When flaky Las Vegas hairdresser Molly McLaren overhears a Russian hit man planning to kill a US congressman and take out Hoover Dam in the process, she becomes a target for murder. Now, on the run from the assassin and a dirty cop, she winds up in an eighteen wheeler with an ex-cop sporting a bum leg, a bad attitude, and a body built for loving.
Grey Wilson just wanted to be left alone. No more Las Vegas. No more casinos. And no more floozy women like the one his best friend sent him to pick up on the side of the road. She talks fast, but her endless curves and sensuous nature make him want to slow down. Which is not in the cards. Grey knows he needs to unload his excess baggage. And quick.
But when someone tries to kill the Vegas beauty, Molly captures his heart with her backbone of steel, and brains to boot. Now in order to grasp the future that had once seemed impossible, Molly and Grey need to keep Hoover Dam, the congressman, and their love from being blown sky-high.
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Molly Gets Her Man
By Julie Rowe, Rochelle French, Lewis Pollak
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Julie Rowe
All rights reserved.
Oh god, they were going to shoot her.
Molly McLaren took a deep breath and tried to calm her rioting nerves as she peeked around the car tire. Two hulking men scanned the parking garage at the end of the row of cars. Another man stood fifteen feet away, holding a gun tucked behind his leg.
Why couldn't he have picked a different hair salon to have his hair cut and colored in today? Or been assigned to a hairdresser who wasn't an out-of-work translator as fluent in Russian as she was in English and who had understand every word he'd said?
But then, this was Las Vegas, where anything could and often did happen.
Maybe she should have tried to talk her way out of this fiasco. She'd always relied on communication before. That's what she always did. Hiding wasn't her thing. But overhearing an assassination plan and then seeing men with guns had kinda thrown her usual mode of operation out the window.
And now here she was, hiding from gangsters.
Footsteps echoed closer, and Molly pressed herself close to the car she'd crouched beside, her tight capris cutting off the circulation to her lower legs. But getting pins and needles in her calves was nothing compared to what would happen if the Russian mob caught her.
There were worse things than getting shot. Just thinking about those things made breathing next to impossible.
The footsteps stopped, then moved away. Molly forced herself to take in a breath.
I can do this. I can do this. I have to do this.
She had to get out, but the only escape from the underground parking garage was an exit ramp several feet way. If one of the mobsters turned her way, she'd be discovered. And yet, at the other end of the exit ramp should be her way out of this mess.
If she could only get there.
She focused on her goal, sucked in as much air as she could, and made a run for it. Halfway to the exit, she ducked behind another tire. No gunshots, no yelling. Safe, so far. She tried to calm her breathing, but the echo of footsteps got louder again.
Blast. Grozney or one of his goons must have heard something and was coming back to investigate. Think. She glanced around and spied a small piece of cement on the concrete floor, next to her foot. She picked it up, then threw it as hard as she could toward the furthest corner of the garage.
A car alarm wailed and screeched. Grozney and his two hired goons ran toward it.
Molly dashed to the ramp and up into glaring sunshine.
The parking lot was empty except for three parked motor homes and one long silver transport truck, its engine running. As she neared it, she could see nothing to identify it, no logo or company name.
Was this the truck her brother had promised would be waiting? The one he'd promised his Army buddy would be driving?
She came closer. Had to be the right truck. But at five-foot two, she was too short to reach the door handle. She settled for banging on the side of the cab with her fist. A man who looked to be in his early thirties stuck his head out the driver's side window. He wore a severe frown, had a mop of dark hair in bad need of a cut, and pale eyes a shade she couldn't quite place on the color scale. Attractive, in a gee-I-hope-he's-friendly kind of way.
"You Molly, Mike's sister?" he asked.
"I'm your ride," the truck driver said, but she wasn't really listening.
Nope. She was staring. Gaping, really. The driver had now opened his door wide, and she got a good eyeful of the man who was supposed to save her. For a moment, time froze. She knew rationally that not all overly large men with beefy muscles were brutes. Not all men over six foot and two hundred pounds beat up their girlfriends. Or whipped their daughters' butts with a leather belt. But she knew that some did.
Boy, did she know.
That's why she'd ended up focused on words. Baffle them with bullshit her grandmother always said. A way to stop the scary guys from getting scarier. She swallowed against the dryness in her mouth, stared at the huge guy sitting in the driver's seat of the eighteen-wheeler, and finally managed to speak. "You're who my brother sent to help me? The freaking Hulk?"
"If you're not here for a ride," the driver all but growled, "I'll take off." He slammed the door shut.
She glanced over her shoulder to see Grozney and his nasty enforcer-types emerging from the garage. Her heart leapt into her throat. She only had seconds before Grozny saw her.
"Oh God!" she squeaked.
"I hope you're ready to go now."
His annoyed tone caught her attention. She whipped her head back around, then scrambled toward the truck. He had no idea just how ready to leave she was. "Yes, I can leave now. Right now in fact."
"Good." He revved the engine.
