Author: Amber Lea Easton
Length: 315 Pages
Genres: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Trapped in a set-up that could have him in jail or dead by Monday, Jonathan Alexander trusts no one in his inner circle. It’s Saturday. His only hope is Grace Dupont, the best forensic accountant in Miami. But there’s a glitch with that idea. She’s also his ex-girlfriend who’d rather watch him drown than throw him a life vest. Going to her feels desperate…because he is.
Grace enjoys seeing Jonathan squirm. On your knees boy, she thinks as he pitches for her help. Always a sucker for the dark-haired-blue-eyed boys, she risks her precariously balanced life of secrets to help him. Helping him slaps a target on her back–she’s the key to proving his innocence and that’s a bad, bad thing.
Tangled up in a whirlwind of conspiracy, murder, million dollar money trails and diamond smuggling, Jonathan and Grace flee to the sea to stall for time to prove his innocence. Romance sizzles beneath Florida Keys’ sunshine. Both scoff at happy endings. Both doubt justice. Both know each kiss could be their last.
He was beyond pissed at this guy’s audacity. His perpetual shadow leaned against the front of a closed dress shop, Panama hat pulled over his eyes, arms folded across his chest, and watched the office door without trying to hide in any way. “Look at him standing there, not even bothering to hide.”
“He’s been skulking around here all day. I think he’s harmless.”
“He’s following you now? That can’t be good.” He pulled her closer to his chest and into the shadow of the entrance.
When she sighed, her breasts heaved against his arm. He cursed every inappropriate thought that rushed through his mind. No time for sex with an ex. This situation didn’t exactly scream romance.
“You weren’t kidding about being trapped in some B movie, were you?” She twisted against him in an attempt to break free of his hold.
“Stop it.” All of her gyrating distracted him from Panama Hat Man.
He broke off his words when she bent his wrist backward until he thought it would break. Cursing under his breath, he released her and rubbed the pain in his left hand.
She stalked across the street toward the man, slippers slapping against the pavement, hips swaying beneath the thin cotton dress that skimmed her thighs, and hair bouncing against her bare back.
He would have chased her even if she weren’t potentially following a psychopath.
Panama Hat Man walked toward the beach, his stride quickening with their approach.
“Wait. Stop. I need to talk to you.” She disappeared down the path leading between the buildings to the beach.
“Grace, come back here.” He jogged toward the path, panic just a breath away from consuming him. He glanced over his shoulder as he ran, conscious of the unlocked building but concerned about Grace’s safety.
Night slowly overtook twilight. Lights from the sidewalk cafes and bars illuminated the street at their backs. Only a handful of people strolled the beach at the waterline in the distance. He watched her jog over the sand, getting further away from the streetlights.
Panama Hat Man disappeared.
“This is a bad idea, Grace,” he said when he caught up to her.
“This whole thing is a bad idea. I don’t need this drama.” She shouted the words over her shoulder as she paused to yank the slippers from her feet. “I quit. Done. Finito.”
“And you think I do?” He grabbed her elbow. “I don’t want you to quit, just stop following this guy. You could be walking into a trap. Maybe he wants you to follow him, ever think of that?”
Of all the qualities she had to retain as an adult, it had to be recklessness. So much for the sophisticated, calm, I-have-it-all-together façade.
A piercing pop sliced through the air. Sand exploded at their feet. Another shot—definitely gunfire.
He pressed her to the ground as another shot went off. His hands covered her head while his body shielded hers. A brief scan of the horizon showed nothing except sand, strangers running in the opposite direction of the shoreline, and the blackness of the ocean.
“He’s shooting at us?” she asked against his neck, hands fisted in the material of his shirt.
“Still think I’m paranoid?” he asked against her forehead.
“I quit, I really do quit.” Her nails sank into his shoulder as she clung to him.
Another pop sliced the air. Strangers screamed. Someone yelled for the police.
Searing pain ripped through his left shoulder. Rolling from her, he half crawled, half pulled her further into the darkness and in the opposite direction of the Panama Hat Man.
He kept his head down and tugged her away from the lights.
“You think you’re being followed so you drag me into it, thanks a lot.” She stumbled in the sand next to him, bringing him down with her. “Brilliant plan.”
In one move, he hauled her to his side and ran until they stood in the shadows beneath a lifeguard tower. Chest heaving, he shoved his hands through her hair.
“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” he asked, gaze scanning her for any sign of injury.
“Stop touching me.” She slapped his hands away, eyes snapping with fire. “My life was complicated enough, Jon Ryan. I didn’t need you making it worse. Damn you.”
“You had to follow the guy, didn’t you?” Rage at the situation at large zeroed in on her. “For being a so-called genius, that was an idiot move.”
She punched him in the shoulder. “Who is this guy? Why is he shooting at us?
Pain ripped through his left arm and burned down his back. Sharp, burning pain. “If I knew the guy, I’d kick his ass. Stop hitting me.”
She held her fist up to her face and studied the blood that stained her fingers. “You’ve been shot,” she repeated several times before lifting her gaze to his. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me you were shot?”
“I didn’t know.” He rested the back of his head against the stilt in the shadows of the lifeguard stand. He needed clarity. This entire situation had escalated far beyond his scope of comprehension. None of it made sense.
“How do you not know that you’ve been shot?” She rubbed the blood from her hand over the front of his shirt while looking down the beach and toward the shadows with extra-wide eyes. “I lost my slippers. They’ll look weird on the beach, won’t they? Not many people live on this block, especially not so close. The police will make the connection.” Eyes overly wide and chest heaving beneath the thin cotton material, she pressed her hand against his arm and stared up at him. “Jonathan, we’re out of time.”
