Genre: Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: June 2, 2015
Number of pages: 260 pgs
Word Count: 77,713
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
She doesn’t need a hero. But a sexy Marine…that’ll work.
Though Lauren Baxter’s world is a blurry mess of colors, she has no tolerance for pity. With the help of her guide dog, Jack Sparrow, she’s built a good life for herself. She has everything she wants: her PhD, a thriving counseling practice and her independence.
When she meets her new neighbor, the man’s warm Texas accent and clean male scent weaken her knees. Her attraction to the former Marine is mutual and, unfortunately, a complication she doesn’t need.
Gabriel Briggs carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. He has his reasons for indulging only in short-term flings, but the feisty, green-eyed Lauren makes him want to forget every one.
In a rare moment of fragility, Lauren winds up in Gabe’s arms. One night together can’t break their self-imposed rules, right? But when a woman from Gabe’s past is murdered, the reasons he should have stayed away become painfully clear, threatening innocent lives he may not be able to save—especially Lauren’s.
Contains a blind therapist who doesn’t consider herself impaired; a meddling, erotic-novel-writing best friend; a hot ex-Marine with a shady past; and a loyal guide dog that howls “I love you” and is probably the sanest one of the bunch.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/XPlVj2TzZVA
Gabe locked the front door and headed to his pickup. The decision was made. He needed to move his pitiful ass into the cabin immediately. A woman he barely knew had him confessing things he’d never told anyone else, and the scariest part: he caught himself reconsidering nonnegotiable promises. Those were fantasies he couldn’t afford. Not when other lives counted on him. He glanced over at her place and stopped dead in his tracks.
Speak of the devil.
Hands on her hips, Lauren stood talking to the cabbie parked in her driveway. Her hair was twisted in a knot. The dark blue, strapless summer dress she wore had his gaze lingering over her long neck and tanned shoulders.
His mouth watered at the memory of how sweet her covered parts tasted last night.
There was something about her that hooked him. Yes, she was beautiful, but there was more. It was how her eyes crinkled when she laughed. All the smart-ass things she’d say. The soothing way her voice melted his guard. And when she touched him, it was as if she was sticking her hands inside him, picking up every one of his painful pieces, and for just a little while gluing them back together.
What the fuck am I saying?
He looked away and continued to his truck. She’d find the right person one day, and whoever the man was would be one lucky bastard.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I can’t help you,” the cabbie said.
Gabe put the last of the supplies into the large metal toolbox and padlocked the lid.
“He’s a guide dog. Isn’t it against the law for you to refuse services because of him?” Lauren asked.
He bit back his urge to help.
For him, the girl spelled trouble.
“The sign right there says no animals.” The driver pointed to the backseat window.
She grinned. “And if I wasn’t blind, I’m sure I would have seen it.”
Gabe chuckled. He loved her fake smile. Leaning against the truck, he watched the performance.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t—I mean, you don’t look blind.”
Still grinning, she cleared her throat and pulled on the dog’s harness. “I am. Which is why I need my guide dog. He goes everywhere with me.”
The beast raised its ears and looked at Gabe. He averted his eyes, pulled off his baseball cap and tucked it into his jean pocket. Her monster of a pet was making him feel guilty as hell.
“I’m sorry, but I’m allergic to animals. He can’t come in my taxi.”
“I can pay you extra for your troubles. The place is a few blocks after the highway. It would only be ten minutes of your time.”
“Look, ma’am. It’s not going to happen. If you want, I’ll call another car to pick you up.”
After a long pause, she shook her head and bit her lip. “No, it’s fine. I understand. Thank you.”
A few seconds later, the cab pulled away. Lauren stood cross-armed, staring out.
Gabe gripped the truck to make sure his legs didn’t get any crazy ideas.
This is not my problem. Maybe if he said it enough times, he’d believe it.
“Come on, Jack. It’s time for Plan B,” she said and grabbed the dog’s holster.
Stunned, he watched the two stroll down the road. She said the place was a few blocks after the highway. Which meant they’d be walking alongside one of the busiest boulevards in Denver for a few yards before she’d ever reach the interstate. He looked at his watch. Four fifty, on a Friday afternoon. The two would be smack dab in front of the I25 overpass during rush hour traffic—a dangerous situation for anyone, much less a blind woman.
She wouldn’t, would she?
When Lauren got to the end of the street and turned left, he cursed under his breath.
Yeah, she would.
