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Fighting For Her (Wilde Ways Book 5), page 1

 

Fighting For Her (Wilde Ways Book 5)
 


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Fighting For Her (Wilde Ways Book 5)


  By Cynthia Eden

  This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to real people, places, or events are not intentional and are purely the result of coincidence. The characters, places, and events in this story are fictional.

  Copyright ©2019 by Cindy Roussos

  All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form without the express written consent of the author except for the use of small quotes or excerpts used in book reviews.

  Copy-editing by: JRT Editing

  (build 2)

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Fighting For Her

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Epilogue

  Author’s Note

  About The Author

  Chapter One

  The suits were giving her a headache. Kathleen “Kat” O’Shaughnessy kept a brittle, polite smile on her face—after all, she’d had plenty of practice at being fake during her life—as she strode off the elevator. Of course, the two men immediately moved with her. Suit Number One and Suit Number Two. Everywhere she went, they followed. No, not followed. One led, one followed, and she was sandwiched in the middle of her particular hell.

  “Is there a specific reason,” Kat asked as she made sure her voice was all nice and easy and polite, “why we are sneaking into this building after midnight? I mean, call me crazy, but I figure normal business hours are probably more like nine to five.”

  No smile from either man. No response. They were driving her insane.

  So maybe they were still mad at her. Was it really her fault that things had gone down so poorly earlier that day? She didn’t think so. Well…maybe.

  Suit Number One opened an office door for her. He had a name. Bryan. Bryan Brisk. Suit Two had a name, too. Tom Wayne. Special Agents with the FBI, both of them. Men with badges and guns and zero sense of fun.

  “There’s been a change of plans,” Agent Bryan Brisk announced as he stood next to that open door. “Your protection detail is changing.”

  Changing? Her heart kicked with a fast lick of excitement.

  “You like rule breaking,” Bryan added in that slightly uptight New York accent of his. “Then we’ll give you someone who can make sure you stay in line.”

  She smiled at him. “You are mad. You said you weren’t, but you lied. I can tell. You’re angry.” Kat could feel Tom Wayne practically breathing down her neck. Someone really needed to learn the concept of personal space. She turned toward Tom and shooed him back. Space, she mouthed.

  His eyes narrowed. She winked. Then focused on Bryan once more.

  Bryan was thin and tall, with hair that she knew he had to get salon lightened to that particular blond shade. His teeth were almost too white, and she was pretty sure by-the-book was his catchphrase. He never smiled. He never cracked a joke. And she was fairly certain she’d almost given him a heart attack earlier that day.

  “Bryan…” She sighed his name and put her hand on his shoulder. For the moment, she ignored the open office door and anyone who might be waiting inside for her. “I just needed a walk.”

  “You were gone for two hours.”

  “It was a long walk. And I found a bakery. What did you want me to do? Not eat the brownies?” Talk about a crime.

  A little muscle under Bryan’s left eye twitched. “You’re under federal protection. You are not supposed to go out and eat brownies. You are not supposed to disappear for hours at a time—”

  “Two hours, only two.”

  “Your life is in danger, but you act as if everything is a freaking joke to you.”

  No, it wasn’t a joke. Nothing about her life had ever been a joke. If only. Her chin notched up. “I don’t like the tone, Bryan. Not at all.” Kat sighed. “And just when I thought we were starting to be friends.”

  “Friends?” Bryan seemed to strangle on the word.

  “I brought you a brownie back, didn’t I?” Talk about ungrateful. She’d brought them both brownies.

  Bryan’s mouth opened. Closed. He was going to say something but she’d just caught movement beyond the open door. Because she didn’t want to deal with Bryan right then—the jerk has no idea who I am or what I think is a damn joke, he hasn’t lived my life and seen the shit that I have—Kat rolled back her shoulders and strolled inside. She was wearing two-inch heels. Expensive and stylish, just like the rest of her outfit. The slacks and black cashmere sweater had been carefully selected from a boutique in Paris. The pearl necklace she wore had belonged to her mother, a woman who had always looked and acted like perfection.

  A woman very different from Kat.

  When she entered the office, silence reigned.

  Wilde Securities. She’d noticed the name of the company. Located at the tip top of the Atlanta high-rise, Kat figured she had to be in the big boss’s office. And…bingo. That had to be the big boss sitting behind the desk. Young and handsome, with his face carefully expressionless…she was sure that was the guy her suits were there to meet.

  But Kat’s gaze was drawn away from the big boss and over to the other man. To the guy who stood back, hanging near the large floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the city. The mystery man was huge, tall and muscled, and his arms were folded over his massive chest. He wore jeans and a black t-shirt, one that looked like it was going to lose the battle against his muscles. A battered leather jacket was on the chair near him. The guy’s dark hair was too long. A beard covered his hard jaw, and his dark eyes were pinned right on her.

  Yum.

  No, no, that was not the response she should have. He wasn’t sexy—not typically sexy, anyway, like the fellow sitting all snug and safe behind the desk. The big bruiser she was currently locking eyes with—he just emitted a kind of raw power that pulled at her senses. That made her want to get a little closer.

  So she did.

