Clean, heartwarming, fun nerds on the run
It’d be mighty helpful if they knew the identity of the enemy gunning for them.
Savannah Swanson is an on-the-run popstar with a distracting almost boyfriend and enemies who will stop at nothing to silence her. Someone thinks she knows a lot more about her enigmatic late father than she does. Fact—she doesn’t even know his name. She heads to the mysterious island of her birth in the hopes it might reveal the identity of her father and—fingers crossed—finally allow her to be with Trace.
A sabotaged tour bus, kidnapping attempt, and shots fired keep Trace Montgomery too busy to take his relationship with Savannah to the next level. As head of Savannah's security team, he has to prioritize keeping her safe over kissing her. Too bad it's becoming more difficult to keep things strictly professional. Now he needs to help her unearth the cryptic details of Savannah's past before someone puts a very permanent end to their almost-relationship.
Savannah Swanson turned when the bedroom door of her guest suite in Rurikstan opened. Her heart jumped, but this occurred whenever Trace Montgomery entered her vicinity so she ignored the sensation.
“You’re fretting.” He stated this with affection.
She craved that emotion and so much more from this man. But she responded truthfully to his statement.
“Of course I’m fretting.” She gestured wildly toward the window, the one that revealed a foreign city on the other side. They’d been here a few days already and while she didn’t mind the city, she did mind that her life had spiraled out of her control.
“There’s no need. We’ll just play tourist for the next couple of days. It should help you relax.”READ MORE
His dark hair and green eyes always made her heart sing. Or maybe the effect happened because of the man himself. His firm jaw, piercing gaze, and near aquiline nose always reminded her that her Head of Security was considered more attractive than her by those who took the time to notice.
The man could hold his own against any model, but his intense air, and extreme focus on all matters security and safety tended to negate his good looks. One forgot his handsomeness, because they, or at least she, contemplated suffocating him with his own pillow sometimes. Or at least muzzling him. Anything to prevent the man from harping on all things security.
It might be his job, but it still grated on her nerves.
“We have to be careful.” Saying this to Trace was redundant, of course. She still said it.
“We’ll go in disguise.” His patience wasn’t appreciated. Well, maybe a little.
“I should be playing my last three concerts.” Two in New York City that should have already occurred and the final concert, Boston, in a few days.
“Savannah, every one of your fans knows that you’ve been in danger. Your tour bus got bombed. They understand you had to go underground for a while.”
“Knowing doesn’t alleviate their disappointment.”
“They’d all choose disappointment over losing you.” He crossed the room in a couple of steps, and uncharacteristically, drew her into his arms.
All her angst and fears receded for the space of time he held her. She melted into him, her arms looping his waist as she breathed in his leather and gunpowder scent. He didn’t actually smell like gunpowder, but that was the masculine scent she associated with him.
“I know you’re right.”
“But you still feel guilty for enjoying yourself here because you made a commitment to them you were forced to break.”
His words rang true. She had been forced to break their concert yet guilt plagued her. “I hate this.”
“Yes, and that’s what makes you a consummate professional and why you’ve climbed to the top and stayed there.” His arms tightened. “Right now you need to spend some time relaxing and taking care of yourself.”
“We worked out last night.”
“We did. And both of us needed it.” They’d escaped to the palace fitness complex, where she ran the track and then swam. Both had been good for her. They’d followed up their exercise with massages, and some time in the hot tubs in the locker rooms. “Now you need to concentrate on relaxing before we head to Toliliel.”
Even the mention of the place of her birth made her insides cramp. Answers lay there but now Savannah didn’t know if she wanted those answers. That way might lead to madness. Or insanity. Same thing, but she didn’t care for either as she enjoyed whatever level of sanity she currently possessed.
“I don’t know Trace.” She edged away from him. He didn’t loosen his hold other than to cup her chin in one hand and tilt her head up.
“I will be with you for every step of this journey.” His quiet promise made her heart soar.
