Authors: Sandra Owens
ALSO BY SANDRA OWENS
The Training of a Marquess
K2 Special Services Series
Crazy for Her
Someone Like Her
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © 2015 Sandra Owens
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle
Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Montlake Romance are trademarks of
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Cover design by Eileen Carey
My books—now and forever—are dedicated to my husband, Jim, who supports me in every way possible. I also want to dedicate this one to all the fans of my men at K2 Special Services who have eagerly been waiting for Saint’s story. Y’all rock—your e-mails, your support, and the fun times we have on social media mean so much to me. Enjoy!
amie Turner came to a dead stop when he spied the beautiful woman waiting for him on the other side of the security barrier. The passengers behind him grumbled as they swerved around him, their wheeled carry-ons bumping his legs.
If he were a cussing man like his teammates, he’d be muttering some very bad words about now. The flight from Somalia had been miserable, and even though he’d felt sorry for the woman sitting behind him trying to calm a crying baby, he’d resented not being able to catch up on some much-needed sleep. He’d come close to getting shot on his mission, was dead tired, and was not in the mood for Sugar Darling. No way. Nohow.
“Move it, asshole,” snarled a man with a shaved head and tattoos on his arms and neck, elbowing Jamie as he passed.
Jamie, ex-SEAL and still in the business of black ops, narrowed his eyes at the back of the jerk’s neck, right at the point where he could press his thumb and put the man out cold.
“Jamie! Over here.”
He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping when he opened them he wouldn’t see the blonde beauty currently bouncing up and down as she waved her hand in the air—that she had just been a figment of his frazzled brain. Nope. When he looked again, she was still there.
The woman had been a thorn in his side since he’d met her, and he rued the day he crossed her path. Mostly because he hadn’t been able to get her out of his mind, and that was unacceptable. As she had been his teammate’s neighbor at the time, he supposed meeting Sugar Darling had been inevitable. It wasn’t the first time in his life he’d wished he could go back and do some things over. If he’d known Sugar was Jake’s neighbor . . . what was done was done, though, and, blowing out a sigh, he headed toward her.
Tattoo Man zeroed in on her and changed direction. He stepped
in front of Sugar and said something, but Jamie was too far away to
hear. She shook her head and backed up. Tattoo closed the gap, crowd
ing her. Her eyes widened, and Jamie could see the panic in them.
Granny’s panties. He was going to have to intervene. As if he needed that after the week he’d had. Why was she at the airport anyway? Jake Buchanan was supposed to pick him up, not Little Miss Southern Belle.
“Hey, buddy, find someone else to annoy,” Jamie said, tapping the dude on the shoulder.
“Get lost, asshole, I’m busy here.” Tattoo sidestepped, putting himself between Jamie and Sugar.
Jamie saw the elbow coming at his stomach before the guy moved it an inch. He grabbed Tattoo’s pinky and twisted it back, while at the same time, he locked a leg around the other man’s, putting him facedown on the floor. He lowered his mouth to Tattoo’s ear. “What part of
find someone else to annoy
didn’t you understand?” When the man tried to pull away, Jamie pushed harder on his finger, just to the breaking point.
“The minute you let go of me, asshole, you’re a dead man,” Tattoo
snarled, then spit on Jamie’s boot.
“You really need to work on your language skills, Tattoo.” They were drawing a crowd, and any minute security would show up. Jamie glanced at Sugar. “Start walking. I’ll catch up with you. Now,” he growled when she continued her impersonation of a wide-eyed statue.
She jumped like a startled cat and backed away a few steps before turning and running toward the exit. At the sound of an authoritative voice ordering people out of the way, Jamie bent Tattoo’s finger just enough to cause the man to hiss air out of his lungs. It would take him a few seconds to get his breath back, giving Jamie enough time to slip through the crowd.
While Jamie tuned his ears to the noise behind him, his eyes scanned the people walking ahead until he found his target, a man the size of a bruising linebacker. As the sound of running feet grew louder, more than one airport security guard’s voice joined in the shouting.
