Getting saved from disaster by a handsome stranger--Harper Allen has no problem with that. But when he leaves without a word or a clue to his real identity, the newbie reporter writes it off as the best one-night-stand she'll ever have. Until a year later, when Harper comes face to face with the man assigned to hide her from a senator's killer. . .
Galen Kelly hasn't forgotten a single sensual minute of his night with Harper . . . or that she betrayed him. With the FBI also on their trail, he's got to pretend he's never met her or risk both their lives. But as danger closes in, Galen may not be able to protect himself from taking the biggest risk of all. . .
"I couldn't turn the pages fast enough." --Tracey Garvis Graves"
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"I can't believe you snagged this detail, you lucky son of a bitch."
Galen Kelly quirked a brow and raised his glass in a silent salute. "Luck has nothing to do with it, Landon. I earned this detail."
"After a couple of months in Louisiana, you think a few weeks back in Portland is enough to keep me from being pissy over you ditching me for greener pastures? I think the elevation is getting to you," Landon scoffed. "You're the luckiest bastard I've ever met. Handpicked by Monroe for the SOG program, and don't even get me started on how you breezed through the training."
Granted, a couple of weeks back home weren't long enough. And despite his attitude, Galen knew Landon had missed the shit out of him. They were as close as brothers, and he'd lost track of how many nights they'd sat in this very booth at Score, the local sports pub that had been like a second home to them in their rookie days. Now, at twenty-nine, Galen already felt like a seasoned member of the U.S. Marshals Service, though he knew a superior officer or ten who might disagree with him.
Landon was only giving him shit, but in truth, Galen had never wanted anything more than to prove himself the best man for the job. For the past month and a half he'd trained at Camp Beauregard in Louisiana for the U.S. Marshals Service's elite Special Operations Group. The number of applicants accepted into the program was small, but the number of marshals who came through the program with credentials was even smaller. Serving as the head of personal security for the U.S. ambassador to France for the next year would elevate his career to the next level.
"Yeah, yeah," Landon remarked, tossing back what was left of his Jack and Coke. "You get to go play in France for a year, while I'm stuck here doing prisoner transfers."
Landon liked to bitch, but he lived for the job. They'd gone through basic training together at Glynco. It was Landon who'd pushed Galen to go ahead with the application for the SOG program after their supervisory deputy, Curt Monroe, suggested him as a potential candidate.
"You could apply for the program, you know," Galen replied. "Live the glamorous life of a moving target for foreign dignitaries. Or wait around on call twenty-four-seven to be flown halfway across the country or God knows where and throw yourself into dangerous situations at a moment's notice. Good times."
"No way, man," Landon said with a laugh. "I hate fancy foreign food almost as much as I hate being on call. One day without ribs or a cheeseburger and I'd go out of my mind. You play the part of human shield and eat escargot. My ass is staying here. I'm going for another Jack. You want anything?"
Galen swished what was left of his beer around in the mug. "Nah. I'm good." He had a 10 AMflight to Louisiana, where he had another stack of paperwork to fill out before he headed on to Paris. As it was, he'd be lucky to drag his ass out of bed in time to make the flight.
As he watched Landon weave his way through the crowd, his gaze settled on a trio of women at the back end of the pub. Two blondes leaned against the bar, facing a third woman with long, chestnut-colored hair, her back angled toward Galen. They raised their shot glasses in a toast, laughing before they tossed back some neon, fruity-looking drink. His attention began to wander until he caught a guy from the corner of his eye. Tall, a little on the grungy side, too lanky — not to mention his shifty eyes and uptight, twitchy stance — he had suspicious creeper or strung-out tweaker written all over him. Galen's instincts were sharp. He had years of experience dealing with the criminal set. And this guy was trouble. Chatting up the group of women with a smarmy grin plastered on his face, Galen watched as the guy reached out and took the hand of the brunette and tried to bring it to his lips.
Everything about his behavior indicated this guy was a skilled predator. After months of classes in human behavior, Galen had learned to read body language well. From their demonstrative actions — wide, sweeping hand gestures, the way they tossed back their heads as they laughed, and loud voices — Galen surmised the blondes to be more outgoing. The brunette, on the other hand, stood relatively still, her drink clutched in her hand as if it grounded her. The creeper passed up the blondes, presumably to hit on the one who looked like the easiest mark. Galen's spine stiffened, his hand instinctively reaching for where his shoulder holster usually hung — a habit he'd developed over the years — only to remember he wasn't carrying his gun. Though, by the way Creeper's target jerked her hand out of his grasp and laid into him with a string of words that Galen could only guess translated to "fuck off," he decided that her shy appearance had been deceiving.
