Note from the author, Loni Flowers - Excerpt contains strong language
Grabbing my shoulders, Max pushed me against the wall. I sucked in a sharp breath and tried to push him away from me, but couldn’t make him budge an inch. “Get your hands off me,” I demanded.
Stepping closer, Max leaned in and the muscles of his chest flexed under my palms. His stance was wide, each foot planted on the sides of mine. When I peered down, I noticed the waist of his jeans hung below his hip bones. Considering my position, and Max’s over-reactive, accusatory tone, I did my best not to drool because I was supposed to be mad. I was pissed, right?
“Don’t play games with me, Abi.”
Max stared down, his gaze skimming over my chest as I stood there in one of Caroline’s pretty, pink push-up bras. Having more than enough to fill the small cups, I didn't require the extra lift. My chest rose up and down with visible succession in every breath I took and I didn’t know if it was because I was scared or possibly getting turned on.
“I don’t play those types of games, Max.”
Shit! Not the appropriate comeback in a situation like this.
His grip hardened, “Now! Tell me why you covered for me?”
“Ow, let me go! I was only doing you a favor.”
“I didn’t ask for handouts when I came here. What the fuck did David say to you!?”
“He said you were a good guy and I shouldn’t kill you; but obviously, he has you mixed up with someone else because you’re a fucking lunatic!”
“Oh? You man-handle me and all you can say is oh?” Forget shocked, I was furious. “For your information, Charlie is a friend, like a father, and he’s extremely protective over me. Sometimes, he does background checks on the people in my life. If he had seen you here, he would have done one on you and on your vehicle. I assumed you wouldn’t want him snooping around. Plus, if he did find something he didn't approve of, he wouldn’t let me…”
I instantly paused and thought if he didn't stop this line of interrogation, I could say something I shouldn't. My record of zero slip-ups since being placed in the Witness Protection Program might be broken this very day.
“Wouldn’t let you… what?”
“Nothing. He wouldn't want me staying here. Excuse me for trying to be proactive.” If he thought he could talk to me or handle me however he wanted, he had another thing coming. I straightened up before I leaned forward, letting my hands slide up his chest until my fingers curled over the top of his shoulders. His brow rose with interest, but I ignored it. Pulling Max’s chest forward, I pressed my chest against his to whisper into his ear. “Didn’t I tell you not to underestimate me?”
Max pulled back, slightly squinting as if he suddenly recalled something. His eyes gazed intently on me and I was momentarily frozen. His lips parted, and a rushed breath escaped his mouth as his finger curled around a lock of my hair. He gathered it in his hand and pulled it away from my shoulders. His face twisted in confusion before amusement sparkled in his eyes. My unexpected heavy breathing seemed to match his own.
“Darling, I never underestimate anyone, but you...”
“What? You think you know me? Don’t pretend to assess me either.”
“Tell me, do you act this way every time you get pissed off? Because I think I could get used to it.”
“Who pushed whom against the wall in a fit of anger?” I countered.
His full, pink lips curved into a small grin as he pierced me with his amber brown eyes, the color of a light brandy. Like a cognac that slid down your throat until it found the right spot and scorched your insides. God, why did he have to be so damn sexy?
My fingers swiped over the taut muscles in his neck and I might have murmured an audible sigh. I wasn’t sure. When his grin spread wider, I knew I was caught. It had been far too long since I'd been intimate with a man, and standing that close to him, inhaling so much testosterone, became too much for me to handle. He being a jackass didn't make much difference at that moment.
Keep a low profile. That's what Abigale Peterson was supposed to do, especially when the person she was being protected from was one of the world's worst crime lords. After seven years in the Witness Protection Program, she felt no safer now than she did when she was seventeen. Revenge was rarely forgotten when it came to a professional criminal like Zerilli.
Low profiles meant no social life and definitely no love life.
Paranoia and lies became daily habits, going against everything Abigale believed in, but they kept her safe. They kept everyone safe.
Until a house fire puts her out of that safety and into the arms of a stranger. Max Smith is sexy, smart, and has major attitude. He’s the only one who seems to get her. He calms her fears and comforts her from her nightmares. But he also sees right through her lies.
Before Abigale can stop, she’s in too deep; confiding too much and breaking the one rule she promised herself to uphold: Never fall in love.
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