Timing was everything in an operation, something Jamie was very good at. Just as he sensed the air behind him change, he stepped in front of his target.
“What the hell?” Linebacker grunted when Tattoo tackled him. Jamie’s last sight of the two as he slipped away was that of a wrestling match with three guards trying to pull them off each other. Setting up the diversion had been the easy part.
Standing outside the door, waiting for him, was Sugar Darling. Trouble with a capital T. “Where’s Buchanan?” he said in greeting.
“Hi, Saint,” she responded, somehow managing to infuse her Charleston accent into two short words.
“That wasn’t the right answer.” He sighed for emphasis.
She gazed up at him the way a thirteen-year-old would eye Justin Bieber. “What you did back there was so freakin’ amazing.”
He really wished she wouldn’t eyeball him as if she’d like to devour him. “Where. Is. Buchanan?”
“Oh, the boss wanted him to do something. I’m not sure what.”
“Mr. Kincaid, silly. We gonna stand here all morning, or are ya ready to go? The boss said to bring you straight to K2.”
And he’d thought the day couldn’t get worse. “Lead on, Macduff.”
“A character from . . . Never mind, it’s not important.” As he followed Sugar to her car, he tried to keep his gaze off her bottom, but his eyes refused to cooperate. It would help if the black jeans she wore didn’t appear to be painted on.
She stopped at an orange, older model Ford Focus and unlocked the door. Jamie eyed it with misgiving. “I don’t think there’s any way I’m going to fit in there.” Slipping off his backpack, he tossed it on the backseat, then scrunched himself inside the thing.
The problem revealed itself as soon as Sugar Darling slid behind the wheel. Their proximity was entirely too close. Her arm brushed his, and he couldn’t help noticing the warm softness of her skin. When he caught himself leaning toward her, inhaling her scent, something that reminded him of summer and beaches, he jerked away, smashing his right side against the door.
“Blue butter,” he muttered.
She laughed, low and kind of sexy sounding. “Sometimes you say the funniest things.”
When he’d decided to turn his life around at the age of twenty, he’d quit drinking, doing drugs, cursing, and sleeping with women at every opportunity. Strangely, the cussing had been the hardest habit to break, and he’d taken to substituting stupid words. After a while, it had become a game, the sillier the words, the better. He wasn’t about to share all that with Sugar Darling, however.
And who named their child Sugar Darling anyway? It was a stupid name. When he’d first met her, he’d laughed and said her name couldn’t be real. She’d sworn it was, offering to show him her birth certificate.
“Why do ya do that?”
“Do what?” Couldn’t she just chauffeur him and not talk? Although he did like to listen to her. Her southern accent made him think of warm summer days, sweet iced tea, and porch swings. Of a time when he hadn’t carried pain around in his heart that felt like a two-ton boulder had taken up residence.
“Say things like
“It’s a game, that’s all.”
“No shit. What’s the rules?”
Jamie angled his head just enough to look at her without seeming to. As much as it irritated him to admit it, she was one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. Hair the color of golden honey, eyes that were sometimes blue and sometimes violet—depending on the color of her clothes—and a peaches-and-cream complexion. That she even had him thinking in terms of peaches and cream annoyed him. Then there was her knockout body . . . he shut that thought down.
All that was true, as was the fact she drank like a fish, cussed like a sailor, and was just too cheerful. No one could be that happy all the time.
“So why are you running errands for Kincaid?” If she said the boss had hired her, he was job hunting, starting tomorrow.
“The boss hired me.”
Terrible turtles, he was going to really miss his job. It also occurred to him that he only “Saint cursed”—as the team called it—that much when he was around her. She grinned, her eyes sparkling in amusement as if she knew what he was thinking. It was disturbing.
“It’s just temporary until Barbie returns from vacation.”
“Good,” Jamie grunted. He could surely handle two weeks. Maybe. “I thought you had a job.” She was the bookkeeper, or had been, at the Booby Palace, a popular strip joint. Another strike against her, although he supposed it was only fair to give her points for not actually stripping.