Unfortunately, the SOB didn't give up easily. Round two ended much as round one, with a cool rebuff. Galen smiled, impressed with her spirit. She turned on the creeper, putting the bar to her back. Smart girl. With her friends at either side of her and the bar behind her, she'd taken a defensive stance. She brushed a wavy lock of dark chestnut hair away from her face, her hazel eyes narrowed in a silent threat. Galen forgot all about Landon or anything else as he studied her. He couldn't tell from this far away, but it looked like her nose was dotted with freckles, which were also scattered haphazardly across her cheeks. Her mouth was drawn into a hard line, but even so, Galen could tell her lips were full and lusciously dark pink. He smiled as he watched her poke a finger at Creeper's face before turning her back to him, all but dismissing his failed attempts at being marginally charming.
Intuition tugged at his senses, a tingle that dribbled from the crown of his head and trickled down his back in an icy shiver. Point apparently made, she turned back toward the bar and set her drink beside her, but Galen sensed this guy wasn't done with her yet. He kept his eyes glued to the woman. Even with her back turned to him, he was intrigued by the waves of hair that reached her shoulder blades, down the curve of her back to where her fingers fiddled with the cell phone clutched in her grasp at her side. Creeper sidled back down the bar, all but ignored by the woman he'd try to win over. He tucked a hand in his pocket and produced a cellophane baggie containing a few tiny white pills. Slipping one from the baggie, his arm jutted out as if he was stretching and he dropped it into her unattended drink. As stealthily as he'd moved in, Creeper slunk away, watching with sick anticipation as the woman who'd so effectively shot him down, turned to retrieve the glass and brought it to her lips.
Galen shot out of the booth, none too graciously nudging people out of his way as he raced toward the bar. He scooped the drink out of the woman's hand, sloshing half of it on his own shirtsleeve and set it down forcefully on the bar. "Don't drink that," he said.
She looked from Galen's face to the bar and back, her jaw slightly slack. "Huh?"
A smile tugged at Galen's lips. That one dumbfounded sound was cute as hell. "Hold that thought." He turned and headed after the creeper, who'd taken Galen's interference as his cue to get the hell out of Dodge.
He might not have caught the bastard if Landon hadn't been paying attention and abandoned his trek to the bar to see what was up. They'd worked together for years, and he'd obviously slipped back into old patterns, noticed that shit was going down and jumped in to help, cutting off the back exit. The asshole had no choice but to double back the way he came. Galen rammed his shoulder into Creeper's gut, taking him down in a tackle that sent the weaker man sprawling to the floor. In one fluid motion, he flipped the guy onto his stomach and wrenched his hands behind his back while holding him firmly in place with one knee. He reached down and whispered in the asshole's ear, "You fucked up big-time, buddy."
Galen relaxed his leg, letting his full weight down on the guy and ignoring Creeper's grunt of pain and labored breath as he waited for Landon to pick his way back through the crowd, all eyes turned to the excitement near the back exit. "Cuffs?" he asked when Landon was in earshot.
He made a show of patting his pockets. "You know, I must have left my spare set in the truck. Jesus, Galen, can't you even go out for a drink without going all Wyatt Earp on the place?"
The bartender and a couple of bouncers joined them, and Landon instructed the bartender to call the Portland Police Bureau while Galen turned Creeper over to the bouncers, who'd keep him in one of the back offices until the cops could show up to take over. He exchanged a few details with the bouncers, instructing them to search the guy's pockets for drugs. And if that wasn't enough for PPB to make an arrest, there was a drink on the bar they might want to save for forensics. "You're a show-off, you know that?" Landon asked, clapping Galen on the back. "I'm glad you're leaving town. I forgot what a glory hound you are."
Galen chuckled, only half-listening to what Landon said. Bright hazel eyes studied him from several feet away, that same dumbfounded look puckering her brow. Landon followed Galen's gaze and gave an amused snort. "Yeah, you're the luckiest son of a bitch I've ever met," he said. He grabbed Galen's hand and pulled him close in a half-hug. "I've got an early shift in the morning, so I'm outta here. Have fun in Paris, brother, and keep your ass safe."
Harper Allen's eyes were glued to the spot on the floor where, seconds before, the nasty asshole who'd hit on her had been knocked on his ass, flipped on his face like a human pancake, and pinned to the floor. All she'd wanted was a fun night to celebrate her recent graduation from the University of Portland and the journalism degree she'd worked four hard years to get. She hadn't expected to be thrown into a scenario right out of an episode of Southland.
