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Making Your Story Believable by Kat Martin

May 29, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Guest Posts tagged as , , , , , ,

Over the years, I’ve found one of the best ways to make your story believable is to use real places to locate the action and real names of restaurants and streets. Actually going there, of course, is the best way to make that happen. 

In my new novella, COME MIDNIGHT, Breanna Winters, seated on an airliner next to a good-looking man in an expensive suit, finds herself kidnapped by Honduran terrorists.  She doesn’t expect Derek Stiles, a corporate executive, to put his life at risk by volunteering to go along when Bree is dragged from the plane and marched into the jungle.

Unfortunately, I have never been to the jungle in Honduras or any jungle for that matter, aside from a brief visit to a tropical rain forest in Brazil and a stop in Belize. 

So for this story, I didn’t go to Honduras, but I did do extensive research, and it wasn’t the first time.  Beginning with with an old historical, SAVANNAH HEAT, set in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and more recently, THE CONSPIRACY, which travels from the Caribbean to Columbia, I’ve learned a lot about life in the jungle—and it is far from easy.

In the novella, the good news is Derek Stiles is a former Navy fighter pilot with extensive survival training who has spent time in the jungle before. Still, it’s soon clear they’ll need to depend on each other if they’re going to survive.

I hope you will give COME MIDNIGHT a try and that you will look for Derek again in my full-length novel, THE PERFECT MURDER, out June 22nd, the last book in my Maximum Security Series

Till next time, all best wishes and happy reading, Kat


New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.


Excerpt

Come Midnight

Kat Martin

The sound of a baby’s high-pitched, incessant crying put his teeth on edge. Derek Stiles forced himself to relax as he settled back in his wide business class seat. The airplane engines hummed outside the window, dulling the noise a little, but the crying only grew louder.

Derek silently cursed. His trip to Colombia had already gotten off to a rocky start when a meeting in the Houston office of Garrett Resources, where he worked as VP of Mergers and Acquisitions, ran overtime and he’d missed his non-stop flight. Now he’d be landing in El Salvador, laying over a couple of hours before changing planes and continuing on to Bogota, not getting to his hotel until well after dark.

He pulled out his laptop and set it on the fold-down table in front of him. He usually worked on a flight. He always had plenty to do, but he’d been staying up late every night so he also needed some sleep. It was important to be at the top of his game first thing in the morning.

The baby’s cries grew louder and his nerves revved up. He hadn’t really noticed the woman sitting in the seat beside him until she stood up and turned toward mother and child in the row behind him. 

She jangled her car keys over the back of the seat and smiled. “Look, baby. Look at these. I bet you’d like to play with these, wouldn’t you?” The baby’s crying slowed, turned to whimpers, then sniffles, then stopped altogether. Glancing over his shoulder, Derek watched a little girl bundled in pink, maybe a year old, reach up for the car keys.

“I never thought of that,” the mother said, sounding desperate and making him feel guilty. He didn’t have kids but he could imagine how tough it would be to take a child on an international flight.

The mom, a black-haired woman in her mid-twenties, took out her own set of keys and held them up, but the baby ignored them, fascinated by the glittering heart on the end of the other keychain dangling in front of her.

“I hate to ask you this,” the mother said, “but is it all right if Sophie plays with your keys for a while?”

“Absolutely,” his seatmate said. She was pretty, he realized, with long blond hair and big blue eyes. A little above average height, slender but curvy in all the right places. “Once we’re in the air,” she continued, “if you want me to hold her, give you a little break, I’d be happy to.”

The mother’s smile held relief mixed with gratitude. “I might just take you up on that. My name is Carmen, by the way.”

“Breanna.” Her smile went even brighter and Derek felt an unexpected kick. He was usually able to leave his libido behind when he was away on business. 

“You have a darling baby,” Breanna said.

Carmen smiled. “Thank you.”

The flight attendant urged Breanna to sit back down so the flight could get underway, and the engines roared, preparing for take-off.

“So I guess you’re a mom,” Derek heard himself saying, though he made it a habit not to talk on a flight. He always had too much to do.

Breanna shifted toward him. “I’d love to have children someday, but I’m not a mother yet. I work with kids so I know a few tricks.”

“What kind of work do you do?”

“I’m with a non-profit called Shelter the Children. Abrego Los Ninos in Spanish. We support an orphanage in a little village outside San Salvador. That’s where I’m headed.”  

He smiled and held out a hand. “Derek Stiles.  I know your name is Breanna.”

“Yes. Everyone just calls me Bree.”

They were an hour out of San Salvador International Airport when Derek noticed a commotion at the rear of the cabin.

Then the curtain behind the business class section jerked open and a lean, black-haired man stood in the aisle. Derek’s blood ran cold when he noticed the assault rifle strapped across the intruder’s chest.


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Read The Ultimate Betrayal by Kat Martin

January 4, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Spotlight tagged as , , ,

Excerpt

The Ultimate Betrayal

Kat Martin

She yawned as she closed the door, more exhausted than she had expected. She fell asleep quickly and slept far better than she had the night before, then rose at the first gray light of dawn.  She went in to shower and get ready for the day, dressed in a conservative dark brown skirt suit and heeled pumps, then quietly cracked open the door to the living room.

Bran was already up, standing with his back to her, one hand on his hip, the other pressing his cell phone against his ear.  A pair of white cotton briefs that hugged his round behind was all he had on. 

Jessie’s mouth went dry.  His suntanned back was smooth, except for a jagged scar on one side, and ridged with solid muscle.  Bands of muscle defined his shoulders and arms, and long sinewy legs tapered down to narrow feet. 

She told herself to close the door before Bran caught her staring at him like a juicy piece of meat, but instead she just stood there, her heart pounding, her breathing a little ragged. 

She was just pulling herself under control when he turned, the phone still pressed to his ear.  Jessie froze.  Her gaze shot to the heavy bulge at the front of his briefs and she felt a rush of heat so hot it made her dizzy.  Muscular pecs and six-pack abs.  A lean, hard-muscled chest and amazing biceps.  Desire hit her so hard she swayed on her feet.

She didn’t move till Bran jerked the blanket off his make-shift bed and wrapped it around his waist, knocking her out of her self-imposed trance and flushing her face with embarrassment.

“Sorry,” she managed to breathlessly whisper, stepped back and slammed the door.  Ohmygod, ohmygod.  She hadn’t felt the least attraction to a man for so long she’d forgotten what it was like.  Correction, she had never felt the jolt of desire she had felt looking at Brandon Garrett.  Ohmygod.

She told herself he was probably used to that kind of reaction from a woman, or at least the women who had seen him nearly naked.  Jessie sank down on the bed.  What could she possibly say to him?  How could she explain? 

But no words of explanation popped into her head. 

Since she couldn’t hide in the bedroom all day, and because Bran undoubtedly wanted to take a shower, she inhaled a deep breath, opened the door, and walked out into the living room.

“Sorry about that,” she said. 

He had pulled on his jeans but the rest of him was still gloriously bare.  “No problem.  I should have grabbed one of those terrycloth robes in the bathroom.”

She just nodded.  “Yeah.”  Her fingers curled into the palms of her hands as she walked past him toward the counter where he had brewed a pot of coffee.

“Mind if I use the shower?” he asked.

“Of course not.  You’re paying for the room.”  When he opened his mouth, she held up a hand.  “Sorry, no more talk about money.” 

“Exactly.”

She took a mug down from the cabinet above the sink and filled it with coffee, her hands still a bit unsteady.

“Why don’t you order us something to eat?” Bran suggested as he crossed the room toward the bedroom.  “I won’t be too long.”

“Bacon and eggs?” she asked.

“Sounds great.”  As he disappeared through the door and closed it behind him, Jessie sank down on one of the chairs at the dining table, coffee mug gripped tightly in her hands.  At least now she knew the abduction hadn’t completely destroyed her desire for the opposite sex.

Or at least one member of the opposite sex.  She grimaced.  She just wished the man who had rekindled her long-dead fire wasn’t Brandon Garrett.

Bran turned on the shower, set the nozzle to cold, and climbed in beneath the icy spray.  He clenched his jaw, fighting to block a memory of the look on Jessie’s pretty face when he had spotted her in the bedroom doorway.  Trying to block the erection he got every time the image reappeared in his head. 

Bran knew women.  He knew when a woman wanted him.  He swore softly, cursing the fate that had brought the two of them together, putting them both in a situation that could only get worse. 

So far he had managed to suppress the desire he’d felt from the moment Jessie had walked into his office.  With her fire-touched blond hair and fine features, she was beautiful.  He liked her body and admired her brain.  In a softly feminine way, she was sexy as hell, and he wanted her–no doubt about it. 

But aside from the erotic dream he’d had about her last night, he’d been doing an admirable job of controlling his lust.

Until this morning.  When the flush in her cheeks and the heat in her eyes had made it clear that the desire he felt was returned.  She wanted him.  Which meant he had to be the strong one because no way could he have her and just walk away. 

Jessie wasn’t the type he usually slept with, women who didn’t require exclusivity and didn’t expect to give it in return. 

He was fairly sure Jessie hadn’t been with a man since she was abducted.  He sure as hell didn’t want to be the first, didn’t want to deal with whatever trauma she had experienced, maybe make it worse.


Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.  Kat’s latest novel, THE ULTIMATE  BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, was released in paperback December 29th.


The Ultimate Betrayal

THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL
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Story Ideas by Kat Martin

December 17, 2020 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
woman using a typewriter with crumpled up paper around her and a cup of coffee next to her. Title of the post Story Ideas and author Kat Martin are place over the image.

People often ask how I come up with ideas for my novels.  Sometimes I have no answer—it just seems to pop into my head.  Best guess, the kernel of an idea probably came from a newspaper or magazine article or something I saw in a movie.  It was probably just so far back I don’t recall.

Before I started to write THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, Brandon Garrett’s story, the third book in my Maximum Security Series, I had decided to set a book in Colorado, maybe even a new series.  I ran across an article about the Army Chemical Weapons Depot near Fort Carson and started thinking…  wouldn’t it make be interesting if someone stole chemical weapons from the depot?  I wonder if it could be done?  How would the good guys catch the thieves?  And so off I went on a story that turned into The Ultimate Betrayal

Having written over 70 novels since I began way back when, it’s harder and harder to come up with fresh ideas.  I do a lot of research for my books.  This novel, set around a military base, was particularly difficult.  Lots of stuff I didn’t know.

In the story, when investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, Jessie is determined to clear his name.  Reluctantly, she turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett, her late brother’s best friend–a true heartbreaker, according to her brother. 

With danger coming from every angle, time is running out and the game being played is deadly.  Working together, Bran and Jessie must risk everything to solve the riddle and confront the threat–before it’s too late.

I hope you’ll give THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL a try and if you like Bran and Jessie as much as I did, you can also find them in THE CONSPIRACY, Maximum Security book #1 and THE DECEPTION, book #2.

Till next time, happy reading and all best, Kat 


THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

Kat Martin

When investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, Jessie is determined to clear his name.  Reluctantly, she turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett, her late brother’s best friend—a true heartbreaker, according to her brother.

With danger coming from every angle, time is running out and the game being played is deadly.  Working together, Bran and Jessie must risk everything to solve the riddle and confront the threat—before it’s too late.

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Kat Martin Bio

Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.  Kat’s latest novel, THE ULTIMATE  BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, will be released in paperback December 29th.


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The Ultimate Betrayal

August 16, 2020 by in category Spotlight tagged as , , , ,

Excerpt

by
Kat Martin


“Who hired you and Digger to kill Jessie Kegan?”


Petrov shook his head. “We didn’t have to kill her. We just had to convince her to quit sticking her nose into other people’s business.”

“And if you couldn’t convince her?”


Petrov shrugged his thick shoulders. “Then we’d have to do something that would.” He was built like a bull, and with that pale, scraggly beard, he was ugly.


“What? Like make her dead?” Bran pressed.


