Authors: Emerson Shaw
K I S S E D B L I N D
A Hot Pursuit Novel
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. Copyright © 2016 Emerson Shaw. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means.
from Acts of Desperation
To Evan and Will, my best bodyguards.
Note to the Reader:
in The Hot Pursuit series. Book one is summed up in the beginning of this novel. You can read this book without having read book one, but there may be certain parts that are slightly unclear. You will not be lost, however. Enjoy!
“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
I stared at the ceiling listening to Gabe’s even breaths, my skin marked with his sweet scent. He’d been my personal, calorie-free, lemon chiffon cupcake. As far as relationships go, ours had had its ups and downs, but lately we were coasting up, and I was enjoying the ride.
I lifted my fingers to my nose and breathed him in, hoping his scent would somehow lull me to sleep. I glanced at the clock across the room. Two hours I’d been tossing and turning, and an annoying, indiscernible noise hummed somewhere off in the distance. I sighed quietly so as to not wake him. Another sleepless night was upon me, and even the smell of him would do nothing to help.
Six months had passed since Vance and I had nearly—hell, I wasn’t sure what had nearly happened, but I’d spent plenty of hours trying to figure it out. We’d been partners at Bodyguards and Brutes Personal Protection Agency for five years and had known each other before that, but a few months ago the line between partners and more-than-partners had been blurred.
Or had it?
I’d probably made everything up, figments of a confused and girlish imagination pieced together to form an illogical story. With how great things were going with Gabe, I had no reason to waste time wondering like I was. Nevertheless, my brain was hardwired to take the path back to rifling through my kitchen drawer looking for a deck of cards. Behind closed eyes, I stared into the liquid heat burning in Vance’s and felt his hands on my hips. The rollercoaster of emotions would rush through my body at Mach force. My heart would race, rise up in my throat, and steal my breath.
That was usually when I reminded myself that a lot had happened with our client, Avery Quinn, Vice President of the National Bank Corporation, and his thought-to-be-dead business partner. That was what sparked these late night think sessions. Yes, that was it, a post-traumatic stress event of sorts. Then there was the chance encounter that was anything but, Stephen. I tried not to think about him much, but when he’d involved me in a plot to overthrow the U.S. Oil Market, and caused the death of my co-worker, he was unavoidable in these quiet moments. No one could have walked away from that situation without a few scars.
But while my obsessive thoughts festered, I wondered, what might have happened if Gabe hadn’t shown up at my door that afternoon when I stared into the depths of Vance’s eyes? I huffed and turned over.
Nothing, that’s what. Vance was only teasing me in my kitchen like he always did. Vance was being Vance, staying true to his MO, playing with me because he could. And he certainly didn’t remember kissing me. I needed to put it all behind me and leave it there. Gabe, Vance, and I had settled back into our normal rhythms. Case closed.
In my final attempt to chase ever-evasive sleep, I twisted my hair up to lie on top of my pillow and groaned. Gabe rolled over, draping his hand across my hip. He pulled me into him; the velvety warmth of his body enveloped mine.
“You’re still awake?”
His voice soothed me, and I smiled, closing my eyes. “Yeah, trying to shut off my brain.”
“What’s the topic tonight?” He inhaled against my neck, and a pulse of electricity shot through me.
I laughed softly. “Nothing is off limits really. I’m thinking for the lack of anything better to do. That cup of coffee after dinner was a bad idea.”
He grunted. “You sure that’s it? You haven’t had a sleepless night in a while.” He had no idea how many I’d actually had recently.
I turned to him. Even in the moonlight, I saw the contentment of our evening still residing on his face, his hazel eyes clear and observant. “No, nothing in particular. Promise.”
He brought my lips to his and rested his forehead against mine. “Do you have any idea how much I love you?” He caressed my backside, and his fingers roamed between my thighs.
I shook my head. “Refresh my memory.”
