Authors: Carole Mortimer
An Alpha series novella
USA Today Bestselling Author
Copyright © 2015 Carole Mortimer
Cover Design Copyright © Glass Slipper Designs
Editor: Linda Ingmanson
Formatter: Matthew Mortimer
ISBN: 978-1-910597-15-6 (mobi)
ISBN: 978-1-910597-16-3 (ePub)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All Rights Reserved.
All my Readers.
Thank you for loving Alpha Series as much as I do.
“Kiss me as if you’re pleased to see me.”
pleased to see her.
He also had no problem kissing her.
Whoever she was.
Sitting in his favorite booth at the back of the crowded bar, he had been debating whether or not he wanted a refill in his whisky glass or to go home and order dinner in. The latter held some appeal. The two-weeks-before-Christmas drinking crowd was starting to get a little noisy as they relaxed after a hard day at work.
The sexy and smiling woman who now slid onto the bench seat beside him, her arms going about his shoulders as she turned toward him and curved her body invitingly against his, made him decide the complete opposite.
He hadn’t noticed her coming into the bar, too busy staring into the bottom of his almost empty glass, but he noticed her now.
She really was too beautiful not to notice. About five-six with a curvy figure, probably ten years or so younger than his own thirty-five. She wore a body-hugging black top beneath a short tan leather jacket above low-rider black denims. Her rich auburn hair was professionally cut in a feathered style to just below her shoulders. Her skin had the smoothness of pale ivory. He thought he could see shadows, or perhaps secrets, lurking in those eyes the turquoise blue of the Aegean in summer. As for her mouth…
Seth imagined all the wicked things he could do with and to those peach-glossed and pouting lips shaped in a perfect bow. A sexy-as-hell mouth, designed for sin.
A mouth he’d been invited to kiss.
“How do you know I’m not married?” he answered her huskily.
She looked startled for a moment, and then she smiled again, slow and seductive. “Are you?”
“No. You?” He had already checked for rings on her left hand the moment she sat beside him, but the absence of rings didn’t really mean a lot. She would be far from the first married woman to remove her wedding ring before entering a bar bent on seduction.
Something, some emotion—those shadows?—flickered in the depths of her eyes, and then it was gone again. “No.”
She spoke too flatly, too emphatically, not to be believed. Even so, Seth sensed a story behind the denial. A story he had no interest in hearing when she was offering up those sensual lips.
He still had absolutely no idea who she was. Maybe she had mistaken him for someone else—although he found that a little hard to believe when he had a distinctive scar running down the left side of his face and neck—or maybe this was merely an interesting pickup line?
Either way, they could sort out the details later, because there was no way he was going to pass up the opportunity to kiss those sensual, parted lips scant inches away from his own.
He held her gaze with his as he lifted his hands to cup either side of her face before lowering his head and taking possession of her mouth. Hot and deliciously soft lips that he tasted slowly and thoroughly before running his tongue along the lower, fuller one and entered the heat of her mouth, exploring, claiming as he felt her lips part wider in response to the invasion.
It was hot as hell inside her mouth. As hot as it would be when he had the hardness of his cock inside her pussy later on tonight—
What the hell…?
Seth broke off the kiss and pulled back as he felt the sharp sting of her tiny white teeth bite down on his tongue.
Those shadows were definitely back in the woman’s eyes even though her lips continued to give that inviting smile. “Smile. Try to look happy to see me.” Her arms still clung about his neck, her breasts pressed against the hardness of his chest.
He grimaced as he ran his tongue against his lips and tasted blood. “You invited me to kiss you, and when I did, you bit me. That doesn’t make me feel much like smiling.”
Narrowed eyes searched the hardness of his face for several seconds. “You don’t remember me, do you?”
Six huskily spoken words that, when spoken by a woman—along with
my parents want to meet you—
were enough to send an icy chill down any man’s spine.
Seth’s included, as his brain went into overdrive trying to place where or when he might have met this woman before. Surely he wouldn’t have forgotten a woman who looked and tasted like this one did?
Her smile was rueful. “We met eight months ago.”
Nope, not ringing any bells—
Seth pulled her arms down from his shoulders but kept hold of her hands as he leaned back against the leather seat to study her as intently as she had been studying him.
The woman he’d met in Colombia had been—well, skinnier. Unattractively skinny. Admittedly, she probably hadn’t eaten properly for days before he saw her and could have lost all these killer curves as a result. He seemed to remember her hair as being darker than this woman’s too, but maybe that was because, like the rest of her, it had needed washing and was scraped back in a ponytail. She had been wearing a dirty blouse. And jeans. He remembered there had been jeans.
But not like the jeans she was wearing tonight. The black low-riders were exactly that, and so skinny in style, the material clung snugly enough to her hips and legs they left absolutely nothing to the imagination. She also smelled amazing; something exotic and floral, along with hot sexy woman. A perfume that, if it could be manufactured and bottled, would surely be the only perfume in existence.