She gazed into his eyes, those gorgeous green orbs that spoke to her on levels she hadn’t explored yet.
His hand tightened and breathlessly, she hoped he’d kiss her again. But he released her and turned away. Although disappointed she understood.
Now couldn’t be the time for them to be together. It had nearly happened, then all of this with the island and her mother’s now suspicious death, the mystery of her father’s disappearance, Beau’s father’s murder and that man’s parents’ murders in Hershey. Too many things had happened that pointed toward her not being safe.
Someone thought she knew more than she did. At least more than she could remember at this time.
Verity Wellington, hacker extraordinaire, was on the case. If anyone could discover the secrets of this faction or organization Verity was the woman. Her scary older brother, Vlad, an old friend of Trace’s, trusted her, as did Trace, so Savannah saw no reason not to. Also, her best friend, Molly Wellington, just happened to be Verity’s older sister.
Another reason to leave her fate in the hands of this woman who lay just short of a stranger. But Trace knew her, Beau knew her, Molly knew her. All people she knew and trusted.
Therefore, Savannah determined to also trust Verity.
It did chaff to leave her fate in the hands of a woman who knew more ways to kill a person than the average felon. But Verity also knew computers, so…
“Will you promise me something?” While she remained deep in thought Trace had turned back to her, intensity topped off.
He semi-snorted and strode back to her, not stopping until he stood directly in front of her again. His fists curled as though he had to physically resist the urge to touch her. She understood.
Savannah struggled to exert the same willpower.
“Promise me you’ll try to enjoy the next couple of days.” His will left his body to encase her. Not tangent, but she felt how much this meant to him.
All he asked of her was to try. She could do that. “Okay.”
He studied her face for several seconds, as though assessing her credibility. He knew her well. “That’s all I ask.”
Savannah swallowed. She wanted so much more, and he did too, but they had to be content with this vague promise.
“I’ll try.” She gazed into his eyes, wishing for something she had no right to ask for.
And that very reason was why she wouldn’t enjoy the next two days, despite her promise.
To say he also didn’t want to be here might not adequately explain the situation. Trace’s heart thumped hard as he perceived Savannah’s anxiety. He felt for her. Being here and in danger hadn’t been a part of the plan.
And Savannah was a planner. She might come across as a wispy live-in-the-moment sort, but he’d learned over the years that she needed a plan and organization or the chaos overtook her. Right now they didn’t have much of a plan.
What she needed was a plan.
He could give her that. Taking both of her hands in his, he stared into her gorgeous gray eyes and wondered how he’d gotten so lucky. Her height made them fit together nicely as she hovered near six feet, and her long blonde curls tempted him to run his fingers through her mane. Savannah Swanson appealed on levels he hadn’t explored yet. It took discipline to drag his attention back to reality.
“Today we’re going to play tourist. Tomorrow we’re going to play tourist. That’s our only goal. We’re going to relax and enjoy ourselves. Get some exercise and expand our minds by learning about this country that has welcomed us and given us refuge.” He spoke firmly and with enunciation.
The lingering tension eased in her body. “We play tourist for the next two days.”
“Yes. That’s our agenda. We go in disguise, something we’re all used to doing. We stick together because there are bad guys after us. At least after DuBois and you.”
“Are we taking the bodyguards?”
“Any who are on duty, yes. The others need to sleep.” He’d already worked out their schedules with them. They all knew what was expected of them. The only one who had given him trouble was Eric Monnette, Savannah’s male look-a-like. His jaw had hardened and he had implied that he’d be watching their backs.
“You need sleep.” Trace understood the man’s need to keep watch on Savannah. To a point. “We have other bodyguards who will keep her in their sights at all times. Plus we’ll have DuBois and Molly.”
At Molly’s name, Eric’s lips had twisted in a wry smile that reminded Trace a little of Savannah. A niggling thought had bothered him then but it didn’t take hold.
