Falling in love could expose a woman in hiding, in the fourth Ace Security novel from New York Times bestselling author Susan Stoker.
Former mercenary Ryder Sinclair’s stunning discovery that he has three half brothers in Castle Rock, Colorado, is giving them all the chance to color in the spaces of their tragic pasts. For Ryder, establishing roots is made all the more desirable by Felicity Jones. But if Ryder’s instincts are correct, this breathtaking beauty is in trouble.
Castle Rock isn’t Felicity’s home. Like her false identity, it’s just a cover. All she wants is enough cash to keep moving to another temporary hideaway—to stay on the run from a secret that’s haunted her for years. As safe as Ryder’s strong embrace makes her feel, she fears that falling for him, and staying in Colorado, will put everyone she’s come to love in danger.
The more Ryder learns about Felicity, the more determined he is not to let her go. It’s time for her to stop running—even as a relentless danger closes in, threatening their love and their lives.
“Tell us how you found out about us again?” Logan Anderson asked.
Ryder “Ace” Sinclair was trying to look relaxed sitting across from his three half brothers. He’d introduced himself the night before, but now that his existence had had a chance to sink in, he and his brothers were having a more in-depth conversation. Finding out more about who the others were.
“My mom told me about how she met your dad when he was on a business trip down in Colorado Springs. She knew he was married, but it didn’t seem to matter to either of them. When you find the person meant to be yours, there’s no denying it.”
Ryder ignored the growl of the middle triplet, Blake, and continued. “They were together a couple of times. My mom said she’d never been happier. But something happened here in Castle Rock, and Ace told her he couldn’t see her anymore. Said it was for her own good. Broke my mom’s heart. She found out two months later she was pregnant with me.”
“Did she try to contact my dad? Ask him for money?” Blake asked.
Ryder grit his teeth and tried not to bite his new brother’s head off at the implication of his words. “My mom didn’t want a damn thing from Ace Anderson except his love. She adored him. Would do anything for him . . . including leaving him alone like he requested.”
“So she knew about us?” Nathan asked. He was the youngest of the triplets, and hadn’t asked too many questions yet.
Ryder nodded. “She said he admitted during one of the last times they were together that he had triplets. That he loved you guys more than anything. He told my mom leaving her was the hardest thing he’d ever done . . . even though he wanted nothing more than to be with her for the rest of his life.”
There was silence around the table as the men absorbed Ryder’s words.
He went on. “On her deathbed, she wanted to let me know that I had three half brothers. Told me where you were. Honestly, I think she felt guilty.”
“About what?” Logan asked.
“My mom wrote your dad a letter. Told him about me. That I was his son.”
“When?” It was Nathan who asked this time.
Ryder inhaled deeply. He thought his brothers knew this. He didn’t want to be the one who told them, but it didn’t look like he had a choice. “Right before he was killed.”
“Fuck,” Logan swore.
Nathan just looked at him with big eyes.
Blake pushed back from the table, his chair falling to the ground behind him. He paced back and forth. “I don’t fucking believe this.”
“She didn’t mean to—” Ryder started, but Blake interrupted him.
“But she did . . . didn’t she? She fucking got him killed.”
“Easy, Bro,” Logan said.
“My mother did not kill your father,” Ryder bit out.
“Don’t you mean our father?” Blake retorted immediately.
“Fine. Yes. My mother did not kill our father. Your mom did that. I don’t know what happened. Maybe she found the letter my mom sent. Maybe Ace confronted her about it or told her he wanted a divorce. I don’t know. But what I do know is that my mom died pining for the one man who ever loved her. She never got over Ace Anderson. Loved him to the very marrow of her bones. She kept his picture on our wall. Told me stories about how great a man he was. She never hid who he was from me. Even when we didn’t have enough to eat, she never blamed him for leaving her. When she almost got attacked on her way home because she worked two jobs and didn’t get home until way after it got dark, she didn’t blame him for leaving. When I complained about not having anyone to come with me on Boy Scouts father-son nights, she didn’t bad-mouth him. So fuck you for even insinuating that my mother had anything to do with his death.” Ryder was practically panting in fury when he finished speaking. He thought he was done, but he realized that, no, he had a lot more to say.
“I made the decision to come up here and meet you three when I read in the paper about all that you went through with the Inca Boyz gang, and after some of my own research. I was curious about who my brothers were, but I wanted to look into what kind of men you were before I came up here and introduced myself to you. I wanted to hate you. Wanted to resent you for the life I led growing up. Me and my mom were poor. I never had new clothes growing up—we shopped at Goodwill. There were many nights I went to bed hungry. I wanted you all to know how good you had it with our father. But then I read that fucking article and realized that I probably had an amazing childhood compared to yours. Yeah, I was hungry, and we were poor, but all I knew was love. My mom never let a day go by when she didn’t tell me how much she loved me. She didn’t beat me. Didn’t threaten me. I realized that I don’t resent you at all for having my dad when I would’ve done anything to have at least met him. But if you think I’m going to sit here and let you talk shit about my mom, you’re insane.”
