Wicked Attraction

Wicked Attraction

by Megan Hart

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Overview

A female bodyguard with enhanced abilities. A billionaire playboy committed to destroying people like her. A romance they didn’t expect…

Dive into Wicked Attraction, the second book in this fantastic new series set in the near future from New York Times bestselling author Megan Hart!


Ewan Donahue has made a lot of mistakes, but making Nina Bronson want to leave him has been the worst. With the initial threats on his life out of the way, he doesn’t really need her protection, but hiring her to take care of him again is the only way to get her back in his life. When Nina shows up ready to work —and nothing else — Ewan’s determined to win her back. If he can break through the walls his earlier betrayal built, maybe they can have another shot at love. When it turns out that this time, it’s Nina who’s being targeted for danger and possibly death, Ewan’s the one who has to keep her safe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250119711
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Series: The Protector , #2
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 300
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Megan Hart writes books. Some of them use a lot of bad words, but most of the other words are okay. She can’t live without music, the internet, or the ocean, but she and soda have achieved an amicable uncoupling. She can’t stand the feeling of corduroy or velvet, and modern art leaves her cold. She writes a little bit of everything from horror to romance, though she’s best known for writing erotic fiction that sometimes makes you cry.

Megan is the author of The Protector series, including Dangerous Promise, Wicked Attraction, and Forbidden Stranger.


Megan Hart writes books. Some of them use a lot of bad words, but most of the other words are okay. She can’t live without music, the internet, or the ocean, but she and soda have achieved an amicable uncoupling. She can’t stand the feeling of corduroy or velvet, and modern art leaves her cold. She writes a little bit of everything from horror to romance, though she’s best known for writing erotic fiction that sometimes makes you cry.

Megan is the author of The Protector novels, including Dangerous Promise, Wicked Attraction, and Forbidden Stranger.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

"Come on, beautiful, let's go. It's showtime."

Nina Bronson didn't so much as blink at Ewan Donahue's murmured compliment, even though she had every right to consider it presumptuous. She merely offered him her hand so he could help her get out of the transpo. She didn't need his assistance, really, not even wearing these extravagantly high heels and the tight crimson dress that showed off curves in places she'd forgotten existed until she'd shimmied into the sleek fabric. She allowed him to take her hand not because she needed him, and not because she wanted him to touch her.

It was all for show.

An elaborate charade, with her participation guaranteed by a sum of credits so bountiful it meant she'd never need to work again for the rest of her life. As one of the world's thirteen remaining "super soldiers," Nina was forbidden from using her enhancements for any work but private hire. So here she was, once again in the employ of one of the world's most eligible bachelor billionaires — and for this particular rich and handsome one, the second time around. It was as far from something genuine as you could get, but she'd done worse things for less money. At least this time, the uniform was prettier.

Ewan had bought her this dress, along with the shoes. He'd paid someone extravagant fees to come to his house and do her hair and makeup, a process which had taken hours because she'd refused any cos-tech upgrades. She'd had enough done to her already. Hundreds of hours of enhancement surgeries had made her faster and stronger, with more stamina than an average person, but she'd never been able to master liquid eyeliner without looking like someone had given her a shiner.

"Careful," Ewan warned in a low voice as he assisted her around a patch of uneven brick in the path leading to the hotel's front steps. "I got you."

She wasn't unsteady on her stilettos. Her enhanced balance was too good for that. Even so, Nina tucked her fingers into the curve of Ewan's elbow and allowed him to look as though he were leading her into the ballroom. All for show, she thought, playing at being his arm candy all the while knowing that in a millisecond, if needed, she could be ready and at his defense if anyone so much as took a threatening step toward him.

As soon as they got into the carpeted lobby, she slipped her hand from his arm. He glanced at her, but said nothing. Nina waited patiently while Ewan greeted the couple in front of them. She smiled at them, but didn't introduce herself. Not that they asked who she was. Apparently, Ewan Donahue's date didn't need to have an identity, since he didn't bother to give them her name. She'd have been angry, if she'd been his companion and not his bodyguard posing as his date.