Nope, he didn’t see her as being the same battered and bruised woman he had met in Colombia all those months ago.
A woman who certainly hadn’t made it easy for him when he rescued her from the group of Colombian bandits who were holding her for ransom.
She had also made it clear, from the moment he burst into the room where she was being held prisoner, that she distrusted him almost as much as she did the men holding her captive.
Okay, so yeah, he did have that vicious scar running down the left side of his face and throat. And yes, he had been wearing face camouflage and dressed all in black. But that was still no reason for her to start screaming like a banshee from hell the moment he stepped into her room—his stealth should have given her a clue he wasn’t one of her kidnappers, let alone the fact he was at least a foot taller than any Colombian—and, as a consequence, alerting the kidnappers to the fact he was there.
His intention had been to go in quick and clean, not have to end up shooting his way out against a dozen or so pissed-off Columbians.
“You knocked me unconscious,” Diana recalled dryly as she saw the expression of disgust on Seth Armstrong’s face and knew he now remembered exactly who she was. At least, he was remembering the person she had been that day eight months ago.
A lot could happen in that time. It had certainly happened to her. Kidnapped in Colombia and held for ransom. Being rescued by the man sitting beside her.
The murder of her husband, Jeremy, only a week later.
Oh yes, a lot could happen in just a few months.
Seth Armstrong grimaced. “As I recall, you gave me no choice.”
No, she probably hadn’t. The man he had been that day was like no one she had ever met or spoken to before.
She had lived a sheltered life as the only child of her painter father and poet mother, gentle souls who lived their lives quietly in the cottage in rural Wales where Diana had been born. Having no artistic bent of her own, she had gone to university in Oxford and attained a degree in history, after which she had secured a job in a London museum.
Which was where she met Jeremy Moore, a junior aide in the Diplomatic Service. It had been a whirlwind courtship, and they married a year ago so that Diana could accompany Jeremy when he went to his reassignment in Bogotá two months later.
None of those things had prepared her for being kidnapped within weeks of their arrival in Colombia, the armed men having simply taken her off the street and bundled her into the back of a truck when she was out at a market shopping. Diana had been terrified, knew only too well the history of kidnap victims in Colombia usually ending up dead, whether the ransom money was paid or not.
The men had held her prisoner for several days in a disgusting filthy shack out in the jungle somewhere.
Even so, Diana had all but given up hope, when she was rescued by the man now sitting beside her. A man well over six feet tall, his dark hair long enough to touch his muscular shoulders. The war paint on his face that day had made his dark eyes appear as black as onyx. Nor had the camouflage face paint succeeded in concealing that wicked-looking scar on his face and throat. He had also been dressed totally in black and carrying a gun very similar to the ones her captors pointed at her whenever they brought her food or water. Which wasn’t nearly often enough.
She was badly dehydrated, barely given enough food to keep her alive, had a bucket in the corner of the room in which to relieve herself. The way this man looked, along with the tension radiating off him in waves as he stepped into the filthy hovel she had lived and slept in for days, had convinced her he must be there to shoot her.
How had he expected her to behave when a dark-eyed savage burst in waving a gun around and telling her to
move, move, move
Diana had screamed.
And been rendered unconscious for her trouble. By this man. She wasn’t even sure how he had done it, only remembered that he had quickly placed his gun against the wall so that he could put one hand over her mouth to stop the noise of her screaming. His other hand had moved to her throat, fingers pressing against her skin and sending her into total blackness.
She woke up as she was being unceremoniously dumped in the back of a truck, this man climbing in behind her at the same time as he told the driver to
He then lay down in the back of the truck and started returning the gunfire coming from somewhere behind them. Diana was thrown from side to bruising side as the truck was driven too fast down a rutted track that snaked through the dense undergrowth of the jungle.
Diana had been living in fear for days, wondering what was going to happen to her next. This man’s arrival had been too much for her to take in. The kidnapping. Those horrible men taunting and leering at her as they told her all the things they were going to do to her once her ransom had been paid.
She had learned later that after knocking her out, Seth Armstrong had thrown her unconscious body over his shoulder and then shot his way out of the compound. After which he had lifted her over a wall, run through the jungle, all while still carrying her, before then throwing her into the back of the truck.
“No, I didn’t,” she now answered him economically. “Everything was such a blur once we returned to Bogotá. I never even had the chance to thank you properly.” In truth, he had seemed like part of a nightmare she couldn’t wake from.
“Grayson Security was hired and paid to retrieve you. All in a day’s work.” Seth Armstrong shrugged off her gratitude. “Although officially, I was never there.” He bared straight white teeth in a hard smile.
If what this man said was true, then he lived with and dealt with danger on a daily basis.
Which was exactly the reason Diana had sought him out this evening.
“How did you know where to find me?” he prompted curiously.