  She headed straight for him. As she closed in, Kat was sure those powerful shoulders of his stiffened. Hello, new toy. She extended her hand toward him. “Hi, there.” She made sure her smile stretched. “I’m Kat.”

  He looked at her hand. Looked at her. Didn’t take it.

  She wiggled her fingers.

  He shook his head.

  And she liked him even more.

  “We can shake later.” Obviously, there would be a later. She tipped back her head and enjoyed staring up at him. She stood at five-foot-eight, and with her heels, she had some nice, extra inches. But this mystery man was way taller, and she liked that about him.

  If only they had met under different circumstances. The kind of circumstances that didn’t get a person killed.

  I know I’m living on borrowed time. Seven days. That’s all I have left. If that. When a woman was facing off against the grim reaper, she tended to get a little desperate.

  Kat was way past the little part, and into full-on a lot land.

  “Ah, excuse me.”

  Her head turned.

  The boss behind the desk had stood. He motioned to the chairs near him. “Why don’t we all g
et seated so we can discuss this case?”

  This case…he meant her. She was the case.

  Taking her time, Kat headed for one of the offered chairs. Surprise, surprise, Suit Number One took the seat to her left. Suit Number Two got the one to her right. Then they pulled their chairs even closer to her. She shot them a disgruntled look. Did they really think she was going to try running right then? No.

  She’d wait until after the little meet-and-greet to make her escape. She settled herself in, crossed her legs, folded her hands in her lap, and got ready to do what she did best—play the game.

  She’d been playing this particular game her entire life. A little game she liked to call…

  Trust no one and keep your ass alive.

  She thought the title was rather catchy.

  ***

  The woman was too damn beautiful.

  Rick Williams didn’t move from his position near the windows. He kept his arms crossed over his chest, kept his eyes on his target, and tried to act like his heart wasn’t doing a freaking triple-time rhythm in his chest. When she’d walked into the room, when she’d glanced at Eric, dismissed him, then turned her gorgeous, emerald gaze on Rick…

  I forgot my own name for a minute.

  Absolute perfection. That’s what she was. From the top of her dark hair—a long, thick mass that cascaded over her shoulders—down her curving body. God, those curves…

  Her feet were sexy as hell in her heels. She didn’t swing her feet though. Didn’t move at all as she sat statue-still in the chair. Her face showed mild curiosity. What a face. Creamy skin. Cat eyes that had been accentuated by dark shadow. High, arching brows. Blood red lips. A cute little mole near her mouth and—

  “Why am I here, exactly?” Her voice was husky and warm, sensual, and designed to take a man straight to his knees. “I thought I already had protection.” Her gaze darted to the two men who sat beside her. Way too close to her, in Rick’s opinion.

  It was the blond guy who cleared his throat and responded to her question. “The federal government believes that your protection detail needs to be enhanced.”

  She nodded. “Oh, you mean…because someone broke into my hotel room today and littered it with bullets? And if I hadn’t just happened to be out on my brownie run, I would have been slaughtered in my bed? Is that why you think my detail needs to be enhanced?”

  Her voice stayed cool and calm the whole time, but Rick—he felt anything but cool. The idea of someone shooting at her enraged him.

  And what the hell did she mean about a brownie run?

  Before anyone could speak, she gave another nod. “Yes, I do agree…some enhancement is required.” She turned her head toward Rick. Winked at him. “I’m guessing you’re the man for the job.”

  If he hadn’t been standing in front of the window, he would’ve looked over his shoulder to see if she’d just winked at someone else. Because women who looked like her didn’t normally flirt with guys who looked like him. Women like her were supposed to go for the jerk suits next to her. Those perfectly dressed guys with their capped teeth and their styled hair. The woman sitting so poised in that chair oozed money and charm, and she was supposed to stick with the fancy boys.

  Not go slumming it with him.

  But then again…if the stories about her were true…

  Eric cleared his throat. “Ms. O’Shaughnessy…my name is Eric Wilde, and you’re in my security company.”

  “We don’t need to be formal. My name’s Kathleen—”

  “Kathleen—”

  “But I go by Kat. Feel free to call me that.” Her gaze slid back to Rick. “You can call me that, too.”

  He didn’t move.

  Her smile stretched. “And what’s your name?”

  Rick didn’t respond.

  He could’ve sworn that her eyes actually danced with glee. She licked her lower lip and murmured, “I do love the strong, silent type.”

  “Kat,” the blond next to her said her name with a rush of annoyance. He reached out and curved a hand warningly around her wrist.

  Rick growled.

  He didn’t mean to growl. Normally, he was a bit more civilized than that. A bit. But he didn’t like the jerk’s tone. And he liked it even less that the fellow had his hand on Kat.

  The tension in the room seemed to thicken. Eric swiveled his head toward Rick and frowned.

  The two stiffs in their suits also turned their attention to Rick. The blond kept his hold on Kat’s wrist.

  “Remove it,” Rick ordered.

  Kat’s brows lifted.

  The blond didn’t obey the order.

  Anger twisted inside of Rick. Unexpected. Unwelcome. He took a quick step forward—

  “Remove the hand, Bryan,” Kat instructed. “Do it now.”

  Bryan removed the hand.

