Starving artist Kelsey Tecato takes being The Templeton Museum’s artist in residence a little too literally. By day, she puts on a show of painting for the crowds that shuffle through the galleries, but at night, her muse runs wild.
Mitch Jameson is a guy’s guy. A cop moonlighting as a security guard, he has little use for the artsy-fartsy stuff, but the mysterious Ms. Tecato’s sexy portraits call to him.
So does an interior alarm.
When Officer Jameson goes to investigate, he finds a paint-splattered goddess working on a self-portrait–in the nude.
A couple tubes of paint and a roll in the drop cloths later, free-spirited Kelsey helps Officer Jameson discover his passion for art.
Forcing himself to put one foot in front of the other, he left the provocative portraits behind and turned toward the west end of the building. The Templeton rambled for nearly a city block but most of the space went unused. Exhibits occupied the open center space of the two-story building joined by a pair of sweeping marble staircases. The east side had been converted to classroom space decades before, but the warren of tiny rooms on the west end were primarily administrative offices and storage.
His heart started to pound when he picked up the murmur of a deep voice. Shifting the flashlight to his left hand, Mitch reached for his sidearm and came up empty. He was a guard tonight, not a cop. His service weapon was locked up safe in his apartment. At the end of the corridor he pulled up short, pressing his back against the wall and tightening his grip on the flashlight. He wore a panic button clipped to his belt but his instincts told him he wasn’t at the panic stage yet. Breathing soft and slow, he closed his eyes and focused his energy on catching a few words. Perhaps he could figure out what the intruders were after before making his presence known.
Thirty seconds passed. His eyes popped open then rolled heavenward as the droning voice segued into a bouncy pop song. The radio. Someone had left a radio playing in one of the offices. Shaking off the rush of adrenaline, Mitch pushed away from the wall and rounded the corner, only to come to a dead stop when he saw the fan of light spilling from the office at the very end of the hall.
Two things he knew for certain: the radio hadn’t been playing when he’d made his post-closing rounds, and that door on the end of the corridor hadn’t been open. He let the barrel of the flashlight slip through his fingers until he gripped the lamp. Wielding his only weapon like a club, he crept toward the door as silently as a guy who clocked in at six-four and two-ten could. Just outside the office, he caught a flash of movement inside the room and quickly pressed his back to the wall.
“About time you showed up.”
A woman. The intruder was a woman and she’d been expecting him. Irked by the presumptuous amusement in her tone, he stepped into the open doorway, prepared to let her have it, and almost swallowed his tongue. Screw the flashing red lights. Alarm bells clamored in his head the moment recognition clicked. Kelsey Tecato. Artist in Residence. Painter of hard-on-inducing nudes. Live and in person, standing in the Templeton Museum after hours.
And naked as the day she was born.
Meet Maggie Wells
Maggie Wells is a deep-down dirty girl with a weakness for hot heroes and happy endings.
By day she is buried in spreadsheets, but at night she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, this mild-mannered married lady has a naughty streak a mile wide.
Fueled by supertankers of Diet Coke, Maggie juggles fictional romance and the real deal by keeping her slow-talking Southern gentleman constantly amused and their two children mildly embarrassed. They are the food purveyors to three dogs, a passel of fish, and one impertinent house rabbit she claims is the love of her life. Shh. Don’t tell her husband.
I’m ready to move on. Please don’t search for me. Please just let me go.
The note on the kitchen table shatters Jay Wentworth’s world into bits. Ellie is his lover, his soulmate, his best friend…she’s the woman who stood by him through the aftermath of a horrible explosion, the woman he’s planning to propose to. He’d do anything for her…except let her go. With his fierce protectiveness kicked into overdrive, he teams up with Ellie’s Hotel Serafina boss, billionaire Wyatt Christiansen, to find her. Ellie is family at the casino and they take care of their own.
Ellie is devastated when her secret past finally catches up with her. Stupid to think she could bury the mistakes of her youth and find happiness with a good man. Leaving Jay rips her heart to shreds, but it’s the only way she can protect him from the dangerous people she once ran with. And deep down, she fears he’ll never be able to forgive her for hiding her past from him.
The closer Jay gets to the truth about Ellie, the deeper he plunges into danger. He’ll move heaven and earth to save her, but if she can’t trust in Jay’s love it might be too late for both of them.
Ellie’s eyes flew open and she jerked upright in bed. Breathing hard, she looked around her and Jay’s bedroom feeling lost and disoriented. What the hell? She’d been dreaming about Jay… How long had she been out? Glancing at her cell phone she realized it hadn’t been very long. Her hair was still damp too.
She rubbed a hand over her face and slid her legs off the bed. She needed to get up and—the bedroom door flew open and she nearly jumped out of her skin.
Jay stood there in jeans, no shirt and a gun held tightly in his hand. Her eyes widened, not because of the gun, but because he was clearly agitated. “Pack a bag. Someone just blew up your car.”
“What?” No way she’d heard him correctly.
Mouth pulled into a grim line, he nodded. “Pack enough for a couple weeks. I’ve called the cops and Wyatt, but you and I are getting the hell out of here and somewhere safer until this mess is sorted out.”
Feeling numb, she moved toward the closet. Her car had been parked in the driveway. Someone had come to their home and done this. She or Jay could have been badly injured, or worse. “Was anyone hurt? Did you see who did it?”
He shook his head. “No to both counts.”
At least no one had been injured, but if someone had blown up her car—and she had no doubt who had done it—things had just gotten a lot more deadly. “It had to be Kevin, right?”
Jay nodded. “That’s my guess.”
She paused by the closet door and clutched onto it, thankful for the support. She knew she needed to pack and that they had to get the hell out of there, but she felt almost frozen, her limbs numb. “What are we going to do?”
“Get some place safe, regroup with a team, and take this bastard down.” The razor’s edge to his voice sent a chill down her spine.
Ellie had seen Jay intense at work before, especially with the various threatening situations they dealt with, but she’d never seen him like this. So…deadly.
It completely melted her that he’d do anything to protect her, but her nightmare was coming to life. Jay was now involved and in real danger.
Because of her.
Meet Author Katie Reus
Katie Reus is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Red Stone Security series, the Moon Shifter series and the Deadly Ops series. She fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she pilfered from her mom’s stash. Years later she loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it.
However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. After changing majors many times, she finally graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology. Not long after that she discovered a new love. Writing. She now spends her days writing dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense.