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A standard witness protection mission goes wrong, thrusting Matt Savage and his target, a wise-cracking hooker named Vixen LaFleur, into a fight for their lives. But flying bullets and lurking villains are not nearly as dangerous as risking the heart. Against his will, Matt is attracted to the dauntless, exasperating woman he’s supposed to be protecting, but she is harboring a secret. One that could heal his wounded soul, or crush it.
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He and Vixen arrived at the cabin first, which was annoying because Ace and Coop were supposed to have arrived first to clear the area, and also because he was damn tired of being alone with her—gum popping and all. So, after he cleared the interior of the cabin and before he carried her luggage and the groceries into the place, he told her to sit tight while he did a perimeter check.
To his annoyance, when he glanced back at the cabin, she was watching him through the window. Clearly visible. Hell, her shiny blonde curls were like a beacon in the gloom.
She might as well be wearing a target and singing an aria.
He stormed back onto the porch, threw open the door and bellowed, “Are you crazy?”
For some reason, his totally logical question seemed to surprise her. Those doe-like eyes widened and her lips parted. It took some effort, but he ignored all that and focused on her response. “What?”
“Jesus Christ, woman.” He stomped over to the window and yanked the curtains closed. “You know someone wants to kill you. You know the area hasn’t been checked. Why on earth would you stand there in full view?”
For some reason, his fury lit the fuse on hers. Her eyes narrowed and her fingers closed into fists. “How dare you yell at me for that?”
“I’m not yelling.” More like a howl.
She marched over to him and confronted him, toe to toe, nose to nose. Or nose to chest. She was short, after all. “It’s your fucking job to keep me safe. If you need me to do or not do something, you have to tell me. I’m not a fucking psychic.”
“Okay, missy. How’s this for clear direction? Keep the fuck out of sight. At least until we are sure the area is safe. And hell, even then. In fact, just go to your room and stay there.”
“Fuck you, Jarhead.”
“I already fucking told you, I was not a fucking Marine.” He didn’t know why he was letting her get the better of him. He never lost his temper, and he never spewed profanities like this…but her attitude was fucking pissing him off.
He wanted to turn her over his knee and wallop her bottom—
It scalded him, the sudden lust that blazed through his veins.
And suddenly, he lost the reins.
Though he knew better, though he knew he shouldn’t, though he knew it was insane, he grabbed her shoulders, yanked her against him and kissed her.
It was savage and harsh. A punishment, really, and while one part of him was mortified at this effort to dominate her in a physical way, to show her, once and for all who was boss, another part of him liked it. Loved it. Squirmed in delight.
She tasted sweet. Her mouth was soft, velvety. Her lips were lush pillows. Her body, sealed to his, was like an armful of heaven. It was a scalding moment of exquisite pleasure, especially when she softened, and kissed him back.
But then, he should have known. He should have suspected she was hardly the kind of woman who allowed such liberties without her pound of flesh.
Her knee—and a particularly bony one as it happened—came up quick and hard, connecting with his tender bits.
The air whooshed from his lungs and painful shards of light blinded him as agony raked him. He tightened his hold on her, but only to keep himself from falling to the floor in a writhing lump of misery. He held her and shook as he recovered himself. And then, he released her. Stepped back and gave her some space. Gave himself some as well.
Hell, he deserved that.
He forced himself to meet her eyes. “I apologize,” he said. Nearly a croak.
To his annoyance, she smirked. “No need to apologize,” she said. “Just be aware that if you ever touch me again, next time, when I unman you, it’ll be with a knife.”
Funny thing, he totally believed her.
And he vowed to himself never to touch her again.
Oh, not because of her utterly un-veiled threat. But because he’d enjoyed that kiss—that fraction of a second when she’d kissed him back—way more than he should have.
No doubt about it. She was a dangerous woman.
If he wanted to emerge from this mission unscathed, he needed to keep his hands, and his lips, to himself.
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