Hard Break (Deadlines & Diamonds, #5)

BOOK: Hard Break (Deadlines & Diamonds, #5)
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The normal stab of jealousy Ian felt at the thought of Kayla needing Leon didn’t filet him. Not this time. In fact he didn’t really feel much of anything. Neither did Kayla, apparently. No emotion flickered behind the blank stare. She’d frozen over. He could feel the iceberg from where he stood on the porch.

She graciously shook the officers’ hands, said nothing, nodded, blinked,
then waved a hand toward the door. “Thank you for coming. Now, if you wouldn’t mind, I’ve got some calls to make.”

This deep freeze scared the shit out of him. Crying, screaming, melting, all of that he could handle. This, this…well, it just wasn’t right.

Normally emotions ran high in the composed woman standing in front of him. Kayla Black laughed, loved, smiled…lived with passion. Yet facing what had to be the worst moment in her life, not a single tear shimmered in her sapphire eyes.


is a work of fiction. The characters and events are the product of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any similarities to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Copyright © 2013 Morgan Kearns


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means without the written consent of the author, except for brief quotations used in critical articles or reviews.


Cover art by Anya Kelleye Designs








Visit www.MorganKearns.com to order additional copies.



“Morgan Kearns is the

Queen of Contemporary Romance.”

~Kristina’s Books and More


“Morgan Kearns is one of those authors who can suck you into a book and keep you there…”

~The Bookreading Gals


“Whatever Morgan puts in ink I will read.”

~Good Choice Reading


Praises for LUCKY 13:

“Male perfection has a name and it’s

Enrique Santiago.”

~Rhonda Plumhoff, author of Erotic Treats


Praises for OUT OF LEFT FIELD:

smoothly written with a great relationship

the main characters.”

~InD’Tale Magazine


Praises for IN IT TO WIN IT

“If sweet and romance had a baby,

this book would be the finished product.”

~Romance Novel Junkies


Praises for FADE TO BLACK

“…an amazingly powerful love story…”

~Book Crazy


Thank you


A HUGE thank you to the readers!


To #
TeamKearns: You guys are the absolute BEST! Thank you for your dedication to spreading the word.


I know I sound like a broken record, but I am so very grateful for Rhonda. You’re an amazing President, but I treasure your friendship more. Thank you!


Seeing the cover for the first time is always so exciting! Thank you, Anya Kelleye, for bringing on the *squee*.


To my Arizona Dreamin’/Buildin’ the Dream peeps: I am honored to rub shoulders with you.


I have the best family in the world. Thank you for your continued love and support. I love you!



To Kayla: Writing your story was both painful and enjoyable. I love you and your strength. Live Happy, Girlfriend!


To Ian: I needed to write your story from the moment you started talking. Giving you your happy was a pleasure. Enjoy!


Available titles from

Morgan Kearns



Deadlines & Diamonds

Hard Break

Lucky 13

Out of Left Field

In It
To Win It

Fade to Black


Bound by a Touch Novels

Heart Ache


Formatting Basics




Hard Break

(Deadlines & Diamonds, #5)

Morgan Kearns







h! Oh! Y-y-yessss!”

McCallister closed his eyes and dug his heels into the mattress. The muscles in his thighs tightened. Hearing Kayla Black reach her pleasure sent Ian spiraling toward his own release.

he was one helluva an amazing woman. A mere brush of her fingertips sent jolts of lightning through his body, scorching him from the inside out.

He gripped the sheets
in one hand, bunching the four-hundred count between his fingers, his other smoothing over naked skin.

Yes. Leon!”


His eyes popped open. His hand jerked away from his lower ab
domen. Another curse hissed passed his lips.

Whipping the sheet away from his torso, he shot to his feet, stalked to the window and slammed it closed—without glancing at the house across the fence.


He was a freakin’ voyeur, getting his rocks off while
the woman of his dreams made love to her husband. He plowed his fingers through his hair, grabbing hold of as much as the short strands allowed. He needed to get a freakin’ grip on his sanity.

Stalking through his house, down the stairs and into t
he kitchen, he stubbed his toe. Twice. Served him right. The second time hurt so bad his eyes watered. At least it lessened the pain bouncing around in his chest.

He blinked into the bright lights of the refrigerator only long enough to register where the beer was. He yanked one
bottle free of the cardboard box and clapped the door shut. It plunged the room into darkness. His eyes took another minute or so to focus. It didn’t matter. He saw things clear as day.

Damn letch!

He really should get a life. Get some little barely legal thing hot enough to burn the thought of Kayla Black right out of his brain.

