She Needs a Hero… Abby Thompson didn’t sign up to be the daughter of the President of the United States. The position was forced on her by the small matter of her birth. Preferring a quiet life of study, she’s content to leave the politics and the international intrigue to her father. Unfortunately, the most powerful man on the planet is sure to make enemies. When a group of armed thugs takes her hostage half a world away, demanding the U.S. government release prisoners in exchange for her safe return, she fears her father’s policy of “not negotiating with terrorists” means she’ll never see the shores of the Potomac again. Luckily, there’s one glimmer of hope. His name is Carlos Soto. And though she abruptly ended things with him years ago, she knows now he’s the only man who can save her…
Black Knights, Inc. to the Rescue… Carlos “Steady” Soto has taken part in his fair share of dangerous missions working at the covert government defense firm of Black Knights Inc. But nothing prepared him for the emotional rollercoaster he faces when he’s tasked with rescuing the only woman he ever loved-who also broke his heart. Racing against time and outmaneuvering a group of trained terrorists will take everything he’s got. Plus there’s the heat simmering between them which is threatening to ignite into an inferno. While ruthless enemies stalk them, they must learn to trust each other again. Even if they do make it out alive, will Abby turn her back on him… for the second time?
When Abby lifted her eyes to Carlos’s, it took everything she had to stop her hot tears from spilling over her lower lids. Despite the warm, humid air inside the hut, she was cold. Cold through and through. Down to her bones. Down to her soul.
“I didn’t reject you that day,” she whispered, shivering. “I swear I didn’t. I sent you away because I had to call my father, call the dean, call whoever would listen to me and whoever might have the power to persuade you not to join the Army.”
His brows pulled together, his frown smoothing away his dimple. “So that’s why they both tried to talk me down? I always wondered why either of them would take an interest in me.”
“But nothing would dissuade you.” She shook her head. “You were so stubborn. So determined.”
“I was hungry for retribution,” he admitted. “I wanted to make those cowardly hijos de putas who killed my sister—-and all the other evil men in the world—-pay for what they’d done.”
“And have you?” she asked, searching his face, not allowing herself to focus on the fact that she herself fell into the category of one of those cowardly hijos de putas. “Did the battles in Fallujah or Lashkagar or Sangin or all the missions you’ve been on with the Black Knights quench your thirst for vengeance?”
He tilted his head. It was strange that, at a time like this, she should notice the crystalline drop of water that hung from the lobe of his left ear. It slowly coalesced and fell to the mat and she found herself watching its journey. Then her gaze was riveted to his face when, with narrowed eyes, he asked, “How do you know about those battles? Those missions?”
And shit on stick. She’d just outed herself. “I—-” She had to stop and take a deep breath. There were those smells again, the rain on his skin, the gun black. “I made my father promise to keep tabs on you. I made him promise to tell me when something important happened in your life.”
For a moment, he didn’t move, simply continued to watch her with searching intensity. Then he jerked his chin in a nod. “Well that explains the look on your face back in the jungle when I asked how you knew about the Black Knights,” he said, his stern expression sliding into one of contemplation. “But why? Why would you do that?”
“Because losing Rosa”—-even after all these years it was still difficult to say the woman’s name—“nearly killed me. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you, too. I had to make sure you were alive. I had to know that you hadn’t died out there on the battlefield. I had to know. It was the only way I could stay sane.”
“But I never knew”—-he shook his head—“I meant anything more to you than a fleeting acquaintance. I suspected you loved Rosa.” Good Lord, more than he’d ever know. “But I didn’t think you—-”
“I adored you,” she told him. She had no pride left. No shame. “I adored everything about you. The very ground you walked on. Which is why I had to make sure I hadn’t lost you, too.”
And just as it’d done all those years ago in that hotel room, his throat seemed to stick over a swallow. He was no longer lounging back on his hands, his legs stretched out in front of him. Now he was sitting forward, his black eyes drilling into her as surely as that pesky woodpecker continued to drill holes into her favorite sycamore tree back in DC. She almost winced under the sharp force of his gaze.
“And now?” he asked, his voice hoarse.
She knew what he was after. And considering all the years of lying, she felt it only right, only fair, that she give him this one irrefutable truth. “Oh, Carlos. I still adore you.”