What I find is her.
She’s my best friend’s sister, and she’s everything I shouldn’t want. She’s on a hopeless quest for answers about her brother’s death, but those are secrets that can never come to light. She’s always been a fighter, and she desperately wants the truth.
I desperately want her.
Someone is trying to kill her now, and she won’t let me keep her safe. I have to do it anyway, even if she doesn’t trust me, even if she hates me for it. A man protects what’s precious to him, whether or not he can ever claim her for his own. So she becomes my purpose.
I’ll become a hero for her.
Everyone was on board, but my mind kept asking, “What if Harper needs me?” I couldn’t possibly share that thought with the guys without getting seriously ribbed, so I just agreed and figured I’d deal with it when the time came. “How about a game of darts?”
“Sounds good.” The crowd wasn’t too big for a Friday night, so we didn’t have to wait for a board. It was a mindless game, and it was exactly what I needed. Aim and shoot. Aim and shoot. No one needed to know that I was picturing Tom’s face in the bull’s eye. I was doing pretty well, and my aim was spot on. I was in the zone and loving it.
Until Harper got up from her table to head for the ladies room, which was right next to the dart boards. Since it wasn’t my turn, it wasn’t hard to take a couple of steps away so that I was kind of blocking her from getting by.
She stopped right in front of me and sighed with irritation. “What now?”
I shrugged and took a slow drink of my beer. “So, how’s the date going?”
Her head fell back as she let out a frustrated growl. I was sure she meant to sound menacing, but all I could think was that I’d like to gently bite the exposed column of her throat.
“Can I please get by?” she finally asked.
“I guess it’s not going all that well, then.”
The look she gave me was near comical. “What makes you say that?”
“You didn’t answer me. If the date was going well, I’m sure you’d be all chatty about it. The fact that you’re silent tells me it’s not. I’m not surprised, really.”
“And why is that?” She crossed her arms under her breasts, and now I had that image in my head—exactly what I’d like to be doing to them.
“Well, it seems to me like Tom’s kind of a dud.”
I nodded. “A dud. Absolutely. What do you see in that guy?”
“You know what, Levi? It’s none of your business what I see in him or in anyone for that matter. Isn’t it enough that you’ve interfered with every other aspect of my life? Can’t you just stay out of this? Leave my personal life alone?”
Her eyes were huge and bordering on pleading, and I almost felt bad. Almost. “Sorry, princess. I didn’t mean to get you all riled up. I was just simply making an observation.”
“Well, stop making observations. Stop observing. Just…stop!”
I was waiting for her to stamp her foot to make her point, but she didn’t. I turned toward the guys and saw that they were all watching this exchange too. I was so screwed. I’d be a hundred before I ever lived this down. Harper looked in the same direction and smiled. “Hey, guys!”
“Hey, Harper.” They each took turns saying it, and by the time I turned back to her, I realized that she’d made her way around me and had disappeared into the restroom.
New York Times and USA Today Bestseller/contemporary romance writer Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40’s to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.
When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, blogging, playing way too many games of Scrabble on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.