Petrov didn’t answer, just gave another shrug as if killing her was no big deal. Jessie shivered. She gasped when Bran drew back his fist and punched Petrov hard in the face, sending a spray of blood into the air and his body flying backward into the dirt.


“Bran, stop!” Jessie grabbed his bicep, which was bunched hard as steel, ready to deliver another brutal blow.

He shook his head, fighting for control. “He’s lucky I don’t kill him.” Instead, he jerked Petrov upright. “I need a name. Who hired you?


Petrov spit out a wad of blood. “Weaver. That’s his name. Just Weaver.”

“How do I find him?”


More blood trickled from Petrov’s nose. The way it was swelling, by tomorrow, both eyes would be black.

“I don’t know. He phones us on a burner, tells us what he needs, we call him back after the job’s done. Weaver tells us where to pick up our money. That’s the way it works.”


Bran swore foully. “What’s going to happen when Weaver finds out you didn’t finish the job?”


Petrov grimaced. “He ain’t gonna like it, that’s for sure.”


“Then I’d strongly suggest the first chance you get, you and your buddy leave town. I’ve got friends on the base. I’ll be texting them your photos. You don’t leave, I’ll know and you’ll be dealing with me instead of your buddy, Weaver. You won’t have a second chance to walk away.”


Petrov stared up at him. Jessie knew Bran was talking about soldiers in the 10th Special Forces stationed at Fort Carson, where he had friends.


“You understand what I’m saying?”

Petrov swallowed and nodded.


Bran turned to Jessie. “Time to go.”


“What about them? We can’t just leave them out here. They could die of exposure.”


“We’ll call the sheriff once we’re on the road.”


“I thought you were letting us go,” Petrov complained.


“You’re lucky your still alive.” Bran closed Jessie’s car door, rounded the hood, and slid in behind the wheel.


“Maybe we should call the MPs instead of the sheriff,” she suggested as the engine roared to life. “Since it involves a CID investigation.”


Bran shook his head. “These guys aren’t active duty, plus we don’t know who we can trust on the base.”


Unfortunately, that was true. Her dad had been murdered on the base. The military was somehow involved.


As soon as the SUV reached the highway, Bran called 9-1-1 and anonymously reported that two men had assaulted him and were now tied up in an empty field. He gave the location using GPS coordinates.


“Sheriff will be there in ten,” he said, ending the call. “We need to be long gone by then.” He punched the gas and the Expedition picked up speed, heading back to Colorado Springs, forty miles away, and their motel.


“What will the sheriff do to them?” Jessie asked.


“For starters, they’re probably driving with a stolen license plate. There’s also a good chance there’ll be warrants out for them. Guys like that…could be anything from a speeding ticket to a felony. Might get them locked up for a while.”


There were few cars on the back road Bran was driving toward town. The wind had picked up, blowing dust and dry leaves into the air. The night was dead black, no moon no stars. Jessie shivered, though it was warm in the SUV.


She thought of the men who’d come after them. “Once they’re released, do you think they’ll actually leave town?”


“I’d say chances are better than good. Men like that go after the easy money.” He cast her glance that held a trace of arrogance. “Turned out getting to you wasn’t as easy as they thought.”


She almost smiled. No, not nearly as easy with Bran Garrett acting as her bodyguard.


“I’ll text those photos to a couple of SF guys I know, have them spread the word to their buddies, keep a lookout, give me a heads-up if anyone spots them.”


She nodded. At least they might get some kind of warning if the two men stayed in the area.


Silence began to stretch between them. Neither of them spoke until town drew near and Bran’s gaze slid back to her.


“You okay?”


Was she okay? Men had been hired to stop her–one way or another–from finding out what had happened to the stolen munitions and clearing her father’s name. Since she had no intention of quitting, no, she wasn’t okay. But she didn’t say that.


“I will be. Once we clear my father’s name.”


“Be smarter to quit before things get worse.”


“You think they will?”


“Good chance they will.”


She fixed him with a stare. “You sticking?”


His mouth faintly curved. “If you are.”


