Hot SEALs: Guard Dog (Kindle Worlds) (Stone Hard SEALs Book 3)

BOOK: Hot SEALs: Guard Dog (Kindle Worlds) (Stone Hard SEALs Book 3)
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Text copyright ©2015 by the Author.

This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Cat Johnson. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Hot SEALs remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Cat Johnson, or their affiliates or licensors.

For more information on Kindle Worlds: http://www.amazon.com/kindleworlds

GUARD DOG
By Sabrina York

 

 

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Dedication

This book is dedicated to Cat and Sean and, of course, to Pansy.

 

Edited by: WriteRightEdits

Cover Art by: Dar Albert

 

 

Guard Dog

A Stone Hard SEALS and Hot SEALs Crossover Novella

By Sabrina York

 

Cat Johnson's Hot SEALs Kindle World launches on August 4th. Check out all the scorching books by NYT and USA Today bestselling authors in this exclusive world launch sneak peek!

 

Mason Steele expected to be a SEAL until the day he died. And he was. A pity they revived him. Now he’s been mustered out of the Navy and his life seems wholly unsatisfying. He misses the action; he misses the camaraderie; he misses being able to use his tightly-honed skills. He’s lucky to have snagged this job with GAPS—the Guardian Angel Protective Services—it provides some hope for his future. But the last thing he wants to do is babysit a spoiled heiress who is obsessed with the color of her nail polish and carries a Chihuahua in her purse.

 

But there’s more to Pansy Hightower than can be seen at first glance. She’s smart, sassy and determined to save the business her late mother built. She resents having a
guard dog
and does what she can to lose her muscular shadow. But when it becomes clear that someone is targeting her—perhaps for the same kind of fatal “accident” that befell her mother, she decides having the 240 pound SEAL with killer instincts and lethal hands at her back might be a good idea after all.

 

Until they share a kiss, that is. Until those lethal hands prove they have other talents as well. Talents that leave her breathless and wanting and weak. The last thing either of them wants is a relationship, but the scorching passion between them cannot be denied…even though it will undoubtedly spell disaster for them both.

 

Chapter One

 

Death had a way of changing a man’s life.

Mason Steele cringed as the thought clanged through his head. Or maybe it was the screech of the too-loud techno pop music, or the frenetic thrum of the crowd, or the throbbing pulse in his temple that made his brain hurt.

He stabbed the olive in his
frou-frou-tini
with a tiny plastic sword the bartender had so graciously provided. It didn’t make him feel any better. Still, he jabbed it again. He glanced over at
her
and blew out a breath.

Good lord. What had he become?

Since he’d been a toddler, he’d wanted to be a SEAL. He’d prepared for it all his life. Trained for it. Bled for it.

He’d made it, of course. Passed BUD/S with Hall of Fame marks. Faced off against terrorists and insurgents and drill sergeants—all of whom, apparently, wanted him dead. And he’d loved every minute of it. Every fucking minute.

Until one routine rescue mission, where a Somali pirate’s bullet hit him in the plates and stopped his heart. The medics had been able to resuscitate him, but in the resultant checkup the doctor had found…something. Some dumbass hiccup in his sinoatrial node.

A SEAL must be in perfect physical condition.

He could still see the dust motes floating on the shafts of afternoon sunlight lancing through the blinds, still smell the toxic mix of alcohol and antiseptic pine suffusing the doctor’s office, still feel the cold steel of the arm of his chair as his fingers closed around it.

The bullet didn’t kill him.

It might as well have.

A SEAL must be in perfect physical condition.

A SEAL cannot have a bum heart. One that could go into A-fib at any time.

But a desk clerk could.

Seriously. The doctor had said that. Suggested
that
.

Suggested that Mason turn in his Trident and take a seat behind a desk.

He’d rather die from a pirate’s bullet than fucking push papers. Rather do anything than push papers. Even this.

The lights on the dance floor shifted to some annoying strobe that made his left eyelid twitch. He stared out at the mass of young bodies writhing to the beat. They all melted together in the gloom and his annoyance bristled into concern. He focused his attention and scanned for her.

His chest tightened when he didn’t spot her. He was barely aware of the slender stem of his glass snapping between his fingers as he pushed back his stool and stood.

Shit.

Where was she?

Fuck.
He should have been paying attention, not mooning like a thirteen year old over a past that was immutable. It was what it was. He was no longer a SEAL. And he was damn lucky to have this job with the Guardian Angel Protection Service where he could at least use some of his skills. Where he wasn’t caged by a fucking desk.