  Kat kept staring at Rick. “I like your voice. It’s deep and rumbly and—”

  “It reminds you of a freaking grizzly bear,” Rick rumbled, dammit. “I’ve been told that before.”

  She blinked. “No. I wasn’t going to say grizzly bear.” She gave a little wince. “Bears don’t talk. I don’t know who told you that they did, but that person was lying.”

  He would not smile at her.

  “But I do find your voice very sexy.”

  The redheaded agent sighed. “Here we go…Mind games, twelve o’clock.”

  “Ahem.” Eric slapped his hands down on his desk, obviously ready to take control of the situation. “Agent Brisk, why don’t we get focused on the matter at hand?” He glanced pointedly at his watch. “I have a family at home, and I don’t particularly enjoy leaving them in the middle of the night.”

  “I understand you saw us as a favor to my boss,” Bryan Brisk began. “And I appreciate your time. And your discretion.”

  “Discretion is of the upmost importance with this case.” The redheaded agent leaned forward. Tom Wayne. Rick had been briefed on both men before they’d walked inside with Kathleen—Kat—between them.

  Bryan tapped his fingers on the edge of Eric’s desk. “I’m assuming you gentlemen know who she is.”

  Because he was watching Kat, Rick saw her shoulders stiffen right before she announced, “She has already introduced herself to everyone, so, of course, these two fellows know who I am.” Her head swiveled toward Bryan. “Do keep up.”

  Oh, she didn’t like that fellow. Obviously. There had been enough bite in her voice to leave a mark.

  Rick decided to edge closer. Not just because he wanted to catch her scent again. Though he was pretty sure she’d smelled like rich vanilla when she’d stood in front of him. As he approached her, Kat’s attention shifted to him. He rather liked having her eyes on him and not on Agent Bryan Brisk. Staring into her eyes, Rick said, “Everyone on the East Coast knows who Kathleen O’Shaughnessy is.”

  Her lips curved. Her gaze remained steady on him. “Are you a fan?” A little flutter of her insanely long lashes. “I have to confess, I have gotten a few stalkers now that the world knows who I am…”

  “A mafia princess,” Rick drawled. He was tired of her perfect facade. He wanted to push until the porcelain broke, and he saw the real woman. “A beauty queen raised in the middle of drugs, sex, and violence.”

  Her smile didn’t waver. Neither did her gaze.

  So he kept talking. And closing in. “The only child of Antonio O’Shaughnessy. Protected and pampered your whole life, you lived rich and high on your daddy’s blood money. But dear old dad was gunned down last year, and now your house of cards has crashed.”

  She looked away. Focused on Agent Brisk. “He doesn’t like me.”

  Rick stilled. Had her voice trembled? Surely not.

  “Bryan, why are we here if you’re just going to make me talk to a jerk who doesn’t like me?”

  “Ahem.” Rick cleared his throat and waited for her incredible eyes to come back to him. When they did—

  Shit, what was I saying?

  She looked expectantl
y at him.

  Eric’s chair squeaked as the wheels rolled back, and he stood. “You’re here,” Eric pointed out, “because Uncle Sam called in one big-ass favor from me. Ms. O’Shaughnessy, it seems you keep dodging the federal agents who are supposed to be keeping you safe as part of the Witness Protection Program. Since you won’t play by the rules, you’re getting your very own twenty-four, seven civilian guard.”

  She held up one delicate hand—one delicate finger. “We should be clear on a few things. One, I’m not in Witness Protection. Not yet. See, I only get that golden pass after I testify in court. That’s why the two escorts I have tonight are FBI agents and not U.S. marshals.” Another finger lifted. “Two, I don’t remember requesting my ‘very own twenty-four, seven civilian guard’ but I do thank you very much for the offer.”

  Rick leaned one hip against the side of Eric’s desk and glowered down at her. This job was going to be such a pain in his ass. Call him psychic, but he could already tell. “It’s not an offer, sweetheart. It’s a done deal.”

  Her delicate nostrils flared. “Are we dating?”

  Rick blinked. “Uh…”

  “Dating? Fucking? Hooking up every now and then for a quickie in the dark?”

  The images that popped into his head…

  Yes, please.

  “We’re not,” she said, while every muscle in his body tightened. “So drop the endearments. Unless you want to be sweet cheeks.”

  Yeah, this job was going to be a major pain in his ass. “Do I look sweet?”

  Her cute little pink tongue swiped over her lower lip. “Sweet enough to eat.”

  His jeans were too damn tight.

  “Stop messing with him,” Bryan groused as he leaned toward Kat. “He hasn’t even started the job yet, and you’re trying to scare him off.”

  “I don’t scare off easily.” The agent was too close to her again. “Where the hell were you, buddy, when her hotel room got shot to hell and back?”

  Bryan shook his head. “What?”

  “Her hotel room.” Rick rolled one hand in the air. “My boss Eric here…he said your boss called him because you’re doing a piss poor job of keeping Kat safe. She was almost killed tonight, and the FBI can’t afford to lose her.” And he had a really bad feeling in the pit of his stomach about why the FBI was going to a civilian contractor instead of continuing to use one of their own…

 
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