“More than words can say.” He slid on top of me, smothering my neck in kisses. “Whatever it is you’re thinking about, I bet I can make you forget it.”
I giggled. “Again?” He nodded, his hands searching for mine. “You’re insatiable lately, Gabriel Montgomery.”
“Only for you, Diana Cain.”
. . .
I sat on Gabe’s couch listening to the morning news, holding a hot cup of coffee between my palms. He circulated through the kitchen, the soft, morning light filtered through the windows, catching the natural color variations in his honey hair. He popped a plastic cup in the coffee maker and snapped the lid closed. The warm nectar spurted and filled his cup. I loved watching him this way, relaxed and at home without the weight of the world on his shoulders yet. The newscaster spoke the name Oliver Pierce, and it pulled my attention.
Oliver Pierce looked better than if Brad Pitt and James Dean had spawned a love child. Every woman, and I’m pretty sure half the men in the world, had a fantasy involving him. I was no exception. He’d been in action-packed blockbuster after action-packed blockbuster, satisfying every man’s need for explosions and high-speed chases, and every woman’s dream of finding the perfect, muscle-bound man with a healthy appetite for love. I’d seen all of his movies and had been a fan from day one.
“Oliver Pierce Nearly Killed in Car Accident
” flashed along the bottom of the screen while images of a crumpled, silver Mercedes were shown.
“What’s got your attention?” Gabe walked behind me and crunched into his miniscule breakfast.
“Oliver Pierce was in a car accident last night on Fort Washington Way.” I leaned in closer to the screen, slightly annoyed I couldn’t hear the complete story over Gabe’s chewing.
“I don’t get your obsession with that guy. It’s just because he was naked in most of his last movie.”
It was erotic and controversial and took my love for him to a whole new level.
“You’ve seen him, right? And don’t pretend like you don’t like his blow-‘em-up-movies. You know you have a secret bromance with him like every other guy. I heard he’s supposed to be the next James Bond.”
“But he’s not British. Isn’t that a prerequisite for being ‘Bond, James Bond?’”
I snickered at his imitation. “If anyone can speak in a convincing British accent, it’s him.” Buttery toast with an underlying scent of something fruity was placed in front of my mouth. I blindly bit.
He grunted. “He’s supposed to start filming his next movie in town soon, isn’t he?”
“Yeah, or he was. I hope he’s all right. The world just won’t be the same,” I said, covering my mouth while I chewed. An unexpected flavor explosion erupted similar to a cranberry but a thousand times better. “Oh my God, what’s on that?”
“My mom got me a jar of lingonberry preserves from her and dad’s Alaskan cruise. Good, huh?”
-mazing.” It was the perfect balance of sweet and tart combined with silky, creamy butter.
“So, was he killed?” He leaned over my shoulder to read the screen, and then the newscaster said he’d sustained only minor injuries. “Ah, apparently not.”
I glanced at Gabe over my shoulder. “It’s incredible considering how his car looked. It’s totaled.”
“He’s a lucky guy. Looks like he’ll ‘live to die another day.’” He chuckled to himself and leaned forward to kiss a crumb from the corner of my mouth.
“There’s something wrong with you,” I said through a laugh.
“I know. I’m crazy over you.”
“Please, just stop. You’re digging yourself in deeper.” I shook my head.
His eyes grew openly amused. “You know you can’t just live on coffee. Want me to fix you something?”
“No, I’ll grab a bite after I exercise.”
“All right. Suit yourself, but I make a mean slice of jellied toast.”
“You’re the next
I can’t argue, but no thank you.”
He rubbed my shoulder before going back in the kitchen. He sat at the table with his coffee while I continued watching the news for another glimpse of Oliver Pierce. They briefly mentioned where the filming of his movie was to take place and moved on to the next story, nothing more about the accident, not even a shot of him being loaded into an ambulance.
