A woman hiding from her past…
A horrific personal loss compels Hannah Pendleton to request a leave of absence from her job. She hides out in a seaside rental in Kino Bay, Mexico, planning to relax, but the slow-paced lifestyle in a town overrun with expats twice her age quickly loses its luster. Bored and restless, she longs for the adrenaline-laced rush of her former life. When Hannah eavesdrops on her neighbor and hears him mention a kidnapped Navy SEAL, it’s game on.
A once burned, twice shy SEAL with serious trust issues…
Lured into a trap by a seductive woman, Logan Harris is taken hostage by a Mexican cartel member hell-bent on revenge after Logan’s SEAL team killed his brother. Logan vows that if he escapes, he won’t allow a woman’s charms to distract him again. Little does he know; he’s being watched by the nosey woman next door. She has some serious tricks up her sleeve and will provide enough sexy distraction to make Logan consider breaking his vow.
It’s 10 AM. I planned to buy groceries at the mercado today, but there’s no way I’m leaving now. I can’t miss out on the action. Something’s about to happen. I have to know why Francisco mentioned a Navy SEAL. He’s either going to pick up a prisoner or someone’s being brought to his house. I sit in a padded leather chair by one of the front windows, keeping my profile discreetly behind the curtain, waiting. I gaze out the window, barely blinking, watching the mostly silent street.
I’m like a bloodhound on the scent during a hunt. I sniffed it out during that phone conversation, made my way through the woods, listening and trying to understand the conversation. Now I’m on the hunt, sniffing the air, knowing my prey is near.
I glance at my watch once, twice, a third time. Two hours pass—still nothing. I could pee for sure, but I won’t. A blink of an eye and I could miss something. And I’m used to holding it. That’s what people in my line of work learn to do—suffer discomfort without complaint until after a while the pain barely registers anymore.
I sit quietly waiting, thinking. And then it appears, slowly approaching—a black SUV with tinted windows. I’d be willing to bet money it’s headed to Francisco’s place. Moments later, the vehicle turns into his driveway. I do a fist pump. I knew it. It’s good to know I haven’t lost all my instincts.
The driver exits the car first, his stocky, muscular body outfitted in black. He tidies his slicked back dark hair and removes his aviator shades. He glances around, as if looking to see if anyone’s watching. He nods, toward whom, I’m not sure. Most people living around here work in Hermosillo or are snowbirds. Now that the summer heat is here, most of the gringos have headed north for cooler weather. The working folks don’t get home until after five PM or later. Mischief can go largely unnoticed this time of day, which I’m sure these people know.
I shrink further from the window, trying not to be seen. Francisco emerges from the house and strides toward the car. His brows drawn together, his stride stiff, he’s like a dark cloud moving toward the car. As he walks, he kneads his palms with his thumbs. The side door of the backseat opens. Two men step out of the car, side-by-side, like Siamese twins. One is dark-skinned and Hispanic. The other man appears to be an American. The Navy SEAL, I imagine. His shortly cropped hair looks flattened around the sides as if he’s been recently blindfolded. A purple bruise mars one side of his chiseled face.
The man gripping the American’s arm with one hand jabs a gun into his back with his other. I wonder what this SEAL did to piss Francisco off. I can see murder and vengeance written in the deep lines in his face.
But my gaze is magnetically drawn away from the hard lines of Francisco’s face toward the SEAL. Damn. The man’s an eyeful. The longer I stare at him, the more my hormones—that have been in drop-out mode for eons—kick into overdrive. His hair is reddish blond and close enough cropped to showcase every eye-pleasing angle of his wide, finely hewn face. I lick my lips and savor the view of his sleek jawline, high cheekbones and slightly square chin. His lips are full and sensual, bracketed by the deepest, hottest looking dimples I’ve ever seen. He’s squinting in the bright sunlight and too far away for me to see the color of his eyes.
No fear registers on his face. He holds his chin high, his features remain rigid and dignified. I can’t help admiring the man for maintaining steely resolve in the face of danger. He must know he has little chance of getting out of this alive. But that body… The blue button up shirt stretches tightly across his broad shoulders and muscular chest. Some pale curls of chest hair peer out from his slightly unbuttoned shirt. Damn. And those tight jeans showcase his well-formed thigh muscles. A view of his tight butt would make my day for sure. Blood rushes to my nipples, hardening them to peaks, and I feel a pulse of needy heat between my thighs. I almost forgot what it’s like to feel this kind of wanting. I haven’t gotten laid for—gulp—more than for months.
Sex has rarely crossed my mind since I asked for a leave of absence. It was one hell of a shit day that made me decide to take time off. I lost all motivation. All desire to do much of anything. I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t work when I was like that. One day changed my life. And since then, I’ve been going through the motions of life, taking forward steps on a treadmill, going nowhere. I no longer dream about advancing my career or a supercharged romance. I’ve become the master of low expectations.
But I see someone now that I want. The Navy SEAL. The sight of him instantly gave me a jolt of energy. I feel like I’ve been injected with adrenaline. Like I’m alive again. The erotic tingle in my erogenous zones is a wakeup call, reminding me my life isn’t over just yet. So much for that fear my hormones were permanently shut down and that I’d never have a sex drive again. I just needed the right man around to remind me that all my nerve endings are functioning just fine. I shift around in my chair as heat blossoms between my legs. My panties feel damp with arousal. Geez. Staring at this guy long enough could probably bring on a full-blown orgasm.
