Monday, May 22, 2017


When a bomb landed on Autumn Callahan’s doorstep, she found her dream had turned into a nightmare. The veterinarian had built her practice from the ground up and established a dedicated clientele—something that provoked an enemy into targeting her. Fearing for his daughter’s life, her father appoints Jackson Cooper to protect her. He was a man with a past and the last man she expected—or wanted—to keep her safe.

Jackson Cooper never thought his best friend’s annoying little sister would have blossomed into such an alluring woman. He broke her heart nearly fourteen years ago, but that wouldn’t prevent him from keeping her safe now. The domineering man always got what he wanted. She could hate him, but he’d do whatever was necessary to keep her alive.

The longer they remained together, the more difficult it became to deny the hidden desires they felt for one another. Someone wanted to eliminate Autumn and her business, but Jackson vowed to not let that happen. He came back into her life for a reason, and this time, it wouldn’t be so easy for either of them to walk away.


“Get out of my room,” she said in the calmest voice she could muster. In the end though, it came out hoarse.

“Not until we get a few things straight.” He stood perfectly still at the door, pinning her with his eyes. “I’m here on business. Your father hired me to protect you, and I fully plan on doing my job. So get it out of your pretty little mind you’ll somehow get rid of me or avoid me the entire time, I’m here. It’s not going to happen. I see all my battles through to the end. This one is no different.”

She refused to cry in front of him. He had lowered her from a human being to a job in five seconds flat. The look in his eyes said that he didn’t care. He didn’t give a shit about her or her life. He was in it for the money.

“I don’t care. Just leave me alone.”

“Not until someone tells me what the hell is going on.” Jackson stepped inside her bedroom. “Why do you need someone to protect your stubborn ass?”

“Look here, buddy. You do not get to come into my home and insult me. I don’t give a shit what my father told you or is paying you, but this is my house and ultimately my decision.”

A spark of interest flashed through his eyes and his lips curved slightly at her remark. “I fully intend on the Major briefing me, but I haven’t the slightest idea what the hell is going on. I need you to tell me what happened so I can plan the best course of action.”

Course of action. Yeah. Right.

“Someone planted a small bomb in a package and sent it to me. It blew up at my office. My father’s overactive imagination thinks the person who sent it is out for blood and planned on killing me in the process. I know enough about bombs from studying with Nick that a little hand-held isn’t going to threaten a life. Take an arm off, maybe. But not take a life.”

“And you saying that shows your naïve stupidity.”

“Stop it,” she screamed, tears forming in her eyes. “You do not get to waltz into my home and call me names. Especially when you’re uninvited.”

“No? You’d rather me sugarcoat it for you?” Jackson stepped inside her bedroom, taking up her space. “Tell your father, ‘Yeah, sure she’s tough shit. She can handle herself.’ Then stand to the side and watch your body turn into pink mist when a bigger bomb explodes—all on my watch? When hell freezes over, sweetheart. If you think I’m backing down on this mission because I hurt your feelings fourteen years ago, you’re not only stupid but an ignorant fool.”

“I hate you.”

“Yeah, well, that’s something I can live with.” He reached into the side pocket of his pants and pulled out shiny metal cuffs.

“What are you doing with those?” Autumn arched a brow.

“Until I can trust you, you’ll be handcuffed to the bed.” A sly grin crept across his face.

“You aren’t putting those things on me.” She walked around the bed, positioning it between them.

“No? Is the tough girl going to stop me?”

Autumn sized him up and immediately decided it was a battle she’d lose. Although she roughhoused with her brother Nick, Jackson was twice his size. She would lose before the battle even began. Where the hell was Davis? “I’ll scream.”

“And no one will hear you.” He grabbed her arm and clicked the first cuff in place before she could pull out of his reach. “Or better yet, no one will care.”

The cool metal wrapped around her wrist like a snake twining around a limb. Autumn struggled and Jackson’s grip tightened. She hated the tingle he sent up her arm when his fingers held her wrist immobile. Nothing was more humiliating than the fact she still had that kind of reaction toward him after all he subjected her to.

“Now that’s a good girl,” he cooed. “If you’re really nice to me, I promise to give you more freedom.”


Autumn jerked her hand away only to lose her balance and fall against the bed. Jackson climbed on top of her, pressing his body against hers to hold her still. She bit her lip to keep from saying something stupid like “Kiss me.” This was war, not foreplay, and she should have used her legs to kick him off her. Instead, her mind played their past relationship like a silent film. Each kiss, each touch flooding her memory faster than the speed of light. She groaned when he pressed his hips to her, remembering the feel of his body as he moved inside her. She’d been with men since her time with Jackson, but he was the only one who made her scream. Oh, how he made her scream.

He clicked the other cuff in place around the posts, the smug smile on his face saying he knew her thoughts. She didn’t exactly hide them, with her legs spread apart and her crotch all but rubbing against his. So much for not embarrassing herself.

“You can try to play tough, sweetheart, but in the end, you will lose, and I will win.” Jackson brushed a strand of hair from her face. His gaze lingered along the length of her body almost as intimate as a caress. “I always win.”

She screamed her frustration, and he did nothing but smile. She kicked her legs in an effort to fight him, but he moved quickly out of the way. All logical reasoning said she was doomed. She couldn’t comprehend who he thought he was coming into her house and holding her prisoner, but he sure as hell would pay for it. They’d all pay for it, starting with her overbearing father and his gallant status quo.

Jackson held out his hands. “Now don’t move.” He snickered. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Fuck you, Jackson!”

He smiled. “As memory serves, you already have.”


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