Gabe’s phone vibrated in his hand. Working alongside his father at Montgomery Mergers and Acquisitions always kept him busy, but lately he was swamped. His phone started ringing around six every morning and didn’t stop, ever. He glanced over at me while silencing it.
“Take the call. It’s fine.”
“I can call them back.”
“I have to work out anyway. Don’t hold off because of me.” I peeled my body off the couch, stopping by to give him a quick kiss before hitting the gym downstairs.
I started my interval training routine, and when I finished kicking my butt, I hit the shower. I had about an hour before I was expected at the office. Two generously-sized shower heads rained over me, and four recessed sprayers shot around me, beating the tightness from my strained muscles. I loved Gabe, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I partly stayed at his house just to use his shower. It even had a heated bench, so I could shave my legs sitting down. Seriously, it was a dream.
I shut the water off and opened the glass door. When my foot hit the bathmat, Gabe walked in holding my phone. “Hey, what’re you—” I reached for a towel but froze when our eyes met. His innocent expression quickly faded, and his eyes trailed over my dripping flesh. “Uh-uh, don’t look at me like that. I’m still recovering from last night. I need to get ready for work, and you’re already late.” I crossed my arms over my breasts and covered his favored point of interest.
“Hmm… I don’t care. I’m thirsty.” He walked toward me, his eyes leaving my chest and moving lower.
My belly warmed, and I dropped my hands. “Then you should drink something.”
He laid my phone on the sink and stood before me, beautifully poised, possessing me more and more with every breath I took. Nothing compared to when he looked at me like that. I was, without question, his.
His fingers worked their way up my body, smearing the droplets covering my arms and puckering my skin. His jacket grazed my stomach.
“Your suit… I’m going to get you wet.”
His lids grew heavy with lust. “I don’t care.” He grasped my hips. “Turn around.”
“But you’ll be—”
“I don’t care. Turn around.” His voice was flat and firm.
I spun and placed my palms on the glass doors. My skin tingled against his virgin wool. He moved my hair forward, dripping water in a steady rivulet over my shoulder, between my breasts, and down further before absorbing into the cotton between my toes. His lips pressed to my neck as he drank from my skin. My pulse quickened, and my breath hitched as the bulge below his waist pressed into the small of my back.
My phone rang.
“Leave it,” he said. “It’s just Vance. It’s the third time he’s called.”
“It is? Why didn’t you tell me?” I twisted out of his hold and snatched my phone.
He groaned and grabbed the phone from my hand, silencing it.
I sighed. “You know it’s not normal. Something has to be up.” I took it back.
“He’s not the most patient person. Make him wait.”
“Gabe.” I scowled. “Maybe something happened with his dad.”
He nodded and stepped back, his shoulders sagging. “I guess you better call him back then.” He grabbed a towel, wrapped me up, and kissed me so deeply my toes tingled.
“I’ll see you later and we can finish what you started?” I asked.
“Can’t. I have to work late.”
“There’s always a big deal going down, huh?”
“I’d suggest you come here after you finish your day, but I know how you hate to be here when the house is empty.”
“It’s too big when you’re not here.” The walls echoed an emptiness when it was only me inside. “It makes my skin crawl.”
“You’re so strange.” He shook his head, grinning. “I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand how you like living in your little shoebox.”
I shrugged with a half-smile. “I like my shoebox. It’s cozy. But I need to check in at home anyway and get my mail. I’ll talk to you later?”
“Damn right you will.” He spanked my bottom.
After he shut the door, I returned Vance’s call. “What’s lit a fire under your butt this morning?”
“Where have you been? I’ve been calling you,” Vance snapped.
“Yeah, I noticed. Patience, grasshopper, I was in the shower. What’s up?”
“Cavanaugh called. We have a new assignment and need to get going ASAP.”
“What’s so urgent?”
“Where are you?”
“That’s what I figured. I’m already on my way. I’ll be there in less than twenty.”
“What’s going on?”
“Hollywood called. Oliver Pierce just hired us.”