Close Quarters: Hot Zone, Book Four
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by Denise A. Agnew
Description: First impressions can be dead wrong. Hot Zone book 4. Neena Williamson is positive the man who just walked into her favorite café is all wrong for the local charity's new hot male calendar. For starters, he's wearing the most butt-ugly Hawaiian shirt on the face of the earth. He doesn't fit anyone's image of a smokin' hardbody, even if her friend insists he's perfect for Mr. December. When a gunman robs the café, Mr. December proves that underneath his bad taste in clothes, he knows how to bring it. Clarksville, Wyoming is the perfect place for Mitch Gilroy to hide in plain sight. He enjoys his low-key handyman job, and no one pries into his former life. But in an instant, Mitch is forced to remember everything he's tried so hard to forget. Thrown together by sudden violence, Neena and Mitch quickly discover how tangled their emotions can become. And the only way to banish the monsters that haunt them is to do the one thing they fear most. Become vulnerable--to each other. Product Warnings This title contains a hot nekkid calendar boy shoot, heroic rescues, explicit, multiple orgasmic sex, and graphic language.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2008
eBookwise Release Date: January 2011
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [173 KB]
Reading time: 104-145 min.
When the cook walked out of the kitchen, the robber gestured toward the open doorway of a small, dark room.
"Get in there," the robber said.
Handyman flipped on the light switch as the gunman nodded toward Neena and practically hissed his next words. "Move it, prissy."
She did as told, her knees trembling with weakness and her heart banging a relentless drum in her chest. What did the nutcase have in mind? The aforementioned lunatic slammed the door and left them inside the room. She flinched. The lock engaged from the outside.
A spark of intuition alerted her. Solid. No nonsense. Immediate. Before Handyman could say a word, she dashed toward him. "Get away from the door!"
She practically dived, and as her body hit him and his arms encircled her, bullets slammed through the door. Fear riddled her, but she felt no pain as Handyman grabbed her close, braced to keep from falling and pressed her into his solid body.
"Shit!" Handyman growled.
He moved swiftly, pressing her back into the corner, his body a shield. If anything ricocheted, he'd feel the sting of a bullet first.
Her face buried against his shoulder and he wrapped one arm around her waist. The other hand came up and cradled her head to his shoulder. Her fingers twisted in his shirt, bunching gobs of the loose garment in her fists. He held her like that, his breath coming quickly, her heart slamming in her chest, for what seemed forever. The shots stopped. Dragging noises and the sounds of something massive being pulled in front of the door startled her.
She pulled back slightly. "Oh God."
Handyman's eyes no longer held ice. Those deep brown eyes turned dark with serious worry. "Are you hit?"
"What?" She felt dazed.
"Are you hit?"
"No. I'm great."
Right. If that wasn't the stupidest, most absurd thing she'd ever said. She trembled from head to toe, and the shock of what happened reverberated through her in waves.
"You...are you okay?" she asked, the words escaping with a dry croak.
She registered the heat and hardness of his body. Her breasts mashed to his chest, his hips and thighs pressed along hers. Close up, his face held the chiseled hardness of an old west movie hero, without anything fancy to pretty him up. A cut jaw, a nose slightly on the big side. Only his mouth was sculpted, lips just right on a man--not too big, not too thin. He felt so warm, so protective--
He released her and walked toward the door. He tried the knob. When it didn't budge, he slammed one palm against it. He tried kicking it down, but the door wouldn't budge. She realized the room was a huge pantry with shelves on three sides. No way out.
Handyman tried budging the door one more time to no avail. "Damn it!"
That's when true fear slammed her. Like it or not, she was trapped in a locked room with a total stranger. Tears gathered in her eyes and spilled over her eyelids before she could stop them. Handyman turned toward her, striding across the room until he cupped her shoulders.
"Hey, it's going to be all right."
She nodded and buried her face in her hands. "I know. I just..."
Tears spilled, and a sob escaped her.
"Hey, hey. Easy." He gathered her close once more, and she found her hands buried in his big shirt again. As tears spilled from her and she gulped and sobbed, she tried to regain control. Embarrassment sliced her with cruel fingers. His touch slipped through her hair, gently massaging her neck.
"It's all right. He's gone." Velvet and husky, his voice held safety and comfort.
Poor fashion sense or not, his voice was to die for.
So was the body pressed along hers. She felt muscles. Lots and lots of glorious muscles. Or maybe the fear had destroyed her reasoning ability and she wanted the man holding her to play the hero. Right now, with a tenderness that put her off guard, he fit the lead part in her adventure movie down to a capital T.
Only difference is, he hadn't whipped out a gun and gone Kung Fu on the bad guy's ass. Which in reality made perfect sense. If Handyman had played knight on a white horse, they'd be dead. She shivered and then did another stupid thing. She slid her arms around his waist and held on. Yeah, he has a trim waist, too. Hmmm...
"When that jerk pointed his gun in your face, I thought he was going to kill you right in front of me," she whispered through a sob.
"So did I."
His voice rumbled deeply, so matter-of-fact she couldn't believe how distant he sounded. His arms tightened around her in a gentle squeeze, the only sign that he felt anything about his near miss with death.
"You had a gun pointed at your head, and here I am babbling like an idiot." She gulped back another sob.
"So did you, remember? You were looking right down the barrel for a long time."
Right. She had. Her tears started to dry, and the fright calmed somewhat. She forced herself to pull back out of his arms. "God, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to go all girly like that."
"It's okay. What just happened scared the shit out of me, too."
A man who'd admit his fear. Interesting. His expression might show no fear and his voice gave no indication of the trauma he'd faced. Yet he could speak the words.
Neena became aware of a shift in perception. Not a smidgen of change, but a whopping ugly belief that she'd altered in the last few minutes. That the world had undergone a drastic, nasty transformation. She'd never believed in a rosy world, but this one had sharp thorns. She held her hands in front of her. They shook. A heat wave and then a cold flash washed over her in relentless strokes. Her stomach curled. Shaking, she put her back against the one wall minus shelving and slid downward until she plopped on the floor. Cold and hard, the landing felt brutal against her ass. Incongruously she noticed a run in the right calf of her thigh-high stockings. A jagged, gaping slit that might have been there before the robber came into the coffee shop, or maybe happened sometime in between. Who knew? Who cared? For a second she gave a damn. A really big damn. Then she took a shaky breath. She was acting like an immature, shallow twit. She'd buy more. Ten pairs more if she survived her stay in this stupid pantry. Then she wanted to smack the robber across the face with her purse for the inconvenience.