As Jessie settled back in the seat, she found herself smiling. “Glad that’s settled.”


Bran just shook his head. “Well, you sure as hell aren’t boring.” He flashed one of his devastating grins. “Can’t remember when I’ve had a better time with a lady.”


Jessie scoffed. “Not counting sex,” she said dryly.


His look turned scorching the instant before he glanced away. “Yeah,” he said. “Not counting sex.”


Jessie’s whole body went warm, and in that moment she made a decision.
She decided she was going to seduce him.



THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL
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Other Books by Kat Martin

Kat Martin

Bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, in Missoula, Montana, Kat has written sixty eight Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels.  More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Her last novel, INTO THE FIRESTORM, took the #7 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list.  This will be the 15th novel in a row to be included on that prestigious list.  Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.

BEYOND CONTROL

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BEYOND CONTROL

BEYOND DANGER

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BEYOND DANGER

BEYOND REASON

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BEYOND REASON

COME MIDNIGHT

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COME MIDNIGHT

PIVOT

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PIVOT

SHADOWS AT DAWN

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SHADOWS AT DAWN

THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

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THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

THE CONSPIRACY

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THE CONSPIRACY

THE DECEPTION

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THE DECEPTION

WAIT UNTIL DARK

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WAIT UNTIL DARK
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Setting the Stage by Kat Martin

July 28, 2020 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , , , ,
Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange
Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura Country Star

Today’s Guest Author is Kat Martin. We hope you enjoy her post on Setting the Stage and the excerpt from her next romantic suspense novel, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL


New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.


Setting the Stage

I love to read novels set in interesting places. Currently I’m reading an historical romance that takes place in Nazi-occupied Paris during WWII. I’ve always loved Paris, which makes the book even more fun to read. Being able recognize the settings where the action takes place, as well as the names of restaurants and streets I have visited.


As a writer, going to the place your book is set, or choosing a place you have actually been, is the best way to make your book seem real.


In THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, the novel takes place in Colorado, a state I love to visit. After I’d concluded my second Maximum Security novel, THE DECEPTION, which was set in Texas, I was looking for someplace different for book number three. Colorado, with its wide variety of landscapes and extreme climate conditions seemed perfect.


Having been to Denver a number of times, street names were familiar, parks and airports, locations of smaller towns and rural mountain communities.


Since this was a Maximum Security novel, a romantic thriller, I began by researching crime in the state. I had digging and digging and finally stumbled onto an article about the U.S. Army chemical weapons depot near Colorado Springs. As Brandon Garrett, the hero of my story, was a former army officer, I loved the idea of Bran interacting with his military past.


The idea of stealing chemical weapons from a storage depot gave me all sorts of plot ideas. In THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, when investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, she’s determined to clear his name. Afraid for her life, Jessie turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett. But time is running out and the game being played is deadly. Working together, Bran and Jessie risk everything to solve the riddle and stop the threat–before it’s too late.


Because of the military setting, this was one of the hardest books I’ve ever written. I think it turned out to be one of my best. I particularly love the interaction between Bran and Jessie and I hope readers will, too.


I hope you’ll watch for THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL and that you enjoy Bran and Jessie’s story. Till next time, all best wishes and happy reading, Kat


The Ultimate Betrayal
by
Kat Martin
Excerpt

Too much downtime always made him nervous, kind of edgy as he waited for the other shoe to drop. It had been a week since his last client had headed back to Nashville, a week of peace and quiet he should have enjoyed.


Instead, he had this nagging feeling that something bad was coming down the line.


Lounging back in the chair behind his desk at Maximum Security, Brandon Garrett looked up at the sound of the front door swinging open. A gust of cool, late October winds swept in, along with a petite, whirlwind of a woman with the prettiest strawberry blond hair Bran had ever seen.
She had a sweet little body to match her fiery curls, he noticed, outlined by the dark blue stretch jeans curving over her sexy little ass and the peach knit top that hugged her breasts.


It wasn’t tough to read the anxiety in her big green eyes as she surveyed the room, but instead of heading for the receptionist’s desk, those big green eyes landed on Bran and as she started toward him, there was something about her that rang a distant bell. Interest piqued, he rose from his chair. “Can I help you?”

