'd been well adjusted, happy, laughing. He hadn't acted like a child that had just lost his mother.
"Doing fine," he answered as he leaned against Mae's desk, his gaze intent. "Mona browbeat me into letting him take another of those summer trips with her. Stole him right away from me about an hour ago."
There was an attempt at humor, but she could sense the vein of discontent, as well. He hadn't wanted to lose his son for the summer, but evidently Mona and Kent had outvoted him. Kent, charmer that he was, was good at getting his way.
"I hope he enjoys himself," she stated as she drew in a long, slow breath and glanced at Mae. "Could I speak to you a moment alone, Sheriff? I promise not to take up much of your time."
She didn't dare.
He glared at her, his eyes narrowing as though she were indeed putting him out.
"Come on." He nodded toward the office. "Would you like coffee or a soft drink?"
"Nothing." She shook her head and entered the office.
The door closed forcefully behind her, causing her to jump and turn in surprise to face the glare that had turned into brooding anger.
"Since when the hell do you call me sheriff, Hannah?" he growled as he stalked to his desk before turning back to her, his expression dark.
"Well, you are the sheriff." She hooked the strap of her purse over her shoulder before crossing her arms mutinously over her breasts. Mostly to hide the fact that her nipples were hardening in his presence.
His frown deepened. "You didn't call me sheriff last summer."
"Last summer we had two dinner dates and I never heard back from you." She smiled sweetly to cover the fact that it bothered her. A lot. He hadn't even kissed her. Two wasted evenings, two wasted weeks waiting, hoping, fantasizing. For nothing.
"So we're strangers because I never took you out again?" If anything he seemed angrier.
Hannah sighed wearily. "No, Rick, I'm not here because of a dinner date or as a friend. I'm here because I need your advice in an official capacity."
He didn't move, he didn't even seem to breathe. He turned to ice. She watched the transformation in fascination. Pure ice. Icy golden eyes, expressionless face, stone-cold.
"In what manner?" Even his tone was cold.
"Can I sit down?" She moved to the chair anyway, wishing her knees didn't shake and that her clit didn't ache. Jeeze, she had it bad here.
"What kind of trouble are you in?" He answered her question with one of his own.
Hannah sat back in her chair and regarded him silently for a long moment before she let a wry grin touch her lips. "Hopefully none at all, Sheriff Grayson, unless it's breaking the law to have prowlers attempting to break into my house."
His expression slowly thawed until he was staring back at her in surprise. "When?"
"Last night." She sighed. "I called nine-one-one and they sent out two patrol officers, but as soon as whoever it was heard the sirens they ran. They were nearly inside the house."
She could still feel the shaky terror that had assailed her the night before when she had been awakened by her Pomeranian, Chilli's, growls. He hadn't barked, which had been her first clue there was trouble, because Chilli was a barker. Unless he was scared. Then he growled. Low and deep, and not a single bark escaped.
"I called nine-one-one when I heard someone at the back door," she explained. "They were turning the doorknob when the patrol cars came down the street, sirens wailing."
"You have a security system?" he asked.
Hannah nodded. "I do, and I set it before I went to bed. But it took the police nearly ten minutes to get to the house. They were almost in the house before the patrol cars arrived. I need to know what else I can do to keep them out of my home if they try it again."
She was scared. Rick could see it in her pretty green eyes. About as scared as a woman could be of what might happen. And he didn't blame her one damned bit.
"Do you have a gun?" he asked.
She nodded slowly. "It was Dad's. I know how to shoot it, but I'd like to keep it from coming to that. And I have to be awake to use it. If they get in while I'm asleep, and Chilli doesn't hear them, then anything could happen."
Rick thought about the red Pom and doubted a breeze could get past that temperamental pooch without it knowing.
The thought that someone was trying to break into her home had the hairs at the back of his neck standing up in alarm, though.
"I just need some advice." She leaned forward, the scooped neckline of her navy blue shirt giving a hint of cleavage that would make any man's mouth water. "Tell me what to buy, what to do, to make the house safer and I'll do it."
He had to drag his gaze from the top of her breasts and force himself to focus on the sincere, rounded little face.
Damn, she was pretty. She wasn't beautiful, but she was pretty. Unique. Dark wavy brown hair fell below her shoulders. Wide green eyes watched the world with a hint of innocence. White, slightly uneven teeth nibbled at a plump lower lip that tempted a man to taste.
She tempted him and therefore he stayed way the hell away. She tempted him bad, so he stayed far, far away.
As he rubbed at his jaw he considered her thoughtfully, his guts tightening at the thought of what could have happened if a prowler had managed to get into the house. She could have been raped, murdered. That bright smile and brighter gaze could have been gone forever.
"Why don't I stop by the house on my way home this evening and check things over, see what we can do?" The words were out of his mouth before he even realized what the hell he was saying.