A gunshot echoed across the cement lot.
A second one followed it, and Molly leaped for the truck, jumping up onto the step, then grabbing the door handle as she banged her knee against the still-closed door. She bit back a yell and struggled unsuccessfully to pull herself up to the window, aiming to climb through it to get into the high cab. A large, masculine hand wrapped around her wrist and gave an almighty yank.
"Ow!" Her arm nearly came out of its socket, but with the man's help, she made it through the window, only to land face-down on something soft, a masculine grunt accompanying her arrival.
Oh, God, what had she squished? She positioned her hands under her and pushed, but the truck jerked forward and the unexpected momentum knocked her flat on her face again, her legs still sticking out the window but her head and torso firmly inside. "Oooph."
That's when she realized the truck driver was yelling.
"... the fuck! Are those cops?"
When she didn't answer right away, he shifted gears and held her flailing legs down with his elbows, then muttered under his breath, "What the hell have you gotten me into, Mike?"
Blaming her brother — now that made her mad.
"They're not cops," she snapped. "And what's with trying to rip my arm off?"
"Who the hell is shooting at my truck?"
The truck's speed stabilized. She struggled to brace herself, only to end up with one hand on a thick thigh and the other on what she took to be rock-solid abs. She raised her head to see a large expanse of denim and a zipper fly right in front of her. Her gaze followed the denim down two long massive legs, ending with the biggest pair of work boots she'd ever seen. She quickly flicked her gaze the other way to see a leather belt, plaid shirt with snap closures, shoulders the size of Rhode Island, a neck thicker than a redwood tree, square jaw, high cheek bones, and something that either was a dimple or a scar on his cheek.
Oh, heck. She'd gone from the frying pan straight through the fire and landed on Hercules. He was the largest man she'd ever seen except on TV. Too big. Three men were trying to kill her, and now she'd landed directly on top of one scary looking trucker.
Whoever came up with the fight or flight response needed to add a third option: freeze. Her breathing shallowed, and she consciously had to shove some very bad memories to the back of her brain.
Somewhere high above her, the man growled, "You gonna lie on my lap all day or find yourself a seat?"
"Sorry," Molly managed. She scrambled around, pulling her legs into the cab and then scooting over on the seat until she was as far away as she could get. Mike had said she'd be safe with his best friend, who he promised would be in the parking garage in a running semi, but Molly's body didn't quite trust her brother's faith in this guy. She managed to steady her breathing, fighting against the desire to leap out the other window.
She cast a quick glance at the driver. Not a single muscle in his face moved as he steered the vehicle down the street.
"About landing on your ... um —" Her gaze slipped down to his crotch. Wait — was it her imagination, or were things expanding down there? "Maybe I should just get out of your truck ... Um ... take a taxi, maybe?"
"Who is it Mike's got me rescuing you from? Drug dealer? Loan shark? Pit boss?"
She folded her arms across her chest. "I just overheard the wrong conversation, okay?"
"Must have been some conversation."
His deep, rumbly voice caught her by surprise. Within the confines of the cab, the sound reverberated around and through her, making something deep inside quiver.
Terrified and turned on? There was something seriously wrong with her. Especially since guys as huge as this one usually freaked the heck out of her. Wasn't her fault, though. Not like she'd ever been beaten down by a guy smaller than her. She cast a quick glance at him, noting the tight clench of his jaw juxtaposed with the glimmer in his green-brown eyes. What was it he'd asked? Right. What she'd overheard.
"Oh, yeah, it was, all right," she said, gathering her wildly discordant emotions together in order to provide him with an answer. "It's not like I hear people planning to murder other people every day."
"Murder, huh?" He sounded suspiciously calm about the prospect.
She flashed him her best mega-watt smile, not that he was looking. "Just let me out at the next light."
He shook his head. "Mike called in a favor to get you this ride. No use wasting it."
"Oh." Her gaze darted to his hands as they flexed around the steering wheel. Hands big and strong enough to hurt someone. Hands like her former boyfriend's. She shivered. She owed Mike for the favor, but surely she was far enough away from Grozney to be safe by now. Maybe it was time to bail out of Scary Trucker Dude's semi.
The truck came to a stop at a light, right next to a bus stop. She twisted around and grabbed for the door handle. "I've decided not to trouble you," she said, slightly haughtily. "I'll take the bus instead."
"I don't think that's a good idea."
She waved off his concern, working for nonchalance. "It's no problem, really."
"You're bleeding. Really."
"What?" Nothing hurt. Well, except for her knee, but who didn't bang up their knees a few times a week? She searched her arms and torso for evidence of a bullet wound, but none appeared. Then she actually looked at her knee.
Blood was smeared across the cap and down her capris. She pulled the fabric back to get a better look. "It's just a little cut."
"It's still bleeding."
"All I need is a Band-Aid —"
"A few stitches," he interrupted.
"You're staying with me until we get out of Vegas. Then we're going to stop and take care of your knee. I promised your brother."
