Sadie Jennings was used to being protected. As the niece of Sean Taggart, and the receptionist at McKay-Taggart Group, she was constantly surrounded by Alpha men more than capable, and willing, to lay down their life for her. But when she visits her friend in San Antonio, and acts on suspicious activity at Milena’s workplace, Sadie puts both of them in the crosshairs of a madman. After several harrowing weeks, her friend is now safe, but for Sadie, the repercussions of her rash act linger on.
Chase Jackson, no stranger to dangerous situations as a captain in the US Army, has volunteered himself as Sadie's bodyguard. He fell head over heels for the beautiful woman the first time he laid eyes on her. With a Delta Force team at his back, he reassures the Taggart's that Sadie will be safe. But when the situation in San Antonio catches up with her, Chase has to use everything he's learned over his career to keep his promise...and to keep Sadie alive long enough to officially make her his.
Available April 10th, 2018 on all platforms
New York Times Bestselling Author
Sadie faced the man in front of her without trepidation.
Sean Taggart might know twenty ways to kill without making a sound thanks to his time as a Green Beret, but to her, he was just Uncle Sean. She’d only known him for six years, ever since Aunt Grace got married, but he’d always supported her no matter what she wanted to do and treated her and her aunt Grace like princesses.
Not this time.
“Uncle Sean, this is ridiculous.”
Sean crossed his arms, giving her what she knew was his “displeased” face. Brows drawn, lips pressed together, eyes narrowed. “It’s not and you know it.”
“Why can’t I just go back up to Dallas with you?”
Her uncle sighed. They’d been over this before, but Sadie couldn’t let it go.
“Because Jonathan is still missing. Captain Jackson said he’d continue to look after you until he’s caught.”
Sadie shook her head. “But if I came home, you could keep me safe.”
Sean looked down at her with love in his eyes. His voice gentled. “I could, you’re right. But I think we both know that you wouldn’t like my kind of protection. Or Ian’s. Or anyone else we could find.”
She knew what he meant without him coming right out and saying it. Sean was overprotective. As was Ian, and probably most of the other men who worked for McKay-Taggart. She could handle their overprotectiveness and bossiness…but only to a point. If she had to endure it twenty-four seven, it could damage their relationship. And that was the last thing she wanted.
“I can go stay with Milena’s parents again,” Sadie volunteered almost desperately. Maybe she’d even make it in time for Milena’s surprise engagement party. She might not want to become one of McKay-Taggart’s overprotected clients, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to be in close quarters with Chase Jackson anymore either.
From the second she’d laid eyes on the man, she’d wanted him. It was as if her body had said, This is it. This is the man I want.
Unfortunately, he’d been in the middle of rescuing her from a crazed, perverted pedophile at the time, and now she was afraid he felt responsible for her, rather than wanting her back.
She’d been staying with him, sleeping in the extra bedroom in his apartment, but things were extremely awkward between them, mostly because of their crazy sexual chemistry. Then their friend TJ, a San Antonio highway patrolman, had called and said the FBI had gotten word of a sighting of Jonathan Jones recently. Now Chase thought that moving her to an apartment over a friend’s garage would be safer. Sadie felt as if she were a foster kid being pawned from one home to another, not actually belonging anywhere.
“Milena’s man can’t take care of both you and her,” Sean said bluntly, responding to her earlier thought about staying with her friend’s parents. “TJ’s got his hands full making sure Milena and his son are safe. Not only that, but if you went back to San Antonio and stayed with Milena’s parents, you’d put them in danger. Look, I know you and Chase don’t get along all that well, but you just need to continue to put up with him until we can find that asshole Jones and make sure he’s no longer a threat.”
Sadie swallowed. It wasn’t that she and Chase didn’t get along; she simply didn’t know what to say to the man. She liked him. A lot. And every time she opened her mouth, she said stuff she didn’t mean. But if she kept protesting, Uncle Sean would get suspicious and ask questions. The last thing she wanted was her uncle, and Chase, to know how much she really did like the gorgeous Army captain.
