Jackson Halland has spent ten years running from a mistake that cost him everything, including Amory Parker, the woman he loved. With his gut wrenching response to her reappearance, he realises that if she will forgive him, then maybe, just maybe, he can forgive himself.
After ten years of working undercover Amory agrees to one final mission. Vowing to get justice for the woman she promised, and failed, to protect, nothing will stand in her way, not the prolific criminal she’s determined to bring down and certainly not coming face to face with the man she fell in love with on her very first undercover assignment, even if he has no idea who she really is, or the part she played in his past.
Amory was so engrossed in her thoughts she didn’t hear the approaching sound of bare feet, padding on the smooth wooden floor, until a deep groan broke through them and she looked up to see Jackson. His mussed, dark blond hair was shot through with strands of gold in the overhead lighting.
The man was incredibly made. His arms stretching up and behind his head caused the bottom of his t-shirt to lift a few teasing inches, revealing a tantalizing glimpse of a tanned, rock-hard stomach. They weren’t the sculpted lines that came from the gym, but powerful, solid muscles. A fine trail of hair led the way to the top of his loose navy shorts. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, her gaze was transfixed.
His legs were long and thick, every muscle rippling as he moved down the stairs into the hallway. A rush of heat shot through her body, setting every nerve alight. Her stomach rolled as she absorbed the sight while a little lower everything tightened and tingled. She’d hoped that her memory had been flawed, tinted by the rose-colored lenses of what she had long since accepted was her first love. That clearly wasn’t the case. Rather than letting himself go he had become more impressive. The slenderness of youth had filled out, living up to the promise of overwhelming masculinity.
His lean muscles had broadened, and whilst the softness of youth had faded from his features, it had left a strong profile in its wake. Jackson had grown up all man. She gulped, heat flooding her.
The good feeling from her run was replaced by a more base desire to touch every inch of his perfect body. To pull it hard against her own and feel those muscular planes mold against her. She unconsciously licked her lips as she watched him.
As she met his eyes, the feeling of heat evaporated, replaced by a harsh chill of dread that sank through to her toes. His emotions were playing across his face and it was clear that, despite her DCI’s reassurances, Jackson had joined the dots and figured out who she was. The recognition clearly shocked him as his whole body jolted abruptly to a stop.
Unable to move, she stared helplessly as he began to walk toward her, his face a mix of unreadable emotions. As he reached out, her body began to respond to the heat that rolled off of him. The scent of his skin washed over her, but she moved back defensively. It was a tactical mistake, giving away that she knew who he was, that she had known all along.
“Amory?” he whispered, hope shining oddly through that one word.
Almost imperceptibly shaking her head, all her professionalism flew out the window, and with her heart sinking she managed a stuttered whisper, “N-n-no… No, you’re wrong. I’m Olivia.”
No amount of training was going to get her through this. Despite her only half-admitted hope that he’d see who she really was, Amory knew too much was at stake for this to happen, but it had. Now she had to endure the awful consequences of him recognizing her, the hatred that would follow this moment.
Tanya Jean Russell writes romantics suspense and lives in England. She is married to an amazing Elvis & Neil Diamond Tribute artist, thanks to whom she has a house full of jumpsuits & trophies. Something which is, of course, a source of much embarrassment to her two teenage children.
She is a little obsessive about books and has an embarrassingly huge (and ever growing) pile of things that she just ‘has’ to read next to her bed. Something that isn’t helped by being a part of the Romantic Novelist Association, or by being published by the amazing Evernight Publishing. With both organisations filled with talented writers, she keeps adding to her pile!
Tanya Jean squeezes her daydreaming … ahem … ‘writing’ around her family and her day job in HR, and is convinced that chocolate & diet coke should be considered a well-balanced diet.
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