Dare You To Run
Unbroken Heroes, Book 2
St. Martin's Press (August 30, 2016)
ISBN-13: 9781250075222 ♦ ISBN-10: 125007522X
SERVE AND PROTECT
For Vitus Hale, only one mission has ever gone wrong. All he had to do was rescue a beautiful woman from her kidnappers. But falling hard into bed—and into love—with the stunning innocent was not part of the game plan, and when she leaves him in the dust, Vitus has nothing but a blemished record and a hardened heart. Now, after three long years, his beauty has finally come back into his life—and this time, failure is not an option…
SEDUCE AND DESTROY
Damascus Ryland knew from their first steamy embrace that stoic warrior Vitus Hale is the only man for her, but when her power-hungry Congressman father offered her an ultimatum—sever ties with Vitus, or he dies—Damascus knew she had to walk away to save the man she loved. But now, three years later, a new threat is closing in on her—and tossing Vitus right back into her life. Damascus needs to keep her love for him locked in her heart if she is to keep him safe, but the old flame that burned between them is still as vibrant and hot as ever. Now, Damascus and Vitus must risk it all to find their freedom…and embrace their love…
Connected Books: Unbroken Heroes
Read an Excerpt
For a moment, her memory offered up fragments of the stolen moments she indulged in with Vitus. Hot, passionate moments, when the only thing that mattered was chasing satisfaction, consequence nowhere in sight or thought. Just the freedom to be exactly who she was instead of what her sire wanted her to be.
But the cost had certainly shown up later when he’d brought her home, delivering her to what everyone believed was the arms of her loving family. She’d been struggling to finish paying off the debt ever since, but couldn’t quite force herself to banish the memory.
Ha! As if you could . . .
That was a solid truth. Vitus was not a man easily forgotten. Of course, that was why he’d found her. His skills were almost unmatched. Little wonder he was a SEAL.
Or had been one. She let that thought settle into her brain because it proved just how much power her sire truly had. Vitus had mysteriously ended his career among the SEAL’s and ended up unemployed.
But not dead. She had to hold onto that bit of knowledge. The medal would help him reestablish himself. Maybe he could write a book.
She felt herself losing the battle to wring drops of hope out of the situation she was trapped in and it pissed her off to know that she’d infected Vitus just by reaching for him.
The ballroom was full of wives and daughters of politicians. Congressmen, senators, cabinet members all took advantage of the evening to rub elbows. The musicians were waiting for the signal to play a fanfare for the entrance of the president and first lady. A member of the Secret Service had been delegated the task of standing near the conductor. A message finally came through his earpiece, and he nodded at the conductor. The musicians lifted their instruments as a pair of wide double doors were pulled open to reveal the president and first lady. Their entrance was smooth and quick because the press was kept outside.
The conductor tapped his music stand, and the musicians all froze as they waited for the signal to begin. A hushed moment of anticipation held her in its grip as she waited for Vitus to surface.
He would. She had no doubt. He wasn’t a man who knew how to shrink from duty. She didn’t care for how bitter it felt to know she was nothing more than a duty to him tonight. Her heart was accelerating, her skin hypersensitive as she waited for him.
His hatred of her was the way it had to be, but that didn’t keep her from lamenting it.
And she didn’t have time to dwell upon her feelings. She felt him come close, the damn hair on the back of her neck standing up. There was always a jolt of awareness that hit her when he touched her, and tonight was no different. She gasped as he claimed her hand and turned her neatly into position right as the music began.
So very perfect.
Yet it felt so very forbidden.
“Try to play the part, Princess.”
Vitus was just as she remembered him. He had her locked in his embrace, even though everyone around them wouldn’t have found a single thing to fault him over . His hands were properly placed, looking quite gentlemanly, but she could feel the strength in his grip. So controlled and yet so very inescapable. He was worried she’d bolt and making sure she knew he wasn’t going to allow it.
“Don’t call me that.” She needed to keep her wits. “I’m not a little girl.”
He turned her in time with the waltz. For a moment, she felt like she was moving without any effort on her part, being swept along by the sheer power of the man holding her. His eyes narrowed, his lips thinning as his gaze dropped to her lips.
“You weren’t a kid the last time we met either.”
She’d been twenty-three and well past the age of not noticing how enticing Vitus was. Enticing was too tame a word. The moment he’d pulled the cover off the hole she’d been imprisoned in she’d felt like she’d been sucker punched. The memory was still vivid and haunted her dreams.
“So don’t call me by a child’s nickname.”
He turned her again, controlling her body as the dance floor became crowded. Her heart was racing, the feeling of his arms around her making her breathless. The way he held her defied explanation. It touched off something deep inside her bubbled up through the floorboards of what she thought was her composure. When it came to Vitus, there was no maintaining a grip on her reactions. She was the powder keg and he was the open flame. When they touched, the only outcome was an explosion. One that left her seeing stars.
Something flickered in his eyes. “If you didn’t want me to think of you as a kid, you shouldn’t have run home crying to Daddy.”
His voice was edged with anger. She shifted, but he held her against him. “I didn’t,” she hissed through her teeth.
Surprise flickered in his eyes along with disbelief. That hurt her more than anything. He believed she was guilty of betraying him. For a man like him, that was unforgivable.
“Your father sure knows more than he should.” The music climbed to its crescendo, the musicians finishing out the melody with a polished flourish.
He turned her under his arm, making her gown swirl away from her ankles. Just a touch of cool air hit her claves, setting off another ripple of sensation. Damned if he wasn’t a master of keeping her on the edge.
“Thank you for the dance, Ms. Ryland.”
She heard his boot heels snap together a moment before she was treated to the sight of his broad shoulders while he walked away from her. She was torn between the need to charge after him to make her case and behaving in a manner that wouldn’t betray just how much his opinion mattered to her.
Her own private hell; it was a place she knew well.