Some of her trepidation must have shown on her face anyway, because Sean said, “You’ll be safe with Jackson, Sadie. If he didn’t already belong to Uncle Sam, I’d be recruiting him to come work for Ian in a heartbeat. Besides, thanks to the media, Jonathan knows who I am. Who you are. The first place he’s gonna look for you is in Dallas.”
“So you’re continuing to pawn off the babysitting job to Chase,” Sadie said bitterly.
The look in his eyes wasn’t one she’d had directed at her often, if ever. Disappointment. And it hurt. Especially coming from Uncle Sean. “You are not a babysitting job,” he said. “And the fact that you even said that tells me you really don’t understand the seriousness of this situation.”
“I’m sorry,” Sadie said immediately. “I do understand. I just… I don’t think Chase likes me very much and I hate being a burden.”
Sean looked at her for a long moment with an expression on his face Sadie couldn’t interpret. Finally, he said, “Sometimes I forget how young you are. The fact of the matter is, right after you were rescued, Jackson came to me with the request to keep you safe. I didn’t ask him.”
Sadie stared at her uncle in disbelief. “He did?”
“Yeah, he did.”
“But…he was so mad at the school after he helped me. I didn’t think he wanted to be anywhere near me.”
“Can you blame him? He was worried about you. We all were,” was her uncle’s simple response.
“It’s already been a month. How long am I gonna need to be down here?” she asked, referring to Fort Hood, where Chase lived and worked.
“As long as it takes. Please do this. For me and Grace. We need to know you’re safe while we track this asshole down. It shouldn’t be for very much longer.”
When he asked nicely like that, how could she keep protesting? “Fine.”
“But don’t blame me if Chase calls you up, begging you to take me off his hands.”
Sean smirked at her, as if he knew something she didn’t, but didn’t respond. Instead he enveloped her in his arms and held her tightly for a long moment.
Sadie closed her eyes. Sean was a big man, and Sadie had always loved his hugs. Being in her uncle’s arms made her feel as if nothing could hurt her. He and the others at McKay-Taggart had been worried when she’d up and left for San Antonio without really telling anyone where she was going and for how long. But when she’d called and told them she was going to stay with her friend, Milena, and help her with her toddler, Sean hadn’t read her the riot act, which she appreciated. Sadie hadn’t planned on being involved in a bust at Milena’s workplace, the Bexar County School and Orphanage for Girls, and afterward, she couldn’t leave, not when it was clear Milena might be in danger because of Sadie’s involvement.
Of course, she hadn’t known she was also in danger until it was too late.
The only other time she’d felt this safe was at the school…after Chase had hauled her into his arms.
Sean pulled back and held her at arm’s length. “You know I’m always a phone call away. You need me, you call.” It wasn’t a question, more of a command.
“And if you want a job at the restaurant when you come home, it’s yours.”
“Thanks, Sean,” Sadie said. Her uncle’s restaurant, Top, was one of the most popular restaurants in Dallas. Working there wouldn’t be a pity job either; it would be hectic and busy. If she couldn’t get her job back at McKay-Taggart, it would be a good option for her.
As if Sean could read her mind, he said, “Ian told me that things haven’t been the same since you left. He’s actually gotten his phone messages and can see the top of your desk.”
Sadie chuckled and playfully smacked his arm. “Shut up. I wasn’t that bad.”
Sean simply looked at her with his eyebrows raised.
“Okay, fine. I was. But I got the job done and was damn good at it. Besides…they got the important messages, didn’t they?”
“That they did,” Sean agreed. The grin left his face and he said somberly, “Be safe. You have a lot of people who love you.”
“I will,” Sadie told her uncle.
“I’m prouder of you than I can say. Not many people would stay to try to help a friend they hadn’t seen for a couple of years. Not only that, you were instrumental in getting that child-abuse ring stopped and taking down a lot of sick men who were involved.”