Where had that come from? And what the fuck was he supposed to do with the hard-on pounding beneath his jeans now? His cock was tight, erect, throbbing and pushing against the zipper as though trying to burst free to get to her.
Just what he needed. Son of a bitch, was he crazy? Had he managed to lose his mind somewhere since he woke up that morning?
Then that incredible smile of hers transformed her face from pretty, to alluring. Mysterious. Her green eyes brightened with relief and she took what appeared to be a fortifying breath. It lifted her breasts and left his mouth dry.
Hell. He liked that smile.
"Are you sure you don't mind?" She rose to her feet, drawing his gaze to the perfect fit of her jeans. Not too snug, not too loose. Just enough to show the rounded hips and gentle silhouette of her body.
Out of politeness, he rose as well, when he would have preferred to sit and stare like a hungry dog.
"I'm sure I don't mind," he promised her, standing still as she moved from the chair and prepared to turn for the door. He wanted to be behind her when she walked away.
"Thanks, Rick," she said softly, her voice as filled with relief as her smile had been. "I've worried myself sick since last night. I haven't slept a wink."
"I'll be there around seven, then," he promised.
"I ... I could fix you dinner?" Her voice was hesitant as though she wasn't certain she should offer.
"Fried chicken?" Hannah Brookes could fry some killer chicken. He'd had the pleasure of sampling it at a school dinner when Kent had been in kindergarten. It was damned good.
Her smile lit up the office. "Done deal," she promised. "I'll see you this evening, then."
Stupid. Stupid. He cursed himself for his wayward tongue and his stubborn hard-on. But he still waited until she turned before moving from his desk.
He watched her walk. The bunch and clench of her rear beneath those jeans made his jaw tighten.
He reached past her as they got to the door, and opened it for her, watching as she turned back to him.
"Thank you again," she said softly.
"You're welcome, Hannah." He closed the door on that bright smile before he did something really foolish. Something dumb like jerking her back inside his office and pushing her across his desk.
Damn, it had been too long since he'd been with a woman, he told himself. More than four years. Two years before Sienna died, give or take a few months. He hadn't had sex with his wife, and he hadn't cheated on her. And after her death, he had been too wary, too filled with a darkness that didn't make sense to him.
Hannah had brought out that darkness. The two dinner dates they'd had, he'd been tense, hungry for something that had nothing to do with food, and had had him off balance just enough to cause him to draw away.
Besides that, he knew Hannah Brookes. He'd known her all her life, and she wasn't a one-night stand. Rick wasn't looking for anything more than a few hot nights and a fond farewell.
No more marriage, no more betrayals, he'd promised himself. He'd known Sienna all her life too, but he'd never known who she really was on the inside.
He'd risked his son once already, he wasn't going to do it again. Sienna may have been Kent's mother, but the monster that dwelled inside her had been anything but maternal.
Shaking his head at the situation he had suddenly placed himself in, he paced back to the desk and threw himself into the chair as he stared at the door once again.
He couldn't get it out of his mind. Someone had tried to break in on her. She was a schoolteacher; a burglar wasn't going to make much from breaking into her home. There were a hell of a lot better hits on that street than her little house. That left other motives for trying to get to her. Those motives sent a chill racing up his spine.
He might not trust his instincts with women anymore, but he couldn't get past the suspicion that if that prowler had managed to get in, then Hannah might not have survived the experience.
He could handle one evening and one fried chicken dinner, he assured himself as he pushed his fingers wearily through his hair. Hell, he'd survived two dinner dates last summer, hadn't he? He hadn't even kissed her, despite the nearly overwhelming urge to feast on that slightly full lower lip.
He had the self-control to resist. He'd resisted temptation for four years. Two years during his marriage, two years after his wife's death. Sienna had taught him the hazards of giving in, and he promised himself he'd never make that mistake again.
Excerpted from "Men of Danger"
Copyright © 2010 Lora Leigh.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great ending for Lora Leigh's "Wild Card" novel, good to know what happened with Rick Grayson. The other three were good stories, just could have used a little more of what happened to the bad guys and the HEA's
Lora Leigh's contemporary about a sheriff and school teacher in danger was intriguing but had a ton of background.Red Garnier and Alexis' Grants' short stories were forgetable (maybe because the hero had the same name in both?). Lorie O'Clare's detective and FBI agent story had a good foundation but there was too much plot and development for this short format.
1900 HRS is 7 pm not 6 pm as indicated several times in the book..
Was not really impressed with any of the stories in this book. I enjoyed seeing Rick find his happiness after the debacle with his previous wife but the story was to short and everything unfolded too quickly to make it believable. The rest of the stories I found myself skimming through because I just couldn't get into them.
You cant go wrong with anything by lora leigh... Book was great short stories