“Ryan, I don’t want you to die for me.”
Jessica had followed his orders all day and had the blisters to prove it. She wasn’t putting up with any more today. She jabbed her finger against his chest.
“Four marshals died protecting me. I don’t want your name branded into my conscience, too.”
She whirled around and stomped through the bushes, struggling to hold back the angry words she wanted to say. For the first time since she’d testified, she’d gone on the offensive, determined to protect Ryan in any way she could. For what? So he could lecture her?
Ryan caught up to her and grasped her shoulders. He forced her to turn around, but she refused to look up at him.
“When I couldn’t find you, I thought someone had…” His words faded away and he pulled her tightly against his chest.
He was worried about her? That’s why he was so angry?
He gently pushed Jessica back and cupped her face between his hands.“Don’t ever scare me like that again.”
Ryan yanked her toward him and captured her lips in a fierce kiss…
About the Author
LENA DIAZ was born in Kentucky and has also lived in California, Louisiana and Florida where she now resides with her husband and two children. before becoming a romance suspense author, she was a computer programmer. A former Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, she won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier award for excellence in mystery and suspense. She loves to watch action movies, garden and hike in the beautiful Tennessee Smoky Mountains. To get the latest news about Lena, please visit her website, www.lenadiaz.com.
Thank you, Allison Lyons, for loving my story. Thank you, Nalini Akolekar, for seeing the Mills & boon Intrigue author inside me before I did. This book is dedicated to my special sister, Laura brown, for fighting the good fight against breast cancer, and for being the inspiration for me to chase my dreams. I love you.
One juror. That’s all it had taken to set a murderer free.
Jessica Delaney flattened her hands against the conference-room window of the White Plains Federal courthouse, watching the mockery playing out two stories below.
Mistrial. The word left a bitter taste in her mouth. What would that juror have done if his friend had been brutally murdered in front of him? Or if his life had become the nightmare Jessica’s had become, living in fear that her former boss would discover where the government was keeping her during the year-long trial?
She’d been foolish to think her testimony could make a difference, that a twenty-eight year-old accountant could put the head of the most powerful crime family in New York away, when others had tried and failed before her. She’d given up everything—her home, her friends, her job—to become the government’s star witness. For what? DeGaullo was free, and she was about to go into hiding.
For the rest of her life.
Her hands tightened into fists as Richard DeGaullo waded through the crowd of reporters, smiling and waving like a foreign dignitary instead of a man who’d viciously executed a young mother, leaving two small children behind to mourn her death.
He jogged down the steps, his perfectly pressed suit jacket flapping in the wind as the first fat raindrops from an afternoon storm splattered against Jessica’s window. Freedom waited for DeGaullo in the form of a black stretch limo snugged up against the curb.
The driver opened the rear door. Jessica sucked in her breath when DeGaullo turned and looked up, as if he knew she was watching. He raised his hand in a jaunty salute, flashed a cocky grin, then slid inside the car.
A loud knock sounded behind Jessica, making her start in surprise. She turned around to see a man she didn’t know, standing in the open doorway. The briefcase he held looked like a child’s toy in his large hand, and the top of his head barely cleared the door frame.
Jessica’s gaze darted past him to the marshals in the hallway. William Gavin, the marshal who led her security detail, gave her a reassuring nod before closing the door, cocooning her in with the stranger.
A polite greeting died on Jessica’s lips as the man strode toward her, his angular face tightening into lines of disapproval. With his coal-black suit emphasizing his massive shoulders, he looked like an avenging angel, or a demon, swooping down to punish her for her sins. She tensed against the urge to flinch away when he stopped in front of her.
“Move away from the window.” he gently but firmly pushed her away from the glass. The look in his dark blue eyes, as he scanned the courtyard below, reminded her of a hawk sighting its prey. Seemingly satisfied, he flipped the blinds closed and crossed the tiny room to the table in the corner.
He pulled out a chair and raised an expectant brow. Jessica reluctantly obeyed his unspoken command, taking the seat he offered. She stiffened when he leaned down, his lips next to her ear.
“Never stand in front of a window, especially with the light behind you,” he said. “Don’t make it easy for him.”
She shivered at the feel of his warm breath whispering across her skin, and the deadly warning in his words—words that rang true after seeing DeGaullo wave at her. Since the stranger seemed to be waiting for a response, she nodded.
He moved to the chair across from her and set his briefcase on the table.
“I was told the glass is bulletproof.” Jessica immediately regretted her statement when she realized how defensive she sounded.
The stranger’s dark brows arched but he didn’t bother to look at her. He was more concerned with the papers in his briefcase.
Jessica pressed her lips together and took the opportunity to study him. Tiny lines bracketed his mouth. On someone else they would have been laugh lines, but she couldn’t picture this man laughing. His eyes were guarded, as if he’d seen too much, and the tragedies in his life had stamped themselves onto his soul.
He took three pieces of paper out of his briefcase and placed them on the table in front of her. “Nothing’s bulletproof if you have the right weapon, the right motivation.” His deep voice echoed through the small space. “Your former boss has plenty of both.” He reached a tanned hand into his suit jacket, pulled out a pen, and tossed it across the table.
Jessica managed to snatch the pen before it could fall onto the floor. “Who are you?” She slapped the pen down on the table.