Sadie’s eyes filled with tears. She didn’t realize until right that moment how much she needed her uncle’s praise. She hadn’t thought she’d be in danger when she’d gone down to San Antonio. All she’d wanted to do was visit Milena and her little boy for a while. She’d gotten in over her head, but luckily TJ, Milena’s new fiancé, was not only a badass cop, he was also a former Delta Force sniper who’d been able do what needed to be done when the shit hit the fan.
Hearing her uncle, who was a badass in his own right, tell her he was proud of her, went a long way toward helping Sadie forgive herself for the worry she’d put her family through, and was still putting them through.
“Thanks,” she murmured.
“But if you do anything like that again, I’ll have Ian find a safe house to stash you in or put guards on your ass twenty-four/seven. And I’m not kidding.”
Sadie’s eyes widened and she looked at her uncle in shock. Would he really sic bodyguards on her? Yeah, he totally would.
Before she could respond, even though she had no idea what she might say, Chase Jackson stuck his head into the small room at the police department, where Sean had met them. They had discussed Jonathan and had been updated on the search for him.
Other than the reported sighting of him down in San Antonio, which had prompted Chase’s decision to move her to his friend’s garage apartment, there hadn’t been any other updates. With every meeting, Sadie got more and more frustrated. The man was a master of disappearing into thin air. But she’d thought that before, and it had turned out Jonathan and his now-deceased, equally perverted father, Jeremiah, had been lurking in San Antonio the entire time, waiting for the perfect moment to make their move against Milena and her son, as well as Sadie.
“Everything okay?” Chase asked, obviously having seen her surprise at her uncle’s last words.
Sadie looked over at him.
He was really good-looking. Dark hair and brown eyes that always stared at her with an intensity that made her want to squirm. He filled out his clothes in a way that hinted he was one big muscle underneath them. She wanted to run her hands up and down his body to feel his muscles for herself, but so far had refrained.
Chase was also a couple inches taller than she was. She hadn’t always been attracted to tall men, but spending time around her uncle and his friends had changed that. She always felt protected when they were near. Part of it was because of what they did, but it was also watching them with their wives. They’d tuck their women under their arms, or pull them against their sides, or push them behind their own bodies if they thought there was a threat.
Sadie hadn’t ever had a boy, or man, protect her like that. Then again, she’d never really wanted to be protected. But watching Sean, Alex, Ian, Liam, Jake, and Adam with their wives gradually made her realize she might be missing something. Having someone constantly be looking out for her well-being wouldn’t exactly be a hardship.
And Chase had certainly made her feel protected. The second she’d run into him in the school after escaping Jonathan, she’d gone from being scared out of her mind to being surrounded by Chase’s manly scent, and it had calmed her.
But Chase could also be super confusing. Running hot and cold. One minute she was sure he wanted her, and the next he was treating her as an annoying little sister. The last month had been torture, being around him and not knowing what he really thought about her.
The old Sadie would’ve called him on it. But ever since being held captive by Jonathan Jones at that school, she’d felt unsure about nearly everything. She hated not being the kick-ass Sadie she used to be and was working her way back to being that person, but it was slow going.
“I was just saying goodbye to Sadie,” Sean said, turning away and bending over to pick up Sadie’s bag. “Grace packed some stuff for you,” he told his niece, handing her the bag. “Thought you’d appreciate having more of your own things.”
Sadie nodded. She wasn’t surprised Aunt Grace had the presence of mind to make sure she had more of her favorite clothes. Every time her uncle had come to check on her, he’d brought more and more of her wardrobe. Before long, Grace would have sent her entire apartment. As it was, it already looked like she’d completely moved in with Chase.
“Take care of my niece,” Sean ordered Chase.
“She’ll continue to be safe with me,” Chase replied.
The two men stared at each other for a long moment. Finally, Sean nodded. “I’ll be in touch.”
Then he leaned over, kissed Sadie on the head, and was gone.
She turned to Chase and held her bag in front of her like a shield.
He held out his hand. “Ready to go?”
Sadie swallowed hard and nodded. She put her hand in his and let him lead her out of the small room.
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