"Holy crap, Harper, did you see him take that guy out? I mean, shit, that's one way to make an introduction," her friend Sophie shouted. Put a few drinks in that girl and her voice amplified from fifteen to about fifty. Harper averted her gaze, suddenly conscious of the fact that she must look like a fish out of water with her mouth hanging open and her eyes bulging out of her head. "Boy is fine, too," Sophie added, as if Harper needed someone to point out that fact. "It must be your lucky night, girl."
Lucky? Not quite how she'd describe what just happened. She stole a glance toward the bar at her discarded bourbon and Coke. What in the hell was in that drink that had warranted something so drastic? Either the mystery man had saved her ass, or this was officially the strangest way she'd ever been hit on. Like, ever. "What do you think it's all about?" she asked, turning back to Sophie.
"Who cares?" Harper's cousin, Addison, chimed in. "I wonder if we took up a collection, if we could get him to do that again!"
Harper gave Addison a wry smile as she pictured her offering up a wad of one-dollar bills for a repeat performance. She focused her attention on her would-be savior and wondered if he was the sort of guy who enjoyed being the center of attention. From the way he ignored the murmurings and pointed fingers of the people around him, she doubted he needed the validation. He stood not ten feet from where he'd performed the graceful football tackle, talking to another guy. They leaned in to each other in one of those typical tough-guy bro hugs, knocking their shoulders together. His friend gave him one last clap on the back and left. Alone, with everyone around him giving him plenty of space, he looked up and fixed his gaze directly on her.
The intensity of his stare sent a riot of butterflies adrift in Harper's stomach. Sophie said something low and Addison broke out into a fit of laughter, but their conversation was white noise in the back of Harper's mind. The rhythmic thrum of her heart rushed in her ears as her mystery hero started toward her, his rolling gait reminding Harper of a sleek lion with the night's dinner in its sights.
"Oh, yum!" Sophie exclaimed, again, way too loud, her eyes stuck to him like Velcro. "I want to lick him right —" Harper's leg jutted out as if on its own, her heel catching Sophie in the shin. "Ow! What the hell, Harp?" "Oh my God," Harper hissed in Sophie's ear. "Shut up. He's coming over here."
Before Sophie could get a word in edgewise, he stepped up to her. "Sorry about that," he said, jutting his chin toward the bar.
"It's okay," Harper replied with a nervous laugh. "Do you always tackle strangers after stealing drinks from women? Or do you really have an aversion to bourbon and Coke?" He flashed her a wicked grin that made Harper's bones go soft. "I'm not usually so grabby."
"He can grab me any day," Sophie whispered in Harper's ear, and she swung out with a hip, knocking her friend back a few steps.
"Oh, so you made an exception for me?" she teased.
"He slipped something into your drink."
"I knew that guy was nasty!" Addison said from somewhere behind her.
As if she couldn't help herself, Harper's voice dropped to a husky murmur. "I guess that sort of makes you my hero, doesn't it?"
He smiled and Harper flushed with warmth. She hoped to hell she wasn't blushing, because this guy had clearly stepped right out of the pages of a Marvel comic. All he was missing was a cape. Her inner damsel in distress was totally swooning.
"How about I buy you a drink?" he suggested. "One that hasn't been tampered with."
"No way," Harper said with a shake of her head. "I'm buying you a drink."
Harper chanced a sideways glance at Sophie, who mouthed, Oh my God! as her knees buckled in a mock swoon. Harper smiled, her eyes widening in silent agreement. Guys this gorgeous — or charming — never paid much attention to her. They usually zeroed in on girls like Sophie or Addison who had bigger personalities. It wasn't like Harper was a wallflower. She didn't suffer from a lack of self-confidence, but she didn't exactly stand out, either.
"Hey, man, thanks for taking that guy down," the bartender said as they approached the bar. He reached out to shake Harper's hero's hand. "Several bars in the area have had complaints about someone slipping roofies into drinks. I'd be willing to bet he's the guy. What'll you have? This round is on the house."
"Looks like you'll have to buy me the next round," Harper's mystery man leaned in and murmured close to her ear. She shivered at the near contact and couldn't help but find it exciting that she didn't know his name yet. An anonymous hero who stepped in to save the day. She wondered if this was how Mary Jane Watson felt the first time Spider-Man came to her rescue.