This guy might be one of her brother's best friends, but he had all the appearances of the very men she'd vowed to steer clear of: gigantic, strong, and nasty-tempered. "That's absolutely not necessary."
"You're bleeding all over the seat."
She looked around. Damn it, he was right. "Sorry."
The light changed to green, and he shifted the truck into first. The intersection faded away. So did the bus stop.
"I know a good place to stop," he said. "Outside Vegas. Busy. Lots of trucks. Camouflage."
"But I need to be in Vegas," she said.
He snorted and shot her a glance. "Why? People are shooting at you. Seems like Vegas is the very place you don't want to be right now."
She bit her lip. "In five days, I have a job interview. It's important. Really important."
"So is your life."
She didn't respond.
"Are you okay? Besides the knee."
She jerked her gaze toward him. His tone had softened a bit. "Yes, I'm fine." Liar, liar, pants on fire. "Why do you ask?" "You're looking a little green."
"I've never been shot at before."
"You get used to it."
"Used to it?"
He shrugged. "Either that, or you end up with post-traumatic stress."
She could guess which door he'd gone through. She'd gone through the same damn door. "Mike said you were one of his best friends in the military." She looked around the truck. Scary Dude obviously wasn't in the military any more. "Honorable or dishonorable discharge?"
"Look," he said quickly, "my name is Grey Wilson. Your brother's an old Army buddy of mine. I've known him for years. Have heard about you for years, too. Mike trusts me to take care of you. So trust his judgement. I'll get you to safety — you just need to stop threatening to jump out of the truck."
Molly started. Mike hadn't told her which one of his military buddies would be picking her up. She stared at him. So this was Grey Wilson. She'd heard a lot about him from Mike. He looked way different in casual clothes and in real life than in his camos in candid pictures. Much bigger. A little terrifying.
Grey was right: she did trust her brother. Mike wouldn't send a bad guy to rescue her. She relaxed in degrees, enough for her to feel pain from her knee. Dang, that hurt. Grey was right about another thing, too — she did need to tend to the injury. And hopping out of his truck at some random bus stop in the middle of Vegas wasn't going to get her the help she needed. That would keep her in proximity to Grozney and his gang.
She desperately needed the job offer, but for right now, she needed this ride. Maybe in a few days this would all be over and she could go back to Vegas. Show up at the interview and wow the court system with the fact that she spoke seven languages, fluently. Finally get her life back on track. Stop being a hairdresser and get back to what she was good at: translation.
With a sigh, she leaned back in the seat and latched up her seatbelt. She waited a minute before asking her next question. "Where are you taking me?"
Hmm. Not much of a talker.
"How far north?"
His fingers tightened their grip around the steering wheel. "To Reno, then across the border to California."
A frown grew across his face. "Sacramento."
"What happens there?"
"I drop you off with another friend of your brother's. He'll get you down to Southern California to Mike."
"When will we get to Sacramento?"
Grey heaved out a huge sigh, as if she were some five-year-old in the back seat, asking, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" She crossed her arms over her chest. Yes, she did a fair amount of talking — too much, according to Mike — but only because she felt safer knowing the answers.
"Tomorrow," Grey finally stated. "I have to stop and unload outside Reno tonight, then pick up another load before heading to Sacramento."
"I see." If she timed things right, she'd be able to catch the ride Mike had set up with his other friend, get to her brother, and have him fly her to Vegas in time for her job interview. By then, Grozney would have been caught by the police and she wouldn't have to worry any more.
Another long silence followed, broken only by the honk of a car behind them as Grey guided the rig up an on-ramp and onto the interstate.
"So, what are you hauling?"
"Stuff." The word came out fast, like he'd practically thrown it at her.
Molly froze. "Okay, sorry. I guess that's none of my business." She squeezed up against the door. Force of habit. Get as far away from the large, hulking man as possible.
He sighed again, this time softly. "Sorry. Didn't mean to snap at you."
"That's all right," she lied. She wasn't about to tell him how anxious he made her feel. "I shouldn't have asked. I'm just a little nervous about riding in such a large vehicle."
"You're a hundred times safer in one of these than you would be in a car or mini-van or a standard-sized truck."
"That's very ... reassuring." Molly turned and stared out the passenger window, hoping he wouldn't notice her shaking hands.
She cast a surreptitious glance at him. For such a big man, Grey sat very still. He didn't fidget or shift in his seat to get comfortable. His hands on the steering wheel were relaxed, his grip changing only to guide the massive vehicle around the rare turn in the road. His eyes stayed focused on the ribbon of pavement, occasionally flicking back and forth between the mirrors before settling on the highway again.
They were already leaving the city. A large expanse of gritty sand rippled out toward the east, where the sun set in a riot of reds, purples, and yellows.
Minutes passed, and her muscles released the tension she'd been holding ever since she'd realized Grozney was after her.
Excerpted from Molly Gets Her Man by Julie Rowe, Rochelle French, Lewis Pollak. Copyright © 2014 Julie Rowe. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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