Actually, Nina was angry, a little too much for the circumstances. Only a few weeks ago, Nina had been incapable of feeling intense emotions, either highs or lows. She'd have shrugged all this off as no consequence, but now she seethed until the rush of heat in her cheeks reminded her to calm down. She concentrated on slowing her rushing pulse, cooling her elevated temperature. She uncurled her fingers from the fists she'd made, glancing at Ewan and noticing that he'd seen her do it. Her chin lifted in a silent challenge while she waited for him to say something.

"Looks like we're seated toward the back." Ewan had taken the small place card from the table outside the ballroom doors. He showed her the card. His name glittered on the paper in a fancy, holographic font.

"Ewan Donahue and guest." Nina's voice was thick with sarcasm. "Nice."

The touch of his hand on her lower back, her skin bared by the cut of the dress, would have sent shivers tickling up and down her spine if she hadn't been so closely controlling her body's reactions. She pressed her lips into a vapid smile she knew he'd hate. His was broad and genuine and knowing, and she hated it for making her remember how that same grin had used to make her feel.

The past three weeks since she'd come back to work for him had been a game, both of them playing to win and neither of them quite clear on the rules. Maybe the problem was that the game had no rules. No way to determine the champion. Neither of them would ever be the winner, Nina thought, her gaze moving over his face like a caress before she forced herself to look away. They'd both already lost.

She wasn't going to let Ewan see any expression on her face but one of professional neutrality, no matter how much — against her own will — her body wanted to revel at his touch. She blinked, and her eyes stayed closed a second or so too long to be natural. She couldn't stop herself from thinking about his touch. His taste. His heat and his breath gusting over her face and the way he moved against and inside her ... With a shudder, Nina straightened her shoulders.

Her eyes stung, her throat closing, and a wave of grief and loss swelled so fiercely inside her it threatened to send her to her knees. She would not weep. Not here, in front of everyone, but especially not in front of him. Not ever again, she vowed, sadness replaced by fury in no more time than it took for her to take another breath.

"Nina," Ewan murmured. "Are you all right? Should we go sit? You look a little —"

"I'm fine." Her clipped tone gave away the lie. She looked to where Ewan had gestured with the card tucked between his fingers. "All the way over there. Is that supposed to be a place of honor? You'd think there'd be a throne or something."

Oops, that hadn't been exactly professional. Definitely more snarky than neutral. Too bad she couldn't control her tongue as easily as her pulse or body temperature.

"Aw, shucks, I forgot my crown at home, and you seem to have left your tiara behind." Ewan's fingertips traced a small circle on her skin before he stepped away. She shivered at the breaking of the contact, self-loathing tickling along her nerves at how weak she was in his presence. "We'll have to settle for regular chairs at that table in the back. Like the common folk."

Giddiness. Now instead of struggling not to punch something, she was trying not to burst into hysterical laughter. No doubt, she preferred this rush of joy over the other sweep of intense emotions, but she forced it back the way she'd done with those. It was easier, somehow, either because she was getting better at it, or because it always seemed easier to tamp down happiness than sorrow.

"So long as there's some bread and butter on the table when I get there, I don't really care where we sit. Ooh, an appetizer buffet." Nina gave the long, food-laden table at the side of the room a nod and watched from the corner of her eye as Ewan chuckled and shook his head.

"Let's get you something to eat. It's been at least four hours. Are you all right?"

She didn't want his obvious concern to move her. She didn't want him to know her so well, but he did. She shoved away the memories of exactly how well and nodded.

"I'm not starving, but of course I can always eat," she said.

"Let's go hit the appetizers, then. Can't have my girl getting too hungry."

She opened her mouth to correct him, to remind him that she was no longer his girl and had barely ever been. The look on his face stopped her. He was poking at her for a reaction, seeing how far he could push her. The less she reacted, the more it would bother him, so instead Nina gave him another of those fake, wide smiles that didn't reach her eyes.

"Sounds perfect," she said.