“Oh, I still do, but I had paid vacation time coming. Killed two birds with one rock.”
Today her eyes were violet. Even angry, he was noticing how pretty they were. He gritted his teeth. “The word is
. Killed two birds with one stone.”
She shrugged. “Don’t really see the difference. Anyway, it gave me a chance to do Mr. Kincaid a favor and make some extra money at the same time.”
“Watch out!” He grabbed the wheel and jerked them back into their lane seconds before she would have sideswiped another car. Muttering monkeys, the girl was a walking time bomb. “Keep your eyes on the road, not me. And slow down. You’re ten miles over the speed limit.”
Heat crept up Sugar’s neck, and she was sure her cheeks were flaming bright red. That was the trouble with a fair complexion, there was no hiding one’s embarrassment. It was too bad she was fascinated by the blue-eyed devil sitting next to her. Although she didn’t understand why, he’d taken an instant dislike to her the moment they met.
The way Jamie had tackled that man to the ground . . . just, wow. It had been like having an honest-to-God hero champion her. The tattooed guy had scared her, the look in his eyes one she knew too well. It said he had a right to her, and he would do with her as he pleased. For a moment, she’d forgotten she was Sugar Darling and not that other woman, the one she had banished. It had been the gleam of possession in the man’s eyes—one that was way too familiar—that had frozen her in place. Then Jamie had been there, telling her to go. So she did what she knew how to do best: run.
Jamie made her nervous as hell, and around him, she found herself acting like a brainless twit one minute and a perky cheerleader the next. Not that she’d ever been a cheerleader or even been friends with one to know how they behaved. Girls from the wrong side of Charleston’s Calhoun Street didn’t stand a chance of landing a spot on the squad.
The thing of it was: she knew perfectly well who Macduff was and that birds were killed with stones. For some strange reason, she took perverse pleasure in fostering his misimpression of her. Plus, it helped her deal with the fluttery nerves that always appeared when he was within smelling range. And oh mama, did he ever smell good. If she started drooling, it would be entirely his fault.
Sadly, Mr. High and Mighty couldn’t see past her act to the real woman. She had an IQ of over a hundred and forty, and someday, when she was free of bad cop and bad cop, she would get her MBA.
“You say something?”
Had she spoken aloud? “Nope, not a thing.” Sugar kept her eyes on the road. Wouldn’t want to upset the touchy man by so much as glancing at him. She could feel him looking at her, though, and she stiffened her neck to keep from turning her face the slightest degree toward him. Her driving skills were questionable as it was, and having him in her car sent them to the wrong side of poor.
“Why do you work there?” He tried to stretch his legs, grunting when his kneecaps got stuck under the dash.
Although she knew where he meant, she continued her dopey-girl impersonation. “I told you, I’m just doing a favor and filling in for Barbie.” A very male sigh filled her little car, and she swallowed a grin. He really was fun to aggravate.
“No, why do you work at the Booby Palace?”
Because it was an excellent place to hide out while making a living. “Why not? They pay me
decent money, and the drinks are free.” That last bit should put a scowl on Saint’s face, and she couldn’t stop a smirk when out of the corner of her eye, she caught the downward turn of that beautiful mouth of his.
He squirmed in his seat as he tried to maneuver his long legs into a more comfortable position. The boss had offered one of the company cars for this little errand, but she’d declined. Her dang luck, she’d take down a fire hydrant or a telephone pole driving one of those big things. She’d bought the little orange car because not only was it cheap, but she figured the less automobile she had to work with, the easier to keep it out of places it shouldn’t be.
For someone who could calculate in her head the fuel mileage a race car used on any given track, she’d yet to grasp the art of driving. Of course, only having limited experience behind the wheel of a car could have something to do with her lack of skill. Another thing she blamed on Rodney. Not allowing her to learn to drive was just another way to keep her under his thumb. After landing in Pensacola, she’d depended on buses or cabs to get her to places she needed to be. After over a year of public transportation, she’d tired of it, and had bought the little Ford the previous month and taught herself to drive. Sorta.