He intensified his search, quartering the room, as he had a hundred—no a thousand—times on missions, quickly assessing each pod of bodies, hunting for a hint of her shape. But he didn’t see her. Anywhere.

Double fuck. Jon would never use him again if he screwed up this detail.

He had to find her. The club had two exits, one in the front and one in the back. He would have noticed if she’d passed him where he sat, so that only left the rear exit. He set his teeth. Rear exits had alleys. Alleys were notoriously dangerous, especially in Vegas. His muscles tightened as he prepared to push through the crowd toward the dim red sign. Could she have—?

Oh.

Yeah.

There she was.

His gut relaxed as he caught sight of her bouncing ponytail. He swallowed the urge to grab that ponytail and yank…maybe drag her back to her hotel suite with it. Somewhere quiet at the very least.

But his target didn’t know how much her lifestyle annoyed him—what was this, the
fourth
nightclub tonight? Hell, she didn’t even know he was tailing her.

With a huff, he sat down on the stool again and raised his finger for another ridiculous drink. He desperately needed to stab something.

But he didn’t take his eyes of her.

Not for a second.

 

Oh, God.
He was still there.

Pansy Hightower plastered a smile on her face and twirled in the arms of some Lothario who’d gleefully pulled her onto the dance floor. Normally, she would never dance with a stranger. Certainly not a drooly manwhore like this, with his shiny shirt unbuttoned to his navel, hair slicked back with an oily pomade, and doused in a truly repugnant body spray. But he served as excellent camouflage while Pansy scoped out the Goliath who had been following her all night. She’d noticed him at once—and not in a good way. He was tall, six-four or six-five, muscled and raw. His face was a canvas of harsh angles and sinful beauty, from the long lashes feathering his eyes to the harsh clefts in his cheek. His jaw was square and strong and speckled with scruff. At a glance, she’d been devastated.

He was the most beautiful creature she’d ever seen in her life.

And therefore, the most frightening.

Immediately, thoughts had begun dancing in her head. Lustful thoughts, ones she knew better than to entertain. A woman in her position could trust no one. She’d learned that lesson the hard way.

She’d been so disturbed by the sight of him that she’d left the club, although she hadn’t intended to leave so early. True, she’d found Monique and had the conversation she’d come for, but a little post-promise socializing was never a bad move. But Pansy had left. Because
he
was there.

But he’d been at the second club too. And the third. And now he was here.

And now…it was getting creepy.

Not that he’d said or done anything untoward. He’d kept his distance, barely looking at her—although she felt the sizzle of his attention now and again, but Pansy wasn’t an idiot. She knew when she was being followed.

She’d been followed before.

Damn Steven. Damn him to hell.

She couldn’t wait until next Tuesday. If there was a God in heaven, the vote would go her way and her stepfather would be ousted from the company. Out of her life forever. Why her mother had given him any shares at all was a mystery.

But then, why Marla Hightower had married Steven Bowles was a mystery in and of itself. It wasn’t just that he had been decades younger, though that was annoying as hell, or that he was so slick and smarmy and—Pansy suspected—a gold-digger. He and her mother had had nothing in common. Nothing but some incomprehensible passion.

Even that had come into question after Marla’s accident—one the police had labeled a suicide.

Pansy shivered as the horror of that day slithered through her. She would never forget the moment she’d heard the news. It was hard to believe her mother was dead. Even now, the realization still surprised her. She could not accept that her mother had taken her own life. She wasn’t that kind of person and never had been.

And then, after her mother’s funeral, Steven had come to her. And he’d tried to kiss her.

Her stomach heaved in revulsion.
The day of her mother’s funeral.

What a worm.

When Pansy shot him down, he’d turned nasty. Showed the side of himself she’d always suspected but had never been able to prove. His true colors had come out.

The bastard.

He’d made it more than clear what he really wanted, what he’d always wanted. The franchise. FlyTower. The multi-million dollar clothing and accessories line Pansy, her mother and her aunt had built. And thanks to her mother’s naiveté and her blind love for her much younger husband—leaving him her share of the business—he might get it. 

The thought was appalling.

Even more appalling were Pansy’s creeping suspicions. She didn’t dare put words to them. But deep in her heart, she suspected her mother’s death may not have been an accident at all.

And now Steven had men following her.