I shouldn’t fantasize about kissing his thick lips and touching his to-die-for body. I need to get my head out of the clouds now. This gorgeous man is a hostage. Francisco sure as hell hasn’t invited the SEAL here for almuerzo. His life is in immediate danger. More than likely, the minute they get him off the street, they’ll shoot him execution style or torture him.
I’m hot dude’s only chance. I’ve got to act. Fast. The clock is running, and I might have only minutes to turn this around. Maybe I can create a distraction. Before I have a chance to think, I bounce up from my chair and burst out my front door. “David, is that you? It’s me, Hannah.” I rush toward the men. But my gaze is fastened on the Navy SEAL. I take a step toward him, my voice softening. “It is you. You still look the same as I remember. It’s been so long since we were at UCLA. I always wondered what happened to you.”
The man’s mouth falls open. He stares at me with wide, sea blue eyes. I blink twice to regain my focus. The man’s eyes stimulate my senses as much as the rest of him. They’re completely mesmerizing. There’s a moment of hesitation before he speaks. “Hannah.” His voice trails off.
Francisco frowns, perches his hands on his hips and looks at the SEAL, then back at me. “Wait. His name’s not David.”
When the SEAL meets my gaze, I see flecks of gold warmth in his eyes. He’s looking at me as if he’s remembering something, something wild and erotic. He’s playacting, but behind it, he’s a bundle of nerves. I see the slight tick in his jaw, hear the barely detectable tremor in his voice. “Oh, yes, now I remember you. We met that night at the Tri Delta mixer. And then—”
This is going quite well so far. Now to give Francisco the illusion I’m helpless and weak. “I had so much fun that night and when you took me to that steak place for dinner. I always wondered if you tried to call. I got really sick suddenly. My phone got stolen after I collapsed.”
“That’s awful. I did try to call. So many times.”
“I was rushed to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed me as having MS, said I needed to rest, that I wouldn’t have the energy for school or work. I dropped out of school and lived with my parents for a while. Eventually, I was able to find some online writing work and saved up enough money to move down here. Living in Mexico is relatively cheap. And the sea air does me good.”
“I’m sorry, Hannah. I wish I had known. I kept wondering what happened. I heard rumors that you were ill, that you left school, but when you didn’t answer my calls, I figured it was over between us. I wish I had known the truth.”
“That’s very kind of you to say. But I’m okay now. I’m getting by. And I like the slow-paced life down here…It has been good for m—.”
Francisco’s face darkens several shades. He takes an ominous step toward me. His voice cuts through the tension-filled air like a knife. “Señorita, go back in your house and take your pills. Mr. Harris and I have business to discuss.”
I notice the red marks on the American’s wrist where he must have been tied up. But now he’s free. The man’s a fortress of sheer muscle. He could probably escape if both of us acted quickly. “Oh, yes, of course.” I glance at the American one last time with longing eyes and a sexy wink. “I’d love it if you’d drop by after you finish your meeting, David. I just made a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. We could have a cup of tea and reminisce about the good old d—”
“He won’t have time for that. Now go.”
When the men seem to not be looking in my direction, I nod toward the American. He reaches for the weapon in the man’s hand and twists sharply. I hear the violent crunch of breaking bone. The man drops on his knees, shrieking in agony. Leaping in the air, I aim a round house kick toward Francisco’s chest, launching him across the lawn.
The SEAL grabs the weapon and points it at the driver. “Don’t move or you’re dead.”
The driver, standing shocked like a deer in headlights, holds his hands up.
I lunge toward him and order him to give me the keys. “Let’s get out of here.” The instant we’re in the car, I peel out of the driveway and drive fast down the street.
“Where the hell are we?” the man asks. “And how did you do that?”
“Don’t you want to tell me your name before you start asking questions?”
“I’m Master Chief Logan Harris.” His voice is deep and resonant.
“I’m Hannah. I’m big on brevity so I hope it’s okay if I leave off the Master Chief part.”
He laughs, deepening the dimples next to his mouth. “Of course.”
“My name actually is Hannah. Francisco knew my name anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t help much good to lie. This place is Kino Bay. It’s on the Sea of Cortez, west of Hermosillo in the state of Sonora.”
“So, you live next door to him.”
“I have a six-month rental contract on the place. But I guess I won’t be going back there for a while.”
“Damn.” His jaw clenches. “Is that true you have Multiple Sclerosis?”
“Hell, no. I’m healthy as a horse. I made all that shit up.” My body’s in top shape at least. Better not to mention the shabby state of my mind.
“Well you did a good job of pulling off that little charade, that’s for sure. I don’t know how you managed it.”
“It was kind of a flying by the seat of my pants move.”
“I should probably apologize for messing up your day, but I’m damn glad you saved my ass. But why did you—bother to help me, I mean? Did someone hire you?”
“Nope. I’m just a non-working gringo with nothing to do all day. I saw you were in trouble and acted before I had a chance to talk myself out of it.”
He rubs his dimples with two fingers as if he’s trying hard to put all the pieces together. “So, you’re one of those women always standing by the window spying on your neighbors?”
“Something like that. I knew something was about to happen. Francisco isn’t the sharpest tack. He thinks I’m just another one of those monolingual gringos that don’t understand a word of Spanish. He talks on his cell on his deck all the time. He keeps his wife and kids safe in some mansion in Mazatlan, apparently. He comes to his Kino Bay house to run his new weapons smuggling business. And today, I caught a few lines about a SEAL being brought here.”
“So, you knew he was bringing a prisoner?”
“Yup. I overheard him talking about it two hours ago.”
“Damn. The guy isn’t too smart, is he? So where are we going?”