She's on the run . . . Jane Beaumont currently has in her possession: a cat, a hundred grand in cash, and a pistol. She's on her way home to Bay City, Oregon-and away from the nightmare of her violent ex-boyfriend. She'll lay low at Beaumont Body Shop, a car detailer that runs a private investigation agency in the back. The only wrench in her plan is Kage Archer: sexy, strong, and intent on protecting Jane at all costs. She's wanted Kage forever, but putting him in harm's way is not a risk she's willing to take.
He's not going anywhere Kage is no stranger to the dark side of life, but he's always walked on the right side of the law. Yet when Jane expressed her interest in him years ago, he pushed her away for her own good. Now, after learning of all she's endured, Kage can't leave her side-or hide his need for her. When a frightening situation turns dire, can Kage convince Jane that the safest place to be is in his arms?
Kage hung upside down on a bench, his feet secured under a padded bar, doing sit-ups. Light-headed at the bulked-and-beautiful sight of him, she could only focus on the ripple of his abs.
Garrett chuckled. “I’m out of here. See you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, okay…” She nodded, not taking her gaze off Kage.
“Stick with him, sis.” Garrett kissed the side of her head before crossing the room to talk quietly with Kage and then leaving.
Kage detached himself from the apparatus, performing a neat flip to land on his feet. He snatched a towel off a nearby weight bench and wiped his face, draping the cloth around his neck. She gulped as he approached. The air seemed to disappear and her head got fuzzy.
He frowned. “You okay? You’re not looking so well.”
Of course she didn’t. Her ex-boyfriend’s phone call had freaked her out. Eight hours behind a desk, shut in a room with no windows, and the first beautiful thing she sees today was Kage in a pair of loose-fitting shorts, hanging off his hips, covered in sweat. Of course she looked rattled.
Any woman would find herself entranced and drooling. She lifted her hand to her mouth. Her fingers came away dry. Oh, thank God.
“You’re the shit.” The moment her opinion slipped through her lips, she wanted to take it back.
He smiled. Not a half grin, but an all-white-teeth spectacular aimed at her. A rock-her-world kind of smile. She groaned. No wonder he worked out; he had to carry around his big ego.
“Yeah?” He moved in closer, now wearing his teasing face.
“Oh yeah, totally hot,” she whispered.
She could handle his angry face, even his scary face, but when he let it all fall away and acted like he did before her life had taken a downturn, he made her remember how she used to feel before Scott. She flinched and stepped away. “So, are you ready to go? I’m ready. We can go to your house.”
His face got serious. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“I’m fine. Let’s go.” She turned around, because one more glimpse at his glistening body would send her into a full-blown panic.
He’d told her the next move was on her. If she wanted him, she’d have to show him. Right now, she could show him that and more.
“Let me grab a quick shower.” He turned and deliberately held her gaze. “That phone call is a good thing. It might not seem like it, but the more we know, the better we can work this guy.”
How could they all believe drawing Scott closer to her would be beneficial? The object was to stay far away from him. She wasn’t going back. Scott needed time to understand she was serious.
“Come on, I’ll take you to Lance while I wash up.” He motioned for her to follow him out.
“I’ll stay in here and wait.” She needed time to calm down, and she couldn’t do that with one of the guys always around.
“Not happening.” He shook his head. “You can’t be alone right now. The phone call from Carson is proof of that. Without a trace on the call, we have no idea how close he is. He could be anywhere. You’re safe inside this building, but I want you used to having someone around constantly.”
“I get it, but I’m already protected here,” she said.
“You are not protected without someone with you. I don’t care if you’re in the building. You’re certainly not okay if I think you’re about to faint and you’re alone. If I’m not with you, someone else I trust will be.”
She lifted her purse, dug inside, wrapped her fingers around the handle of the pistol, and pulled it out. “I can protect myself.”
He took a step back. His hands went to his sides. “What the hell are you doing?”
She waved the gun in his direction. “I’ve done okay on my own, and I can take care of myself and Bluff. I’ve been doing it for the last three weeks. Even if Scott gets near me, I can use this.”
“Jesus, woman.” Kage reached out, pushed her hand to the side away from him, and locked down on her wrist, prying the pistol out of her grip with the other hand. “No guns.”
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