Ryder pushed to his feet, and he glared at Blake, standing on the other side of the table.
“We had no idea why our mom killed Dad,” Nathan said quietly, without a hint of the emotion he was broadcasting clearly on his face. “We thought she finally just went too far one night. Blake, have you been through all of Dad’s papers yet? Maybe the letter is in there?”
Blake shrugged. “It hasn’t been a priority with all the other shit going on around here.”
Logan met Ryder’s eyes. “I’m glad you came. Unlike you, though, we didn’t know jack shit about you or your mom before last night. I’m not going to say I think we’ll all be best buds, but I appreciate how hard it must’ve been for you to come up here and meet us. I did some preliminary investigation into who you are last night, just as you did with us,” Logan said.
Ryder wasn’t offended in the least. “I figured you would. Satisfied with what you found?”
Logan eyed him for a beat before continuing. “Yes and no. You’ve got an impressive background, but there were a lot of holes, and things that don’t quite add up.”
Ryder couldn’t help but grin. That was certainly one way to put it. He kept his mouth shut and didn’t offer up any explanations for what Logan may or may not have deduced from his research into him.
Finally, Logan shook his head and said ruefully, “I should be more concerned about the lack of details in your background, but for some reason, I’m not.” He stood and held out his hand to Ryder. “It’s good to meet you.”
Ryder took hold of Logan’s hand and shook it. “Thanks. You too.”
“You gonna stick around for a while?”
Ryder shrugged. “Wasn’t really planning on it. Wasn’t sure what kind of reception I’d get. I’m taking leave from work, so I’ve got some time, but didn’t have any set plans.”
“You have a job you can take an unspecified amount of time off from?” It was Blake who asked, the suspicion easy to hear in his voice.
“As Logan probably already told you, I work with a group down in Colorado Springs. We’re hired out to work security.” It wasn’t exactly an accurate description of what he did, but it would do for now.
“That sounds . . . intriguing,” Logan said.
Ryder nodded. “Spent some time in the military. Decided to use the skills I learned and got out.”
Logan nodded. “I get that.”
Ryder knew he did. He’d read that Logan and Blake had both done stints in the Army. Seemed like even though they were only half brothers, they had a lot in common. “You having any other issues with the Inca Boyz? I might be able to help with that,” Ryder offered.
Logan shook his head. “After Nathan took care of the president, the gang pretty much broke up. Too much pressure from the cops, and no one wanted to step up and take up the reins.”
“Good. Oh, and Nathan, good job on getting rid of that motherfucker without actually shooting his ass.”
Nathan smiled. “Had lots of help from Bailey, her little brother, and Logan and Blake.”
Ryder nodded and looked at his half siblings. He was proud of them. From what he’d found out about them, they’d all had pretty harrowing experiences with the gang, but they seemed to be flourishing with the women in their lives. They’d also done a hell of a job making their business, Ace Security, prosper in the short time it’d been in operation.
“If you have the time, I wouldn’t mind you sticking around for a while. Get to know my wife and kids. They’re your nephews, after all,” Logan said, his eyes showing his sincerity.
Ryder went stock-still. Shit. He hadn’t really thought about having nephews. Damn, it felt good. “I think I—”
He was interrupted by a door slamming open. A pretty woman, whom Ryder knew to be Logan’s wife, burst into the room. She’d been there earlier, but had left, saying she had stuff to do.
“Cole just called. He said we all need to get over to the gym right now.”
Logan was moving toward his wife before she’d finished speaking. “Why? What’s going on?”
“I don’t know!” she exclaimed, out of breath. “He just said something was going on with Felicity, and he needed us over there pronto.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing. But come on. Ryder, you want to wait here?” Logan asked.
“I’m going with you,” he said firmly. He didn’t know why. It wasn’t like he knew who Cole or Felicity were. But for some reason he needed to tag along. Call it a sixth sense. Call it a premonition. But when the skin on the back of his neck itched, he’d learned to listen. He hadn’t survived his stint in the special forces and through some of the mercenary jobs he’d taken to start ignoring it now.
Shrugging as if it didn’t matter to him one way or another, Logan said, “Okay. I have a feeling our talk here isn’t over, but we can get back to it later. Blake, you good?”
The other man nodded once and headed for the doorway. Nathan followed.
Ryder brought up the rear and followed his brothers out of Ace Security’s offices and toward a gym he’d noticed on one of his trips up to Castle Rock. Rock Hard Gym. It was located in the same downtown square as his brothers’ business, along with a coffee shop, some law offices, and other random stores.
Ryder took a deep breath as they reached the door to the gym. He’d thought his half brothers had purposely been ignoring his existence. He had no idea they didn’t know anything about him or his mom.
They walked past the front desk, past a large room filled with weights and other cardio machines, and down a hallway that held offices.
Grace Anderson opened one of the doors, and they all filed in.
Ryder took one look at the woman in the room, and his breath caught in his throat.
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