Big, beefy, ominous men—although most of them were stupid and fairly easy to lose.

Most
of them.

She shot another glance at the behemoth at the bar. She caught his eye and a sizzle surged through her.

Hell.

She had no business being attracted to him. It annoyed her that she was and she attempted to squelch the sentiment. Even if she had time for a relationship—which she most decidedly did not—she would never tangle with one of Steven’s minions. That would be tantamount to serving herself up on a silver platter.

Besides, right now she needed to focus on saving her business. Specifically, meeting with their larger shareholders and convincing them not only to kill Steven’s proposal, but to vote him out as well. Hence this trip to Vegas to secure Monique’s votes. If Pansy failed, if she lost the company, it would devastate her.

Not for the first time she cursed the fact that her Aunt Catherine was out of the country on a month-long buying trip to the orient, seeking out new fabric suppliers. She could really have used the support. But Steven—the bastard—had waited until she was gone to drop his bomb.

It concerned her that she hadn’t been able to reach her aunt on her cell phone—especially with the looming vote—but it wasn’t unheard of for Aunt Catherine to get wind of a deal and go off road. She was notorious for finding some of the most amazing silks and authentic artists in tiny mountain villages with absolutely no reception.

But talk about shitty timing.

If Catherine didn’t make it back in time for the vote, or if some of the key shareholders flipped, Steven would win. They would lose control of the company they’d built from nothing.

Damn Steven. Damn him and his annoying guard dogs.

The music thrumming through the club switched into something slower and less frenetic—thank God—and the lights went down. Just what Pansy had been waiting for. She’d been easing herself closer and closer to the rear exit and was now close. There was a sea of humanity between her and the huge man at the bar, although she could no longer see him through the dry ice smoke shooting from a cannon on the stage.

Perfect.

A perfect opportunity to slip away.

A shadow rose up to block her path. “Hey there, beautiful.” The light strobed and she caught a glimpse of a man slicked back hair, an Armani shirt with the buttons undone and a thick gold chain. “Haven’t we met before?”

“No. We have not.”

She tried to skirt around him but he shifted too. “No. I know you.” He shook a finger at her. “Aren’t you the bimbo on that TV show? You know. The one with the dog?”

Pansy tried to ignore the ripple of annoyance. She worked hard at her job and took her responsibilities seriously. As Development Director and Vice-President of the company, she regularly worked twelve to fourteen hour days. The TV show was nothing but a tool to market their brand—but it was the only side of her people ever saw.

She didn’t have time for this. She never did. She forced a smile. “Yeah, I get that a lot. ‘Scuse me.”

Pushing past him, she headed into the back hallway, through the emergency exit and into the alley. The desert heat hit her like a blast furnace, but it was almost a relief. She hadn’t realized how tense she’d been. Her skin was clammy and sweat prickled on her brow. She didn’t care for clubs or crowds, but it was part of her persona, her business face, so she’d learned to tolerate the annoyances. But now, all she wanted to do was head back to her suite, kick off her heels and curl up with Lola.

She never heard them coming.

She should have, but she didn’t.

They were on her in a heartbeat, a cluster of large looming men, a blur of hands and pressing bodies. Horror gripped her as a musty hood covered her head, muffling her scream. Then one of the men slapped his palm over her mouth and snarled. “Shut up.” He covered her nose as well; she could barely breathe. In her panic, she writhed and fought to get free.

But she could not.

Her heart pounded and bile rose in her throat as the men zip tied her hands, picked her up with biting grips and carried her away. Not far, she had the presence of mind to notice. Not far at all.

But then they tossed her into a tight space—she flew through the air and hit her head on something hard; her eyes crossed as pain lanced her. Dark stars danced before her eyes and she struggled not to sink into oblivion. She needed to be awake. Needed to be present. She had the very real sense that her life depended upon it.

Smells of rubber and gasoline burned her nostrils. A mélange of sharp items poked at her back and her hips. Where was she? What was happening? Was this…it?

Would they kill her now?

Memories, thoughts, regrets sluiced through her as she played out her existence in that fraction of a second. Mind reeling, she sucked in a deep breath, determined to let loose one more scream—though  no one in the club would ever hear.

But then, with a loud slam, her prison shook.

And she realized…she was in the trunk of a car.

BOOK: Hot SEALs: Guard Dog (Kindle Worlds) (Stone Hard SEALs Book 3)
5.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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