The banging and Jack’s barking grew louder. Lauren ran her hands through her hair and made her way down the stairs with Sunny close behind.
At the door, her best friend leaned over her and peeked through the blinds.
“Oh Sweet Baby Jesus, who’s that?” she whispered.
Lauren pushed her away and blocked the entrance with her body. “If I could see, I’d tell you.”
“It’s a man. Open the door,” she ordered and tried to pull Lauren’s hand from the knob.
“No! We don’t know who he is,” she hissed.
“Lauren, it’s Gabe.” The way her name sounded in the baritone voice of his had her stomach doing the funny flipping thing again like it did yesterday in the backyard.
“Yes, Lauren, it’s Gabe,” Sunny imitated. “Now open the fucking door.”
“Hi, Gabe. Everything okay?” she asked, her voice huskier than she’d like.
“I heard screams. I tried calling a couple times and when you didn’t answer, thought I’d come over and check things out.”
“The neighbor with the power tools?” Sunny hissed. “The man is eye candy beautiful.”
“That doesn’t mean he’s not a rapist or serial killer,” Lauren hissed back.
Boney arms wrapped tight around her waist, lifting off the ground and planting her a few feet away from the entrance. Disoriented, Lauren was still figuring out which direction she was facing when the door rattled and opened.
“Hey,” Sunny said in her most seductive tone. After rolling her eyes, Lauren walked toward her friend’s voice.
“Hi,” Gabe cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, I was looking for Lauren.”
“I’m right here.”
“Sorry to bother you two. Like I said, I heard screaming…”
“So sorry; we were having a disagreement,” she answered before Sunny got a chance to give her interpretation of events.
“I’m Sunny.” Her voice sounded deep and breathy. Lauren cringed and resisted the urge to hit her.
“Hi, Sunny, I’m Gabe.”
“Nice to meet you, neighbor with the power tools.”
“Anyway, we’re fine. Thanks for checking.” Lauren reached over to shut the door but Sunny wouldn’t let it go.
“How sweet. Did you hear, Cat? He came here to see if you needed to be saved.” Since when did she start speaking with a Southern accent?
“I don’t need to be saved,” she muttered.
“That’s all relative now isn’t it, sweetheart? Why don’t you come in, Gabe? I just made some fresh coffee.”
“I’d love some. But if you don’t mind, let me go put some clothes on and I’ll be right back.”
A few seconds after he disappeared, Sunny blew out a breath and closed the door. “Honey, I do mind if you put on more clothes.”
“What’s wrong with you? You can’t let strangers into my home,” Lauren growled.
“Rule number one: When a man who looks like him walks up in nothing but hard muscles and a thin pair of boxers, you invite him in. Rule number two: Keep rocking those low-cut tank tops and short biker shorts, ’cause he couldn’t keep his eyes off you.”
“Oh God,” Lauren pulled up the neck of her tank and rushed upstairs.
“Overweight and missing his front teeth,” Sunny muttered as she followed. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Grabbing a pair of jeans and a shirt from the drawer, Lauren pulled them on over her sleepwear. “Not important. He was pushy and like I said, he’s been watching me.”
“No. Not true. He’s not watching you, he’s lusting after you. Here, let me paint him for you.”
Sunny had a knack for description. She’d taken on the responsibility of being Lauren’s eyes when she lost her vision and made it a point to reference people and movies they both remembered.
“About six feet two, a mouth full of perfect white teeth, and ripped.” A lovely image of Gabe took shape. “If I didn’t have Scott, I’d have run my fingers down those hills and valleys right to the elastic band of his sweet black shorts and…”
“No sex fantasies, please, only facts.”
“Okay, fine. A mix of Matt Damon’s face from Goodwill Hunting, but better looking, and Tom Cruise’s body from Mission Impossible Two when he hung from the cliff, remember?”
Lauren bit her lip and nodded.
“But bulkier and much, much taller. He has this tribal tattoo around his right bicep. It’s a bunch of shapes, but looks hot. Dark hair buzzed short, strong jaw line, deep blue eyes, full lips I’m sure are capable of making some lucky woman, more specifically you, scream…”
About the Author:
From daring escapes by tough women to chivalrous men swooping in to save the day, the creativity switch to Kishan Paul's brain is always in the 'on' position. If daydreaming stories were a college course, Kish would graduate with honors.
Mother of two beautiful children, she has been married to her best friend for over 16 years. With the help of supportive family and friends, she balances her family, a thriving counseling practice, and writing without sinking into insanity.
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