Ian sure as hell didn’t want to feel the way he did for the happily-married, mother of three.
And yet, her gentle smile, her kind eyes, her contagious laugh, her body with curves any sportscar craved called to him like no other woman ever had. The icing on the totally effed up cake? The most attractive part of her, was the complete and total adoration she had for—
wait for it!
—her husband.

The day Ian had
moved into this house, right next door to the real-life happily-ever-after, he’d thought she was something. Something really damned special.

He remembered it like
yesterday. Whether he wanted to or not. He smiled at the memory of two little kids, a boy and girl, showing up on his doorstep with a plate of cookies.

His doorbell had rung late in the afternoon. He answered it and grinned down at then seven-year-old Chase and four-year-old Sadie.

“Hi, neighbor.” Chase held out the plate.

Sadie stepped forward and stuck out her tiny hand. “I’m Sadie Fern Black and I live next door.”

Ian shook her hand while Chase tried to muscle his way into the attention. “My mom made these cookies. They’re really good. You should probably eat them right now. While they’re still warm.”

“Thanks, man, I’ll do that.” Ian took the plate.

Chase eyeballed the tin-foil-covered plate, licking his lips.

Ian kept his chuckle to himself and made a point to look at the cookies. He frowned hard, pulling his brows into the mix. “I don’t know, guys, this is a lot
for just me. Do you think you could help?”

Chase’s, “Yes,” and Sadie’s squeal left no room for misinterpretation.

Ian sat down on the porch steps with a Black on each side and pulled the foil away. Fresh baked chocolate chip. His favorite!

That’s when she’d appeared. Ian had nearly choked on his cookie as a woman with
dark, shoulder length hair came out of the house and crossed the gravel separating their houses. She came right up to where they sat. Her smile captured his attention better than any tickertape parade. He knew he stared at her—and couldn’t stop himself.

“You’ve met my munchkins.” She ruffled the blonde hair on Chase’s head. “I’m Kayla.”

As he reached out to take her hand, he knew his life would never be the same.

And now, three years later, he couldn’t get the woman out of his head.

Yes, he really, really,
needed to get himself a life, preferably one where he was hip to hip with a female without Kayla showing up in his head.


He sat
at his kitchen table, cracked the seal on his Bud and took a swig. Maybe if he got good and numb, he’d be able to forget about the beautiful communion between man and wife happening right over the block wall.

Ian had tried the
prayer thing, tried to plead with a higher power to get her out of his thoughts. He’d even attempted confession. First and only time he’d ever been in a Catholic church. And since there’d been no relief, it’d probably be the last.

Another swig
slid its way down his throat. He stared out the bay window into the darkness of his backyard. A full moon showcased the large Mesquite tree, manicured Oleander bushes, and a patch of green grass.

The grass cost him a fortune in water to maintain. Not that he cared. He liked green. Coming from Idaho, where the summers were luke warm and the winters froze a guy’s balls off, Las Vegas, Nevada had taken some getting used to. His grass reminded him of a home that no longer existed.

Damn, he hadn’t thought of the fire, his parents, his…loss in years. Who was he kidding? He’d thought of nothing else through the classes and the exams and filling out the freakin’ application to the Academy. And he’d probably think of little else until the letter came accepting or denying his request.

Swig number three nearly drained the bottle. He lifted it, watching the
last bit of liquid swirl through the dark glass. If he didn’t have to be to work in—he glanced at the clock on the microwave and cursed—three hours, he might’ve cracked another bottle. Or three.

Knowing he’d never be able to sleep in his bed, he polished off his beer, recycled the bottle and headed for the couch. He only hoped Kayla stayed out of his dreams. At least for tonight.


ayla Black loved her husband, loved being loved by her husband. Tonight, though, there’d been something urgent, almost desperate in his taking of her. Not that she minded. She enjoyed when sex was more than a quickie. And sometimes, with three little people living under their roof, sometimes quick—in the laundry room, with tiny knuckles knocking on the door—was the only option.

Still tingling in all the right places, she slipped her nightgo
wn over her head as Leon finished cleaning himself up in the bathroom. That was his way. Never did they snuggle after sex, and falling asleep in his arms adrift on post coital bliss just wasn’t going to happen.

He came out of the bathroom
, tugging the hem of his t-shirt down to meet the waistband of his boxers. He didn’t look at her as he rounded the foot of the bed and crawled between the sheets. She sighed, reaching up to turn off the light.

As she lay down, he cuddled in close.
But Leon didn’t cuddle. It wasn’t in his nature. Their bed was a California King for a reason. He wanted his space. Usually.

He spooned her, wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing h
er neck, not in an erotic way, simply a meeting of lips to flesh.

Is everything all right?” she whispered, trying not to be alarmed.