As they headed for the appetizer table, Nina scanned the room, automatically assessing for anything that hinted of a threat from the formally dressed crowd. So far, she hadn't detected any signs of danger, but she didn't particularly expect to. This was a charity auction to raise money for the Katie Donahue Foundation, the organization Ewan had started in his sister's name to support the breeding and reintegration of nearly extinct animal and insect species back into the wild. There would be dinner and dancing and the obligatory speeches. Every guest here had their backgrounds and personal histories thoroughly checked before they were even put on the invitation list, and then again long before they got there. Each would also have been physically searched upon arrival. Every person in this room had passed a rampart of security guards on the way in, more than a few of whom Nina had worked with in the past. All of the guards were above and beyond professional and skilled, even if they weren't enhanced. Ewan was going to spend the evening getting his ass kissed, not kicked.

"If you want to sit, I can bring you a plate," Ewan said with a gesture at the long line snaking around the appetizer table.

"I think I can manage to wait in line," Nina replied.

Ewan's soft chuckle twisted her insides, and she forced away another set of memories of the two of them laughing together. Standing next to him and pretending he hadn't broken her heart was not the most dangerous thing Nina had ever done, but it might very well have been the hardest. She kept her gaze focused on the crowd around them, not on him.

"I wouldn't mind bringing your food, Nina. I know you could do your job from across the room if you had to. But I certainly don't mind having you by my side, if you insist."

"Makes you feel safer, right?" she shot back, knowing that wasn't the only reason. Furious with herself for asking, for needing to hear him say it. She looked at him, finally, daring herself to meet his gaze.

"Because I want you next to me," Ewan replied evenly, no fake smile. No smile at all, his gaze steady and burning into hers.

The first time Ewan Donahue had hired her, he'd been snarky. Chilly. Downright grouchy. Nina would have preferred him that way this time, too, not solicitous and charming and so incontrovertibly, painfully in love with her.

She frowned. "You're the one calling the shots. Whatever you say."

"We both know that's not true, but I'm happy to pretend if you are," Ewan answered, and the sight of his grin slaughtered her all over again.

Together, the two of them moved through the guests mingling around the open bar. Ewan stopped to grab them both glasses of champagne. Nina had always made it a practice not to drink while working even though her enhanced metabolism made it nearly impossible for her to get intoxicated. Things had changed, though. She sipped the cool liquid now, relishing the crisp, tickling bubbles and happy to have something to take her attention.

It would almost be easy to pretend things were different between them. A fancy party, a pretty dress, a sparkly glass of champagne. Almost, but not quite simple to allow herself to imagine she was there because of their mutual desire and not a contract binding her to accompany him. It was what Ewan wanted, she knew that. For her to be with him because she truly was his companion and not an armed bodyguard pretending to be his date. Hiring her had been a transparent excuse to get her back into close quarters with him, yet she'd allowed it. She could have, should have, walked out on the contract the minute she saw he was the one who'd hired her. She hadn't, and no half-glass of sparkling wine was going to make her forget that the real reason she was here right now was because although she wanted to hate Ewan Donahue, she hadn't yet quite managed to figure out how.

Most of the party guests were Ewan's acquaintances. Almost every one of them greeted Ewan with a handshake or a simpering smile. Air kisses on both cheeks. Most of them, men and women both, gave Nina curious or outright assessing looks. If any of them wondered who she was, they were all too polite to ask, even when Ewan didn't introduce her. He kept his hand on her, guiding, heading for the buffet table without stopping for anyone longer than a second or so. Before they got there, a blonde in a flowing emerald-green tunic emblazoned around the hem with sparkling lights stepped in front of them.

Nina reacted at once to the sudden confrontation, fingers twitching, but she knew at once this was no real threat. She kept herself from making fists and stepping between Ewan and the other woman. He noticed. She saw the way his mouth quirked up on one side. Felt the brush of his fingertips once again on the small of her back. Reminding her that he knew exactly what she was thinking and why she did what she did. Letting her know he appreciated feeling safe because of her, even when there was no real reason for him to feel endangered.