Now it raised its head again and offered more information. He glanced at Savannah. “Do you have any siblings or cousins you haven’t met?”
She started and her fingers tightened around his. That’s when he realized he still kept hold of her. He didn’t release her hands. They felt right in his and he wanted to savor the sensation a little longer.
“I have some cousins but you know them all.” Her forehead pleated. In the same manner it did when she knew something didn’t quite harmonize but she couldn’t figure out which note was off.
“You don’t know of any half siblings or cousins, say on your father’s side?”
“Trace, I don’t know who my father is. I could have an entire passel of half siblings and cousins, and I’d have no idea.”
“Right. You still don’t know his name.” He couldn’t help but think there might be a reason why Eric looked so much like Savannah. These suspicions stemmed from how protective the man was of her.
And Eric’s fiancée had been killed in a car accident a year ago. A suspicious car accident. The authorities were baffled but Eric had been coldly furious.
His protectiveness toward Savannah had increased around that same time. Trace had been impressed with Eric’s professionalism and his ability to go long stretches without sleep before. This stemmed from his Navy SEAL training. He might not be a Navy SEAL, due to a shoulder injury, but he’d carry that training with him for life. Now he exceeded even that previous effort.
Trace valued the bodyguards who’d been Special Ops the most. Their abilities nudged into the superhuman and he wanted as many of that type as possible. A few of his buddies who’d answered his call were not planning to join them on Toliliel. They’d stayed behind to watch the Nashville house and to dig deeper into things and he still wanted them to do so. If anyone could figure out who had been watching them it would be his buddies.
All former Special Ops, all quite familiar with this sort of thing, and none were ready to hang their hat for a “regular” job, despite the circumstances that had honorably discharged them from the service.
“I might find out who he was when we arrive in Toliliel.” Shadows appeared in Savannah’s expressive eyes. No need to ask who “he” was. She’d gone nearly thirty years without knowing even her father’s name.
He released her hands to draw her into his arms again. She needed a hug and he’d be happy to oblige.
Savannah sighed deep in her chest, slender arms encircling him as she melted into him. His heart jammed in his throat. He swallowed a few times and breathed her in, thankful that he could occasionally hold her.
Maybe he pushed the limit on the occasional part, but he noticed they both seemed to need reassurance that they would be together. Someday. When Savannah was no longer hunted by people they had yet to identify.
At least she wasn’t the only one who faced this. DuBois had nearly taken a bullet since they’d arrived in Rurikstan and Brett Bentwater had mentioned the uncomfortable feeling of being watched as well. He had only just noticed it, and being a former Special Ops Marine, the man’s instincts were on point.
The three of them could trace parents who worked for the same company. Horgate Industries continued business as usual, and most of their employees appeared oblivious to the dark underbelly of their employer. But it existed, because Savannah’s mother, Bentwater’s parents, and DuBois’s father had all met their demise while employed by Horgate. Something had to give soon.
Breathing in Savannah’s familiar, clean scent made him make a vow. It will not be Savannah.
“Nothing can happen to you.” He bit this out.
Her arms tightened and she nestled closer. “Or you.”
That calm statement appeased him. She cared as much for his safety as he did about hers. “Are you going to get all dictatorial?”
She laughed, as he hoped. “Yes.” Snuggling closer, he was certain he felt her lips brush his neck. He shivered.
“None of that.” Since this emitted breathless and a little strained he elicited another laugh.
A sultry, feminine one that called to every single part of his being.
“Sorry. But you smell so good.” Her eyes met his. Her slumberous, heavy lidded gray eyes.
“So are you.” Her finger slid across his lower lip in a fleeting caress.
“We have to stop.”
Her lips firmed but she nodded. A jerky, reluctant gesture he completely understood.
They gazed at one another for a long moment before both turned to start their disguise process.
His mind and body protested louder with every step he took away from her.COLLAPSE