He was quiet for a long time, only his deep breaths filling the silence. Finally, he hugged her even closer. “You know Enrique Santiago?”

Confusion caused her brows to furrow. “The left fielder for the

She felt his nod. “He nearly lost his wife today.”

“Oh no.” Her heart jumped. “She’s not going to—”

“No, s
he’ll be fine.” More of the deep, dark silence. “You know, every time somebody’s wife is involved, I can’t help but think of you.” He shook his head, breathed in deep. “I’m not sure I’d survive if something happened to you.”

His heartbreakingly honest words had tears pooling in the corners of her eyes. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Sometimes it’s not your choice.”

She swallowed hard against the lump in her throat. “You’re the one putting
your life on the line every day, Leon. Every day when you walk out the door I face the fear you won’t come home. If something happened to you—”

“You’d be just fine.” He kissed her neck. “You’re the strong one, Kayla. Always have been. I love you.”

She turned her head to meet his lips with her own. “I love you, too.”

His arms tightened around her. “
Promise me if something does happen to me, you’ll move on. I want you to love again. I want you to be happy.”

She hated the depressing tone of the conversation
. “I’ll promise to move on if you promise that if something happens to me, you’ll live a celibate life. ‘Cause I want you to be miserable.”

He laughed, all gloom and doom fleeing the room
. “I love you. G’night, babe.” And with one more hug he turned over.

minutes his steady breaths became soft snores. She soon followed, drifting into oblivion, forcing herself not to think of their morbid conversation.




Just as the sun peeked over the eastern skyline, Kayla stretched and yawned and began her day. The first rays drifted in through the back window, cheering up the kitchen. She stood at the stove, moving eggs around the skillet. Toast popped out of the toaster. Ten-year-old Chase ran around the table, fisted a knife and jammed it into the butter.

“I’ll get the orange juice,” Sadie announced, hustling toward the fridge.

A small television mounted under the cabinet had been turned on, tuned to the morning news.
“And we’re back with Phillip Ross and photographer Ian McCallister—”

“Hey! They said Ian
McCallister!” Sadie peeked around the door of the fridge. “Is that
Ian McCallister?”

“Yep.” Leon came into the room with a smile, a wink, and a three-year-old princess perched on his arm. “That’s
Ian McCallister.”

“No, it’s
Ian McCallister. Right, Dad?”

“Something like that, Sport.” He dropped Penelope into her booster seat at the table, buckling her in before coming up behind Kayla.

She shot him a look over her shoulder.
“You really should stop that.”

He feigned misunderstanding. “Stop what?”

“One of the kids is going to say something to him and then what?”

“Then he’ll know I’m on to him.”
He winked.

Her husband loved to tease her about t
he very sexy, very young, very could-have-any woman-he-wanted neighbor, who Leon claimed had a crush on her. Ian McCallister was every woman’s dream. Sweet, smart, and sexy as sin. His late twenties body had been honed into a thing of beauty. Yes, she’d looked. She might be married, but she certainly wasn’t dead.

Regardless of his chiseled jaw, full-lipped lop-sided grin and flirtatious winks, Kayla didn’t believe the brown-
haired, bronzed hunk had anything but neighborly intentions toward her. After all, she was just…
, a thirty-seven year old, wife and mother, who considered herself lucky to sneak a shower into a twenty-four hour period. Forty-eight tended to be the norm.

“Should I be offended you’re not jealous?”
She tried not to smile.

“Nope.” He kissed her cheek
, stealing a piece of toast. “It’s the price I pay for having a MILF for a wife.”

“What’s a MILF?” Sadie asked
in six-year-old innocence.

Kayla’s blush burned hot in her cheeks. Leon, however, grinned like an idiot. He
crossed the room and kissed their daughter on top of her auburn head.

“Someday,” he told her, “you’ll learn the answer to that. But today is not that day.” He ruffled her hair. “Be a good girl. Have a good day at school.”

She hugged him tight. “Love you, Daddy.”

And the morning ritual continued; Leon telling each of the kids to be good, each of them saying they loved him. Then it came her turn. Leon clipped his badge onto his belt
, her name flexing across his inner forearm. He hugged her tight, kissed her, looked her right in the eye. “I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Another kiss. “See you tonight.”

She smiled as he snatched a piece of toast off of Chase’s plate before disappearing out the door.
A wave a dread washed over her. She bit her lip, wanting to race after him, beg him to play hooky, call in sick—something he’d never done in their entire twelve year marriage. She choked down the emotion, telling herself he’d be fine—just like every other day—and focused on getting the kids ready for the bus. After they left she and Penelope had a date with the mall.

BOOK: Hard Break (Deadlines & Diamonds, #5)
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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