"Ewan Donahue. I never thought you'd dare show your face in this room tonight." The words were hostile, the tone flirtatious. The blatant way the blonde gave Nina a once-over and shifted her gaze immediately back to Ewan said a lot. She thought Nina was competition, but barely.

"Ginger." Ewan shook her hand briefly, two quick pumps and then dropped it. "I wasn't expecting to see you here. Have you met Nina?"

So now he introduced her by name?

"Nina Bronson, isn't it? I've heard all about you." Ginger let her gaze linger on Nina this time. Her eyes, dark and almond-shaped, glittered with gem inserts. "What an interesting gown. Off the rack?"

"I wouldn't know. Ewan bought it for me. Someone came to the house and measured me for it." Nina gave Ginger the sort of smile only one woman can give another when both of them are circling the same man — except that as far as Nina was concerned, Ginger could have him.

Ewan coughed lightly. His fingers slipped along Nina's naked skin again, higher up this time. The tickling touch landed at the base of her neck before the look she gave him forced him to take a half step away from her.

"Ginger's been one of the campaign's biggest donors," he explained, as though Nina cared.

Nina gave him a cool smile and met his gaze unflinchingly. "I've seen the pictures of you two together. In the gossip viddy stream."

"We were supposed to be here together, weren't we?" Ginger tilted her head to allow one honey-hued ringlet to graze her bared shoulder. "Your people were supposed to set it up with mine."

"Must have missed that," Ewan said.

Ginger turned to Nina. "Lucky you."

Nina said nothing. She wasn't going to go toe-to-toe with this gal. She focused instead on the appetizer buffet. From here she could see towers of what looked like real grapes and cheese. Her stomach didn't do anything so crass as rumble, but she pressed her palm to it for a second anyway.

She tipped her chin toward the display of food and looked at Ewan, ignoring Ginger outright. There were many ways to cut someone, and they weren't all with a knife. "I'll be over there."

"I'll come with you," Ewan said from behind her and easily fell into step beside her before she'd gone far.

"You don't have to. I'm shiny fine," Nina said. "Go back and enjoy your conversation."

He stopped as she kept walking, then took two long strides to reach her again. He touched her elbow to stop her. "Hey, hold up. Not so long ago, you would have refused to leave my side long enough to grab even a single spring roll."

"Times are different. You didn't hire me for that level of protection this time, and," she added before he could protest, "you don't need it."

"You never know."

Nina paused. "You haven't been the target of any violence since they put Wanda Crosson in prison. Even the League of Humanity has backed off. You hardly need me at all. You could've settled for someone big and intimidating."

"But I do need you, Nina. I've been telling you that for weeks." Ewan's voice dropped low enough that she was the only one who could have heard him speak. "I wish you'd believe me."

Nina wanted to whirl on him. Get in his face. She wanted to call him out on this, to scream at him how unfair it was to say such things to her in a room full of strangers when he knew without a doubt she wasn't going to make a fuss. Later, when they returned to his house, which was not her place and never her home, she could ignore him and go off into the room he'd given her. The one he'd decorated and designed to fit every need she'd ever imagined she could have. She could burrow under the pile of blankets and force her breathing and heartbeat to slow as she gave in to the urge to weep. Here, all she could do was press her lips together in a grotesque parody of a smile that hurt her face to make and keep her eyes dry as bone.

"I'm hungry," she said flatly after a few interminable seconds in which they stared at each other fiercely, neither willing to drop their gaze first. Ewan finally flicked a glance toward the buffet table. Nina took that broken stare as a victory, although it wasn't much of one.

Ewan drained his champagne and put the glass on the tray of a passing server. "Then let's get you something to eat."

"You know what?" She put up a hand as he tried once more to follow her. "I'm fully capable of grabbing myself a plate. You're here to meet and mingle and do whatever it is that you need to do at these sorts of things. You go on ahead. I'll meet you at our table. Don't worry, sweetie pie, I won't be long."

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Wicked Attraction"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Megan Hart.
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.

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