Coldness seeped through his bones. Someone had shot him, but he knew instinctively that Grace had been the target. She had the ability to prove his innocence. Someone wanted her out of the picture.
“You have blood on your dress.” He fingered the strap in question that had slipped off her shoulder. “You should probably take it off.”
“Careful. We can’t go there.” Sand clung to her neck and stuck to the tangles in her hair. The light from the bedside lamp shadowed her face.
“I meant change out of it, not…well, maybe I meant take it off. But then we’d be crossing lines that you don’t want to cross.” He let his fingers trail down her arm. “That would be wrong. Terribly wrong.”
“You are nothing but trouble.”
“You always liked trouble.” He rested his right palm against the bed, supporting his weight on his healthy arm.
“Listen carefully to me.” She pressed her finger against his lips. “I’m high on adrenaline, we’re alone, no witnesses, no regrets. One kiss won’t hurt anyone.”
“No witnesses, no regrets…” Heat flooded his veins. “Adrenaline…”
“If I don’t do this now, I’ll hate myself in the morning.”
“You mean you’ll regret it when they lock me up in the morning and throw away the key because you didn’t kiss me one last time?”
“Exactly.” She straddled his lap.
“You weren’t supposed to agree.” He smiled despite the circumstances.
“Shut up, sailor boy. Kiss me.”
She kissed him as if savoring the taste. Her hair fell forward, locking them in a caramel-colored veil of intimacy. Eyes open, they stared at each other as their lips moved against each other’s.
His hands slid up her long thighs, over her panties and pressed against the smoothness of her back. Every stroke of her lips against his awakened pure need in his veins. He no longer cared about what was right or wrong. All he wanted was her mouth on his, his hands on her body and her skin against his.
With a quick yank, she pulled her dress over her head. Breasts bared, she pressed him down on the bed and laughed against his mouth. “This is crossing all kinds of boundaries and breaking every rule I can think of.”
“Just like the old days.” He smiled against her lips. His hands moved over her bared breasts. The pain in his shoulder failed to slow him down. He didn’t know who groaned or if they both did, but the sensation of her flesh filling his palms trumped common sense.
Her bare foot slid over his leg, hands curled into his hair, and body flattened against his. All the anger, the terror and confusion poured from him as he deepened the kiss with an urgency that bordered on desperation. The silky warmth of her mouth erased his pain. Kissing her felt like coming home from an exhausting, lonely journey.
“A kiss…that’s all I wanted,” she muttered against his chin. A shiver quaked through her body when she sighed.
“I want more.”
“Impossible. We can’t.”
“We can do whatever the hell we want, Grace.” Despite the burning pain in his left shoulder, he maneuvered so that his body covered hers. He wanted more than a kiss. He wanted more heat.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
To stay up to date with Amber Lea Easton’s new releases and events, check out her website at http://www.amberleaeaston.com, subscribe to her author blog at http://amberleaeaston.blogspot.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter as @MtnMoxieGirl or on Facebook.
Screw the Rules
by Amber Lea Easton
Let me start out by saying that I’m an over 40 year-old woman–widow–who’s new to the dating scene. My husband passed away 6 years ago and I’ve only ventured back into the dating world this past year. The last guy I dated–an over-50 year old man, never married–told me that I “don’t know the dating rules.”
Um…what? Rules?! Gimme a break.
Dating isn’t exactly my expertise, but I’m not some recluse who’s been living in a cave my entire life. I know how to interact with people and have learned the hard way about who to let close and who to keep at a distance. And, let’s not discount the fact that I was married for a decade so have an idea of how relationships work. This brings me to what he said about me “breaking the rules” as far as dating goes and how he was “cutting me some slack” because “I haven’t been dating for about 20 years.”
Well, it’s only been 17 years, thank you very much, but like I said, there was an 11 year relationship in there, buddy.
I’ve never been fond of rules. In fact, if you tell me what the rule is, I will most likely go out of my way to break it just to see what happens. Will the world end? No. Will I die? Well…okay, if it’s a rule about not skiing in an avalanche danger zone, I may respect that one. I’m rebellious not crazy.
I am how I am. I don’t play games. I come with a past I am NOT ashamed of. I will talk about anything at any given time. I have few inhibitions. I am passionate. I love life. People know where they stand with me, whether they like that or not. If I’m happy, you’ll know it. You’ll also be very aware of when I’m not. What you see is what you get with me at all times.
Dating rules? Like what? It’s funny how people (men) say they want someone authentic…until that’s what they get. Then it’s like “whoa, that’s a lot to handle” or “ooo…getting too close”. Screw that.
Life is short. I know that first hand. I don’t like wasting time or playing evasive games. With me, the rules don’t apply. To me, rules are meant to keep people out. What’s the point of dating if you don’t want to let someone in?
Rules? Really? Why? Just go with it. At the end of the day, who cares about rules if you’re happy? Life is too short. There may not be a second chance for a happy ending so don’t mess it up with rules, lists or whatever obstacle you create to protect yourself. Now is all we have.
If I’m breaking “rules”, then good for me. I may not know a lot about dating…but I know a helluva lot about love. I’m not going to waste one minute of my life worrying about “dating rules”. I may be outrageous, passionate and hard to handle, but the future man in my life will love that about me.