“You’re Brandon Garrett, right? You were a friend of my brother’s. Danny Kegan? I recognize you from the photos Danny sent home.”


The mention of his best friend’s name hit him like a blow, and the muscles across his stomach clenched. Daniel Kegan had been a member of his spec ops team, a brother, not just a friend. Danny had saved Bran’s life at the cost of his own. He was KIA in Afghanistan.


Bran stared down at the girl, who was maybe five-foot-four. “You’re Jessie,” he said, remembering the younger sister Daniel Kegan had talked so much about. “You look like him. Same color hair and eyes.”

She nervously wet her lips, which were plump and pink and fit her delicate features perfectly.


“My brother said if I ever needed help, I should come to you. He said you’d help me no matter what.” She glanced back toward the door and his mind shifted away from the physical jolt he felt as he looked at her to the worry in her eyes.


“I’ll help you. Danny was my closest friend. Whatever you need, I’ll help. Come on. Let’s go into the conference room and you can tell me what’s going on.” When her gaze shot back to the door, his senses went on alert.


“I didn’t mean I needed your help later,” Jessie said nervously. “I meant I need your help right now.”


Gunshots exploded through the windows. “Get down!” Bran shouted to the other guys in the office as he shoved Jessie down behind his desk and covered her with his body. Glass shattered and a stream of bullets sprayed across the room.


Jaxon Ryker popped up, gun drawn, and ran for the door. Hawk Maddox and Lissa Blayne were shuffling through their desks, arming themselves. Jonas Wolfe drew his ankle gun and ran for the rear entrance, ready for any threat that might come from there.


“Black SUV with tinted windows,” Ryker reported. Six feet of solid muscle, dark hair and eyes, Jax was a former Navy SEAL, currently a PI and occasional bounty hunter. “Couldn’t get a plate number.” Jax’s gaze swung to the front of the room. “Mindy, you okay?”


The little receptionist eased up from beneath her desk. “I-I’m okay. Should I call the police?” Around here, it was never good to jump to conclusions.

Bran hauled Jessie to her feet. He could feel her trembling. Her eyes looked even bigger and greener than they had before. “Are they coming back?” he asked.

“I-I don’t know. It could have just been a warning.”


Bran turned to Mindy. “Unless someone’s already phoned it in, let’s wait to call the cops till we know what’s going on.” His attention returned to Jessie. “We need to talk.”


She just nodded. Her face had gone pale, making a fine line of freckles stand out across her forehead and the bridge of her nose.

Bran took her arm and urged her toward the conference room. “Keep a sharp eye,” he said to The Max crew. “Just in case.”

Jessie sank unsteadily down in one of the rolling chairs around the long oak conference table. The man she had come to see, Brandon Garrett, sat down beside her.


“Okay, let’s hear it,” he said. “What’s going on?”

She thought of the men who had just shot up his office and her pulse started thumping again. “Danny said if I ever needed help–”


“Yeah, I get that. Your brother knew he could count on me. Like I said, I’ll help you any way I can, but I need to know what’s going on.”


Bran was taller than Danny, around six-three, with a soldier’s lean, hard body, vee-shaped, with broad shoulders and narrow hips. Powerful biceps bulged beneath the sleeve of his dark blue T-shirt. With his slightly too-long mink brown hair, straight nose and masculine features, he was ridiculously handsome, except for the hard line of his jaw and the darkness in his eyes that contrasted sharply with their beautiful shade of cobalt blue.


“Start at the beginning,” he demanded.


Since she wasn’t sure exactly where to begin, Jessie dragged in a shaky breath and slowly released it.


“I’m here because of my father–Colonel James Kegan, Commander U.S. Army Alamo Chemical Depot. Just before he died a little over two months ago, my father was removed from active duty. He was charged with larceny–specifically the theft of chemical weapons stored at the Depot. Because the Army believed he was selling the weapons to a foreign entity, he was also charged with espionage and treason. I need you to help me prove his innocence.”


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