Like the good friends they were, Addison and Sophie melted into the scenery, striking up a conversation with a small group of people farther down the bar and leaving Harper alone with her hero. The bartender slid a fresh bourbon and Coke toward her and popped the cap off a bottle of Stella Artois for her hero. Should she ask for his name? It seemed silly to keep referring to him like he was some sort of Superman. But no guy had ever tackled another man on her behalf before, and it was the most chivalrous thing anyone had ever done for her.
"So," she began, taking a sip of her drink for a little liquid courage. "I know you enjoy tackling would-be sex offenders and you like imported beer. How about a name to go with your superhero persona?"
He brought the bottle to his lips and drank deeply, as if needing a moment to consider her request. When he turned to face her, his navy-blue eyes sparked with mischief. "No self-respecting superhero spills his secret identity. I mean, as soon as the hero's alter ego is revealed, his heroine inevitably finds herself in danger. You've already had a brush with evil once, tonight. If I want to protect you, I really don't have a choice, do I?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "One Night More"
Copyright © 2014 Amanda Bonilla.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
3.5 Stars I have mixed feelings about this one. In general, I liked the story and the characters. The story is of two people who meet under unusual circumstances, have one night, separate, and are reunited once again through unusual circumstances. The actual plot kept my attention until the end and I started getting frustrated. Harper is a political news reporter who thinks she pretty good at her job, but there were a few times that she was just downright ridiculous about things (view spoiler). And I have no idea how Galen kept his job by some of the decisions he made. Of course they're pretty hot together and I'm really happy with the ending. Overall I enjoyed the book for the entertainment and I'll most definitely read the next in the series. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
After an uncharacteristic one night stand, Harper Allen and Galen Kelly have an amazing connection. But misunderstandings have Galen walking away. After a year in Paris, he's back in the US working for the Marshall service and his first protective detail is none other than Harper. This is a fantastic read and I recommend it to everyone! The characters are fun, the banter hilarious, and you can just feel the chemistry. Its a great story that keeps you turning the page. I can't wait for the next book in this new series.
Very well written
It was a decent read, but I found lot of the dialog was more in tune to YA except for the more explicit sex scenes. I found the H and h juvenile. Galen and Harper reacted to each other more like teenage crushes having secrets but never revealing them while a killer is after her. As a top agent in the U.S. Marshals service and a political journalist, I felt that there should have been more maturity with the main characters.
One Night More is the first in Mandy Baxter’s new US Marshall’s series. The suspense is well-written and the overarching story engaging. The relationship between the hero and heroine is predicated on a big misunderstanding that should have been resolved early in the novel with a simple conversation. With that minor exception this is a solid first effort at romantic suspense and I look forward to the next book in the series.
~Reviewed by ANN & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog Mandy Baxter kickstarts her U.S. Marshals series with a hot romp in the sack between her U.S. Marshal hottie, Galen Kelly and journalist heroine, Harper Allen. The night is filled with explosive chemistry but once the morning light comes, the flame is quick to burn out when Galen needs to leave for an assignment. A year has passed and when an incident involving a well-known senator and Harper makes the news, Galen is recruited to protect her from the killer. Though both remember their night together with intense vividness, Galen pretends to not remember because it would put his job at stake and he isn’t willing to allow anyone, not even his best friend, Landon to watch over Harper. She means too much to him to do that. However, Harper isn’t the frail little being that Galen makes her out to be. She doesn’t need protecting, though it’s probably wise that she stays behind closed doors. But Harper has a mind of her own, which definitely makes Galen’s job more difficult. I LOVED Harper. I found that her reactions to a lot of the suspenseful events in this book to be fun and endearing and quite realistic actually. Nothing seemed too over the top and I like that about Baxter’s writing quite a bit. Everything has a logical approach and as a result, I think it makes this first book a strong one to start with. The beginning is quite easy-going as Baxter sets up the scene in the first 20% of the book. While in the end, I could understand why that initial meeting and first sexual encounter was needed to be shown rather than told in the beginning, it did feel a little bit too relaxed. I much preferred when the book hit the 20% mark as the author really sets the book into motion and we finally get Galen and Harper together again. I think it would have also made it easier for readers to understand why Galen acted the way he did when he saw and recognized Harper after a year had passed instead of getting frustrated with their communication error. Yet, nevertheless, I was completely sold on them by the end. The U.S. Marshals series definitely takes a more Contemporary Romance approach with several good suspense aspects that kick things up a notch. If you’re a fan of Julie James’ FBI/US Attorney series, then you’ll definitely enjoy Baxter’s debut into the genre. ONE NIGHT MORE is a delightful dance of suspense and steamy romance. *ARC provided by author